I was the 118th backpacker to have the privilege of visiting Wave Rock with 91-year-old local legend Frank.
Frank is pretty much the backpacker sensei of this area of Western Australia, and when he isn’t spending time at the bocce bowling lawn or downing scotch & water at the local pub, he is busy showing the backpackers of the area around. Lots of country pubs get backpackers in to work, and many farms do as well. Working in the country is a great way to save money, but it does get a little bit secluded – and people like Frank know that backpackers want to get out and see the sights as well!
He has been taking backpackers of the area (a few hours east of Perth) out to visit the crazy natural wonder that is wave rock for the last 15 years, and by now he is well known by everyone in the area. He is still moving at as fast a pace as the young backpackers even at the ripe old age of 91 years – I’ve never seen anything like it!
Every few months, Franky takes the new backpackers from around his town of Wickepin out on a day trip on their day off. By now he has a full day’s itinerary with all the attractions of the area – you would be surprised how much you can see out here in remote bushland!
I have been working at a little country pub for a few months, and I went with two German travelers working on a farm in the area. Being fairly elderly, Frank’s only condition of the trip is that the backpackers drive his car to get out there. It wasn’t a problem with us – it’s been ages since I’ve driven, and being on empty roads was a fantastic change for me from LA traffic.
We had an entire day of activities ahead of us with Frank, which I will outline below… if you want to read just about wave rock, you might want to skip to the bottom!
Tin Horse Highway and Wildlife Park
Our first stop on the way to wave rock was the tin horse highway – a 20+k stretch of highway where all the farmers have contributed creative horse sculptures out of old farm parts, doing all sorts of hilarious things.
Frank insisted we take a photo sitting on a makeshift carriage of one of the tin horses, and literally scaled the fence next to the sculpture so he could get a better angle of us for the photo… Have you ever seen a 91 year old climb over a fence?! I nearly had a heart attack watching him do it, and he just looked up at me confused as to what was wrong. I just shook my head and told him he was a legend.
When we got out to the little town of Hyden, which is home of the legendary wave rock, we first checked out the wildlife center that is part of the wave rock recreation area.
Frank brought us carrots and apples to feed to the camels there, and we got to pet a koala, see wallabies and wombats, lots of different kinds of birds, donkeys, and heaps of other classic Aussie animals.
Right after Frank scaled the gate
Yup, that does say ‘breast testing.’
Feeding the camels… I was terrified it would bite my finger off!
It also so happens that the wave rock center is also home to…. wait for it… a toy soldier museum and a lace museum.
I know, right?! Pretty much exactly what you would expect in the middle of the outback next to a 60 million year old natural wonder. I pretty much only came out here to experience the lace museum… I mean hey, apparently it has one of the best collections in the world!
Okay, that may have been a slight exaggeration and I found the place overwhelmingly creepy, but that’s okay.
The toy soldier museum had millions of little figurines set up from all different countries in all sorts of different types of battles. It was impressive really, in an I-never-imagined-I-would-ever-be-looking-at-this-like-ever-in-my-life sort of way.
I had the same feelings when I wandered over to one corner of the room where they had a porcelain doll collection, or the room that contained a replica of an old schoolhouse room from the area in the early 1900’s, or the other part of the room where they had snakes preserved in bottles.
I tell you, I could not make this stuff up! I think someone must have said “let’s get all he most random stuff we can and put it in this room,” and so it was done. But hey, it was still really cool.
The lace museum in all its splendour. Each of the drawers had different labeled pieces inside!
Yes, those are all little toy soldiers all over the place, set up intricately.
It still was not time for wave rock quite yet! We were in luck that day because Frank’s farmer friend Paul was in town; good old Frank has all the connections! After giving us the grand tour of the wildlife park, Paul was ready to take us on his farm to feed his cows and show us his vintage car collection (again, could not make this stuff up?).
We drove about 15 minutes to the paddock where Paul’s cows were, and opened nearly 20 packages of sliced bread onto the back of his ute/pickup truck. Good old Franky got right into the drivers seat, and Pete, the other backpackers, and I sat on the back of the truck bed, and we drove off toward the cows.
You could tell it was like Christmas for the hungry animals. They pranced toward us in a slightly awkward yet extremely cute way, and followed behind the truck as we threw generous handfuls of soft white bread out into a sea of golden brown fur.
They gobbled it down like they may never eat again, and before we knew it the bread was gone. I got some good videos though!
But wait, there was more. We went to Paul’s farm to check out his multi-million dollar collection of vintage cars – bentleys, buicks, rolls royces, you name it. There were about 7 or 8 covered by big tarps in his massive farm garage, and we got to check them out. Before leaving we even got to drive his 4wd around to tour his farm!
We couldn’t get the bread out fast enough!!
All the fancy cars
But wait, we want more bread!
And finally… wait not yet… Hippo’s Yawn!
Next to wave rock, there’s a pretty sweet rock formation called Hippo’s Yawn, because it quite fittingly looks like the massive open mouth of a hippo that you can actually climb through and up the other side to stand on top of it. It honestly really did look like a hippo’s Yawn – I think my selfie actually quite looks like I am getting eaten by a hippo!
You can actually walk between wave rock and hippo’s Yawn, but because Franky is just a bit old (not that I have any doubt he could walk it), we drove over, finally, to Wave Rock itself.
WAVE ROCK… wait actually another museum first
Franky disapproves of the new parking fee in the park, so he has decided to leave his car at the wildlife park/lace and toy soldier museum and walk the 100 meters to wave rock to forego the $8 fee. You go, Franky!!
We stopped to visit his friends in the visitor center and check out yet another little museum they had in there, made to resemble and early 1900’s service station, bedroom, and gas pump. They had quite an impressive collection of vintage packaging for modern food and supplies, and an old gas pump and other equally old looking things that were pretty cool but I was quite museum’ed out for the day 😛
Franky said he remembered filling gas at a pump like that, and remembered a few of the things they had in there. After all, he was born in the 20’s – there aren’t too many people left who can say that!
ACTUALLY WAVE ROCK
We traversed a short bush trail to finally come upon the extremely anticipated, opulent, impressive, 60-million-year old wave rock. It was quite long, very tall, and insanely resemblant of a real wave. I got to photo taking right away – unfortunately since we had sooooo many activities earlier, the rock was mostly in the shade.
But no matter, we adjusted our settings and got photos surfing the wave, climbing the wave, looking at the wave, selfies with the wave, and everything in between, looking like tiny little blips about to be crushed by the massive power of this ocean-like rock wave.
Wave rock has an immensely long history dating apparently back over 2.5 billion years, when the granite it’s comprised of began to form underground, and has only (only…ha) been exposed above ground for 60 million years. In other words… this rock has seen some stuff. It knew the first plants and animals, the dinosaurs, and ancestral birds and horses before it was even exposed above the ground – before the continents were even separated! So it’s been here much longer than humans, to say the least!
It spent most of its existence underground, and much of its shape has to do with wearing away of the base of the granite by groundwater. The geology is quite complicated really!
We stopped at another country pub for dinner on the way back, and over a burger and a beer, Frank was telling us about some recent medical complications. Seeing my concern, he told me, ‘Well, you either live, or you die, and that’s all there is to it,” and took another sip of his beer.
I thought that was fairly profound in its own right. So keep climbing fences until you are physically unable, and provide care and concern to those far from home. You either live, or you die, so you might as well #LiveLikeFrank 😛
I was so impressed to see this white peacock as the wildlife park!
Had to get one surfing it of course 😛
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