We had been in Perth for three weeks.
We had explored the historic, sunny streets of the lonely town and Freemantle. And the pristine beaches nearby. We join the holiday pilgrimage of its residents. We travel towards the deep south-west of Australia.
According to the locals, "it all starts in Busselton and only gets better from there." Still not dazzled, the morning's first impressions meet.
It is a coastline of calm waters in emerald tones and white sands, which serves the small village, built in a modern architecture based on improvised pre-built construction.
We soon realized that, over time, the resort had conquered the role of a regional sporting Mecca. And he did everything to maintain his fame.
At the end of each year, Busselton hosts a world championship competition Ironman. In it, 800 of the toughest athletes in the World, super able to complete and win a race that combines 3.8 km of swimming, 180 of cycling and 42 km of running.
As always, for some time now, the organization has once again proven itself brilliant and has once again promoted Australia in the eyes of the world. But like any competitor, Busselton is never satisfied. When it cannot shine at the highest level, it practices on a national or regional scale.
We walk along the water when a passerby asks us: “I can see from the equipment that they came to photograph the swimming, right?”.
Pass us aside what you talk about. Mike fills us in:
“Oh they don't know anything! Tomorrow at eight in the morning we have the Jetty Swim. It's a very popular swimming event in these parts”. “There will be thousands in the water. It starts here on the beach, goes around the pier and ends where it started, but on the other side of the structure”.
The event sounds fun to us. If only for that, it would allow us to observe one of the most sporting nations in the world in action. We are, therefore, to show up before departure time.
“Australia” by Baz Luhrmann on a Drive In Screen
Until then, we take the opportunity to discover Busselton and the surroundings.
At the end of the afternoon, we find a drive-in which is about to recapture Baz Luhrmann's hollywodesque classic “Australia”. With nothing too important to solve, we join the entrance line that stretches for several hundred meters.
When we enter, there's only a sliver of sunlight left and we're farther away from the screen than we'd like. We also see ourselves surrounded by Utes (diminutive aussie for utility vehicle) overcrowded and fully equipped for the event, with mattresses covering the uncomfortable surfaces of their boxes, filled with cold beer and snacks.
We tried to turn off the work mode and follow the quirky relationship between Lady Sarah Ashley (Nicole Kidman) and the rude seducer driver (Hugh Jackman).
We also take the opportunity to admire, semi-in crazy, the monumental landscapes of the inhospitable Bungle Bungle (Northern Western Australia region) displayed on the big screen.
Until, in the middle of the film, we received a phone call from the family, worried about our safety, having learned, in the Portuguese news, of several mega-fires that are raging in the Victoria region.
Since we are more than 2500 km away, we try to deal with the situation like the driver learned to deal with Lady Sarah Ashley: with great patience and humor.
The Prominence of Long Jetty in Busselton's Life
The next morning, around seven, we are already trying to park next to the jetty of Busselton, which residents and authorities assure is the longest wooden structure in the Southern Hemisphere.
The pontoon began to be built in 1853 and was continuously extended until 1960, when it reached the current 1841 meters. Twelve years later, it was considered unsuitable for berthing and loading vessels.
After a period of decay, the city regained it. He offered it to the population for their re-creation.
In good Australian fashion, residents enjoyed the gift as much as they could. It gave us the idea that, these days, the city could not live without its jetty recordist.
Neither the city nor, apparently, the local press that publishes, every week, a story of the residents that happened there.
Shark sightings and eccentric reports of fishing, marriage proposals and wedding celebrations, among many other events and ephemeris, have already been discussed.
Jetty Swim: 2000 Epic Meters Around Busselton Jetty
The Jetty Swim, that one, had its debut in 1996. From an organized swimming among some friends, it became a reputable international competition.
Despite the early hour, the early arrival of countless eager swimmers complicates the task of finding a place for the car. On the beach and the pier, space is not abundant either.
Thousands of male and female bodies, of all ages and in different physical forms, exercise non-stop, preparing their bodies for the cold water and the adrenaline influx they are about to receive.
We catch a glimpse of Mike. Wear an organization uniform and use a megaphone to separate competitors according to their starting order.
In three times, the crowd is divided, so that the slower ones don't disturb the professionals.
This division, materialized in the different caps worn by the swimmers, forms a fascinating multicolored spectacle over the sand and also at the water entrance.
Different vessels travel through the offshore sea area, in order to ward off any sharks, or we were not in the area of Australia with the greatest number of attacks from these fearsome predators.
The public concentrates on the lawn that precedes the beach and the entrance to the pier.
When all the colors are lined up at the water's edge and the swimmers in yellow caps (the fastest) inside it, a strategically placed policeman pulls out a shotgun.
Fire the starting shot.
A Cold Water Swimming That Renews the Aussie Spirit
Immediately, hundreds of competitors plunge into the frigid waters of the Indian Ocean.
The organization misses the necessary break times for the following classes. The scene is repeated with columns of different colored bonnets until all participants swim along the pier.
Jetty is, however, open to more public. A crowd roams it to find and support swimmers family and friends.
Meanwhile, stewards and lifeguards at the service of the event verify the safety of those who are in the water, in the case of the faster classes, the legality of their swimming.
When we reach the far end of the pontoon, the favorite competitors have already turned it around and are speeding back to land, followed closely by small boats and jet skis.
Later, next to the podium, the last of the participants takes so long to complete the race that the organization is forced to start handing out the prizes before it gets out of the water.
While the medals are handed out, the swimmers who have just arrived receive tea. Several others who have gone into hypothermia are entitled to special assistance.
in a good way aussie, the physical suffering and the resilience employed to overcome it generate an atmosphere of well-being that we see in countless enthusiastic conversations.
Busselton had surpassed one more test.
We were only a few hundred kilometers from rounding the geographical corner that separated the Indian coast from the one bathed by the Antarctic Ocean.
To the south, there was a another Australian world to explore.