Australia is big. So big you could fit Spain fifteen times in it. So big we almost decided to skip it on our trip. And that would have been a terrible mistake.
Back to the West
Landing in Perth after more than six months in Asia was a bit of a shock to our senses. Traffic lights, clean streets and eco-friendly public transport. Instead of the loud and colourful markets typical from South East Asia, Perth gave us neat arcades with boutique shops and gourmet food. Someone did not complain.
But we would not have come to Western Australia had it not been for that conversation with Andrew and Jeff in Istanbul during our Mongolia Charity Rally adventure. And just like in Turkey, we joined the two Aussie teams (Andrew and Jeff, Pete and Mark) again and shared stories about bumpy roads, stupidly long border crossings and everything in between.
Andrew and his lovely wife, Anne, hosted us during our time in Perth and for that we are immensely grateful. Thank you for all the tips and for that amazing “welcome to Australia” pack, which included our first ever Aussie beer holders and a box of TimTam biscuits!
Matilda, you should call it Matilda!
…said Andrew and Anne, and so we did. It may not be as spacious as Lola but with more than 450000 km on the clock, it has the experience required for a very special road trip.
One month, one (huge) country and the two of us. Let the fun begin.
A good first impression
“Western Australia is wild” said Andrew, and he was right. Take for example Lake Hutton, one of the few pink lakes WA is blessed with.
A bit further north lies Kalbarri National Park, where Nature has had a bit of fun shaping the red sandstone into hard-to-believe rock formations with every shade of brown you could ever think of.
Finding a place to sleep would sometimes involve some tame driving through pretty remote roads near the coastline, with great rewards at the end. Beers anyone??
This is Australia’s west coast, and with thousand of miles worth of open ocean to the west, that means epic sunsets. Every single day.
Australia’s largest fringing reef
Off the coast of Exmouth and stretching south for about 300 km, is Ningaloo Reef. There are no cafes here, or cocktail bars, loud music or ATM’s. Just watch out for that kangaroo as you park the car, cross the sand dunes through a small corridor and you will find yourself walking in some of the whitest sand you have ever seen.
The party is underwater: in just a couple of days, we shared the waters with manta rays, eagle rays, cowtail rays. We visited a cleaning station for huge grey reef sharks and then followed a few black tip sharks. Green turtles surprised us a few times and there was no shortage of cuttle fish, octopus and barracudas. Plus all the usual tropical fish, but much bigger than anywhere else.
To top it all off, this part of is so far from everything that it is easier to find a kangaroo than another human being. Happy times!
Ah, humans, they do have their good moments though. Like that Aussie who came up with the brilliant idea of installing free gas BBQ’s nearly everywhere. Genius.
Visiting the oldest living creatures
Ningaloo Reef is an unforgettable place, the size and variety of marine life and the quality of the coral reef makes you realise how wonderful Nature can be, when it is not disturbed.
Aware that we had just witnessed something magical, we turn around and headed south. Luckily, the sunsets were still there waiting for us.
A few kilometres down the road from Exmouth – 585 km to be exact – we found Shark Bay, one of WA’s most biological diverse habitats. Here, in Hamelin Pool, live the Stromatolites, coral like formations made of cyanobacteria which is almost identical to organisms that existed 3.5 billion years ago.
Yes, they do look like rocks – but they are responsible for creating our current atmosphere, a long time ago!
What a week!
Due to an aggressive bush fire, the last stop on our itinerary – the Pinnacles – was closed. Watching the aftermath of the fire was sad, but that is also part of Australia.
In just over a week, we came face to face with loads of animals new to us: from cockatoos in the parks of Perth (way cooler than pigeons) to manta rays in Ningaloo Reef. And of course, hundreds of kangaroos and a few roaming emus like this fellow:
Nothing beats a road trip. Nothing. This adventure is to be continued.
Something different. Some wine would be nice. And trees, loads of trees.