So yes, this post is about another roadtrip adventure (apologies), however this one is in our home country and was the first trip my husband and I took together when we started dating. In other words – the make or break trip, if we had struggled with this how would we last traveling the world together only 6 months later. I thought I should post this one now as all our other adventure stemmed from this first road trip together and it remains one of my favourite memories of the beginning of our relationship.
Goal – To drive from Perth to Broome in less than 14 days – 3,400km trek that Lonely Planet recommended take a month – We were up for the challenge 🙂
1. We were relatively broke as we were saving for our round the world trip so we hired a Wicked Camper to save money on hire car and accommodation costs
2. It was November – average temperatures of 38 to 40 degrees in a camper with no aircon
3. Max speed of the camper was about 110km/ph, hard task to overtake any road trains or cars in general that may be holding us up
4. We managed to get one of the more offensive Wicked Camper (we didn’t get to choose), lucky we have an open mind, unfortunately not everyone does. Turned a few heads in the towns we stopped in but all part of the adventure J
5. As our van was not a 4X4 many of the roads off the highway leading to secluded unexplored spots were to corrugated for us to travel on 😦
So off we flew to the other side of the country (3.5 hour flight) to Western Australia and our first stop – Perth. Here we stayed with friends who lived close to the city which was a perfect base to explore Perth & Fremantle. Our highlights would be having a drink at the Cottesloe Beach Hotel whilst watching our first sunset over the Indian Ocean (being from the east coast we never get to see this sight) and Fremantle itself. We were in Fremantle on a Sunday, the temperature hovered around 30 degrees and the parks and foreshore came alive. We managed to squeeze into the Little Creatures brewery for a drink (highly recommended) and sun baked in the Esplanade Park across the road while families and groups of friends kicked footballs and enjoyed BBQ’s in the afternoon sun.
The biggest thing to get used to other then the long stretches of endless straight road on this trip is the amount of roadkill on the side of the road. Although mainly kangaroos, there was also beef cows, goats, birds and a snake or two for good measure. At first its quite overwhelming but as the km’s roll on you almost become immune to the sight. A second thing we noticed on the first day or two was when we saw a fellow traveler/tourist passing up coming the opposite way they would be waving like mad people out the windows. Our original thought was that these were overly friendly people but a few days into our trek, when you can go for a few hours without seeing anyone else on the road, we too began waving like crazy people when we saw others and it became quite the norm after a while
We stopped at many places along the road so I am just going to highlight the ones that stood out to us
Lancelin – Early Monday we hit the road in our little camper, refreshed from a relaxing weekend and ready for the long trek ahead. First stop was Lancelin – a small town with big sand dunes! The rolling white dunes are a sight to behold and quite a trek to get to the top of however as a mecca for sandboarding and off road adventuring it’s worth the climb. With enough sand in our eyes and clothes for our own small beach we headed off north bound to continue the adventure
The Pinnacles Desert – Just outside of Cervantes is the world renowned Pinnacles, a moon like landscape that holds thousands of limestone pillars. There is a dirt track you can drive around on and its well worth the visit as its literally like being in a another world. No pillar is the same and some make for some interesting shapes to view ;-). If you don’t have a car there are a number of tours departing Perth that take in this magnificent sight
Geraldton – Maybe just a highlight for myself being of dutch decent however the Western Australia Museum is well worth the visit with loads of historical Australian info as well as a great display on the ill-fated Batavia shipwreck (Dutch trading/exploration ship). The town itself is a good stopping port for the night with a quaint seaside charm and a cute lighthouse to boot.
Monkey Mia – Highly, highly recommend coming here. Dolphin feeding at the foreshore twice a day, emu’s walking along the beach while you sunbake and accommodation and places to eat right along the foreshore. We jumped on board the Aristocrat II for a tour of the Blue Lagoon pearl farm (incidentally the owner of this farm had been on Farmers wants a wife TV show that year so all the ladies were taking a good look) to see how the black pearls are harvested. It was a rare insight into the world of oyster farming and gave us an appreciation for the process involved just to make one pearl. After this the aristocrat took us out to sea to possibly sight some Dugong’s (quite shy marine life) which we were lucky enough to spot as well as a few sea turtles floating by. On the way back we hopped on the back of a boat on the netting area to enjoy the cool Indian Ocean water and we were joined by 4 dolphins that leapt out of the water in our wake and playfully chased each other for over 10 minutes right in front of our eyes. Life is made of moments like these and is what traveling is all about, the unexpected sights that leave impressions for life
Exmouth & Ningaloo Marine Park – I have never been so glad to stop somewhere as I was when we reached Exmouth. As I never learn I did not apply enough sunscreen when I was on the Aristrocrat II tour and when I awoke the next day I literally couldn’t walk. My sunburn was so severe my skin had tightened to the point I couldn’t stretch my legs beyond a sitting position without considerable pain. It was time to get out of the van and into a cabin for a few days to rejuvenate my health and just for us to unwind after 8 days on the road. We managed to find last minute accommodation at the Lighthouse Caravan Park in their hilltop Chalets which had amazing views over the marine park, lighthouse bay and the North West cape. They were large and spacious and included a kitchen so we could cook our own meals whilst eating out on the deck to soak up the view. On our first day we drove back to Exmouth to get some food shopping and when we returned to our cabin Anthony had gone inside to unload some shopping and I was in the front sorting out the mess of the front seat. Hearing footsteps I began talking to Anth about something and when I received no answer I popped my head over the back only to find an Emu with its head in our shopping bags. Having met a few emu’s, never have I met one as bold as this, he stayed next to the car while we unloaded the rest of our food before he ate it and then attempted to come into the cabin to share lunch with us! Probably the only time I will have a full one way conversation with an Emu but was another cherished memory of the trip.
The Ningaloo Marine Park covers more then 250km of water and foreshore and has an amazing array of marine life and coral life that you can view within each reach of the shore. The water at Turquoise bay lives up to its name and while we were swimming we were surrounded by fish, a sea turtle that popped its head up to view us and coral life below us. With a 40 degree day outside the water was a refreshing break from the arid desert heat! Just up the road is the Jurabi Turtle Centre where you can visit at night and watch turtles nest and their eggs hatch before your eyes, another amazing sight to behold. The whole area is worth stopping at for a few days just to soak up the beauty of the area and relax in the clear turquoise waters!
Random Views on the highway –
· Thousands of high termite mounds, if you want to see a termite, they are in plenty supply in WA
· Heaps of mini dust whirlwinds as well as strong winds on the coast that made tree’s grow on a sideways lean
· Random stop offs at beaches that we had completely to ourselves that stretched as far as the eye could see
Port Hedland – I am mentioning Port Hedland simply because we came through at the peak of the mining boom and it was amazing to see the amount of heavy plant being moved, road trains we passed, salt mountains and just the sheer size of the operations of the BHP mines that surrounded the area. To our eyes it just seemed like an endless Pilbara desert landscape but beneath the ground lay billions of dollars worth of natural resources that were a booming empire for the mining magnates.
Broome – In the end it only took us 10 days to reach Broome which meant we had 4 days to sit back and relax in our resort and along Cable Beach. We stayed at the Oaks Cable Beach Sanctuary which had nice modern apartments, friendly service and a large lagoon pool (my favourite part) to soak the day away in. Whilst in cable beach we checked out the following :
- The Sun Pictures outdoor cinema which is the world’s oldest operating outdoor cinema and a perfect spot to sit back in your canvas deckchair and watch a movie out under the starry night skies.
- Red Sun Camel tours along Cable Beach – happens to travel through a nudist beach…. Some people need to wear clothes.. seriously! The camel ride is a must do however and a nice way to watch the sunset
- Cable Beach – if you fancy a swim with small Salt water crocodiles like we did this is the beach to do it at J. Cable beach sunset is also a must see, even after watching it 3 nights in a row it didn’t grow old
- Gantheaume Point – Dinosaur footprints at low tide, a replica if you can only get there at high tide. On the other side of the point is Anastasia’s pool – carved into the rock by the former lighthouse keeper to ease his wife’s arthritis
- Port of Broome Pier – just something to walk along!
So the adventure was over but we made it in tact and experienced sights and moments that we will always be able to look back on
‘The world is big and I want to have a good look at it before it gets dark’ – John Muir