Australia just keeps getting better and better! (Well that's minus the close encounters with the, unbeknown to us, deadly snakes!)
It's going to be hard to return home!! I've had some amazing experiences over the last few weeks, met some fascinating people from all over the world and most importantly got a feel for Australia and its Natural wonders!
I will try and pick out the highlights of the trip and maybe include some info which would be of use to future Aussie travelers! However before I get going, this is how close I was to the King Brown snake which I later found out has venom that can kill you within 15minutes!
The King Brown we stumbled across on the beach. We were desperate to take pictures - oblivious to the danger!
So on my return from the trip, down to the South West with the girls in 'Palm Express', I reluctantly checked back into a hostel in Perth.
A little deflated at having to return to Civilisation I was pleasantly surprised at what Perth had to offer (other than a mattress!) and it certainly cushioned the blow of once again leaving great travel mates.
I had been warned that traveling was a series of highs and lows and that's certainly been the case. Meeting numerous people would not normally be seen as a problem but it's the farewells that put a downer on the trip.
I've never camped for long with any member of my family let alone complete strangers but after a fortnight in close proximity with one another you become quite attached!
Perth, the capital of Western Australia, holding over three quarters (1.6 million) of the population of the state leaves very few Australians living in the remaining parts of the west coast.
You wouldn't think that it's the most isolated city in the world with Adelaide a few thousand Kms away being its closest neighbour, for me this relaxed and friendly city is of perfect proportions and I'm definitely tempted to return. The cities numerous little suburbs also add to its attraction, all being easily accessible on the metro or ferry, the most popular seems to be Fremantle aka 'Freo', a shipping port town known for its Italian vibes, book shops and the 'cappuccino strip'!
These suburbs are great little getaway places, but to be honest you can go to any of the parks in Perth and forget the troubles of city life; well it's more like a town really.
Kings Park is a must if you visit this city; it reminds me of Parliament Hill back at home, in the way that you have a stunning view over the whole city yet you can't hear a single car or, in Australia's case, pedestrian crossing (very loud beeping)! The gardens there are vast, enticing you to spend the whole day exploring, people watching (a favorite of mine), marveling at the water sport activities on the swan river, a focal point for the city and realizing that you too can have this kind of lifestyle - well only if I can stay here legally!
Perth viewed from Kings Park
I certainly wasn't the only Brit thinking that I had been a little shortchanged by my homeland, Cass's Brother Ryan was also in Perth when I was there, using his working holiday visa. He was finding his routine of finishing work at 3pm, having a glass of wine over lunch next to the river, relaxing in the park, maybe partaking in some water sports and then hitting the bars quite an attractive lifestyle and one that he is certainly considering long term.
Even with this lifestyle, however, Perth is by no means for everyone. I met numerous travelers who after a month or so were more than ready to move on from this 'Boring place'! And soon enough I was doing just that.
The Swan River, they start them early!
Riding the waves in Style!
My first port of call was Rottnest Island, named after the Dutch explorer, Willem de Vlamingh, who found rat like species wondering around, later found to be known as Quokkas (They look like fat rats to me!).
The holiday island is popular, not only with tourists, but for all western Australians and I can see why. Only an hour and a half ferry ride away from Perth, after gazing at the stunning houses along the swan river and watching the dolphins play alongside you, this car free Island is surrounded by turquoise waters, so mesmerising you find yourself taking one hundred pictures that look identical but you just can't help yourself trying to capture the beauty with every opportunity you get!
Quokka on Rottnest Island
Perth can be seen in the distance, reminds me of the docklands in London, it's difficult to believe this is the largest city in the whole of Western Australia!
With only one day there, like every visitor, I hired a bike. However I'm not sure that everyone is as tight with their cash and gets the single gear bike like myself, but nonetheless I made it round the 25km track in a few hours, and then relaxed on my own little beach before the return ferry.
The single gear bike that took me around Rottnest
Traveling North from Perth - road trip number two!
So before I began searching for a nice man living in one of the expensive houses next to Kings Park, I thought that I had better move on and see what else the country had to offer!
There are numerous opportunities in Australia to rideshare with fellow backpackers and having completed one trip I was keen to see as much as possible overland. There are plenty of tours operating around the country which I can imagine are perfect if you're on a strict timeframe, however they are more costly and don't always allow you spend the right amount of time at each location. It's also much more fun to come across places by accident!
(Miss this paragraph unless wanting to go to Oz)
There are a few ways in which you can go overland in Oz without taking a tour, train or greyhound bus. You can buy a car/campervan and advertise for travel mates to share fuel and driving, and then sell it at the end of your trip. This can save a large amount of money on travel and accommodation but only really works if you're in Oz for more than a few months as you can spend a few weeks trying to find a suitable vehicle at first and then given that it's probably going to have done a few hundred thousand miles and been knocked about a bit, there is the possibility that you might not be able to sell it check. However all being well you can make your money back and if you had a bargain in the first place you might even get a profit. Another option is to relocate campervans for companies, so a free mode of transport and your petrol paid for it seems very tempting but unfortunately they give you a very short timeframe which occasionally only allows you a whistle-stop tour of areas. The final option that I had was to rideshare with someone who already had a mode of transport.
So using the wonder that is 'Gumtree', a website for rideshares and travel mates, amongst other things, I found a fellow Brit, Kelly who was hiring a campervan up to Broome and needed to share fuel costs. We joined forces and picked up a lovely crazy French girl, Helene and a very polite quite guy from Taiwan, Lucas. Being from Taiwan we expected Lucas to have all the obvious electronic equipment like a electronic dictionary and laptop for his journal but we weren't expecting the additional belongings; after all not every backpacker carries a fishing rod, body board, snorkeling kit, blowup boat and cooker!
So having driven for an hour around Perth, trying to find the great Northern highway and upgrading the slightly inadequate map from a leaflet to a proper book, we set off for Broome. There is a typical route to follow up the West coast and you frequently bump into the same guys along the way, comparing the number of near misses with a Roo!
Our 10 day trip to Broome was filled with adventure during the day and stunning sunsets on a nightly basis without fail (The key is to wait 5 minutes after the sun has set and then the sky turns purple).
Pinnacle Desert at sunset was our first destination, a light sandstone coloured expanse with hundreds 4m limestone rocks jutting out from the surface, turning a beautiful colour set in front of the purple sky, possibly best described as moonlike.
We paid a flying visit to Kalbarri National Park after stumbling upon Pink lake salt plain, however didn't fancy too much hiking given the rising temperatures, but from what we saw of the cliff walks and gorges there is a lot of stunning scenery on offer!
Helene juggling salt at Pink Lake. The colours were amazing!
Z-loop Gorge at Kalbarri National Park
Natures Window in Kalbarri.
The Cliffs in Kalbarri
We had numerous other stops on the way, including Shell beach which is quite self explanatory. The shells were a little smaller than I imagined and not very comfortable to sunbathe on! There was a lovely moment when a little kid took a picture of his parents with the digital camera!
We were all trying to improve our photography skills!
The Crew, Lucas, Helene and Kelly!
Before we headed off to Monkey Mia we had a day in Denham and saw the most amazing sunset I had ever witnessed. We were eating dinner and noticed the sky changing colour; we dropped everything, grabbed the camera and ran, barefoot all the way to the beach. Luckily we caught the end of the sunset and no one took anything from our van which had all doors wide open! The $7 wine also remained!
The Sunset in Denham!
We splashed with the Dolphins in Monkey Mia, snorkelled amongst some of the world's best coral at Coral Bay and Exmouth, both sights of the Ningaloo Reef. Helene was fortunate enough to swim with a turtle but we had missed the whale shark season unfortunately.
Beaches in Exmouth
Sunset at Exmouth
Karijini National Park is a favourite amongst many travelers, with its numerous gorge walks and waterfalls and was a great location to spend a few days before our two days of driving to reach our final destination, Broome.
Mt Bruce, the 2nd highest mountain in Western Australia. We climbed halfway!
Swimming in Circular Pool
The Gorges meeting, Hancock and Weano.
There are plenty of lizards in Aussie and this little on just popped his head out in time!
One of the last stops before we reached Broome was at a lagoon which we arrived at by accident as we were nearly out of fuel. As Helene was swimming out to the Catamaran and consequently getting us all invited to a party, Kelly and I watched the crab fishermen at work.
It's amazing how many hours you drive in Australia without even butting an eyelid, a 6hour drive isn't bad to do in a day, with a friendly wave at every passing vehicle, however if you do that at home you would go into overdrive; you'd pack a picnic, make sure that you remember to let someone know you arrived safely and take stops every hour!
In Australia the priorities are quite different with fuel and water being of great importance! We lacked a little bit of preparation unfortunately but luckily our water shortage was solved by a lovely couple we met in the National park and the van rolled into the petrol station before we had to start pushing it. Other than that we traveled about 2000km without a hitch! Apart from the odd Emu family crossing the road!
I have great memories of my time with the music filled monkey bus and once again was sad to leave!