Arriving in Australia was a bit like a weird home-coming. Things were familiar but also strange. I have family who live around the west coast and so after 9 months of not driving (apart from one shot at driving a tuk-tuk) we decided to rent a car and go on a mini road trip. Trouble is the west coast of Australia is not so mini and we ended up covering over 4000km in less than two weeks.
After spending a few days down in Busselton, staying with my cousin and her little one, we set off up north. My aunt and uncle live just outside of Geraldton in a tiny little town called Northampton. Apparently Northampton is most famous for ‘the airing of the quilts festival‘, I think it is quite easy to assume that it is mainly a place for retired people who have enough time for quilting! Our road trip up the coast of Western Australia was probably the most time we have spent disconnected from our phones and laptop since trekking in Nepal. People who make quilts probably have little need for 3G and wifi, internet was still a new thing in the town apparently.
Celebrating modern times in WA:
After Northampton we carried on up, eventually reaching the really touristy but understandably so Monkey Mia. Famous for it’s dolphins who come in each day to be fed. This was great to see, although you always question whether it is a good idea to be feeding wild animals. Here they explained that they only feed female dolphins of a certain age who choose to come in. Apparently most of the dolphins in the area don’t bother with the feeding.
Monkey Mia dolphins:
‘Playing’ before the feeding, apparently this is a fishing technique they use:
These guys got a bit competitive with the dolphins for the fish:
Without realising we had managed to arrange our road-trip to coincide with the start of the school holidays. This meant that we had been warned to book our campsites before leaving and unfortunately resulted in us missing out on Coral Bay and instead staying longer in Exmouth. Turns out that most campsites have a first come first served policy when it comes to tent spots so we needn’t of worried.
Exmouth itself is an odd little town, miles from anywhere it still manages to have a bit of a charm and the marina is very pretty. There are roaming wild emus that like to steal food from campers and Cape Range national park is beautiful, from the creeks and the gorges to the lush beaches with good snorkeling. We went diving twice on the Ningaloo reef and snorkeling loads of times, whilst the visibility was not always amazing we did get to see a couple of reef sharks and also heard humpback whales chatting to each other, which was great. As we surfaced on our last dive we even got to see a whale breaching!
Exmouth lighthouse is a great place for sunset:
Wildflowers in Cape Range National Park:
Yardie Creek was beautiful:
After we finished in Exmouth we went straight back down to Northampton, nearly learning a lesson from the outback about filling up with petrol whenever you can despite the cost. We rolled into Carnarvon on a mix of petrol and fumes from our wine related hangovers. A few days of relaxing in Northampton (and failing to produce even one quilt) we set off back down to Busselton, with a pit stop at the weird but wonderful Pinnacles. They look like tomb stones but are slightly less creepy. We had a good wander around the park before we set off for Perth and even further south.
Home to the longest wooden jetty in the Southern hemisphere Busselton is also a buzzing town. To be fair it does have a fair few restaurants and bars but compared to the UK it is quiet. Unlike the UK, Busselton is close to a number of world famous wineries in Margaret River and if you can find someone to drive you around then these are well worth a visit. We also got to visit Bunbury wildlife park and feed some kangaroos, making up for all the dead ones we had seen on our road trip!
Pinion makes a new friend:
We finished our visit with a trip to Gnomesville, which has to be one of the weirdest attractions we’ve visited this year. There are literally thousands of gnomes all chilling out in a massive area. Some of them have names and some of them even have houses, we left Bobo the gnome and all signed him.
Bobo the Gnome:
Our WA road trip took just over 2 weeks but this is a massive area, approximately 10 times the size of the UK so understandably we barely touched the surface . If we had time we would love to explore some more of the national parks like Kalbarri and Karijini or even drive as far up as Broome and the Kimberley. At least we will never have an excuse of not wanting to visit countries we have been to on this trip.