Australia: Road Trip – Perth to Karijini National Park

Australia: Road Trip – Perth to Karijini National Park

Australia: Margaret River

May 23-29, 2019

We hit the road and did a quick drive through central Perth. We realized we didn’t really spend any time in the heart of Perth CBD. Ever since the Camino, big cities don’t really interest me. Smaller towns, outskirts, the beach all peak my interest more than going into big cities. I do feel like I missed out a bit but such is life, we’ve moved on.

We also stopped by Scarborough where I lived for a couple of months and I don’t remember it at all. All the roads and houses looked the same. So we headed to the beach and had our first sandwich making out the back of the van beside the beach. So cool. The beach was long and white with blue blue water. I wanted to stay and appreciate it but we had a ways to drive our first day and I think we all just wanted to get on the road.

A little ways along our first bathroom stop and we stopped at a National Park. We bought a National Park pass so we saved ourselves $10 (cha-Ching!). This park was amazing. Birds flying everywhere in their own natural environment. It was so serene to listen to their songs everywhere we went. And then we hit the koala area. We had no idea there were koala bears here so we were pleasantly surprised! They weren’t held in captivity but the park supplied their food so no need to stray far. We saw about 6 of them just lounging in the elbow of a tree. That was really cool. When we walked back the first one decided he needed some more leaves so moved out of the elbow and we got it all on video. I feel really lucky to be able to see these little guys.

Then back on the highway only to be turned around by an accident and a super long detour.

By this point the sun was getting low and we got to the pinnacles desert to take some really cool photos and send up the drone. The pinnacles are big mounds of rock and dirt that formed Hundreds of thousands of Years ago. A pretty neat thing to see and really cool at sunset. Sadly our sunset wasn’t stunning but the light was really beautiful. Check out the drone video

We camped our first night in a caravan park in Cervantes. A lot more expensive than we thought it was going to be for an unpowered site ($42). But the camp kitchen had sinks and gas elements to cook on. And plugs to charge all our electronics. The bathrooms were pretty good too.

It was rough the first night trying to figure out how the beds go. It felt really cramped and Luc was pretty uncomfortable with the space. I have to admit, it does take some maneuvering of our stuff and people but after a few days we got used to it. It gets challenging when we get more north and it’s hot out, you want to open the door but there’s so many flies or the sun has gone down and there’s tons of moths that love the light inside the van.

The next morning we had breakfast and packed up (more learning on how to pack up the beds) and it took us about a half an hour longer than what it takes us now 6 days later.

Our destination today was Kalbarri National Park. We had a lot of ground to cover so it seemed like we mostly drove for the day until the early afternoon when we stopped at the Pink Lake. It really is pink! Check out the drone video.

Then off to a few view points along coast. Absolutely stunning coastline. Rugged red rocks meet the dramatic waters of the Indian Ocean.

Light was not on our side so we headed to the campground that was 4kms in on a corrugated road. This campground was beside a river and I think Luc said some of the first settlers came there. You could tell because there was old farm equipment everywhere and a tank!

Again, way too expensive for what it was ($57 I think?). I didn’t use the showers as it was a bit too rustic for me and the toilets were so far away. But we had our first fire since we left Canada and roasted marshmallows that Vivi bought in Bali! We hung out with a couple who were beside us camping in their massive camper. They were from the east coast and were taking just over a year to travel around their country with their two girls.

The temps are already starting to get warmer just two days into heading up north.

We woke up, ate and packed up and headed out. The plan that day was to spend some time exploring the gorges on the other side of the park and then head to Denham which is close to Monkey Mia.

The gorges in this area are really beautiful. Red rocks cut out by the flowing water for thousands of years was just breathtaking.

We picked up some fly nets because the flies are getting to be unbearable when we step out of the van. And not a second too soon. Our next stop was Shell Beach and it was swarming with flies. I was really looking forward to seeing this beach as I remember it fondly. The beach is covered by tiny white shells. There really isn’t any sand to speak of. We put our bathing suits on but it really wasn’t warm enough to swim.

Then we pushed on and just wanted to get to Denham so we could have showers, wash laundry and settle in while it was still light out. We cooked in the camp kitchen and watch “The Voice” on the big screen tv.

The next morning we drove over the Monkey Mia. $15/adult and $5/kid. We didn’t want to pay that just to see the dolphins at the beach. So we snuck in through the boat ramp. Luc and Vivi ran over to them and I stayed in the get away van.

We named her too! Her name is Marvel. Because she brings us to marvelous places and she is a super hero of course!

We meandered back to the main road stopping at a lagoon and Eagle Bluff for lunch. Eagle Bluff was incredible. What a view with green/blue water. The flies were bad. To be honest, with the fly net they are just annoying. No where near the agony of the heat in South East Asia.

That night we stayed in our first free rest area. Luc’s favorite place to stay as it was free. There are places along the road that have toilets, tables and where a lot of other campers are (safety in numbers).

We took off in the morning and arrived in Carnarvon. Small town we wanted to check out the tourist info centre.

Then some groceries, gas and we couldn’t find the water fill up station so we went back to the gas station. Well I parked beside another truck and the angel it was parked at, the driver would have had to correct before backing up. Luc went in and I stayed in the van. The driver started to reverse and I could see he was really close to the van. If he didn’t hit the back corner it would have been a miracle. Oh and then he did. Sigh… thank goodness we got extra insurance. This guy was 19, from France, got his driver’s license in January and was driving around without insurance. Ugh….

So we exchanged all the particular info, sent it off to our rental company and set off to get water. Then we realized while we were waiting for water that the guy hadn’t signed. So we needed him to come back.

Back on the road again after a huge time suck.

We stopped at a road house to have lunch for the first time eating out. Another mistake. This just wasn’t our day. So we ordered two burgers and a BLT. My BLT came and it was tragic and $12!!!!!! Then we waited for Luc and Vivis food. I guess were used to not getting served at the same time as in SEA we all ate at different times. But after a while, I was done and their food still didn’t come, so Luc asked and they had forgotten about theirs!!! They got their food and the money back.

Onward we pushed to Coral Bay. We stopped once to fly the drone over a bunch of termite mounds.

We got to Coral Bay and booked a powered site. $57 with no wifi!!!! A travesty. And get this: no where in Western Australia (except Perth area I think) recycles!!!! I’ve talked to a few people who live here and they say it’s too expensive to put in a recycling plant. It also might have something to do with the fact that they produce iron in this state. I HATE throwing plastic, glass and metal in the garbage.

Vivi and Luc went swimming at the pool and then we walked down to the beach to see the sunset. It was stunning. Best sunset I’ve seen since being in Australia.

The next day we leisurely woke up and for ready. It was nice because every other day we were up by 6:30 and gone by 8. All we had planned was a day at the beach.

So back To the beach where we saw the sunset. We set up our free beach awning (we couldn’t believe we had the best awning on the beach and it was free. We were THOSE people! We snorkeled, made sand castles, read an actual book, saw a blue spotted sting ray in the water. It was a perfect day. We left there around 4pm and drove for two hours to another free camping rest area. We timed it so we didn’t have too much time with the flies before they all went to bed for the night (as soon as it’s dark). Then it becomes a battle with the moths as you cook with all the windows and doors open as it was still about 30 degrees out.

We finished burritos and star gazed for a while with our sky apps spotting Jupiter, the Southern Cross and Scorpio.

We slept well and awoke to the beautiful sunrise. Today would be a long drive day. We needed to make up about 450km to Karijini National Park. From there we have a day to chill out there and check the beautiful gorges.

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Australia: Margaret River Region

Australia: Margaret River Region

May 15-23, 2019

We left Jenny and the French and returned our rental car and then got the exact same rental car again. We had to do this as renting the car for two weeks was more expensive then renting the car for one week and the one week. 

We got a ton of groceries and headed south. First stop was in Capel. We rented a room in an Airbnb and the woman, Clair, was so kind. She had a family emergency at the same time so we basically had her entire house to ourselves. Vivi got a small job ($5/day) to feed the 2 cats and 2 chickens which she really liked. 

Our first stop was a winery called Capel Vale close by where we realized that all the wine tasting was going to be free. Amazing. 

I won’t go into all details of all the wineries we went to but needless to say we tasted some beautiful wines. 

We also visited Peppermint Beach where we were the only people there. White sand and turquoise water. We had a picnic there. 

The next day we visited “the longest jetty in the Southern Hemisphere” at Busselton. We heard this by so many people. It was mildly humorous. There were a few other “the longest, oldest, most curved things in the Southern Hemisphere” that we came across. It’s funny, you never hear about anything being the biggest in the “Northern Hemisphere” but I guess it’s a thing here. 

We also went out to the peninsula where we visited Eagle Bay and did a little walk around a lighthouse. Luc read to us about how the French came on some epic journeys way back when to discover Australia and chart the coach and discover the flora and fauna. And meet the locals of course.

We also visited a couple of other wineries and breweries. We enjoyed cooking in Clair’s full service kitchen and dishwasher! I knew it wasn’t long until we would be without a full range of cooking utensils so I wanted to make the most of it. 

The following day we left there and headed to Margaret River. We stopped at wineries, a chocolate factory and really enjoyed the coast. We stopped at Canal Rocks where the stormy Indian Ocean battered against the rocks. We also tried to find a picnic area but we were all so hungry so settled for a place that had a bunch of cabins but no one was there. Except for a woman who said “it’s private property but you can picnic on the table over there.”

We made our way down to this little seaside surf motel called Surfpoint Resort in Prevelly where they were basically waiting for us to show before heading home. They gave us a run through and said “you’re the only ones staying here so have fun!”  They let us have a double room (we only paid for a single), a massive commercial kitchen for us to cook in, they stoked the fire in the living room and then we were all alone. Was so neat to be the only ones. We played some new games that we bought.

The next day they offered for us to stay at the same rate we were going to pay at our next Airbnb but we had committed to that place so we packed up and set off. 

A few people had recommended that we go down south to Hamelin Bay to see the stingrays that were ALWAYS on the shore. So we drove down there through the amazing Boranup Forest. The trees there are something you’ve never seen. We had to stop and take a few photos. It smelled amazing. We got there and explored around but I think the big storm the night before was still dumping big waves so the stingrays were no where to be seen. Ah well. 

Then more wine and beer touring for our last day. 

We stayed at our little cottage Airbnb and took off again the next morning to do some shopping, get my glasses fixed, look for warm clothes to sleep in, try to find the book “are we there yet” by Alison Lester (no luck) and get some robaxacet (double no luck). It was a errands kind of morning.

Then we stopped at the delicious cheese factory and headed up to the Bunbury Farmer’s Market. This market is like IKEA. You go around and around and get to try samples all the way along. We stocked up for camping.

We said goodbye to the Margaret River region. It was so lovely to spend a few days visiting the rugged coastline and sampling delicious wine and beer. 

We stopped at an electronics store and picked up a new drone! We thought this next leg of our trip, the coast of Western Australia and the Northern Territory would be an awesome place to fly a drone. It’s also something we’ve been wanting for our whole trip. Turns out Luc is a natural at it. Check this video for our maiden voyage (it was me that flew it into a tree).

Next stop our Airbnb trailer in the trailer park in Dawesville. This trailer was a bit out of the 70s but it was a good price. 

We needed to do some prepping for our road trip so we took a day to learn how to fly the drone and I did baked potatoes, quinoa and Vivi and I baked chocolate chip cookies. It felt so good to do some cooking and prepping for our 5 week road trip. 

Just so you know what comes next… we rent a campervan and take off up the coast of Australia for the next 3 weeks. Destination: Darwin. It’s actually only 19 days so it’s a lot of driving but I adore road trips and camping in a van so I’m LOVING life. Remember: I did this exact same road trip 20 years ago with my cousin. 

Then we hop a flight from Darwin to Cairns and drive down to Brisbane for two weeks in the exact same kind of campervan. 

On the 23rd we drove to pick up the campervan. That took a lot longer than we had hoped. But, total score, there was a pile at the camper pickup place of free stuff that people left behind. I grabbed: oatmeal, rice, a big water container, a tarp, a big shopping bag, a beach awning, a thing to suspend laundry from, washing pods for clothing, sponges, a plastic bowl, lemons, and a few other things I’m sure I forgot. 

Then the bad news. Luc thought we didn’t need to get the insurance for the van because he thought it was covered under our Visa but we double checked the fine print and we weren’t covered. So we needed to pay $600 more than we thought we were going to. Oh geez. That wasn’t in our budget. We decided to forgo the extra $130 for windshield and tire repair. Cross our fingers we don’t need that. 

And we hit the road…. 

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