When Dean and I had been on the road for a total of 365 days, I shared the Top Ten Moments we’d experienced so far. At the time we were at Cactus Beach on the western side of South Australia’s Eyre Peninsular and about to cross the Nullarbor Plain and enter Western Australia.
Four months later, when we crossed over the border and into the Northern Territory, I neither had the time nor took the chance, to share what I thought were the highlights of our time exploring the west side of Australia and therefore . . .
In honour of our time there, I’ve come up with:
Our WA Top 10 Moments
(Click any image to go to the corresponding thought or group of thoughts and please enjoy.)
No 10 – Crossing the Nullarbor Plain
Our trip across the Nullarbor Plain was certainly far from ‘the most boring part of travelling around Australia’ as we’d been led to believe. Although technically this journey commences in South Australia where the Head of the Bight and the Bunda Cliffs are a must-see, from there you cross the border and commence traversing the plain and at one point drive along the longest stretch of straight road in Australia (146.6 kilometres/90 miles), just one small section of the crossing.
There was, there is, something eerily beautiful about the Nullarbor and we spent three days widening our horizons as we drove across this vast, treeless and mesmerising plain.
No 9 – The Caves Beneath Margaret River
Formed approx. one million years ago, there are currently 300 known caves in the Leeuwin-Naturaliste ridge area and four of these fragile karst systems are open to the public.
Anyone, young or old, can enter (for a small fee) and become amazed by labyrinths intricately decorated by limestone crystal formations, some unique to the area such as the crystal formation known as the ‘suspended table’ that hangs from the ceiling of Lake Cave, suspended above the waters of a tranquil lake.
Each cave had its own highlight, that one formation that is unique and in each cave we found some formations thoughtfully highlighted by strategically placed lighting, others left to be seen as nature intended.
No 8 – The Southern Forests
The trees of the southern forests were spectacular. The Red Tingle is one of the tallest trees in Western Australia and is found almost exclusively in Walpole-Nornalup National Park – a relict of former tropical forests.
Walking in the shade of these exceptional trees was refreshing, the air filled with an invigorating forest smells, and the near-silence beneath their canopy made the Ancient Empire walk truly awe-inspiring.
And then there were the Karri Trees – I fell in love with them.
Karri trees, another native of the wetter regions of Western Australia’s South West, have a very tall very straight trunk that doesn’t separate into branches until high up towards the top of the tree.
No 7 – The Southern Beaches
Then there were the beaches of the Goldfields-Esperance region that are located on the southeastern coast of Western Australia.
They were incredible with pristine white sand and crystal clear waters of the Southern Ocean.
At Cape Le Grand National Park we were amazed at the wildflowers on show. They were beautiful and I’ll never forget seeing a field covered in gorgeous little pink bottlebrushes. Nor will I forget falling over when we were out bushwalking and limping the 2½ hours it took to get from Hellfire Bay back to the campground.
No 6 – Fun Times in Shark Bay
It was so hot when we were at Shark Bay that it was almost impossible to enjoy ourselves. On our first evening, it was still 38°C (100.4°F) at 5:30 pm and it didn’t get much cooler after the Sun disappeared.
One of the main attractions of Shark Bay, besides the sharks and all the other wildlife and sea life, is the world-famous Shell Beach, renown for being covered in millions, and millions of shells.
Shark Bay is also where you find Monkey Mia famous for its dolphins that arrive each morning seeking food. It was refreshing to hear this is controlled to ensure the dolphins continue to feed in the wild and I was thrilled to be chosen to offer a fish to Puck.
No 5 – Kalbarri National Park
Kalbarri National Park is one of Western Australia’s best-known parks. It covers an area of 1,830.05 km2 (706.6 sq mi) and preserves an inland desert of stunning red and white striped Tumblagooda sandstone.
Wrapping around the town of Kalbarri itself, the national park also encompasses soaring sea cliffs more than 100 metres high (328 feet) just south of the town.
But it’s the lower reaches of the Murchison River and its gorge that are (in my opinion) the main attraction and Nature’s Window was the first spot on our must-see list. Despite the day being incredibly hot before 9:00 am, we spent a few hours enjoying the area (and the view) before returning to the coast and slightly cooler air.
No 4 – Our Flight Over the Bungle Bungle Range
We arrived to find the access road to the Bungle Bungle Range closed. Even though the annual rains stayed away, most of the parks and popular ‘must-see’ areas are seasonally closed during the wet season and we found ourselves unable to enter many access roads.
We were thrilled though when one of the tour operators scheduled a flight and sat back and enjoyed the view while our pilot took us on an incredible journey over the Bungle Bungle Range and many other spectacular areas of the wilderness that is Western Australia’s Kimberley region.
No 3 – Turquoise Bay
Found in North West National Park, we chose to visit Turquoise Bay on a Friday morning and were surprised that we were alone. We had all of this to ourselves for hours.
The water was crystal clear, warm, and so inviting, gently lapping the sands along a stretch of beach protected by the Ningaloo Reef just offshore.
We walked along the water’s edge, swam with the fishes, and basked in the glory of a positively perfect day, with skies devoid of cloud and the temperature a mild 38°C (100.4°F). Yes, that was mild considering the average temperature we’d been experiencing was considerably hotter than that at 42°C (107.6°F). Yep – at the time we were in the hottest place on earth.
No 2 – Surfing Margaret River – Dean’s Top Moment
This is what it was all about – Dean catching a wave everywhere he could as we drove around the outside of Australia.
Margaret River is a surfing mecca and it really turned on the charm for Dean. For five days the waves were perfect, just the right size for Dean to enjoy a ‘nice ride’. On the sixth day, however, the wave height and power had increased and he broke his favourite board. Although it was only Dean surfing, I loved being onshore, operating my trusty camera and trying my best to capture great shots of him on the waves.
No 1 – Everything about WA’s South West Region
Despite there being three moments already listed from our time in Western Australia’s South West, there were many more moments that deserve to included.
From Busselton to Yallingup and Prevalley Beach and watching the Southern and Indian oceans smash into each other at Augusta. There’s also the incredible weather, the wineries, the surf, and the wildflowers. (I could also add to that the gorgeous little towns of Denham and Albany, though technically they are in the Great Southern region.)
Dean and I loved the South West Region of Western Australia and, without question, it is one area we’d love to visit again.
There are so many more moments from our time in WA that didn’t make it to this list – walking around The Pinnacles, snorkelling Ningaloo Reef, cruising Lake Argyle, our time in Broome, encounters with crocodiles, visiting a pearl farm and walking Eighty Mile Beach – and yet I feel they warrant mentioning as each and every one of them contributed to what was an incredible adventure.
In response to the WordPress Discover Challenge – Adventure