02 Jul The Great Australian Road Trip – Part IV – Adelaide to Perth
It all began with a dream, a dream to embark on the ultimate tour of the Australian continent. To buy a car and hit the road, and experience everything there is to see along the way. This is a massive undertaking and as you can imagine, one I am not underestimating in the slightest. In fact in order to approach the challenge properly one must split up the sections, hence this post, Part IV and Adelaide to Perth.
I have been planning this section of the trip for about six months. It has been a part of Australia I have been dying to explore and crossing the Nullarbor especially. The great stretch along the Southern Bight is something to behold and at some point everyone travelling to Aus should have the chance to stand silent in complete awe of this magnificent part of the world. It is truly incredible, not to mention the clear nights sky, I have never beheld stars like this, honestly every night crossing the Nullarbor we were accompanied by stars unlike anything you have ever seen, a splendid fury of blistering pin pricks in a velvet canvas.
Anyway to get back to the beginning, this trip was really set into stone with the help of my friend Nellie. She had moved back to Adelaide after a few months travelling Aus and when I brought up the idea for the trip she jumped all over it and asked to join. Why not, I knew I would need travellers and knew I could travel with Nellie as last November we had crossed Darwin to Adelaide together and because she was a vital part of The Great Australian Road Trip – Part II I knew she’d be perfect for Part IV and V.
Once we knew it was happening the next step was to get the car and a few more travellers. I ended up buying a Nissan Patrol ST 4WD seven seater wagon. It. Is. Awesome!! Now nicknamed Baby Blue, she was the absolute perfect vehicle for driving across the Nullarbor and into southern WA… and beyond. It was a no brainer.
Once we had the car it was time to find some backpackers. I simply put out an add on GumTree (Australia’s version of Craigslist… I think) asking for people to join on the journey. Within a couple days I had a few replies from people who seemed pretty cool. Nellie and I decided to meet them in person and explain our plans. It was mostly camping and we knew we’d be with these people for a number of days and wanted to make sure we would all get along and then some, hopefully become good friends. I am happy to say that has basically been exactly the case, which is awesome!
First to join was Rich from Cambridge, England. Rich is an absolute legend and has done some incredible travels with more still to come. He was a shoe in within the first few minutes of chatting with him. Second was Nathalie from the Netherlands. She was so sweet and keen to join us, we couldn’t say no, and were never really considering it anyway. She is an absolute gem of a human and so kind to the bone it seemed the perfect sitch. Let’s do it we all said over coffee in Adelaide.
With the car, gear, and crew complete it was time to hit the road.
I am not going to go into too much detail about where we went, and for how long, and why, and how, etc. etc. I want to focus more on the overall experience of exploring a new part of a new country and having the freedom and flexibility to do on our time. It is truly the ultimate sense of freedom and one I crave as a traveller ad backpacker. Now this being said, I do need to touch on some of the places we went and the people who make those places special, especially in SA.
The Eyre Peninsula was one of my favourite places to visit during my time as Wildlife Caretaker and I am happy to say I made some lifelong friends and contacts there. Some of whom were able to visit on those first days to say a final goodbye. Huge shout out goes to Damian and Fizza at Tumby Bay for the awesome BBQ that first night camping. Huge huge shout out (and massive thank you) goes to Diana and Abby from the Port Lincoln Hotel for the incredible generosity of hooking up accommodation in PL. You two are incredible friends and I cannot thank you enough. That evening with you guys, the crew, Lunch and Mandy was one we won’t soon forget. Huge shout out goes to Matt Waller at Adventure Bay Charters for the Shark Diving and Sea Lion trip that arvo. Was a pleasure seeing you again mate and always nice to have the chance to get out on the boat.
From Port Lincoln we headed up the incredible Western Eyre Peninsula to Ceduna. That part of SA is like the Great Ocean Road of Vic without all the people, longer, and more scenic. Serious. It is such a perfect spot.
From Ceduna we started across the famed Nullarbor. This area stretches hundreds of kilometers across the Great Australian Bight and is relatively straight the entire way with a surreal lack of trees, hence the aboriginal name Nullarbor meaning lack of trees. It is a pretty awesome part of SA and one we enjoyed exploring over two days.
Crossing into WA the Nullarbor region continues with Australia’s longest stretch of completely straight road (146km) running directly west. As we started to cover some solid ground across the southern part of the continent it was time to leave the desert and start heading even further south into the part of WA’s famed forested coast.
Our first stop was Esperance and Cape le Grand National Park. I have wanted to visit Lucky Bay for years simply to get this photo. Check.
The area of Cape le Grand NP is stunning and was a great intro to the natural landscapes of Australia’s biggest state. We spent a couple days exploring the area before heading further west along the coastal highway and into the Valley of the Giants, a huge expanse of lush and mystical coastal forest.
From Albany and Denmark we followed the coast into Nornalup and Walpole checking out beaches, natural pools, and cliff lookouts all on route to the impenetrable forests. This southern coast is truly an incredible part of WA and one often overlooked by the backpacker exploring Australia.
Once past Walpole we entered the area of giant Red Tingle Tress and some pretty impressive forest scenery, a nice change from six months in SA, it was a chance for me to even start feeling a little nostalgic thinking at times I was walking through the forests of British Columbia.
From Shannon we followed the coastal highways through national park after national park passing through Northcliffe, Pemberton, Peerabeelup, Karridale, and eventually Augusta. It was an awesome couple days exploring honestly an area of Australia that felt like northern BC or California. Thick dense forests lush with fresh water rivers crashing into the tumultuous cliffs of coast.
From Augusta and the southern most point of the Western Coast we headed north into the famed region of Margaret River. For those who have never heard of Margs, it is one of the most pristine food and wine regions of all Aus and also plays host to some incredible world class surfing. We got really lucky in Margs and were able to hook up with a couple friends one who happens to have a shack in the area perfect for us to crash at for a couple days. Noice!
Enter Liz and Matt, Matt is a legend Aussie who grew up in Perth and Margaret River, Liz is a French-Canadian who Nellie met a few months ago travelling on the East coast. Matt and Liz met backpacking in Spain two years ago and reconnected in Aus this year. Getting confused yet? Liz and Nellie were talking about the road trip and we decided it would be awesome to have her join for the route from Perth to Darwin. She was stoked and jumped on board. Liz and Matt knew we were coming up through Margs and came down to meet us for a couple days before we all headed back up to Perth. It was perfect timing and a huge shout out goes to Matt for hosting at his shack.
The next couple days we spent exploring Margaret River, hitting up wineries, surfing, running, and generally chilling in a beautiful coastal playground. Margs is an incredible part of SW WA and well worth the visit if you are in Perth.
Perth!! The capitol of WA, a new city, Canada Day celebrations, and goodbyes. It was a hectic couple days back in a big city. We were super lucky to stay with Matt in Scarbourough (a beach suburb) and also one night with some of my old travelling friends in Myaree. Perth is a very expensive yet beautiful city. In the short time we had to explore we were lucky to see it through the eyes of locals with accessibility to free accomm and kitchens to do are own cooking. Both Kris, Sarah, and Matt are absolute legends and great friends. Like the saying goes, what gets paid forward will somehow get paid back. Thank you guys!!
After a couple days repacking and rehashing the itinerary we were off once again. The Great Australian Road Trip continues yet again. This time it’s Perth to Darwin!!
This is gonna’ be good!!