West Coast and Margaret River
After living on the beautiful east coast of Australia for 3 1/2 years we knew that the west coast was going to impress. The northern coastline around Coral Bay was spectacular and the weather warm and sunny. As we made our way south towards Perth we felt the temperatures fall and the sprawl of the big city reach out to us.
During the drive from Coral Bay to Carnarvon, the rear brake that had been problematic previously, started to overheat again. We removed the wheel and caliper once again and there was still no visible cause, we drove all the way (the remaining 200kms) without touching the brake once. One of the few perks of the long straight roads through this region! We later had this checked out in Carnarvon by a mechanic and they found nothing wrong. We continued on in the hope this intermittent problem would fix itself.
We spent 2 nights at Red Bluff, a remote station campsite immediately on the edge of the coast renowned for its impressive surf. A couple of days relaxing here and a few dips in the ocean we could see why it had this reputation. As the ocean calmed at dusk, we admired amazing and unforgettable sunsets.
Stars and surf at Red Bluff
A local roo watching over camp
At the start of the track there is a brilliant blow hole, well worth stopping here, we carelessly left the camera behind though! Also worth noting that this spot has a famous food van, sadly they weren’t here so there were no bacon rolls for us this time.
One great sight along the coast is Shark Bay. Known for it’s dolphins, azure waters and living stromatolites. Hamelin Pool is one of only two places in the world where living stromatolites exist. They are the earliest record of life on earth, it’s thanks to these stromatolites that this area is so rich in iron ore.
Hamelin Pool Stromatolites.
A great opportunity to bring out the 8-15mm fisheye lens.
Flying fish were plentiful in Hamelin Pool.
In an effort to avoid the tourist trail we headed north up the penninsula of Cape Peron National Park. A 35km stretch of corrugated and in places very deep sand track led us to the ocean and beautiful calm still water at Herald Bight. There was an airing station at the start of the track, it would be great if all tracks provided a compressor!
Remote beach camping in Francois Peron NP.
Shark bay is a tourist hot spot, there is a daily admission fee but worth it for the opportunity to hand feed dolphins. There’s a maximum of 3 feeds per day and this was the last one, they pick people out of the crowd so it’s pot luck, I really was excited to get chosen, and to be the first.
Dolphin feeding in Shark Bay.
Did you know that dogs can’t look up? Well neither can dolphins, so they swim on their sides to get a good look at you!
Continuing south along the North West Coast Hwy we could feel the drop in temperature. Whilst the grey nomads all ventured north in search of the warmth we were leaving it behind. The days we pleasant but the nights were plummeting to around 14 degrees. Shock! We realised we had acclimatised to the top end heat and humidity.
Before reaching Perth, there was one more sight on our itinerary. Nambung National Park, home to the Pinnacles Desert. Erosion has left these stone pillars, mimicking gravestones, protruding from the sandy desert floor. You can drive the designated route through the pillars and there are multiple opportunities to hop out of the car to get close up. With the ocean in the distance, and grey clouds moving in, this was a really unique, almost eerie place.
It would be foolish to visit Perth and not explore Margaret River and surrounding wine region. We spent some cool days tasting local red wines, cheese and chocolate. A great accessible trip from the city.
Doug bravely climbed 51 metres to the top of the Diamond Tree, this was a fire lookout between 1941-74, I however got dizzy at around 4 metres so stayed safely on the ground.
View from the top of the Diamond Tree.
The area surrounding Walpole on the south coast is known as the Valley of the Giants. An obvious name for these huge 400 year old trees. Hidden away in the forest is the leisurely treetop walk.
Tree Top walk in Valley of the Giants.
Kookaburra drops into camp.
While in Perth we are staying with relatives of Doug’s, after 2 months in the tent it’s strange to be indoors again. Time for some city sightseeing, trip planning and preparing the car for shipping.
Meeting the locals on Heirisson Island, Perth.
After a few trips to Bunnings for tie down straps, wood, nails and a padlock, the big day arrived for putting the car into the container. Removing the roof tent is never a fun task, but Doug reversed the car in with surprising ease (skill?!). It took the two of us 6 hours, not sure where the time went, but we closed the door, applied the customs seal and lock then waved goodbye for the short term. We hope to be reunited on or around 7th July.
Nailing the wooden chocks to the container floor.Once we receive the car in South Africa, Doug will write a detailed post on the container loading in the overlander area for those that are interested.
Just the other day our Africa guide books arrived in the post and it felt like Christmas. It’s great to have some up to date reading material in our hands to assist with planning the next leg of the trip.
This is the route we’ve covered during this blog post:
Rear brake check up (still no fault found)
Pre-trip check up (1x new wheel bearing, 3 new belts)
1x fuel filter