Instead of continuing straight to Perth after the Nullarbor we felt we needed some beach time, so we dropped down and took the coastal route. Our first stop was Esperance which promised Australia’s most picture-perfect beaches. Esperance was a pretty, small town and had a lovely relaxed feel about it – definitely something we needed after such a long journey. The beaches were spectacular with stretches of bright, white sand and clear, blue sea. On arrival to the first beach car park we thought we were in paradise! In hindsight, the bathers with sarongs over their faces and the quiet beaches were a hint that something wasn’t quite right.. Anyway, we packed up our beach kit and headed down to the sands. Within a few seconds we were swarmed by hundreds of flies!! If you’ve never experienced bush flies before, let us tell you that they are incredibly persistent – no matter how many times or how ferociously we tried to swipe them away, whether they wanted to climb in our ears, up ours noses or in our mouths, they will get there and stay there!! This has led us to learn the ‘aussie salute’. The Aussie’s found us poms hilarious, especially when we were buying every anti fly contraption in the local supermarket.
The Great Ocean Road was long behind us but now we were on The Great Ocean Drive which definitely revivaled the more famous road! This drive was only a 40km loop but had the most breathtaking stretch of coast. The drive was perfect – as long as we made sure our windows were wound up and we didn’t get out of the van at any point due to the flies!
Whilst in this region we visited Cape Le Grand National Park which is often featured on Aussie calendars. The park is famous for a beach called ‘Lucky Bay’ and often has local kangeroos sunbathing on the beach. Although we didn’t see any sunbathing, they were hopping about the beach all day. It was very surreal! During our time at the park we also decided to climb ‘Frenchman Peak’ (in flip flops). We thought it would be a nice stroll to stretch our legs but in fact it included 40 degree sheer rock inclines! The view from the top however was incredible and we could see for miles. Whilst clambering over rocks to get to the summit we were very cautious of disturbing any snakes! A few lizards kept us on our toes with Charlotte not hanging about to verify with Jamie whether the ‘slithery something’s’ were snake or lizard!
After Esperance we headed towards Albany. Unfortunately we did something we said we’d never do in outback Australia.. Drive during sunset. We completely misjudged sunset and timings and found ourselves watching a beautiful sunset from the road with no rest stops to pull into for the night. We were both on strict roo watch for what seemed like forever! Jamie was the unfortunate one to be behind the wheel at this time and out of nowhere popped Skippy making a beeline for the bonnet of Mazie. From here time stood still and you could almost hear the silent shrieks that came from the two of us! We swerved to the other side of the road and will never know how we did not hit that roo. Charlotte was very helpful by clinging onto Jamie for dear life throughout this whole fiasco! This was an experience we never want to happen again!
So we made it to Albany in one piece just in time to watch the famous ‘Melbourne Cup’. The Melbourne Cup is a little like the Grand National although the Aussies take it far more seriously. Literally the whole of Australia stops mid week to watch this 5 minute race, all dolled up as if they were at the races themselves. We didn’t win a dime but it was such a great atmosphere to watch. We loved Albany although the flies weren’t much better!
Our next stop along the coast was Margaret River. On arrival to the town the heavens opened and it absolutely poured with rain! To Jamie’s delight we spotted a traditional English pub to duck into. Margaret River is another wine region known for excellent Chardonnays and Bordeaux-style reds. We decided to be very un-traveller-like and booked ourselves onto a wine tour. We were picked up bright and early the next morning by our tour guide who was extremely funny and reminded us of Dame Edna Everage. There was about 20 of us on the tour and everyone was from different pockets of the world. We visited 4 vineyards, a brewery, a chocolate factory, a cheese factory and finished off the day tasting cocktails and dessert wines. That’s without lunch at a sheep farm-come-vineyard and trying kangaroo and crocodile meat. The whole day from start to finish was great fun and a sure a highlight of our trip so far. And yes, we are becoming quite the wine snobs! Margret River wasn’t all about wine, the area also treated us to some amazing caves. We visited Lake Cave, home to the worlds only-known “suspended table” which weighs several tonnes! The experience of true darkness was incredible as was the mirror effect that the lake gave.
We pulled ourselves away from Margaret River and headed for Perth! We booked ourselves into another airbnb apartment and stayed with a lovely couple from Singapore just outside from the city centre. This time we had no dramas and absolutely loved staying in a house, in a real bed and were able to shower without having to wear flip flops!
The next day promised to be a scorcher so we headed to Fremantle. We LOVED this port-town which was filled with history, culture and London Borough-style markets. We spent the day happily visiting these attractions in the heat and as luck would have it the town was having a big street party too. The streets were full of entertainers and bands – everyone was also given a piece of chalk and were allowed to leave their mark on the streets of Fremantle. A sunset on the beach finished off the day.
We were rudely awoken the next morning by the most fantastic storm. By the time we got into Perth the storm had passed and we were ready to start our day exploring the city. As we had been on the most fantastic walking tour in Melbourne we thought we’d do the same in Perth. However, queuing up to sign in, the heavens opened once more along with another great storm and the tour was unfortunately cancelled. So we pottered off, found a nice cafe in the square and within 10 minutes the sun was shining again. We luckily made the afternoon walking tour although we had the most boring tour guide! By the end of the tour we knew every single dotted detail about Perth, even down to where the cleaners in the cathedral go to the toilet. Perth is the fastest growing city in Australia and we could feel it, with building work and cranes everywhere. Although we really liked Perth it’s somewhere we’d like to come back to in ten years or so.
Positive lessons: wine tasting is far more fun when neither of us has to drive!
Next stop Broome..!
Love Charlotte & Jamie x x
The Great Ocean Drive
Through the ‘eye’
Tree top walk
Margret River wine tour
Lake Cave – with the suspended table