Perth: the first big city on our trip, a promising skyline overlooking the Swan river and even traffic jams – we were excited when entering. The city is very spread out, so we stayed at a campground in the south and took the train to get in. Perth is a pleasant city, fairly residential with only a small center and water all around due to its location by the river and the ocean. The beaches outside the city are not bad at all, there were quite a few kiters out in the water and we heard that there is also good surf. Perth gets a yearly average of incredible 8 (!) hours of daily sunshine – blue skies almost guaranteed! All that makes it a great place to live for sure!
We spent a day wandering around, did some shopping and had a picnic at King’s Park overlooking the city. The part we liked best was Fremantle, technically a town neighbouring Perth, but today enfolded within its suburbs. After a visit to a museum featuring all the ships that have wrecked off Australia’s wild western coast we enjoyed the mellow vibe. “Freo” how the locals call it, is the typical “oh, so cool”, bohemian neighborhood with stylish boutiques, second-hand bookshops, galleries, artsy cafes and the obligatory eco-vegan restaurants. What makes it especially charming (and stand out from Perth’s rather modern architecture) are the grand and intact Victorian buildings all over the place.
Perth city center
The region below Perth, the southwestern corner of Australia, is famous for two things: surf & wine. And the town of Margaret River is the epicentre of both. Reason enough to make it our next stop. Unfortunately the weather changed along the way and after 48 days of sunshine the sky all of a sudden turned grey. The next day temperatures dropped and it started to rain. We escaped the bad weather by booking a full-day wine tour through the region. Aussies enjoy their drink, so when we arrived at the first vineyard the lady who led through the tasting announced that she would keep explanations short and simple and pour the wine instead. We rattled through 8 wines in just below 20 minutes – we don’t have much experience in wine tastings but this was a pretty quick one! During the day we went to 3 more vinyards, a cheeseshop, a chocolate factory and a brewery. Tough agenda, but we tasted some really decent wines (although they kept their top range locked away in the cellar) and the food they served was class. We got to try kangaroo meat, smoked crocodile (tastes like a mixture or trout and chicken) and other local goodies.
Tasting is on!
The surf we didn’t try ourselves, but left to the pros. The breaks at Margaret River and Yallingup are said to be amungst the best in Australia and regularly hold big contests. We stayed at the shore and enjoyed the show.
Prime location: Surfer’s point at Margret River
One of the must-dos in this region is the treetop walk in the so called “valley of the giants“, basically a 600 meter long bridge at a height of 40 meters overlooking a forest of tingle trees which only grow in this area of the world. It was really impressive to see the scenery from above and when the strong winds make the bridges swing high up in the air your stomach is tempted to join in and swing along.
Tree top walking
The weather still was not good with rainshowers every day. Not ideal when you live in a van and come back with soaking feet from every run to the loo. Therefore, we skipped further stops on the way and headed east to Esperance to flee from the rain. Luckily our plan worked out. Staying at a fantastic bush camp in Le Grand National Park (if you ever happen to be in the area, go there!) we woke to sunshine and could enjoy some of the most amazing beaches one could imagine. I know, we said that about other beaches before, but it seems that in Australia there is always something even more spectacular on offer. Lucky Bay (what a name!) was tested by scientists to be the whitest beach in Oz and we have nothing to add: see for yourselves!
Sand so clean it squeaks when you walk on it
Can you believe those colours?