We arrived in Perth airport and was immidiatley met by sniffer dogs, they are really strict when entering the country and the dogs check everyone on the plane and then people's bags to see if anyone is bringing in any friut/veg/wood of anything that could contain flies etc. We got asked about 5 times if we were carrying anything, had to complete a card and sign it and then our bags were scanned on the way out of the airport. We felt guilty for carrying a bit of chocolate and some tea from China, we were allowed through though to find that the weather was a glorious sunny day, much like an English summers day, not what we were expecting as everyone had told us it would be cold.
We phoned a hostel from the airport to make sure they had room and then got in a taxi. We were not really looking forward to staying in a shared dorm for the first time, especially when we were paying 4 times what we had been paying for double rooms in Asia. We arrived at the hostel, checked in and then collected our beding and was shown our dorm. I walked in first and it was awful, clothes all over the place, both clean and dirty, i entered our room to find that there was no floor space available for our bags as the two girls that were already there had been there a few months and had taken over the entire room, which wasn't very big anyway. Both if us had to have a top bunk with the thinest matress ever and no steps to get up to the bed. I looked at Matthew as he walked in and his face was a picture, i knew then that he wouldn't want to stay in hostels for the next 3 months and neither did i.
We literally dumped our bags and went for a walk to find something to eat and drink which was quite expensive. It was then we decided we would look into the price of hiring a campervan and if we could afford it. We got back to the hostel had showers and had an early night.
The next day we hunted for a hire place to get a campervan, we were quite lucky as one place had only 1 camper left, we worked out the price and it was only 2 quid more a day than we would be paying for beds in shared dorms and we thought we could budget on the food, so we hired the van and off we went. We didn't really look around Perth, we just wanted to get going as we knew we would be doing a lot of driving over the next 3 months to get to Sydney.
We have done so much in the campervan already that its really hard for me to tell you everything, i will do the best i can to summarise what we have done. So this blog will cover our first 2 weeks in the Van travelling from Perth up the west coast to Exmouth (coral coast).
So we picked up the van after Matthew had given it a good look over and headed north of Perth. Matthew was driving which maybe wasn't our best move as it left me to map read to get us out of Perth, i'm not that great at reading maps so the first few hours was a bit stressful. Once on the main highway though we couldn't believe how straight and how quiet the roads were. It was getting dark by this point so we stopped of at a petrol station and bought a few supplies (very expensive) and went to the nearest camp site.
The next morning we found a supermarket, well it was the size of Jacksons/Spar at home, but this is the average size of their supermarkets unless in a city. Wee stocked up and then headed to Lancelin to see the sand dunes. When we arrived it was lunch time and Matthew wanted us to park the van next to the dunes, i didn't want to drive down the path in case i got us stuck so we swaped over and Matthew drove us up to the dunes. we sat and had lunch overlooking the white sand, it was so peiceful already we were loving the freedom of the camper. We then had a wonder up the dunes that seemed to stretch for miles, everything is so vast in this country! On the was back to the van Matthew made a point of saying ' i am going to reverse a bit first so i get enough speed up to get over the brow of the bump'. Well anyway, what happened? We got stuck in the sand almost at the top, on our first day!!!!! We both tried to dig us out but it wasn't working so Matthew went to try and find someone to pull us out, i was really embarrased, but a farmer came to help, it was easy enough and then he even gave us the rope he had used to tow us incase it happened again. Then Matthew said ' your not a camper until you have had to be towed'. I wonder where he got that from!
Our next stop was a place called Cervantes where we saw a really nice sunset. The next day we went to the national park to see the 'pinacles' that are limestone columns all over the place. They are about 1.5 million years old. Strange but good. Once we had seen them and had some lunch we carried on driving to Kalbarri National Park. we arrived mid afternoon, so had a few beers and then for a walk along to beach at sunset. The next morning we headed into the national park to do an 8 kilometre walk called the loop around one of the gorges. You may not think 8 k's is very far, well its not and to be honest the walk was relatively flat, only a few climbs involved but with a heat of 40 degrees and about 50 flies constantly flying around our eyes, nose and mouth it made it a really hard walk. I really struggled with the heat and began feeling sick towards the end, but even so the scenery was great. It started and ended at nature's window that is a rock that has been weathered away into the shape of a window. It was really good and so was the walk. The coloures of the rock were amazing, especially how they changed so dramatically. We even saw our first kangaroos, they were too quick at hopping away for us to get a photo though. Matthew loved every minute of it, even with me moaning for the last 30 mins. After that we had a well deserved lazy afternoon before another long drive the next day.
On the way to our next setination we stopped off at a few places. One was to see some Stromatolites, that are basically just really old rock formations in the sea that give out oxygen and that have been around for 3.5 million years. We then stopped off at shell beach which is a beach that consists of just shell, and the shell from the same animal. This has been used to build a few buildings in nearby towns such as Denham as well as feeding chickens to make the egg shell harder. Next stop was little lagoon (that was huge) for lunch. It was really nice to have a cool off and again no one was around. We then found a camp site in denham that was really nice and had views of the beach with the hope of seeing some wild dolphins the day after.
The next morning we set off early from Denham to get to Monkey Mia one of the only places in the world where wild dolphins come up to the beach to interact with humans. We arrived just in time to see some. Basically the set up is that since the 60's dolphins have been coming up to the beach and have been fed by people, but it got to a point that the baby dolphins were dying as their mums were too busy being fed rather than hunting. So now what happens is that the dolphind still come to the beach whenever they feel like it, but they are only fed a certain amount of their daily allowance so that they still hunt and are wild. It was great to see, as the second time we saw them i was stood in the see and one just came right up to me. The dolphins don't like been touched 'as they are wild' so we could just look. It was an amazing experience to see wild dolphins up close and then see them swim back off into the sea. We both loved it.
From Monkey Mia we headed to Carnavon where we walked a 1 mile jetty on the way to coral bay to do some snorkelling. Coral bay was beautiful and the snorkelling was great too. Our first dip in the see and we came across a huge Manta Ray as well as loads of really big colourful fish. They seem to supersize everything in this country. Although we really enjoyed the snorkelling we had to move on as ths distances are so big. So we headed to cape range national park in the afternoon.
We both loved cape range national park as it had really good swimming and snorkelling at a place called turquiose bay. It was turquiose too, and the reef in the sea was so close to the shore that as soon as we satepped into the sea we could see about 100 fish. This has to be the best snorkelling so far. We loved it that much that we spent 2 days there relaxing, topping up our tans a bit and then looking at all the colourful fish, it was great. We then thought we should see a bit more of the nationalk park so headed to Yardie Creek and did a small walk. Again the scenery and the rock colours were great. Everything in this country is natural and so old its fascinating. On the way back to our camp site we saw a few kangaroos that we managed to take photos of.
So that is our first 2 weeks on Australia, we have travelled a total of 1966 miles so far. The driving, i have to say does get a bit boring. If anyone has read 'down under' by Bill Bryson he explains it perfectly. The landscape is quite barron in places, it goes from small shrubs, to bigger shrubs, maybe a few trees, the odd fire and then some red rock and red soil. The roads are so straight we get a bit exited if there is a bend as it gives us something to concentrate on. On an average day we may see 20 other drivers on the road and they all wave as we pass by, i'm not sure if thats because they are so friendly or if its to keep them awake! It is definitely relaxing driving though, apart from being overtaken by a huge road train doing 100 miles an hour, thats a bit scary sometimes. So overall our first 2 weeks have been fantastic, and although the food isn't cheap, infact fruit and veg, bread and milk is double the price of England, however the meat is so much cheaper and so much nicer we are eating lamb and steak a lot so can't complain. We are so glad we chose to hire the camper van as there would have been no other way for us to see the things we have seen.