In the spring of 2011, after driving across the Nullarbor Plain by car, I found myself in the vastly empty Australian state of Western Australia. The previous weeks had been spent preparing my trip across that huge desolate desert and driving. When I arrived in WA I honestly had no idea what I was going to do there. I drove there only because I had a ticket to the Soundwave Festival in Perth. Before going to Perth I decided to explore more of southwest Australia and also make a stop in Margaret River, famous for its wineries and surfing. I also didn’t want to miss major sights on the way and therefore took my time and didn’t take the fastest way to the southwest coast. I detoured past Wave Rock, a huge rock shaped like a wave, which is located a pretty long distance from anywhere, really.
Highlights of Southwest Australia
Esperance and Treetop Walk
I drove south to Esperance and its crystal-clear blue waters, saw the beautiful Recherche Archipelago and went for a gorgeous coastal drive. When I was in Australia I always travelled by car and tried to sleep in my car – a station wagon, or rented a campervan – as much as possible to save money on accommodation. I absolutely loved the freedom of that lifestyle. After that stunning coastline I headed inland again and towards the Valley of the Giants and the Treetop Walk, which is exactly as its name says. You walk through the tops of enormous gum trees along a metal walkway.
Margaret River and Cape Leeuwin
A couple of days later I arrived in Margaret River, where I hoped to find a job picking fruit for a while. Unfortunately there were hundreds, if not thousands, of other backpackers looking for the exact same thing. So, in the end, instead of working in wineries, I ended up spending most of my day on the beach, fishing and drinking goon in car parks with the rest of the backpacking community. At Margaret River, I made some great friends there and even ran into a couple of old fruit picking friends from my time in Shepparton, Victoria. I had already spent about a month and a half picking cherries in December.
Afterwards, I divided my time between lazing on beaches and road tripping around Southwest Australia. On those road trips I visited some impressive caves – the region is well-known for its large caves – and went to Cape Leeuwin, the southwestern most point of Southwest Australia, where the Southern and Indian Oceans meet.
Perth and Bunbury
So, after another couple of days in Margaret River I headed to Perth for the festival. I ended up spending two days in the capital of Southwest Australia before driving back south to Margaret River, still kind of hoping to find some work. Obviously, that didn’t work out and therefore I moved a bit north to Bunbury, the second-largest town in the entire state. I stayed in a hostel, signed up at job agencies, went knocking on doors and drove through town in search of ‘workers wanted’ signs. Eventually a few guys from the hostel and I managed to get ourselves a job at a horse race in town, the Bunbury Cup. Great fun and good money!
The rest of my days in Southwest Australia were spent by hanging out on the beach, playing beach golf – that’s right! – football (soccer) and drinking beer and goon. I also went back to Margaret River for a day to see the Margaret River Pro surfing competition, featuring world-class surfers such as Kelly Slater.