We’d driven for hours in relentless sunshine, passed grazing Kangaroos, heading north from the most isolated City in the World and down sunbaked backroads to see the Stromatolites.
The earliest known form of life, which provided the Earth with Oxygen billions of years before plant life existed and still living in Lagoons in this remote part of the Country.
We were in Western Australia on a three week family holiday.
We hadn’t intended to return to Oz for a few years but I had found such an incredible airfare offer with Singapore Airlines that we couldn’t refuse. The previous year we’d explored the Sydney & the East Coast so decided to concentrate on WA this time around. Unbelievably the closest City to Perth is Singapore, so it is cut off from the rest of Australia by miles of desert and unrelenting outback, but there is plenty to occupy you here.
Our detour to see the Stromatolites at Hamelin Pools was made during a 800 km journey north to see the bottlenose Dolphins who come inshore to be fed every day at the oddly named Monkey Mia Resort, a popular tourist attraction and worth a couple of nights stay to enjoy the dolphins and wildlife. The Northwest Coastal Highway is the only access point to this part of the State and is dotted with outback Farms, miles & miles of dusty tarmac accommodating the iconic road-train and the very occasional Roadhouse, 50’s style diners that play country & western music. We stopped to take photo’s as we crossed the ’rabbit proof fence’ which stretches from the coast into the very heart of Australia, quite a remarkable feat of labour and the title for a film set in this unforgiving landscape. We also braved the searing heat to walk the shores in disbelief at the sight of one of the pink lakes which dot the landscape in this region. The memory of the journey will stay with me forever not just because of its diversity but also for the sense of adventure in the ‘real’ Australia.
Perth is a beautiful city which we explored on-foot to fully enjoy the relaxed atmosphere of the cafe culture and superb food, plentiful buses and trains are available to take you to the outlaying towns as well as a tram which links the main tourist area. A city of thoughtfully laid out parks and shopping streets as well as ample historic attractions including the Perth Mint. The fabulous beaches strung out along the Sunset Coast of the Indian Ocean are remarkably uncrowded and uncommercialised.
Fremantle, some 12 miles from Perth is a fascinating Port with an incredible history of sea trading and is well worth a visit, be it for the day or an extended few nights to explore the lively restaurants which dot the Port and offer micro-breweries serving lovely seafood in historic surroundings. We stayed at the famous Esplanade Hotel which has a rich and interesting history. A short ferry ride to the Island of Rottnest is very worthwhile, surrounded by powder white sand beaches, rugged craggy coves and a famous lighthouse. It’s also home to the extremely cute Quokka, a very inquisitive cat-sized Mammal which looks like a mini Kangaroo is partial to checking through your bags and is found mainly on this Island.
After celebrating Australia Day with fireworks at Barrack Square jetty overlooking the Swan River we left Perth and headed south to the Margaret River wine region – our home for the next few days a 6 berth campervan! I always recommend pre-booking the campsites not least to ensure that after a long day of travelling that you have a place to set up your barbie & open a tinny but also because Campgrounds do get booked up – particularly the ones overlooking the secluded beaches that the southern region is renowned for.
We climbed the enormous ‘fire lookout tree’ in Pemberton and walked in the treetop canopy in Valley of the Giants Walpole-Narnalup National Park, held jellyfish in our hands(not the deadly type!) and walked the longest jetty in the Southern Hemisphere at Busselton – oh and tried some of the fabulous wines that this area is renowned for of course.
Just one State in Australia but enough to keep us occupied and entertained for three glorious weeks.
I have been a travel agent for 30 something years and love it, but one of the unfortunate side-effects of the job is that you learn so much about a destination that when you go there you want to see everything. It’s not always feasible and I like to build in some relaxation time to stop and catch a breath before moving on. Careful planning of driving distances and an idea of things to see & do on the way are important to fully enjoy the Holiday and still come home refreshed. That’s why a tailor-made holiday is so important, a good travel agent should find out what you want to see and enjoy doing before putting a suggested itinerary to you.
After all we are all different and not everyone wants to see the Stromatolites!!!
Sue Alexander is Managing Director of Eagle Executive Travel 11 Goldington Road Bedford and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org