WA has blown us away – sometimes literally. As we have been coasting down the west coast, we have been blown away by the turquoise water, red cliffs, white sand, marine life – and also the gale force winds.
And as much as we love our camper trailer, there have been quite a few nights where I have to admit to having major caravan envy. While our tent on wheels has been shuddering, bopping around and threatening to sweep into the ocean like a kite surfer, I have been massively coveting our neighbours’ tin can fortresses of security.
We have crammed a lot into the last few weeks. After our cruisy, snoozy and boozy month in Broome, it was onwards and downwards. 80 Mile Beach, Pardoo, Karijini (for some gorges to break up all those beaches), Exmouth, Cape Range, Ningaloo, Bullara Station, Coral Bay, Warrior Station (pronounced “Warra” which I did not find out until struggling over this tongue twister many times), Carnavon, Wooramel, Denham, Monkey Mia and now Steep Point, the most western point of mainland Australia.
And it has been action packed. We have swum with whale sharks, snorkelled with sea turtles, fed dolphins from the beach, been circled by sharks, caught a shark, lazed around in artesian hot tubs, hooned through sand dunes, and watched more spectacular west coast sunsets than you can poke a glass of bubbles at (that’s not strictly true – we have had way more glasses of bubbles than sunsets, but no need to get too pedantic. And I have used “glasses” loosely – really meaning camper trailer proof scratched plastic cups).
We kept the boozy Broome band together for a little while, and hung out for the first few stops with a travelling family we met on the Gibb (@allavery adventures – aka “The Dudes”). In Coral Bay, we met back up with @thesquishy6 (who I had previously Instagram stalked in Kununnara and hung around with bottles of wine until they agreed to be
drinking buddies friends with us). And since: we are on a similar trajectory south; their kids are joined at the hips with ours; the adults like a glass of bubbles or two and let me belt out some campfire side Bon Jovi occasionally, they are stuck with us we have joined forces until Perth.
The two main reasons we decided to get a camper trailer instead of a caravan was so we could go off-road and so we could cook outside. We don’t regret this decision, and we have done some fantastic off-roading and outdoor cooking in our Shack. But I have to confess there have been a few nights recently when the wind was howling, the gas on our cooktop kept blowing out, our tent on wheels was flapping around like a sail, all the poles were rattling, and I looked at our travelling buddies’ caravans, and thought it must be nice to have…walls, a roof, a door you can close rather than a zip – and something more between their heads and the cyclone conditions outside than some canvas. Thankfully, on some particularly windy nights, the Squishy6 have kindly squished a few more in for dinner, and for kids movies, to save us bunkering down in our car (which is sometimes the only wind protection we have). Gotta love buddies with a fortress.
We had a few absolute must dos on our west coast list. Beach camping at Warroora (“Warra”) Station was one – but unfortunately the gales and fierce sand blasting drove us out of there after one sleepless night (says the fam in the camper trailer. The Dudes and the Squishy6 in their stable and secure tin cans slept just fine).
And then there were a few other spots that were on the “Meh – not really fussed” list. Monkey Mia and Steep Point were two of these.
All we knew about Monkey Mia was that you could feed dolphins – and we had already been lucky enough to do this (completely unexpectedly and without having to pay a cent) in Whyalla early in our trip. We had also heard a few whinges about it being overpriced, chances of getting picked to feed a dolphin amongst the massive crowds are slim, so commercialised …rah, rah rah
You hear a lot of bitching and moaning like this on the road (or read about it on wiki camps), and we have learnt to tune it out. We thought we should check it out for ourselves while we were nearby but because it is such a popular – and small- spot, we could only book for one night. Which turned out to be pretty much the best 24 hours we have had on our whole trip. In our first 20 minutes we had seen a sea turtle swim by, 5 dolphins swim to shore and our kids got picked to feed “Puck”.
We lounged on the beach, swam in the crystal clear water, fished and waved hello (no patting allowed) to the dolphins that swam right up to us. Had a few/ many/a few too many drinks at what has to be one of Australia’s most picturesque pubs -the Monkey Bar. The next morning was overcast and I walked along the beach at high tide – not another person in sight. Dolphins were jumping, sea turtles swam by and then a huge manta ray jumped out of the water and flew right beside me. I caught none of this on camera because I’m no David Attenborough- but I will remember that morning stroll forever. Yes, the campground was on the more expensive side ($70 per night with NRMA discount), but really – would you call $70 for this (perhaps just ignore what we spent on our “few” drinks at the Monkey Bar) – overpriced?
I call it a freakin bargain.
Steep Point, the most westerly point on mainland Australia, was another take it or leave it spot. We didn’t know whether we could be bothered to make what we had heard was a very corrugated trek out there – just for a windswept selfie with a sign. Again, we were so glad we bothered.
We camped about 100kms away, at Tamala Station. We thought this would just be a base for our day trip to Steep Point, but it turned out to be a destination in itself, and one of our best campsites ever. Check it out.
And “we” (not me) caught a shark, from a handline that the boys had kayaked and dropped out off shore. As you do.
The drive out to Steep Point was a bit corrugated in parts, but the scenery was that spectacular – we didn’t care. The sign at the westerly point is definitely the least interesting thing about this place. Whale watching, blowholes, epic 4WDing in dunes, along cliffs, and right along the beach, cliff fishing, wild waves and weather, were all way more fun than the selfie. But of course we got the selfie (several) too. Tick.
PS – Last week a Sydney paper ran a story on our adventures.
Which the kids thought was pretty cool – BUT, for what’s it’s worth (not much), a few minor corrections.
1. I was never the “high-flying head of mergers and acquisitions”. It perhaps would have been more accurate to say “junior burger M&A partner who caught the train to work, and who sometimes had to get shaken awake by strangers with drool running down her face, after she fell asleep on her morning commute”. No head of anything, not much high-flying, lots of lowly public transporting.
2. For the record, my family and I had showered in the last week. More than once in fact. I think our longest stinky stretch is three days without showering – a hygienic achievement, for someone who lives in a tent on wheels, of which I am very proud.