They have worries, they’re counting the miles, they’re thinking about where to sleep tonight, how much money for gas, the weather, how they’ll get there – and all the time they’ll get there anyway, you see.
– Jack Kerouac, On The Road
Three girls, one station wagon, and an absolute hell of a ride.
After a cracker of a night spent celebrating Australia Day with family, I yet again put myself on a bus heading south. This time down to Margaret River, where I caught up with two girls I will never forget, and began the road trip that changed everything.
Margaret River is very pretty, but very expensive-feeling. It had a weird kind of casual-fanciness that could only come from being a mish mash of surf and wine country.
We went to see Prevelly Beach, excited to check out some real waves.
Every time I meet a new coastline my love of the ocean only grows. Simply put I am awed by, afraid of, and addicted to the ocean.
The kites surfers were having a great time making use of the wind.
I could have stayed for hours, feeling like a little kid, dreaming about a simple life involving a beach shack, a dog, a part time job and a surfboard.
All of our campsites were decided on the morning of, if not a few hours before we arrived to them. That night we slept in Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park.
We had the freedom to stop when and where we wanted – I don’t know if I could do a road trip any other way now.
As we made dinner, a kookaburra came to visit us for a while.
The southwest is like a fairytale forest, calm and ancient and safe. I went to bed that night more excited than I had been for anything in a long time.
I didn’t realise how much I had missed the great karri forests of the south; feeling small while driving down a dirt road with massive trees tower over you, and that crisp air.
We visited the old fire lookout trees. I had been up the Diamond Tree before, to watch the sunset over the forest. Today brought a new challenge – The Bicentennial Tree.
I climbed up alone, and froze up near the top, almost in tears as I clung to the re-bar posts that were the only thing stopping me from plummeting.
It was worth it. I was above everything.
There is a beautiful phenomenon that goes on down here – honour system vegetable stands. The prices are simply stated, and the register is an old arcade stand. We thought this was brilliant.
A misfortune of spontaneous camping is that sometimes there just aren’t any. Instead of bedding down in a gorgeous national park, it was the parking lot at the Conspicuous Cliffs.
Although we fell asleep on concrete, it was to the tune of the ocean and the forest.
I don’t often wake up at 5am. But when there is a beach breakfast involved, I can be swayed.
Especially when its at a beach like this.
It was a side to Australia I hadn’t expected. The colour of the Southern Ocean and the lush forests are a stark contrast to the outback.
We had been reccommended to stop at the Elephant Rocks along our drive. This was the highlight of our day, we never would have seen it otherwise.
The rocks were definitely pachyderm-eque.
Next door was Greens Pool, a perfect oasis from the rough seas.
After a quick, frosty swim to rinse the day’s grit off, we sunned dry on one enormous, warm, sloping boulder.
Lunch from that day will be in my memories forever. Driving through the windy roads, music blaring, windows down – and tiny sandwiches being made on a box-lid cutting board with a swiss army knife.
We made a brief stop at the place where Antarctica decided to snap off and head south: The Gap and Natural Bridge.
The volcanic rocks were warm and soft under bare feet, despite the ocean roaring just a few metres away.
From here we turned north, away from the coast and trees and into the wheatbelt.
There were sparse trees, lots of sheep, and rare white-cheeked black cockatoos that we screeched to a halt to see.
And then the mountains surprised us all by appearing on the horizon.
We had no idea the Stirling Range existed.
Pulling into an empty rest area in the middle of emptiness, there was nothing but the sunset, the mountains and the odd road train in the distance.
We had no idea where we were, but we were happy to be there.