„Is it worth it to see Australia’s Southern coast?“
„Nah mate, nothing’s there“…the standard reply.
Well, let me put this „nothing“ together in a few words:
White beaches so beautiful that they blind your eyes, green forests changing to dry deserts, endless sanddunes in the red light of the setting sun, dolphins in crystal clear blue sea, epic cliffs with waves crashing against them, hordes of kangaroos, endless stars and… zero people.
Wild and lonely nature for hours, days, weeks. Are you with me?
I’ll take you on an adventure made of dreams coming true.
If you ever visit Autralia you will notice something: 90% of all the sun-seeking travellers will be found at the Eastcoast, in famous cities like Sydney and Melbourne or places such as the Gold Coast’s own Surfer’s Paradise. Then about 9% enjoying the lonely West. Last, there are the one single abandoned percent who makes their way along the left aside South. Of course this is widely overstated, but it does create the appropriate picture in your mind.
Well, I’m more than happy about this circumstance. It’s not just the stunning nature of the South coast which makes your jaws drop, it’s also and even more the fact that you seem to have it all to yourself. You can scream and dance through your own private paradise with only a handful of ants, flies and mosquitos to hear of your bliss.
A trip from west to east
We start in Freo – Fremantle, Perth. Western Australia. My favourite state and home for the entire last year. Stories will follow, but for now we’re about to pack the car, to leave. Jammed in are pieces of memories, surfboards and my backpack. In time you learn how to live with only the stuff you really need. It can even fit into one bag.
You simply don‘t need to carry any more when you’re on the road. And every ounce of weight lost off your back is an addition to freedom, a gaining of thoughtfulness and bliss. We need to relearn that, growing up in this world full of overflow.
That’s no criticism, not at all. I mentioned it and I‘m more than thankful for where I’m coming from, the life I was living. And I do admit that I feel safer knowing that this life will always exist.
Well, back to the there and then: time to say goodbye. Time to cross this wonderful country again, going from Perth to Melbourne. From west to east. For the last time I close the door to my flat, jumping barefoot into the car, where my Australian mate awaits with a big smile on his dial. The sun’s shining through open windows, the music’s turned up – ready for another roadtrip with equal parts of summer, wilderness, and freedom.
Our first stop is just a few hours drive away. Luckily. It’s hot!
My heart begins to beat faster when I see the sign „Margaret River“. Margies. For me it’s one of the most beautiful spots in Australia. We’ve spent plenty of wonderful weekends down here during the last summer and I lead us straight to one of those lonely beaches sourrounded by cliffs and colourful flowering meadows, where we‘ll stay the night.
After exploring the nature and beaches all day long, we climb up onto the rocks to watch the sun sink into the sea. A cold beer in our hands, waves crashing against the rocks, salty breeze in sun bleached hair all add to the perfection and every fibre of my body arrives into this lovely roadtrip feeling.
You’re free from any time and dates. You dive into the rhythm of the earth. Sleeping outside, going to bed with the sun, waking up with each day‘s first light.
Before we head on, we leisurely visit the stunning wineries, chocolate and nougat factories, cafes and flower farms on the way. It’s a must for this area. You’ll love it. So wash your feet and put on a summerdress to match the stunning luxury properties you’ll be entering.
The corner in the left bottom of Australia is also called the Southern forests. Compared to the red and dry dust further north you enter a green oasis full of colourful flowers which flow to meet the white beaches and deep blues of the surrounding sea. It’s still hot and often bushfires can appear during the summer.
We stop in a little town, Pemberton, where we enjoy delicious fresh coffee in the shade of a lovely wooden cafe hidden within the lush, green bush – a magical place! It belongs to a woodcraft gallery, where you can find the most beautiful decorations or furniture made from local trees (pembertonfwg.com.au).
After getting some tips from the owner we head on towards the coast, finding a place to stay for the night. Another great help when you travel Australia by car is to use wikicamps (wikicamps.com.au), an app that shows all the legally free campsites (as well as pletny of other useful information) – so you won’t need to worry about park rangers and getting an expensive fine.
Denmark, Albany, Experance
In the near dark we arrive at a small free campsite called „Cosy Corner“. And it truly is. These campgrounds are not the standard family hoilday destination you would probably imagine. They‘re simply an area in nature where you can camp. Most are pretty small, this one has space for about 10 tents. If you are lucky, you might find a toilet, selfbuilt. Water and showers? No sorry. Well, you have the ocean in front of your nose.
For me, these campgrounds are paradise. We wake up in the morning, roll out of the tent, rub our eyes and stare across a huge lonely bay, surrounded by pure nature. We make a little fire, brew fresh ground coffee from one of the wineries (multiply talented are these farmers), cut up some fruits and enjoy a breakfast in this wonderful peaceful bay.
As I love the sea more than anything in this world, I’m sad to leave this little paradise in the middle of the nature with a lonely bay just for us. But every single night when we stop, we wake up the next morning at beaches whiter than the ones before, where the water seems clearer, the sun brighter.
One memorable highlight, we watch dolphins playing in the turqouise water of Two Peoples Bay, after waking up and placing our feet in sand white like snow. It’s almost impossible to wipe the smile from your face. There are butterflies in your tummy just like being in love. In love with this beautiful world of ours. And it’s free, all this doesn’t cost one cent.
So what do you do when you are a free traveler? You stay. You just keep your tent up and stay. There is simply no one around who would care.
In the morning you swim in the glass-like water (the only moment when you’re completely free from the flies), then you grab a stick, wander around in the nature, remembering to cause vibrations to scare off hidden snakes. You climb onto rocks, take a nap with your feet in the clear water, sit on huge sanddunes for the sunset… and when it’s getting dark, an endless sky of the brightest stars you’ve ever seen appears.
So you open a wine from one of the wineries you visited in Margaret River, roll onto your back and enjoy the stars. In this space, when you have so much timeless time in such stunning wild nature, you naturally create the most amazing conversations about philosophy, life and travelling. Then, after a few days, when the last drops of water tear from the canister, it’s time to move on.
After leaving Esperance behind, we escape the last little bit of sparse civilisation. Nature changes from green to dry, brown and dusty. More flies, more kangaroos on the roadsides and even less opportunities to fill up your water. The highway leads dead straight for hundreds of kilometres through buzzing dry heat. We are crossing the Nullarbour Plain and I love it.
Stopping at the Roadhouses on the way, for a break, you feel like you‘re in a Western movie with a feeling of being 50 years back in time. And in the middle of this huge desert our luck strikes again. We leave the road, heading towards a free camp after a long day of driving. The sun is about to set. Due to the kangaroos, driving after dark is not recommended here.
After a few bumpy gravel roads the track starts to get even again, like a dirt super-highway. We drive alongside sanddunes, a pink lake (!) and then stop in front of a fence. Hundreds of kilometres away from everything. In the middle of remote wilderness.
We open the gate, drive through and can’t belive our eyes. Facing us is a proper campground, so neat and new, with lovely attention to detail, beuatiful toilets and showers (!), even bins, wind-sheltered fire pits and again – the beach right in front of our noses. We had stumbled right into a locals surfer paradise – „Cactus Beach“.
Once again we make use of the travelers freedom: we stay for a few days. We sit on a bench overlooking the waves, watching surfers, chatting with the owner, who builds everything on his own and has lived at this remote place for 20 years, an amazing man. He has deep laughlines in a sunntanned old face set with wise eyes.
Yeah…you don’t need much to be happy. That’s what I learn on my travels, every single day.
During the days at Cactus Beach we are literally feasting. This is because during the next drive we will cross the border from Western to South Australia and no fresh produce is allowed to be brought across (doesn’t all the fruit originally come from over East? after being flown to the West for sale but to bring them back is fordbidden. Righto). After being very thrifty with our food all the time, we eat up all we have left. I press the oranges for fresh juice, cook the apples for pancakes and cut the avocades for a big salad. In the middle of nowhere it feels like eating in a 5 star restaurant.
The grand lonelyness of the Nullarbor Plain still accompanies us for a while. I enjoy every kilometer of it. Having so much time, so much space, so far away from the hustle of the world.
We are heading towards Port Lincoln. But way better is a stop about an hour before our endpoint: Coffin Bay.
It’s a beautiful prosperous little holiday town surrounded by the sea and waterways. Paradise for oysters and oyster lovers. We stop at a restaurant, sitting on a terrace in the midday sun with a view over the oyster-fields in one of the estuaries. Straight onto the plate. Yum!
Going on towards Adelaide, the next biggest city after we left Perth ages ago, the landscape changes again: now wheat fields as far as you can see. The world around seems golden in the soft light of a late afternoon. We drive slowly through many tiny ancient appearing villages. Still it‘s very rare to see many people. This changes as we come closer to Adelaide’s outskirts.
Adelaide is surrounded by….wineries!:) And we discover a very popular tourist attraction: a German village called Hahndorf (http://hahndorfsa.org.au/). Naturally as a German girl in Australia, I can’t help but to check it out.
We sit in a German beer garden, eating Spätzle and Schweinshaxe, drinking Weizen and being served by girls wearing Dirndls. Have a guess where my Australian mate wants to go next? Right. Well, we enjoy a beautiful day and it’s interesting to see how special things are for people here, things which belong to a everyday German life.
Crossing another border, we arrive in the last state of our trip: Victoria. We take a little detour towards the Grampians National Park. It‘s a huge and beautiful place but very touristic. I prefer to discover my own places rather than following the masses along such well worn tracks. Although at least I get to wear my hiking boots again :-).
Back to the coast we drive along the famous Great Ocean Road to get to the final destination of Melbourne. City life again. I do my washing and put the backpack back on – I’ve seen Melbourne already, but that’s another story.
For now, we’ve finished our Southcoast trip. After crossing 4000k’s, three states and three timezones I can say that this „nothing“ was one of the most beautiful trips I’ve done in Australia. Sometimes this „nothing“ is all we need, especially when we are used to an allday life of everything. Once again I have learnt to discover this world through my very own eyes and with my very own feet, to create my very own pictures and most importantly – my very own memories.
Thank you and keep reading guys – there’s plenty more to come! As I’ll still be on the road, sending life from wherever the story takes place. Sometimes with just some kangaroos standing in my way between the hot Australian sand and the next internet connection – but the next story will come.