The end of last year and all overviews, ‘top 10s’ and ‘best ofs’ that come with it brought me in a nostalgic mood. This website in its present form is only a little more than six months old. Before that I had already been blogging for a year, but in my native language, which is Dutch.
Now, the thing is, the majority of my travels happened before I began writing about them in English. Therefore, there’s not a lot of interesting material to be found about my time in Australia or bopping around western Europe last winter, for example. (All those posts can be found in the archives, but, as I said, are written in Dutch and there’s a huge lack of pictures as well).
I want to change that. Every month of this year I’m going to share one of my favorite old posts, translated and fully equipped with photos! For old time’s sake and because it will give you guys a little insight in what I have done before this blog came into being.
I will kick off this new monthly series with one of my all time favorite road trips. In June 2011 we took a road trip up the beautiful remote Australian west coast, from Perth to Monkey Mia and back down. Here is how those five days went…
We left Perth early in the afternoon.
A must see along the way are the Pinnacles in Nambung National Park, a couple of hours north of the Western Australian capital. The Pinnacles are thousands of limestone pillars, spread across a desertlike landscape. It does look a little bit unearthly. We were there just before sunset, which definitely added to the atmosphere.
We continued north towards Geraldton. Being quite confident we’d find a place to sleep, we hadn’t booked anything in advance. Obviously that was a big mistake…
We arrived in Geraldton after sunset, way later than we had planned and all receptions of hotels, hostels and motels were closed. We absolutely did not want to spend the night in my car, so I have to admit that we panicked a little bit. We decided to keep driving around, hoping to find a place that was still open. What else could we do, right? And after a while (it was past 10pm already) we did find a B&B that could offer us a room for one night. We realized how lucky we had been. Our little road trip could have had a rather bad start!
After a great breakfast in the B&B we excitedly left for Shark Bay.
First stop of the day was Hamelin Pool. Hamelin Pool is one of the very few places on earth where you can still see stromatolites, and by far the most accessible. Stromatolites look like they’re nothing more than just rocks in the sea. What’s so extremely special about them though is that they are made by microbes almost identical to organisms that existed 3.5 billion years ago. They’re living fossils.
The influence that these little organisms had on the evolution of all plants, animals and everything in between is incredible. For 2.9 billion years they were the only creatures living on this planet. During that time they breathed carbon dioxide and emitted oxygen. They alone are responsible for creating the present atmosphere, which allowed all other organisms to evolve. It’s a stunning fact if you think about it.
Second stop was Shell Beach. As the name suggests, this beach consists of nothing else than shells. Billions upon billions of tiny shells, at some places more than ten meters deep.
We carried on towards Denham, where we spent the night. In a room we booked in advance.
Today we would arrive in Monkey Mia, our final destination on this road trip. Monkey Mia is world famous for its friendly and approachable dophins. We were just in time to see them being fed! Feeding the dolphins is strictly controlled and done by the national park rangers. Obviously you’re not allowed to touch them either.
In the afternoon we booked a scenic flight over Shark Bay.
The owner of the B&B we stayed in last Saturday highly recommended doing this. And he was absolutely right. It was fantastic. It’s an amazing way to get an impression of the vastness, emptiness and remoteness of the area. It was just beautiful. Perhaps the greatest thing I did during my nine months in Australia.
After getting back to Monkey Mia, we rented a sea kayak and paddled in the calm waters of Shark Bay.
It’s called Shark Bay for a reason, the ocean is jam packed with sharks. Great white, tiger, bull, the lot. So I must admit that this fact was on my mind when we were floating out in the bay in a little kayak. Luckily, the sharks don’t seem to pay attention to people here, there’s an abundance of other food sources around: dugongs or sea cows, another thing Shark Bay is famous for. The dolphins in Monkey Mia are said to keep the sharks away too.
Those dolphins really are friendly! Sometimes one of them would pop out of the water only a few meters from the kayak.
We ended a great day in the bar of the hostel, Monkey Bar, which, by the way, I think is an awesome name for a bar.
The hostel in Monkey Mia still is by the far the best hostel I have ever stayed in. Its location for example is the best it can get. It’s literally 25 seconds from the ocean. The bar is practically on the beach, you’re even allowed to take your beers out on the beach to enjoy the sunsets. You can have breakfast in the restaurant with a nice view of palm trees and the ocean… It really doesn’t get any better than that!
We started the morning with a big breakfast and complementary ocean view and watched dolphins on the beach.
Our last activity in Monkey Mia was a (very touristy, I must admit) camel ride on the beach, which actually was quite nice. And I can say I rode a camel now!
After lunch it was time to head back south again. We drove 400 empty kilometers to Kalbarri, with a few short stops at lookouts in Kalbarri National Park.
We enjoyed a spectacular sunset at Red Bluff Beach in Kalbarri and went to bed in our room in a resort, which was pretty affordable. It was low season after all.
Today was all about the drive back to Perth. There were a few short stops along the way though.
Those five days flew by. One of my all time favorite road trips indeed!
By the way, I’ve already written a couple of blog posts like this before: