There’s nothing like a good road trip. Craving warm weather, wine, beaches and the open road, Jaime and I decided to spend our Chinese New Year Holiday in Western Australia, hopping a flight (or two, and a taxi and train and metro and every other form of transportation imaginable) before finally touching down in Perth in the midst of summer in the Southern Hemisphere.
Over the course of two weeks we drove more than 3500km of (mostly) open road, constantly enchanted by the changing scenery – aquamarine waters and pure white sands, picturesque roads dotted with wineries and chateaus on hilltops, bright red soil with nothing growing alongside it but dense shrubbery (and a myriad of kangaroo roadsigns), if I could sum up Western Australia in a word, it would be scenic. Below is a map of our major stops along the way (numbered locations in blue indicate places we stayed and yellow markers are for a few of the best beaches).
After years of being lucky enough to travel to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, one thing I’ve realized is that it’s impossible to capture the grandeur of a beach from the ground. Prior to this trip I picked up the DJI Mavic Air, my second foray with a drone (my first one didn’t end well, another story entirely) which paid dividends immediately.
Rather than write this post in a conventional narrative structure, I thought I’d share a few images that were highlights of the trip and a bit of a backstory to each.
Eagle Bay – our first glimpse at the crystalline shades of blue that Western Australia’s beaches have to offer. Not pictured are the winds that really pick up around mid-afternoon on this stretch of coast, making for blinding sandstorms and ‘interesting’ conditions for flying.
Surf’s up at Yalingup Beach! I ate more waves than I caught (and got caught in my first Australian rip, quite frightening actually), but it was a great day.
In the fields adjacent to our Air BNB in Margaret River, huge crowds of kangaroos would congregate in the late afternoon, feeding on the grasses. I realize that to Australians kangaroos receive about the same reaction as deer do back home (not much), but to us foreign Canadian types they are still incredibly unique. I could get a lot closer with the drone than I could on foot (plus you can drink wine and fly simultaneously – multitasking!)
The main draw of Margaret River is the wineries. Truthfully, I knew little to nothing about Margaret River’s wines prior to visiting, but we had a great time with the company ‘Wine For Dudes’, who picked us up for an amazing day of tasting, information and fun. We were able to sample a number of great wines of both red and white varietals, but overall the sémillon/sauvignon blancs and chardonnay from this region we found to be exemplary.
Just south of Margaret River is Hamelin Bay, yet another beautiful beach in a limitless coastline of white sand, but with one special caveat – this beach is a sanctuary for stingrays. Despite keeping our distance intentionally, these amazing creatures will actually swim right up to you, where they seem to desire human interaction. I shot this with my GoPro using an over/under housing to see above and below. You can get an idea just how big the ray is compared to Jaime. At one point there were about seven of them congregating around us – an amazing wildlife experience.
I expected the beaches in WA to be magnificent, but what I didn’t anticipate was the incredible forests. The drive from Margaret River to Denmark is truly stunning, filled with majestic forests like this one. I would NOT recommend driving it at dusk as evidently this is when kangaroos are most active (and they don’t care if you’re traveling 100km/h, they’ll still run right in front of your car), but the stars as we stopped the car on the moonless roadside in the middle of nowhere displayed themselves in a dazzling night sky show unlike anything I’ve ever seen.
Greens Pool and Elephant Rocks – located not far from the town of Denmark, this beautiful area is well worth a stop on the way from Margaret River to Esperance, studded with bizarre rock formations, blinding white sand and beautiful turquoise waters. It really does feel as though proceeding along the southern coast eastward the beaches (somehow) get better and better.
LUCKY BAY! Located in the stunning Cape Le Grand National Park, Lucky Bay boasts not only the most beautiful stretch of coastline I’ve ever seen (no exaggeration, it’s jaw-dropping), but for many people the highlight is that the beach is also home to adorably curious kangaroos. These mom and joey combinations are not at all perturbed by human interaction, and seeing these cute creatures with the gorgeous backdrop below was almost too much to handle in one day.
A three part series showcasing the beach at Lucky Bay from all angles. I mean, if this isn’t paradise, what is? This was truly one of those days where you leave and just shake your head at how lucky we are to live on and get to travel through this beautiful planet of ours.
You don’t need to head to Lucky Bay to see beautiful beaches. Just outside of town lies West Beach and Twilight Beach Road, cascading across miles of jagged coastline interspersed with pristine white sand beaches. I can’t imagine anywhere in the world where it takes less effort to have an entire one to yourself.
Wave Rock is an incredible geological formation shaped like a tall ocean wave about 15m high and 110m long, protruding from the sand seemingly from nowhere in a manner that leaves you stunned. Located at about the midway mark from Esperance to Perth, it breaks up the drive nicely. Just another in a string of unbelievable locations (minus the relentless flies).
It wouldn’t be a road trip without an overhead shot of our rental car. We spent a lot of time in this little blue Hyundai, and it served us well.
Little Creatures Brewery in Perth. There is a burgeoning microbrewery scene in WA, and while the craft beers pale in comparison to those we find back in Canada (sorry, but it’s true), I was still impressed with the diversity, especially after living in China for five months.
I’m not sure what else there is to say about Western Australia. If you like great food and wine/beer, the world’s best beaches, friendly and accommodating people, stunning scenery and a multitude of other pluses, then WA is for you. It truly is paradise on Earth.