Australia, one of the last countries to be explored by Westerners, is still a giant where nature has a power that is declining in other parts of the world.
The secret of Mother Nature’s hegemony in this country, the sext most extended in the world, lies principally in the fact that it has slightly more than half of the inhabitants than Spain. Furthermore, most of them live in the east and the south, which means that the west is left for the bravest.
The west coast of Australia has nothing to do with the east one. A straight road runs through it, which looks like a greyish scar. Kangaroos, emus, lizards and many other animals roam free in a vast land where man feels insignificant.
There is no public transportation that connects the few urbans areas of the west coast. The only way to explore it is to get a private car, preferably a minivan or campervan, which will allow you to carry your house on your back, so to speak.
Pack a lot of food, get a good mattress, bottles of water and some petrol – you can easily drive for more than 240 miles before finding a petrol station – one or two extra tyres, get ready for adventure and go!
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Perth: end of civilisation
With more than two millions inhabitants, Perth – capital of Western Australia – is the biggest city of the west coast.
I walked through its streets and found it to be a great financial hub, which combines harmoniously a very quiet life on the coast and green vineyards in the south.
This is where you should rent a car, unless you have been brave enough to come driving from the east. Compare several car rental agencies and choose a reliable car that will not let you down in the middle of nowhere.
Heading up north, The Pinnacles, Nambung National Park (Cervantes)
The famous Spanish writer would be surprised, wherever he is, to find a town in Australia that bears his name. This small tourist town called Cervantes is located 158 miles north of Perth. Up to here, the road is smooth, not so dry, with villages and farms scattered here and there. Still no civilisation in sight.
Cervantes is the gateway to Nambung National Park. The Pinnacles, a set of strange limestone pillars, are its main attraction, but not the only one. Those natural features, formed over thousands of years, are scattered among dunes that stretch out to the Indian Ocean. You can see kangaroos walk among trees and dunes, and get close to big deserted beaches, without fear of being disturbed.
Some of those pillars reach up to 31 feet.
This strange landscape matched by few others is well worth a stopover for many hours. I spent my first night in a parking lot in Cervantes.
Las conchas de The Shell Beach
Shell Beach As you move away from Cervantes, the road turns more and more solitary and you get into a no man’s land. Well, not so much. Here, animals rule as absolute masters. Try not to drive when the sun comes down and be careful, you may hit a kangaroo, a reptile or an emu which cross the road like kamikazes, knowing that people seldom go there.
The landscape is the same on both sides of the road: red soil, brown and green bushes and, sometimes, blue ocean.
When you go 495 miles north of Perth and almost 28 miles south Denham, you will find one of the two beaches in the world entirely made of snail and clam shells: the Shell Beach. It is 37.28 miles long and from 22.9 to 32.8 feet deep, with a very salty water, well above average.
Spread a towel on this layer of glittering whiteness and lay down on thousands of years of fossilisation.
Los delfines de Monkey Mia
Dolphins of Monkey Mia Continuing northwards, you pass through Denham without stopping and you go on 15.50 miles northeast till you get to the Monkey Mia Reserve, in Shark Bay Marine Park.
Every day, over the last 40 years, a family of wild dolphins come to the beach, but they have got accustomed to being fed by humans. In order to access the beach where the dolphins are, you must buy a 24-hour ticket and the carers will give you a small introductory chat before letting you get into the water with them when their meal time comes. I fed one of those mammals myself.
I took a fish in my hand and held it just at the surface of the water, and the dolphin snatched it with astonishing speed and precision.
There are an interpretation centre, a campsite, flats and hostels with common areas if you do not want to sleep in your van. I did it and I found a beautiful spot where to enjoy the sunset and rest.
The area surrounding Shark Bay is full of small cliffs, magnificent deserted beaches and nature.
The following morning, I started back to Perth. In total, I drove approximately 1,120 miles, but that was not enough to the west coast of Australia thoroughly. I guess I shall go back.
The currency in use in Australia is the Australian dollar (AUD) and you can get yours at Global Exchange.