After a week or so in Perth, we set off to drive the entire southern coast of Australia to Sydney! From what we heard, it was going to be a lot of driving, straight roads filled with nothingness, and a few nights car camping in the abyss. But we were determined to make the most out of our road trip and survive the drive across the Nullarbor!
Day 1 – We started our trip in Margaret River, just south of Perth, for some wine/beer tastings. We visited Palmers Winery, House of Cards, Cheeky Monkey Brewing Co., Black Brewing Co. and a local chocolate factory. The best part was the tastings were free, which our budget greatly appreciated.
Day 2 – We drove to Hamelin Bay to see wild string rays that come right up to the beach When we got there, we had a little lunch and were joined by this stunning blue bird resting on our car. We took a nice long walk on the beach and saw 3 string rays! After we continued onto the Valley of the Giants, a beautiful park with a tree top canopy walk over Red Tingle trees. While I’ve never been to the Redwood forest in USA, I imagine this park looked pretty similar. It was easy spending a few hours getting lost above and below these beautiful trees. Our last stop for this day was to the Green Pools and Elephant Cave. The Green Pools are a beach that is lined with low rocks. As the tides comes in and out, you see pooling between the rocks where tiny eco-systems live. We walked along the rocks, exploring the pools and letting the water splash our feet. That night we found a nice little campsite to relax for the evening.
Day 3 – we stopped in the town of Albany to get the car some minor maintenance before we hit the longest stretch of the Nullarbor. It took a lot longer than we thought, so most of the day we spent shopping and chilling in Albany. Once the car was done, we started our long drive through the desert. The road was completely straight and looked like it went on forever. There were only a few trees and shrubs that looked like they were plucked from an Edgar Allen Poe poem, and no wildlife that we could spot. Some parts of the Nullarbor are 200+km straight with nothing in between! This is going to make the next few days interesting…
Day 4 – we crossed over from Western Aus. to Southern Aus. We tried to see a pink lake on the way, but it had been dried up for the season. The drive was pretty simple, but a bit boring. At one point, we started interviewing each other about random things, such as the worst ways to die in the desert, what would you eat out here to survive, and what was your favorite flora and fauna (hint – there’s only 1 type of tree we saw and no animals). At night, we came across 2 hitchhikers, and decided to give them a ride. My mom would NOT have been ok with this, but we thought why not. The 2 guys were from Poland and had been living off of $5 per day in Australia, which is a crazy hard task to try! They had a spot in mind to set up camp, so we gave them a lift. We drove up on a beautiful cliff overlooking the ocean which was perfect for camping. So perfect, we decided to stay as well! We spent the night cooking dinner, drinking and chatting with our new friends. We feel asleep under a beautiful starry night sky, happy and thankful for the friends we’d met.
Day 5 – We woke up the next morning naked, all of our stuff gone, and our car pushed into the ocean…
JUST KIDDING! We woke up to a sunrise like we’d never seen before, wished our new friends good luck and continued our drive towards Adelaide. We booked a hostel for the night, and of course we picked a crappy one. But we were able to shower, do some laundry and use the Wi-Fi which we desperately needed to do! At night, we went to explore a bit of Adelaide city. One of the most memorable sites was a drunk, dirty couple getting kicked out of an establishment. At first, we thought they were fighting with each other, until the women told the establishment worker “F*** you, I love him…I love him with all my heart” in a southern version of an Aussie accent! Maybe you had to be there…but it still makes us laugh! After, we went back to our gross hostel, made some kangaroo tacos for dinner and planned out our next few days.
Day 6 started will a short drive to the Gorges Wildlife Center just outside Adelaide. It seemed more like a zoo than the wildlife sanctuary I was expecting, but Matt got his first look at kangaroos, wallabies, wombats, echidnas, koalas, and capybaras. After, we went up to Mt. Lofty for a slightly strenuous hike in the afternoon. That night, we slept at a pullover stop on the road, made noodles and played card games in our white wagon.
On our last day, we stopped at the Grampians National Park for a bit more hiking. Although the hikes were less steep than our previous one, it involved a bit more rock climbing to reach the top, which we actually preferred. We continued our driving through farms, back roads and coastal highway, and finally saw our 1st group of wild kangaroos enjoying a day on the golf course (seriously, they love golf courses!). One of the farms that we encountered was a dairy farm that made their own cheese, so of course I requested a stop. We tried their cheeses and were shown how they make the cheese in the kitchen. My favorite part was the Rabbi turned temporary cheese maker who was in the kitchen helping make a kosher batch of cheese! By that evening, we had made it safely to Melbourne and the eastern side of Australia! We knew that while our southern road trip had finished, we still had many more miles to travel in the white wagon!