How to change a perception? You can change someone’s view by showing your point of view. I have always been an oddball so I am here once again to change perception. Travelling to Perth is anticipated for most Malaysians. However, in their mind, travelling to Perth means shopping and walks around the city. As for me, I believe, there is something greater that needs to be explored. We have to change the way we see things and learn something new every day. So, here I am with a mission to change how we travel.
Western Australia trip was awesome. Period. Even though the weather was not accommodating on the last few days, it did not change the fact that the trip was amazing. I wish we could stay longer and travel to even more attractions in Western Australia but I guess I will save it for next time. I had been planning the trip all by myself for my family (this include my parents, my aunt, my two brothers and a cousin). It would be a challenge to ensure things go smoothly and comfortable for them. The planning was not perfect but it was a success in a way (I am such a good organizer). We only have 4 days to be exact. Two days were used up for travelling so the planning requires me to be smart and efficient. I had to make sure that it would cover all attractions within short period of time.
We arrived at Perth late afternoon on 27th of January. I rented a Hyundai Styrex, pre booked with Budget for AUD 550 for 4 days and 10 hours. It was enough to accommodate 7 of us and I hope it would be comfortable for the passengers on board. It was already late, so as per planned we would be staying at the first home. The real journey will only begin tomorrow. In the southern hemisphere, the summer months begin December to February. Since we were travelling in the summer, sun rose early and we had more day light. If you ever want to visit Southern Hemisphere like Australia and New Zealand, do come during this month. It will be warmer, more favorable travel time and it will feel great to travel in the summer. I prefer heat than cold and I hate gloomy weather anyway. So, why not in the summer?
We left Perth to head south and I purposely set my GPS to travel along country road near the coast. It was weird at first because I had to adjust with the way people drive in Aussie. Everyone was following the speed limit and I got worried with the law enforcement. I don’t want to be fined like I did when I returned from New Zealand. Eventually, I got used to it and as a matter of fact, I had hard time to adjust when I returned to Malaysia. Along the road, we passed Mandurah. The town was quite developed and it seemed like there were many rich people living here. We were amused by the houses and the private boats that parked at the canal near the houses. How lucky they are to live here and staying next to the blue ocean.
Mandurah to Lake Clifton was not that far. When, we were approaching the destination there were hardly many cars using Route 1. There were also many trees that gave that Aussie vibe. This is what I like about road tripping; to be able to experience up close with the local nature and scenery. When we arrived at Thrombolite Lake Clifton, there were only two cars including ours. Thankfully, the walk from the parking was just 10 minutes away and it was flat to the board walk. It was all great for my parents. At the viewing platform, we could see a wide and vast view of the lake and oddly looking circular shaped rocks. During summer, the lake dried up and exposed the thrombolites to the surface. I sneakily climbed down from the board walk to get up close with thrombolites. They were very soft and fragile. (I wonder if we are allowed to touch them but there are no signs prohibiting that. Lol) Thrombolite is a natural wonder which is also useful for geologist. The rocks could be dated back to 600 million years ago just like stromatolites. They could be used as age indicator because it has survived millions of years until recent. The difference between thrombolite and stromatolite is the structure of the rocks. Thrombolite has clotted and random structure (indicating separate cynobacterial colony) while stromatolite grows as layer. Thrombolite thrives in fresh water but stromatolite can only grow in saline water environment.
We returned to the road with excitement. I believe we would be seeing more exciting attractions later but first, we stopped at a roadside near Bunburry to have lunch. By the time we reached Geographe, it was already time to check in the house. It was a house near the marina and I did not expect the view would be this amazing. Even though it was quite expensive, at least I wanted my family to enjoy the luxurious experience.
After taking a rest, we hit the road again to another 4 more destinations. The first stop was Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse. It was only one hour away from Busselton so it was not too tiring. There was no entrance fee but we should donate in order to get in. The tour will cost about 11 dollar. We did not see any great view of the ocean because the lighthouse was surrounded by bushes. I believe we would be seeing better view inside the light house but we did not take the tour. Nonetheless, we stopped at Eagle Bay after leaving the lighthouse area. The beach was beautiful with crystal blue Indian Ocean and white sand. I tried to step into the water but it was freezing. I see now. No wonder there were many tourists came to Phuket because the water here is too cold to swim unlike the coast lines of South East Asia.
It was getting late but we need to stop at few more attractions. Fascinatingly, each time driving to the destinations, the road will climb to a peak and from there we were served with awesome views. Sugarloaf Rock was a pleasant surprise. The view was mesmerizing and there were not many visitors coming to this area. We need to hike slightly towards the ocean and what a surprise. The view was even more amazing plus the cool breeze. Words do not do justice to describe the beauty here. After Sugarloaf, we went to Canal Rocks. There were more tourists here. The view was amazing too but it was not as good as Sugarloaf. At least, the bridge built to cross the canal was interesting enough. It was already 6pm by the time we left Canal Rocks, so Ngilgi Cave was already closed by that time thus we were not able to see the cave. Even though the long trip was tiring, it was a nice day indeed. I could not wait for more.
On the next day, we left the house quite late because there would not be many attractions to visit so it would be more relaxing, I supposed. Besides that, the factories in Margaret River would be open at 930 am. When we arrived at Margaret River town, most of the shops were still closed and the farmer’s market was not open on that day. The weather was also cooler so it was actually quite nice to walk around the town before heading to the Margaret River Chocolate Company factory. Even though it was 10 kilometers backwards, we actually arrived when the factory was just opened its door. There were free flows of chocolate nibbles to be enjoyed. We could also see how chocolate was being processed through the glass window too. After this factory, we headed to wine factory just next to the chocolate factory. As Muslims, we were not allowed to consume alcohol but no one could stop us from visiting the grape vine yard. There were already green grapes flourishing. I believed they would be harvested soon. Not far from the location, there was Dairy Factory but it was not as amusing as the chocolate factory, though we could still test the cheese for free.
After enjoying the stops at the factories, we went to Margaret River Mouth. It was quite far from the factory and the road we used was quite quiet and mostly crossing farms. It was actually very pleasant to drive along this route. When we arrived at Margaret River Mouth, the amazing view made us surprised again. The wind was slightly hard but breezy and the waves were huge and they splashed randomly to the beach. The wave was so strong, it had carried the sand to the river mouth and blocked the river from flowing freely to the ocean. That is why we saw two different waters barricaded by the white sands mostly consisted of shells fragments. The river was greenish black which indicated rich organic matters and it was very refreshing to dip into the calm river while the roaring ocean was just behind us.
We continued the journey all the way to the south and the environment changed dramatically. We were seeing larger trees and apparently we were crossing Leeuwin National Park. It was unlike any dense tropical forest in Malaysia, but it was still eerie. We stopped at the roadside parking and had our lunch there while surrounded by the quiet forest. It was a terrific moment that I wished to repeat one day. The weather was also cooler and rain began to fall too. We stopped at Hamelin Bay which is famous with sting ras playing near the beach but we did not see any of them that day, probably due to the weather and the time of the day. The beach was pretty but the water was even colder than Eagle Bay.
After a brief stop at Hamelin Bay, we went to Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse which was flocked by many tourists from all over the world. Where did they come from? We hardly see them since Margaret River. We had to pay 15 dollar to get in, inclusive of radio guide which was available in five languages. It was very windy and rainy especially when we reached the end of the cape. We were now at the tip of Western Australia where Indian and Southern Ocean meet and greet. How interesting was that? On the other hands, Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse had seen many historical events including the sinking of war ships. As we left the lighthouse, we stopped at Augusta town and took a photo at a mural. The town was so quiet and it was cold too. To end the day, we stopped at Busselton Jetty which was 2 hours away from Augusta and only 15 minutes away from our rental home. By that time, we were already lethargic and decided not to walk along the jetty. It was literally a very long jetty.
On the third day, we left Geographe to return to Perth. The weather did not favor us at all. It was raining all the way to Perth until we stopped at the first stop of the day, which was Fremantle. Unfortunately, the popular tourists’ E-Shed Market was closed and only opened on the weekends. What a bummer and I felt guilty for not checking it earlier when I planned the trip. Who thought it would be close on weekdays anyway. Fortunately, the shops around Fremantle were still open and we were able to buy souvenirs there. However, the most important activity for my family was to shop at the mall. It was not surprising because many merchandise like Corelle and chocolates were way cheaper than Malaysia. So, we spent almost half a day of shopping around Perth. The shopping day ended at Murray Street but it was getting very late and the shops were already closing. Many homeless were already taking over the street (this is normal scene at any city downtowns).
On final day of the trip, the rain kept falling heavily. It was cold but still tolerable but the heavy rain was hindering the fun slightly. The journey to the north was very long too. From Perth to Lancelin, it took us about 2 hours and the road was crossing a bushy land with no trace of civilizations. The gloomy and bad weather made it so dull. Things like this do happen when travelling but it should not stop us from visiting any planned attractions. Even though it was raining along the road, fortunately at Lancelin, the rain was not that hard and we were able to hike up the sand dunes. Due to time constraint, we were not able to play sand boarding there. There were also no visitors besides us. In a way, it was quite amusing to be able to run on the sand without being bothered by any visitors. As we left Lancelin to Pinnacle Desert, the rain finally began to fall heavily. Pheww! We were quite lucky and the heavy rain accompanied us all the way to Nambung National Park. We were lucky again when the rain stopped as we were approaching the Pinnacle Desert. I believe the view would be amazing along the Great Indian Ocean Road if it was not raining. Oh, well. We arrived at Pinnacle Desert and a car will be charged 12 dollar for entrance fee. We were told that car would not be able to enter the unpaved road to view the pinnacles due to flood. What a bummer. So we had to walk to the viewing area and rain was also beginning to fall. Even though it was cloudy, the orange sand and the pinnacles were still amazing. When we returned to the car, the rain began to pour heavily again. Pheww! Once again we were on the right side of God’s plan.
Due to heavy rain, the road to Lake Thetis was covered with pool of water. We were not brave enough to cross the pool because we might get stuck and it could cause more trouble. Instead, we went straight to Lobster Shack. It was disappointing because I really wanted to see stromatolites in real live. I guess I have to find alternative locations to see them some other times. The rain was really heavy at Lobster Shack and we had to run to enter the restaurants. To my surprise, there were already many tourists there. The lobsters were okay and quite affordable but the service was not satisfactory especially when dealing with quite judgemental servers. Probably because they had seen many tourists and get bored and annoyed with them. But who am I to say anything right?
Nevertheless, Western Australia Road Trip was amazing!! If the weather was great it would be even better. If we have had more time, we could go up to Jurien Bay to see the pink lake or even the Wave Rock. Well, maybe next time. By the time we touched down at KLIA, my mind was already preparing a map for my next trip to Australia. There are still more to see especially the Twelve Apostles, Tasmania, Gold Coast and Urulu. One day, I hope.