8,618 miles / 13,870 Km by Ride-Share/Hitchhiking
I arrived in Perth in February 2013, luckily my first CouchSurfing hosts were really cool and I stayed there for my first six months in Australia. I worked and saved up some money to travel further, as well as replacing a some of my electrical equipment. The house was always full of people, at times there were 18 people living in the there, five in the house and the rest in tents in the back garden. We kept hosting other CouchSurfers so there were always new people coming to stay, from all over the world. Perth is a really nice city, because it is quite small, as soon as you leave the CBD it feels like you are in a small town. I didn’t spend all my time in the city though, my job involved travelling all around Western Australia to visit government offices and upgrade their computers, so I got to see some other towns. I also went out with a few friends from the house in 4x4s for weekends camping on the coast north of Perth. After I finished work I set off north out of Perth.
I travelled north out of Perth in an old VW campervan, the first main attraction up the coast was Kalbarri National Park. We camped there and spent a day looking around the park before we set off to Shark Bay. Shark Bay is a great place to see dolphins, manta rays, whale sharks, dugong and sharks. Unfortunately it was the wrong time of year for the whale sharks, and we didn’t see and mantas, but the dolphins, sharks and dugongs were great. The dolphins come up to the beach to get fish from the staff of the Monkey Mia caravan park. From there we headed up to Carnarvon and stayed at a great camping spot called Rocky Pool. While we were in Carnarvon I stayed behind while the campervan carried on north, while I hung out with some other travellers and musicians I met in the town.
From Carnarvon we set off to Coral bay and Exmouth. These two towns are along the coastline where the Ningaloo reef is located. The great thing about this reef is that it is close to the beach, so you can swim out from the beach with a mask and snorkel, instead of having to pay a lot of money to go on a boat. There is a national park near Exmouth, called the Cape Range National Park, this is a great place to go for snorkelling on the reef, but is also home to a great selection of Australia’s wildlife. I managed to see Kangaroos, Emus and Echidnas, as well as all the cool sea life I saw while snorkelling. We actually managed to snorkel with a turtle in one of the bays. The beaches are really nice there and each beach has beautiful fish and coral reef to swim on. We stayed in the area for a few days, camping, hiking and swimming.
From Exmouth we headed inland to a really great national park called Karijini. The park is located close to a town called Tom Price in the north of the Western Australia. There are two sides to the park, one is cheap and allows 2 wheel drive cars, the other half is more expensive and supposedly needs a 4×4 to get there. We stayed in the cheaper half, where there are lots of pools of water in the gorges. Great for a swim in the heat of the day. We stayed in the park, camping, for a few days while we explored the park. One of those days we drove to the part of the park which supposedly needs a 4×4. We drove down the track really slowly to make sure we didn’t brake the car, but when we got to the gorges we found that some of the main parts of the gorge were closed. So after a short walk we headed to one of the gorges that were open for a walk and a swim. From Karijini we headed north to Broome, where the group broke up and me and Ben found a lift in a 4×4 through a great part of Australia. The Kimberly region.
The Kimberley region is a large area which has a lot of gorges and swimming holes. The roads are pretty bad, so you have to travel in a 4×4 to get to the gorges. We travelled through the Kimberly, camping for around 10 days, stopping each afternoon to hike through the gorges and swim. Some of the gorges had a lot of wildlife in them, as it is the only steady source of water for the animals in the area. We saw fresh water crocodiles, bats and even swam with monitor lizards, which were present at most of the water holes. The nice thing about travelling along the road was meeting the other travellers who were travelling there too. We actually got on with one of the couples so well that we decided to travel and camp and the same places together each day.
Most people who travel through the Kimberly will stick to the main road that heads straight through the region. But we decided that while we were in the area, we should take the road that heads to the coast on the northern edge of the region, which is home to Mitchell falls. I really impressive waterfall with 4 levels of falls. From there we headed back south to the main Kimberly road and continued to El Questro gorge which is the last gorge as you leave the Kimberly heading east. It is also one of the few gorges that can be accessed by two wheel drive cars. So there is a huge lodge with a restaurant, bar, helicopter rides and lots of other expensive things. We decided to free camp outside of the lodge at the nearest free camping spot. After El Questro we headed to Kununurra where our group split again. This time me and Ben took a bus over into the Northern Territory to Darwin.
We didn’t stay in Darwin long enough to see anything. The day after we arrived we found a lift to Alice Springs that would only cost us $25 each. An Australian guy had driven up to Darwin to see some friends and was happy to drive us back south with him. We drove pretty fast and stopped overnight to party with one of his friends who lived on the same road south. From Alice Springs we arranged to return a rental campervan to Adelaide. This meant that we got a campervan and some money for fuel on the agreement that we would have the campervan down there in two days. So we decided to spend the first day visiting Uluru before continuing to Adelaide.
We stayed in Adelaide for a few days with a friend of a friend we had met on the road. One thing that always surprises me is the way that things just kind of work out when you are travelling. We had stayed in touch with the guys we drove from Carnarvon to Broome with. They had met some people from Adelaide who were kind enough to offer to let us stay at their place with their housemates, while they were away. We spent a few days wandering around the city while we waited for our next relocation, where we returned another campervan from Adelaide to Melbourne.
One of the main attractions of Victoria is the ‘Great’ coastal road. A stretch of coastline west of Melbourne, which has strong waves and rugged cliff faces. We drove down the road, stopping at each viewpoint and camping in the national park. This is where there are a lot of wild koalas in the trees by the side of the road, they are pretty easy to spot because as we were driving along we would occasionally see a few cars pulled over with people looking up in the trees. The ‘Great’ coastal road has a lot of viewpoints where you can see cliffs and the strong waves that create the different formations you can see at each viewpoint. My favourite part of this coastline was actually after all the cliffs, as we headed east the road cut inland through some fields and countryside, much like in the UK. We camped in the national park there before heading into Melbourne for a few days, then heading out to Tasmania.
It wasn’t really the best time of year to see Tasmania, we were just coming out of the winter months but it wasn’t really warm yet. We found a group of people who were renting a camper-van and driving around the island for 10 days, we decided to join them. We landed in Hobart and headed south to camp in the forest on the south east of Tasmania. From there we headed up the east coast to the Tasman peninsular and camped in Fortescue bay, a national park camping area with warm showers and a beautiful beach, even if it was too cold to swim. From there we visited one of the most popular tourist attractions in Tasmania, Wineglass bay. We hiked around the peninsular there and camped a couple of nights in the national park campsite there. The next place of interest was cradle mountain, it isn’t the highest mountain in Tasmania but it is more accessible than the highest. After another few days driving down the west coast we headed inland to Lake Saint Claire where we free camped on the edge of Lake King William, but woke up to find that it had started to snow in the night, we spent the next day driving back towards Hobart until we escaped the snow and found a countryside pub to have a meal and some beers. After we got back to Hobart the group we had joined left, but we stayed in the city for a few more days. I like Hobart, it’s a small city that feels like an English town, it was the first time I had found an actual pub that felt like the pubs in Sheffield, the real ale is good there too.
I spent my last few months living in Melbourne with a two Italian guys who were friends of a girl I had met in Western Australia. My plan was to work for my last few months and get together as much money as I could before I left for Asia, but it was harder to find work with my visa almost at its end, it also didn’t help that it was the start of summer and a lot of European travellers were coming to the city looking for work for the summer. I only managed to work for a few weeks as a waiter, but I did manage to secure sponsorship from Vivente cycles, which meant I could get one of their World Ranndoneur bicycles with a 50% discount. I had a great few months in Melbourne and that was mostly because of my hosts and their friends who welcomed me into their homes and celebrated Xmas and New Years Eve together. After my time in Melbourne I flew with my new bicycle to Indonesia.
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