Dis­cov­er­ing West­ern Austalia in a Cam­per­van

Indonesia Expat - - CONTENTS - BY RINKA PEREZ

When­ever ex­pats ask me for ad­vice on where to travel to from Jakarta, I sug­gest West­ern Aus­tralia and not the other parts of Asia. The cap­i­tal city of West­ern Aus­tralia is only a four and a half hour di­rect flight with Garuda In­done­sia. There aren’t many other coun­tries that you can fly to di­rectly from Jakarta, there­fore the west coast of Aus­tralia is a per­fect des­ti­na­tion for fam­i­lies who seek fresh air and open spa­ces.

West­ern Aus­tralia is ex­actly what you would imag­ine Aus­tralia to look like. It is burst­ing with na­tive Aus­tralian an­i­mals, lush na­tional parks and de­li­cious pro­duce. Ex­pect to see kan­ga­roos hop­ping, lots of prawns (shrimps) siz­zling on BBQ’s and a strong Abo­rig­i­nal her­itage.

We re­cently took a typ­i­cal Aus­tralian fam­ily va­ca­tion where we drove a cam­per­van from Broome (north­west coast of Aus­tralia) with our three young chil­dren (un­der five years old) and slowly made our way down south to Perth. To con­trast our in­dul­gent ex­pat life in Jakarta, we filled our three-week itin­er­ary with sim­pler plea­sures, such as camp­ing un­der the stars.

BROOME

We stayed overnight in an air­port apartment in

Perth and then boarded a flight the next morn­ing to Broome. We resided in Cable Beach, where the ocean meets the desert. This beach is ro­man­ti­cally beau­ti­ful with or­ange kissed sun­sets and camel rides in the back­ground. Our first ex­pe­di­tion was to Wil­lie Creek Pearl Farm where they of­fered pearl pro­duc­tion tours on boats. With younger kids, we in­stead en­joyed a slow lunch by the farm’s restau­rant and al­lowed our kids to run free in the play­ground.

KARIJINI NA­TIONAL PARK

Af­ter three nights in Broome, where a seag­ull left me stunned by steal­ing a sausage from my break­fast plate, we got into a cam­per­van and drove through the red soiled earth to West­ern Aus­tralia’s largest na­tional park. There we stayed off the grid in a des­ig­nated camp­site with no elec­tric­ity or wa­ter to plug into our cam­per­van. The soil is deep crim­son, and ev­ery­thing, in­clud­ing our kids’ faces turned into a mask of red. Upon en­trance, we were given a trekking guide and de­cided to do the child-friendly trails only. We walked across a se­cure board­walk along Dales Gorge, which led to a beau­ti­ful swim­ming and pic­nic spot called Cir­cu­lar Pool. The wa­ter was icy cold but the mag­nif­i­cence of it lured me and my hus­band and I into the emer­ald blue pool. Our chil­dren cheered us on and took pho­tos as we swam into the crash­ing wa­ter­fall.

NINGALOO COAST

Our next des­ti­na­tion was the beach at Ex­mouth and Co­ral Bay. This coast is burst­ing with ma­rine life and you can snorkel di­rectly along the shore­line to see co­ral reefs and fish, mak­ing this des­ti­na­tion per­fect for young chil­dren. Ship­wrecks along the coast and a de­com­mis­sioned light­house were the high­lights for my son. Fam­i­lies with older chil­dren went swim­ming with shark whales, whereas we rode on a bot­tom­less boat in Co­ral Bay. We camped at Osprey Bay Cape Range Na­tional Park where we went off the grid again and swam with stin­g­less jel­ly­fish. My hus­band and son went on a quad bike ad­ven­ture and we swore that this was a des­ti­na­tion that we would def­i­nitely re­turn to once our chil­dren grew older.

SHARK BAY

Shark Bay is a large coast that cov­ers 2.2 mil­lion hectares of West­ern Aus­tralia. This spot was my favourite be­cause the beaches there were so breath­tak­ingly beau­ti­ful. We camped at the in­fa­mous Mon­key Mia re­sort, where dol­phins swam to greet us at the shore. We drove along the World Her­itage drive dis­cov­er­ing fas­ci­nat­ing sites such as Shell Beach, where the sand is cov­ered en­tirely with seashells. We drove our cam­per­van to a se­cluded la­goon and soaked in the enor­mity of Aus­tralia while our chil­dren hap­pily built sand cas­tles. Our high­light was the Shark Aquar­ium where we wit­nessed sharks be­ing fed and oc­to­puses chang­ing colours.

KALBARRI

At Kalbarri Na­tional Park I saw an echidna creep­ing along the road, and a mag­nif­i­cent rocky gorge that re­minded me of the Grand Canyon. Our chil­dren learned how to hook and bait a fishing rod at the Murchi­son River, and soon learned the dis­ap­point­ment of not catch­ing any fish. Af­ter a scenic walk along Is­land Rock and Na­tional Bridge, we spot­ted wild hump­back whales swim­ming in the In­dian Ocean. They waved hello with their blow­holes splash­ing wa­ter in the dis­tance.

CERVANTES

Our last camp­ing site was an im­pres­sive RAC car­a­van park with fam­ily friendly fa­cil­i­ties such as pri­vate fam­ily bath­rooms, chil­dren’s toi­let and change ta­bles. The site was very mod­ern and felt like a five star ver­sion of camp­ing sites. It had cab­ins for those who didn’t want to rough it in a tent or car­a­van. Our mo­ti­va­tion for stop­ping at Cervantes was to eat their freshly caught lob­sters. The Lob­ster Shack is a lob­ster fac­tory that runs in­for­ma­tional tours and an out­door restau­rant serv­ing their fresh catch.

PERTH

Af­ter three amaz­ing weeks, we reached our fi­nal des­ti­na­tion of Perth. We spent our fi­nal day soak­ing in the Aus­tralian sun by Scar­bor­ough Beach and let our kids do what they love to do best, play­ing in a big ad­ven­ture play­ground. West­ern Aus­tralia is a play­ground mecca for chil­dren and a cof­fee haven for sleep de­prived par­ents.

In our fi­nal mo­ments in the great out­doors, we re­flected on how much we all en­joyed this hol­i­day. We will miss the open spa­ces, jump­ing kan­ga­roos, and rac­ing emus. Our chil­dren flour­ished from hav­ing lots of out­door ad­ven­tures and didn’t miss their toys one tiny bit. This is price­less.

For itin­er­ary and sight­see­ing in­for­ma­tion visit the Tourism Aus­tralia web­site www.west­er­naus­tralia.com. Visit the Aus­tralian Gov­ern­ment web­site for driver’s li­cence and in­ter­na­tional driv­ing re­quire­ments. All na­tional parks re­quire a per­mit (in­for­ma­tion is pro­vided on­line and with cam­per­van hir­ing com­pa­nies.) To en­sure you have a spot, all book­ings to camp sites, in­clud­ing na­tional parks must be made well in ad­vance.

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