LET’S DRIVE

AL­MOST ONE MIL­LION KILO­ME­TRES OF AUS­TRALIAN ROADS BECKON, BUT IN WESTERN AUS­TRALIA, OUR LARGEST STATE, YOU WILL FIND THE MOST BEAU­TI­FUL

Life & Style Weekend - - MAGAZINE | ESCAPE - WORDS AND PHO­TOS: NARELLE BOU­VENG

Of­ten re­ferred to as Aus­tralia’s most In­sta­grammable road trip, Western Aus­tralia’s South West cor­ner is home to ocean-in­fused surf towns, renowned gourmet re­gions and tiny towns dwarfed by tow­er­ing forests filled with centuries-old gi­ants. Our jour­ney starts just south of Perth in Bus­sel­ton, hug­ging the coast all the way to Esper­ance, be­fore loop­ing back through the Golden Out­back re­gion to Perth and clock­ing 1500km over 10 days.

DAY 1-3

We be­gin by ex­plor­ing the Mar­garet River re­gion. In­tend­ing to walk the sec­ond long­est wooden jetty in the world as our start­ing point in Bus­sel­ton, we were eas­ily swayed by the shiny red train that has been tak­ing vis­i­tors on the 1.7km ride since 1995. Most tourists opt to visit the aquar­ium, but we pre­ferred to wan­der around gi­ant whale mu­rals that dec­o­rate its most sea­ward point, which, dur­ing whale sea­son, is a great place to spot the real deal cruis­ing past. Mar­garet River had my taste­buds sali­vat­ing at the thought of what lay ahead and we took our time wan­der­ing its close-knit com­mu­nity of towns in­ter­twin­ing to of­fer one ex­quis­ite food ex­pe­ri­ence after the next. The choice of more than 150 cel­lar doors was over­whelm­ing, but we stopped of­ten to be tempted by lo­cal wines, cheeses, choco­late and cakes, plus all sorts of amaz­ing fresh pro­duce. Leeuwin Es­tate holds lo­cal leg­end sta­tus as the win­ery/ en­ter­tain­ment venue that helped put Mar­garet River on the world map, but for some­thing more bou­tique, we loved Snake and Her­ring’s sub­lime shi­raz, which was sug­gested by lo­cal som­me­liers. Pack your elas­tic waist pants!

Stay: The chic Smiths Beach Re­sort (smiths­beachre­sort.com.au) has lux­ury apart­ments over­look­ing a quiet stretch of beach at Yallingup.

Eat: Treat your­self at Pull­man Bunker Bay’s Half Moon restau­rant. Start with the sig­na­ture strawberry puree, vanilla Gal­liano, Grey Goose Vodka and le­mon mud­dled mar­malade cock­tail. Trust the chef with the menu but do leave room for desserts from the French-born chef.

DAY 4-6

Light­houses book­end the Cape to Cape drive (which can also be done as a walk if you have five or six days to spare). Start at Cape Nat­u­ral­iste near Duns­bor­ough and fol­low the coast to Cape Leeuwin near Au­gusta, Aus­tralia’s most south-west­erly point where the In­dian and South­ern oceans meet. Hamelin Bay is not far from here too, a wor­thy di­ver­sion for an enchanting in­ter­lude with gi­ant stingrays that come into shore for a toe nuz­zle. Farewellin­g coastal vis­tas, we headed south and let the ma­jes­tic south­ern forests re­gion un­fold around us. Mes­meris­ing karri and tin­gle trees tow­er­ing up to 75m dwarf the road and, if you are as brave as my hus­band was, you can climb the 58m Glouces­ter tree in Pem­ber­ton, the world’s sec­ond tallest fire look­out. Or, as I pre­ferred, travel a bit fur­ther to the Val­ley of the Gi­ants in Walpole to wan­der the safer sus­pen­sion bridge and drink in canopy views. We spent the next few days ex­plor­ing Den­mark, find­ing our­selves of­ten at Green Pools, a pop­u­lar swim­ming spot with jade-coloured wa­ters dot­ted with boul­ders and large flat rocks on which to bask. Ele­phant Rocks is close by, an­other In­sta­gram fave where Mother Na­ture has thrown down her rocks to look like a herd of ele­phants trudg­ing

their way out to sea.

Stay: Parry Beach Breaks (par­ry­beach­breaks.com.au) over­looks Wil­liam Bay, per­fect for fam­i­lies with two and three bed­room houses spread out over a pri­vate es­tate, and a 30-minute drive from Den­mark.

Eat: Go to Mrs Jones Cafe for de­li­cious lo­cal mar­ron risotto or Bos­ton Brewing Com­pany for Philly steaks and a play­ground for the kids.

DAY 6-7

We start early with a visit to The Gap and Nat­u­ral Bridge in Torndirrup Na­tional Park to be charged by the might of the South­ern Ocean as we stand hov­er­ing over the ocean as gi­ant tidal cur­rents smash against the coast. A lit­tle fur­ther down the road, Lit­tle Beach in Two Peo­ples Na­ture Re­serve is re­garded as one of Aus­tralia’s best beaches — even us Queens­land beach snobs have to agree.

DAY 8-9

Esper­ance is eas­ily one of the most ex­quis­ite coast­lines in Aus­tralia, home to sand as white as sugar and seas that look more like Win­dex than ocean. To take it all in, we cruised the 42km Ocean High­way fringed with post­card­per­fect beaches. Stairs are a big part of the beach life in Esper­ance, but for an easy trek with kids that’s pro­tected from wind, Twi­light Beach was our favourite. A fur­ther hour from Esper­ance, Cape Le Grand Na­tional Park is the undis­puted hero of the re­gion with fa­mous beaches in­clud­ing Lucky Bay with its friendly kan­ga­roos and killer con­di­tions for In­sta­gram — white sand, blue wa­ter, biki­nis and kan­ga­roos! Hell­fire Bay and Duke of Or­leans Bay are worth the ex­tra miles to dis­cover too. They’re both equally In­sta­wor­thy but not as busy. Stay: Esper­ance Beach Chalets (es­per­encechalet­s.com) is the cutest lit­tle A-frame vil­lage (two log cab­ins for fam­i­lies) that are a cosy, aes­thetic dream. En­joy the use of kayaks, bikes and ham­mocks and, when it’s time for din­ner, just grab some gro­ceries nearby and siz­zle your own on the fire pits.

Visit west­er­naus­tralia.com for a range of road-trip itin­er­ar­ies you can cus­tomise. Jet­star, Vir­gin and Qan­tas op­er­ate daily ser­vices from all cap­i­tal cities to Perth. For more ad­ven­tures go to alit­tleat­large.com

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