Mayhem on the West Coast: Perth to Walpole

It’s been days since I’ve written a post … and not because we’ve been traveling through some remote rugged Australian landscape, but simply because the last few days have been full on.
Let me try to remember three days ago …
We left Brookton super early in the morning – there isn’t much to see/do there – and headed west to Perth. We were truly surprised by the landscape of Perth. I had expected it would look like Sydney since the two cities are pretty close to parallel, just divided by a huge mass of continent. But it reminded me much more of Darwin and LA – desert sands, rocky and green in odd places.
By the time we were 20km out of Perth city we were fed up with the traffic and the Kombi’s temp was rising rapidly. Cruising through the ‘city’ was funny, we got some puzzled/bemused stares. Perth City is small … it’s closer in size to Hobart or Chatswood than I anticipated. A nice clean town though.

More interested in hitting the beach, we iMapped our way to Fremantle. What a place! So much like Melbourne meets country village – really a great place. We were stoked to find that there was a dog-friendly beach in Cotesloe – there are almost none of these in Sydney! What’s more, the beach looked like the setting for a Corona ad – minus the waves and hot chicks and cold beer. Our puppies were thrilled with ‘their’ beach. We spent far too long out in the sun here.

As always, the big tribulation for the day was finding pet-friendly accommodation. For this Fremantle was a disappointing epic fail.
We headed south to a place called Kwinana Beach but the nearby caravan park was chock full of holiday makers. Our kombi had decided that getting gears was too much like hard work and was unwilling to give in to Lee’s attempt at tweaking the clutch cable. We found ourselves at Kwinana Beach with a van that wouldn’t move. In case you didn’t know, Kombis aren’t your everyday car and finding a willing mechanic plus getting parts is a tough job. Kudos to Lee who had the foresight to search the Kombi Club forums and found a trusted VW mechanic who was happy to help us out … in two days time!
And that’s how we ended up free camping at Kwinana Beach for two nights. A little patch of sunshine that can be summed up as follows: swings, sand, fishing, swimming and relaxing. On our last night we were woken by the shouts of ‘Hello! Wake up! There’s a fire! You must move your car!’ Like you know what to do when you hear that! Me – I just looked out the curtains, saw the blazing car five metres from our van and hit play on my ‘Instant Hysteria’ button. I shook the boys awake and told Lee to drive … but, oh, Kombi wasn’t working and we had the camping chairs, esky, water bottle etc in the way of the tyres. Seriously – a torched car right beside us! We’d been woken up an hour or so earlier by a car – the car – doing burn-outs in between our van and another car. It had scared me cos my ever-anxious mind imagined it losing control and smashing into us at speed. Luckily Lee managed to get first gear – just – and we moved a safer distance away so we could watch the mini-drama unfold. The firetruck and cops came and the boys were treated to the kid dream of watching fire-fighters put out a burning car – featuring mini-explosions and flying embers.

After the firetruck had left we decided to use the early start to get to the mechanics – in second gear! To add to our morning of mayhem, Lee took a late turn into a street and a cop pulled us over. Luckily WA cops are more human than robot and thus were understanding of our mechanical malfunction and let us go. Phew.

Six hours and $220 later we were back on the road heading south. If you ever need a mechanic just south of Perth, we highly recommend Motor Trend in Rockingham – the guys are just awesome and the lunch bar does a wicked burger with the lot (minus the meat).

The goal for this leg of the trip was Margaret River or there abouts. I didn’t know what to expect of this area – Lee had hopes of finding another semi-secluded beach park to free camp at. We didn’t expect the area between Busselton and Margaret River to be so populated. There isn’t a beach there that doesn’t have a crowd of mini-mansions overlooking it. Not our scene – we’re from the Northern Beaches, we’ve seen enough beach mansions. Finding it hard (again) to accommodate the dogs, we ended up at a very remote campsite called ‘Big Valley’ that is actually a working farm. The hosts were really wonderful – I loved that our guide was a young woman on a dirt bike who later got in an enormous tractor. Cool. We were shown a huge paddock for the dogs to run and the kids could ride their bikes down a grassy slope beside a sheep paddock. Seriously family-friendly place.

6th January was our 11th wedding anniversary. We’re not present givers, which suits us both, and were happy to spend the day cruising around the Margaret River region checking out breweries. We particularly liked the Bush Shack Brewery – super nice people, playground for the kids, dog-friendly, lots of space, not wanky and the drinks were excellent. Lee enjoyed the chili ale and I was very happy with my alcoholic creaming soda – they do mail order, so google the name and order some rad beer and alcoholic soft drinks. We had lunch at Prevelly Beach and laughed ourselves silly as our puppy, Chino, lunged through waves to get a stick – such a surf doggy!

Our destination for the night was Walpole on the south coast, and we made it there late-ish at 7pm. We did a stop off in Pemberton to see the climbing tree. I’m afraid of heights, so I wasn’t keen to climb up spikes 61 metres to the top of a tree. Lee was very keen … but due to his fractured patella he couldn’t go the whole way. Disappointing. Walpole? Hmmm … it was raining. It was very, very cold. Friends of mine love Walpole. Maybe one day I’ll go back and find out why.

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One thought on “Mayhem on the West Coast: Perth to Walpole

  1. Pingback: Crossing the Australian continent in a 1974 Kombi camper | Bianca Hewes

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