For a long time, I’ve always craved adventure, wanting to explore this beautiful planet of ours. However, I always saw my travels taking place overseas. The thought of exploring my home country has always been pushed to the back of my mind; thinking I would get around to it when I’m older. I guess every day I’m getting older. And, the more I’ve explored Australia, the more I’m beginning to understand that we’ve got it backwards. I don’t feel that exploring Australia, one of the harshest and most unforgiving countries in the world, is something only to do when you’re ‘older.’ In fact, the younger, the better! The fitter and more able-bodied you are, the more you will be able to see and experience. Don’t get me wrong, though, exploring abroad in your youth is just as a rewarding experience as any.
My previous Australian journey was from the East Coast of Australia to the West Coast, across the Nullabor, and it was incredible! Ever since then I have wanted to explore the most northern and southern regions of Western Australia. I feel with the city environments we’ve built-up there is no possible connection to the planet, due to it being covered over by a 4ft slab of concrete. Very rarely do we have a chance to set foot on the earth anymore. I’m talking untouched land with no interruption and no concrete.
The destination that’s been sitting at the top of my ‘must-see’ list is Esperance, located roughly 800kms south-east of Perth. Esperance is a tiny town; you can drive five minutes out of the city and feel like you’re hours away from civilisation. It’s crazy. The land surrounding Esperance is still relatively untouched. A few national parks have done an excellent job keeping the land from being developed, which is great as it leaves plenty of opportunities to explore a unique and truly beautiful part of Australia without having to venture too far from town. Just outside the township is a complex maze of 4WD tracks, that lead to other 4WD tracks, that result in steep drop-offs. However, the occasional path will lead you to the most incredible beaches you’ve ever seen, with water clarity comparable to that coming out of your kitchen tap.
I spent the start of my trip camping on secluded beaches with not a human soul in sight, swimming in the bluest water imaginable, and making friends with the local fauna. Each morning I’d get up and walk along the empty coastline; the sand was so white and clean that it squeaked underneath my feet as I wandered along. I was frequently greeted by kangaroos on my morning strolls, my only interaction with another living, breathing creature for days.
After lunch, I’d spend the afternoons exploring the many peaks and mountains that surrounded the empty coastline. I’d make my way to the summit to take in the jaw-dropping views of the ocean from high above sea level, a sight that has to be seen to be believed. As the sun would slowly sink below the horizon, I would make my descent back to camp.
As incredible as this stretch of coastline is, it’s also extremely dangerous. Countless fishermen get washed off the rocks never to be seen again. There are shark sightings almost on a daily basis, and the occasional shark attack. I met a guy down at a spot known as Little Wharton, and he spoke of how his brother had his leg taken off by a Great White back in 2006. Many of these crystal clear beach breaks have a quick drop off into deep, dark water just behind where the waves break. I managed to have a few fun surfs. However, when surfing on your own in the middle of nowhere, it’s not long before thoughts of big sharks lurking in the area eventually get the better of you, and you retreat from the water. I think my longest surf was no longer than an hour.
It’s common practice amongst surfers to keep the location of waves in these parts of Australia secret. If the locals are generous enough to let you enjoy a session at their home break, don’t tell ten million people about it. You won’t be welcomed back, that’s for sure. Leave places for people to discover themselves.
After a week of exploring Esperance and its surroundings, I decided to take a trip to Cape Arid, another incredible national park located about 120kms east of Esperance. There’s a reason it’s called Cape Arid; the place is extremely scorched. The drive out to Cape Arid I saw no one, and the following days the desolation continued. Empty allocated camping sites give me an eerie feeling, and I never tend to camp there as 9/10 times, some jerk is going to pull up next to you when there are 20 other sites available and start up his little generator. Thus, I drive down the beach a few km’s and have the place to myself, how much better can it get!
Before I knew it, it was time to head back north towards Perth. I slowly meandered my way along the south-west corner through the beautiful nostalgic sleepy towns of Denmark and Walpole. I love those towns, and the smell of a real fireplace burning on cold, still mornings. The locals wander around in their UGG boots, grabbing a quick bakery breakfast before heading off to find surf in the frigid conditions. My kind of place! It all reminds me of a Tim Winton novel.
As I pulled into Perth, I tried not to dwell on the thought of my trip coming to a close – sometimes it’s hard to accept the inevitable, that all things come to an end. There was a burning fire of desire inside me that I had stoked, and I was yearning for my next adventure. The fragility of the present is so beautiful and gone in an instant.