Our Engagemoon: Western Australia roadtrippin’

Last week I took you back to 2009, and mentioned how it was a rather good year. One of the best, and certainly most adventurous, things I did was to take a road trip up the coast of Western Australia with S, shortly after we’d just got engaged.

The thing is, we just kept finding the strangest stuff. It was like something out of made-up-land. Some things were beautiful, some things were strange, some things were gross. All were amazing in their own special way.

Here are some of the things we found.

Starting in Freemantle, or Freeo if you’re cool, we found some beautiful colonial architecture to start things off. Good breakfasts in this neck of the woods, I’ll say.

2Freemantle

We discovered that the bargain-basic-cheapest camper van we rented had been miraculously upgraded to fully-tricked-out-Transit van. It had a kitchen and a bathroom and everything!

7insideBen

This is Ben. We found that we could love a vehicle far more than we thought. Oh how we loved Ben.

6aoutsideBen

Back to the road trip – we’re not all camper van spotters – and we found that the famed red earth is really red!

3orangeearth

Driving up the main coast road, we were surprised at how few cars we found. And how wide and open the space was.

4theopenroad

We found the most idyllic beachside town, which I ramble on about here.

5jurienbay

I could have looked at this view forever.

6jurienbay

Alas no, time to get back on the road.

We found that when you see a petrol station, you fill up. Even if you still have half a tank left. That’s because the average rest stop looks like this…

8thisiswhattruckstopslooklike

If you’re lucky, you’ll get the petrol station version. You might even find a road train party.

9roadtrainparty

Sidenote: road trains are terrifying. Look at the size of those things!

10maybethereststationwillhaveoneofthese

Sometimes you’ll find one of these on the road. I have no idea what it is but it looks very intriguing.

11amilelongjetty

Further on, we found a jetty that was a mile long. It’s called the one mile jetty, obviously.

12milelongjetty

It’s so long it even has a train that goes the length of it.

When we visited, half of the jetty was closed for repairs having been damaged by some Weather. I think it’s been renovated now, luckily.

Then we found a satellite dish built by NASA to support the Apollo moon missions. You can climb up it and take cheesy selfies, which of course we’re far too sensible to do.

12spacedish

We found that driving such a long way requires lots of good music, conversation and biscuits.

14drivinmatransit

On this stretch in particular, we found more enigmatically graffitied termite mounds than we saw passing vehicles.

15morestrangelygraffitidtermitemoundsthanoncomingvehicles

After a long drive we found the Ningaloo reef! Turns out there’s a reef this side of Australia, too, and it’s just as interesting as the Great Barrier Reef.

So we found a boat to take us snorkelling with whale sharks. No big deal.

Our camera wasn’t waterproof so you’ll have to make do with some ambient boat shots.

16boattothewhaleshark

Back on dry land, we found this pretty immense naval communication station. It serves the Australian and US Navy, and is the most powerful broadcast station in the Southern Hemisphere.

17radioarray

We found plenty of fantastic sunsets, too. Best enjoyed from our picnic chairs with a cold drink.

18incrediblesunsets

It helps that there’s so much wide open space. Did I mention the space? To quote Anne Watts, you can see for about three weeks out here.

19wideopenvistas

Then we found a beach made entirely of tiny shells. It was quite a big beach, too. What had happened to all these tiny shellfish, I wonder?

20beachmadeoftinyshells

The rain had dissolved some of the calcium in the shells and glued them together. We found a little quarry where they used to be cut up and used as bricks.

21tobecutintobuildingblocks

Imagine living in a shell house!

Shortly after the shell beach, we found the pièce de résistance. The reason we’d taken this trip in the first place.

Stromatolites!

22stromatolites

What’s a stromatolite, I hear you ask?

I feel the explanation is one for those who want to know enough to google it, but briefly-ish: stromatolites are colonies of cyanobacteria, and are the oldest living things on earth. In fact, they made it possible for us to live – they evolved at the stage of Earth’s history (approx 3.5 billion years ago) where the Earth’s atmosphere was mostly carbon dioxide. Cyanobacteria produce oxygen via photosynthesis, and over millions and millions of years, they produced so much oxygen that they changed the composition of the atmosphere to very similar to that which it is now.

That led to the rise of other, oxygen metabolising creatures that in a sad twist of fate started eating the stromatolites. The consequence is that there are very few colonies living today, and one of the most extensive is found in Hamelin Pool, WA. One of the reasons for this is that due to a sand bar, the water here is trapped and subject to a lot of evaporation. So it’s very salty, and nothing that likes eating stromatolites can live there.

23meandstromatolites

For two biology graduates, this is about as geekily exciting as it gets. It’s a living fossil!

You can see the bubbles of oxygen these little guys are producing. Still doing their bit, all these years later.

Having reluctantly torn ourselves away from the stromatolites, we hit the road again whilst trying not to hit any native (endangered) wildlife.

24bilby

Bilby!

Sadly, we did not find any bilbies.

We found the other Denham, a town by the same name as a village just down the road from where I grew up. They’re even twinned with each other.

28twinnedwith

They’re quite different.

In Denham, we found a boat to take us to a pearl farm. We bobbed about looking at the lines and lines of farmed oysters, and found out how exactly you farm shellfish.

25oysterfarm

The views back to the mainland were pretty cool, too.

26viewfromtheocean

On our way back, we were found by a friendly dolphin who accompanied us home.

27accompaniedbyafriendlydolphon

Back down the coast we headed, to the beautiful natural spot that is Kalbarri.

We found the perfect place to watch the sun go down.

29theperfectplacetowatchasunset

And indulged in a spot of wave watching

30wavesandwaves

Down the road we found a seahorse farm, with the most incredibly cute bright yellow seahorses. I really, really, really wanted to take one home with me.

31aseahorsefarm

Sadly it was not to be. Instead, we drove on and nearly took this home with us.

32athing

No thanks! I don’t even know what that is. I’m not sure I want to.

Next up we found a pink lake. We didn’t believe it would really be pink.

33apinklake

Turns out, it is.

We found landscapes so flat and empty that the wind roars in from the ocean at such a speed that trees actually grow sideways.

34sidewaystree

The sheep seem ok though so it’s fine.

We found more, ever increasingly beautiful sunsets. Lucky you don’t have smellovision because this was the stinkiest sunset I’ve ever had the pleasure of witnessing. I think there was natural gas under the beach because the more you walked, the more it stank. Still, it was pretty though.

35stinkysunset

And finally, the last stop before we returned our dream van in a somewhat bewildered state, we found these rock formations.

36pinnacles

They’re called The Pinnacles and nobody knows why they’re there. All I know is they’re really cool.

And that concludes my greatest ever adventure. It was such a strange string of bizarre sights that putting it down all together seems unreal. I promise, I have made none of this up.

And the best part is that hardly anyone (outside of Western Australia…) knows about all these amazing sights. There was basically nobody on the roads the entire time we were there, and most of these places we visited were deserted. Nobody about.

Please, if you can, go now before everyone else cottons on.

-Rachel

Linking up with Angie, Jessi, Emma and Andrea for the Travel linkup
P.S. Some of these photos were taken by S and some were taken by me, but it’s been such a long time ago that I can’t remember which is which. So, we’ll just say that for all the best photos, photo credit goes to S. And this is why I now have my own camera 🙂

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50 Comments

  1. 1st March 2016 / 09:35

    This is just absolutely mind-blowing! I mean the contrast between ocean and desert – so beautiful! I wish I’ll be able to go roadtrippin in Australia one day too!!

    • 2nd March 2016 / 11:41

      I know, the picture with the bright orangey red earth against the turquoise sea is one of my favourites. Such gorgeous colours and contrasts.

      I do hope you’ll be able to take a road trip around Australia one day too, it’s one of my favourite trips ever 🙂

    • 2nd March 2016 / 11:43

      I know! Isn’t it amazing what the earth can do?

  2. 1st March 2016 / 17:00

    Those sunsets are amazing! I’ve done all the East coast and center of Australia but haven’t yet seen the West so I may have to plan a visit after seeing all these beautiful pics 🙂

    • 2nd March 2016 / 11:44

      Aren’t they gorgeous? I’d highly recommend the west coast if you can manage it. It’s a pretty big trek for anyone, but that’s why it’s so nice and quiet out there. There’s just so much to see and it’s all so beautiful!

    • 2nd March 2016 / 11:45

      Definitely! I feel very lucky to have been able to see it. And with so few other people around, too!

    • 2nd March 2016 / 11:45

      Exactly! It took us a long time but not because of the length of the jetty, more that we kept stopping to take photos and admire the view 🙂

  3. 1st March 2016 / 21:15

    What a trio, seriously wow!! Those sunset photos are simply beautiful 🙂 I can imagine how many happy memories you made on this trip 🙂

    • 2nd March 2016 / 11:49

      I’m so glad you enjoyed them! It was a breathtaking trip from start to finish, I fell head over heels in love with the place. I just had no idea all these cool places existed, and that nobody else was there to see them!

  4. 1st March 2016 / 21:46

    well australia is obviously the best, right? or weirdest, whatever. i have never been to WA and i’m not sure i ever will, to be honest. maybe if i still lived there of course. i laughed so hard at smellovision.

    • 2nd March 2016 / 11:49

      Obviously. Apart from that weird nest thing (still have no clue what that was). Well it is a big ask to take a couple of weeks to go visit a pink lake when you’ve come all that way to see family! We had 7 weeks out there on this trip due to a fortunate series of events so we were able to spare the time. And I didn’t want my sister getting toooo sick of us…

  5. 1st March 2016 / 23:36

    All of your photos are stunning, and I can’t believe that you got swim with whale sharks! So freaking cool! I would love to visit Australia, even if it’s only to see some of these beautiful things that you saw!

    • 2nd March 2016 / 11:52

      It was the coolest thing EVER. They’re so beautiful, and graceful, and I feel like they’re a fish with a sense of humour. Definitely once in a lifetime.

      I can’t recommend Australia highly enough – I know it’s super expensive to travel to from basically everywhere, but it’s so worth it when you get there. They just have the most bizarre and beautiful stuff.

  6. 2nd March 2016 / 00:57

    Woah. Australia’s so amazingly dramatic isn’t it?! Brilliant photos and I had no idea a bilby was a thing! We’ve travelled on the East Coast and in Central Australia but not in Western Australia. This looks amazing!

    • 2nd March 2016 / 11:55

      Just incredible! I couldn’t believe my eyes half the time. A bilby is totally a thing and it’s so very cute. Unfortunately I’ve only ever seen one in a zoo – I had high hopes of seeing one in the wild but turns out they’re very elusive.

      I highly recommend a trip to the West Coast if you get the chance. It’s a gorgeous place and has a totally different feel to the East Coast in my opinion.

  7. Jen
    2nd March 2016 / 01:40

    Wow what an absolutely stunning place! This is definitely on my list of places I would love to visit some day.

    • 2nd March 2016 / 11:55

      It’s brilliant isn’t it? I really hope you get to visit one day. I would love to go back already!

  8. sydneyshopgirl
    2nd March 2016 / 08:14

    Wow. Thank you for sharing such a breathtaking of my home town! I’ve never seen Perth and WA look as stunning!

    SSG xxx

    • 2nd March 2016 / 11:57

      I’m so glad you enjoyed them! And lucky you to have such a stunning home town and state. We only had a few days in Perth but thoroughly enjoyed it – it’s such a chilled out place. But not in a hippy way, if you know what I mean. Eh, I don’t know, but I would like to go back soon!

    • 2nd March 2016 / 11:57

      I know, they do look like made up animals a bit don’t they? So cute though. I’m pleased you enjoyed the photos!

  9. 3rd March 2016 / 18:08

    WoW – looks really cool! I am travelling Aus briefly later this year and I am Beyond excited!!

    • 6th March 2016 / 22:29

      I’m so excited for you! You’ll have a blast 🙂

  10. 3rd March 2016 / 19:37

    The ocean picture and the sunset and … well, all of your pictures just make me swoon! I’d love to visit Australia! 🙂 Maybe one day…

    • 6th March 2016 / 22:30

      The landscape just made taking swoony pictures so easy! It’s like art everywhere you look. I hope you get to visit one day, too!

  11. 3rd March 2016 / 22:56

    Such beautiful photos! You’ve really inspired me to see more of my own state! Even though I’m lucky enough to live here there are still a lot of these places that I haven’t visited! It’s funny how even though we probably all have incredible places to visit in our own “backyard” we will dream about the far off lands! Haha – I’m always dreaming about visiting places overseas when I should probably start by exploring my own state! Hehe 😊 Thanks for sharing and for the inspiration! Glad you enjoyed beautiful WA! Xxx

    Laurenloveslaughter.blogspot.com.au

    • 6th March 2016 / 22:38

      I’m exactly the same! It’s just so tempting to dream about different places. And yet I’ve visited barely a fraction of all the great things there are to see and do in London. I’m glad I’ve inspired you, and you’ve inspired me right back! London here I come 🙂

    • 6th March 2016 / 22:38

      There really were! It’s such an incredible place, I fell totally in love.

  12. 4th March 2016 / 10:03

    I love your photos (and you writing, too)! I’ve always wanted to visit Australia – it’d definitely be an adventure for me, as some of the landscapes I’ve seen look so unreal. Your post just made me want to visit more!

    • 6th March 2016 / 22:39

      Thank you, I’m so glad you enjoyed it! I feel like it was a totally mega post but there was just SO MUCH to share! I do hope you get to visit one day, it’s just as bizarre in real life as it is in the pictures 🙂

  13. Oh so beautiful and timely for me…have just repatriated home to Perth after my eight year expat adventure in China, England and Germany…and feeling ‘homesick’ for that life…now can’t wait to hit the road and have a few local adventures…my first home was in Denham WA…and have been to twin Denham in UK. Great post…so happy you loved my home state…now to pick my greatest adventure! http://oolongtoearlgrey.blogspot.com.au/2016/02/love-discovering-new-places-and.html

  14. 4th March 2016 / 15:18

    Officially obsessed with stromatolites now – fascinating stuff! I’m yet to visit Australia, but your post has made me really want to make that a possibility next year.

    • 6th March 2016 / 22:41

      They’re just the coolest! I’m so glad to have found a fellow fan. Most people look at me like I have three heads. I really do hope you manage to visit Australia, it’s an incredible place.

  15. 4th March 2016 / 20:53

    Ah this is amazing! I can’t wait to go back to Aus later in the year. As a bio grad as well, love that you can see the cyanobacteria, I didn’t know you could!!

    Jasmin Charlotte

    • 6th March 2016 / 22:42

      Yay high five fellow bio grad! I know, so cool to see bacteria without a microscope! (I mean technically you can’t see the individual bacteria, just the colonies, but still. Details). I hope you have a fantastic trip!

  16. Rachel In Ireland
    4th March 2016 / 22:15

    Freo. I’m cool!

  17. 5th March 2016 / 16:15

    Mmmmm. Its my home state. I’ve been up and down that road many times and never get tired of it. Heading back to Broome later in the year. Great photos, they really do it [the space;)] justice.

    • 6th March 2016 / 22:44

      It’s magical isn’t it? It’s like something out of a fairy tale. I just couldn’t believe everything we saw. I’m glad you think I/we did it justice! I wish we’d have had time to go all the way to Broome. Now that would have been an adventure.

    • 6th March 2016 / 22:45

      Yes it certainly was! If there’s one thing I can say about the Brits is that we know how to do pubs. Nowhere else comes close!

  18. TravelWithNanoB
    7th March 2016 / 13:32

    Your photos are so pretty! Loved the landscapes that you captured, and what a wonderful engagemoon overall! (love the word, by the way!) xoxo, nano

    • 7th March 2016 / 22:30

      I’m so pleased you liked them! We thought engagemoon perfectly captured the spirit of the whole adventure. We were quite smug about it, to be honest.

  19. 8th March 2016 / 09:32

    This post is so full of pretty pictures and interesting facts. So many things to comment on. That pink lake – wow! I would love to see the beach made up with tiny shells too. And that last sunset photo is gorgeous too but I laughed at the stinky part. I’m pretty impressed you know the names of all these natural formations!

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