Western Australia: Skipping Singapore to fly to Perth
Ah, Western Australia. Western Australia wasn’t initially on our travel plans when we set off from the UK. The plan was to go to Singapore and fly to Sydney from there. However, fellow travellers in Malaysia urged us to visit Western Australia. Intrigued, we changed our plans. skipped Singapore, and flew directly to Perth from Kota Kinabalu. We had friends and family in Perth so this seemed a pretty good idea. With no preconceptions or expectations, our primary aim was to visit loved ones and explore the place.
Laid-Back Perth and Its Unique Charm
Upon arriving, Perth immediately struck us with its laid-back atmosphere. People basked in the sunshine, enjoying their meals and drinks, including the famed Aussie BBQs. I can see why people are drawn to it if that’s their cup of tea. Grand homes, pools, boats, sunshine, and a leisurely lifestyle. Perth definitely appears to have it all. If that’s what you’re looking for. It had elements of Boston and downtown Orlando. Giving off an American vibe, but with its own twist.
Nevertheless, I couldn’t pinpoint exactly what it’s vibe was. It’s definitely unlike any other city I’ve been to. But after being all over Africa, India, China, and South East Asia, and just coming from the diverse Malaysia, first thoughts were that Western Australia seemed a bit – well – less diverse. It’s as though they are just out there, down under, doing their own out-there thing! And, I might add, are having a grand old time doing it.
As I delved deeper into Perth, I began to realise that there was more to the city than met the eye. Its seemingly small size belied a wealth of attractions and events and, indeed, is cherished for its natural beauty, leisurely lifestyle, and cultural offerings.
Western Australia does Bottle Shops!
Something that also quickly caught our eye was that they have a lot, that is – a – lot, of what they call bottle shops. The Bottle-O. To the rest of the world read, we like to spend our spare time looking at the beautiful crystal clear turquoise waters and drinking beer, shops. Indeed, there appears so much of a need to do this, and relax at the end, middle, or hell, at the beginning of the day, there are also many – many, drive-through Bottle-O’s!
Roll up to the Bottle-O
Yes, indeedy, you don’t even have to get out of your car. Just roll on up and order your alcoholic beverages at the window. Now, don’t be asking me about the legality of it all. But, locals told us, known as ‘the roadie’, you can drink your nice can of beer on the way home after a hard day’s work! Hoorah. Either way, it seems Western Australia shares that same ohh laissez-faire attitude to drinking and driving as South Africa and their car wash pubs.
Ah, Britain, you and your nanny-state government. Come on, what’s a bit of drink driving between friends? Get a grip. So yes, as you leave Perth and drive your way around the coastline, you may find yourself getting pretty isolated. But fear not, when it’s time to camp for the night, you will always have a bottle shop or three to pop in to top up supplies. And, you know how we like our beer and wine, so thank goodness for Australian habits!
Exploring Perth’s Highlights
On arrival at the airport we hired a campervan from Apollo; more about that later, and drove to our first camp spot, about 40km from Perth Airport, Burns Beach Sunset village. It was pretty spectacular to stick my head out of the van into the already warm fresh morning air to see this on the doorstep:
This campsite also has a fantastic onsite cafe popular with locals. Where I can certainly recommend the Smashed Avo for brekkie!
Spending time with friends and family, we discovered Perth’s top attractions:
Western Australia: Top Ten Perth Picks
- Beautiful Beaches: Perth boasts stunning beaches with crystal-clear turquoise waters, making it a popular destination for beach lovers and water sports enthusiasts.
- Laid-Back Lifestyle: Residents and visitors alike enjoy the city’s relaxed and easy-going way of life.
- Kings Park: One of the largest inner-city parks in the world, Kings Park offers breathtaking views of the city skyline and the Swan River, making it a favourite spot for picnics and outdoor activities.
- Swan River: The picturesque Swan River flows through Perth, providing opportunities for boat cruises, kayaking, and other water-based activities.
- Cultural Attractions: Perth is home to various cultural attractions, including art galleries, museums, theatres, and live music venues, contributing to a vibrant cultural scene.
- Wine Region: Located nearby, the Margaret River region is renowned for its vineyards and wineries, producing some of Australia’s finest wines.
- Friendly Locals: Perth is often praised for its warm and welcoming locals.
- Optimal Climate: The city enjoys a Mediterranean climate with mild winters and hot summers, attracting those seeking a comfortable year-round climate.
- Education and Research: Perth is home to several universities and research institutions, making it a hub for education and scientific advancements.
- Wildlife Encounters: Western Australia, including Perth, offers opportunities to experience unique wildlife, such as dolphins, kangaroos, and quokkas, especially on Rottnest Island.
Southward Bound – The Scenic Drive to Albany
So, following a few nights camping and a few nights with family in Perth, we set off for a week’s return trip south. The plan was to return to Perth for another couple of days – and then continue north!
Now, there followed a series of bluffs here that unfortunately clouded my review of the whole thing. Our camper van quickly earned the title – The Van Who Will Not Be Named – on account of the grief it had given us since day one. Oh, we longed for Savanna-the-Vanna. We visited three garages in Australia in the first two days, completely messing up our plans. Apollo Care Hire, I will deal with you later – insert angry face here!
Additionally, Iain was quite unwell for the first couple of days. This entailed one incident of being sick in a department store car park, followed by a few days going nowhere at all as he was unable to travel. Then, just as he got better…the weather turned unusually bad with wind and rain and temperatures down to 15 degrees, what even is that – we were freezing. So, unfortunately, we only got as far as Albany along the south coast and decided it was best to cut our losses and turn back.
Western Australia and The one-stop-shop!
Now, despite its laid-back demeanour, Perth was positively bustling as opposed to some other towns we later encountered in Western Australia, which kind of reminded me of those little towns in the US dotted along Route 66. You know those one-horse towns with a bar or two and a couple of little shops?
Those very friendly – I’m not sure what I am shops. Come here, get your gas, some flip-flops, a pizza, maybe a power hose, a fish tank, a pint of milk and a new frying pan, type shops! Where you will undoubtedly leave with something you don’t need and a smile on your face after chatting with the local owner about something obscure. Those places.
One time in the middle of nowhere in Arizona we left such a shop, with ice cream and a torch (?), served by an old guy telling us he was Joe Dimaggio’s brother who regaled us with stories about Marilyn Monroe. I kinda suspect he was, not, Joe Dimaggio’s brother but yeah, that’s the kind of place I’m talking about, and I love them!
Wine for Dudes – A Taste of Margaret River
On the way down we had passed through Margaret River but were unable to do the wine tasting, which it is most famous in Australia for, as Iain was too ill. But, as he then got better, we went on our way back to Perth. And, that was a good day out. We went with the Wine for Dudes Tour and had a whole day fun trip with much wine drinking, ending up in a brewery talking to our new-found friends on holiday from the UK.
There’s No Place Like Dome
There was also a lovely café in Margaret River called Dome where we had yummy iced drinks. Started by a small group of people, including an Olympic triple jump champion of the 70s. (!) They are now a successful Australian chain, so I would look out for one wherever you are, yum! It reminded me of one of my favourite cafes, Sears in San Francisco. Pretty much anything that reminds me of San Francisco is a good thing. I have left my heart there so many times Tony Bennett should really share his royalties with me. Anyway, despite our troubles, I would say, potentially, this should be a great trip, and I would still recommend it. Here are some pics of our route south:
A Joyous Burns Night Celebration
We then returned to Perth, staying in the Central Caravan Park Ascot, for a fabulous Burns Night in the Scottish owned Blasta Brewery with friends from our hometown who moved out years ago and caught the Perth bug never to return. Iain even got a go on the bagpipes, not something we had expected to be doing on our world trip!
So after a great night out, and fully recovered, we travelled on north for the next two weeks.
Western Australia: The Enchanting Beaches of the Coral Coast
Now, there are indeed beautiful beaches driving up the Coral Coast, and if you like gorgeous beaches, fantastic. If you’re lucky enough to have been to the Maldives, think of the Maldives. Disney fans – it’s Castaway Quay. I am told too there are many wondrous things within the waters to see. And I can well appreciate it must be a diver’s paradise.
However, I lost my desire to dive deep into the oceans when I gave up my gills long, long ago and developed feet, enabling me to walk on land. The beaches of Western Australia are stunning, but – the oceans deep scare me. I have no wish to be any further into the water than where I can stand and breathe at the same time.
Hold on to your – shorts
I had a near panic attack once in a typhoon lagoon – scarred for life. Okay, it was the – Typhoon Lagoon in Disney World, but my god that wave pool was strong. I lost my balance wooshed to the bottom of the – well – pool- and found myself grabbing some poor man’s shorts as I tried to resurface. It was just embarrassing all round. Now I go to Blizzard Beach. They have excellent refreshing frozen cocktails and crazy golf, and you pretend you are at the seaside, in the snow. I love Disney, and that’s just fine for me.
Deep-sea skiving in the Maldives
Once, when in the aforementioned Maldives, we were going to take the literal plunge and signed up for the free scuba diving course; only to find Iain was not allowed to do it on account of his Multiple Sclerosis. Well, I was un-silently relieved, jumped for joy exclaiming ‘Oh dear, damn shame, let’s hit the bar instead’.
But yes, back to Australia. North to south, the beaches are beautiful and there are many beachness activities to partake in should you so wish. I imagine if you are into that kind of thing, Western Australia must be up there as the place to come. Stunning.
The Long Drives of Western Australia
To get to these lovely beaches, however, you have to drive a long, very long way. Hours. Hours of nothingness. Imagine nothing. Yup, that’s it. And it is HOT. Unlike Botswana or Namibia, where the driving is in itself the destination. Driving in Western Australia is the opposite.
In Africa, driving is the fun part. You almost just pick a spot to stay for the night then carry on the next day. In Western Australia, you are driving to reach your destination. Then, you will, want to hang around there for at least a couple of days to see it all when you get there. We hadn’t planned properly for this and were probably too ambitious in thinking we could cover it all.
Apple Music – not in my library, meh!
So the driving is long. That means you need some good music, right? Well, we were quickly sick to death of the few songs that seemed to remain on my Apple Music. Where have they gone, Apple? Why? When I make sure they are downloaded, in my library and all the rest, is it? That – when – I embark on the longest journey in the world – I am suddenly confined to Frank Sinatra’s ‘Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas’, a handful of Robbie Williams songs, and some unknown tunes you decided I like the best. Who the hell are Anthony Russell and Aaron Embry, mm? I don’t know these people. Stop trying to update me. I like Roger Waters and Neil Young. Bring them back please – leave my music alone.
Dengue Fever’s Impact and Gratitude
Throughout the whole trip of Western Australia, we just didn’t seem as impressed as we felt we should be. I thought it deserved more enthusiasm than I was giving it. For some reason we didn’t feel able to appreciate it all, I mean look…
A travellers woes
Honestly, I feel we are continuing to have the effects of the Dengue Fever we caught in Cambodia.
Everything feels, just not entirely as things should be. Brain, body, and thoughts feel dumbed down. Iain has twice now completely lost his eyesight. Once before we left Borneo and then again when we arrived in Australia. Thank goodness it has returned without too much fuss, but this hadn’t happened for years. (For those not following. Iain only has sight in one eye, so losing sight in the only good eye is terrifying).
Anyway, there is too much dengue to go on about. Weird rashes, skin falling off, pains – meh. Just believe me when I say dengue sucks and I wish we had never got it. That and the Hong Kong falling down the sinkhole drama have definitely affected the year’s proceedings (my leg is still sore three months on).
Back in WA
But, back to Western Australia. Don’t listen to my grumblings here. We had a fantastic time and some great days out with family and friends. Many thanks to them all! The beaches are beautiful; the scenery is fabulous, and there is beer aplenty. And there is, of course, more to Western Australia than beaches and bottle shops.
In conclusion, Western Australia offers an enchanting journey with its beautiful beaches, renowned wine regions, and laid-back lifestyle. The diverse landscapes, warm hospitality, and cherished memories make it an unforgettable adventure. So come and discover the allure of Western Australia, and don’t forget your roadie!
Let the photographs speak for themselves.