Hot hot and damn hot – Western Australia

January 5, 2014 in Australia, On the road

Hot hot and damn hot45° C in the shade, the sun burned down on us merciless – and since about 300 kilometres we hadn’t really noticed a change in the landscape. We had arrived in Western Australia – hot, dusty, and only very scarcely populated. We couldn’t be bothered to stop somewhere, and to go exploring – the weather was “hot hot, and damn hot”, as we were informed by a sign at a roadhouse.

We had definitely chosen the wrong time of the year to explore Western Australia. Temperatures were only bearable when we were near the coast, where they dropped below 25° C at least during the nights, so that we could find some sleep. But the beautiful coast made up for the stress and strains. We enjoyed the endless beaches, the reefs that provided great snorkelling spots, the fishing, and fantastic wildlife.

Border to Western Australia

Our first stop in Western Australia was Kununurra. The road there was spectacular because of the impressive Baobab trees (called “boab” in Australia), and the absence of traffic. The only road in that area that leads into Western Australia wasn’t used much, and sometimes we saw only two or three other vehicles per hour.

Baobab Tree no traffic in western australia

In Kununurra we could stay in Thomas’ house. He is a motorcycle traveller that we had met in Indonesia. Unfortunately, he was still travelling somewhere in Georgia when we got to Kununurra, but he nevertheless invited us to enjoy the comfort of his magnificent house. Thank you very much for your hospitality, Thomas!

We were then heading to Broome, which is located at the coast of Western Australia. Originally, we had planned to take the Gibb-River-Road, which is a corrugated dirt road through the spectacular landscape of the Kimberleys. But we had to change our plans since some bearings on our bikes were still causing problems, and we didn’t want to risk a breakdown in the middle of nowhere. And besides this, it was also too hot. We were not in the mood to ride over hundreds of kilometres of corrugations in temperatures around 45° C, and under the blazing sun that was standing vertically over us now in November.

So we took the sealed road to Broome, directly and as fast as possible. Unfortunately, we also couldn’t visit the Bungle Bungles, a spectacular rock formation, since the National Park was closed during the hot season. But we found a really nice camping spot full of cockatoos, and one of them was so curious and not shy at all, so we had to share our breakfast with him…

cockatoos sharing breakfast every bit of shade has to be used....

When we arrived in Broome, we were so exhausted from the heat that we were mainly hanging around in the pool of the caravan park. But we also went down to the famous Cable Beach to watch the spectacular sunset there.

cable beach watching sunset

camels on cable beach

We then continued further south, always following the coast. However, you cannot see the coast from the road, and you have to venture off the main road for a few kilometres if you want to see the ocean, such as at the endless 80-Mile- Beach.  We found a shower there that we could use to cool us and our riding gear down….

80-mile-beach shower against the heat

Western Australia is really really big, and it is extremely scarcely populated. Sometimes we had to cover distances of 400 or 500 kilometres just to get to the next town. But town is maybe not the right word for a handful of houses that a scattered around a petrol station…. And the landscape really didn’t change much – there was a choice of scrubs, bushes, and shrubs.

Our little diversion from the main road to the coast near Exmouth and the Ningaloo Reef was the first real variation.  We camped two days in the National Park, we had rented snorkelling equipment, and we enjoyed the reefs right in front of the beaches there. Corals, sea-anemones, clams, small and big fish in all shapes and colours, reef shark, rays, …. we saw all kinds of sea life there.

at ningaloo reef sunset

Another diversion took us to the Shark Bay – the temperatures there were also much lower than in the areas further away from the coast. We visited Monkey Mia, a tourist park, where wild Dolphins come right to the beach, where they are fed. We then hired a Kayak there to get away from the Tourists and to explore more of the coast. This turned out to be a great decision, because we saw a lot of wild animals in the water along the coast, and not only dolphins, but also sharks, manta rays, sting rays, giant turtles, sea snakes, and our absolute highlight: a really big dugong!

dolphin turtle stingray dugong pelican exploring the coast by kayak

We were also fascinated by the Stromatholiths in the bay. They are rocks that are formed by layers of cyanobacteria, which are some of the oldest life forms on earth. There are only very few places around the world where you can still see them.

When we went fishing near Denham, and we caught some superb Pink Snappers, which is one of the tastiest fishes in the world, and we were feasting on fresh fish from the grill that night.

fishing stromatholiths

Due to the hot weather, we decided not to visit the National Parks further inland. A good decision, as we found out later when we were told that the Karinjini National Park was closed because of massive bush fires in the area.

Rather enthralling were some of our encounters with the insects and spiders that we saw around our campsites: huge spiders, and giant bulldog ants, which can grow up to 45 mm, were quite common visitors to our tent. We better made sure to keep the mosquito net closed at all times….

bulldogant huge spider on the tent

But most annoying were the billions of bush flies that lunged at us as soon as we stopped somewhere, and that sometimes nearly drove us insane, crawling into our nostrils, ears, eyes…. More than once we had to leave because there were simply too many of them.

bushflies bushflies

Besides the bush flies we also saw lots of kangaroos and emus. Of course, they are not so annoying, but they are also not only nice to watch – especially when they run out on the streets right in front of you, or when they raid the campsite in the middle of the night searching for water and food.

emu on the road kangaroo on the road

Further south, the temperatures were constantly getting more enjoyable. The wind from the sea brought cool air, but it also caused some sleepless nights for us, since our tent couldn’t really withstand such weather.  

We ventured of the main roads to explore the Kalbarri National Park with its fantastic wildflowers, and “Nature‘s Window” (a stony arch), and we enjoyed the last few hundred kilometres along the coast towards Perth, with magnificent views over the cliffs, fantastic beaches, and the “Pinnacles“. They are thousands of spikey rocks that loom out of the dessert-like sandy landscape there.

flowers in kalbarri natures window kalbarri pinnacles

Then we finally reached Perth – after many thousands of kilometres through the heat and often monotonous landscape of Western Australia – not exactly the perfect conditions when you travel by motorcycle.

A big parcel from home with new tyres and spare parts was waiting for us, and we spent one week in the city working on the bikes, and replacing broken or worn-out parts of our equipment. A big thank you goes to Jason, who put us up for our time there, and who has the best dog in the world (unfortunately, we were not allowed to take him with us…), and also to David and Tricia from Better Motorcycles that allowed us to use their workshop to work on our bikes. But we also found some time to explore the modern city centre of Perth.

parcel arrived at the workshop Jasons wonderful dog Perth - blank swans on the swan river

From Perth we continued further to the south-western corner of Australia, where we got really excited in view of the trees, the rain, and the cooler temperatures there. More about this in our next blog post….

on the beach