My goal for all the road trips I take is to explore further and further. I have gone as far north as Perth – Newman – Port Hedland – Newman – Perth, which was one of the most nerve-racking road trips I have ever taken. You could drive for 5 hours and only see the flat red dirt desert, road trains that would take up the entire road and cows that would spontaneously run out in front of you.
I have gone as far east as York, Narrogin and Kalgoorlie. But I can’t include Kalgoorlie as I arrived there by the Indian Pacific.
My southern road trips are more frequent and include the usual Bunbury, Busselton, Dunsborough and Margaret River. Then eventually Nikita and I drove over to Pemberton to explore the Karri Forest, took my Toyota Camry off road and climbed two out of the three trees.
For this trip, we decided to take our exploring a bit further and head out to the Stirling Ranges, climb a mountain and then explore Albany!
Thursday night, Nikita and I headed 228kms south. Arriving at 2230 in the freezing cold town of Busselton, we sat under the heater, watched vines and fails on YouTube and accidentally woke the baby up in the next room. My alarm went off at 0600 and I left our warm room to head off to the Busselton Jetty for the sunrise.
To keep my feet warm, I wore my mouse slippers to the jetty. Yes… you read that right! And yes… you probably correctly guessed the outcome. Due to the weather, thick seaweed covered parts of the jetty which I had to walk over resulting in soaking wet slippers.
The construction of the Busselton Jetty, previously known as Vasse Jetty, commenced in 1853 after pressure from settlers. Due to the shallow waters, ships couldn’t come in so a very long jetty was required. By 1865, 175 meters were completed, allowing ships to moor. 1875, another 145 meters were added and the jetty was continuously extended into the 1960’s. At 1841 meters long, it’s the longest wooden jetty in the southern hemisphere.
The last commercial ship to the jetty was 17th October 1971 and on 21th July 1972, the jetty was closed to ships.
We walked the streets of Busselton and inside a book shop, I found something exciting. I have been loving ‘Blind date with a book’ and have only found one store in Perth that do it.
In Busselton, Nikita and I mapped out the route for the 355km trek inland across Western Australia to the Stirling Ranges. I jotted down on a piece of paper a list of all the roads we are taking and also texted it to family. It’s not about being dramatic, it’s about not being stupid and being safe. Reception and any kind of service dropped out in the first 45 minutes of the 4.5 hour trek, so we followed the instructions I had jotted down on the paper.
It’s important to construct your road trips around highways and proper sealed roads. When in major towns, it’s also important to write down all the roads you are taking, when to turn and even draw a little map. When you drive out into isolation, unless you are with Telstra or have a proper hand held GPS, you will have no reception or service to guide you. Google Maps on your phone will no suffice.
But we made one stupid mistake!
We stopped in the small town of Nannup, 61.2kms into our trek. There is so much more in Nannup then what we knew when we were there, I’m excited to go back. We purchased a big bag of mandarins for $2.50 that were from someones tree and they were the most sweet and delicious mandarins I have ever tasted. That bag lasted our entire trip!
294kms to go…
We arrived at the Stirling Ranges just before sunset and it was then that we realized our stupid mistake. Usually we will fill up with fuel in each town, because in my experience, you never know where the next petrol station is. Going out of your way to get fuel is usually not a 5 minute drive down the road, it can sometimes be a 20 or 30 km trek. I was supposed to fill up the jerry tank and bring it along, but I didn’t get around to that when packing the car.
As we pulled into the Stirling Ranges retreat, I noticed the petrol light was on. I should have filled up in Busselton, or even Nannup. I didn’t know how long it had been on as I was watching out for kangaroos and other wildlife. I don’t know why I didn’t even think of it when usually I’m very vigilant on watching fuel levels. Except for Nannup, 294kms ago, I don’t recall even seeing a petrol station. I saw about 10 jerry tanks and cans along a wall at the Stirling Ranges Retreat. I asked reception where the nearest petrol station was and was told there is only one in this whole area. But, it will be closed now and tomorrow it might be open a few hours. I raised my eye brows and just stared at the guy and repeated “might?”. I went to look on my phone and it had a circle with a line through it. No reception. Did they have WiFi? A stupid question. They had a Telstra phone box, nice bathrooms and hot water. We were asked if we have our own bedding? Bedding? Like what, blankets? Sheets? Mattress? The guy didn’t wait for our answer and gave us the keys to our caravan.
We found ourselves without reception or service for about 40 hours. There was only one place to eat in the vicinity, that happened to be across the street and was owned by a very lovely couple. They had a tank of colorful vibrant jellyfish that were real and had delicious food. We played Go Fish and Chess near a fireplace.
Inside our caravan was a double bed with two pillows and a sheet. At the other end were two bunk beds with pillows and plastic mattresses. In the mountains, with no bedding and the heater was one of those bar radiator heaters that did not warm up anything. We had a blanket in the car in case one of us (Usually Nikita) got cold and it was a thin blanket that I threw in the car last minute. So we just put on all the winter clothing we had brought with us, including wooly leg warms and huddled together in the same bed with our little blanket.
We played Cards against humanity, talked about the most scariest movies we ever saw, choose a mountain to climb the next day and filmed ridiculous comedy skits on her iPad that included a puppet show. During the night, Nikita plugged in her little heater and prayed our caravan didn’t catch on fire. Lucky she did, even I was freezing!!
First priority; get fuel, from a fuel station that might be open IF they felt like it. 8kms up the road we found the only petrol station in the area that had one pump, a very VERY unfriendly lady and for some reason… a nudist crossing warning??
After leaving the petrol station and nudist crossing, we headed back to the small cafe for brunch before heading up to Bluff Knoll.
My article: “Climbing Bluff Knoll – Highest Peak in South West WA” can be found on http://tweetperth.com.au/ When the article is published, I will link it here.
After our adventure on Bluff Knoll, we drove 97.1kms south to our luxury beach house accommodation in Albany! We drunk port, ate chocolate, had bubble baths, visit book shops, ate in a cute cafe and went sight-seeing.
Travel is the best education, so here are a few things we learned on this trek.
- Don’t forget to bring the jerry can/tank
- Fill up with fuel whenever you can
- Bring blankets, sheets, pillows, mattress, bed…
- Pack a bag of long life nutritious food, that includes some microwavable food. (chocolate doesn’t count as a long life nutritious food but defiantly a vital thing to pack)
- Clear space on phone BEFORE you leave your house.
- Don’t forget your waterproof camera
- Eat a proper hot meal before deciding to climb a mountain
Future road trip goals:
- I would love to drive to Kalgoorlie. I have stopped through there 6 times, but that was on the Indian Pacific.
- Drive across the Nullarbor Plain. I have done it 6 times, again on Indian Pacific, from Perth – Adelaide – Melbourne and vice versa.
- Perth – Broome via the coast. This trip is 2,349km and will take 24 hours
Thank you for reading! I would love to hear about any road trips you have taken and to see any photographs and video. Tweet or Instagram me: @myrapeggyrose