As soon as we got back from our manta ray tour, we decided to drive South that afternoon with Kalbarri and its namesake national park in our sights. Since we had gotten a rather late start, we made it as far as the city of Carnavon where we refueled, bought groceries, and then found a patch of grass to park our campervan on for the night. The next morning, we hit the road early and made it to Kalbarri by early afternoon.
We spent most of that afternoon at the local library catching up on emails, downloading pictures, and updating the blog. Most places in Australia offering internet are either slow, expensive, or both, and the library was no exception. The woman working behind the desk was nice enough to cut our tally in half after admitting the connection was slow due to the bad weather. We’d never heard that one before (internet slow because of bad weather/rain??) but weren’t about to haggle for a higher tab.
With all of our to-do’s done, we drove to a nice campground in town to get our patch of fake grass and called it a day. The weather the next morning was ominous but still provided us with some good pictures as gray clouds gave way to blue sky along the coastal portion of Kalbarri National Park. This portion South of Kalbarri featured magnificent towering ocean cliffs plummeting to the waves below. We then headed to the inland portion of the park where red sandstone canyons and rock formations are accessible down a long washboard and rugged dirt road. We hiked to the main points of interest, including “the window”, “z-bend” and “the loop”. Above: posing inside the “window”Above: funny-looking treeAbove: view from “z-bend”
Needing to hand over the campervan to the rental company the next day in Perth, we drove back out that late afternoon on the rough road to the highway to try to lop off some of the distance. We drove to a free camping area we’d stopped at on the way to Kalbarri to have lunch. It was a nervous drive as we had been told countless times not to travel at dusk or at night or suffer a guaranteed run-in with a roo or cow. We made it unscathed and joined the throngs of campers at the free campground. At the crack of dawn we were starting south on the highway trying to leave us enough time to fill the tank, fill the LPG canister, and give the van a quick tidying up. Strong winds and deluge rains was the menu for the entire drive to Perth with the campervan dancing all over the highway and leaving our nerves completely frayed. But we made it just in time and turned our home on wheels in to Britz. It was a fun adventure for a month but we were looking forward to sleeping in a real bed! We spent a couple of days in Perth and despite the weather being cold and rainy, we really enjoyed this modern but relaxed city and its myriad of bars, trendy cafes and restaurants. It reminded us of Portland quite a bit. We had the best burger we tasted in a long time at Grilled Burgers and also took in a French bakery named the best in Australia for a tasty lunch. We could definitely see ourselves living in Perth!Above: Perth skylineAbove: finishing off a baguette sandwich & cappuccino with the chocolate pear slice on deck. Above: strolling a section of Perth that looked like a medieval street in Europe.
The next day we flew to Sydney and spent the following couple of days exploring town. We stayed in the backpackers district of King Cross and it was a good location to walk to the main sights (thanks Tracy!). Sydney is the largest and most diverse city of Australia and is built around one of the most beautiful natural harbors in the world. In 2 days, we barely had time to scratch the surface but visited the city’s icons such as the Opera house, the Harbor bridge and Bondi beach, along with Bronte Beach and the Royal Botanical Gardens. Above: The Opera house Above: Bondi beach. Below: dolphins body surfing close to shore. Every year, Sydney puts on a colossal light show called Vivid. It illuminates the Opera House, buildings surrounding the main harbor, the Harbor bridge, and even ferries and vessels in Darlington Harbor showed off their own dancing LED lights. The downtown area was packed with locals and tourists alike taking in the spectacle and we felt fortunate to have serendipitously been in Sydney for it.