Traveling with three other travelmates from Holland and Italy, we rented a car in Perth to make our way to Exmouth and then back down in 2 weeks time. We’ve been advised that 2 weeks is more than enough for a roundtrip to Exmouth; we did not have a strict itinerary to follow so we decided to play by the ear. Since I’m barely qualified to be called a licensed driver, I opted out for helping out with the driving unless if I later feel the confidence to give it a go in the more deserted roads. I felt bad not being able to drive so I tried to prevent myself from sleeping for the most part to give moral support. I don’t know much about the west coast or rather, anything beyond the major Australian cities. My travelmates have been here much longer than I have, I thought I’d just let them decide since they are probably more aware of where to go and how the whole backpacking culture works. I told myself to leave my Maggie logic back in America and just learn to let go and go with the flow. I really don’t have any must-sees in mind and I think it’s better that way. As a business student, you sure do not want me to get a must-do on my agenda because that will be a problem; I will make sure it gets done at almost all costs.
One of the only places I looked up on the list of places to see my travelmate had told me about earlier, I only remember the Pinnacle Desert located in Nambung National Park. It was the only place I was looking forward to since everything else was a blur. Unfortunately, the Pinnacles was not the most exciting part of the trip for sure. The Pinnacles are these limestone formations where the explanation of how they are formed are still unclear.
We spent our first night camping out at Jurien Bay. Due to the Dutch pronunciation of the ‘j’ as ‘y’, I thought we were staying at Urine Bay until I realized it was a mispronunciation from my travelmates. Before meeting up with my travelmates, I was under the impression that we would be staying at hostels and potentially camping out for a night or two. We ended up camping for most of the trip in caravan parks, haha. One of my travelmates had two tents and enough sleeping supplies for us. Although they were not the most luxurious options, spending many nights in a $15 tent is quite the experience! We were also more frugal with our expenses like food for example than I had expected. Somehow we got into the mindset that we needed to stick to a really tight budget. I remember our first camp dinner really vividly. We boiled canned tomato soup on a BBQ grill along with a few pieces of toast while other travellers prepared a feast on the grill next to ours. Oh the juxtaposition just made our dinner seem a lot more sad than it should be.
On our 3rd day, we had our first intensive hike at Kalbarri National Park with a class 4 walking trail that stretched over 9 km that had an estimated 5 hours to complete; we did it in 3.5 hours :). It was a scenic hike up and down many hills of sand and rocks. It was a little intimidating considering that people actually died on this hike. What made the hike difficult in my opinion was the heat and my quickly depleting water supply. Thank goodness we started the hike early in the morning because there was a sign that warned up that parts of the gorge can be as hot as 50 degrees Celsius! The breezy temperature increased drastically make it a sweaty hike. By the last bit, I was desperate for water since I initially forgot to refill my water bottle before the hike so I only had one quarter of a bottle’s worth of water to work with!
Other than visiting national parks, we made many stops along the way at different lookouts. Living in New York City, I never really feel the need to have a car or have a strong sense of reliance on a car. Seeing how spread out and deserted everything is here makes me really appreciate and realize the flexibility a car can give you. You can stop at whatever lookout to take a peek as you like and at your own pace.
As you may have guessed, this wasn’t a very smooth riding trip. We had our first casualty on our 3rd night of the trip. We have been advised not to drive at night since many creatures such as kangaroos are spotted on the road at night and the darkness makes it harder for drivers to avoid roadkill. After a long day, my eyes rested for roughly 15 minutes and I was startled awake at 8:40PM with a flash of brown that pressed against the front of our car. My travelmates all gasped and said we hit a kangaroo! I was surprisingly calm after the incident mainly because I didn’t realize the repercussions of hitting a roo until later on. We had drove for several kilometers before stopping the car to see if it’s okay. While it didn’t feel like such a forceful collision, the kangaroo had made a huge dent in on the front of our car knocking out our left headlight. We quickly drove to Denham, the nearest town on the road because the car was making a weird sound. After talking to the locals, the rental car company, and the local mechanic, it was determined that we cannot continue with this car because it was completely totaled. Luckily, we bought top insurance for the car so we only needed to pay an outstanding balance of $50. We ended up renting another car from a local car rental company that required us to drop the car back at Denham for return. In the end, I had to book an additional flight from Exmouth to Perth since there was no other options for me to make it to Perth in time for my connecting flight to Sydney. All that matter was quickly handled the morning after and we continued our road trip in the afternoon.