- Your first time visiting Western Australia? Ours too.
- Tips for traveling (kindly).
After the famous stretch of nothing (The Nullarbor), we weren’t quite sure what to expect of the great western state – a land more foreign to us than say Bali or New Zealand… This is a place nearly 3,000 kilometres from home. This was completely new.
We always judge a place or a town by its people. Are they friendly? Are they helpful? Are they welcoming? Or are they rude, unhelpful, ignorant, opposed to outsiders? See, we always approach others with a smile, a ‘g’day’, and with kindness. It’s all we expect in return – and it’s crucial for a happy time on the road.
At first, it seemed we had stepped into a land less-welcoming than our own. We felt more foreign than the backpackers travelling alongside us. We weren’t greeted with waves as we zoomed by in the Cruiser, nor were we greeted with a smile or a ‘hello’ on the street. This troubled us.
Our first real taste was Norseman. A nice enough town, yes. A great Visitor Centre, a great main street… but when we dropped over $200 on diesel at the local petrol station, we didn’t get the warm greeting we’d expected. The fella couldn’t be faster in taking our money, and he couldn’t be colder in sending us on our way. But, everyone has bad days, so we fobbed it off.
A fair few kms down the road and we’d entered the famously beautiful ‘Esperance’. We had high hopes for this place, and with that, its people. The Visitor Centre staff were cold and stiff – not willing to offer assistance, not willing to offer anything, and on the way out, passersby wouldn’t even make eye contact. By now, we weren’t holding out much hope and were quickly anxious about what the next few months had in store…
Later that afternoon we rolled – somewhat reluctantly – into our accommodation. Our experience of WA hadn’t started out great, and if there is anything that could solidify those feelings, it’s a caravan park packed full of grey hair and grey attitudes. Thankfully, how quickly our fears evaporated when a friendly park manager gave us the time of day. It was here, when our love affair with the South Coast began.
Sharon was her name, a quick-witted lass with a sarcastic humour – she welcomed us with open arms and encouraged us. We’re often told by park managers that we’re ‘doing the right thing, travelling young’. We’re told that too many travelers leave it until way too late when they can’t walk further than to the camp kitchen and spend their entire adventure within the four walls of their caravan. Sharon was no different, but somehow, we were encouraged and inspired by what she had to say – she, turns out, did the same thing when she was younger.
At the same camp and just a day later – only this time, from strangers – we found a tiny note of paper lodged in the side of the Cruiser. All this time, the sweet group of teens next to us were busy writing us a letter – working out a way to make our time in WA more enjoyable after seeing our Instagram, and for that, we were beyond thankful for kind, young people and social media.
From then on, we noticed more and more smiles and more and more waves from the driver’s seat.
Headed west, we stopped to drop a line in the Munglinup River. Not only did we have an epic day reeling in black bream, we met some wonderful (local) travellers. A giggly couple clinked glasses as they sipped red wine and told us all about their time travelling the region. An older couple suggested new places to explore and joined in for a fish.
A little further up the road, we stopped at an incredibly secluded free camp called ‘Boat Harbour’. We chugged past the caretaker’s quarters which was surrounded by old buoys and items collected around the beach – a lifetime of stories to be told. The house belonged to Trevor – a quirky, smiley soul who couldn’t wait to throw us in his old Landcruiser and take us to his favourite spots. A champion and humble individual.
Then, finally, came Albany. My word, our favourite place in WA thus far. The town is thriving – it’s equal parts beautiful and buzzing. It’s picturesque and preserves its history like no other town. Its people – turns out – are lovely too.
The entire Visitor Centre was popping with enthusiasm and knowledge. For the first time, we felt at home- like these wonderful ladies truly wanted us to have the best time.
We camped at a caravan park which was not only all about being dog-friendly, its manager was a true gentleman and sweetheart and also, just wanted us to simply have a good time!
It truly makes our day when others can just be kind. Us included. We see it all too often on the road, when a small bit of hostility can completely ruin your day. It doesn’t cost a cent to put a smile on your dile and practice a bit of that Aussie laid-back attitude – and that’s something we try to do every day.
We’ve seen so many incredible places so far, and we’ve been blown away by the huge variety of things to do and see – but nothing will make us more excited than nice people.
You’ll always get your sorts on the road – like just now, a family has returned to their camp, Oakey went over to say hello – and instead of politely smiling and asking us to put him on a lead, the lady proceeded to raise her voice at him and tell us off because her kids aren’t good with dogs. Now, we’re learning to acknowledge the feelings of others, while also learning to not take them to heart. It takes courage and patience, but we’re getting there.
So to those of you on the road – new travellers and old – just kill it with kindness. Imagine living with every single type of person on the planet and having to co-exist with those people. That’s life on the road. Everyone is different and you will always have people who do or say things you completely disagree with.
It may take some clenching of the teeth, a strong drink , and a whinge session in the car later, but just smile and be tolerant. All you can control is the way you see your own journey – no one else’s.
So thus far, we have LOVED our time in WA. Yeah, it was a bit scary at first, but give it time and be patient and kind, and the world will do wonders. G’day WA!
A lover of the written word.
Journalist by trade, writer by hobby. Writing fuels my soul and I promised myself I’d string words together more often, so here I am.
A collection of pieces that describe the inner workings of my mind.