Perth is great and all, but after a week of city living and beach days it was time to explore further south in search of smaller cities and nicer beaches. Myles and I packed the car full of camping gear, bought a bunch of food and hit the road, trusting Google Maps to guide us.
We missed the rush hour traffic of people going to work and instead hit some other kind of traffic, maybe people with nothing else to do but to cause a traffic jam. I’d recommend always leaving as early as possible because you will always have a surprisingly long drive ahead of you. And get gas while you can. Trust me.
If you haven’t been to Fremantle yet I suggest you make it your first stop. Grab a cup of coffee or a pint (I’m not judging, it’s 5 o’clock somewhere) and wander the streets, enjoy the beach, pick up any last-minute supplies you might have forgotten and get ready for the long drive ahead (I later learned that this was our shortest drive of the week).
If you have the time to spend the day here, then you can visit the Fremantle Prison and learn about its very interesting history, particularly the Great Escapes. The Round House is a historic prison which gives you wonderful views over the beach. Visit the Fremantle Markets and the E Shed Markets for the best shopping, the main street, and the beachfront has some lovely restaurants and cafes. The highlight of any hot summer day in Freo is a visit to the Little Creatures Brewery! Sit in the sun, drink an LC Pale Ale and grab some delicious food. A tour is $20 and you get to sample every beer at the end!
Our first stop (having already visited Freo the week before) was Penguin Island off the coast of Rockingham, 45 minutes south of Perth. An island with penguins on it. Penguins, that are supposed to live in the ice-cold waters of Antarctica and such, living in the tropical waters of Western Australia, good one mother nature.
You can either pay $15 for unlimited ferry rides to and from the island or walk across the sand bar, it’s only 700m but it has a strong current and can get quite deep. We chose to pay $38.50 for a “Penguin and Sea Lion Tour” which included unlimited ferry crossings, penguin feeding, and a 45-minute glass-bottom boat tour.
The ferry to and from the island only takes 5 minutes and it’s a beautiful little journey, worth the money (being part of our ticket price) for me as we were on a tight schedule. The island is small enough that you can walk around it in 20 minutes which you definitely should, you’ll get the best views and see a lot of different species of birds.
The penguin feeding was worth it too, I absolutely adore penguins and these Little Penguins are the smallest species in the world. They have around 10 that have been rescued and can’t be released into the wild, so the staff take care of them. You can go and see them any time once you’ve watched the feeding.
The boat tour… I think it was worth it only because we were lucky enough to see dolphins behind the boat of the people who had paid more for a dolphin tour! Their boat made the huge wake for the dolphins to play in and we got to sit back and watch them. We did get to see a few sea lions sunning themselves on the beach, and a huge flock of pelicans doing their mating ritual (which is just their necks flapping in the wind), but the dolphins made it a lot more exciting.
As we made our way back to the mainland we stopped in the gift shop and bought a snorkel set for $15, it’s a good investment if you’re on the road for a while. We also had lunch and a little swim before hitting the road again.
There are plenty of lovely beaches to stop at along the way, but we were running late and still had a while to go to reach Geographe Bay. Just so you know, you should stick to Highway 2 the whole way down. We thought we would take the coastal road and it turns out you can’t see any coast whatsoever, you can only see the damage left behind from countless bushfires. It’s strangely beautiful, but a lot slower.
The Busselton Jetty
We drove into the small city of Busselton, 2 and a half hours south of Perth, as the sun was setting but I didn’t want to miss out on walking the longest wooden jetty (pier) in the southern hemisphere.
It’s almost 2km long but feels much longer, we spent almost an hour walking to the end and back. There is a free Interpretive Centre and Heritage Museum at the start and while that’s open you’ll pay $3 to walk the jetty, it’s free while it’s closed.
The Underwater Observatory at the end of the jetty takes you 8m down to the ocean floor, the 1 hour and 45-minute tour costs $32 which includes the Jetty Train that will take you along the jetty and back. If you just want to ride the train it will cost you $12 and the return trip takes 45 minutes…?!
However you decide to see it, it’s worth a visit and is a beautiful spot for swimming, fishing, and photography.
It was basically dark by the time we arrived at our campsite, the Four Seasons Holiday Park in between Busselton and Dunsborough. We paid $30 for a powered site and that gave us access to the kitchens and bathrooms.
It’s been a long time since I went camping and I’m not gonna lie, I was pretty paranoid about spiders because Australia, but they left us alone. Probably because I was so angry about losing Uno 56 times in a row.
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