Mavis on Hiatus began the day we knew we could no longer travel overseas as we had planned. Before she had her name and her camper van status, she was a cargo van, being used for transporting audio and visual equipment around Melbourne. Now she is our home. We are Casey and Jay and with our best friend Mavis, we are taking a ‘break’ from an unappealing nine to five life and circumnavigating Aus at a very slow pace.
After hearing “West is Best” from so many Vanlife travellers, Western Australia became the state we were most excited to visit. Coming from Melbourne, Jay nor I had spent much time here. I had visited once and travelled South West WA with my family, Jay had visited Perth. After many months in lockdown where we couldn’t travel further than five kilometres from our homes, we felt incredibly grateful to cross the SA/WA border earlier this year.
As it grew colder down South, we were itching for some warmer weather and to continue our lap of Aus. It was time to begin our journey along the Coral Coast. As some of our travel friends had begun their journeys up north before us, we knew where to visit, but as neither of us had travelled further than Perth before, we really had no idea what to expect. I believe that was the beauty of this chapter of our travels, we had no preconceived judgements of the places we visited and therefore we were surprised everywhere we went. What absolutely wonderful surprises they were.
In our first few days along the Coral Coast we stopped at quite a few places. Our favourites becoming Lancelin, where you could spend a few hours surfing the dunes, or in our case sledding down them, feeling the cool breeze hitting our faces as we giggled all the way to the bottom. We also loved The Pinnacles, found in Nambug National Park a few hours north of Perth. We’d seen many photos of these huge rock formations, however actually seeing them through our own eyes and settling amongst them is such a beautiful experience. In between the many photo opportunities, you can play hide and seek and feel the joy of being a child once again. I think Jay could spend hours telling you about how much he loved Jurien Bay skatepark, so if you have a board with you, make sure you spend a morning or two rolling around the brand new beachfront skatepark. What surprised us most about this area was how much we adored Lesueur National Park. We hadn’t seen anyone visit this place but thought we would make the detour anyway, and oh myyyy were we blown away. An eighteen kilometre one way road takes you on a scenic drive through the park, and you can stop along the way to enjoy the scenery. We saw only one other couple the whole time we spent in the park, it was so tranquil. I can only imagine what it looks like during wildflower season, what dreams are made of.
As we continued further north, Kalbarri became one of our favourite towns of our whole trip. Despite being hit by a huge cyclone earlier in the year, nothing could take away the beauty of this place. A National Park that spreads from the coast into many stunning gorges, we’d never seen anything quite like it. Although ‘Nature’s Window’ is probably the most well known landmark in Kalbarri, the Z Bend and a little cave just past Nature’s Window were our personal favourites.
For us though, Exmouth quickly became by far, our favourite spot on the Coral Coast. We arrived up here with the expectation of spending a week, maybe two, exploring and discovering why Exmouth was Australia’s best kept secret. However as soon as we arrived we were hooked, and three and a half months later we have only just been able to drag ourselves away.
In the beginning we visited all the well known tourist spots, snorkelling Turquoise Bay and Oyster Stacks, staying at Osprey Bay campground in the National park, jumping into the ocean with Whale sharks. All of these things were completely incredible, however the longer we stayed and the more we discovered, we found that these few tourist spots were only the beginning of what Exmouth had to offer.
Did you know that Exmouth has a beautiful hiking ranges? Or that there are incredible surf breaks, all the way down the West Coast? Perfect for complete beginners all the way up to those who can shred in their sleep. Jay and I learnt to surf here and a sunset glass off surf became one of our favourite ways to end a day. Another way we liked to end the day was eating dinner or having a drink with friends up at the lighthouse, watching whale breech after whale breech, as the sun set over the horizon. If you are brave enough, you will learn that you can snorkel so many more places than just those advertised in the National Park, but those places you will have to find on your own, it’s so much more special that way.
The best part of Exmouth however, is the people you will meet up here. Fellow travellers who come up here for the winter season that you can share these incredible places with. We had countless beach cookups, woo’d each other on in the surf for days and shared the most incredible underwater experiences with our ocean tribe. You won’t find friendships like the ones you form up here, anywhere else in the world.
I remember, a couple days before we left for our trip, Jay and I visited a bookshop. As we paid for our book, we told the bookkeeper about our travel plans and the first thing she said was, “you have to go to Exmouth, it is the best place in Australia”. I think that sums this place up pretty perfectly, Exmouth is one of a kind.