Three weeks ago, we went on a 4-day road trip exploring Western Australia’s Coral Coast (but only up to Jurien Bay). I wasn’t expecting a lot from this trip and man, was I blown away! It was totally an eye opener – we only got to see the sandplains, the dunes, the desert, and the beaches and they were just majestic! I can’t wait for warmer days so we can indulge in the water, head further north and see what’s inland. There’s so much more to explore!
We started the trip with a hearty breakfast at Beaches Cafe in Cottesloe Beach. From there, we lazily drove through the West Coast Dr highway passing all the popular beach side suburbs – Scarborough, North Beach, Marmion, and Hillarys. We headed straight to Lancelin. It started drizzling when we got there and it was 16° so we decided to just see the wildflowers and head to our campsite for the night.
According to research, wildflowers should be in bloom by September and the road with the best views for this would be Moora. We took the road from Yathroo to Dandaragan and the fields were all yellow with rapeseed blooms. It was just lands and lands of golden canola farms (which amounts to an annual 1.53 billion canola industry in Western Australia). Some of the wildflowers were starting to bloom and some were just preparing. We were a few weeks early but the rapeseed and the grass flowers were more than beautiful enough to make me go “ooh!” and “aah!”. As we headed to Badgingarra (where there are supposed to be blooms and blooms of wildflowers), we got lost in the middle of the sandplains. We didn’t bother to find the “official” trail because where we were, we spotted two large Western grey kangaroos, a wedge-tailed eagle, and snowy grass flowers! We were losing light so we had to go find our camp site for the night as there were no legal campgrounds around. Sandy Cape in Jurien Bay was the nearest; it was also an asbestos-risk area. But it was so beautiful you wouldn’t mind getting fibrotic lung disease. Plus seeing black-faced cormorants upon waking up was such a bonus (at first I thought they were penguins, booo).
Since campfires weren’t allowed in Sandy Cape (at this time of the year), we had to look for a public barbecue to cook breakfast. We ended up in Dobbyn Park Foreshore looking like homeless people – it felt adventurous! After battling flocks of seagulls who tried to eat us (mainly our bacon), we drove down to Cervantes to see Lake Thetis. I was happy to see living marine stromatolites, thrombolites and (mostly benthic) algal mats that are at least 3.6 billions years old! This is what life was pre-Cambrian. The cyanobacteria were producing so much oxygen, the bubbles on the shore of the lake looked like snow. They’re the ones responsible for the gradual change of the Earth’s atmosphere from a carbon dioxide-rich mixture to the present-day oxygen-rich atmosphere. It’s amazing how these structures paved the way for the next evolutionary step. Oh, we also saw a really fat shingle (short-tailed blue-tongued lizard) while walking around the lake!
After the stromatolites, we went to see bigger limestone formations, the Pinnacles. How they were formed is still under debate. There are 3 theories and you can read a brief summary over at Wikipedia. Away from the science and going into the experience, oh my god, it was similar to stepping in a movie set (think Empire of the Sun music video)! They may be “just” big rocks in the middle of the desert but it was humbling as pretty surreal to be in the presence of ancient structures. No words or photos or video clips can capture the feeling and the view.
After the desert, we went back to Lancelin to go sandboarding. I know it was gonna be a big sand dune but I wasn’t expecting it to be that massive! It was another sight to behold. The sand dunes were powdery white with the beach as the backdrop – the view almost made me cry. We were supposed to drive back home after a 2 hour sandboarding session but we decided to check out the 4WD tracks at Ledge Point. After finding out there were no camp restrictions, we decided to stay for the night. Finally, some proper camping! We had lamb and salad for dinner and we roasted some marshmallows after.
The next morning while preparing to go home, another 4WD got bogged by the shore and asked for our help. We eventually got bogged, too, trying to pull the other UTE out. We were out in the beach the whole day, shoveling and digging as we waited for rescue. We stayed another night with our newly found friends. But this time, in a caravan park.
The next morning, we drove back to the city, straight to the tax accountant’s office. Straight back to reality.