The author took a trip around the world on a whim. Here is what he learned.
Less populated and less visited than the East Coast of Australia, Western Australia has some amazing destinations for those who take the trouble to travel there. Most international tourists arrive in Australia via Sydney or Melbourne, and not many take the time or go to the effort of getting out to visit Australia's West Coast.
The state of Western Australia is separated from the eastern part of the country by harsh desert terrain, and the only ways to get there are via a single train line that runs east from Sydney to Adelaide to Perth, or by air. Neither choice is inexpensive, and many tourists—not to mention Aussies from outside of Western Australia—don't take the opportunity to visit Australia's western wonders!
My Trip to the Land Down Under
In 2004/2005 I was lucky enough to take a trip around the world. Since I was traveling ever-eastward after leaving the United States, I arrived in Australia on the west coast, flying from Singapore to Perth, the capital of Western Australia.
After a few days in that city, I decided to take a backpackers' bus trip from Perth - first, south to the forested region of southwestern Oz, then back north again along the coast, all the way up to Broome in northern Western Australia.
Along the way, I visited many unspoiled, stunning, isolated and tourist-free beaches. Here are a few of my favorite beaches for you to check out if you're ever lucky enough to visit Australia...
One of Western Australia's most visited attractions is the beach at Monkey Mia. What brings so many folks from all over the world to this small beachfront in Shark Bay? The dolphins!
A troupe of wild female dolphins has been coming to the beach at Monkey Mia for years, and most every day the four arrive to be fed by the staff at the park on the beach. Tourists are permitted to watch the daily ritual, so long as they follow the rules and don't try to interfere with the dolphins. One of the most remarkable things about the dolphins at Monkey Mia, besides their voluntary arrival each day, is the fact that they've been known to use tools! These dolphins actually harvest wild sponges and use them to scrape the seafloor in their search for food!
There are also wild pelicans at the beach, and they're so used to the tourist traffic that you can get right up close and snap a shot!
Photos From My Trip to Monkey Mia
Another spectacular beach in the Shark Bay region is Shell Beach, so-called because the "sand" is actually composed of millions and millions of tiny seashells. The shell layer at Shell beach is 10 meters (33 feet) deep and 120 kilometers (74 miles) long. The beach's isolated location means it is only sparsely visited - on the day I arrived there in early May, the only people visible for miles in any direction were my fellow backpackers from the bus!
The water along the shoreline is less than knee-deep for a good distance from the shore. This makes for a great opportunity for photos that look like they were taken far from shore, without having to go out in a boat. In the pictures below, I was standing in water that was about mid-calf depth. Look how far away the folks on shore are!
According to the driver of the backpackers' bus that brought us from Perth to Broome, the most beautiful beach in all of Australia is the one at Cape Leveque. Having only seen a small part of that vast country, I can't say it's the finest in all of Oz, but I can say it is among my favorite beaches among all the ones I've visited around the world!
Tucked away in a remote corner of W.A., Cape Leveque is about a half-day drive from Broome along an unpaved red clay road that is closed much of the year due to unfavorable weather conditions. On the weekend that I made the trek with a few traveling companions, the rainy season had just ended, and the road was more like a river in many sections!
Once we finally arrived, though, the spectacular scenery of this rocky cape made the effort more than worthwhile! We camped in "swags" under a frond-covered palapa near the shore, just a short hike from the amazing rocky cove. Once again, we saw very few other people at Cape Leveque, and I have yet to find a more tranquil and beautiful seaside cove anywhere...
Western Australia's Cable Beach in Broome is that state's main tourist draw. When I was traveling north along the coast from Perth, Broome was going to be our final destination. We passed through many small towns and villages on that week-long journey, and for some reason, I had it in my mind that when we arrived at Broome, it would be a bustling little city. Wrong! With just 14,000 year-round residents, Broome is a pleasant little community, and Cable Beach is its main draw.
Said to have the most beautiful sunsets in the world, Cable Beach is truly stunning. One of the most popular activities is a sunset camel trek along the beach, but that was a little outside my backpackers' budget! Even without the camels, the sunset at the beach is an amazing sight.
There are many, many other amazing beaches along the west coast of Australia, but these few were my favorites—not only in Oz but in all of the countries I have visited. In fact, the only ones that even came close to rivaling the beauty of Australia's beaches were those in Fiji.
I think I found the beaches of Western Australia to be especially beautiful because they were so unspoiled—no big hotels crowding out the natural scenery, no throngs of tourists cluttering the sand.
In fact, even in touristy Broome, the beaches were less congested than the ones in my home state of New Jersey, where the beaches are frankly pretty ugly, but always jam-packed with bodies in the summer! Or maybe I've just been so spoiled by the spectacular natural beauty of Western Australia that the Jersey Shore's beaches can only pale in comparison...
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© 2010 Edweirdo