The last leg of my journey brought me to Perth, Western Australia, where I spent the first day and a half just walking around the center of the city and holing up in the state library to work on composing a chapter of my thesis—not very eventful, but necessary!
On Friday, my friend Al and his partner Dani picked me up at my hostel and we embarked on our long weekend adventure in the Walpole Wilderness south of Perth. I had met Al in 2009 when I was doing my sea turtle Independent Study Project with SIT in Townsville. My classmate Geneveve was doing her own ISP on sharks, and spent a lot of long days tagging sharks with Al, who was a PhD student at the time. I was lucky enough to be invited out on the boat one day, and we caught and tagged a total of thirteen sharks. I hadn’t seen Al since then, but he was kind enough to host me for the rest of my week in Perth and it was great to get to know him again and to spend time with Dani, who studied shark reproduction for her master’s degree.
We drove to the small town of Walpole, had lunch, and then checked into the Walpole Wilderness Resort, which was a beautiful little chalet with kangaroos grazing in the yard. The first afternoon, we did a walking track around the property and then just settled in, watching the kangaroos and the Australian Ringneck Parrots from our porch.
The following day, we drove all over the Wilderness Coast, stopping first for a view of Coalmine Beach, but settling down at Conspicuous Cliff, which was the most spectacular beach I'd seen thus far, even more beautiful than The Great Ocean Road. The colors were simply outstanding; I've never seen an ocean so blue. The water, as usual, was too cold for me, but we sat on the beach for a while and in the scrubby vegetation near the beach I saw my first Splendid Fairy Wrens, whose feathers are a blue just as stunning as the water. After spending some time at the beach, we drove to the town of Denmark, which was a really neat hippie town. We went to the Denmark Markets, where there was live music and heaps of delicious food and awesome craft stalls. In the afternoon, it began to get cloudy, and we stopped at Greens Pool, where the rocks reminded me of Bay of Fires and Bicheno in Tasmania.
Having seen most of the beaches in the area, we spent our second day in Walpole seeing the forest. We went first to Mount Frankland National Park and hiked around before visiting the Walpole Markets (not as big as the ones the day before) and did a nice walking track behind the information centre in town. Then we visited the Valley of the Giants and did both a Tree Top Walk above the canopy and another walk on the ground to see the huge tingle trees. The Tree Top Walk took us a dizzying 40 meters above the ground to the top of the canopy, but down on the ground, we could see the hollowed-out trunks of the giant trees. These trees, which can live for about 400 years and grow to 75 meters tall, often have their bases hollowed out by forest fires. It was really interesting to see how the hollowed-out bases could support so much growth above!
We took our time driving back to Perth on the final day, stopping to see some more ocean lookouts, walking around more tingle trees, and stopping at Mandalay Beach. The combination of quiet beaches and forests made for a completely relaxing end to my trip around Australia. I stayed at Dani and Al's place in Perth that night, spent my last day in WA at the beach with Dani, and then flew back to Cairns for the start of another semester.