100 miles of Solitude in the Aussie Outback

It’s a wide open road

Driving in a straight line for an hour and a half without seeing another vehicle. Is this the great Aussie outback? Nah. Just a normal part of the road trip from Perth to Esperance WA (Western Australia).

I grew up in Esperance. 750 km south east of Perth, Western Australia. My roots are there. And my mum. And my little brother. Who is way taller than me by the way. But likes drinking wine as much as I do. So the night we arrived we did a bit of wine tasting, as you do.

Whale watching in the Aussie outback

The next morning I was seriously thinking about getting up, but frankly my body wasn’t responding, when we got the call. Whales. Cavorting just off the beach.

Erghh. My niece and I groaned and put on some warmth over our PJs and headed for the beach.

Worth it! The last time I saw whales was when I was doing the boat handling unit of my Yachtmasters course, off Fremantle, before my sailing adventures really began. It was my turn at the wheel driving the TAFE catamaran. Distracted by the whales spouting I almost failed the ongoing assessment.

The first time I saw whales was when I was in primary school. At the whale factory in Albany Whaling Station on a primary school excursion. But that’s a another story.

The whales off Castletown beach seemed to be resting, perhaps just waking up like my niece and I. It looked like a mother and baby closest to the beach. Felt like 30 metres away.

At first glance they just looked like rocky outcrops. Really. Then when I looked closer I could see the mini islands moving. And spouting water. Amazing. When I’m sailing I reckon any day with dolphins is a perfect day already. Any day with whale sightings is perfectly excellent.

Frenchmans Peak, Esperance WA

Gerard Depardieu's nose (Frenchman Peak) in the Aussie outback near Esperance WA
Does this remind you of Gerard Depardieu’s nose or is it just me?

The next day we decided to climb Frenchman Peak. (We all call this Esperance WA icon Frenchmans Peak.) We climbed it as kids. It’s just a tiny bit scary as an (um older) adult. But sooo satisfying. I never admitted to being fit, just up for it. And the view from the top is, of course, spectacular!

Three things you have to do

Esperance WA beaches are as isolated as the Aussie outback
Are they gigantic whales or islands in the distance?

When you visit Esperance WA there are three things you always have to do. Climbing Frenchmans Peak is optional. But:

  • You have to go to at least one Op Shop. I can’t get enough natural fibre white or light shirts for sun protection when I’m sailing. I scored big time with a linen and a cotton number at $5 for both. Bargain.
  • Coffee at the Taylor Street Tea Rooms. Going by different names these days it’s still right there on the beach next to the port. The coffee is still good, and it’s still one of the best spots to have it.
  • Drive around the beaches. I traveled all the way to north Queensland as a teenager before I realised Esperance has some of the most spectacular coastline in Australia. And in my personal sailing adventures it still rates as totally magnificent next to Thailand’s Phang Na Bay. Esperance just has the isolation advantage. It’s not crowded or full of trash. We’re talking about Southern Ocean water coming from Antarctica. Clean, achingly blue and cold.

A little bit spooky

So…driving back. (You gotta love a two way road trip.)

My niece had remarked Esperance looked like it had been flushed with money, now down on its luck.

In fact Esperance and the next town  Ravensthorpe (only 185 km away, but not in a straight line. Not counting Munglinup – Google it) had the same feel. The last mining construction boom has run its course. The big nickle mine there was built at the height of the cycle. The massive cost overruns, partly due to the skills and supply shortages of the boom, linked with falling commodity prices chimed the death knoll on the mega project.

Then Newdegate. Like a town with no people. Seriously. We drove through in the middle of the day and didn’t see a living soul. Didn’t help having a particularly creepy bit of War of the Worlds as the soundtrack. Something about taking blood from the living… shiver.

I know I’ve mentioned this before, but my take on the Aussie outback is like in the remote desert. But the world is getting smaller, so maybe my road trip to Esperance was a bit Aussie outbacky after all?

Hey and BTW did I tell you sharing is sexy?  Feel free to share this story if you like it…


Urban legends from the Aussie outback

Road trip to Malacca, Malaysia

Whales delight beach goers in Esperance

Urban Legends from the Aussie Outback


Man and dog canoeing on Lake Serene at Boshack in the Australian outback, sort of
Man and dog canoeing on Lake Serene

I did some reverse travel a while ago.  Back in Australia visiting family and friends.

One family member works at Boshack Outback, ninety minutes from Perth, Western Australia.  A fascinating and hauntingly beautiful spot near Toodyay. People come from all over the world to experience the Australian outback, just 100 kms from Perth.

Kitchen makeover in the Australian outback

We visited the Boshack Outback farm for business and pleasure.  There was a kitchen makeover involved, as well as a barbecue and lots of witty chat.

The new ceiling going up for the Australian outback kitchen makeover
The new ceiling going up
The other captain was there to help his brother with a small construction project.  While the boys and resident backpackers built the ceiling, my sister and I wandered around the lake, soaking up the serene scenery.  After lunch the owner Deryck, gave us an express tour of the highlights.

Meditation Centre

The paperbark trees are said to be 200 years old. They've been meditating in the Australian outback for a while.
The paperbark trees are said to be 200 years old. They’ve been meditating a while.

The path through huge wise old paperbark trees is soggy and silent.  Until you get to the itty bitty waterfall.  Then the ground is soggy with a gentle falling water soundtrack.

My brother in law refers to this sublime spot as the Meditation Centre.  Deryck, calls it the Reflection Area.

It’s peaceful alright.  Even groups of schoolkids can stay still and quiet here for a minute and twenty seconds, according to Deryck.

Chasing sheep is the number one most popular activity

Who would have thought chasing sheep would be such a hit?   I’m guessing that statistic is from the children’s feedback.   My sister and I decided to give this exciting activity a miss.  We got enough of it when we were kids.
I understand eating live, raw witchety grubs comes a close second in popularity.

It’s a small world…

… when you can visit the Australian outback an hour and a half drive from Perth. I used to think of the outback as the remote, arid interior of Australia.

But the people who come from Singapore or England or wherever probably think they’re in the Never Never already when they get off the Great Eastern Highway.

The air is soooo clean compared to Senibong Cove back in Malaysia.  And the silence is almost deafening.  You can’t get phone or Internet connections.  I guess that’s why the Boshack website invites you to Rid Yourself of Nature Deficit disorder.

Nothing wrong with the nature cure I say.

A sneak peak inside the Australian outback tent accommodation
A sneak peak inside the tent accommodation

Where do you think the Australian outback is?