Road Trip on the West Coast – Part 1

First real road trip in Australia on the West Coast! Let’s go to discover Lancelin, Hangover Bay, Sandy Cape, Shell Beach…

A spontaneous Road Trip

It wasn’t in my plans to make a road trip and come back to Perth afterwards. I was thinking of saving more money and going to Broome and then working there.

The difficulty in getting a first stable job, eroded my confidence in finding jobs quickly. The fear of not finding anything happening to Broome paralyzed me a little. So, when Bridget offered to accompany them on a road trip to Exmouth, and come back afterwards, I thought it was a great idea.

If my job keeps me after my vacation, it’s because I made the right decision, if they don’t keep me, it will be time to move for me.

Verdict, I can take these 12 days of vacation, I would be welcome to help Franck again!

Road Trip’s Team

So that you don’t get too lost in the names, a little presentation of the Road Trip team. 2 vans, 6 people!

The first luxury van, named Bruce, for two people with shower and toilet carries the little couple of the adventure :

  • Valeriane, French (France represents !!), smiling and full of energy. She is the instigator of this road trip.
  • Max, her sweetheart, and colleague of Ben’s. Full of humor and madness, he is the official photographer of the road trip. Drone, Go Pro and camera… You can imagine that I borrowed several of his pictures.
Val et max
Val and Max

In our beautiful Van Toyota Hiace, designed for four people, we have :

  • Scott, the youngest of the road trip, 25 years old. He is the official driver, Scottish with an accent that is a bit hard to understand. Very sociable, easy going and with a good sense of humor.
  • Bridget, English, completely barred, who loves to sing and dance.
  • Ben, American, the dean of the group, 32 years old. A little perched, passionate about political-philosophical debates. Under his looks as a guy in the moon, he will be the savior of many situations and will prove to be the most reasonable and resourceful among us.
  • And me, I’m not introduced anymore !
  • Oh we should not forget Britney, which is none other than the name of our van. And Britney started to smell bad after 5 days (we don’t have a toilet, Britney just stinks!) ! Stinky Britney!
britney team
Britney’s team

Ah and let’s not forget the presence of two other Scottish for the first 3 days, Sam and Carys.

Here we go… A little bit of a start… Disorganized.

Scott and I pick up Britney at the rental agency around 10:30 on Friday.

The van is big enough and has plenty of storage space everywhere. Scott and I are very excited. This van is going to be our little home for the next ten days, and it’s cool! Enough admiring the little camper van, it’s time to meet up with the others to do the shopping.

Well, we can say that the beginning is a bit chaotic. No Val and Max on the horizon. Team Britney goes shopping alone. We don’t have a list and the filling of the caddy is very spontaneous and not always rational.

Sam and Carys have been waiting for several hours in the parking lot, when the whole team has finally finished. Val and Max have arrived in the meantime. Alcohol, food and coffee, it’s good, we are ready to hit the road.

On the road, I realize that I’m going to have some complicated moments. I’m the only non-English speaking person in the van, and it’s sometimes difficult for me to understand everything all the time. If I don’t concentrate, if I’m somewhere else, bim, I miss the main information. Yes, during this trip, I would smile several times while nodding my head, when I wouldn’t have understood a single word of what the person just told me. While Ben is easy to understand, Bridget speaks fast and Scott has a strong Scottish accent. Those first few minutes on the road, I feel a bit like the dumb one in the group at times, handicapped by the language barrier. Luckily, they’re quite caring. Come on, girl, this is going to do it!

An hour and a half later, we finally arrive at Lancelin. The weather is cloudy, and it is not so hot.


On the program, quad on the dunes for 30 minutes and sand board afterwards. When it’s time to take the quads, the stress invades me. Uh, is it reasonable to leave me a machine like that?


I play the proud, but internally I don’t have a lot of it. Finally after a false start, I take advantage, sometimes fear takes over and I block my quad several times to avoid going down a too steep slope. Sam and Carys stayed in their 4×4 and also enjoy the sensations on the dunes.

Prêts pour le quad avec nos casques
Ready to drive quads

The dunes make more sense than when I had been with Chris, Svenja and Sofia. The Quad allows you to really measure the extent of it.

The boys are having fun, they climb the highest dunes, they challenge each other, as for Val and I, we stay more in the background, let’s say we have more fun cautiously. Bridget, not very confident, prefers to go home after a few minutes.

The quad is coming to an end, the boys come home excited, I’m glad I did it, but I’m also glad it’s over! haha

Then we get the sand boards, and hop. Descents on the buttocks, falls, impressive descents, falls again for me, races, everyone enjoys. Nobody is left on the sidelines and we all enjoy the moment.

Sand Board sur les dunes
Sand Board Attitude

Fun day is over…

Where do we sleep anyway? (The most used phrase of the Road trip)

No one has addressed this issue until now… It’s a little after 5pm and we have no idea where we are going to spend the night.

We go to Hangover Bay (we love the name), small sunset. I take the opportunity to soak my legs to the thighs. Mmmm the sea, I missed it.

Hangover Bay

We can’t sleep there, none of us want to take the risk of paying a $300 fine for an unauthorized camp.

Finally, we go further inland and one of the guys finds a free camp.

Ah yes, it is free, but rather sketchy. We’ll only stay there one night, that’s enough.

barbecue entre amis
The team around the barbecue

Barbecue, cider, beer, a lamp that crashes on my head, two tents that are not waterproof and the evening ends in a pouring rain. Carys will take refuge in our van and Sam will surely spend one of the worst nights of his life.

Second day

After a rather short and not very comfortable night, we go back on the roads.

Small stop to fill up at Jurien Bay, and we go to Sandy Cape. It is still cloudy and the temperature is not hot. For all that, we are 4 courageous to bathe. I take pleasure to make my first fathoms of the road trip in this rather very fresh water.

We walk until the top of the cape, it is beautiful, it is wild. The water is a beautiful turquoise blue, the beach is almost deserted. It is a good moment, a beautiful ode to nature.

We stay a little longer to explore the detours of the Cape, with Max, Val and Ben.

Chasing Birds

Back to the vehicles, Sam and Carys have already left for Dynamite Bay. We meet them there.

Dynamite bay is rather pretty too, but the beach is strewn with seaweed, and we stay on the heights. We take advantage of a small open cafe to have a small snack and… to look at the next camp where we will sleep.

Where do we sleep? (I warned you!)

We hadn’t thought about it, but it’s Saturday, right in the middle of the school vacations and our next stop Kalbarri is an important tourist point in Western Australia. Ouch Ouch most of the campsites are full. Impossible for us to do wild camping either.

Ben takes out the first card of his sleeve, the first, but not the last one of the road trip ! He struggles, calls, and finally manages to get us three places in a ranch on the outskirts of Kalbarri ! Ouuuuff.

Back on the roads, the hours pass by until Kalbarri. We take the coastal road which allows us to see the sunset. Unfortunately the road is not in great condition, and the van is pitching a lot. Bridget and I face nausea in the back of the van, while the boys are joking in the front!

The road a little english ressemblance

Finally, we arrive at the camp. We are all happy to find real toilets, the pee and more in the bush, that goes one night. Beer, cider, sausages, and it is time to go to bed. Tomorrow rise before the sunrise to admire the glimmer of the day in the first hours on Kalbarri.

Kalbarri’s National Park

Sunrise on the Skywalk

Departure 5:45 am to Kalbarri National Park.

Ouch on the road, Scott realizes that we don’t have enough gas to get to the park. Val and Max greet Bridget and I in their van, while the boys take responsibility for their mistake.

We meet at the Skywalk in Kalbarri park, it’s pretty crazy. The view is spectacular. Our pupils grow larger in front of the splendor of this unspoiled nature. The golden tones of the sun are reflected on the red stone of the canyon. The view is clear, no trace of civilization, except this pontoon where we are. We are alone or almost alone, privileged to admire the sun appearing on the horizon.

Lever du soleil sur Kalbarri

It’s awfully cold before sunrise. I dance from one foot to the other, cursing myself for having forgotten my vest in the van. Yet my eyes remain fixed, impatient to discover the first rays of the sun. Besides, if the sun could then warm me up, I would be grateful!

Ah it is there, the sun arrives, sparkling, it points the tip of its nose and dazzles us. He floods the valley with light. It is a moment out of the ordinary.

We still take advantage a little bit of the view, then we change of parking lot to discover the 9kms hike through the natural park of Kalbarri.

Natural Window

The trail begins with a metal staircase, and a paved path, not very natural and hiking spirit all that, but whatever. I leave first, I move forward with enthusiasm, I’ll wait for the others at the first stop.

Natural Window, first viewpoint and first tourist attraction. I’m waiting for my few companions, the group has already divided. The view is splendid, the river undulates in the middle of the canyon. The brick-colored rocks reveal the streaks of years and geological events. We are again almost alone.

Small photo shoots, and I already feel like going back on the road. Here we go again! The path is finally as I expected, steep, we will have to zigzag between rocks and bushes, a real hike what! We abandon Carys and Sam who do not have the good shoes, we wait for the latecomers, and we tread the rocky ground for the next 9 kilometers.

9 kilometers

For the first few kilometers, I take the lead of the convoy, alone in front. I like this feeling of being a bit alone, my thoughts follow the movement of my steps. I smell this air that gets warmer and warmer, the musky and woody notes tickle my nostrils. There, in the middle of the trail, I realize that I had missed walking, hiking. The sound of the rocky gravel under my feet is the apotheosis of my solitary pleasure.

There’s no way I’m going to be my partner for the whole ride, so I’m waiting for Scott and Bridget. We do a few hundred meters together, then I wait for Ben. We’ll spend the rest of the hike together theorizing and debating vast subjects.

Beauty of Kalbarri

The hiking trail runs first along the ridges of the heights, offering magnificent views and a feeling of insignificance in the face of this ancestral nature. Then we go down to the river.

Down the river

The descent is generally smooth. Arrival at the bottom of the canyon, the small stream mocks me. The water is not turquoise and transparent, but the surface undulates peacefully. I am hot and I have an irrepressible desire to swim. I am the only one who gets wet and I enjoy this moment of happiness again.

Une baignade bien méritée

The hike ends, after having found a kangaroo with Ben. I am jumping with joy to have seen the animal jump with fear!

All delighted by these nine kilometers of effort and nature, we enjoy the beach of Kalbarri in the late afternoon. New swimming, and new aquatic happiness for me.

Kalbarri’s Beach

Coucher de soleil sur la mer

Scott and Ben around me

The end of the day is ideal, around a barbecue in front of the sea against the background of sunset, we enjoy a moment of friendship. The vans are parked, we are alone again.

The guys think they are Robinson Crusoe and walk along the beach like adventurers. They spot the crabs, and even discover a beautiful starfish. It doesn’t take much more than that for us all to gather around this beautiful starfish.

My first alive starfish

There comes to me a brilliant idea, if we ate shells tonight? I’m off to the harvest. No idea, if they are winkles or something else, but I pick them cheerfully!

Shell picking

Well, maybe the sand should have been drained before boiling and eating them. Sam and Ben will taste one of them, too sandy, I will eat a dozen of them for the shape…

The sausages are still much better (no pun intended), and the evening goes on, relaxed and warm.

Road Trip = Road…

We leave in the early morning to advance as far as possible towards the North, we leave Sam and Carys, who go back to Perth. In two days, we must be in Karajini which is far away… Too far, maybe for only ten days of travel? We made the choice, at least the word Road Trip will take all its meaning!

After more than three hours of driving, we stop in a Road House. I take the wheel of Britney for the first time.

Well, I’m under a bit of pressure, and Britney’s got quite a grip on the wind. But I’ve got it under control! Britney is quite pleasant to drive, even if she doesn’t have a lot of recovery…

Shell Beach

We decide to enjoy Shell Beach, a small detour of 50 minutes there and 50 minutes back, but there’s no question that this day is all about driving!

We arrive at Shell beach, the beach is strewn with small shells. A turquoise water extends in front of us. It is beautiful, I have only one desire, to plunge my body warmed by the sun. Barely a dozen people live in this little corner of paradise. What more could you ask for?

I throw my stuff on the beach and don’t wait for others to feel the sweet sensation of fresh water. The others are colder. Scott and Ben accompany me, Scott gives up after a few meters. The water is very shallow and Ben and I decide to walk until we have no more feet. We are far from the beach when finally our feet do not touch the thousands of shells that cover the bottom of the ocean.

We discuss quietly, and the American leaves. I stay, I have a crazy desire to swim.

No sand, just billions of shells

A little bit of blues

I have a stretch of clear water for several kilometers just for me. Wouldn’t that be why I went to Australia?

Yet the conversation we had a few minutes earlier put me in a strange state. Dark thoughts and doubts invade me, while my arms embrace the clear water. It’s crazy, to suddenly feel homesick when I’m exactly where I dreamed of a few months earlier.

But we don’t order spleen, right? And even in this natural swimming pool, it is there, it reminds me of the things I miss, the vain hopes, the failures, and brings me back to doubts and this feeling of never knowing where I am going. What am I doing here? Will I ever have the answers? Why am I going so far away from the people I love?

I plunge my face into the fresh water, I caress this so clear water with my fingers and my legs, and I try to chase away these dark thoughts. And the water has this magical effect on me, it washes away tensions, it refocuses me on body sensations. Thoughts become lighter as the muscles become more painful. My brain becomes secondary, and only the movements of my aching limbs and that gentle floating sensation count at that moment.

After a good hour of swimming, I feel ready to go back to the beach.

A heavenly but painful walk…

Still imprinted with a few small residues of sadness, I settle for a few moments on the towel with my friends. But I feel the need to be alone again.

Let’s go for a stroll by the water… I feel really lonely, but in a good way. Only the noise of my feet making the shells squeak comes to disturb the soft sound of the wind on the surface of the water.

Walk on Shell Beach

If when I walk quietly along the beach, my thoughts keep me so busy that I don’t notice the pain that the little shells cause to my feet. On the way back, in a hurry so as not to make the convoy wait, I measure the little comfort of a beach covered with mini shells… Ouch, ouch, ouch… Why didn’t I take my sandals already ?

Small fright…

It’s time to leave, if we want to arrive in time to the next campsite and be able to do some shopping for the next few days. Indeed, in Karajini, no supermarket, no liquor store (Yes it is the vacations all the same, and the cider seems to leave faster than the 20 Liters of water!).

So I take the wheel again… and I notice that the distance that separates us from the next station is more important than the number of kilometers of autonomy of the tank… Uh… Yes ok, it’s my fault, on the way there I said, “Oh we’ll do it on the way back !”. I laugh nervously, are we going to make it to the station or will we have to push the van?

Luckily Britney is a little deceitful and has more in the tank than she would have us believe. We’re all relieved when Britney finally gets her dose of fuel !

Roh, that’s what travelling is all about, isn’t it? Little scares?


The road is a bit boring, and I’m fighting against the wind to keep Britney on course. Here the roads are straight, straight and straight!

Ben is a nice co-driver, and we discuss the rest of the trip.

Once again, it’s Ben who found tonight’s campsite and those of the two days in Karijini. Thanks to him, we are safe!

Tonight, we sleep in a real campsite, populated by old people especially. Races, barbecue (Yes, again!! The sausages, we do not get tired of it!), and a good laugh with Bridget and Scott, no beautiful sunset on the program this evening, Carnarvon is a simple crossing point.

On the plus side, I’m in a good mood again and I don’t feel like being alone anymore!

Let’s go to Karijini!

Departure at dawn, we have more than 8 hours of road ahead of us. I take the wheel this morning, I feel in Olympic shape and in a great mood!

Lipstick (why not!) and Bridget as co-pilot, the hours go by without me noticing! We sing, we dance, and we laugh.

In the back, the boys open ciders and beers or sip whiskey to support our nasal voices. They try to listen to a radio from the Vietnam War. Two rooms, two atmospheres!

We stop at several road houses on the way. Ice cream, french fries, and other snacks, and of course a little bit for Britney and we leave. With the stops and my great co-driver, I don’t feel tired and the eight hours go by quickly.

For more, it’s here!

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