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On Walkabout to: Western Australia

Outline of Journey

My wife and I wanted to travel to Western Australia on the Indian-Pacific railway ever since we got back from traveling to the Northern Territory on Australia’s famous Ghan Train. The Indian-Pacific railway travels across the entire continent of Australia from Sydney to Perth. This rail journey is considered one of the best in the world. I booked tickets for us on the train from Adelaide to Perth instead of taking the full ride from Sydney because it is an easy drive from Melbourne to Adelaide and the journey on the train from Adelaide to Perth is much shorter.

Click the picture to see a nice gallery of stock footage of the Indian-Pacific Train.

Once in Perth I had a campervan reserved from Britz to travel around the state in. The first place we were going to visit was the main tourist attractions north of Perth such as the Pinnacles, Kalbarri, & Shark Bay. After traveling up the northern coast we then planned to drive back down the coast and towards Wave Rock followed by exploring the southwestern area of Australia. Some of the main areas we planned on visiting in the southwest were the Stirling Ranges, Albany, the karri forests, and Margaret River area.

To Adelaide

However, before we could see any of the sites we had to first get to Adelaide to catch the Indian-Pacific train to get to Perth. This ultimately became easier said then done. First of all we had to complete the eight hour drive from Melbourne to Adelaide. From Melbourne to Ballarat the drive along the Western Highway isn’t to bad with some rolling hills and gorges to see along the way. However, after Ballarat besides seeing the awesome Grampians mountains there is nothing but flat land and farms to see. The drive gets pretty boring until you reach Australia’s largest waterway the Murray River:

Picture of the Murray River from Victoria

Adelaide is only about two hours further up the highway from the river. The drive into Adelaide from the river is actually quite scenic as the Western Highway passes up and over the Lofty Ranges and descends into Adelaide. Once into Adelaide we drove through downtown and headed for the train station:

Picture of Downtown Adelaide

We got to the Keswick Railway Terminal where the Ghan Train departs without incident unlike the last time we traveled to Adelaide to depart from this same train station on the Ghan train. However though we got the train station without incident we would soon find out that this trip to the station would have its own drama.

There was a long line to get on the train and while waiting in line the ticket lady came and informed everyone that the train had derailed and would probably be out of service for a week to ten days. The railroad would pay to fly people to Perth instead however they would not pay to fly my wife and I to Perth because we had a backpacker pass to use the train. The railroad’s terms and conditions said they would not pay for plane tickets for people who bought the six month backpacker pass to use the train.

That left us with no choice but to book a flight and fly to Perth instead. I was able to get a flight to Perth for the next day which left us now with the job of trying to find a hotel. It took us sometime to find a hotel with an open room, but eventually we got lucky when a Comfort Inn had a cancellation for one of their large family rooms. We had to pay for a hotel room that was much bigger then what we needed but at least we had a room. The next day we then headed over to the airport to board our Virgin Blue flight to Perth.

The Journey Begins

All in all between the airplane tickets and the hotel room the railway derailment put a unexpected $700 expense into my travel budget which I wasn’t happy about. However we did make it to Perth and I ended up picking up my campervan in much less time then it took me the last time my wife and I rented a campervan. With the campervan in hand in no time we began heading north to begin our adventure in Western Australia.

Western Australia Rainbow
Rainbow over farm land north of Perth

The drive out of Perth was actually quite easy and I was impressed how well the roads were laid out. The area north of Perth is pleasant with some rolling hills and wineries which are then followed by vast agricultural lands. We eventually hit the turn off to Cervantes that would take us to our first destination of our journey, Nambung National Park’s Pinnacles Desert. As we drove down the road the sun was beginning to set which created an amazing site as the large wind farm around us contrasted with the brilliant colors of the sky:

Western Australian Wind Turbine

As night fell we pulled into Cervantes and found the only campervan park in town. The people that worked at the front counter were extremely welcoming and fortunately they had a site for us to use. All in all not a bad day considering the unlucky start we had to our holiday. Things were looking up and the following day would prove to be even better.

Next Posting: To the Pinnacles

Return to Western Australia Holiday Journal Archive