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on the run, on my own: the road train’s final stop

It feels like forever since I last wrote a column and I guess, in some ways, it has been forever since we left Broome. From there we took the Great Northern Highway down the coast and made our way slowly but surely towards Perth. At our greatest, the West Coast road train weighed in at ten cars carrying twenty four people and a dog. But as the kilometres stretched out, so did the convoy. Some people had to be in Perth at an earlier date but others were in no rush and could take their time.

Luckily, I was in the latter group.

There were so many amazing spots along the way that it would be impossible to describe them all in one article, but I’m definitely tempted to give it a go. I’m still trying to get my head around how lucky I am to have seen such beautiful sights with such brilliant people.

From waking up at 1am to climb Mt Bruce in time for sunset in Karijini National Park, to snorkelling at Ningaloo Reef and leaping over treacherous rocks in search of the ridiculously fun blowholes at Point Quobba, travelling the West Coast definitely helped me tick a lot of boxes on my Australia ‘to do’ list.

Image: Jo Williams

Image: Jo Williams

But one of the ultimate highlights for me was camping in a spot called Goulet Bluff in Shark Bay. After an extremely strenuous day of lying on a glorious white beach and feeding the dolphins at Monkey Mia, we headed to a camping spot called Goulet Bluff which is, and will probably remain, the most beautiful camping spot I have been in my entire life.

A few kilometres up a sandy 4WD track lead us up a rugged cliff that ended in possibly the most basic campsite of the trip. But when you have views like this, nothing can be basic.

Image: Jo Williams

Image: Jo Williams

The night was spent cooking pasta with vegetables and tinned tomatoes while someone played Ben Howard songs on the guitar and the rest of us chatted about the day and what we were going to do the next day. The night wasn’t anything remarkable or, at least, any different to others we had spent on the road, but Broome felt so far away in one direction and Perth so far in the other, and it felt like our road trip family was living in our own little private universe on a cliff overlooking the roaring sea.

In fact, the only clue that we were in civilisation again was the friendly Welsh ranger who popped round for a cup of tea the next morning. Seriously, you can’t make this stuff up.

But as always, all good things come to an end and as we closed the distance to Perth, we made the most of the last of the days we had together. Some of the best days of the roadtrip were spent relaxing and just spending time with other. Another of my favourite days was spent lying in a hammock making friendship bracelets and watching one of the girls give people henna tattoos in a campsite just off the Indian Ocean Highway.

After one last sunset and a breakfast of toast cooked on a camping stove, the road train arrived in a sleepy suburb of Perth to the sounds of Angus and Julia Stone. I’ve got pretty mixed feelings about finally arriving in Perth. On one hand, I’m so excited for the next adventure and continuing my journey to see as much as Australia as I possibly can. I’m excited to see Southern Australia and to see Adelaide and Melbourne and I’m really looking forward to meeting new people with new stories.

But then on the other hand, I’m going to miss these guys so much. For the past six weeks I have spent twenty four hours a day with my road trip family. We’ve seen some amazing sights, done some once in a life time things and we’ve even celebrated birthdays together. And we’ve got hundreds of jokes that no one else will get and we’ve probably got enough songs that we listened to to fill an entire album. And it feels odd that come Wednesday, when the first people fly off to their new adventures, it will be over. Well… until we can convince the Aussies they need to come to Europe to continue the next leg of the road trip.

Image: Leya Mackus

Image: Leya Mackus

So it is with bittersweet feelings that I start planning the next part of my Australian travel. After Perth, we’ll be hugging the coast down through South Australia right to Victoria, hopefully arriving in Melbourne on Christmas Eve. We have under two months. It sounds like a film, right? This next part of the adventure may be different but I can’t imagine that it’ll be boring.

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