Holiday in Western Australia

It is self evident that I am an advocate of traveling. Having spent over half a year within the borders of Victoria (although there is heaps to see in the state alone), I figured that it would be nice to get around to see Australia a bit more, and most of all take a selfie with the world’s happiest animal, the quokka, who inhabits Rottnest Island just outside of Perth in Western Australia. Not too bad way of spending Christmas!

Quokkas having a sneaky snack.
Quokkas having a sneaky snack.

During my one week long getaway to Western Australia I learned that one should not travel during holiday season, if it is any way possible to be avoided. Somehow I did not think it would be that different, but as it turns out, rental car prices were triple to normal, and the accommodation availability everywhere south of Perth was non-existent. As one could imagine, having to pay extra for things and having a bit of a struggle to organise things doesn’t allow you to relax as you should on holidays. Therefore, from now on if I travel on holiday periods (which is very likely), I will try to book as much as possible in advance, and try not to move around as much. I shall embrace the fact that everything is closed on Christmas Day, and prepare myself to eating only nuts and crackers for a day.

Sunset at the Pinnacles
Sunset at the Pinnacles

The magnificent stone formations in Nambung National Park just a few hours drive North from Perth are rather magical for sunset, sunrise, full moon and any time it is not packed with tourists (go late or early and get the park for yourself!). These limestones that now poke out in the sandy desert were once seashells in the water, which were broken into sand and blown inland, forming oddly dunes. Since the 1960s, these rocks attract over 250 thousand tourists a year. The pinnacles are pretty much in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by ghostly small towns, but if you want to get them at their best, you should sacrifice one night for the trip. On the way to the pinnacles from Perth, Yanchep National Park makes a good pit stop.

Fremantle, or Freo, looks quite like New Orleans.
Fremantle, or Freo, looks quite like New Orleans.

I fell in love with the relaxed seaside small town atmosphere of Fremantle, just twenty minutes outside of Perth. The architecture is beautiful, there are loads of restaurants and small shops, and the weekend market is lovely. When visiting Freo, I would recommend eating seafood at Kailas fish and chips, right by the pier. And of course Rottnest island and aforementioned quokkas are a must!

Like being on a tropical island
Rottnest, like a tropical island
Busselton jetty at dawm, when the tourists are gone and the fishermen are enjoying the peace and quiet.
Busselton jetty at dawm, when the tourists are gone and the fishermen are enjoying the peace and quiet.

When going south of Perth, there are plenty of small towns, beaches, and all kinds of (mostly marine life) activities along the way to Margaret River, the promised land of wine, local delicacies and products. Busselton, with the longest wooden jetty in the Southern Hemisphere (whoa!), is a nice town to stop and take a stroll 2kms out to the sea and maybe a sneaky plunge in to the water, too.

A jetty so long it has a train.
A jetty so long it has a train.

Margaret River is rather nice, if you like wineries, beaches and such (who doesn’t?), but during the holiday season it is crammed and the atmosphere is very touristic. On another occasion it might show a completely different side, but for now I can say that I am glad I went, and I was glad to be back in Melbourne.

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Down Under Easter

When I started this blog, one of my first posts was about Easter in Finland. I have come a long way since then (pun intended), and this Easter I spent surprisingly in Down Under, the land of hot cross buns and Easter Egg Hunt a week later than ours. To be honest my Easter was very un-Eastery, although I did organize a bit of a hunt for my housemates, and did nibble on a bit of chocolate as well. No massive feasts (besides Grill’d mushroom burger), sugar comas (caffeine hits don’t count) or that sort of traditional things, and above all: no spring time. The leaves are falling off trees, and when it is +25 and sunny one day, the next it feels like I’m back in Finland. When it’s October.

Apparently there's no Easter without these: Hot cross buns with fruit, chocolate or who knows what else.
Apparently there’s no Easter without these: Hot cross buns with fruit, chocolate or who knows what else.

This past week has been rather good: I managed to fit in 3 (small) road trips! First of them was ex-tempore bathing session in mornington Peninsula Hot Springs. If you ever come to these hoods, I highly recommend taking a good soak. Good Japan memories, though this place had few hundred people, most of them either Brits or Americans. I suggest going towards the closing time during a weekday, so you have more private bathing session.

So called Beach Bush.
So called Beach Bush.

Besides hot springs, we went on a day cruise along the peninsula east of melbourne, all the way to the tip. Lovely small beach towns dot the coast, and despite it being Good Friday, cafes and restaurants seemed to be somewhat open. Later on that night I locked myself into a bathroom and poured a decent amount of sand into the bed, but that’s another story.

On Saturday I had a proper sleep-in for the first time since I came to Australia (!!), brunch in the city and some me-time shopping. Caught up with a friend from Bali who I randomly ran into in H&m (God bless!), and ended up eating ramen in the street waiting for the epic lunar eclipse. I kinda missed the whole red moon part, but it was fun nevertheless!

Feeding Joe. Not scared at all.
Feeding Joe. Not scared at all.

I also ventured to fulfill one of my lifetime goals: to see a koala and penguins. In maru koalapark did I not only see a koala (awake!), but also got to feed kangaroos. It might seem a bit dumb to pay to see kangaroos when apparently they’re everywhere and koalas are not that rare, either, but you gotta do what you gotta do. Now I’ve seen the real-life difference between a kangaroo and a wallaby, and I might enlighten you some day as well. Still to remain to be seen: wombats and pandas (latter not found here, though). The penguins hang out in Philip Island, few hours away from melbourne, but since we were early birds and too impatient to hang around until sunset, we only saw them chilling in their little box houses. Cute lil’ fellas, I must say. Luckily I can go to St. Kilda beach to see penguins, apparently they live there too!

Waves!
Waves!

That’s it for my Easter. It didn’t even really feel like one, though I did Skype with good ol’ grandparents back home (grandpa still thinks it costs millions to call overseas). It was a good long weekend with a special feeling. Hopefully there’s more similar to come, public holidays or not.