The Big Lap - Marg River
“See the couple of sharks zipping in and out between the surfers? A few sharks, no big deal”
Surfing is not my strong point, nor Lucy’s if I’m being really honest. Travelling Australia, we feel obliged to give it a go and we have both really loved it. It was after our very first plunge that we bought a foam board suitable for useless surfers and strapped it to the roof (reducing fuel economy further).
We were testing the waters at Redgate beach in Margaret river and after finishing up I was eavesdropping on other surfers in the carpark. Lucy had just tagged in, as we have a dog to mind and just one board. Upon hearing my fellow surfer mention the sharks, I stopped what I was doing and started briskly walking back towards the beach as if I’d forgotten something. I did not want to show further weakness amongst surfing brethren. I had already embarrassed myself for 90 minutes on waves too powerful for my pathetic level. I figured if Lucy saw a shark she’d likely go into anaphylactic shock or have a stroke or worse. Lucky for me due to the big waves she had already given up and was on the way out.
Margaret River, or Margs for short, is a terrific holiday zone. Most people are aware of the surf beaches, natural coastal landscapes, forests, wine and hippies. I was also happy to find that you can drive the valleys and pop your head in anywhere that sells anything and sample it. Wine, cheese, chocolate, wine, honey, honey wine, sauces and plenty of wines. All good stuff. On the coast, Injidup natural spa was particularly impressive. Waves rush through the rocks into pools offering a free back massage or, if the wave is more powerful, an embarrassing and painful face plant.
Injidup Natural Spa
We parked ourselves at Fairharvest permaculture eco camping and it stands out as one of the best places we’ve laid our heads. We liked the outdoor space, the yoga barn, cool wooden shower block, library and animals on the grounds. We even bought a veggie box off the owner and were delivered a giant box of fresh tasty product that kept us going for 4 days. There was a nice group of other travellers that we chatted to over dinner. We met an Italian couple who lived around the corner from me in Galway and worked in the Cellar bar one summer. They loved Galway, telling me that it was ten times better than Cork and they want to live there again one day. I agreed with the sentiment.
Like many people in Margs, the Italians were picking grapes for a modest income and were living out of the back of their car. That lifestyle is not for everyone, but when the climate is optimal it is a good low cost option. The approach we took to accommodation on the road is to mix free camps with paid campgrounds, caravan parks or alternative venues that offer camping. Given the investment we have already made in the caravan, spending a lot on nightly fees is not sustainable over a number of months. That seems to be the Australian way as I've heard so many people whinge about paying $40 a night even though they are in a $65,000 caravan.
Seals & Mantas at Hamelin Bay. 3 is Canal Rocks
Free camping is great, but there is almost never a shower and rarely flushing toilets. Beach campgrounds will often charge up to $20 even with no showers, that’s what the sea is for. For flushing toilets, showers, a camp kitchen you are likely to pay $25 at the low end up to $50 at the high end. However during holiday season in the popular locations, a patch of grass in a caravan park can cost up to $100. Our goal is an average spend of $15 per night. Half of the nights we would have facilities and pay around $30 and the other half we free camp. Realistically, we don't need the facilities half of the time. The caravan has a kitchen, a water tank, double bed, a long life battery for charging devices and we have a solar shower. The issue we face is that at the most attractive locations, free camps are not available and you are forced into a paid site.
Two nights with the permaculture folk turned into four. As the weather cooled down and storms rolled by, we had little motivation to pack up and relocate. Margaret River is just three hours south of our next stop, Perth, and while we had planned to stop once in between it just didn’t seem worth the effort. We will stay in Perth for at least a week and we are excited to see friends from Galway for the first time since November. It is also a chance to explore Perth as a living and working destination. The Big Lap doubles up as a scouting operation for our next home.
Injidup Natural Spa
Forestry at Margaret River