by Lauren Tennant, University of New South Wales, Australia
As most my previous posts have emphasised, a work-fun balance is so important to get the most out of your year abroad.
At the top of my Aus bucket list was visiting Western Australia and its incredible beaches. A short break between summer term and Term 1 at UNSW came around and I quickly took the opportunity to get my uni work in order and book a trip to WA.
We flew from Sydney to Perth and stayed in the city for 6 days – (try and book ahead because this is a long flight and can get very expensive!). My top 3 experiences in Perth were:
- Skydive. I was originally booked to jump in the Whitsundays at Christmas however the wet season weather meant this was cancelled twice. This is by far one of the best things I have done and I would recommend to anyone. If you can, pay extra for the video (the facial expressions were great entertainment for the family Whatsapp group chat).
2. Rottnest Island and the Quokkas. We rented some bikes (this is definitely an essential) and headed around the island in the 35 degree heat. This is definitely worth a visit if you’re in Perth, with incredible beaches and ‘Quokkas’ which are the smiling animals you’ve definitely seen on TikTok!
3. Laneway Festival. UK artist Fred Again’s final show in Australia happened to coincide with our trip to Perth so this was a must-do before we headed down south.
We only had about a week before we had to head back to Sydney for the new term, so we had a jam-packed roundtrip from Perth to Esperance. Some best bits and key takeaways from the trip:
- The Campervan – we rented ours with Travellers Autobarn and they were super flexible, helpful, and the van came fully equipped. Renting this meant we didn’t have to book any accommodation en route, apart from one night in a campsite to charge up the van. Definitely make sure to over-budget for fuel! While the petrol here is miles cheaper than the UK, the tank empties pretty quickly when your route is 2000km long.
- No service – for the first few days we were driving for hours with no service or wifi. In hindsight, we should’ve downloaded some maps on our phones, but in the end we just went old-school using the paper map which came with the van. On this note, make sure you send your route to someone in case you are unreachable for a while.
- Kangaroos! – Try and avoid driving in twilight. When you are driving in the outback at night, it’s common for kangaroos to jump into the road – and frankly it’s terrifying seeing a pair of eyes hopping towards you on a dark road!
- Cape Le Verde – Lucky Bay. This is a must-visit if you drive to Esperance. The pictures speak for themselves…
6. Spaceships – A friend recommended this app to us as it shows all of the rest stops and free campsites on a map if you are struggling to find somewhere to park up for the night. It also shows where the beach showers and extra facilities are.
7. Hamelin Bay and Margaret River. One of the legs included a stop at Hamelin Bay on the way to the wine region. This beach is known for it stingrays, because they come in so close they are swimming around your feet. Definitely try and spend a morning here as they normally come out at this time. A day or two in Margaret River is also a good idea if you enjoy wine, as it offers some of the best wine tasting experiences in Australia. Many of them also offer shuttle services to and from your accommodation so you can do a tasting without needing to drive afterwards.
Overall, it was a bucket-list trip and a great way to relax before the new term commenced. If you are able to drive, hiring a car or van is a great way to see your exchange country!