I never thought I would see the day when my family visited Australia, let alone the place I called home for nearly three years. Two thousand thirteen was my lucky year!
The Reids - mother, father and sister - visited the land down under and explored the Perth metro area and W.A.'s Wheatbelt and Gascoyne Regions. Western Australia was the final stop on the Reids' Aussie itinerary.
With five of us packed into a camper van, it was certainly a bonding experience unlike any other. Kangaroo ('roo') spotting (and dodging - except for one poor roo) on Australia's Highway 1 - the longest national highway in the world - was thrilling and certainly kept us on the edge of our seats. Taking in the sunset over the Indian Ocean from the Vlamingh Head Lighthouse seemed to take us back in time. Snorkelling amongst stingrays and colourful coral on the Ningaloo Reef was an enjoyable Reid family outing, and brought our time together in Australia to a nice close.
Hungry for some more outback adventures, Hayley and I headed east, deep into W.A.'s bush country. After spending a night in the tiny mining town of Tom Price - where we saw our first dingo and were surrounded by more heavy machinery than I'd seen in my entire life - we made it to Karijini National Park, where massive mountains and escarpments rise out of the flat valleys. Karijini's gorges were far more than we had ever expected, and hiking through them was mind-blowing. Traipsing amongst overhanging trees and shrubs while navigating along the waterways at the bottom of the gorges made me feel like a prairie dog, tunnelling to my destination. Swimming in Circular Pool's crystal-clear water was refreshing and gave me a second wind for the return hike.
After our 'glorified' camping experience at Karijini, the return trip back to Perth on the Great Northern Highway provided Hayley and me with some of our more unique outback encounters. We regretfully entered an aboriginal community - Parnpajinya - where our camper van was chased by a pack of mangy dogs. We saw more roos and livestock than we did automobiles, and after nearly swallowing two wedge-tailed eagles - the largest bird of prey in Australia - through our windshield, we enjoyed respites in Newman, the Kumarina Roadhouse, Meekatharra, Mt. Magnet and Paynes Find.
Other notable 2013 W.A. adventures included my first stand-up paddle experience at Dunsborough Beach and my (limited) time with some bearded Aussie blokes.