Winter trip: part 1. Australia

This winter I have done so many amazing trips that I still want to write about! I already started a while when flying back home from Australia, but I have been too busy doing other things so I just finished it today. Hope you like it!

I’m waiting at the airport in Perth while writing this blog post. Today I will fly back to Holland after this crazy trip that was actually three trips in one. This morning I flew back to Perth from Indonesia, where I just spend one week visiting family of my boyfriend. I flew to Indonesia from Japan, where I had an IWT competition (which I won, yeah!!! but more about this in part 2). We went to Japan after spending five weeks in a campervan here in Australia. Sounds confusing, right?? I even get dizzy and tired from all the traveling again just writing about it haha, anywayyy, let’s start where it all began; here in Perth Airport exactly two months ago!

Australia had been on my wish-list for many years but I never went until now. South Africa was always the cheaper and easier option. For Australia you need a van and you need to plan the trip upfront, while I often booked Cape Town just a few days before leaving. Together with my boyfriend Berk we decided however to go for the adventure! Packed with our windsurf gear we arrived in the middle of the night. Maeli, friend of mine, picked us up and the next day we picked up our camper van. It took nearly 2 hours to figure out how we could fit ALL our windsurf gear (and 2 SUP boards) in the van, together with our normal luggage and to still be able to sleep in the van at night. We might have taken a bit too much gear with us, but it’s always hard to choose what to bring while going on a windsurf trip for five weeks.

Van life!

We started our trip driving South, to Margaret River as there was no wind forecasted up North. The South is beautiful and we were amazed by the immense friendly and relaxed Australians. I had hoped for an easy session to start of with, but on our first day of wind the sets were well over mast high! Of course we decided to go out, so after we got informed about the reef and how to get in I was out on the water in Australia for the first time ever. After a while I was getting the hang of it and enjoyed my first session at famous Margaret River. Two hours later I thought we should get back in before the sun would set. Berk made it in straight away, but I was being a bit too careful with the massive waves and reef and ended up too far downwind to make it in. I headed back out again but the wind suddenly dropped completely, while at the same time the waves got even bigger and I was floating around in between 6 meter waves, trying to get upwind. It was getting dark and I must admit I was thinking about the sharks, the current, the waves and the reef all in once. With a long swim, help from Berk and a lot of luck I made it back in over the reef without any damage. Others were less lucky and it didn’t feel like a warm welcome I must admit! 😉

The actual Margaret River

After Margaret River we drove up to Geraldton which had an amazing forecast. I had heard so many stories about this spot in my life! It is an easy spot, with a flat bay to start, perfect ramps to jump when you head out and big but mellow waves. For more than a week we could windsurf every day, and I felt I was improving every day. We were wild camping on allowed campsites or went to a camping (for a hot shower ;-)) in the nights, and some days we treated ourselves to a fancy coffee in the coffee bar, but mostly we were just cooking in the van all day long.

After a week in Geraldton we wanted to explore a bit more. There was a bit of a forecast for Gnaraloo – but everyone told us it would not be worth going and season in Gnaraloo was already finished as that spot mostly works in November and December. We were stubborn, and gave it a try (which basically means driving 9 hours without being sure of getting good conditions) as we were afraid it would be our only chance of sailing Gnaraloo.

Time for session number 3 of the day 😉
Gnaraloo paradise

To get to Gnaraloo you need to drive offroad for almost three hours. There is no longer any connection on your phone and you see nobody else on the way except for many kangaroos. In Gnaraloo you stay at a campsite, and there are showers and toilets, although the showers are salty! I love having a shower after a long day of sailing, but I kept on being surprised the moment I put my head under the shower and realised it was salty. It’s a beautiful place. You are literally in the middle of nowhere, you wake up every morning with an incredible view of the bay and you see so much wild life. We had to do shopping and take food for the whole week before driving there; and except for the fact we run out of chocolate in the first days we did a pretty good job! Even after a week we were still able to eat vegetables and fruits.

Can you see our van?
SUP session

After a week we completely run out of everything and we decided to drive back south to Margaret River, to give this spot another try! We drove back all the way (15 hours or so) and had three good days. It’s less hot south, and the town is very cute with lots of nice little coffee shops so we were enjoying all the luxury after being in the dessert for a week. The wind was not as good as we hoped for and we decided to do some touristic stuff ;-). We went to see the amazing huge trees, massive stingrays, we went supping, to a winery and we were just happy driving around exploring. But after those days we saw the forecast for Gnaraloo was looking even better than last time.. although everyone told us again the season was over, we drove all the way back up again.

Back to the desert!

The conditions were even better, with some mast high sets rolling in sometimes. We were very lucky to be able to build up so well with getting to know the place and really getting in to the waves. We ended up staying almost two weeks more in Gnaraloo. We had to drive back once because we run out of cooking gas (and chocolate of course) but stayed until the last day before driving all the way back to Perth to catch the plane to Japan……