In 2013 Saxon Yuen gave up a job he loved to follow his dream. His latest adventure finds him on the highways and byways of Western Australia, and he thinks you should follow him there.
Here’s the thing about detours. When you travel with an open mind, they have this cheeky habit of becoming the main event.
While everyone else is on the well-worn path from A to B, you’re neck-deep in an adventure through C, D, E and beyond – all because you decided on a different path. And what made you decide? Maybe it was some chance conversation with that random guy at a party. Maybe you discovered a grainy, long-lost photograph behind the bookshelf like some archaeological prototype to Instagram. Who knows? Even your chance encounter with this very blog post could become the start of the greatest adventure you’ll ever know…
So vast you can fit TEN United Kingdoms in it, so off-the-beaten-track it’s closer to Sumatra than it is to Sydney, detours don’t get much grander than Western Australia, the Great Aussie Detour.
But why would you want to make such a huge departure from the standard route? Perhaps because if you never take this path, you’ll simply never experience this:
Karijini National Park
Never heard of it, right? Awesome! Neither has anyone else – and that’s half the reason you need to get there. The other half of the reason is that this place will blow your mind. Picture the famous, brilliant-blue Australian sky. Under that, imagine blood-red stripes in vertical, iron-ore cliff-faces towering 100m up into that blue. Now stick a spectacular waterfall over that. Add some lush green vegetation by opal-green pools at the bottom of dramatic red gorges cut deep into the desert. Top off your image with a huge red kangaroo scratching its butt. Now go for a swim under the waterfall and thank the lucky string of events along your detour that brought you to this magical place.
Ningaloo Reef and the Giants That Call It Home
As if the outrageously coloured fish and corals aren’t enough, the aquamarine lagoons and sapphire blue depths of this 250km coral reef are home to a festival of the world’s most epic sea creatures. How can a sea creature be “epic” you ask? Try taking a paddle with a friendly 20-ton whale shark for a once-in-a-lifetime bucket-lister. Bigger, you say? Try gawking at humpback whales as they glide and leap on their migration past the desert shores. Too peaceful, you think? Watch out for pods of majestic orcas hot on their trails. And don’t forget 5m wide, spaceship-looking manta rays. Oh, and dolphins. Did we mention pods of hundreds and hundreds of dolphins? That’s what we mean by epic. Hold on to your snorkel!
12,000 km of untouched, middle-of-nowhere, best-beaches-you’ve-ever-laid-eyes-on coastline
OK, so there’s one thing that Western Australia might be bad at: naming beaches. But with so many thousands of them it was inevitable that they’d run out of names eventually. Believe us though: when you see them, you could call each one Paradise. Sweeping along the Shark Bay coastline, for instance, is Shell Beach – so blindingly white and water so perfectly crystal clear that it will take you a few moments to realise there’s no sand at all. Meanwhile, Turquoise Bay is a flawlessly white strip of fine sand that meets, you guessed it, actually turquoise Indian Ocean. Conditions for surfing, sailing, diving and budgie smuggler wearing are among the greatest on earth. And since this is the west coast, a warning: sunsets here are so resplendent they can make you cry. Yes, even you, tough guy.
Feel tiny under the infinite cosmos
So vast is this land that you can detour for hours and see no people at all. That means no light pollution for thousands of kilometres in every direction. Couple this with crisp desert skies and you have an almost uninterrupted view straight into the galaxy itself. Prepare to be dazzled by stars. Take a night-time guided star viewing experience in Karijini National Park or simply ponder in awe at your place in the universe. Aw!
“What the heck is a Quokka?”, you ask. Well besides having an awesome name, these fuzzy little Western Australian dudes and dudettes are just about the cutest, smiliest creatures on earth and you will scarcely believe they actually exist – until they waddle up to you to say G’day. Part wallaby, part teddy bear, these cat-sized marsupials have chubby little cheeks and unbelievable cheeky smiles and they’re found almost exclusively on glorious Rottnest Island, just off Perth.