Embarking on a West Oz Walkabout
Walkabout is one of those words that doesn’t have a strict definition. Ever-handy Wikipedia sums it up a bit too neatly, calling it “a rite of passage where male Australian Aborigines would undergo a journey during adolescence and live in the wilderness for a period as long as six months.” But there is no itinerary for a walkabout, and no two will ever be the same.
So it is a light use of the word when I say I’m about to embark on what I’m calling my West Oz Walkabout. But I use it with respect and, I hope, some truth.
I’m leaving in a few days for a 12-day trip to Western Australia on my own. No, I won’t be living in the wilderness; I won’t even be camping. I’ve already been mugged in an upscale suburb of the most populated city; no need to tempt fate by pitching a tent alone for 11 nights in the wild west. I will be driving a car and sleeping in hotels or hostels. But I will be doing it alone, which I think is the important part.
Had someone been able to make the trip with me, I would have been happy to go with company (and even happier to split the cost). In fact, I could have joined friends Shannon and Bruce on their vacation last week. But there are a number of things I want to do, so I chose not to rush it. Plus, in truth, I’m looking forward to the solitude. To doing something I came here to do: exploring the unknown, seeing what I find when I’m on my own.
Here is one thing I know I’ll find, as it’s the only activity I’ve pre-booked: whale sharks. The biggest fish on the planet, these spotted gentle giants feed on the tiny fish of Ningaloo Reef every April through July. It’s no coincidence I’m traveling to the Indian Ocean at this time; swimming with the whale sharks is the focal point of my trip.
Other places I’m hoping to visit are the Margaret River valley, filled with wineries. (I may have to ditch my car that day to really do the research for an in depth report.) There are also giant karri trees I want to check out; in one forest there’s a treetop walk built into the canopy. I’ll certainly spend some time in city of Perth. But I have no exact plan, and will be open to exploring anything I see or hear that catches my attention. My Uncle Dex might say I’m going on a “fancy-striking” trip.
Though I won’t be fending for myself in the wild, avoiding crocs and dingos and making sure to pick the right berries, I will certainly have plenty of time to think, reflect and, hopefully, make some discoveries, not only about Western Australia but about myself as a solo traveler.
I’ll be reporting from my journey with updates on what I find, people I meet, places I go and more. In the meantime, has anyone visited this part of world and have any can’t-miss suggestions for me?
Read Megan’s last blog, “The Recession in Australia“