Close to home, yet a world away - a memoir of my time spent West.
A nation separated by vast amounts of open space and uninhabited land...
It’s hard to believe the West & East Coasts of Australia are of the same land mass.
Flying over the desolate coastline, brimming with fringing reefs and turquoise shorelines bounded by the red dirt of the desert in a light aircraft that feels merely bigger than a bird.
I thought my eyes had deceived me, that I had in fact left my home nation to explore some other-worldly destination.
I moved from the East Coast of Australia to the West just over four years ago, my reasons varied, I had a career opportunity, which also presented itself as a unique opportunity to explore and find myself in Australia’s ‘Wild West’ – what a fitting title.
My first step out of the plane was greeted with a smack of unimaginable hot, arid, desert air, the kind that dry’s your eyes in an instant and makes your skin feel as though it’s cracking on your face.
This was to become my home for the indefinite future, what I didn’t realise at the time, was how that first glimpse of its stunning coastline and those first steps into this remote State had already left its trademark on my mind, and in my heart.
Western Australia can be not likened to any one destination in the world; it varies in climate, flora, fauna and even habitation, from picturesque seaside towns, to the most remote metropolitan city in the world, to thousand year old Aboriginal tribes, living in their native homeland, symbiotically syncing with nature for survival.
To the north west of the State, the longest straight roads I’d ever witnessed, becoming so hot during summer they could melt the tyres of my car.
Your only friends on these open roads are the goats and kangaroos taking refuge from the sun’s rays underneath low lying shrubbery, the occasional emu making its mad dash across the highway, sashaying it’ tail feathers as it goes.
It appears like a mirage, after hours of only dust and cacti brimming the road, the coral cays of the red jiggered cliffs drop sheer into Indian Ocean. The wildlife teem, fish of every colour imaginable swarm over the coral, their beaks clicking as they scratch algae from the rocks.
Dive further, from the deep blue abyss emerges what appears a large dark shadow at first, as it swims towards us my breath begins to shorten; the sheer width of its mouth could swallow me whole, like a vacuum. It moves slowly and gracefully, its speckled body covered in markings not unlike that of a leopard, the whale shark appears to be unaffected by the impending humans as it cruises the coast in search of plankton.
By night the sky is littered with tiny glitters of silver, so far removed from the pollution of the city, the stars shine their brightest. The air is warm and dry, I lay on my swag, and the sound of the waves lapping the shore gently soothes me to sleep.