ROADTRIPPING WESTERN AUSTRALIA
Living overseas in Australia has many, many positives - in fact, the only big negative for me is being away from my family - which really comes into force around Christmas-time. Having done, and enjoyed, the traditional orphans' Christmas for a couple of years, I decided to look outside the bubble of Bondi to make the most of my 10 days of holiday.
Alongside my partner-in-crime Belinda, we jetted off to Western Australia in search of beautiful blue waters, sun and a commitment to really test out the beaches of South West WA.
With a big list of sights to tick off, we agreed a few things before we left: we both needed to relax as well as hit the road - and the coast was our priority. With this agreed at the beginning, we decided to focus on just three areas to make sure we had enough time to decompress.
Our first stop was Rottnest Island for Christmas, and we were lucky enough to stay with family - giving us our "proper" Christmas. Rottnest Island is famous for the quokka selfie, and although there were plenty of quokkas around, we made the most of doing as the locals do: cycling, crayfishing, and eating Christmas-sized portions of basically anything we could get our hands on in-between.
With a pub, a few restaurants, a bakery and a bottle-o, we were more than catered for on the island to keep us happy for a couple of days. It's definitely worth staying on the island for a few days - with transport options limited to cycling and biking, its a real chance to get onto "island time" and decompress for a few days.
If you have friends who live locally - even better. Some of the best parts of the trip were getting to look at the local sea lions and help with the crayfishing - an experience you can only get with the locals.
Pinkies Beach, Rottnest Island
When doing our research before the trip, many people raved about Elephant Rocks down on the South coast of W.A. Whilst a little out of the way, we couldn't resist the opportunity to check the rocks out for ourselves. Setting off in our faithful 4x4, armed with water, healthy (and not so healthy) snacks and a killer playlist, the road and ever-changing scenery ensured the trip down was as fun as getting to the destination itself.
Our trustly friend the Prado
And the destination was totally worth it - Denmark was a sleepy little town, which we used as the base to see not only Elephant Rocks, but also the neighbouring beach Green Pools. The water was incredibly clear, with beautiful, huge rocks studded along the shoreline.
Unexpectedly, our favourite beach was one we hadn't heard about before arriving at Denmark. On the recommendation of our host, we went down to Ocean Beach. This was a beautiful long beach that curved around before transforming into magnificent cliffs as far as the eye could see. Feeling virtuous and slightly overfed from Christmas, this provided the perfect backdrop for early morning runs and swims followed by coffee and brunch - a ritual we both love doing at home in Sydney.
Morning surfer on Ocean Beach, Western Australia
Dunsborough and Margaret River
After enjoying the sleepy pace in Denmark, we hopped back into the trusty Prado to loop back round to Margaret River. Having taken the advice of an actual Australian before planning our trip, we headed straight up to Dunsborough - again a great base for us to explore from.
We were spoilt with beautiful beaches - Smiths Beach and Meelup Beach were particular favourites. We also carried on our virtuous morning rituals, hiking from Castle Rock to Eagle Bay and back again.
On our way to dinner one night, we decided to detour to the coast to watch sunset, and were rewarded with an incredible end to the day at Sugarloaf Rock, and an energetic group having a dance party to Foster the People. It was one of those life-affirming moments that still gives me tingles every time I think of it.
Our drive back took us past Eagle Bay Brewery, which was the location for our lunch the next day, and the unravelling of all our good behaviour up to this point. The Pourhouse in Dunsborough provided us with continued opportunities to let down our hair and show off the results of a relaxing, sun-filled trip to see the end of 2015.
A magical sunset at Sugarloaf Mountain, Margaret River
We avoided Perth altogether, instead opting to stay in its southern, laidback neighbour of Freo. Heaps of cafes, and it's well worth a visit to Little Creatures down on the harbour. We also had one of the best breakfasts of all time at Bread in Common - the perfect lining for our stomachs before having a final celebratory drink at Perth Airport before our flight home.
Our trip was is by no means exhaustive - by settling on enjoying and relaxing, we missed a few highlights - Hamelin Bay, where manta rays swim around your feet; Walpole, where your drive through some of the oldest and tallest trees around. We didn't even make it to North of Perth Airport, where there is a huge state ready to be explored. But, no regrets. We came back relaxed, rejuvenated and ready for 2016.
We've also made a map of some of our highlights: http://bit.ly/WARoadtrippingMap
Serena and Bee Sugarloaf sunset selfie
Pinkies Beach, Western Australia
A beautiful landmark on Rottness Island are the lighthouses
Cycling is the best mode of transport on island
Chrissy dinner was a feast
Delicious food and fun around Margaret River
Christmas catch of the day
Couple of Christmas Crayfish
Rottnest Island, Western Australia
Blue sea at Greens Pools, Denmark, Western Australia
Green Pools & Elephant Rocks, Denmark, Western Australia