World Travelers: Australia Coasting Down Under

Text: Simon Thomas • Photography: Simon and Lisa Thomas

The arid air of Western Australia tugs at the peaks of our enduro helmets, and we’re about to change worlds. Behind us is red Martian dust, ancient history, and beautiful isolation. Easing off the throttle, we bounce from our sandy track onto the asphalt and enter the modern world of electric convenience, noise, and the Internet.

It’s 7:30 a.m., and we’re cruising west on highway 94, clicking through the gears, and skirting the northern edge of the Mundaring State Forest. We roll at a relaxed pace into the Swan Valley northeast of today’s destination. Perth is Australia’s most western capital and fourth most populous city.

An Air of Sophistication

The cool air is laden with a sweet mix of moist pine and grapes from the 40 boutique wineries that sit on either side of the Swan River and make up Western Australia’s oldest wine region. Twenty minutes from Perth’s historic center, the roadside is sprinkled with relaxed cafés, breweries, and alfresco restaurants where diners savor homegrown flavors and sip on locally produced Shiraz.

With Perth friends, Rob and Dianne, we ride to the world-renowned Kings Park and Botanic Garden. Below us, Perth looks resplendent. Gleaming steel and glass skyscrapers rise elegantly from the sandy and flat Swan Coastal Plain, which lies between the Darling Scarp and the Indian Ocean. It’s easy to see why 1.9 million Aussies have made this their home. Founded by Captain James Stirling in 1829, Perth is a free settlement as opposed to other metropolis whose origins trace back to housing and managing British convicts.

Seaside Towns

We’re riding south of Perth. For 150 breathtaking miles, the Indian Ocean crashes relentlessly onto shore. Past the towns of Rockingham, Mandurah, and Bunbury, we make a slow right turn from the asphalt and onto Cape Naturaliste Road. Our tires skip over the loose gravel as we meander to the end of the peninsula. From the lone whitewashed lighthouse, we’re afforded a handsome view across Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park and down to the pristine white sand of Bunker Bay.

A detour off Caves Road is our springboard into one of Australia’s most fertile wine growing regions, Margaret River. With more than 21 square miles of this area covered in vines, the industry is hard to escape; but at $ 25 for just a single tasting, we choose to ride on.

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For the complete touring article, including facts & information, map(s), and GPS files, please purchase the January/February 2014 back issue.