I’ve pitched up in a small town in Western Australia for a few months to work. Working whilst travelling is not an unusual thing for me as my long-term travel lifestyle needs to be funded somehow. I have worked whilst travelling for the past few years and so now I am residing in a little speck on the map called Jurien Bay, approximately 3 hours north of Perth.
The trickiest thing for me whenever I stay a while in these smaller places is that I don’t own a car. In Western Australia the roads have a tendency to run for hundreds of kilometres without so much as a kink and people think nothing of hopping in their car for a one hundred metre drive to the shop. A life without wheels can restrict my ability to get out and explore so I have to make sure I get involved with local activities as much as possible.
Jurien Bay Adventure Tours
Jurien Bay is blessed with its own adventure tours company, specialising in day trips out to local landmarks such as The Pinnacles (limestone formations that sprout out of the earth like jagged fingers) and Mount Lesueur, plus hiring out equipment such as stand up paddle boards, bicycles and snorkelling gear.
I’d heard a lot said locally about caves in the area and so was keen to tag along with Jurien Bay Adventure Tours on their Stockyard Gully outing to find out more about what these had to offer.
Even more so because I’d heard we had to do a spot of four wheel driving to get there and that sounded like something I didn’t want to miss.
Stockyard Gully Caves
We motored north out of Jurien Bay with our guide Chris at the wheel. The newly constructed Indian Ocean highway follows the coastline out of Perth and all the way up the coast to Geraldton. After a few kilometres we turned off the highway to drive along an unsealed road. Soon after this we left any semblance of a road behind and delved into true four wheel drive terrain. The path then became a sandy bush track with shrubs either side, so perhaps not something you would attempt in your shiny little rental car.
Now we were in Stockyard Gully National Park, which covers 1500ha and protects the unique flora, fauna, and cave system of the area.
After bumping along for a further five kilometres we reached the parking area for the caves. Fortunately for us the weather had been overcast and damp in the morning so we pretty much had the place to ourselves. The cooler temperatures were also beneficial in keeping the bee activity to a minimum, Chris advised us.
At this I pricked my ears up, feeling a flash of uncertainty. Bees? Not so keen.
All was revealed when we walked down in to Stockyard Gully, a gorge that was given its name in the nineteenth century when stockmen found the area provided good feed and water for their animals, and the creek bed formed a narrow holding yard for stock if they needed to camp overnight.
Here you find a network of caves in the limestone soil, leading to an underground river system. The longest cave is three hundred metres long.
At the mouth of the cave were the most incredible bee hives I had ever seen. Forget the image of your typical beekeeper tending to his hives in a wooden box. Here, high up on the rock were layers of pale honeycomb hanging in waves like the gill of a fish. You could hear the hum of the bees overhead as they surrounded their hives, but they didn’t fly down to investigate us, which I was perfectly content with.
Inside the cave the air immediately took on a cool, muffled quality, the sandy floor and limestone walls deadening any sounds. Above our heads, tucked up into a little nook, we spotted an owl snoozing away the daylight hours. Further into the cave we discovered tiny bats also using the cave as a dark refuge.
We had fun squeezing into a few of the side caverns of the main cave, gripping our torches between our teeth and hoisting ourselves up into these little spaces like we were Indiana Jones.
We emerged out the other side of the cave and clambered a little more through the gorge, which was a little more rocky than the first section as here some of the caverns have long since collapsed to form the rough terrain.
Down in the gully there were beautiful Banksia and Eucalyptus trees growing across the path, lending to the overall subterranean feeling.
After our jaunt through the caves we headed back out along the four wheel drive track and spent the afternoon exploring the region’s finest sand dune at Sandy Cape.
Here you can hurtle down the soft dunes on sand boards – which are included in the tour with Jurien Bay Adventure Tours – or take a walk along the beach to the viewpoint to take in the pretty coastline that surrounds you.
I’ve been in Jurien Bay two months already and so I really enjoyed getting out to explore more of the local area and supporting a local business too.
The versatile beauty of Western Australia hasn’t yet disappointed me and you can discover so much on your doorstep no matter where you are.
Big thanks to the wonderful Jurien Bay Adventure Tours. If you ever find yourself north of Perth then give them a call as they’ll treat you to the best of what this area has to offer.
Have you ever been to Western Australia? What did you see and do? What recommendations can you give me for things not to miss whilst I’m here?
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