The This Travel Life blog has been online for many years, but this year is the first time we have chosen to write a post reviewing our year of travel. Each year we try to hit the road as much as we can. Ironically, the year we decide to create our first Best of Travel Review is the year when any travel was limited due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Each year we write an annual Christmas Letter , which we have done for the past 15 years. It has morphed into a New Year’s letter as each year we take longer to send it off. While the Christmas letter includes a brief summary of our travel, we felt we needed a separate post to highlight all our travels, and the best parts of those trips. We have also written a 2020 Travel Blogging Year in Review, which is just about the specifics of blogging and the performance of this website.
The worldwide coronavirus pandemic created many challenges to travel this year. In Australia, the international borders closed pretty quickly, so no trips to other countries were feasible. Then travel over state borders became very restricted. We were pushed to make a commitment to explore our home state as much as possible. Living in one of the most isolated cities in the world was for once an advantage, having 10 months of no community transmission, meant that we were given many freedoms to travel in our very large state.
We had bought a caravan at the start of the year, which was fortuitous considering what was on the horizon. After a couple of trial runs in the van, our first proper holiday was drastically cut short as the effects of the virus spread throughout the land. In the end, we managed to hit the road and stay at 25 different campsites in our caravan, a pretty impressive effort we think.
Lists of Trips in 2020
- January – Augusta WA – first trial run in van.
- February – Dwellingup WA – overnighter in van.
- March – Melbourne VIC – birthday weekend.
- March – Western Loop – only 2-weeks out of planned 2-months trip around Australia.
- May – Margaret River Nature Park, WA – annual weekend away.
- July – 2 weeks in north WA (Karijini and Coral Bay).
- October – 2 weeks in Monkey Mia WA and along the west coast.
- November – Yallingup WA – Clare on a girls weekend away hiking parts of the Cape to Cape walking track.
In addition to the trips listed, we explored closer to home quite a bit too, showing visitors around Perth city, and the kids were off on scout camps to various destinations in the bush.
Despite the travel restrictions in place, we have had some amazing experiences. Here are our highlights of the travel year.
Best of Nature – Karijini Gorges
There are many absolutely stunning gorges and water holes to explore at Karijini National Park, which are hidden oases in stark contrast to the seemingly unending dry red dirt landscape.
Best Bushwalk – Cape to Cape
The best bushwalk of the year was Clare’s hike along the Western Australian coast, doing parts of the spectacular Cape-to-Cape walking track. Next time we plan to do it as a family. The boys also went on a great bushwalk with their cub’s pack at Lesmurdie Falls National Park. The family also did a great walk along the rim of the gorge near Dales campground in Karijini, and also around Bells Rapids in Perth’s Avon Valley.
Best Road Trip – Across the Nullarbor
We went on many road trips in 2020 while we explored our home state of Western Australia, but the best had to be as we raced across the Nullarbor (and back again a week later!) on our aborted holiday. It in an amazing journey to undertake so you understand how big and sunburnt Australia really is!
Best Tour – Pinnacles Private Tour
Nambung Station Stay is located just inland from Cervantes, in Western Australia. It was a welcome surprise to find such a peaceful place to stay during the busy school holidays, and as a bonus we were able to take their private tour through the back door of the Pinnacles. Another great tour we went on this year was of Hamelin Station, an old sheep station which is now a nature reserve run by Bush Heritage Australia. See our top-10 tours ever.
Best Sunset – Cheela Plains Station
When staying at the Cheela Plains Station, you must walk up the hill overlooking the campground for an amazing sunset view. Also notable was the sunset view sitting on the balcony of the heritage building above Lynton Station escarpment. And for a sunrise, we can’t go past our early morning climb of Pildappa Rock.
Best Free Campsite – Pildappa Rock
Pildappa Rock in South Australia is a quieter version of Wave Rock in WA. We stayed a couple of nights and essentially had the place to ourselves.
Best Food Experience – Yabbies at Kirkalocka
While staying at Kirkalocka Station, we were lucky to befriend a fellow traveler who told us about the yabbies in the river, and even set up some bait in a net so we could catch our own. yum yum.
Best Animal Experience – Stingrays at Hamelin Bay
We had many animal experiences to choose from this year, the most interesting were the stingrays coming close to shore at Hamelin Bay near Augusta, Western Australia. We also had close encounters with the dolphins and turtles at Monkey Mia, and an ultimate Aussie experience of the huge mob of kangaroos at the Yarrambat Park Golf Course in Melbourne.
Best Family Fun – Sand Dunes at Port Gregory
It was lots of family fun going up and down the sand dunes at Port Gregory. We were staying at the nearby Lynton Farm (Linga Longa), and thankfully the kind owner had a couple of boogie boards to lend to us.
Most Unusual Thing – Leaning Trees, Greenough WA
There are many leaning trees in the area of Greenough near Geraldton Western Australia, which have grown like this because of the prevailing southerly winds. Another unusual thing we came across on our travels was a plane refuelling at a service station on the Nullarbor. It is not every day you see a plane pushed into the service station to get refuelled.
Most Unique Experience – Golf on the Nullarbor links
It was a very unique experience playing a hole of golf at Fraser Range Station, part of the Nullarbor Links golf course.
Best Art Experience – Silo Art in Merredin
We were impressed with the artwork painted on the side of a silo in Merredin. There is a large number of silo artworks around Australia, we saw others in Kimba and Cowell in South Australia. Also memorable was the sculpture trail on the cliffs outside of Elliston SA.
Best History Experience – Lynton Farm Convict Buildings
We did not expect to find convict era buildings when we stayed at Lynton Farm, otherwise known as Linga Longa, near Kalbarri Western Australia.
Best Museum – Penong Windmill Museum
We were so impressed with the Windmill Museum in Penong that we dropped in again as we came back through the town. It is a large collection of many different types of windmills, mostly from the local area.
Favourite Travel Photo – Clare at Shell Beach
This beautiful snow-white beach in the shark bay region of Western Australia is made up of billions of tiny shells, buried up to 10 metres deep.
We are impressed that so much was accomplished this year, including many memorable experiences. We hope you have had an equally good year despite what was happening around us. At these times we need to adapt, look forward to things, and be grateful for what we do have. We are looking forward to greater freedoms and more travel in 2021, as no doubt we all do.