The “South-West”, more specifically the stretch of land between Cape Naturaliste and Cape Leeuwin, at the very south-western tip of the Australian continent, is a wild land filled with breathtaking sceneries, unique creatures and endless roads. For my second year of Working Holiday Visa in Australia, I have chosen to settle for a while in Margaret River, a placid town set in a frame of lush forests, vineyards and nearby rocky beaches. These shores present reef close by the coast, against which the Indian Ocean hits with relentless force. The majestic waves resulting from their encounter attract surfers from all over the world, making of this area a Mecca for the aficionados of the board. The surf culture is actually embedded quite boldly in the local culture. It was during the ‘50 when scores of reckless young Australians started challenging this powerful breaks, exploring the then scarcely populated region. Since 1985, the hamlet hosts the Margaret River Pro, a competition part of the WSL World Surfing League. Gas Bay, Yallingup, Injidup, Surfers Point, Gnarabup and Redgate are just a few of the renowned spots where you would find surfers every day of the year since the earliest light at dawn.
The laid-back lifestyle of the surfers is swiftly transposed into the daily life. A simple proof is given by the fact that, in daytime, the majority of locals goes barefoot everywhere, from the supermarket to the coffee bar. The local leisure life runs primarily along Caves Road, a vein of tarmac winding through the hills along the shore, connecting all the bays, a complex system of caves, as well as a significant number of wineries, breweries and restaurants beautifully blended in the natural environment.
Life is chill, and often you find yourself laying on the grass, walking through the woods, or sitting on the soft sand, contemplating the sky and the clouds running fast.
Margaret Rivers sits at the heart of the region. Further up North, the majestic rocks of Cape Naturaliste never stop amusing with their ever-changing colors. To the South, the Boranup Forest, inhabited by giant Karri trees, paves the way to Cape Leeuwin, where the Indian and Southern Ocean meet.
The everlasting contact with nature is found not only in the breathtaking scenereis, but in the consistant presence of the beautiful creatures which have long inhabited this land, and most of which can only be found here.
Western Australia is often associated with a drier, harsher and lonelier landscape than the states on the East Coast. My experience will say that this certainly applies for several thousand kilometres travelling North of Perth. Here down South-West, though, where the oceans, the winds and forests shape the landscape, a sense of blessing is given by the pristine nature, giving life a mellow slow pace which makes of this one of the best places where I have ever lived.
Photography: Matteo Fabi