For the audio-story, please click here
The wisdom is already there. It always was. It´s only been buried deep within, hidden in plain sight by avalanches of information, opinions, and thought-streams… I must have dozed off, and met Yoda in my dreams. Or, maybe, the words belong to Capes, who I am gonna meet later? In any case, a glance on the mobile phone is indicating that getting a move on is the adequate thing to do now. Siesta nap time officially over, Indigenous Australian adventures are a go!
After a short van-ride from our hostel, we arrive at our destination. Through the window, I catch a first glimpse of who would be our guide for the next hours. Can you recognize charisma from afar? I don´t know the answer to that question, but what I do know is that Darren “Capes” Capeswell is a pretty charismatic fella.
Tales by Capes: Enchanted by Indigenous Australian traditions
A big, broad smile, a strong, yet not brutally domineering handshake, and an unmistakable aura of undeniable authority surrounding him make me feel excited and intrigued as to what´s about to come. Mentioned in the Lonely Planet Australia travel guide book as well as other notable travel publications, Capes from Wula Gura Nyinda Eco Cultural Adventures surely knows how to draw you in. The time we spend learning from him about all kinds of local “bushtucker” while taking a walk through the dunes close to the Indian Ocean is truly time well spent.
What the hell is bushtucker, you might ask? Sounds kinda weird. Well, the Aussies have a penchant for unusual/ cute/ very specific terms, and bushtucker is just one of them. Bushtucker is…. drumroll, kangaroos jumping out of a hat, sharks waving goodbye to sexy surfers, sounds of Waltzing Matilda emerging from nowhere… (did I get every Aussie cliche right here? Feel free to add some in the comments :P) …
Back to the question at hand: Bushtucker is bushfood, so any food native to Australia and originally used by Indigenous Australians. It can serve culinary as well as medicinal purposes, as Capes explains to us while we explore the bushland close to Little Lagoon and Monkey Mia. He then continues on to lead us to a stunning location – a tranquil setting by the beach, where everything is set up for a campfire.
An evening by the bay: Aboriginal sound-magic for him and her
Is it romantic? You bet it is! The sun is setting over the Indian Ocean, painting the sky in all hues of rose, dark orange and purple, while our group of six gathers around the fireplace, ready for some more fascinating insights into the original Indigenous Australian way of life. One of the many intriguing things we learn from Capes is that…hold on to your horses, ahem koalas…that the world-famous musical instrument didgeridoo is actually not supposed to be played by women! They play huge shells instead.
Huge, maybe even basketball sized shells? Thats right. It´s quite a distinct experience to give this a shot – feeling the cool yet sharp features of the shell against your lips, while the fresh night-air is caressing your skin. And – it´s at least as bloody hard to get a sound out of that mysterious shell than it is to entice the didge to let loose and play along to your own intended song. But – don´t take my word for it, give it a crack yourself next time you come across a massive shell!
Welcome to Gutharraguda-ways
We spend some more time in Capes charming company, whose cultural heritage is partly Malgana, partly Nhanda, and learn some Indigenous Australian vocabulary specific to the original landowners of Shark Bay. Did you know that Shark Bay is called Gutharraguda, meaning “two bays” in Malgana? Malgana is in fact only one of the three Aboriginal language groups spoken in Shark Bark, the traditional country of the three Aboriginal language groups Malgana, Nhanda and Yingkarta.
There are about 130 registered Aboriginal heritage sites in the Shark Bay area alone, so make sure to explore and honor the powerful roots of this ancient and very special part of Down Under so that you may get to experience the enchantment that only members of the world´s oldest living civilization can transmit. After all that quality Aboriginal-and-nature-exploration, it is time to let the myriad of new impressions sink in and head hostel-home. The next morning would lead us to an up north paradise, after all!
Wild Wild Western ways: Cranky kookaburras, cool kangaroos, and chilled-out cows
Fast forward around 10 hours and 556 kilometres on the road, including an interesting stop at a subtropical banana plantation in Carnavaron, the so-called fruit bowl of Western Australia, and we arrive at our final road trip destination on Australia´s stunning Coral Coast. On this last leg of our road trip adventure, we have witnessed the distances between towns getting bigger and bigger and we have listened to the shrieking sounds of Kookaburra-birds and parrots. We have also been witness to more and more roos (kangaroos) as well as cows greeting us with their stoic demeanour, and sometimes taking their sweet time while crossing our road-path, gifting us with some moments to take it all in and adapt to a natural, slower pace of life.
It´s also been intriguing to observe the land around us slowly but surely reflecting the transformation from a mediterranean to a tropical climate zone with all the changes in vegetation that that entails. Endless seeming roads have led us past tiny towns, and past the vast, rough red outback to our right, and the equally immense and powerful Indian Ocean to our left.
Arriving at our final destination: Camping allures in Coral Bay
But that´s all done and dusted now, as I whisper G´day, Ningaloo Marine Park, while stepping out of the van, already feeling like a part-time-Aussie. We are not alone anymore, as camper vans upon camper vans stretching out in front of us indicate. You could almost say that Coral Bay is a unique melange of camper-van-village meets ocean paradise!
Camping sites in Coral Bay are so popular that they are often booked out for months in advance. For the most part, they are populated by massive camper vans, or rather full-on camper castles. Many of them are inhabited by incredibly lucky pensioners, who get to meander along pure-piece-of-paradise-Coral-Bay-beach every day, saying hello to wild salmon and sea turtles passing them by and immersing themselves in a piece of barely touched nature-heaven.
If your definition of paradise includes wild and friendly animals approaching you of their own accord, pristine air, crystal clear ocean waters, unbelievably fine white sand, and loads of that gorgeousness all to yourself – then Coral Bay is gonna make you think you have passed on and have arrived right in heaven city.
Could that paradise include sharks? And fish the size of a small car? And a myriad of adventures yet to be told? Yes, yes, and yes. Come join me another time, when we get to venture out onto, and yep, right into the ocean with a very chilled marine biologist, and get to discover what exactly makes Ningaloo Marine Park and Coral Bay so out-of-this-world-mindblowing. You won´t regret it. Pinky promise!
Handy information part:
To join Capes and his team on his cultural tours in Shark Bay which include 4×4 tours, kayaking tours, and camping tours, head to the Wula Gura Nyinda Eco Cultural Adventures website or Facebook-page and get in touch! Have fun 🙂
Healing tip: To protect our amazing oceans and help reduce our plastic waste, here are two action-steps you can take to reduce plastic in your life:
1. Get your groceries from farmers markets or farmers nearby, which means no plastic packaging, and usually way healthier food for you, so it´s a win-win.
2. Buy as little plastic-products as possible – it´s a challenge, but what a great challenge to take! You might feel inspired by the Zero Waste Lifestyle. Great first steps to take are bringing a reusable cup to coffee-shops and bringing your own bags to do shopping.
3. If you enjoy donating to a good cause: You can find some great organizations who fight to protect ocean-life here.
Back to you, dear reader: Are there any hidden beach-gems in your country that you could share with us? And who are your country´s Indigenous people/ tribes? As always, would love to hear from you! Also, feel free to get a copy of my latest e-book “How to feel at home while traveling” here, if you haven´t already. It might just make your next trip that little bit sweeter/ more sensual and relaxed 🙂