Top uni student tip: study week is the perfect time to leave the city for a few days.
Potential locations for a temporary office are south to Margaret River or Busselton, or even further to Albany, east to York or... no, probably just York, or north to one of the sleepy seaside towns along the Indian Ocean Drive.
Given the cold weather we (me mate Cameron and I) opted for going north where it was one or two degrees warmer, though you wouldn't know it.
First things first, we actually had to get to the place and we decided to bypass Lancelin's dunes (stayed there already), Cervantes' Pinnacles (stayed there too) and drive the two hours north to Jurien Bay.
The winding drive beside the sea passed without incident until, while overtaking a caravaner, I looked over to see my passenger raise his fist at them. They were Collingwood supporters (their tattoos outnumbered their teeth, plus they had a Collingwood sticker on their caravan) and, knowing how kind Collingwood supporters are, I put the foot down to leave them behind.
I'm going to put this out here and drop a dynamic microphone before walking away and not looking back at you: this is the best drive in the state.
Well, it's the best drive once you're well past the turnoff to Gingin and, be warned, don't go too far north because then you'll start getting to places like Geraldton and, even worse... well, there's not much worse than that. This is the kind of road you want to drive on, but you don't actually want it to take you anywhere, unless of course you're going to Jurien Bay.
Some of what you'll see on the way.
Now if you're from Western Australia I shouldn't need to tell you what Jurien Bay is, but if you're from over east, then I best explain: it's a small town named after a bay in which it resides.
Like Lancelin and Cervantes, Jurien Bay ("Jew-reeee-un Bae" to the locals) jolts awake in the summertime and school holidays when families come in droves to experience the sunlit beaches, wildlife and rocks of the area. But during winter the sun is hidden behind rain-soaked clouds, the wildlife is dead beside the road and the rocks are hard-ly the Pinnacles* of the trip. The good news is that there's less tourists, and for self-proclaimed locals like Cameron and I it's the best we could hope for.
So among catching up with our old mates Rosco and Bluey (we know them but they don't know us), we focused on studying, fishing, camping and taking photos of studying, fishing and camping.
The latter (camping and taking pictures of it) was the first thing to sort out. It was deceptively easy to do so since the grand total of caravan parks in the area is just one. I thought this a bit strange since it's such a big tourist spot, but the caravan park owners didn't seem to mind monopolising the market and charged us very high prices for an unpowered site. The best thing about the park is it's location right next to the town jetty and popular cafe - which is why they put us in the corner of the park, far away from either of these.
With the swags set up we went about the town, listing all the things that had changed since we were the most popular blokes in town.
"The IGA's new," I said.
"Yeah, remember when Barbara owned the only groceries in town? Those were the days," confirmed Cameron.
A couple of locals picked up on our conversation, telling us they didn't know any Barbaras and that "there's only one barber, ay" in town.
"Just like it's always been, ay," I said, keying into the local talk.
"Well not really," one of them said, "there always use to be two barbers until last year. You sure you're from here, ay?"
Fearing that they already knew the answer to that question, we excused ourselves and went to the jetty.
Pulling into the carpark at the jetty, we were confronted by the sight of a Collingwood sticker on the back of a caravan. We parked on the opposite side of the ten bay carpark and stepped out, double checking the car was locked before walking along the jetty.
Like the IGA the jetty was new too, but unlike IGA it stretched out to the sea. It did this in a stylishly curved arrangement of concrete, with solar-powered lights rising above it. A few fishermen (and fisherwomen) were fishing (wouldn't you know it?) at the end of the jetty, but they hadn't caught anything.
Gone fishing. So are the fish. Gone, that is.
Cameron wasn't surprised. "See the lack of stuff around the jetty pylons?"
"Nothing's growing on there. Jetty's too new for it. I reckon we should check out the spots further north, around there." Cameron pointed north, half way up the peninsula that looks west towards South Africa.
We followed where he pointed by driving along the Indian Ocean Drive and turning down a gravel road to the horse club (a place we use to frequent quite frequently). At the end of the road we were confronted with a "no trespassing" sign (we probably shouldn't go in there, but no bother) and a fence (okay, we probably can't go in there) so we turned left down a sandy road. After a few kilometres of four wheel driving in a two wheel drive we had to turn around so Cameron reversed a few kilometres back down the road.
Clearly not enough clearance.
Problem solved, we drove further north and discovered what we had been looking for: the perfect place to study/fish/camp. The name of the place was (and still is) Sandy Cape, and it comes highly recommended. After talking to the caretaker we decided to cancel our booking at the caravan park and stay there the next night.
Local tip: Even if you're not staying at the cape, it's worth calling into. Just turn left down the road that shares the same name (it's around the same place as the 90 km/hr sign north of Jurien) and keep driving. If your car starts taking on water, you've gone too far.
We went out onto the beach, a white sand brown-seaweed affair that was shaped into a crescent, with a sandy cape at its tip. We walked towards this sand dune which, quite curiously, had a nice boardwalk. While Cameron went down to the beach on the other side of the cape, I went about inspecting this boardwalk. It was a bit odd really, just floating on top of a dune all by itself, the closest path (read: gravel road) half a kilometre away at the camping spot.
Despite its isolation from any other pathways, it was a great spot to watch the sunset from. Of course, any watching of sunsets depends on a great sunset and, while the boardwalk had a good view of things, the overcast sky meant that the view tonight wasn't very good. But perhaps that means better fishing.
I left the boardwalk and headed down the canyon of sand, shaped like a large slide that funneled down into the sea. At this sea I found Cameron walking back along the beach towards me. His fishing rod was pointed out to sea, with his right hand winding in the line. As he approached, he folded down his rod.
"Any luck?" He asked.
"Nah, horrible sunset. You?"
"Caught one fifteen minutes in, but not a bite since."
"Wanna eat it here or back in town?"
"Back in town."
Once back in Jurien we (mostly Cameron) gutted the fish, cooked it in batter, cooked mashed potatoes and disposed of the bad stuff off the jetty. While on the jetty I asked the two fishermen, both wearing hoodies and with their backs to me, "Catch anything, fellas?"
A lady turned around to look at me. I walked slowly backwards down the jetty, my palms raised until I was out of casting distance.
Local tip: While the term "guys" has seen a bit of controversy recently, it is much more preferable to the term "fellas".
After avoiding being hook, lined and sinkered to death by a lady, we finished our dinner and headed to the caravan park kitchen to study for a couple of hours. As we walked back to our swags I noticed a Collingwood sticker on the back of a caravan and two bogans looking down from the caravan window.
We didn't go directly to our swags, but took a long route that wouldn't reveal the location of our site to those three watchful eyes (one of them had an eyepatch).
We eventually got to sleep, dreaming of Dane Swan. It was nightmarish.
Day two to come... if we don't get killed in our sleep.
*it's funny because the rocks out here are called "The Pinnacles". Though, since I've had to explain it, it probably is less humorous.
BONUS IMAGES (i.e. I couldn't fit them anywhere else):
A "Photo Point". What of?
From the jetty.
Shadows on the jetty, but no fish.
My only shot of town makes it look a little... unimpressive.