Shark Bay
Shark Bay was unbelievably blue on so many levels! As with many of my photos of Western Australia, this shot does not do the real view any justice.

After living in Melbourne for a while, you’d think that I would have gotten used to the strangely fickle weather by now. But the instantaneous change from sunny and spring-like warmth to downpour and grey clouds within a few seconds is still an annoying surprise. So by the time mid-semester break at RMIT rolled around, I was ready for a new adventure anywhere as long as the temperature was above the average 15 degrees Celsius (that’s 59 Fahrenheit, for my American readers). Most of my friends at RMIT were headed up north to soak up the sunshine in Northern Territory or at Gold Coast. However, I found myself in Western Australia (WA) with two of my friends also studying abroad at RMIT enjoying one of the most relaxing and beautiful vacations I’ve had in years.

Cottesloe Beach
Cottesloe Beach—a short train ride from the city of Perth. There were so many surfers and families out enjoying the sun, even though it started drizzling later in the day.

Planning. This section of any trip can easily be the most stressful portion to the travel agenda. Once we arrive, will there be transportation from the airport? What hostel is closest to the city? Or do we want to stay closer to the beach? Will breakfast be included? Let’s save money. Should we hit up Perth in a span of two days or three? What if we end up covering the entire city in one day? These questions and a myriad others plagued the three of us as we decided the logistics for our 10 days in WA. Long story short, we decided on Western XPosure Adventure Tours through Peter Pans, a travel company popular with backpackers and conveniently located in every state.

Bus in Australia
This view was pretty typical, as the main cities in WA are spaced out and require drives of long distances—once we drove for a whole day to get to our next destination!

Adventuring. We arrived in Perth two days earlier than the start of the tour to explore the largest city of WA. The moment we stepped into the airport, we picked out differences between Melbourne and Perth! Perth’s Airport was beautifully manicured and evoked a sense of suburbia, whereas Melbourne’s Tullamarine Airport is a confusing mix of metal, gravel, and construction signs; on the drive from the airport to our hostel in the city, we only saw wide open roads—a big change from the famous alleyways and unique Melbourne streets. However, a characteristic shared by the entire country of Australia are the stunning beaches. On this trip, I visited five different beaches, each special in its own way, but all equally as extraordinary.

Sandboarding in WA
Not many people can say they spent their 21st birthday sandboarding! We are pictured here with V, our tour friend from Italy.

In addition to sandboarding (yes, it’s like snowboarding…but on sand), this week was packed with outdoor adventure. We visited must-see tourist destinations like the The Pinnacles, spent loads of time snorkeling and frolicking in the waters of Turquoise Bay, Shell Beach, Coral Bay, and hiked the red soil of Heritage Sites and National Parks. I still can’t believe that I snorkeled only a few feet away from a turtle while watching it come up for air and take its cute little gulps. The vibrant purple, blue, and red of the coral with the diversity of the WA marine life are a combination of colors and shades that can only be summed up as a “you had to be there” moment.

Whale watching
Whale watching at Exmouth was utterly breathtaking—it reminded me about the precious moments in life and how insignificant our worries are in the greater scheme of things.

The Return. I guess this is good practice for December when I return to the States once my time in Australia is over. On the plane ride from Perth to Melbourne, we all carried the strong bittersweet feeling in our hearts—we missed the bustling excitement of the city and the creative diversity of Melbourne, but was it worth leaving our peaceful warm days on the isolated beaches with colorful sunrises and sunsets? Even though we couldn’t carry the panoramic views and beautiful marine life in the WA with us back to Melbourne, the three of us formed an unbreakable friendship and even gained worldwide friends from the tour as well.

Coral Bay, WA
The three of us in the translucent waters of Coral Bay feeling tanned, refreshed, but a bit torn to return to Melbourne at the end of break.

Jodi Huang is a student at the University of California, San Diego and a TEAN Featured Blogger. Jodi is currently studying abroad with TEAN in Melbourne, Australia.