To make the most out of your trip you need a car, no question. There is a way to avoid having a car, by staying at the excellent Lancelin Lodge. The Lodge will pick you and your gear up from the airport. Once you are there they have special trolleys for you to wheel your kit to the beach. This does however mean that you are limited to staying in Lancelin. Not a bad way to start a long trip and meet people.
Buying a car
Buying is as tricky as anywhere, you can get some good deals, or some not so good deals. If you are there for a long period of time, and want to buy then hire first so you can look around at a good deal. The local paper in Perth lists loads of cars for sale, there is also a car sale next to the airport every Sunday where many travellers will be selling off their cars. Remember that many of these cars will have done the rounds with windsurfers and surfers. There are also plenty of second hand garages around. When you do buy you will have to get it "rego'd" i.e taxed, and insured. You can pick up a decent car for about $1200 which is about £5-600. Split between two of you, it works out quite well.
Hiring is often a safer bet, but is fairly costly and remember you will doing a massive amount of miles which will add onto the price of a car. Reliability is the benefit of this.
Accommodation depends on what your plans are and where you want to take it. The only place worth mentioning is the Lancelin Lodge, as there are so many backpacker hostels around Perth . The Lodge is a great starting point, and an excellent place to meet other windsurfers. Lancelin itself is a pretty cool town, the Lodge owners are very friendly and helpful, the atmosphere of the lodge is like any Hostel, so it may not suit your needs for too long. You are looking at $20 per night which is pretty cheap! Email them and they will pick you up from the airport.
Camping is the most common type of accommodation, there are plenty of good campsites in Geraldton, One in Lancelin and a couple in Margaret River and Esperence. They are all well sign posted and you can just turn up. For the best camping experience then you have to spend some time at Coronation Beach . Camping involves finding a clearing and setting up camp with all your mates, using the stone fire pits to cook on. The only facility is a dodgy tin shed toilet covered in spiders webs - you get used to it! A warden will come round every now and then to collect some cash. It is important that you don’t hack down the trees for firewood, they save the environment and are your only shelter.
renting a house
If you are there for a long time or are fed up of camping it is quite easy to hire a house or join in with some who have. Doing this you lack the flexibility of just getting up and going. The local papers or Estate Agents will help you out here. Geraldton is probably the best place to do this, since there are a number of different sailing spots and the wind is the most consistent.
Perth is a nightlife mecca there are plenty of nightclubs, for some reason I have forgotten what they are called. The “going out” weekend starts on Thursday and finishes on Sunday with the Sunday Session, an all dayer at the Cott. The Sunday Session finishes fairly early and is covered well on the radio. Geraldton also had a dodgy night club, a couple of nights are popular with travellers. There are also some good pubs, one has a regular open session night which is always worth a laugh. Lancelin is a bit quieter. The Tavern is a good pub. At Christmas, New Years and during the Ocean Classic it really comes alive, there is a stage in the massive back garden with good bands and thousands of people. It goes off! Aside from that every night around a campfire with a couple of tinney’s is a good night! Nights not to forget are the bikini contests. There seem to be a lot of these and are very popular.
If you get a good season with all the travelling to do, then you will be hard pushed to fit in many other activities. If you are into non windsurfing activities then Australia is known for the “great outdoors experience” so there are a lot of things to do, from surfing, climbing, bush trails, bush tucker tours, canoing, walking, diving etc. There are also plenty of tourist attractions such as the Pinnacles (a load of monolith rocks that cause nice shadows), tree walking, kangaroo dodging, wildlife parks. One of the best things is the wine tasting, WA has plenty of excellent vineyards, from Margaret River , to Albany and North of Perth. Also check out places like Wave Rock, Monkey Mia, Walpole National Park and Rottnest Island . All the details of these be found in depth on australian explorer. To be honest, you will generally just stumble on them.
There are plenty of places to eat out, as you would imagine in a place the size of WA, that cover all needs. Worth mentioning for the particularly hungry are Eagle Boys, they do amazing deals including 3 pizzas and a bottle of large coke for less than a tenner. Hungry Jacks in Geraldton is a good place to hang out and make use of the air conditioning when it is too hot outside.
If you are camping then the usual foods are the best, you can get really cheap steak which are great for the many BBQ’s that you will be having. Every campsite has a mandatory Barbie for you to throw a shrimp on.
Best value beer is Carlton Draft. You get beer from a drive through bottleo (everything in Oz has an “O” at the end).
Best value wine is Coulambar, decent red wine! You can get a “Goon Bag”, which is one of those 5 litre boxes for about a fiver.
Wear a lot of sunblock, the sun is very strong and you are staring at it all day!
Don’t embark on a big trip just on the off chance that there might be wind somewhere else, you will end of with a lot of driving and not so much windsurfing. Places like Esperence are unreliable.
Don’t drop in! Euro’s have a bad reputation. Margies is especially known for priorities. Follow the routine, and don’t gybe on a wave before the sailor in front of you!
If planning on staying at Gnarloo and Coronation beach, then remember you will need a lot of drinking water. You can fill up tanks at petrol stations.
Don’t buy a car from another state, you will not be able to sell it.
You will need camping stuff, there are plenty of good shops, but if you buy a second hand car off a traveller it usually comes with it all included.
Get a skinny mast! Otherwise you will be replacing them regularly.
Best cars to buy are Ford Falcons or Holden Commadores.
If travelling to Esperence overnight, then time your fuel stops right, because there are no 24hr stations and you will need more than one tank.
If you have contact lenses then “wet ones” are essential for cleaning hands, as Coronation beach has no washing facilities. You can also get washing soap that works in salt water for doing the dishes.
Get a fly hat for late in the season, if there have been a lot of easterlies the fly’s will make you insane.