Australia truly is tucked away in the bottom of the world. But for all the talk of it being on the other side of the planet with toilets that flush counter-clockwise (fun fact: not true), Australia is not all that different from the United States in many facets of its history. When it comes to being a young country rooted in the spirit of exploration, opportunity and hard work, the US and Australia share many of the same traits. And perhaps the most notable cultural overlap between these two rambunctious children of the UK is our shared cowboy heritage. Much of the history of the United States rooted in farmers and cattle ranchers living and working off the land to provide for their families while being joined by immigrants looking to improve their lives in a more promising nation. Australia’s Outback history mirrors ours, and that is perhaps no more evident than in Western Australia.
Australia’s largest state, WA is a vast expanse with beautiful beaches along the Indian Ocean, diverse cities like Perth and Broome and a rugged interior dominated by the Kimberley, a swath of land the size of California pocked with steep-faced mountain ranges and massive cattle stations supplying beef to the rest of Australia and parts of Southeast Asia. Much like the American West, WA is home to Australians from other parts of the country who migrated to find opportunities, purchase land or simply for more warmer weather.
I spent a week in Western Australia exploring the coastal area around Broome as well as the wide-open spaces in the Kimberley. In that time, I was taken with how unique the landscape is while shocked that it also reminded me so much of America’s own cowboy history. It is quickly becoming a popular destination for visitors to Australia who want to spend less time surfing and more time hiking, fishing and enjoying the fresh air that you can only find when you’re on a million-acre cattle station.
In this series, I’ll take you through the Top End of Western Australia, from the rocky coast of Eco Beach to the cone-shaped Bungle Bungles outside Kununnura. Buck up, cowboy, we’re going to Australia’s Wild West. But leave your Stetson at home. In Oz, they wear Akubras.
Mike Barish rode horses, flew in tiny planes and hiked across Western Australia on a trip sponsored by Tourism Western Australia. There were no restrictions on what he could cover or how many hamburgers he could eat. You can read other entries in his Australia’s Wild West series HERE.