Why a Sunday in September is no time to visit the West Coast National Park

Last Sunday, Guillaume had some time off work for the first time in ages, so we decided to take a casual drive up the R27 and check out the flowers in the West Coast National Park.

Well, let me tell you, a Sunday in September on the West Coast is CHAOS. We arrived at the park’s gate somewhere around 10am, only to find at least 30 cars already queuing to get in (by the time we left a couple of hours later, a new line extended about 200m down the highway). Luckily the wait wasn’t too long, but naturally, we found ourselves constantly stuck in some sort of traffic.

At one point a long, flat Mercedes raced past everyone at top speed, as though the Postberg flowers would pack their little bags and leave at any given moment. It was really rather strange.

It soon became clear, however, that this sort of inconsiderate and irresponsible behaviour would be the order of the day – people wading through the colourful carpet of wild blooms, despite signboards begging them to enjoy the view from their vehicles instead. Impatient drivers shoving other cars off the road. Loads of people with super long zoom lenses and, of course, an array of smartphones, GoPros and selfie sticks, so desperate for the perfect photo op that they evidently forget to enjoy the moment.

And, I guess this is what made me really sad: people obviously hadn’t come to the park to see the flowers, they had come to snap the best shots. They weren’t immersing themselves in the scenery, they were viewing it through the confines of a lens, a screen, a preconceived social media post. No true memories were being made, only the kind that would pop up on Facebook a year from now.

Guillaume and I escaped the crowds and found a quiet(ish) rock overlooking the sea to enjoy our picnic lunch and contemplate the never-ending rush the world seems to reside in.

A little earlier, we’d stopped at another lookout point where we came across a plucky tortoise. It was cruising along, completely oblivious to the human influx all around it, munching every flower and sprig of grass that appeared before its eyes. We watched it for a long time, delighted and intrigued. A little further along the path we spotted another one, slightly bigger, testing out its 4×4 skills on some rough and rocky terrain. While I guess tortoises don’t have too many emotions, he seemed to be taking great joy in finding a path entirely new and unknown.

“What a lucky little guy,” Guillaume said. “He has all the time in the world to explore.”

We both agreed that, while the flowers are totally worth a viewing, we’ll never visit the West Coast National Park on a Sunday in September again. In future, a mid-week day of leave it will be. And maybe, like the tortoises, we’d actually find some time to explore without the car behind us trying to climb in our boot.

Despite the fact that I don’t have a long lens (or even a camera) and we never found a great spot to photograph the flowers in all their glory, I did manage to capture a few pics. Here they are:

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And… just a bit of fun with Snapchat 🙂

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