I’ve just finished a ten day road trip from Perth up to Broome, Western Australia, and I loved it so much it kind of stunned me into a creative stupor. It’s like I’ve got so much to say, so many great things to share with you all, that I don’t even know where to begin.
In fact, there is so much to write about that there’s simply no way I can fit it all into one post. If I tried, it would seriously take over your lunch break as you read a blog that was approximately the size of a typical Game Of Thrones novel.
I’m not going to put you through all of that so I’m going to break it down into bite sized chunks, which you can enjoy with that tasty looking sandwich you’ve got there.
An Awfully Big Adventure
For those not in the know – which I really wasn’t before I did it – the distance from Perth to Broome is massive. In ten days we drove a total of 4,878 kilometres. That is an absolutely vast amount of distance to cover. It’s the sort of distance that’s so far you can’t wrap your head around it.
This will be a summary of how a typical ten day journey from Perth to Broome could look. If you had your own car and camping equipment, then it would be quite likely that you’d want to spend a lot longer exploring the West Coast. On the other hand, I unfortunately have neither car nor equipment so opted for a tour instead. I travelled on a Western Exposure tour run by Intrepid Travel, which I would highly recommend.
We left Perth bright and early in the morning to drive to The Pinnacles in Nambung National Park about 20 minutes from Cervantes. The Pinnacles are limestone formations rising up out of the yellow sandy earth.
Spookily, some say that the Nyoongar Aborigines believe these jagged statues to be fossilised ghosts. I would be tempted to visit at either sunrise or sunset to witness them in a softer, more beautiful light.
Lunch at Jurien Bay, a small fishing town on the beach, was followed by a couple of hours of sandboarding at Sandy Cape.
You can rent sandboards at the campsite here.
We drove through Geraldton, the largest town from Perth to Broome of about 40,000 people, on the way to Kalbarri where you can stop the night.
We stayed in the Kalbarri Backpackers hostel. On the way we called in at Port Gregory’s lagoon to catch the sunset. Due to its high sodium levels the colour of the water in the lake is a distinct pink colour.
We were up in time to see a beautiful sunrise over the harbour in Kalbarri.
We entered Kalbarri National Park soon after daybreak to explore the Z Bend Gorge when the air was cool and the flies at a minimum.
We walked down into Z Bend Gorge to abseil down a 35m cliff edge with Kalbarri Abseil.
Before admiring the view of an ancient river bed from Nature’s Window.
We stopped to charge up on coffee at a cute coffee caravan at Jack’s Point in Kalbarri before embarking on the drive up to Denham. Along the way we saw an echidna and emus on the roadside.
We called in at Shell Beach near Shark Bay just before sunset to admire the beach that was completely made up of shells.
We spent the night at Denham backpackers, which was situated right on the seafront.
By 7.45am we had driven to Monkey Mia to watch wild Indo Pacific Bottlenose dolphins being fed. These dolphins have been visiting for over 40 years, but are strictly monitored so that only the same four females receive food so as not to teach any of the youngsters bad habits.
The dolphins are fed three times in the morning and the volunteers choose members of the crowds to feed them. Wait around until the last feeding, when the visitor numbers are fewer, for a greater chance of being picked.
Afterwards we admired the view from Eagle Bluff where you can look out for all kinds of marine life in the shallow water below.
We tried to spot dugongs, sharks and sting rays from up above.
We called in at the Stromatolites at Hamelin’s Pool, which are the oldest and largest living fossils on Earth. Living microbes that build the stromatolites are similar to those found in 3,500 million year old rocks which are the earliest record of life on earth. Hamelin Pool is one of only two places on earth where living marine stromatolites exist.
After Hamelin’s Pool we drove through Carnarvon and sampled locally made mango ice cream as this area is abundant with banana and mango plantations.
We wound up at Coral Bay Backpackers, which was a fun hostel with a pool and a bar.
Coral Bay is situated on the Ningaloo Reef and you can treat yourself to many different marine tours. I chose a day trip with Coral Bay Eco Tours to swim with manta rays. I snorkelled with 3 turtles, saw 20 reef sharks on a cleaning station, a pod of dolphins with a baby, floated over a turtle sanctuary and then swam with two manta rays. It was an astonishing day full of amazing sights.
We then drove to Exmouth and headed for a campsite called Yardie’s Homestead. Here we stayed in ready-erected tents, but there were also spots to pitch your own tents or pull up the campervan. You can hire snorkelling equipment from the camp shop here, plus put fuel in your car on the campsite.
That night we took a walk on the beach to admire the billions of stars in the Milky Way overhead. Caroline Fisher took this absolutely outstanding photograph of our group sitting under the stars.
The beauty of camping is that you can wake up to the sunrise. It may sound rather tortuous, but when the days get hot you’ll be grateful for an early start to get out an explore before the temperature rises too much.
This morning we went for a walk and a bit of a scramble through the rugged, limestone ranges of Shothole Canyon in Cape Range National Park, followed by a much needed cool-off swim at Pebble Beach.
We spent a relaxing afternoon in Exmouth, which is about 50km away from Yardie Creek Homestead, where you could swim in the pool, take a walk or generally chill in the park.
…as the adventure continues! I will share the further four days with you in a separate blog, complete with lots of great pictures.
Have you visited the West Coast of Australia? What was your favourite destination? What would you recommend as a must see or do? Share your experiences of this fantastic trip with me.