Road trip Geek fact: Perth is the most isolated city in the world. No doubt about it, the drive from Perth to Broome, whilst utterly breath taking, is a huge journey. You’ll be heading North for over 2500km (1550 miles) into the vastness of Australia’s arid landscape. Epic? Absolutely! Make the effort and you’ll be rewarded by one of the greatest drives in Australia. Impossibly pristine coastlines, crazy starscapes, marine life, deserts, canyons and unspoilt towns with friendly locals. But it’s the ocean and waterholes that will stick with you for life. We challenge you to finish this road trip without feeling a closer affinity to the ocean and the amazing creatures that reside within it.
Australia's only capital city on the Indian Ocean, Perth is truely a happening place. Spilling over with styley wine bars and glorious beaches, it has one of the biggest city parks in the world, Kings Park, and being nestled on two rivers there are gorgeous views of the Swan and Canning Rivers in many parts of the city.
After a gentle stroll in the park, head to Wolf Lane to discover funky cafés, bars and boutiques. And if shopping is your thing, shoot across to the antique and vintage shops that reside in Leederville’s Oxford Street or go to Northbridge for designer fashion, before sipping a coffee or glass of wine in some of this areas chic cafes and mouth watering restaurants.
If you've several days before setting off on our roadtrip, visit the historic port of Fremantle (once the home of the America's Cup) or spend the day wandering the indigenous collections at the Art Gallery of Western Australia, before discovering Perth Zoo, which is dedicated to conservation of Australia's precious and curious wildlife.
Just a hop, skip and a jump from glorious vineyards in the Swan Valley and handy to an array of walks in the Darling Range, Perth is truely a place to get lost in.
Heading North from Perth the sleepy beach town of Lancelin is really where the Western state shrugs off the relative hustle and bustle of Perth city and gives travellers a taste of the real Western Australia. If “Mate” isn’t already part of your vernacular, it’s about to be. The Quirky Offshore Café is where travellers can get a taste of some classic Aussie food, served by great people. Our recommendations for the road: a sweet pastry, a Beef and Cheese Pie and one of their killer coffees or milkshakes.
Like huge white waves, the famous Lancelin sand dunes are as close to a ski slope anyone in Western Australia can hope for. Less than 2 hours North of Perth you can cruise down the dunes on a Sandboard (that’s Western Australian for snowboard), walk them or tackle them in a 4x4. Which ever way, the dunes are rightfully an iconic attraction. Sandboards can be rented at the entrance to the dunes area and you’ll need wax to ensure the best ride. Sunglasses are highly recommended too, and please remember that the sand is hot to walk on and gets in places the sun doesn’t see, (though it wipes off loose clothes easily enough).
Considered one of the ten natural wonders of Western Australia the Pinnacles deserve this prestigious recognition, especially as they have been standing for millions of years. These limestone fingers, some up to 3.5 metres tall (11.5 Feet), rise from the desert like an eerie Martian landscape. And whilst there are no little green men, you can spot Emus and Galahs that roam wild around the formations. Located within the Nambung National Park you can view the Pinnacles either by scenic drive, walking trail or join the coach/4WD tour from the nearest city, Cervantes. In the National Park take the time to check out beautiful Hangover Bay and Kangaroo Point each stunning attractions in their own right.
A quick drive from the Pinnacles, Hangover Bay is a great way to clear one’s head. It’s a big secluded bay and you may well find yourselves the only ones on the beach. If the wind has picked up in recent days seaweed may be strewn across the coastline but there’s ample beach to accomodate this and the sand is as white as snow. The water is superb for swimming and snorkelling and there are facilities handy as well. One question the locals have never heard before: How did it get it’s name?
Is seeing a live Lobster processing plant on your bucket list? No, well don’t let that stop a visit to The Lobster Shack. It’s more than a processing operation, it’s a fishing charter, sea lion tour and lobster pot pulling experience, and it’s a pretty sweet way to spend a few hours. The Thompson family, who run the Lobster Shack, have been catching and processing for Australia’s most valuable fishery for 50 years. Fishing tours of the family’s own untouched fishing ground start at 6am and return around 2pm, the boat is state-of-the-art but check ahead, seasonal fishing bans do apply. In any case, make sure you get your fill in the rustic seafood restaurant. Best. Lobster. Ever.
Seeing the expansiveness of Western Australia’s beautiful beaches and emerald waters from the road is, unquestionably, memorable. Seeing it from 14,000 feet in the air however is truly a life changing, and possibly terrifying experience, but something you’ll never forget. With options offering up to a minute of freefall over the stunning Turquoise Coast and landing directly on the beach, Sky Dive Jurien Bay deliver one of the most fantastic beach landings in Australia. They are local legends and multiple award winners in the adventure tourism industry and they’re super friendly, which really helps when you’re freaking out! They’re freefalling 7 days a week, all year round.
Flat Rocks is a great spot for all surfing abilities, as the conditions are near perfect all year long, (but especially cranking May – September). Your best chance of landing a sketchy slash is with westerly winds or easterly swell directions. There are multiple barrelling left or right breaks with decent frequency up to 1.5 – 2.0m (4.9 – 6.5 feet). The left-hand point break is fairly popular in the peak months so Benny’s be warned. If none of this makes sense, relax Johnny Utah, there’s a sweet viewing deck to just watch the waves from. Chocka.
Depending on rainfall, time of year and apparently, luck, you can’t miss the Geraldton region’s stunning wild flowers. It’s a little unpredictable as to where and when exactly the fields and fields of over 300 species of brightly-coloured wildflowers will bloom, however, the season is typically between July to October. To help, a wildflower report is published when the season officially kicks off. Chapman River Regional Park, Mills Point Lookout, Mullewa and Coalseam Conservation park are all areas that get blanketed by wildflowers.
On 19 November 1941, on return to Freemantle, the veteran light cruiser warship HMAS Sydney was engaged in battle by the German warship Koromoran. Sustaining massive damage Sydney cruised allegedly out of control and on fire before disappearing to the depths of the Indian Ocean around midnight. Not one of the 645 men on board were ever seen again. With glorious scenery, a collection of powerful sculptures - flag-shipped by the stunning Dome of Souls and a wall of remembrance - the HMAS Sydney II Memorial is as beautiful as it is emotive. Young, old, Australian or visitor, this is a truly moving place to see and a fitting tribute to the brave men that never reached the mainland that day.
A weird, but equally pretty dichotomy from the deep emeralds and turquoise blue waters of the Western Australian coast, Port Gregory’s Pink Lake is exactly that. Pink. And quite beautiful. The colour is a result of highly concentrated alga halobacterium that, when conditions are right, accumulates red pigment. Gross bacterium never looked so good.
The township of Kalbarri is encircled by two distinctly different landscapes. East of town are inland river gorges with rock formations as old as 400 million years. The south features towering sandstone ocean cliffs plummeting more than 100 metres to the waves below.
And if you’ve made it all the way to Kalbarri, you’re already a master of West Australian roads, so you may as well command it’s waterways as well. So after exploring the regions pathways, pop into Kalbarri Boat Hire and Canoe Safaris as they offer all manner of rental watercraft from a stand-up paddle board to a motorised dinghy. The canoe safaris (morning or afternoon sessions available) take around 4 hours and the highlight is an awesome, deep swimming hole you can stop at and take a dip in. All craft come with training and there’s no better way to cool off and enjoy the Murchison River. There is no EFTPOS, so bring cash.
The Meanarra Hill lookout is just one of many great spots to gain some perspective on just how huge and unpopulated this big, red continent is. Access is via dirt road so caution is needed if not in 4WD and there is an uphill walk of 300m to reach the lookout, but with wide open views of the Kalbarri plains stretching on for miles it is well worth the effort and it’s totally free. Try some spiritual and meditative ‘Me’ time, bust out a vriksasana or just make the most of an epic selfie spot.
In terms of phenomenon’s of nature, this must rank pretty high. The wild dolphins of Monkey Mia have visited the bay on a daily basis for three generations. There are three feeding times daily (but the first one can get quite crowded so if you have the time, wait for the second or third feeding time). The staff are really passionate about the dolphins and the environment so you’ll not only get to see these wonderful dolphins up close but will learn heaps about them. If you don’t want to get your feet wet, there is a place to view the Dolphins from the wharf which also provides wheel chair access.
In case you’re wondering, yes, Shark Bay is aptly named. But honestly, Speilberg movies barely enter your head when you’re there. The sea life in the bay and neighbouring Monkey Mia are not just the main event for the region, but indeed among the most visually stunning places on planet Earth. Everything here is simply magical. Deep, rich natural colours, a fragile yet harmonious environment. The water visibility is like glass and the marine park life is abundant. Swim with turtles, dolphins, whales, dugong and an army of other sea life. Aim to stay a couple of days to really maximise your time here as there’s plenty of accommodation and above all, it’s good for the soul.
While a little off route from Perth to Broome, 150km (241 miles) round trip from the main highway, the Quobba Blow Holes are well worth the detour if you have time. The rugged land cantilevers over the surf and the pressurised water erupts spectacularly through holes seemingly everywhere in the rock. It’s amazing to see at sunset, but do check the tides as high tide provides the most awesome sights. And please, caution is required (especially with kids) and you may get a little wet from the spray. This is not a place for swimming but Quobba Point Beach is just around the corner and is great for swimming and snorkelling. Or drive a little further north to The Bluff for epic surfing with a mammoth left hand reef break.
A world heritage site, the Ningaloo Reef is the world’s best place to swim with the majestic whale shark, the largest fish in the ocean. (Don’t worry, they can’t eat you). There are several whale shark experiences operating from Ningaloo’s hub town of Exmouth, but Coral Bay Eco Tours are handily located at the base of the gulf and offer a variety of sight-seeing tours, glass bottom boat tours, whale shark swim experiences and humpback whale interactions. Whale shark tours run from March to July and humpback whale experiences August to November. Both of the 8-10 hour tours are subject to conditions, but there’s a pretty high chance of seeing, and snorkelling up close to, a whale shark. You can enter the water with humpbacks when conditions are safe to do so.
Exmouth’s best snorkelling spots, especially for beginners, are located within the Cape Range National Park and there are numerous bays to visit. If you are of average fitness and ability try “Lakeside” which after a 400 metre walk from the carpark offers a 150 meter snorkel that returns to your original entry point. Beginners will also be able to swim / snorkel safely in Turquoise Bay where currents don’t tend to affect the bay itself. You’ll be rewarded with views of beautiful coral fields and get to swim with the plethora of marine life it supports.