Road tripping through Australia has almost become a rite of passage, it is no longer reserved for grey nomads and their caravans and European backpackers working their way around the country, every man and their dog now takes the time to explore our vast country – and rightly so! We live in a beautiful corner of the world. The road trip that I intend to share with you is the Coral Coast.
For those who don’t know the Coral Coast is a section of coast stretching north of Perth in Western Australia and extending all the way to Exmouth. Starting from Perth I’ll take you on an adventure of some of my favourite spots.
The destinations on this road trip included the capital of Western Australia, Perth, Geraldton, Denham, Carnarvon, Coral Bay and Exmouth. I’ve given an honourable mention to Kalbarri, while we did not stay there overnight it remains one of my favourite spots in Western Australia.
Ok so onto the road we go, first up Perth!
Perth and the surrounding area are very different to that of any of the other capital cities of Australia that I’ve been to. I’m not much of a city person and the laid-back and casual nature of this city made it all the more enjoyable. While I sadly didn’t get to spend as much time in Perth as I would have liked it is definitely a city that I will be visiting again in the near future.
If you’re after good food and wine then treat yourself with a trip to the Swan Valley which is just a 20 minute drive to the east of the city. Here you will find endless vineyards with open cellar door tastings as well as locations selling fresh local produce and restaurants alike. Why not take a day trip and take in as much as the area has to offer.
When you’ve got some time to spare in the Perth area do yourself a favour and head to the south of the city to Fremantle. In Fremantle you will find the well-known Fremantle markets, markets which is home to boutique stores selling everything from hand crafted goods, clothing, homewares as well as a wonderful collection of food stalls. While in this part of the city you might as well walk a few minutes from the markets to the old Fremantle prison. This is an incredibly interesting place to look around! They run a variety of different tours during the day so head in and take a peak around.
Tip: go to the Fremantle Markets hungry, there are so many great food stalls. You can thank me later!
Today our final destination in Geraldton, which is around a four hour drive north of Perth. This may seem like a daunting distance to tackle in the first few days but there are quite a few places of interest along the way so don’t despair. The Pinnacles’ desert is one such place and would be my primary suggestion for a place to take a break. In addition to this about halfway into your trip to Geraldton the coastal towns of Cervantes or Jurien Bay (or both) are worth a visit.
Geraldton itself is one of the larger places that you will visit on this trip. While Geraldton might not be the location with the prettiest beach or the biggest range of activities it still packs a punch. It is however, home to the HMAS Sydney II Memorial as well as having a good local history museum, the Museum of Geraldton. Both of these are well worth having a bit of a look, with the view of the ocean from the memorial showing quite a good lookout and the museum being located in a beautiful part of town.
After another long journey we get to see the wonderful township of Kalbarri. Kalbarri is a wonderful destination that could well deserve a full week because there are simply that many things to do and see. With ocean lookouts to the south and the Kalbarri national park on the other side you are surrounded by things to do. I would wholeheartedly suggest going to each and every little lookout, nook and cranny, it will be well worth your time.
From Kalbarri it is quite a drive to Denham but once you make it you will be happy you made the effort, Sharks Bay is a beautiful part of the world. Denham and Monkey Mia are the main centres of Sharks Bay. Denham the main township and Monkey Mia is where the famous Monkey Mia Dolphins are found.
If you’re feeling a bit more adventurous and/or simply just have a 4×4 off road vehicle a trip into the Francois Peron National Park which is located within the boundaries of the Sharks Bay World Heritage area. Honourable mention of places to check out in this area are the big and little lagoon and the amazing shelly beach!
Tip: find your way to the aquarium just outside of Denham and take a tour around. There is also a restaurant here and take my word, it is worth stopping in also, the meals were delicious!
Monkey Mia is only a fifteen minute (give or take a few minutes) drive from Denham and it is here that the hundreds flock to see the beautiful dolphins that Monkey Mia has become known for. If you are planning on seeing the dolphins – and why wouldn’t you while you’re there – it might be helpful for you to know that there are usually three feedings throughout the morning and these are unscheduled, whenever the dolphins come into the bay this is when the feedings occur.
Carnarvon I’ll admit was mainly just a stopover point so there wouldn’t be a huge drive. It is interesting to note however there is a pretty significant history associated with this area.
The One Mile Jetty is exactly as it sounds – a one mile jetty. It is actually quite worth the walk out there, especially during different tides.
Coral Bay. Wow. This place was something else. Any activity you could ever want you can probably do in Coral Bay. Snorkelling, diving, glass bottomed boat coral viewing, ATV sand dune driving, you name it they probably have it. It is a very unique town in the sense that it feels like you are entering one big resort rather than a town. On a side note for those who may be interested – I certainly found it interesting – the people who live and work in Coral Bay all live in homes which belong to the companies and businesses that they work for.
Here at Coral Bay you can enjoy snorkelling right of the beach but for the more adventurous you can snorkel and dive with manta rays. Now I’m not sure about you but that’s not something I would get the opportunity to do every day.
Tip: spend at least 3 nights, that gives you enough time to do an activity or two each day but also time to relax on the oh so relaxing main beach during the day.
A bit like Coral Bay in the sense that there are so many different things to do here.
Those of you who may know me, would know that while I enjoy it, swimming, snorkelling and diving are definitely not strong points for me, which is a shame because Exmouth is one place where you can do all three. The big drawcard for Exmouth is the annual movement of Whale Sharks in the area.
While in Exmouth I stayed at the Exmouth Escape Resort and I would highly recommend this to anyone else. The rooms were nice and new and modern and provided everything needed and more!
One last suggestion of things to see would be everything in the Cape Range National Park. Grab any brochure from your accommodation and I’m sure there will be a map of the most amazing places. Make sure you stop at Yardie Creek gorge, Turquoise Bay and Oyster Stacks.
Pro tip: try to avoid times during the year that it isn’t too hot, 40+ degree days do not make exploring the many beaches along the coast enjoyable, burnt to a crisp before you know it!
P.s. Watch out on the roads for goats, sheep, Eagles, goanna, and for the love of god don’t try to make friends with an emu!
I hope I have inspired you to explore West Australia’s Coral Coast or at the very least piqued your interest. Thanks for reading and happy adventuring!