Final reflections on a great road trip to WA. The questions I asked myself at the beginning of the trip have now all been answered ...
We have stayed in three hotels in Perth during this trip and the Duxton Hotel was by far our favourite. This is the place we will stay when we return here. The room has all the usual comforts you expect of a good city centre hotel - including a bath and fast free wi-fi.
A great way of spending our last day here was to drop off the hire car and buy a combo cruise/tram (commentated)/prison (tour) ticket for Fremantle (or Freo as they call it here). IT is lively authentic port with plenty of shops and rstaurants to explore and some interesting history to boot.
Where to Stay in Cervantes - Pinnacles Edge Resort Accommodation Review This hotel is a sister hotel to the Kalbarri Resort, so it felt very familiar when we arrived here.…
Mount Lesueur National Park is one of the world bio diversity hotspots as a result of of its severely impoverished soil and the unforgivingly low rates of phosphorous. 900 flora species grow here - 10% of WA's flora. These are the species that are known too - it is highly likely that others exist in the dense bush that no-one has yet found. It has seven species of Declared Rare Flora. In late Winter to Spring, it erupts into a rainbow of colour and you can see rare orchids and several varieties of kangaroo paw as well as many other beautiful plants.
The road from Kalbarri to Cervantes is 378 kms (4 hrs 7 mins), but offers plenty to see on the way including two "Must Do" attractions: Pink Lake (Hutt Lagoon) and The Pinnacles.
Kalbarri Edge Resort is an excellent place to stay in Kalbarri. The resort is operated on a timeshare kind of basis, so owners come for 4 weeks a year and rent out their apartments for the remainder of the year, paying a management fee. The apartment we had was very spacious with a well equipped kitchen, large gas Jumbuck barbie on the patio, a washing machine and a good sized spa bath. There is also a swimming pool in the grounds. The Tourist Office is just a short walk away as is the beach and a really good little supermarket.
It is 443 kms from Carnarvon to Kalbarri - 4 and a half hours. We get off early and broke the journey at the Billabong Roadhouse - familiar ground from earlier in the trip, but this time, I stopped to take a quick photo of the funny flier for kangaroo burgers and a joke you can get hard copies of for free on request - you just have to love the great Aussie sense of humour. The temperature had dropped a bit today and the wind had picked up, but they told us it often reaches 49 degrees on Christmas Day here and tops out at around 53 degrees in January - definitely a place to avoid in our winter then.
All in all, the Carnarvon Motel was an unexpected mini highlight of the trip. For a room 1/6th of the price of the luxurious Sal Salis Resort we had just come from, we had a comfortable bed, bathroom and all you would expect from a decent motel room. The bonus though was great local company in the bar during happy hour (the beer is very cheap here at $6 a pint) - we cried laughing at some of the good humoured banter. This was followed by a great steak in the "Hot Rocks" restaurant. You cook your steak just to your liking on a hot lava rock at your table.
Exmouth to Carnarvon Coral Reef, Wallabies and The Dish Our last day at Sal Salis started early as we had a 4 hour 38 minute drive from Exmouth to Carnarvon…
We arrived at Sal Salis in good time for a 2pm check-in and were blown away by it. This really is a very special place to stay indeed. It is a digital detox zone (no wi-fi), so forgive me, but I am going to say little more about our stay here beyond the accommodation review. The photos can do the talking and if you want to know more, then add this place to your bucket list and come and discover it all for yourself - I promise you, you will not leave disappointed.
The Ningaloo Reef Resort is fairly small - all apartments and no caravans etc. It has a really great location - all apartments look out onto the ocean and you can walk out straight to the beach from them. The apartment style accommodation is very spacious - we could have fitted another three in ours easily.
It is a long road from Coral Bay to Exmouth and we didn’t really have much time to explore Coral Bay as we were only staying one night and had a drive the next day. I would have liked to take a snorkelling trip, but there were no tours running as it was close to the end of the season here and a Sunday. I am beginning to appreciate just how quiet Sundays can be in WA. Many shops and tourist facilities close up - just like England 20 years ago. It can be difficult to find places to eat on a Sunday too.
We made an early start today on our journey from Monkey Mia to Ningaloo Reef so we could take a pre-booked early morning scenic flight with Shark Bay Aviation. Their “bargain” flight is 40 minutes long and is a really great way to get a different perspective on this vast and largely inaccessible wilderness area. You get superb views of the huge salt works, lagoons, Dirk Hartog Island, Steep Point (the most Westerly point of mainland Australia), sea clliffs and the wondrous crystal clear blue spectrum of the Indian Ocean.
Monkey Mia Dolphin Resort is a great beach front location with dolphin feeding three times a day on your doorstep. The restaurant is extremely good for dinner and serves a good breakfast and coffee in the morning too. There is a good laundry facility and a swimming pool.
A great coffee is always a good way to start the day and Australia is truly expert at it. The flat white at the Monkey Mia Dolphin Resort is particularly good and the ocean side restaurant is a lovely spot for breakfast. A pod of dolphins pops in reliably
The road from Geraldton to Monkey Mia (pronounced Mya) is a long 443 kms - 4 hours 40 minutes if driven straight. We took a brief 44kms (return) detour at Northampton to visit Horrocks Beach because it was billed as a world class beach and won the best mainland beach in Australia award in 2018. The route from Geraldton to Monkey Mia also allows you to visit two more National Parks: The Stromalites at Hamelin Pool and Shell Beach.
Where to see koala bears in WA. The road from Perth to Geraldton is 414 kms - 4 and a half hours. En route though, there is an opportunity to see koala bears, which is a "Must Do". We took all day over the journey, allowing for two stops on the way.
The Ocean Centre Hotel Geraldton wins the award for the most welcoming reception. Apart from giving you a quick friendly round up of all you need to know to make your stay great, you also get a couple of complimentary drink vouchers so you can enjoy a beer/wine in the bar with views out to the ocean.
Polished Perth - capital of a state ten time the size of Great Britain - is as close to the nearest big city (Adelaide) as London is to Leningrad. Perth is a large, clean, modern city much like many others, but its balmy climate, position by the wide, blue Swan River and radiant sunlight bouncing off the skyscrapers gives it a unique charm all of its own. It is, in every sense, very polished with a smart, high-sheen finish.
The Hyatt Regency is a well located, luxurious hotel with everything you need for a comfortable stay in Perth. The free bus to King's Park and the Elizabeth Quay area stops right outside the hotel. The atrium is delightful - complete with a live pianist in the early evenings - but the downside of that is that it is a long way to walk around to your room.
TheQuest Yelverton Kalgoorlie conveniently located apartment style hotel - a short walk from the Main Street in Kalgoorlie and the Tourist Information Office and Museum.. Wi fi is a reasonable speed. There is a nice spa style bath in the room. There is no restaurant here though and no laundry facilities. Our room was up a long flight of steps , which could be awkward if you have luggage to haul up.
It is a long way from Esperance to Kalgoorlie - and an even longer road from Kalgoorlie to Perth (7 hours with one brief stop). This Place is Rough and Tough. With hindsight, we should have spent 2 days in Kalgoorlie which would have given us a chance to visit the Super Pit and also the Flying Doctor Service which is based here, which would have been really fascinating.
Esperance to Kalgoorlie - #DriveYourselfWild It is a 4 and a half hours drive from Esperance to Kalgoorlie, which gives you limited time to explore once you get there, so…
Where to Stay in Esperance - Comfort Inn Bay of Isles Accommodation Review The Comfort Inn Bay of Isles, Esperance is everything you would expect from a Comfort Inn but…
We spent the whole of today driving the 40kms scenic loop that is the Great Ocean Drive, stopping all the way along the route for long walks and lookouts. We have driven along beautiful stretches of coast before in South Africa (The Garden Route) and California (Big Sur Drive), but this was way better than either of those. Maybe because of the intensity of the light here - the sun made the deep blue water sparkle all the way along and the wind gave us really BIG waves - awesome.
The road from Bremer Bay to Esperance (home of Australia's best beaches) was long - very long - and straight. There were hardly any vehicles on it except the odd road train (shortish) which gave you a start as it rushed past. The road took us through interesting sounding places like Jerramingup, Munillinup and Nindilibillup. Up means "place of" around here - I wonder what these places we were passing through were places of ...? They didn't have enough interest to make us stop long enough to find out. We were keen to press on to Esperance and explore all those beautiful beaches. It took us around 4 hours in total to get here.
Qualuup Homestead Wilderness Retreat is the only accommodation in the Fitzgerald River National Park. situated on 40 acres of privately owned bushland in the western side of the National Park, near the town of Bremer Bay. It is 189km from Albany via Devils Creek Rd. and a further
We woke early on the morning of our drive from Albany to Bremer Bay and enjoyed a hearty breaky (pronounced brekkie) at the Three Anchors in Alby. (Hey - this learning the lingo is a real breeze!). A group of other early risers were lifting weights with big grins on their faces outside the cafe. Middleton Beach has a net line set up for swimmers (large marine animals can’t pass through it, but small fish can) and there were half a dozen of them braving the cool morning to have a dip in the ocean.
Dolphin Lodge Albany provides spacious self catering accommodation with a fully equipped kitchen and a washing machine. Our unit (No 10) had three bedrooms - more than we needed, but great if you are travelling with a family. A sea suite for two is $143 pppn (£85) - we were upgraded foc. . The property is located a stone's throw from the Fish & Chip Restaurant that has been voted the best in Australia (for very good reason!).