Ok...so you may have never heard about this lovely destination, just a handful of hours north of Perth; but it is well worth your time and effort. One might even call it magical. Ancient red rocks adjacent to the azure blue Murchison River flowing into the stunning Indian Ocean. It's about a six hour drive, so three days make for a superb get away, certainly however, more days can be added, as there are a plethora of activities to entertain all types of travelers. To get the most out of your holiday, I suggest departing pretty early on day one, and remember to bring water and snacks as many locations are few and far between.
DAY ONE: Head out from your Perth suburb by 5 am. Yes, it will still be dark, but roads heading out of town are well lit and the chances of critters in your way are less closer to the city, than farther up the road. Take highway 2 North to its end at Twin Rocks, there is really only one road at this point, keep heading North on 60 or what is known as the Coastal Highway. Bring a picnic breakfast, as your first stop will be the Pinnacles for sunrise. It should take about 90 minutes to reach Nambung National Park from the city, find a spot to enjoy your morning meal as the sun crests over the horizon. Kangaroos and Emus will entertain and delight as the golden sand lights up under the sun's rays. There is an entry fee, but at this time of day, the booth will not be manned, you will pretty much have the area to yourselves for some fabulous instagram shots. This is a very small park and easy to navigate on foot.
From here, continue North towards Geraldton on what is now referred to as highway 1. If you need to get any supplies, there are plenty of petrol stations along this section of road. Certainly if you'd like to stretch your legs, there are olive farms and points of interest to stop at as well. Just past Gero, as the local's call it, you will drive into the small farming community of Northampton, which is where you will turn off the main road and head west towards the water. This road is signed, but can be missed. Stephen Street, just past the local museum and before Lions Park.
After 20 minutes or so, you will begin driving adjacent to the ocean again. There is a Salt Plant here, on Hutt Lagoon, and during much of the year, the water is pink because of the organisms living off the high levels of saline. Though there is really no proper signage, there are a few side roads which get you closer to the water for some interesting photos. The smell is a bit off, but this is a huge hit for those who have a social media following. Choose to stop or not, you will be in Kalbarri in another 20- 30 minutes. There are a number of accommodation options, my favorite is the Palms Resort (please contact early for a reservation, or better yet, let me know and I will sort out for you). As you come down the hill into town, take the first main road on your right, Porter, and the hotel will be a few hundred meters down on your right. Arriving around one o'clock, you are most likely going to be looking for lunch, so after checking in, I suggest the Pickled Pelican, which is a short stroll away, across from where the river meets the sea. Spend the rest of the afternoon with a canoe hire or just wander the varied beaches of both the river and the ocean, certainly spending time lounging around the pool at the Palm's is a great option as well. For dinner, Gilgai Tavern begins serving at 6pm, but be sure to make a reservation. It's a block or so away from your room, so easy to get to and fro.
DAY TWO: Kalbarri National Park. Depending on the time of year, you may want to get out as early as possible to beat the heat. The main entrance to Kalbarri is about a 15 minute drive, be sure to bring plenty of water with you, sunscreen, hat and sun glasses, shade is at a minimum and it can get into the 30's and 40's (over a hundred degrees for your fahrenheit folks). Natures Window is a great first stop and short hike, it is also very popular, which is yet another good reason to arrive early. After descending a short staircase, there is a nicely paved trail which takes you to the scenic overlook for Natures Window, where you can also venture farther down off the trail to get that coveted instagram shot like the one at the beginning of this post. There are plenty of trails around this site and you can easily spend a day wandering. Be wary of snakes, bring water, let someone know where and when you are going. Other great hikes, which gets you down into the canyons, are the opposite direction in the park, and well signed, The Loop and Z- Bend. These longer hikes are much better in the winter months, May - September, as the heat can become quite dangerous. Depending on how adventurous you are, you can easily spend the day hiking or head back into town and rent a kayak for the afternoon, take a dip in the pool, or go on a horseback trail ride. There is plenty to keep you occupied and exhausted by the end of the day. For dinner, you will find the Upstairs Restaurant absolutely delightful and comes highly recommended, please be sure to make reservations, and ask for a table out on the deck.
DAY THREE: Heading out the same way you came in, will bring you past a few other Kalbarri locations, including Mushroom Rock and Red Bluff Beach. There is a great coffee stand at the latter, which chairs overlooking the surf, a nice way to begin the day, and both provide some superb photo opportunities. Just past Geraldton, I encourage you to take a side trip into Dongara, and visit Illegal Tender, the BEST rum on the planet. Be sure to stay for a tour and tasting and take home a bottle or two for yourself or for gifts. They have limited open hours, so be sure to check their website first, or contact me to set you up, especially if it is a larger group. If you haven't dilly dallied too long, the next stop is in Jurien Bay, for a sea lion snorkel with Turquoise Safaris. The last 2.5 hour trip departs at either 12:30 or 1:30 depending on the time of year, and will take you another 90 minutes to reach from the distillery, so plan accordingly and be sure to book ahead. Arriving back at the dock by 4 pm, gives you plenty of daylight to get back to Perth by 6:30 if you take the Ocean Road route, or a bit longer if you go inland and take the Brand Highway.
As you can see, there are plenty of attractions to keep you entertained for much longer than three days. Additional add ons might include Yanchep Park, the Lobster Shack, a fishing tour, or even a 4 x 4 sand dune excursion....
You can also easily change around what types of activities you do on the drive up and again on the way back.
I am happy to contact the locations listed to make arrangements for your group, you are also welcome to let them know Una sent you.
This is only a taste of what the Outback Coast has to offer,
I am more than happy to help you get the best of your holiday adventure when choosing to explore the region north of Perth.
Feel free to give a shout anytime, happy travels!