After over two and a half years of living on the East coast of Australia, it was time to see why they all say, “The West of Australia is best.” With high expectations, 15kg of clothes, a camera and an adventurous spirit I was ready to take on an 8 day road-trip from Perth to Exmouth and back with Red Earth Safaris.
Kalbarri National Park, Western Australia.
Monday – Day 1
An early morning pickup from the Old Swan Barracks backpackers set the pace for our week of exploring with Neil (our guide) and the rest of our group onboard Red Earth Safaris. We began to make our way North along all of Perth’s beautiful coastal towns – Fremantle, Cottlesloe Beach & Scarbourough Beach. As we cruised along I could already tell that WA was different then the Eastern beaches… first of all – they were completely empty! Beautiful crystal clear waters, untouched sands and views out into the sea for miles – I could tell I was going to love this place!
As we continued driving, we made our way to the first stop of the day, which was the Yanchep National Park. Amongst the Yanchep National Park is the perfect place to spot koalas, kangaroos and most importantly to visit the Crystal Caves.
Koala friends in the Yanchep National Park.
After lunch we set off for our evening accommodation in Cervantes, but not before checking out the Lancelin Sand Dunes close by. These sand dunes are perfect for sand boarding, making sand castles, and sand angels! We have about an hour to play around in the sand and catch some awesome photos!
Lancelin Sand Dunes.
Our accommodation for our first night on the West Coast was in a small coastal town of Cervantes where the beach is just a short walk, and you can see sea lions close to shore. Before dinner we have the chance to explore the area, go for a swim or freshen up for the night.
Just before dinner we made our way to the Nambung National Park to watch the sunset over the famous Pinnacles Desert. This was one of the highlights of trip — my travel mate (Allan Dixon) and I didn’t hesitate running around taking loads of silhouette shots, playing hide and seek and testing out my dance skills. At sunset you get a spectrum of yellows, oranges and red’s reflecting off the naturally formed Pinnacles, which creates the perfect opportunity for stunning photos.
Silhouettes at the Pinnacles Desert, Nambung National Park.
Following sunset, we made our way back to our accommodations for a nice group meal, and an early bedtime – that way we were all refreshed for an early morning the following day! Goodnight WA – you are beautiful!
Tuesday – Day 2
We departed Cervantes, and headed to our first stop of the day, which was the Greenough Wildlife Park & Sanctuary. We were greeted by the friendly sanctuary staff and given a short tour around the park before being given time to explore on our own.
I easily found a connection and love for one of the albino kangaroos, Sebastian who was bouncing around the park. He is one in 10,000 of his kind, and was an absolute sweetheart. In order to ensure he doesn’t get sunburnt he even had to wear sunscreen on his ears!
Sebastian the Albino Kangaroo, Greenough Wildlife Park & Sanctuary.
Within the sanctuary you could also see kangaroos, wallabies, snakes, emus, camels, birds, crocodiles and dingos! It was so much fun exploring the park, feeding the animals, and taking heaps of selfies!
At the end of our visit as we were about to depart Michelle (sanctuary staff) surprised us all and brought out the most adorable joey! I nearly died of cuteness!
Our next stop of the day was to Hutt River Province. Out of all my travel experiences over the last couple years, I’d have to say that visiting Hutt River was one of the most absurd experiences yet.
Hutt River Province is a breakaway country located in Australia that was declared an independent province in 1970 by Leonard Casley. This was in response to a dispute with the government of Western Australia over what the Casley family considered wheat production quotas.
You can even get an entrance and exit stamp on your passport when you visit Hutt River!
Following lunch we began our journey up towards Kalbarri National Park and Kalbarri Backpackers, our evening accommodation. When we arrived the lovely hostel owners, and even better 3 hostel dogs greeted us! Kalbarri Backpackers was minutes walk from the beach and had a great BBQ outdoors area. We had the evening to ourselves to explore the area, go for a swim or catch up on some sleep before our Aussie BBQ dinner! One of the best meals of the week… beef burgers, chicken breasts, sausages, kangaroo meatballs and an assortment of freshly made salads! After a long day of exploring this meal went down nicely.
Wednesday – Day 3
Today was a day I had been looking forward to for a while, visiting Kalbarri National Park. We made our way deep into Kalbarri National Park and arrived at the entrance of the Z Bend Gorge. When we arrived we began our hike down into this 400 million year old landscape and got surrounded by sheer cliffs and bouldering rocks. When we arrived at the base we had the option of doing a 25-metre abseil with Kalbarri Abseiling. As the adrenaline junkie I claim to be, I was the first person to put their hand up for this experience!
The most famous part of Kalbarri National Park is Nature’s Window.
Nature’s Window is a wind-eroded opening in the layered sandstone that frames a view of the river.
We departed Kalbarri National Park and began our journey further North towards Shark Bay World Heritage Site. Along the way we stopped at the Billabong Roadhouse for lunch, and had an ice cream to cool off!
Shark Bay World Heritage Site is the setting for a variety of popular WA attractions including; Shell Beach, Hamelin Pool Stromatalites and last but not least, Monkey Mia!
Shell Beach was our first stop in Shark Bay Heritage Site. Shell Beach is very unique to other beaches… as there is absolutely no sand! It’s completely made out of shells, billions of them! Shell Beach is another great spot to find crabs and jellyfish! The water is also extremely salty at Shell Beach, different than any other beach I have ever visited!
Shell Beach, Shark Bay.
As we made our way back to our accommodation in Denham; the Western-most town in Australia, we couldn’t help but utilize a long stretched out country road highway for some epic road selfies! Lucky a car didn’t pass by during that time!
To infinity and beyond…
When we finally arrived at our accommodation for the evening, we had some free time to explore the waterfront, go for a swim… or kayak in the pool!
Goin’ for a paddle…
The sunset over the Western-most town in Australia was breath taking! A spectrum of reds, oranges and yellows, accompanied by the palm tree silhouettes created epic photos.
Denham sunset, Shark Bay.
It was a great evening along the Coral Coast of Western Australia, and with such a great day today, I could not wait to see what tomorrow would bring!
Thursday – Day 4
Clear skies, and a warm Western wind woke us up on our fourth day on Red Earth Safaris. We were off to one of the highlights of the West Coast, and something I had been very excited to experience… the dolphins of Monkey Mia!
Bottlenose Dolphins of Monkey Mia, Shark Bay.
These bottlenose dolphins at Monkey Mia are wild, and have been returning to the same location at the Monkey Mia Dolphin Resort for years on end. It is amazing to see how comfortable they are up against to the dolphin trainers, and how predictable their nature is with the time they arrive at the resort every day. After the dolphin experience we had time to explore the resort, go for a swim, or catch some sun rays on the beach.
We departed Monkey Mia just before lunch and made our way to the Hamelin Stromatalites.
The Hamelin Pool stromatolites are oldest and largest living fossils on earth. Stromatolites are considered ‘living fossils’, part of the Earth’s evolutionary history.
For the real Western Australia country experience we headed off to our accommodation for the night at Warrorra Station. Warrorra Station is an outback sheep station located inland from the Coral Coast. When we arrived at the station, we dropped our bags off into our rustic accommodation and jumped into the back of the trunk and ventured for the beach. Warrorra Station has hundreds of acres of beachfront on their own and you can’t see another person along the beach for miles. We had the evening to go for a swim, enjoy some snacks on the beach, enjoy dinner and catch the beautiful sunset.
Warrorra Station Sunset
Friday – Day 5
Up bright and early after a stormy night at Warrorra Station, and on the road to Coral Bay! After a quick coffee stop, we made it to beautiful Coral Bay. As Coral Bay is located on one of the most concentrated parts of the Ningaloo Reef system, it was an obvious choice to head out on a snorkel trip to explore this beautiful part of the West Coast.
Coral Bay Ecotours took us out for a morning snorkel tour visiting 2 unique spots on the Ningaloo Reef. We jumped on board the glass bottom boat and made the quick trip out from the bay to the reef.
Coral Bay Ecotours snorkel trip on the Ningaloo Reef.
What is unique about the Ningaloo Reef is how close it is from the shore – you can literally grab a snorkel and swim a couple metres out and the vivid colours of the reef and the diversity of marine life will surround you! You sure can’t do that as easily on the Great Barrier Reef!
I couldn’t wait to get my snorkel gear on and jump into the water… in fact I was so eager I was the first one off the boat! The colours of the reef were of the rainbow; we saw turtles, and an assortment of different fish species! The water was so blue; it was like nothing I had ever seen before! At one point when we headed towards the boat deck, the crew began a fish feed and you were swarmed by thousands of fishes!
It was the perfect weather and the perfect morning out on the reef – I can’t wait to come back and experience it again soon!
After lunch we had the afternoon to enjoy the untouched beaches, and crystal clear waters of Coral Bay. I’ll let the photos speak for themselves… I could of stayed here forever.
Coral Bay, Western Australia.
After a very sad goodbye to Coral Bay, we began our journey to our final destination on our West Coast adventure… Exmouth! We enjoyed the journey and made a few stops along the way; catching all those amazing touristy photos at the Tropic of Capricorn!
Wahoo! We finally made it to Exmouth! Exmouth is famous for it’s variety of water and land based activities! Most popular include; snorkeling and diving the Ningaloo Reef, swimming with the Whale Sharks, interacting with sea turtles, spending the day with the Manta Rays, fishing, and exploring the Cape Range National Park. It’s an adventurer’s wonderland and well worth the trip from Perth!
We had an early night in Exmouth, in order for us to take full advantage of our day in the 37 degree weather of Exmouth the following day!
Saturday – Day 6
Today was ours to explore! We all had a nice sleep in and met around 9am for our day – first thing planned was heading to Turquoise Bay! We had the morning at our leisure to enjoy the beautiful white sand, and snorkeling in the area. This place is the definition of paradise.
Turquoise Bay, Exmouth.
After getting our daily dose of vitamin D, we made our way to Yardie Creek in the Cape Range national park for lunch. We had the opportunity to walk along the creek and take in the exceptional views of the park.
Yardie Creek, Cape Range National Park.
Just prior to dinner we decided as a group we wanted to check out sunset over the Vlamingh Head Lighthouse. It was the perfect setting to say goodbye to Exmouth, and reflect over our last 6-day travelling from Perth to Exmouth.
Vlamingh Head Lighthouse, Exmouth.
Our evening was finished off in true country style with enjoying dinner at Exmouth’s famous country pub, Cadillac’s Bar and Grill!
Sunday & Monday – Day 7 & 8
It was time for the long journey back from Exmouth to Perth! We set off at 7am on Sunday morning and headed south. Along the way we stopped to stretch our legs, capture those last touristy shots at some of the quirky roadhouses, and grab a bite.
We arrived at our accommodation in the early evening, and had a couple hours to relax before dinner. Our accommodation was in Northampton at the Old Convent where it is know to be haunted… definitely made for an interesting night and a few stories being passed around! It was our final night as a group and the perfect time to reflect together on how amazing of a trip we had all had along the West Coast.
On Monday morning we arrived back in Perth just before lunchtime. It was a very sad goodbye to the group, and our amazing guide Neil as we all parted ways and continued our wanderlust elsewhere…
The world is yours to explore…
Thanks for the incredible trip Red Earth Safaris; you showed me the West Coast in style, and proved why they say… the WEST IS BEST! I am left with ever lasting memories, thousands of new photos and a new appreciation for this side of Australia.
Photos by Allan Dixon (instagram.com/daxon)
Thanks to Red Earth Safaris!