Planning on visiting W.A?
If you want to discover the best bits of Western Australia, must do things and travel tips, read on! With all the grandeur and enormity of WA this blog only just scratches the surface of all the amazing things you will see and do along the way on this 1 week tour. For the rest you will need to find out for yourself!
Starting and returning in Perth, this 7- day Perth to Exmouth tour with Autopia Tours took us through the most incredible parts of Western Australia. If you didn't know already, W.A is an extraordinarily beautiful (and enormous) destination to travel. With red pindan dirt, white sandy beaches and turquoise water, the largest state in Australia has a lot to brag about, and its not hard to see why!
Perth to Kalbarri Western Australia
We started our journey in Perth, after about a 3 hour drive we arrive at our first destination, Nambung National Park – home to the beautifully alluring Pinnacles desert! This desert contains multiple limestome formations scattered across the desert floor in all directions, it feels as though you have momentarily stepped off this planet and into another world!
The golden yellow sand and sheer amount of limestone formations make the Pinnacles Dessert and extremely photogenic and curious destination to visit as there are still unclear debates surrounding how exactly they were formed. A few people think they are tree's preserved by time through layers of rock and sand that pressed them into their current form. Others say it was due to calcification (meaning they were formed as a result of a period of extensive solutional weathering). Although the Pinnacles are still subject to debate, we do know is that they are geologically unique to this area and millions of years old which just adds to their uniqueness!
Tip: Don't wear anything too warm on day 1... even leggings were too much. Walking around in a desert is well...you guessed it. Like walking in a desert!
After spending about 2 hours wandering the Pinnacles Desert we headed on to Jurien bay, a short 45 minutes’ drive away to have lunch by the water. This relaxed fishing town is blessed with perfectly white sandy beaches, sunny skies and clear blue waters - an ideal spot for our first lunch stop!
Tip: Bring a towel so you can eat lunch right by the beach, the water here is so clear if you have time its ideal for a quick dip!
We had a lot of driving to cover for first day (well, there’s a lot of driving in general – WA is Australia’s largest state after all!) so we shortly commence our 2-hour drive to Geraldton to do a quick shop for drinks, snacks and anything in-between. By 7pm we reach Kalbarri, after enjoying a BBQ dinner we settled into our accommodation for the night at Rock Lobster YHA.
Kalbarri to Monkey Mia
We started day 2 early so we could catch the glorious sunrise at Kalbarri National Park. Kalbarri is a seriously underrated park, with deep red gorges and fantastic panoramic views. Kalbarri is certainly a must-do on your list for WA. After watching the sunrise at Natures Window (the perfect lookout for Murchison River below, a photographer’s dream!) We continue our trek down the Z-Bend and (for those willing) have the opportunity to abseil down the limestone cliff face. Cole from Kalbarri Abseil was fantastic, hilarious and kept everyone feeling safe and secure as we rappelled down, an awesome way to remember Kalbarri!
Tip: Bring $40 cash if you would like to do the abseiling, trust me its worth it!
After exploring Kalbarri some more, we continued upward to Shark Bay, visiting the rare and wonderful phenomenon of Shell Beach. Replacing Sand, Shell Beach is entirely made up of billions of you guessed it, tiny white sea-shells! This white canvas turns the hypersaline water into the most inviting shade of turquoise – however the waters here can be up to 4 times as salty as the ocean so not ideal conditions to swim in!
Still, Shell Beach Western Australia is a pretty remarkable place to visit with only a handful of beaches around the world that match its exclusivity.
We end the day at Monkey Mia. Think of a dolphin paradise and wildlife oasis perfectly melded into a dream holiday resort and there you have RAC Monkey Mia – our accommodation for the night!
Tip: Head down to the Monkey Mia pier later that night after the sun sets, its the perfect place to spot turtles and dolphins away from the crowds.
Monkey Mia to Coral Bay
Despite its name, Monkey Mia is an ideal location for spotting friendly bottle-nose dolphins that swim right up to you on the shore! There are feedings from 7:45am to noon where feeders pick you out of the crowd to hand-feed the dolphins.
Tip: I recommend wearing something bright and colourful to enhance your likeliness of getting chosen! They only choose a handful of people from a large crowd.
Raise your hand if you want to feed a wild dolphin!
Beside dolphins, Monkey Mia is famous for its beautiful beaches, marine playground and inquisitive wildlife that wander the sandy shores.
We leave Monkey Mia early afternoon and make our way to Eagles Bluff, a spectacular lookout over the water. It’s a great place to spot dolphins, sharks and even dugongs that like to feed on the abundance of sea-grass in the area. We then continue onto Hamelin Pool, were we stop at the stromatolites, the worlds oldest “living fossils” formed from colonies of microorganisms. These rock-like formations are among the oldest forms of life that exist on our planet some reaching up to 3.5 million years old!
After stopping off at roadhouse we head to Carnarvon, allowing us time for a quick shop before we make our way onto the breath-taking Coral Bay, located on the famous Ningaloo Reef.
Snorkeling Coral Bay
Day 4 we wake up in Coral Bay, a marine paradise with an abundance of beautiful coral garden and pristine white sandy beaches – a snorkeling haven just as the name suggests! There are plenty of optional activities to do today, I chose to do something I have been eagerly waiting for the entire trip – swim with the manta rays. These playful filter-feeders can grow up to 5.5m wide, making them amongst the largest creatures in the ocean.
Manta rays are majestic and elegant underwater dancers that are just as inquisitive as you in the water! We were lucky enough to swim with three, one of which showed off a graceful barrel roll right before our eyes. If you get the chance, definitely do this optional extra, we chose Coral Bay EcoTours who also provided us with some incredible photos! You have plenty of opportunity throughout the day to snorkel along the coral reef too, we swam with multiple turtles, reef sharks and even a dougong and her calf along with many other amazing things!
Tip: Although Coral Bay EcoTours will take (epic) underwater photos for you I suggest bringing an underwater camera or gopro with you each snorkel- trust me there are plenty of amazing things to video down there! Not just when swimming with the Mantas either!
For those on the tour who did not wish to swim with the Manta Rays there is plenty of time to explore Ningaloo Reef at your own leisure. You can choose to do a boat journey, stroll the beach, check out the shark nursery or snorkel metres off the shore. After a day of swimming, snorkeling and exploring Coral Bay’s paradise we head off to Exmouth, only a mere 1 hour away!
Exmouth is the eco-adventure capital of Western Australia and is certainly unforgettable. If you’re here during May to July you have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to swim with the Whale Sharks.
What to do in Exmouth Western Australia
Whale Sharks are the gentle giants of the ocean, growing up to ten metres long these friendly filter feeders’ are the perfect companion to swim next too! We headed out for the day with Exmouth Diving Centre who were amazing. The crew are great fun and provide you with heaps of information about the whale sharks and how best to swim with them – think of a mini underwater army drill! On board is a professional videographer and photographer to help capture every moment too so you’ll never forget this fantastic encounter. Our day was especially choppy due to high winds, so make sure you’re a competent swimmer before booking a tour with these guys!
Tip: We went on quite a choppy day, if you get sea-sick easily take some tablets with you! Also don't bring a banana aboard the boat - apparently they are banned ... don't ask me why.
If swimming with the biggest fish in the sea isn’t your thing – the rest of our tour group spent the day exploring Cape Range National Park. This place is ideal for hikers, with rugged limestone ranges, breathtaking canyons and 50km of pristine beaches. You can choose to relax on the beach or go snorkeling in Turquoise Bay (yes, apparently its as amazing at it sounds!)
Exmouth to Northbrook
Day 6 we start our drive down from Exmouth to North Hamptom, be sure to have a great book ready to read, music to listen to or movie to send you asleep… because this is the longest drive yet! We have few small stops along the way to stretch our legs before we arrive at a Mango Plantation at Brumbaks. Here you can enjoy some home-made mango and chocolate ice-cream before we continue on our way. Arriving at NorthBrook Farmstay around 6.00pm, we settle in and enjoy dinner and beer by the campfire. NorthBrook farm has lots of room to play, and the owner is so easy-going and friendly! They have a rescue pet camel and baby donkey that are just the sweetest things and love some wheetbix and cuddles in the morning... if that's not enough to convince you to stay there I don't know what is!
Tip: Got netflix? Download some movies from there while you have wifi... you will need something to watch as this is a massive day of driving. Don't forget there is no cell reception out there for hours!
Northbrook to Perth
Waking up in the beautiful farm-stay, we commence our last day of the tour leaving just after breakfast at 8am, we drive to Geraldton, a beautiful sea-side town that has hosts a memorial commemorating the HMAS Sydney – Australia’s greatest navel tragedy, a legacy to the disappearance of 645 young men on board.
Our next destination is a just a short trip up the road, and one of the best visits yet! Greenough Wildlife Park is a rescue, rehabilitate and release wildlife park home to maaaany beautiful animals! This is by far the best, and interactive wildlife park I been too! For a very small donation you also get the opportunity to cuddle the cutest baby joeys... and even hold one of their snakes (if you are game enough)
Tip: Bring some cash with you, feeding the animals is free however holding them will cost you a small donation of $10. I happily paid after seeing all the amazing work they put in to save these animal plus.... baby joey!!
But its not just Kangaroos and cute baby joeys! The wildlife rescue park is home to many different animal and talkative bird-life... including a crocodile, ostrich, pigs and the cutest alpaca's.
The very last stop on the tour is Lancelin, Australia's premier sand boarding destination. Autopia covers the fee of renting a sandboard so everyone has a chance to do ride down these huge white dunes! If you're like me and think hey I can snowboard surely I can do this... Then think again, sand-boarding is HARD! It also really takes it out of you... you have the option of sitting down, which most people did or you can just soak in the beautiful views of contrasted blue skies and white sand!
Tip: Make sure you ride down a smooth surface, notice all the little pit holes in the sand? That's where people have stacked it... avoid those runs!
We arrive back in Perth later that night, after an epic 7 days on the road covering the very best W.A has to offer. If your considering travelling to Western Australia, I wholeheartedly recommend this tour! It covers so much in a week its hard to believe there is still so much of Australia yet to see.
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