Classic road trips: Cape to Cape in Western Australia
By Rob and Vickie Tibbet from RvTrips.com.au
Greetings, as we share some of our favourite photos taken on a recent road-trip from Cape Leveque, down the beautiful WA coastline to Cape Leeuwin.
WA is a massive state, and this trip alone covers more than 3500km. Plan to take at least a few weeks, more if possible, so you can enjoy the journey and see the fantastic scenery unique to this part of the world.
We spent several months and still did not have time to travel inland to the Pilbara, Wave Rock or Kalgoorlie. For us, that will be another trip, in spring, when the wildflowers are in full bloom.
Cape Leveque to Port Hedland
Our first leg is 800km plus, but it covers an exciting stretch of countryside. A day trip for the Broome locals! A two-week trip for us, as we explore Cape Leveque, Broome, Eighty Mile Beach and Port Headland. And some interesting places in between.
Cape Leveque is about 200km north of Broome. We took a day tour from Broome and flew to Talbot Bay to see the Horizontal Falls, then over the Buccaneer Archipelago before landing on Cape Leveque at One Arm Point. A 4WD bus took us back to Broome after a wonderful lunch at Kooljaman. It can be a very bumpy ride back to Broome!
Broome and a camel ride on Cable Beach
Broome itself will take a few days to see the sights. Watch the sunset from Cable Beach, see the dinosaur footprints at Gantheaume Point and stroll around the Broome Markets (fabulous range of local arts and crafts). Go pearl shopping at one of the many outlets, or enjoy a beer at Matso’s Brewery overlooking Roebuck Bay.
Early morning on Eighty Mile Beach
Our next stop was Eighty Mile Beach located south of Broome. This beach is covered in shells; as far as you can see. A beautiful place to spend a few days, relax and or do some fishing. A short walk over the dunes finds you on the beach, all 80 miles of it!
Iron Ore being loaded at Port Hedland
While visiting Port Hedland, we undertook a Seafarer’s tour of the harbour to view large ships and loading facilities. The Seafarer allows crew members on board these huge ships to come ashore for a spot of shopping and relaxation at the Seafarer Centre – amazing service and a great way to see Port Hedland.
Port Hedland to Carnarvon
It is a long way down the largest state in Australia, and the next section took us towards Karratha, Exmouth, Ningaloo Reef, Coral Bay and Carnarvon. This trip added another 1200km or so to the speedo!
Sunrise at Point Samson (near Karratha)
Point Samson is a fantastic place to stop before heading south to Karratha. This pretty peninsula is crammed with brilliant beaches, great fishing spots, heritage buildings, and much more. And witnessing a sunrise from this vantage point is breathtaking.
Baby emus at Exmouth - waiting for Dad
Exmouth has lots to offer, and outdoor exploration is essential. The town is the gateway to Ningaloo Reef, off the coast of Cape Range National Park. Hike in the national park or relax at Turquoise Bay floating over colourful coral, watching beautiful tropical fish. At certain times you can see turtles heading to the beaches to lay eggs.
Book now: RAC Exmouth Cape Holiday Park.
Coral Bay – a real paradise
Coral Bay is where, at certain times of the year, you can swim with manta rays and whale sharks. There is fish feeding most afternoons, and you can stand in the water while large fish feed and dart around your ankles. Coral Bay is a small town, featuring amazing beauty. A very popular holiday destination.
Carnarvon - the Gascoyne food bowl
Local farmers produce a large variety of vegetables and fruit year round, even though the Gascoyne River looks dry – apparently, it flows underground! We recommend you go to Point Quobba to view the blowholes, then take a swim in the nearby coral-filled lagoon called ‘The Aquarium’. Be sure to visit One Mile Jetty in Carnarvon; maybe you will see a turtle too!
Book now: BIG4 Plantation Holiday Park.
Carnarvon to Kalbarri
Next, we travelled to Shark Bay, Monkey Mia, Steep Point and Kalbarri with its vast Zuytdorp cliffs and scenic national park. See the living stromatolites and Shell Block Quarry at Hamlin Pool. Take the boardwalk at Eagle Bluff. There is even a beach formed entirely of shells, Shell Beach! You need to leave plenty of time to explore the area.
Shark Bay, so much to see
The Dolphin Experience at Monkey Mia in Shark Bay is a very popular event. Feeding the dolphins is regulated, and you may be lucky enough to be chosen to offer one a fish. Pictured is Nicki the dolphin, a regular. We also suggest you take the Catamaran Wildlife tour and see other creatures such as dugongs, sea snakes, turtles, eagle rays and tiger sharks.
Beautiful Francois Peron National Park
A must visit, and one of our favourite national parks in Australia! If you don’t have a 4WD, take one of the wonderful eco tours to the top of this beautiful and unique national park. The colours are amazing. Darren ‘Capes’ Capewell runs the Wula Guda Nyinda Eco-Adventure tours, an excellent opportunity to learn more about Aboriginal culture in the area.
Steep Point, as close as I would go to the cliff!
Steep Point is the westernmost point of mainland Australia. You will need a high clearance 4WD and 2.5-hours to travel the 50km of sandy tracks (each way) to reach the point. The landscape is indeed breathtaking. Steep Point is regarded as one of the best land-based game fishing locations in the world!
Nature’s Window in Kalbarri National Park
Kalbarri is located on a picturesque coastline about 580km north of Perth, surrounded by national parks. You will find an array of lookouts along the coast showcasing various cliffs and geological formations. Head into Kalbarri National Park to see ‘Nature’s Window’ and other amazing geological wonders.
Kalbarri to Perth
Next, we headed south from Kalbarri to Perth. The Pinnacles near Cervantes have to be seen to be believed. You can even drive through the Pinnacles, between the rocky outcrops! Another must-see is the Leaning Tower near Gingin at the Gravity Discovery Centre, the premier science education facility in Western Australia.
Pink Lake – Hutt Lagoon
Pink Lake is a salt lake, and the pink colour comes from the presence of carotenoids produced by an algae, Dunaliella Salina. Known for its antioxidant properties, the carotenoids are used in cosmetics and dietary supplements. Even on a cloudy day, Pink Lake looks impressive.
A commercial centre with a beautiful foreshore with plenty of cafes, playgrounds, a waterpark and walking/cycling paths. A highlight was a walk around the HMAS Sydney II Memorial on Mount Scott with a fantastic sculptured dome made up of 645 seagulls to represent each person lost when the ship sank. Other recommendations include the Old Gaol, Point Moore Lighthouse and the West Australian Museum.
Book now: BIG4 Geraldton Sunset Beach.
Dongara and Port Denison
The twin towns are best known for their lobsters. We were visiting during the ‘Larry Lobster Festival’ where you can view the lobster processing plant and witness the blessing of the fleet. There is a beautiful community spirit and lots of fresh seafood to be had! The baker in Dongara makes the best pasties and sausage rolls in WA, just saying!
Book now: BIG4 Dongara Denison Beach Holiday Park.
Guilderton – at times a little windy
Guilderton is located at the mouth of the Moore River. The estuary is closed to the ocean at certain times of the year as reduced water flow allows the waves to create a bar across the mouth of the river (this reopens after heavy rain). This bar turns the estuary into a long freshwater lake allowing birds, fish and animals to flourish.
Book now: BIG4 Ledge Point Holiday Park.
Perth to Cape Leeuwin
While in Perth we recommend you visit the famous Bell Tower on the foreshore of the Swan River, close to the CBD. The tower contains a set of 18 bells hanging in a specially built copper and glass tower. We recommend a walk around the foreshore, past the WACA to East Perth. The spot for coffee and a free bus back to the CBD!
The main street of Fremantle is a hub of activity on weekends with people flocking to visit the markets, Little Creatures Brewery and the Maritime Museum. Other popular attractions include the Fremantle Prison, The Round House and the Esplanade Park. Fremantle is also where you catch a ferry to Rottnest Island or back to Perth CBD.
Busselton is known for its safe beaches and seasonal humpback whale sightings. Busselton Jetty is the longest timber jetty in the southern hemisphere. Enjoy a 1.8km walk or train ride to the Underwater Observatory at the far end. Other attractions include Geographe Bay, the ArtGeo Museum and the Aquatastic Water Park.
Beautiful and green and much more than wineries. We spent the day hopping from wineries to cheese factories to boutique breweries. I even recall the odd chocolate factory outlet receiving some of our patronage! Enjoy the excellent food and wine.
Book now: BIG4 Taunton Farm Margaret River.
Finally, Cape Leeuwin
Near Augusta on the south-west corner of Western Australia is the Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse, the most south-westerly tip of mainland Australia. If you’re lucky, it might not be windy, and you may see humpback whales migrating up the coastline.
Book now: BIG4 Holiday Parks in South West WA.
We have only featured a few sights from our trip; there is so much more to see. Safe travelling.
Special thanks to Rob and Vickie Tibbet from RvTrips.com.au for this wonderful article.