Mount Nameless - Tom Price

Top 5 Things about Western Australia

We had many discussions before deciding what our top 5 things about Western Australia would be. The fact of the matter is, it was really hard to pick just five things. Western Australia is huge and has so many fantastic aspects to it; there was a lot to think about.

 

A Geraldton sunset...

 

The history of WA is pretty interesting. Unlike most of the other states, the Swan colony started off as a free colony instead of a penal colony where convicts were sent. The capital was supposed to be Albany but ended up being Perth because of the fertile soils of the Swan River. We loved how big the state was – WA is the biggest state in Australia and if it was its own country, it would be the 10th largest in the world! It is ten times bigger than the UK and is bigger than Texas, California, Montana, New Mexico, Arizona and Nevada all put together!

 

The sunsets were undoubtedly spectacular, and any beach along the west coast is an ideal viewing spot. There were lots of places along the way that we fell in love with – tropical Broome, funky Fremantle, the kooky Principality of Hutt River, the magical Stonehenge in Esperance, the massive meals at the Denmark Tavern and the burgers Alfred’s Kitchen. One thing we noticed when we stayed with friends in build up areas was that nearly everyone keeps egg laying chickens in their backyard. We don’t know whether it’s because eggs are expensive or whether they’re doing their bit against factory farming but we loved it!

 

 

So, without much ado, and in no particular order, here is our Top 5 for Western Australia:

 

National Parks

You can’t dispute that WA has some amazing national parks. Karijini National Park is probably the most well-known park with its beautiful gorges, waterfalls and swimming holes. We were really sad that we had to leave Karijini early due to heavy rains.

 

One of our favourites was Cape Le Grand National Park. We were originally going to skip it but a local insisted that we go. We are so thankful because it is one of the most beautiful places in Australia. We also loved the red soil and dynamic coastline of François Péron National Park.

 

Other national parks that are definitely worth a mention are Kalbarri National Park with Nature’s Window, Purnululu National Park and the Bungle Bungles, and Mitchell River National Park in the Kimberley.

 

 

Shark Bay

Shark Bay was added to the World Heritage list in 1991 because it displays biological diversity, ecological processes, geological history and natural beauty. We spent about a week in Shark Bay and were blown away by the scenery and wildlife.

 

On your way in, stop at Shell Beach and marvel at the turquoise waters lapping at the blinding white shores made completely out of little cockle shells. If you have a 4WD, head to Steep Point and stand on the westernmost point of Australia. Camping at Whalebone Bay was $10 for the night and is a magnificent place to watch the sunset before you head into Denham for a beer at the westernmost pub in Australia. Make sure you visit Ocean Park and learn about the surrounding marine wildlife from a safe but super-close distance.

 

 

Beaches

Western Australia has over 12,000km of coastline and most of it is made up of picturesque beaches. Hellfire Bay at Cape Le Grand National Park was by far the most beautiful, while Shell Beach in Shark Bay was also spectacular.

 

Cable Beach in Broome was great because not only were we allowed to take our clothes off in the nudist section, but we got to watch the camel rides during sunset. Greens Pool near Denmark and Coral Bay both had an abundance of colourful fish right near the shore and were great for snorkelling.

 

 

Fremantle Prison

We did all the tours at Fremantle Prison. For some reason, we were absolutely fascinated with the place – the history of how and why it was built, the stories of stupidity and escape – and we wanted to see every part of this remarkable prison.

 

 

Breweries

Western Australia has some fantastic breweries. Little Creatures in Fremantle is absolutely fantastic and offers the works – interesting tours, delicious food and awesome beer!

 

In Kalgoorlie-Boulder, we were lucky to find Beaten Track Brewery, and learnt a lot about the beer making process and what hops looks like. Cheeky Monkey in Margaret River and Duckstein in the Swan Valley were also great breweries to visit, for both the beer and the atmosphere. Matso’s Brewery in Broome really blew our socks off with their chilli beer and their Smokey Bishop dark lager. We enjoyed it so much, we went there twice in four days!

 

 

Leo Cummings Monument Lookout

Top 10 Things on the Eyre Peninsula

Sunset over Perlubie Beach

SCHNITZEL IN STREAKY BAY

A great coastal town with a beautiful beach, fishing jetty and lots of oysters.  There are cafés and restaurants, but if you are truly gagging for a decent feed, go to the hotel in town on a Thursday night for the schnitzel special.  Check out our post on Streak Bay Hotel Motel.

 

The town got its name from Matthew Flinders when he explored the area in 1839.  He saw streaks in the water caused by oils released by seaweed and dubbed the area Streaky Bay.  In 1839, Edward John Eyre established a camp at a nearby waterhole to refuel during his expedition to Western Australia.  From 1850, whaling and farming were the industry before an oyster factory was established in 1870.  The town was originally called Flinders, but because everyone called it Streaky Bay, it was renamed in 1940.

 

 

A must-see when you get to town is the replica of a record breaking catch – the 5m long Great White Shark that was caught by a young local man in 1990.  The 1500kg shark is a world record catch that was caught by rod and reel with a 24 kg line. Check it out at Stewarts Roadhouse.

 

The visitor information centre is a great place to visit for maps and brochures on the area, and it also has an art gallery inside that exhibits the talents of local artists.  This is where we met Tom and Bella – and they have become great travel buddies as we travel towards Perth.

 

Australia Day celebrations in Whyalla

Check out our post on Whyalla.

 

Beach camping at Perlubie Beach

This was the first beach we had come across with shelters on the sand.  While there was a small parking area behind the dunes, you could drive onto the beach and enjoy the sunset over the horizon.  This is the most popular beach in Streaky Bay and is 2.5km long.

 

 

There are simple toilets and a cold shower available if you don’t mind a fresh one, and the sand is sprinkled with tiny pink and red cone shells that would make a beautiful necklace.

 

Coffin Bay National Park

We enjoyed both the town and the national park.  Both are named after a mate of Matthew Flinders, Sir Isaac Coffin.  The little town has a beautiful estuary and is famous for oysters.  We bought a dozen that were pulled from the water only hours earlier and enjoyed their salty freshness.

 

 

The national park is right around the corner and has some great places to camp.  Make sure you organise a Parks Pass for yourself or get a permit at the entrance.  Check out our post on camping in Coffin Bay National Park.

 

Elliston

This quaint coastal town has a population of fewer than 400 people and is located on Waterloo Bay.  The Elliston Community Hall displays a great historical mural that was finished in 1992, and it is also where the visitor information centre is, complete with op shop and book exchange.

 

 

Next to the Community Hall is a playground and skate park with free BBQs and power points.  We cooked dinner and did some serious blogging before having a Skype session with Dave’s family.

 

A few kilometres up the road is Colton Bakery – a self-serve roadside bakery. You know there’s bread available when a big OPEN sign is out and each of the wood-fired loaves are $4, payable to the little pink tin.  Choices include white, multigrain, sourdough and polish loaves.

 

PORT LINCOLN AND THE TUNARAMA FESTIVAL

Check out our post on Port Lincoln.

 

 

Talia Beach with the Woolshed Cave and The Tub

About 10km off the Flinders Hwy is Talia Beach, a long stretch of white sand next to rocky cliffs that hide a few rock formations.  The first formation is The Woolshed, a large cavern carved into the granite cliffs.  Entry can be a bit precarious so make sure you are surefooted.

 

The Tub is a little further down and is a large crater that is about 50 meters wide and 30 meters deep.  Entrance to the Tub is via a log propped up against the lip with footings carved into it.  There is a tunnel connection to the sea and beehives in the overhanging alcoves of the limestone.

 

 

At Talia Beach, there is a monument to Sister DB Millard, who drowned there in 1928.  This has been erected a few meters from the cliff and provides gorgeous views of the beach and cliffs.  We were on our way down to the beach when it started raining, and after being thoroughly impressed with the Woolshed and Tub, we decided that we didn’t want to spoil the stop with soggy underpants.

 

 

Murphy’s Haystacks

About 40km southeast of Streaky Bay is a hill topped with worn granite boulders, grey, pink and orange.  The formations are caused by uneven weathering of pink granite and are about 1500 million years old.  In the 1800s, an Irish agricultural expert was travelling via mail coach and saw the landmark while passing the property owned by Denis Murphy, thinking they were haystacks.   The technical term form them is inselbergs, which means island mountains.

 

 

We had a great time walking around the big, rounded rocks, and Dave even got on top of a few of them.  Because the rocks are on private property, entry is by gold coin donation at the honesty box.

 

Leo Cummings Monument Lookout

This gorgeous lookout commemorates Leo Cummings, a young 23 year old man from a pioneering family in the Sheringa district who drowned while out on a crayfish boat with his friend Barry and Barry’s father, Eric.

 

In 1959, the “Wangaree” got into troubled water when their buoy line got tangled in the propeller.  They worked hard to free the propeller but lost the anchor and were smashed against the rocks.  Barry made it to shore but went back into the water to help his dad.  Unfortunately, by the time he returned to help his friend, Leo had disappeared and his body was never found.  The monument offers breath taking views of the ocean and salt lakes further inland.

 

 

Lock’s Well

This beach is not made for leisurely swimming!  The ocean is furious but the beach is great for salmon fishing.  Descend 120 metres via a staircase with 283 steps to get to the beach down below. At the top of the stairs is a platform with toilets, picnic benches, parking and a panoramic lookout.

 

The landmark is named after a driller who tried to make a well. He dug down as far as 150 feet and didn’t hit water.  These days, a bore supplies water from 200 feet.