Beautiful, expansive and dusty; the west coast of Australia is a totally different experience to the usual backpacker destination of the east coast.
Rather than the well trodden, teeming with backpackers and goon that is the east coast, the west coast is quiet, natural and laid back. The hostels were quieter, the driving distances longer, the roads more dusty and the shops few and far between. It’s the perfect route to get a glimpse of how Australia was before it was inundated with travellers.
How to travel the west?
This was my first dilemma. As with the east coast I wanted to take it slow, as after all, travelling slow is way better than travellig fast. However all the tours were about 20 days which is pretty fast.
Lacking my own wheels I looked into public transport. The west coast has a similar bus to the greyhound called Integirty. However the timetable isn’t that flexible and it doesn’t stop at all the key sites.
So I was back to the tours. I decided to break the west coast up into 3 separate tours, spending extra time in Exmouth and Broome. This worked out pretty well for me. It made the route slower, ideal, and gave me a break between tours, perfect to relax after all the early starts and long drives involved in tours. Not to mention time to satisfy the craving for fruit and veg after all the bread and meat heavy tour menus!
I chose to go with Aussie Wanderer from Perth to Exmouth and Exmouth to Broome, and then with Intrepid into the Kimberley’s. I can definitely recommend these tours!
Perth -> The Pinnacles -> Kalbarri National Park -> Shark Bay -> Monkey Mia -> Coral Bay -> Exmouth -> Karijini National Park -> Broome
This is a popular day trip from Perth and while I’m glad I’ve seen it, it’s like being on an alien planet and was in fact used in Doctor Who, it was a little underwhelming and I’m not sure I’d pay the price of the day tours just to see it.
Kalbarri National Park
This is a beautiful place to explore. We did the Z bends walk, the river was gorgeous, and went to Nature’s Window, a natural rock formation that acts as a window out onto the gorge below.
While predominately a place to stay to break up the long drive, while exploring this area we saw the oldest rocks I’ve ever seen and the most stunning sunset on Shell Beach.
Dolphins, dolphins and dolphins. At this resort you they feed the dolphins. You can stand in the shallows of the water as the dolphins come up to the shore line, literally never been so close to a dolphin before. It does get extremely busy so don’t be afraid to rush to the front to get a good view. When it’s feeding time everyone has to stand on the beach so as not to confuse the dolphins, and they pick people from the crowd to feeed the dolphins.
Top tip, if you orders a take away drink from the restaurant make sure you ave plenty of time as they are a bit slow on service! Lucky for my they made up with it by giving me extra marshmallows and biscuits with my hot chocolate!
Small beach town. This is the place to snorkel, see manta rays or swim with whale sharks.
Or as I like to call it, emu central. They are literally everywhere, wandering down the side of the road, mooching around the resorts, exploring the bush land, you can’t go far without bumping into an emu.
Exmouth is the place to see whalesharks. This is one of the best things I’ve ever done and a top highlight in my Aussie travels. It’s not cheap but there are a lot of tour operators to chose from. But definitely do it. I saw 4 whalesharks, a dugong, flying fish, heaps of turtles, a sea snake, and a pod of about 30 oceanic bottle nose dolphins. Lots of marine life. But of course the whalesharks were the star of the show, being able to swim alongside them is just mind blowing.
I unexpectedly ended up with a week in Exmouth, probably slightly longer than necessary but still nice nonetheless. I spent a lot of time enjoying the warm weather by the pool now that we’d finally reached the good weather in Exmouth. I was also lucky to have unintentionally timed my stay to coincide with the annual whaleshark festival. While small, there were market stalls to browse, food trucks and a stage with a variety of acts to watch. Was great to while away a day and feel part of the local community.
Karijini National Park
We spent 2 nights here staying at the beautiful eco lodge. It was a tad cold at night but luckily the tents came with douvets and blankets!
Karijini is all gorges. After sometimes steep and rocky descents we’d wander through gorges walking in creeks, scaling rocks and even sometimes doing a bit of rock climbing! We visited Joffre Gorge, Knox Gorge, Hancock Gorge and Handrail Pool.
When you think of Broome you think of camels at sunset on Cable Beach right?! Cable Beach is beautiful and the sunsets over the ocean amazing.
Sun Down Pictures, the oldest outdoor picturehousew in the world, so of course I had to visit. It’s a great experience. It sits under the flight path so you get the occaional plane flying overhead but it doesn’t ruin the movie. Take mossie spray and a jumper though.
Again, I was lucky to have times my visit totBroome with the full moon which I didn’t realise until I arrived is the time a naturally occurring phenomenon called the stairway to the moon. As the full moon rises the reflection across the mud flats makes it look like a stairway to the moon, hence the name. There’s a cute little market at Town Beach during the stairway, perfect tog et a spot of dinner while you wait. I can recommend the nachos!
We did a lot of camping so a head torch is a must.
Dive/swimming shoes are perfect for Karijini as you’ll be getting wet feet.
Snacks/ alcohol as the shops are expensive on the way up, mostly IGAs.
A good book and some tunes to while away the long drives.