Perth to Geraldton (return)
Heading north of Perth, the Indian Ocean Drive starts in Lancelin and continues north along the coast to Geraldton in Western Australia (WA). The completed route officially opened in September 2010 and includes some of the most iconic experiences on offer in Australia’s Coral Coast, from the unique Pinnacles Desert in Cervantes, skydiving and sea lion charters in Jurien Bay, to the Central Greenough Historical Settlement and the recently revitalised Geraldton foreshore.
Day 1: Perth to Cervantes
Approx 200 kilometres
Travelling north along the Indian Ocean Drive (continue north from Wanneroo Road), the first leg from Perth to Dongara takes you through the coastal town of Cervantes and one of Australia’s most unique landscapes, the Pinnacles Desert. The road into the Pinnacles is sealed, and there is a car park within walking distance of the golden limestone structures, which stand up to three and a half metres tall. After exploring the pinnacles, head to the Desert Discovery Centre to learn more about these distinctive formations. You can also pick up locally made handcrafted souvenirs here.
After visiting the Pinnacles Desert, head to Lake Thetis (located off Hansen Bay Road) to marvel at some of the earth’s oldest living fossils, the stromatolites and thrombolites. Enjoy a leisurely stroll on the nearby 1.3-kilometre walk trail.
After marvelling at ancient formations and living fossils consider visiting the Indian Ocean Rock Lobster Factory for an informative Lobster Shack tour to learn about the more recent history of cray fishing in Cervantes. After your busy day exploring Cervantes, cool off and relax with a swim at Hangover Bay near the Pinnacles Desert or Thirsty Point in town.
Day 2: Cervantes to Dongara
Approx 158 kilometres
Continue your journey north along the Indian Ocean Drive, stopping along the way at the Molah Hill Lookout, which offers uninterrupted views of native bushland and the ocean. Interpretive signage along the path to the lookout provides information about the nearby flora and fauna and an insight into the Indigenous heritage of the area.
Heading further north towards Jurien Bay, Grigson’s Lookout is located in the Leseuer National Park, which is home to 900 species of flora.
Continue north to Jurien Bay and jump aboard a sea lion charter. If you’re more of a water baby, don your mask and snorkel and explore the underwater wonderland of the Jurien Bay Marine Park, which is home to tropical fish, sponges, sea squirts, soft corals, sea lions and dolphins.
More adventurous land lovers will enjoy nothing more than exploring the caves of the Stockyard Gully National Park, which is accessible only by four-wheel drive.
After expending so much energy discovering caves and the coast, treat yourself to a dinner of freshly caught seafood in Jurien Bay or up the road in Dongara. If you're visiting Dongara-Port Denison, we love eating at Southerly's Harbour View Bar and Restaurant.
Overnight: Dongara-Port Denison
Day 3: Dongara to Geraldton
Approx 66 kilometres
Enjoy a coffee on the foreshore or at a café on Moreton Terrace, which is named after the glad of large Moreton Bay Fig trees which line the main street. Once you’ve had your caffeine fix, take a stroll along Dongara’s 1.6-kilometre walk trail of historic buildings.
Head north to the Greenough Central Historic Settlement and step back in time as you stroll through the 11 restored pioneer buildings on site. Browse the retail store for souvenirs or enjoy a meal at the new café. Ellendale Pool is a perfect spot for a picnic under the giant gum trees and rocky cliffs surrounds. This scenic watering hole also has opportunities for bird watching and photography. Additionally, you can stay overnight, however pre-booking is not available.
As you continue your drive towards Geraldton, keep an eye for leaning trees of Greenough. Buffeted by prevailing southerly winds, the trees’ horizontal trunks have become something of an icon for the region.
Day 4: Geraldton to Perth
Approx 420 kilometres
Start your day with a walk in town and a coffee at the recently upgraded Geraldton foreshore, which features a picnic area, playground and water park.
After breakfast, head up to the impressive HMAS Sydney II Memorial. Commemorating the lives of 645 sailors who died in World War II. Located on Mt Scott, this emotive memorial provides panoramic views across Geraldton and the Indian Ocean. Free walking tours are offered at 10.30am daily.
Optional: Consider taking a scenic flight from Geraldton to the Houtman Abrolhos Islands where you can enjoy snorkelling and guided walks. The Houtman Abrolhos Islands feature rich biodiversity in wildlife on land and in the surrounding pristine waters. Shipwrecks and coral reefs offer great snorkelling and diving and weather conditions are often perfect for surfing and windsurfing.
After your day exploring Geraldton head back to Perth. Between July and October, consider stopping at inland towns such as Mullewa, Mingenew, Three Springs and Carnamah on your way back to view wildflowers in bloom.