Starting from Cervantes spanning north, the Indian Ocean Drive (road extension off Perth's Yanchep suburb) offers a scenic journey to the coastal towns of Cervantes, Jurien Bay, Green Head, Leeman, Dongara and Port Denison offering great short break destinations with plenty of things to see and do on the coast and inland.
Perth to Cervantes ( Approx 200 kilometres / 2.5 hrs drive)
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.
Lastly, don’t forget to look up and check out the night skies, country towns are creating special places and protecting dark night skies so you can enjoy stargazing at its best. Head back to Lake Thetis which is a well known stargazing site.
Cervantes to Dongara (Approx 158 kilometres / 1 hr 40min drive)
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 Lesueur 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.
Looking for a thrill, Skydive Jurien Bay is Perth's most awarded and positively reviewed skydiving operation. Offering jaw-dropping views of the islands and reefs of the Jurien Bay Marine Park and Turquoise Coast, a tandem skydive here will be the most memorable experience of every visitor to Western Australia.
Stop in at Green Head and explore the Three Bays Walkway, where you can enjoy a beach walk or swim.
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. or visit the Illegal Tender Rum Co. At this multi-award-winning craft distillery, take an exclusive in-depth tour of the facility with a personal guide who will take you through the distilling process with tastings on offer
Overnight: Dongara-Port Denison
Dongara to Geraldton (Approx 66 kilometres / 45 minutes drive)
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.
Geraldton to Perth (Approx 420 kilometres / 5 hours drive)
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 September, consider stopping at inland towns such as Mullewa, Mingenew, Three Springs and Carnamah on your way back to view wildflowers in bloom.