Explore the region from top to bottom in search of unique species and carpets of everlastings during late July to early October. Stock up your #Insta feed with a holiday that will impress any nature enthusiast.
Perth to Geraldton (approx 415 kilometres)
Head north on the Indian Ocean Way or Brand Highway towards Geraldton, taking a stop at the Central Greenough Historic Settlement. Here, 11 beautifully resorted character buildings tell the story of the area's pioneering heritage from the turn of the 19th century. The area surrounding the settlement is dotted with wildflowers. Stop at the onsite visitor centre for delicious homemade meals or a coffee.
Just nearby, the Hampton Arms Inn is a bibliophile's dream, with many out of print books to browse while enjoying a beer. Also look out for the unusual leaning trees on the Greenough flats, bent low to the ground and growing horizontally due to the strong summer winds in the area. Northwards lies Geraldton, the Coral Coast’s vibrant hub city. Colourful wildflowers of many varieties can be seen on roadside areas on this section of the wildflower tour.
Overnight: Geraldton region
Geraldton to Carnarvon (approx 475 kilometres)
Start early today for the drive to Carnarvon, considered the food bowl of Western Australia. You will you be rewarded with outstanding wildflower displays of parakeelya, purple vetch, northern bluebells and seasonal everlastings. Foodies will also be rewarded with a feast of fresh produce on offer from tropical fruits, chutneys and jams to copious amounts of fresh seafood. After a sunset stroll along the Fascine head to a local restaurant for a meal made of fresh local produce.
Note: From Carnarvon, you may like to consider heading east to find roadsides coloured in the purples and whites of mulla mulla on the way to the Kennedy Range National Park. This park is home to more than 80 species of annual wildflowers. Note that only four-wheel drive vehicles can access the park.
Carnarvon to Exmouth (approx 365 kilometres)
North of Carnarvon at Minilya the riverbanks offer the shade of river gums and coolibah. On the sand dunes, you'll find grevilleas, hakeas and banksias and wattles cap the ridges. Off Burkett Road, station stays are a great overnight stop. The autumn rains produce abundant colourful masses of wildflowers in the area’s fertile red soil.
Continue your journey north toward Exmouth where the coastal plain of the Exmouth Gulf is a predominately wattle shrubland interspersed with occasional stands of mallee near dry creek beds. Bright red yulbah flowers are visible in summer and in winter there's the golden hue of spring wattles, often infused with purple mulla mulla. On your way north, check out Cape Range National Park's Shothole Canyon and Charles Knife Gorge for some ruggedly beautiful scenery.
Exmouth and surrounds
Head around the North West Cape this morning to the spectacular Cape Range National Park, covering 50,581 hectares of stunning limestone ranges, deep rugged canyons and 50 kilometres of pristine beach. It provides habitat for more than 100 species of land birds, native marsupials and around 630 species of flowering plants. Look out for the brilliant red sturt desert pea, which flowers in late winter as well as mulla mullas and native fuschias to name a few.
The Milyering Visitors Centre houses a library with great local flora and fauna reference resources. You'll find particularly scenic wildflower touring areas at Mandu Mandu Gorge, Shothole Canyon, Charles Knife Canyon and Yardie Creek Gorge. Of course, make time for a swim at one of the stunning beaches lining the Ningaloo Reef. Turquoise Bay has copious species of marine life just metres from the shore.
Exmouth to Coral Bay(approx 152 kilometres)
Head to Coral Bay this morning, where the floral displays don’t stop at the seashore. Gardens of coral stretch just metres from the beach to the outer reef at Coral Bay. Don a mask and snorkel and launch off the sand into an underwater wonderland. For unmatched coral viewing, take a snorkel tour to the outer reef where turtles, reef sharks and fish of every colour live in their own tropical underwater garden.
On the 11-kilometre journey into Coral Bay, the flat plains area between Minilya and Lyndon River are good for spotting the shiny dark green leaves and white trumpet flowers of the Minilya lily.
Overnight: Coral Bay
Coral Bay to Shark Bay(approx 556 kilometres)
Rejoin the North West Coastal Highway and head south to Shark Bay, where you can experience the unmatched thrill of interacting with visiting dolphins. At the Overlander Roadhouse, you’re sure to be greeted with an impressive display of everlastings on the roadside. On the drive into Shark Bay, discover the stromatolites, ancient examples of the earth’s evolution and Shell Beach – made entirely of millions of tiny cockle shells.
Shark Bay and surrounds
Today take yourself on a wildflower tour of Francois Peron National Park, where the contrasting colours of the scenery are as vivid as the wildflowers. First stop is the Peron Homestead which offers a taste of life in the 1950s when the area was a working sheep station. Follow the hoof prints of the sheep on their way to the shearing shed and learn about the trade along the way. If you’ve got your bathers, submerge yourself into the natural artesian spa fed with warm water.
Those travelling north of the Peron Homestead will require a four wheel drive vehicle but the dramatic scenery and diverse flora and fauna are worth the trip. The Shark Bay daisy, wattles, Dampiera and purple peas are commonly found, adding a purple hue to the usual red, white and blue landscape.
Shark Bay to Kalbarri (approx 373 kilometres)
Start your journey south to Kalbarri but don’t miss stopping at Ocean Park along the way. Just 20 kilometres south of Denham, Ocean Park is a must for kids and adults! Owned and run by marine biologists, you’ll be gobsmacked by the variation of underwater life on display. Join a tour around the complex of aquariums accompanied by a guide who can share with you the importance of the marine life of Shark Bay. Continue south to Kalbarri, located at the mouth of the Murchison River.
Kalbarri and surrounds
Spend today exploring one of WA’s best wildflower touring spots, Kalbarri National Park covers over 180,000 hectares and includes breathtaking coastal cliffs and dazzling wildflower displays. Deep gorges on the Murchison River contrast with endless sand plains inland. You’ll find an array of flowers mainly in the coastal cliff tops and gorge country, 21 species of which are found only here. These include the Kalbarri spider orchid and the Murchison hammer orchid. Other flowers include river gums, gold and orange banksias, kangaroo paws, grevilleas, starflowers and eucalypts.
Kalbarri to Mullewa (approx 220 kilometres)
Depart Kalbarri early for your drive to Mullewa. Take some time to explore the National Trust town of Northampton and its beautiful buildings including the Northampton Family Store, which still operates as a drapery and general store. Yerina Springs Road, approximately 35 kilometres west of Northampton has a profuse display of orchids such as the donkey, bee, cowslip and rare sightings of the endangered Northampton midget greenhood orchid.
A must for the ultimate wildflower tour is Mullewa, most famous for its carpets of everlastings and the unique wreath flower, which can only be found in the area surrounding the settlement. There are over eight kilometres of walking trails to choose from, each taking in dazzling displays of Western Australian wildflowers as well as the history and heritage of Mullewa. Be sure to stop in at Moorhead’s local artist studio to meet the local Indigenous women who come to the centre to paint and create handcrafted pieces. Their work can also be seen around the town on the various murals that cover local buildings.
Mullewa to Perth (approx 445 kilometres)
This morning check out the Monsignor Hawes Heritage Trail, celebrating the enormous contribution architect/priest John Hawes made to the region. The trail highlights 15 buildings and sights relating to his life in the region, with one of the best examples of his work being the Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.
On your way south towards Perth, take a detour off the highway to Coalseam Conservation Park. Located in the heart of wildflower country, Coalseam is renowned for its endless fields of Western Australian wildflowers. During the flowering season, everlastings transform the otherwise sparse plains into a glorious carpet of colour.
Join the highway again to complete your wildflower tour back to Perth.