Geraldton is a perfect central hub for people to explore the attractions of the wider region including the Mullewa Wildflowers, the amazing Kalbarri National Park Gorges and Kalbarri Skywalk, the Pink Lakes and the array of beaches up and down the coast.
In 2006 outback cattle station owners, John and Alison Gooch, saw this potential and found their sea change. Now owners of Geraldton’s Shine Aviation, John and Alison are committed to international tourism with many passengers on board their flights to Hutt Lagoon, the Pink Lake, and the Abrolhos Islands visiting from Continental Europe and Asia. Here is their story...
So, John and Alison, what’s your story?
Having spent many years on our sheep and cattle station near Ningaloo, we were looking for a sea change and different opportunities. John had owned aircraft, using them for years on the station to muster cattle and sheep from the air, so aviation was an area of interest. We saw Geraldton and the Coral Coast as presenting lots of opportunities for us to enter into the transportation industry as well as into tourism.
What does a typical work week at Shine Aviation look like?
A week could start with a Pink Lake Fly Over, a favourite with our Chinese guests, where they can see the colours of the lake change and if done in Winter, you may see large carpets wildflowers! Our Abrolhos Island Fly and Flipper is definitely the most popular full-day tour choice. We pack up our Airvan with our customers, along with snorkelling equipment, beach gear and a gourmet lunch to enjoy the isolated Turtle Bay, one of the highlights of the Abrolhos, and found on East Wallabi Island.
The (Houtman) Abrolhos Islands is made up of 122 islands and coral atolls; the islands are rich in marine history (the Batavia shipwreck) and wildlife. The following days might be busy with transferring fishermen and their families to the Islands or to fly direct to meet the Eco Abrolhos live-aboard boat tour. The week could end with the whole package – Flying over the Murchison Gorges, Kalbarri National Park, the Pink Lake - finally landing at East Wallabi on the Abrolhos Islands for a swim, lunch plus seeing native wildlife such as Wallabies and Sea Lions.
What else do you love about Geraldton?
There is plenty to enjoy in Geraldton and a massive growth in the café and events scene! Lots more cafe's serving avo-smash along with new art spaces for events. For our Abrolhos customers, we recommend they visit the Museum of Geraldton as there is a lot of information on the history of the Islands. We have a new art installation at Beresford which is called the Horizon. This is a 1.5metre sphere which was first featured at Cottesloe’s Sculpture by the Sea exhibition and now we have it in Geraldton, which is great.
More about Shine Aviation
Take a journey with Shine Aviation across to the Abrolhos Islands or further north to the picturesque Kalbarri region. Land on an uninhabited island, snorkel amongst coral and fish, view the bird-life or even see if you can spot a local Tammar Wallaby. Enjoy a picnic lunch on one of the full day adventures. Shine Aviation offers a unique and pleasurable experience around the midwest region that you will tell friends and family about for years to come. Enjoying the opportunity to share their local knowledge with you, our experienced pilots act as your personal tour guides. Located at the Geraldton Airport - Gordon Garrett Drive or Airport Road as the locals still call it. Shine Aviation is just a short drive 10 minute drive from the city centre.
What else you can do in Geraldton?
Geraldton has a thriving arts and culture scene that includes the Museum of Geraldton, several galleries and a vast collection of public art. The rich urban street art presence, especially within the city centre, has a considerable number of community-based artworks.
- The Monsignor Hawes Heritage Centre is worth exploring as it features the architectural legacy of Monsignor John Cyril Hawes, who built the St Francis Xavier Cathedral.
- Equally the HMAS Sydney II Memorial located on Mount Scott is worth a visit and best viewed at sunrise or sunset.
- A trip to the Museum of Geraldton, to hear all about the fascinating yet brutal Batavia Story, is a ‘must’ before you head off on your Abrolhos Island trip.
- Latitude Gallery features pearls from Australia and around the globe, but most especially, pearls grown at the Abrolhos, not a bad idea for that holiday memoir!
- Visit Yamaji Art Centre which represents artists from more than five cultural groups. Their artwork is a celebration of this broad diversity, showcasing a range of styles.
- Relax over dinner at Skeetas Restaurant and enjoy the amazing views over the harbour.
If you are travelling around August or September, and want to see WA’s famous wildflowers without travelling too far from Geraldton, just 20 mins drive will land you in the Chapman Valley Regional Park.
Mountain biking is a great way to experience this plethora of nature. Hungry after a walk or ride, stop by the Burnt Barrel Outback BREW-BQ for lunch (please check open times).
Check out the red and white striped Point Moore Lighthouse, Australia's first all steel tower built on the mainland of Australia, back in 1878.
If you are looking for a taste of water sports action, check out Ultimate Watersports operate in this beautiful protected bay area offering Jet Ski hire and tours, Fly board x, Jet Pack, SUP, Kayaking, Tubing, Wakeboarding, Kneeboarding, Skiing, Wakefoiling and more (November to April).
Visit the Geraldton Visitor Centre for more information on what there is to see and do in and around Geraldton.
How to get there
Fly or drive to this thriving coastal city, with approximately a 4.5hr drive from Perth on the Brand Highway, or a 1 hour flight with Qantas.