After a frustrating flight with Qantas (our inflight entertainment was broken, should have saved the $ and flown Scoot), we landed close to midnight in Perth. I took the decision that hiring a car this late wouldn’t be a wise, so we took a taxi to the Aurum Airport Apartment (extremely clean and comfortable). In the morning their free airport shuttle deposited us at the airport car rental. After many years of renting through Avis, my husband cleverly signed up for Avis Preferred. I don’t know why we hadn’t signed up to this free service earlier. It allows you to bypass the queues and go to the posh hut where you can claim your ride.
Driving Perth to Geraldton
Two hours north of Perth along Indian Ocean Drive, is Cervantes, the gateway to Nambung National Park. We stopped for lunch at the Lobster Shack. I had pictured a New England style lobster hut but in reality it was a huge restaurant, filled to the brim with Chinese tourists enjoying lobster. From here, we drove to see the mighty Pinnacles Desert in Nambung. The Pinnacles are limestone pillars made from shells and the seabed, there are various theories on how they were formed. Needless to stay they were stunning. It’s best to park up and explore first the Visitor’s Centre. Then enjoy the scenic walking trail which takes you up close and personal with the Pinnacles. Afterwards it’s fun to drive the rather sandy driving trail.
A further 2.5 hours North is the seaside town of Geraldton. We spent the night at the Zebras motel, which had an African lodge theme of course! We headed to the town centre and ate at L’Italiano, overlooking Champion Bay.
The next morning I was on the hunt for coffee, an art the Australians do so well. We had a delicious breakfast at Salt Dish, I couldn’t help myself to the ubiquitous smashed avo.
Although an Australian friend remarked ‘why on earth are you planning to go to Geraldton?’, I found the town quite charming. The Museum of Geraldton is very interesting, especially the moving exhibit on the HMAS Sydney. On 19 November 1941, the Sydney was involved in an act of warfare with the German ship, Kormoran. 645 souls died and the wrecks of both ships were lost until 2008.
After the museum, we headed to the HMAS Sydney Memorial, which commemorates the loss of all those onboard. Not only is the memorial beautiful, as it’s perched on a hill, you gain superb views out to Geraldton and the ocean.
Forty minutes north of Geraldton is the old mining town of Northampton. The small town has the feel of an bygone frontier town. There are some interesting antiques shops along the main street. In the back room of one family store, we stumbled upon a Sewing Machine Museum! For me, my Northampton highlight will be the most delicious Vanilla Slice I have ever eaten. Promise me you’ll head to the Shearing Shed Cafe and have one. Their sausage rolls and coffee are also excellent.
Bellies full of vanilla slice heaven, we drove the next four hours north to Denham. The scenery along here is stunning. Australian desert on one side and ocean on the other. Lucky for us we were visiting during the famed wildflower season and the fields of florals were as uplifting as all those advertising promos have you believe.