Jun
13
2015

West is best for adventure – try these four ideas for your next road trip in Western Australia

By Australia / Broome / Perth / Western Australia /

Comprising an entire third of Australia, there’s plenty to do out West when it comes to travel adventures. Try these experiences for size …

Photograph the pinnacles

Where: Nambung National Park, 250km north of Perth

THOSE with a burning desire to capture the world through their camera lens will relish the chance to photograph the Pinnacles at sunset.

These dramatic limestone formations are up to five metres tall, having formed 25,000 to 30,000 years ago.

Wind, rain, sun and vegetation have sculptured these dramatic structures over time. Top photographer Ilya Genkin advises using polarising filter and a low level shooting point to achieve brilliant shots at any time of day, but avoid shooting on dark, moonless nights or extremely rainy or cloudy days.

“The Pinnacle formations are best photographed in the early morning or late afternoon as the play of light brings out the colours and the extended shadows of the formations delivers a contrast that brings out their features.”

It’s even worthwhile taking the scenic drive a few times to get a feel for the best morning, evening and night shots. August to October is the best time to visit, as the days are mild and the area’s gorgeous wildflowers blossom.

Visit the Bungle Bungle Range

Where: Purnululu National Park, east of Broome

EXPLORING the black and orange striped domes of the Bungle Bungle Range in the Pernululu National Park is one of nature’s gifts.

Check out the endless number of beehive-shaped rock formations, hidden valleys, rock pools, and gorges lined with palm trees. The domes stand between 200 and 300 metres above the woodland and grass covered plains, making it one of the Australian Outback’s great wonders.

The scenery is mesmerizing, yet perhaps the most mind-blowing thing is that Indigenous people have inhabited this area for generations and the rest of Australia and the world didn’t even know it existed until about 30 years ago.

Margaret River Discovery Tour

Where: 270km south of Perth

FOR the adventurous at heart there’s everything from caving and mountain biking to horse riding and cultural tours, but one can’t visit Margaret River and put aside a day for the Margaret River Discovery Tour.

The tour includes a 4WD journey through the bush, a stroll out to the Willyabrup Cliffs on the Cape To Cape Track, a paddle on a canoe down the beautiful Margaret River and a gourmet lunch at a magnificent winery.

The company’s Sean Blocksidge says it’s all about going off the beaten path and linking the area’s great outdoors with why the wines in the country’s south west are so special. Not only do visitors enjoy a unique wine and scenic touring experience but they uncover locations that most locals don’t even know exist.

Treetop Walk

Where: Walpole, 250km south east of Bunbury

BEING amongst the tree top canopy of some of the tallest timber giants in Australia truly is a breath of fresh air.

The Valley of the Giants treetop walk enchants visitors, taking them to the top of 400-year-old giant red tingle trees, which are only found within a 15km radius of Walpole.

The 600-metre walk leads over a deep gully, educating and allowing its visitors to explore the area’s most ancient, intriguing and majestic trees. The views that await once you’re 40 metres off the ground and watching over the forest as these giants have done for centuries are simply breathtaking. It’s no wonder why it’s the most visited place on the Rainbow Coast.

This tour offers the best of both worlds as afterwards the Ancient Empires Walk takes you beneath the canopy and you pass some giants which are over 15 metres round at the base. The path gradually ascends into the treetops, making it suitable for people and children of all ages, including those with wheelchairs and parents with strollers.

SCOTT PODMORE & BRIANNA PIAZZA

Feb
24
2015
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Nature’s best in Western Australia – five unmissable natural attractions

By Australia / Broome / Perth / Western Australia /

SO you’ve jumped in a Perth car rental for an adventure in Western Australia. The problem is, you’ve just lobbed in Australia’s biggest state, with an area of more than 2,500,000sq/km, a 12,500km coastline and spanning 2400km from north to south.

For an entire state being a third the size of a large continent, quite simply you’ve got to know where to go and we’ve hand-picked five unmissable natural attractions while you’re on the road in WA.

1. Cable Beach (pictured, photo James Morgan)

Could there be a better way to catch a sunset than by cruising along on the back of a camel on pristine white sand stretching 22km? We think not. The beach is steeped in beautiful Broome’s history, earning its name from the telegraph cable laid between Broome and Java in the late 19th century that connected Australia’s secluded North West with the world. Stay at one of the resorts near Cable Beach or visit for the day from Broome, take a swim, jump on a boat cruise or just meander on one of the planet’s most beautiful beaches and catch a stunning sunset.

2. Ningaloo Reef

When you get a chance to go swimming with whalesharks in the gorgoues waters of the Ningaloo Reef on the mid north coast, you grab the opportunity with both hands – and your flippers! This part of the earth is home to whalesharks between April and July and tours from Coral Bay or Exmouth provide the opportunity to take a dip and float with the whalesharks, which are the biggest fish in the world. But that’s not all. You can also swim with manta rays, dolphins, colourful tropical fish and see rare turtles and migrating humpback whales.

3. Valley of the Giants

Such a name might turn any unsuspecting road tripper completely around and heading in the other direction, but fortunately these giants are peaceful, tranquil and beautiful. The Valley of the Giants Treetop Walk puts you in the sky to see some of the tallest timber giants on Earth – Western Australia’s tingle trees. Climbing 40m into the forest canopy and wandering through the treetops for 500 metres, the walk trail is set up to maximise views and minimise impact. Just a four hour drive from Perth, this experience is 15 minutes east of Walpole, on Western Australia’s south coast.

4. The Pinnacles

They say this place is “like walking on the moon”. A two hour drive from Perth, the lunar-like Pinnacles form one of Australia’s most interesting natural landscapes that evolved over millions of years. Tall limestone spires rise out of the yellow desert sands of Nambung National Park, just outside the coastal town of Cervantes.

5. Rottnest Island

Rottnest is a short ferry ride from the mainland from Fremantle, Perth’s Barrack Street Jetty and Hillarys Marina. It boasts 63 beaches, 20 beautiful bays and many coral reefs and wrecks to enjoy some of Australia’s best swimming spots, snorkel trails and surfing. A good idea is to cycle around the island where you’ll encounter the world renowned quokka.

SCOTT PODMORE

Dec
31
2014

Seven stunning lookouts in Australia

By Australia / Broome / New South Wales / Northern Territory / Queensland / South Australia / Tasmania / Victoria / Western Australia /

WHEN it comes to lookouts Down Under, there may not be another country in the world that matches Australia for sheer diversity and absolute stunning sights whether be inland or coastal. We fetch seven from throughout the continent to consider during that next road trip.

1. Staircase to the Moon (WA, pictured)

One of the world’s great mystical wonders for sightseeing, visit Broome in the north-west from March to October and you can witness the Staircase to the Moon, a natural phenomenon when the moon rises over the mudflats at Roebuck Bay at low tide.

2. Echo Point (NSW)

The famous view of the Three Sisters in the Blue Mountains is one of the best in the world, let alone Australia. Situated on the north escarpment of the Jamison Valley. An absolute stunner.

3. Mount William (Victoria)

Mount William is the highest point in the Grampians National Park at over 1100 metres and offers 360-degree views of mountain ranges. Make sure you have plenty of energy in the tank to walk to reach the summit, and also have two glasses and a bottle of wine in your backpack for when you get there.

4. Cradle Mountain (Tasmania)

Take your pick when it comes to Tassie, but one of the hottest spots for some beautiful views is Cradle Mountain. The scenery is outstanding, overflowing with mountainous peaks, bushwalking tracks and a beauty that’s hard to top anywhere in the world.

5. Bungle Bungles (Western Australia)

One of Western Australia’s most fascinating landmarks, there are a number of great viewing spots in the Bungle Bungle range in Purnululu National Park. There’s nothing quite like this area anywhere on the planet.

6. Point Lowly Lighthouse (South Australia)

Head north about 400km from Adelaide and you will stumble upon this beauty in Port Bonython. The lighthouse is at a point jutting into the north end of gorgeous Spencer Gulf.

7. Best of All Lookout (Queensland)

The name says it all, so how could you possibly avoid the Best of All Lookout in Springbrook National Park in the sunshine state? Absorb panoramic view across Mount Warning, the lava plug centre of the erosion caldera of the extinct Tweed shield volcano, to Byron Bay and Coolangatta. This is one lookout to rule them all.

SCOTT PODMORE

Nov
11
2010

Broome to Cape Leveque

By Australia / Broome / Darwin / Northern Territory / Perth / Western Australia /

A HOLIDAY in Broome and the far north coast of Western Australia requires more commitment than any other destination in Australia. This sunny, sparkling city is more akin to an island resort than a bustling hub – totally isolated, surrounded by wilderness, and possessing that chilled ‘manana’ attitude that pervades the South Pacific.

Getting here is not only a chore, but it’s expensive. You either have to take the long haul up the coast from Perth – ideal if you want to take your time and have the luxury of a campervan rental campervan rental in Western Australia – or trek across the Gibb River Road from Darwin via Kununurra: once again, the perfect adventure for 4WDrivers with plenty of time on their hands.

But what if you only have a week of precious vacation, yet still want to see something beyond the town itself? While Broome is a pleasant distraction for two or three days, once you’ve thawed out on stunning Cable Beach, watched the sunset, taken an obligatory camel ride and visited several pearl farms, there’s not a great deal more to do than relax by your resort pool. Not a bad thing in itself, but not everyone’s cup of tea.

Instead, head north to the Dampier Peninsula and Cape Leveque, an amazing destination for people dreaming of that true Robinson Crusoe experience in one of the most beautiful places in the world. Two hundred kilometres north of Broome, access is via Aboriginal land on a largely unsealed (and corrugated) road –a 4WD is necessary, with correct insurances in place. En route there are some fascinating stop-offs, such as the church at Beagle Bay, decorated with mother-of-pearl shell.

Another well-known Aboriginal community is Lombadina, the first on the peninsula to promote tourism. The beach here is mind-blowingly beautiful, and you can join indigenous tours including mud-crabbing and traditional fishing.

While there is simple accommodation available here, most people choose to stay at Kooljaman Resort at Cape Leveque, a wilderness retreat with a range of accommodation to suit every budget. All profits from the resort go back into the two Aboriginal communities that run it, with conservation projects ensuring the environment stays pristine.

Kooljaman has found that nice balance between luxury and wilderness. For those who like their creature comforts, there are stunning safari tents built on hillside decks, all with en suite bathrooms and kitchenettes. At the other end of the scale are thatched beach shelters – as basic as it comes, but unbeatable for views, fresh air and access to the ocean. There’s a store to stock up on supplies, while a new restaurant is the ideal place to watch the legendary Kimberley sunset.

And in the morning, you’re likely to have the whole beach to yourself. Not another footstep to be seen on the sand … pure bliss.

ANGELA DE LYON

Jul
21
2010

Perth to Broome Campervan Tale – Grey Power Touring

By Australia / Broome / Perth / Western Australia /

On the must do list was finding out what it was like to join the “grey army “that travels around the camping grounds of outback Western Australia and escapes the Melbourne winter.

In May 2010 We convinced friends to join us – 4 people, two vans and plenty of open road. As non-seasoned campers the starting point was the DriveNow website to look at options for Campervan Rental in Western Australia.

Being chardonnay travellers we settled on a Mauri motor home with on board kitchen shower and toilet facilities. The planned route over 30 days was Perth to Broome via the coast and inland to Tom Price and the Pilbara region.

The DriveNow website made arrangements easy but we arrived at the Maui office in Perth for check in with some trepidation. The efficient reassuring staff provided a DVD of the on board facilities and their operation -gas /taking on water /power/and the toilet discharge.

First task was to turn right out of the Maui site onto the 6 lane Great Eastern Highway. Fortunately a generous driver sensing a novice in charge of a van gave way and we were off on the great adventure! We headed to stock up with supplies at the supermarket – A parking spot nowhere near any other cars was definitely the way to go at this early stage!

On the highway driving the van was effortless with our initial destination Crevantes on the coast 250 km north of Perth and home to the world famous Pinnacles Desert of natural limestone structures.

The Crevantes camping ground set the scene for many days to follow- connect in power /fill up with water and then join in “happy hour ” which goes on for more than the hour.

Then onto Port Dennison and Horricks. Both small fishing villages with camping grounds near the water.

HMAS Sydney Memorial Geraldton WAThe first major town is Geraldton site of the memorial to HMS Sydney with an outstanding foreshore museum. Scenic flight over the Abrolhos islands a must do.

Next stop Kalbarri 500km from Perth . Another idyllic seaside town where the pelicans come in for their morning feed and a tour into the nearby Kalbarri National park with stunning gorges.

Highway driving is easy although our travelling companions made the fatal error of pulling off the road for sight seeing and promptly became bogged after recent rain. Fortunately the grey army are passing in vast numbers and are well equipped to tow you out . But the number of dead kangaroo,sheep and cattle is evidence of the perils of driving at dusk or night.

Camping sites are all well situated with excellent facilities .The professional campers arrive with all manner of extras -outdoor areas /satellite dishes /portable washing machines etc.

Now to Denham and the world famous Monkey Mia Resort in Shark Bay where dolphins play in the shallows and boat cruises take you to see dugongs (10% of worlds population), giant turtles and dolphins. Off shore is Dirk Hartog island a peaceful retreat.

After 8 days on the road the task of emptying the toilet canister came to the top of the list, but lo and behold the canister was stuck .The frightening thought of a hot sun and maturing effluent was contemplated, however fortunately a roadside mechanic came to our rescue and fixed the problem.

Coral Bay the next site is 1150km from Perth and looks like a set from those beach movies. You snorkel within the marine park with huge fish of all colours and coral reefs and come night-time the local pub is the centre of great nightime activity and a haven for backpackers.

A short distance on is Exmouth and the Cape Range National Park where we camped right on the beachCape Range National Park Exmouth WA without power and water. A real back to nature experience with more swimming in the Ningaloo Marine Park. At the right time of year you can see the world’s largest whale sharks, manta rays and passing whales .Catch fish for dinner. It’s not hard to see why many travellers end up camping here for weeks.

Leaving the coast a long days drive to Tom Price in the Pilbara and home to the huge Rio Tinto uranium mine .A tour of the mine is a must do  with a purpose built town an oasis in the desert.

Nearby more rough camping (as rough as it gets in a 4 star van ) in the Karijini National park with stunning views of gorges and shady swimming pools surrounded by huge red cliffs.

The red dust follows you everywhere. A trip with a 4 wheel drive operator into rough terrain is the way to go as the vehicle shudders itself to breaking point, however the views are genuinely breathtaking.

Back to civilization via Port Hedland (a place to pass through and not stop) and onto 80 mile beach 300 km south of Broome .A camping ground virtually on the beach where many grey army come for 6 months. What can only be described as monstrous beach (a cut lunch required form shore to sea ) produced a monstrous fish caught at dusk. A real lazy haven.

Then on route to Broome a roadtrain spays us with rocks and a cracked window Not bad enough to stop travelling and fortunately the insurance taken out with RACV covers the cost for a  modest premium.

Finally Broome. Great weather for the last 4 weeks becomes perfect. Nothing to do except ride camels on the beach, sip cold drinks at the beach bar of the renowned Cable Beach Resort and contemplate how the “grey army” have got it so right.

Colin C