Geraldton, with a population of over 40,000, is the largest Western Australia city north of Perth. With all the sophistication of a city and the charm and warmth of a regional town, you need to schedule a few days here as part of your road trip. There is plenty not to be missed.
Being on the spectacular Coral Coast of WA the first thing everyone thinks of is the marine wildlife and aquatic sports but the coastline has a rich history and I always think that it’s important to try and do a town in the right order to get to its heart, so let’s start there.
History and Heritage
- Pay your respects to the traditional custodians of the land, the Yamatji people, elders past, present and emerging.
- Victoria District Hospital and Old Goal – As I always advise, head straight to the local information centre for some paper maps to get your lay of the land, yes, they are still better! And check if there are any special events during your stay. In Geraldton, you can tick off this beautiful colonial and historically important building at the same time. Next door is the old Goal which is both a museum and craft centre.
- The Museum of Geraldton
- HMAS Sydney II Memorial at Mount Scott – This is a moving tribute to the entire crew of 645 men who were lost in November 1941, protecting Australia from a German raider boat
- St Francis Xavier Cathedral – even if you are not people that would normally take in the local churches you should make an exception here. St Francis Xavier’s is a corker, and it’s better if its splendor comes as a surprise, so no more said.
- Batavia Long Boat replica – Down at the Marina unless you are lucky enough to be passing through on the first Sunday of the month when it goes out for a sail, then it’s out the front of the Museum.
- Point Moore lighthouse – like a lot of things in Geraldton this still working cast-iron lighthouse is not only WA’s oldest but probably its most unique.
- Greenough town – 24 km from Geraldton, visit on your way into or out of town. Effectively a ghost town now, the precinct administered by the Australian National Trust has 11 buildings and is probably Australia’s best-preserved pioneer village. There is also a great wildlife park within the vicinity of the town.
Marine life, aquatic sports, beach fun
- Take a sunset cruise. WA sunsets are a highlight of traveling this vast coastline, Geraldton has good offerings and it’s a lovely way to see the coastline.
- Houtman Abrolhos Islands National Park – 60km from Geraldton is an archipelago that in 1629 the British East India Ship “The Batavia” was wrecked within. The remains of the wreck are in the Shipwreck Museum in Fremantle and a replica of its long boat is in the Geraldton Museum. You can read the amazing story of the Batavia, of which the scuttling of the ship was just the start of the story, in Peter Fitzsimons Book – Batavia. The archipelago was made a National Park in 2019 and is considered by Dr. Christopher Surman, Marine Ecologist and author of the book ‘Houtman Abrolhos – A Natural History’ to be Australia’s Galapagos Islands due to the unique bird and marine life. To travel to the island you can either take a cruise or a light aircraft flight.
- Beaches – There are 10 beaches in Geraldton – All are great for swimming, 6 are surf beaches. Sunset, Pages, Point Moore, and Separation Beaches are the best for snorkeling off the beach. All 10 beaches have car parking and quite a few have BBQ facilities.
- On the foreshore, there is also a water park, especially popular with the littlies.
Wildflowers – July to September
Best places to see the blooms are the Chapman River Regional Park, Mills Point Lookout, and the Mullewa Wildlife Walk and the 2.5km Bushland loop. In Mullewa make sure you also have a look at The Church of Our Lady of Mt Carmel which was designed by Monsignor John Hawes, the same architect who designed St Francis Xavier Cathedral in downtown Geraldton.
Eat and Stay
Try some of the pubs around Geraldton – the best of which are The Geraldton Hotel, the Freemason’s Hotel, Skeetas and Cutler and Smiths.
There is a great vibe along the foreshore with restaurants and cafes, wander around and make your choice.
There are two convenient Holiday Parks in Geraldton – Belair Gardens and Drummond Cove. Both are good.
You will have a terrific time in Geraldton, just make sure you have allocated enough time, it’s a good place to reprovision and recharge.