Spared the pollution of big industries and overdevelopment, Western Australia is still largely unspoilt. True, some of the world’s largest mines operate in the north of the state, but they’re mere pinpricks in an area so overwhelmingly vast it makes almost everywhere else look puny. Think more than three and a half times the size of Texas and you get the idea.
The coastline is nearly 13,076 kilometres (8,125 miles) long and for 2,887 kilometres (1,794 miles) of that you can enjoy a fabulous journey along the Indian Ocean Drive and beyond to explore the Coral Coast.
It’s best to set out from Perth, the capital of Western Australia. You could hire a campervan but all the roads are sealed so any two-wheel drive will do the trip. If you’re not fond of camping, you’ll find plenty of accommodation along the way, unless you are travelling in peak season. In Australia this is around Christmas and Easter. Summer is from December to February and it gets hot – well over one hundred degrees (37.7 Celcius).
By this stage you may be asking yourself “Why should I travel half way around the world just to be upside down and drive long distances on empty roads in a place where the temperature can be quite mean?”
Simple – the nature here is wonderfully unique and you will see nothing else like it anywhere in the world. Also, we Aussies are laidback, easy going, welcoming people who have cute accents and speak a form of English that is almost recognisable even to other English speakers.
Indian Ocean Drive actually starts at the small coastal town of Lancelin, 114 kms (71 miles) north of Perth.
With a population of just 600 permanent residents and lots of vacationers, Lancelin is one of the world’s best wind and kite surfing locations.
Between Lancelin and Exmouth, the northernmost town on the Coral Coast is some of the most gorgeous coastal scenery you will find anywhere, and most of it is uncrowded.
Highlights of the journey include the Nambung National Park, where you can wander around the extraordinary Pinnacles Desert. About ninety minutes north of Geraldton is Kalbarri, a very popular fishing and surfing spot with the added benefit of some great inland gorges to explore.
Once past Carnarvon you enter the realm of Ningaloo Reef Marine Park, the second longest in Australia after the Great Barrier Reef, but a reef that is much closer to shore, in places just a few metres. Coral Bay on the southern part of the reef is a popular and safe family destination, and several hundred kilometres north near Exmouth is North West Cape, and Cape Range National Park which is one of the top coastal destinations in Australia.
Exploring the Coral Coast takes time and effort, but it promises a truly memorable experience to places the likes of which are found nowhere else in the world.