Sunday, March 18, 2018

Western Australia, Road Trip from Perth: 7 Days 6 Nights Itinerary

       Upon popular demand, here is my exact 7 days itinerary in Western Australia. Preferably, get a flight that lands at night (since it is considered a longer flight, 5 hours), so you’ll have time to rest and prepare for the adventures coming up the next day!
Coral Coast road trip
       Honestly, it was a really sudden trip. I had my mind made up on a Thursday morning, did my Visa (it only takes a day! Click here to learn how!) and off I went on a Saturday! 

DAY 1: Rest, Hit the Road and Eat Lobsters

0020    Our Malindo flight arrived at the Perth International Airport. 
     I flew to Perth Intenational Airport from KLIA  with Malindo Airline. It was my first time flying with Malindo and I can responsibly tell you that their onboard service is great, I spent most of my time watching movies and next thing I knew the plane was going to land. Coral Coast Road Trip

0130     Check in
     Checked into Pan Pacific Hotel and spent the night!
     I especially love my spacious room, complete with bathtub and complimentary bath salts. Took a full bath before bed just to revitalize, then sleep in until you are fresh and ready to go! Rooms in Pan Pacific Perth offer scenic vistas of the Swan River. If you fancy a jog in the morning, the river is just a few minutes away!
Perth things to do

1200    Starting our road trip! 
     After a breakfast buffet spread and a quick dinner, we jumped into the Adam’s Coach and started our Coral Coast road trip. First destination, Geraldton.
Coral coast road trip itinerary

1630    Lobster Shack
     From Perth to Geraldton takes approximately 5 hours drive. It is advisable to break up the route with a refreshment stop. We pulled over at Cervantes (2.5 hours north from Perth) to visit the famous Lobster Shack. After a brief introduction, the staff led us into the Indian Ocean Rock Lobster Factory for a quick tour. We ended our visit with a platter of locally sourced cold seafood…
Looking for more excitement:  
- The shack also offers seal and deep sea fishing tours. Feel free to enquire  

1740    Geraldton
     We arrived at the coastal town of Geraldton. We quickly checked into Ocean Centre Hotel, a lovely 4 stars seafront hotel and went straight to the new Marina district for dinner at Skeetas. We had some shared entree along with our main courses.
     Geraldton is a bustling coastal town offering a range of water sports activities. When we were there, the town was quiet but when we woke up in the morning, a cruise ship pulled into the dock bringing tons of tourists.

DAY 2: Flying on a Private Jet


Coral coast road trip itinerary

0815    Salt Dish
     We had a pleasant walk along the foreshore to have breakfast at Salt Dish, a popular coffee place in a charming vintage setting.

0915    HMAS Sydney II Memorial
     Our first destination of the day, the HMAS Sydney II Memorial wasn’t that far from Salt dish. A local Geraldton volunteer tour guide welcomed us with open hands, gave us some valuable insights on the memorial then gave us some leisure time to have a look around.
     The magnificent HMAS Sydney II memorial, completed in 2001, stands to honor the 645 Australian soldiers who lost their lives off the West Australian coast during the WWII (in the battle with German raider HSK Cormorant). This incident remains the greatest single loss in Australian Naval History. All the elements installed in the site have their own significance, even the rippling design of the floor. You’ve to listen to the volunteer guide to know the whole story!
Note: 
- The Geraldton Voluntary Tour Guides Association offers daily tours of the memorial at 1030.
Other fascinating sites in Geraldton: 
- Western Australian Museum-Geraldton
- St Francis Xavier Cathedral

1030    Scenic Flight
     Time for the most anticipated agenda of the day. We arrived at the Geraldton Airport to enjoy our private scenic flight in an 8 seater Airman aircraft. The flight was operated by the Geraldton Air Charter scenic air tour. Before boarding the plane, we chose our wetsuits, flippers and snorkel mask with the help of our pilot.
     Our flight over the island groups was spectacular, with sweeping views of the coral coast, island groups, and the roaring ocean. However, please be aware that this scenic flight lasts around an hours or so, hence it is not for everyone. Those who have motion sickness should prepare some scopolamine. There are emergency bags next to every seat. Those with terrible known cases should avoid this flight altogether and go for a shorter ride.
     We land on East Wallabi Island then walk to Turtle Bay for a picnic lunch (I mean, feast!) of sandwiches. Those who wished to swim enjoyed some free time snorkeling and looking for wild wallabies before flying onto Kalbarri with a scenic flight over the Pink lakes and Kalbarri National Park.
What to bring/wear:
Bathers (if swimming), towel, hat, sunscreen, sunglasses, water, sun protection clothing and comfortable walking shoes.

1700     Kalbarri
     The plane landed in Kalbarri and our coach could be seen waiting outside of the runway. We bid the pilot goodbye and immediately transfer to our accommodation, the Kalbarri Edge resort. 

2000    The Jetty
     We did a casual “take out” style dinner at the Jetty Seafood Shack, overlooking the jetty and marina (add to the Alfresco feel!) There is a liquor store next to the restaurant, so although the Jetty is not licensed, BYO is welcomed.
Coral Coast Road Trip
What to order:
their snapper fish and chips are highly recommended. The Jetty Seafood Shack uses only the freshest and best quality Australian fish. If you enjoy Oysters, feel free to order some (they are huge!)

DAY 3: Adventurous Day

0700    Kalbarri National Park
     Kalbarri is a picturesque town located at the mouth of the Murchison River, surrounded by over 186,000 hectares of National Park, where you can find dramatic inland gorges, magnificent coastal rock formations, a variety of wildlife and a kaleidoscope of wildflowers (seasonal: July- October). If you are here during June to November (annual migration period), you’ll be able to see Humpback whales with their calves near the coastline.
     Since it was summer time during our visit, we set some time aside for the outback. Now its time to hit the trail in the historic Z-bend gorge within Kalbarri National Park to join an abseiling tour. Only about 500m into the hike, we arrived at a lookout point where the gorge plunges 150m to the majestic river below…
    Abseiling is like nothing I’ve done before.  After conquering the 35 m cliff, I literally felt that my limps (and heart) were ripped apart (not because of pain but due to fear!). A “set” provided by the tour consisted of a trail at the 4m cliff, twice at the 25 and 35m cliff (each). This activity is suitable for all from regular adventure seeker to complete amateur or even person afraid of height (like me! )

What to bring/wear:
- A day bag (backpack recommended) with water, hat, sun protection including suitable clothing (shorts and t-shirt), enclosed footwear, swimwear, and towel if swimming and your camera.
What else can you do: 
- Join a Murchison River Cruise, hire a paddleboat or hit the water in a kayak.
- Cycle uninterrupted along the coastline,
- Saddle up for a horse ride at sunset.
Coral coast road trip itinerary
     Next, we hiked further down the river trail to the Murchison River for a relaxing lunch stop and the chance to go for a dip to finish off the unforgettable tour!
     We initially had plans to hike to the Nature's Window (1.2 km return walk from the car park) but ended up didn’t go for it. For those who would like to push the limits, take the 8km Loop Walk Trail beginning and ending at Nature's Window. The hike provides different views of the winding gorge below from several lookouts positioned around The Loop.

1500    Kalbarri Wagoe Beach 
     Probably should’ve called it a day after abseiling? We didn’t think so! With our cool quad bikes, we cruised along the Wagoe beach with sweeping ocean view… not to forget the thrill of riding up and down a pristine sand dune! On top of that, we had a refreshing stop at the Lagoon for afternoon tea, freshly baked chocolate muffins, how nice! If you are not comfortable enough to ride a quad bike, beach buggies are easier to operate (drive it just like any normal cars).
Coral coast road trip itinerary

What to bring/wear:
Comfortable clothes you are happy to get dusty on, enclosed shoes and sunglasses are compulsory. Helmets will be provided.
IMPORTANT:
You have to present your driver's license when signing the indemnity forms (a photo of it is fine).

1830    Natural Bridge
     Before returning to the town center, we made it a point to stop at the Natural Bridge for sunset. The place looks like a mini Ocean Drive as the rock formations reminded me of the 12 apostles.
Where else can you go for magnificent sunset views? 
- Red Bluff Beach
- Island Rock & Pot Alley
- Coastal Cliffs (within the National Park)

2000    Pub
     That evening, we went to a pub to sample authentic Australian Pub food. The portion really surprised me (H.U.G.E.).  

DAY 4: The Curious Destinations  


Coral coast road trip itinerary

0740    Departing early for Cervantes.
    We traveled from Kalbarri to Cervantes, visiting attractions along the way. Without stopping, it would have taken us 4.5 hours

0830    Pink Lake
     First stop, Hutt Lagoon, which is just a 45mins drive from Kalbarri.
     A loooottt of readers asked me, especially about this part. Hutt Lagoon is the official name of the Pink Lake, which is scientifically pink due to the presence of the carotenoid producing algae, Dunaliella salina. The algae is a source of beta-carotene, which is used as a food-coloring agent and source of Vitamin A in cosmetics and supplements. Depending on the time of year, the state of the pink lake changes, so to photograph it pink, you need to go during wet seasons because the lake will only appear pink with adequate water.
     Lucky us, we visited the lake 1 day after a rainfall. Hence, it wasn’t too dry, we still get to see reasonable pink hue. Also, the lake changes through the spectrum of red to bubble-gum pink to a lilac purple throughout the day, depending on the cloud condition at times. According to official recommendations, the best time of day to visit is mid-morning or sundown.

1000    Chapman Valley
     Our second stop was 1-hour drive away, the Chapman Valley Fishing Farm.
     After enjoying a tour of the property, we tried our luck on Barramundi fishing, followed by a delightful tasting session of local prawns and homemade dips. You don’t have to be a pro to try fishing. All equipment and baits are prepared by the fishing farm. Throughout summer, visitors can cast their line at the Barramundi pond or try your luck at the Marron pond. Silver Perch and Black Bream catchings are available all year round.

1220    Haunted Property
     I hesitated a lot between including this in my suggested itinerary or not. Clearly, the infamous Oakabella homestead is not for everyone, especially not for the faint-hearted. The Homestead is a historical property considered by the National Trust as one of the most haunted in Western Australia. Throughout the tour, the tour guide told us stories after stories about how the ghosts came about, the hauntings experienced by other visitors and also some hypothesis on who the ghosts might be.  6 of us went in for the tour but only 4 completed the 13-rooms circuit. So be warned.
     After the tour, we were treated to a homey cafe style lunch of freshly made panini, nachos and toasted croissants, including generous helpings of homemade and local preserves and jams.

1530    Leaning Trees
     Next up was a small curious attraction named the Leaning Trees in Greenough, approximately 50mins drive away along the Brand Highway.
     The bizarre natural phenomenon of the leaning trees scattered throughout the Greenough Shire are the works of strong unobstructed wind from the Indian Ocean blowing through the field. It is thought that the salt content blown in with the wind contributes to the crooked tree trunks as well.

1800    Nambung National Park
     We departed straight for Cervantes right after a quick pull over at Dongora and Port Denison. We checked into the Pinnacles Edge Resort immediately and headed to Nambung National Park! Why the rush? Little did we know, we were going to chase the most magical sunset at the Pinnacles!

     Luckily the resort was conveniently located near the Pinnacles. Our transfer to Nambung National Park took just 15 minutes. Formed over millions of years, thousands of tall limestone spires rise eerily out of the yellow desert sands, and the most amazing time to visit this Western Australian icon, in my humble opinion, is during sunrise or sunset. Some readers pointed out that The Pinnacles is closed after 5 and what we were doing was actually trespassing. Well, to set the record straight, NO. The Nambung National Park is opened 24/7, and the Pinnacles is just a small part of Numbing National Park (so naturally, it follows the opening time of the whole park), just that the Pinnacles Desert Discovery Centre is closed after 5. Visitors are welcomed into the Park after Discovery Center’s working hours but should be careful while driving in the dark and watch out for animals like Kangaroo and Emus.
     We stayed until it was completely dark, and our driver Dianne drove us out attentively. We had a scrumptious dinner at the Europa Anchor Restaurant, the in-house restaurant at Pinnacles Edge Resort.

DAY 5: Sandboarding, Koala and Music for the Soul

Coral coast road trip itinerary

0900    Lancelin
     Visited Lancelin Sand Dunes for Sandboarding!
Honestly, I wasn’t feeling too well on the 5th-day coz I twisted my intercostal muscle. Please don’t ask me how, when, where or how did I even know which muscle coz it’ll take too long to explain. But I can ensure you that there is nothing wrong with the itinerary and I wasn’t too stressed out. It was a self-inflicted pain, hah!
     The Lancelin Sand Dunes is located along our way back to Perth. It took only about 20mins to reach from our accommodation. Although I was skeptical of my ability to surf, I picked up a surfboard whatsoever, and I’m glad that I did. If not, I would have missed all the fun.

1100    Yanchep National Park. 
     My visit to Yanchep National Park was unforgettable… because I’ve got a chance to see one of Australia’s favorite native animals, the Koala!!!! Our indigenous guide Derek did an awesome job introducing the daily routine of the animal while leading us through the 240-meter koala boardwalk. Derek then introduced us the Wanga Mia Aboriginal cultural and helped us to discover the culture of the Noongar people of Western Australia’s southwest: their seasonal movements, language and how knowledge is passed from generation to generation. We were given an opportunity to pick up tools such as spears and boomerangs (various types of them)!!!
     Lunch at Yanchep Inn inside the Yanchep National Park was… (speechless). I ordered a plate of duck rice cause I was hungry for rice (me being Asian). Next thing I know, ducks (living ducks) started gathering near the table looking at their cooked friends… I know it sounded so cruel… oh god!
     For visitors who wish to spend a night in the park, I highly recommend the Yanchep Inn. Not only that the Yanchep Inn has a range of accommodation to suit a variety of needs (including heritage listed 'backpacker’ rooms) it is also an ideal place for a meal or a drink, so just sit back and relax whilst watching the wildlife go by!

1500    Back in Perth!
     We finally arrived in Perth after 50mins drive time.
     I very rarely rave about a hotel (If you wanna see other hotels that I highly recommend, see the series: Waking Up In). But Tribe Perth, in my opinion, is beyond striking. Crafted by some of Australia’s leading designers, Tribe Perth provides an innovative, unique alternative for modern travelers. Location vice, the Tribe Perth is conveniently based next door to Kings Park and you can take a free bus (bus station nearby) into the most happening part of town!
Perth things to do
Where to take the free buses? 
- Take Bus # 27 or #103 from St Georges Tce Stand R (Stop Number 10089) in the Kings Park direction.

1700    Perth Festival
     We had some leisure time until our evening transfer to Chevron Garden (just opposite Elizabeth Quay) for the Annual Perth Festival!
     Since 1953, the Festival has seeded and cultivated decades of cultural growth as the oldest arts festival in the Southern Hemisphere. In Chevron Gardens, we enjoyed food and drinks from various food outlets before entering the concert area for a heart-melting jazz-inspired soul music performance.
Perth things to do

DAY 6: Day Trips

0900    Fremantle
     Day tripping to Fremantle, yay! I was looking forward to this day since arriving in Perth. I’ve heard a lot of great things about Fremantle, including its fabulous seafood, everyday street art, and historic gold rush-era architecture. It is a living, breathing, bustling Port City that somehow manages to be both laid-back and oozing with attitude all at once. The streets are lined with unique galleries, boutiques, and stores. We met up with a passionate local, Michael from Fremantle Tours - Walking Tour and in 2 hours time, he managed to show us all the reasons why Fremantle was once ranked as the 7th best city in the world by Lonely Planet. The trip was relaxing and filled with laughter, we even got to pick up a freshly brewed coffee along the way!
     At the end of the tour, we had our lunch at Fremantle Markets. The market is open for business every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. In Fremantle Market, visitors can browse through the collection of exciting stalls for souvenirs and unique food. The most exciting one I’ve seen might be the Avocado Burger that cleverly replaces burger buns with a whole avocado sliced into half.
Fremantle things to do

1500    Cottesloe Beach
     Overlooking the Indian Ocean, Cottesloe is the perfect dating spot (except we weren’t here to date, sad). It is also internationally famous an annual fortnight-event called Sculpture by the Sea— the world's largest (with 70 installations by top local and international artists) free to the public sculpture exhibitions.
Perth things to do

Quick Stop    Corica's
     Before returning to Perth City, we dropped by Corica’s to buy their famous Apple Strudel. I realized it is a "Malaysian Tradition” bringing back Corica’s Apple Strudel from Perth. It's like an unwritten rule saying if you don’t take home a whole box, you haven’t been to Perth. Weird, coz I myself do not know where does this tradition come from, but one thing to be sure, their apple strudel does live up the hype.
Perth things to do


1700    Perth Less Discovered! 
     We met up with Two Feet & a Heartbeat for a private two-hour walk through Perth, to discover Perth's emerging social scene, hidden laneways, street art and so on. It is always fun to look at things from a local point of view… on top of that, we learned about Perth City Link, the Kings Square and Yagan Square precincts as well!


1930    Petition Kitchen
     Our Perth guided tour ended at the State Buildings, where the Petition Kitchen is just a stone throw away.
     Those who enjoy finer things in life would appreciate the restaurant. Inspired by the hard work of local producers, Head Chef Jesse Blake’s passion for fresh food has culminated in an assortment of rustic, quirky and fun dishes meant to share, or simply enjoy solo.
Perth things to do

Day 7 King's Park to Wrap It Up

0830    King's Park on a Segway
     Last tour before boarding our flight back to Malaysia! We arrived at Elizabeth Quay for our Segway Tours WA Kings Park Tour.
Perth things to do
     On this private tour, we rode along the Swan River up into the Kings Park. King’s Park is one of the most iconic Perth Attraction, with 400 hectares of lush greenery. One of the world’s largest inner-city park too! The Segway tour was thrilling (as I’ve never been on a Segway before and always wanted to try one) as our guide told fascinating stores about Perth's rich history, dynamic boom times and breathtaking plans for the future.
     At their base at Barrack Square, the guides taught us how to stand on the seaways and ensure that all guests are confidently ready to ride their Segway. The orientation of your body will control the speed and direction of the vehicle so I actually don’t recommend it to anyone with bad balancing or who are bad in following instructions. If you are worried, you can always give it a test drive first, go only when you are comfortable.  

1200    Checked out and transferred to Perth Intentional Airport. 
     Bye Perth, thanks for the memory!
Malindo air review

       That is all about my trip to Western Australia in late Feb to early March 2018! For more inspiration, check out Tourism Western Australia and Coral Coast Australia (Australian Best Kept Secret until Now).  

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Coral coast road trip itinerary
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Thank You for Reading! 
This post is written based on my trip to Western Australia. 
MHF was hosted by The Tourism Board of Western Australia but opinions are as always our own.  
Feel free to share your thoughts with us by commenting below!

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