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Need guidance on WA itinerary - Coral Bay to Perth Dec. 2010

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Need guidance on WA itinerary - Coral Bay to Perth Dec. 2010


My husband and I are planning a 3 week trip to Western Australia in December. I've read some of the forum posts and am a bit overwhelmed. I know the state is vast, but after a very long trip from the U.S. Pacific Northwest, we would like to start in the Coral Bay area, beginning on Dec. 12, for diving, and then go somewhere else farther south, winding up in the Perth/Freemantle area with friends there for New Year's. I've read all through Lonely Planet's Australia guide, and I would really appreciate some guidance as to what best to do, and how to get from place to place. Thanks for any help!

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1. Re: Need guidance on WA itinerary - Coral Bay to Perth Dec. 2010

My fiance and I returned from a holiday in this region in August and found it to be one of our best holidays yet. We took 2 weeks off and drove from Perth to Exmouth and back, which in hindsight was a bit rushed, but nonetheless a bloody enjoyable experience.

My first suggestion would be to start further North at Exmouth - that way you can see the more Northern end of Ningaloo Reef and Cape Range National Park. The beaches along this stretch of coast provided us with amazing snorkeling along some fantastic reef. One beach in particular offers drift snorkelling, where the current takes you across the reef with minimal effort. Just be aware the currents can be quite strong and will take you out to sea if you're not aware. It would also be worth checking out Yardie Creek Gorge. More relaxed swimming at sandy beaches can be enjoyed at Bundegi, just North of Exmouth.

The next spot to see would then be Coral Bay. Once again, fantastic snorkelling and fishing, but can be a bit over crowded at times. Thankfully, we didn't spend a lot of time here, as it was very busy at the time, with a lot of families and young kids. Make sure you are stocked up with food and water - unless you choose to dine out, as Coral Bay has minimal facilities/shops.

Other spots South of Coral Bay would be Gnaraloo and Quobba, but I'm pretty sure you need to contact the station owner and book. These areas are secluded and also offer great fishing, surfing and camping.

Further South is Carnarvon. We didn't stay here as we were looking for more quiet destinations, but it is quite a nice town. Just don't forget to lock your car, and keep valuables out of sight.

Without a doubt, the hilight of the trip would have been Cape Peron in Shark Bay. The area offers fantastic sight seeing where you can catch glimpses of dolphins, sharks, rays, dugongs and endless amounts of fish. The red desert sands meet the amazingly turquoise waters in a display of colours that almost looks unnatural. Other tourist destinations on the Shark Bay Peninsula include Monkey Mia and Denham beach. You can hand feed the dolphins at Monkey Mia, but check with the locals with regard to feeding times - contrary to popular belief, the dolphins can't be fed all day long. The Shark Bay Discovery Center is also quite interesting.

Following Shark Bay was Kalbarri. It rained when we were there which was quite unexpected, but we were still able to visit the gorges. I think December should provide you with some great weather for this part of WA. Sight seeing is probably the biggest draw card for this area.

When travelling to these towns, make sure you try the local seafood - some of the best I've ever eaten! If you are hiring a car and drving, make sure you are well prepared with minimum 20L of water. We took our 4WD which allowed us to access a few areas that a lot of tourists couldn't, and also drive onto the beaches. This meant we had to be very well prepared - taking an axe and shovels, air compressor, 40L of water, spare diesel, and detailed maps.

I won't bore you with any more details - enjoy your trip and travel safe and smart.

Adelaide, Australia
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2. Re: Need guidance on WA itinerary - Coral Bay to Perth Dec. 2010

What a great first post WAB!

Brings back great memories for me. We have done that road trip twice - both times to or from Broome- and to or from Adelaide too.

I second everything you say. If you follow that itinerary FR you wont go wrong.

Only thing I would suggest is a one way car hire- drive to Exmouth - or on to Broome -then fly back to Perth BUT it will cost plenty!!!

rural West Aussie
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3. Re: Need guidance on WA itinerary - Coral Bay to Perth Dec. 2010

WAB's suggestions are good ones. Question is, how do you plan to get to your start point? As nozzie points out, one way hire of vehicles earns a high (several hundred dollars) one-way fee.

One thing to be aware of is that December is the start of summer so expect high temperatures.

Adelaide, Australia
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4. Re: Need guidance on WA itinerary - Coral Bay to Perth Dec. 2010

hmm-missed that bit about December. Can you come earlier??. December is not only hot but also start of cyclone season.

Sydney, Australia
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5. Re: Need guidance on WA itinerary - Coral Bay to Perth Dec. 2010

Hi ForReality,

Excellent advice already given. I also agree December can be iffy in this part of Nth WA in December. However, we have visited Coral bay in early Dec and had perfect weather...

As mentioned one way car hire rental is expensive but so too is flying with Sky West Airlines www.skywest.com.au for flight deals. You do need to book ahead of time if flying as flights can get heavily booked.

You do have a few other options :

a) Drive up and back from Perth - cheapest way - drop car off at Perth.

b) Fly to Exmouth (Learmouth Airport) pick up car and explore Exmouth / Coral Bay and further south to Monkey Mia - drive back to Exmouth and drop car off at Learmouth for flight back to Perth.

Driving from Perth takes approx 11hours on sealed roads.

c) Fly to Exmouth - pickup car and drive back to Perth and heck paying the huge one-way fees.

d) Fly with Skywest to Monkey Mia- Skywest Airlines operate daily return flights from Perth to Learmouth Airport. Some flights go direct others have a short stopover at Shark Bay Airport (Monkey Mia) Stay - and pick up car - drive to Coral Bay and Exmouth - drive back to MM and return car.


Its approx 1.5hrs drive from Exmouth Airport to Coral Bay.

Coral Bay to Carnarvon - approx 3hrs

Carnarvon to Monkey Mia - approx 4.5hrs

Monkey Mia to Kalbarri - approx 5hrs

Kalbarri to Cervantes - approx 5hrs.

Cervantes to Perth - approx 3hrs

See link below for additional info :


Uden, The...
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6. Re: Need guidance on WA itinerary - Coral Bay to Perth Dec. 2010

Just to add a few details to West-Aussie-Bludger's post.

The drift snorkelling is at Turquoise Bay. You can reach it by taking a short unpaved road to the parking lot. Bring sunglasses and sunscreen, and a hat. No shade. The beauty of Turquoise Bay is beyond believes.

Coral Bay is one of our top destinations and I would return in a heartbeat. Ningaloo Reef Resort is a great place but reservations are needed most of the year.

Quobba Station is remote and the road to it is rather rough. Nevertheless there's a sealed road to the Blowholes. A spectacular place and worth a visit imo. North of Quabba is Red Bluff. One of the greatest surfingspots. Also a dirtroad to it.

We stayed in Carnarvon at Pelican Point. Steps to beaches and deserted. Not sure the hotel still exists. Carnarvon has a nice esplanada but a bit underdevelopped. Not realy a tourist destination but if you want to stay here don't forget to eat Blue Swimmers.


Kalbarri: Don't forget to have a meal at



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7. Re: Need guidance on WA itinerary - Coral Bay to Perth Dec. 2010

Kings Park in Perth,Yanchep NP-Kangaroos and Koalas,Kalbarri-beautiful area and Shark Bay-dolphins and heritage sites.

8. Re: Need guidance on WA itinerary - Coral Bay to Perth Dec. 2010

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