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Indian Ocean Drive & Kalbarri

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Take a colour-filled road trip along Indian Ocean Drive, from one of Australia’s most unique landscapes, the Pi​nnacles Desert, to the ultimate outback coast adventure playground in the ancient gorges of Kalbarri National Park.

Travel

5 - 7 days


Route

Perth to Perth

km


Best Time of the Year

all year round

Highlights

  • Pinnacles Desert
  • Jurien Bay
  • Abrolhos Islands
  • Thirsty Point
  • Jurien Bay Marine Park
  • Abrolhos Islands
  • Jurien Bay Marine Park
  • Abrolhos Islands
  • Jurien Bay Marine Park
  • Abrolhos Islands

The Journey

Days

1 2 3 4 5

Day 1
Perth to Cervantes

Distance 200km - Driving Time 3 hour

Heading north from Perth on Wanneroo Road, the Indian Ocean Drive begins in the all-action windsurfing and sandboarding town of Lancelin and leads you direct to the Pinnacles Desert in Nambung National Park.

The road into the Pinnacles Desert is sealed. Follow the drive trail or walking track, weaving through thousands of golden limestone spires formed over millions of years, then head to the Discovery Centre to learn more about these lunar-like formations. 

For more other-worldly experiences, continue to Lake Thetis (located off Hansen Bay Road) to marvel at the stromatolites and strombalites – some of the oldest living fossils on Earth.

On reaching the crayfishing town of Cervantes, take a relaxing dip at Hangover Bay or Thirsty Point, and an informative tour of the town’s rock lobster factory. Feast on the catch of the day at local restaurants and cafes, and select which camping and caravan park you want to rest your head.

Day 2
Cervantes to Jurien Bay and Dongara

Distance 158km - Driving Time 3 hour

Make Molah Hill and Grigson’s Lookouts your first stop on the road north to take in panoramic views of native bushlands set against Indian Ocean backdrops. It’s especially dazzling in spring, when Lesueur National Park is filled with the blooms of more than 900 wildflower species.

At Jurien Bay, jump aboard a sea lion charter to meet some of Australia’s rarest and most playful marine life. Skydive out of a plane and onto the beach. Or dive and snorkel the biodiverse Jurien Bay Marine Park. Caving enthusiasts and curious beginners will find wonder, challenge and wildlife exploring the caves of Stockyard Gully National Park, accessible only by 4WD. 

Enjoy another fresh seafood feast and stay overnight in Jurien Bay or the historic twin-town of Dongara-Denison. 

Grab a morning coffee under the fig trees of Dongara’s Moreton Terrace and discover the town’s charming heritage-listed buildings along the 1.6 kilometre walk trail.

Day 3
Dongara to Geraldton

Distance 66km - Driving Time 1 hour

More of the region’s history is revealed at the beautifully preserved Greenough Central Historic Settlement, as well as in the grand colonial architecture of Geraldton and on the Batavia shipwreck coast.

Perfect wind and swell conditions make Geraldton Australia’s windsurfing capital, and the 122 coral-fringed Abrolhos Islands offer the ideal playground for indulging in water sports on a fishing, diving or snorkelling charter. Scenic flights over the islands and Batavia Coast are also available.

Visit Geraldton Museum and its Aboriginal art gallery, enjoy a picnic or dine-in dinner on Geraldton’s buzzing foreshore, or take in panoramic Indian Ocean sunset views from the HMAS Sydney II Memorial.

Day 4
Geraldton to Kalbarri

Distance 155km - Driving Time 1 hour 30 mins

The Indian Ocean Drive ends in Geraldton, but your coastal adventure continues. Head north on the North West Coastal Highway, turning onto Port Gregory Road/George Grey Drive[J2] to explore 400-million-year-old river gorges, dramatic coastal rock formations and dazzling spring wildflower displays (July to October)  in Kalbarri National Park.

From the town, go river cruising, beach fishing, deep sea fishing, bushwalking, kayaking, abseiling, rock climbing, horse riding, or just take in the view from the park lookouts, including the iconic Nature’s [J4] Window.

Day 5
Kalbarri to Perth

Distance 589km - Driving Time 6 hours

The Brand Highway (Route 1) will get you back to Perth in six and a half hours. But if you’re visiting between the months of July and October, consider heading inland to the wildflower hotspots of Mullewa, Mingenew, Three Springs and Carnamah.

If you’re keen to extend your coastal road trip, continue north to the World Heritage listed wonders of Shark Bay and Ningaloo Reef.