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Indian Ocean Drive

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Perth to Kalbarri Itinerary

Uncover a world of wonder as you navigate your campervan through this awe-inspiring journey, taking you from Perth to Kalbarri, through Cervantes, Dongara and Geraldton. Over an easy five-day itinerary, you will discover the rugged beauty this region is known for, transporting you from the cityscape of Perth to someplace much wilder, where the great outdoors works to soothe your soul, leaving you feeling both revitalised and reconnected.

At Pinnacles Desert, you will marvel at an otherworldly landscape filled with towering limestone spires, to then explore nearby Lake Thetis, home to incredible 3,000-year-old fossils. Travelling north, you can spot frolicking sea lions at Jurien Bay, and an ocean of wildflowers in Lesueur National Park. You can introduce the kids to movies under the stars at Dongara’s drive-in, then get your snorkels ready to dive in and explore the spectacular Batavia shipwreck, sunk off the coast of Geraldton. Next up is Port Gregory, where you will stand in awe at the unbelievable fuchsia waters of the Pink Lake, before taking time out to explore Kalbarri National Park’s 400 million-year-old gorges and famous Instagram spot, Nature’s Window.

Travel

5 - 7 days


Route

Perth to Perth

1200km


Best Time of the Year

All year round

Highlights

  • Pinnacles Desert
  • Lake Thetis
  • Kalbarri NP
  • Jurien Bay
  • Abrolhos Islands
  • Port Gregory    
  • 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

Pinnacles - Credit Tourism Western Australia

Day 1
Perth to Cervantes

Distance 200km - Driving Time 3 hours

After picking up your campervan in Perth, drive north on the Indian Ocean Drive towards your first stop, Nambung National Park and the Pinnacles Desert. Here you can park up and walk among the shimmering sand dunes to explore thousands of towering limestone structures, formed more than 25,000 years ago, or even drive through if you’re in one of our 4WD campers.

Nearby Lake Thetis is another must-see while you’re in the area, home to thrombolite fossils believed to be more than 3,000 years old. With an easy 1.5km walking loop around the lake, you can find out more about these fossils, as well as the lake’s flora, fauna and indigenous culture by checking out the helpful signage. A more energetic option is available for those who want to take the longer beach and bush trail from Thirsty Point to Hansen Bay, with a detour into Lake Thetis. During wildflower season (July to October), this walk becomes even more impressive, as you walk surrounded by a stunning display of colour.

With no camping allowed in Nambung National Park, it’s now time to drive to Cervantes. Cervantes is known as a crayfishing town, making it the perfect place to sample some seafood. With its pristine white beaches and turquoise waters teeming with marine life, Cervantes also appeals to those who like getting their feet wet, offering up swimming and snorkelling, diving and fishing. Round out the day with a tour of the town’s rock lobster factory, Lobster Shack, then settle in for the night at one of the area’s powered caravan sites to enjoy seafood so fresh, you’d swear it jumped straight out of the sea and onto your plate.

Day 2
Cervantes to Jurien Bay and Dongara

Distance 158km - Driving Time 3 hours

Heading back out onto the open road, you can enjoy panoramic views over native bushland, set against the Indian Ocean. While Molah Hill and Grigson’s Lookouts offer a pretty remarkable view of the region – especially during wildflower season – if you want to get in amongst all that colour, take a detour through Lesueur National Park before you reach Jurien Bay. With more than 900 species of flora identified within the park, it is one of the most significant reserves for flora conservation in Western Australia. This riot of colour also attracts more than 100 species of birds, making it a great spot for some wildlife photography.

Just 15 minutes from Lesueur is Jurien Bay, one of the main breeding grounds for the rare Australian sea lion. Taking one of the sea lion tours out from Jurien Bay, you can spot hundreds of sea lions as they bask on the rocks just a few kilometres from land. If you’re lucky, you may even catch a glimpse of dolphins or migrating whales as well. 

If you have a 4WD campervan, head off-road into Stockyard Gully National Park, where you can explore a series of mesmerising limestone caves leading to an underwater river system. Starting out in the largest cave, you will move through to smaller caves that require a bit more manoeuvring – and be sure to keep an eye out for the colonies of bats that call these caves home.

If you are powered by two wheels only, you can drive straight to Dongara, your overnight stop. The twin-towns of Dongara and Port Denison offer scenic coastal charm, with the Irwin River that meanders between the two towns making it a popular option for water lovers. If you prefer dry land, take one of the many walking trails to explore the bush or the beach, the river or the town. For a little adult time, check out the cellar door at the Illegal Tender Rum Co, or treat the kids to a movie at Dongara’s historic drive-in.

Dongara - Credit Tourism Western Australia

Day 3
Dongara to Geraldton

Distance 66km - Driving Time 1 hour

On your way to Geraldton today, make time to stop off in Greenough. A village known for its historic charm, Greenough offers plenty to explore, with beautifully restored heritage buildings, the picturesque Greenough River, and fascinating pioneering history. Head to Devlin Pool to try out some watersports, wander through Greenough Museum and Gardens, or check out Greenough Wildlife Park, a favourite for kids.

On to Geraldton, a trendy seaside city filled with art galleries, boutique shops and cool cafés. Offering a warm, windy climate and perfect swell, Geraldton is the windsurfing capital of Australia – but, it’s not just windsurfers who frequent these waters. Often described as an aquatic playground, the Abrolhos Islands lie 60km off the coast of Geraldton, offering the ideal conditions for watersports. Surfing, fishing and yachting are ever popular, as is scuba diving, with the 1429 Batavia shipwreck lurking down in the deep, just waiting to be explored.

The opportunity to uncover cultural experiences is just as appealing for some. Whether learning more about the ancient culture of the local Indigenous Yamatji people, or the enthralling maritime history in the region, the brain will be kept as busy as the body on this overnight stop in Geraldton.

Day 4
Geraldton to Kalbarri

Distance 155km - Driving Time 2 hours

Blue holes, pink lakes and a vibrant haze of colourful wildflowers await discovery as you drive north to Kalbarri today. Starting off in Kalbarri National Park, you will find yet another opportunity to get out into Western Australia’s great outdoors as you try your hand at a range of adventure activities, such as canoeing, quad biking, abseiling or bush walking. But whether you trek or meander, you’re sure to marvel at the park’s dramatic sandstone cliff faces, impressive gorges and unforgettable vistas that await you at every turn.

Just south of Kalbarri is Port Gregory, where you can find Pink Lake – or Hutt Lagoon. While you may have seen this lake featured in an ad campaign or two over the years, seeing it in real life is an entirely different experience. Separated from the Indian Ocean by a barrier of sand, the lake is home to a type of algae that creates its vibrant shades of pink, ranging from lilac to red to bubble gum pink. If you want to see the lake at its best, check it out either at mid-morning or sundown.

Moving along the colour spectrum, it’s time to visit Blue Holes. As part of an inshore coastal limestone reef system, Blue Holes features areas of reef that are permanently submerged, as well as those that are exposed at low tide. Renowned for its excellent snorkelling, the reef makes it easy to spot fish and other marine life, including various species of sponge, coral and crustaceans. Even if you’re not keen on snorkelling, this protected spot is great for swimming, lazing around on the soft white sand, and letting the kids explore the rock pools.

Kalbarri - Credit Tourism Western Australia

Day 5
Kalbarri to Perth

Distance 589km - Driving Time 6.5 hours

After your overnight stay in Kalbarri, you can spend the morning checking out the surf at Jaques Point, having a relaxing swim in the clear waters at Chinaman's Beach, or feeding the resident pelicans on the foreshore. If the kids have some energy to burn off, be sure to introduce them to Kalbarri Nature Playground. Located on Kalbarri foreshore, the playground features some awesome play equipment including an impressive flying fox, with cafés located nearby for your morning coffee fix.

If it’s time to drive back to Perth to return your campervan, you can take the Brand Highway (Route 1) and be back there in about six and a half hours. If you’ve got some more time on your hands, why not continue on our Wool Wagon Pathway or Ningaloo to Shark Bay itinerary to uncover more of this magnificent part of the world? Exmouth awaits, home to the unmissable Ningaloo Reef.

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