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tockoloshe Jan 25th, 2011 05:10 PM

Trip Report: Broome to Perth in 5 weeks (August 2010)
I’ve just found the report I started writing a while ago so will post it as is rather than wait another 6 months before adding more detail . I haven’t done a day-by-day account or it’d be too long, but I’ve tried to cover the planning, the approximate costs, the route and the places we stayed and visited. There isn’t so much about Western Australia on the forum so if anyone has any questions or wants more detail I’ll be glad to answer.

Photos here if you prefer the photo tour:

We had 5 weeks in Oz, with the original intention to ‘do’ the north and west. We underestimated distances, as many people do I think, and on further planning decided to leave Darwin and the Kimberley/Gibb River Road etc for another time (hopefully), and to concentrate on a more leisurely trip from Broome to Perth.

I posted our original trip plan and asked for comments, many thanks again for those who helped out and in particular melnq8 who might think we’re some kind of weird stalkers since we followed many of her recommendations to the letter, even staying in the same room on a couple of occasions! Unfortunately my report will not be up to her standard! And those looking for restaurant reviews, look away now.

So this was our plan as posted previously (skip to next line to get to trip report):
“We have 5 weeks to travel Perth-Broome-Perth – we originally planned 3 weeks but decided if it’s worth doing ..... ! After much deliberation we’ve now decided to drive Broome-Perth, for reasons given here.

We arrive in Perth for 4 nights, will hire a small car & intend to do sights around Perth. Since we’ll finish the trip in Perth we can always come back to a ‘can’t miss’ something we didn’t have time to do. Then we fly to Broome and drive back to Perth.

Whether to fly Perth to Broome and do one-way, or do a round trip Perth-Broome-Perth was one of the biggest decisions, a lot of factors involved in the decision
- one-way rentals turned out to be very expensive, average A$1,000 fee (euro 685).
- But it’s a 2,300 km trip one-way which would only be comfortable to do in 2-3 days, so you have to balance costs of fuel, accommodation and time with getting a flight and paying the one-way fee.
- Our original plan was to travel Perth-Broome, thought it would be nice to start in ‘winter’ and finish in warmer climes, but we decided to do the reverse for couple of reasons – firstly, the flights were more expensive in the period we wanted to return and secondly, (and this is a bit silly but ...) we will probably accumulate a bit of gear on the way which we would have problems getting back on an internal flight.

We spent an extraordinary amount of time researching car rental, a word of warning to anyone trying to do the same thing - many companies will not allow you to rent from or drive to Broome – furthest north seems to be Exmouth. Beware that this can also happen if you use the comparison agents which only send you the details after paying and booking – we thought we’d got a good deal which included a A$500 (euro 340) drop off fee but on reading the small print (only available after payment) they also did not allow travel further than Exmouth without invalidating the insurance, yet they allowed you to book it. I spent an age on the phone with the agent who also couldn’t understand it and had to contact the car rental firm himself to try and understand the term and conditions. In the end he confidentially said that he wouldn’t personally book something which had such complicated terms because somewhere along the line there was a chance you’d be invalidating the insurance – we got a full refund no problem but it’s not a convenient way to do things.

Another thing to look out for is the common ‘limited km’ clause – 100km a day is usual and won’t take you far in Australia, you could end up adding a lot more to the bill. And also check that you can drive on unsealed roads – again, most of the major companies will not allow you to (without invalidating insurance) which rules out many of the national parks.

The relocation deals didn’t work out because there’s a limited time to return the vehicle, but a good idea in other circumstances.

What kind of vehicle? We want to ‘get away from it all’ so, as I mentioned before I found that a regular saloon couldn’t use a lot of the park roads. We don’t want to go ‘off road’ but we want the option of getting off the tar roads. We thought about a camper, but found them very expensive for 5 weeks, and don’t really like the idea of lugging a large vehicle around all day. We loved the idea of companies like at with integral tent and camping equipment, but again they will not allow use on unsealed roads, so can’t see the point of camping if you can’t get to remote places. The Wicked campers look OK for 20-somethings but I think a couple in their 50s would look a little ridiculous, and I’ve read a few too many negative comments on them. In the end we found local firm ‘M2000’ ( had the best deal and clear rental terms & conditions. We got a small 4x4 with unlimited km, and drop off fee A$450. They were very patient answering my many queries, although it sometimes took 2-3 days to answer emails but they will get back to you.

We realised looking at our route in more detail that accommodation could be difficult to come by, especially in high season, so the idea of camping is a good one, and also 5 weeks even in B&Bs would stretch our budget. So we’ve decided to buy a tent and basic camping equipment in Broome and mix camping with B&B/hotel accommodation. This way we have the option to stay overnight wherever we end up and don’t have to plan our route in quite so much detail, otherwise we’d have to pre-book the ‘must-see’ places like Monkey Mia which would force us to a schedule. I’m guessing that prices will be higher in Broome than Perth due to the remote location, but the Kimberley Camping store seem to have everything – any input from locals welcome!

So ... we can try to sell the second-hand, little-used tent & equipment when we get back to Perth or donate it to charity (any ideas from Perth locals?) We might be able to fit the sleeping bags into our luggage for the flight home, or again give them to charity.

The route itself is classic Broome to Perth down the coast, possibly including Karijini National Park . Intend to spend some time round Broome first, and will probably do some organised trips since even the 4x4 we’re hiring isn’t suitable for most of the tracks round Broome (again, check your rental agreement for where exactly you can drive the vehicle). Focus for us is wildlife and nature, so which is good because I’m not sure there’s that much else up there!!

Arrival back in Perth is flexible, if we feel we didn’t see enough at the beginning of the trip we’ll head back sooner, but if we can’t tear ourselves away from Ningaloo reef we’ll make it later!”


I’ll give an idea of costs as much as I can (and can remember) because I always appreciate hearing about costs myself – gives me an idea if such a trip is feasible on my budget (all costs like flights, car, accommodation, meals etc are for 2 people). Costs are summarised at the end if you don’t want to wade through the report.

Cycling round Rottnest island & the quokkas
Dampier peninsular coastline
Dolphins & Dugongs at Monkey Mia
Aboriginal evening at Monkey Mia
Ningaloo Reef & Cape Range National park & the kangaroos
Quadbiking at Denham

Our interests are wildlife and wilderness more than vineyards and restaurants, so don’t expect restaurant reviews here! We arrived at the beginning of August.

Perth: 4 nights in Perth, Holiday Inn Burswood, 0$ (reward nights) – chose this hotel because we had the car and it was easy to park, and our intention was to see the sights around Perth and stay in Perth on our return. Did the ‘usual’ sights including Freemantle, Rottnest Island (hired cycle there and cycled round), AQUA aquarium, coastal drive to north of Perth. All recommended! Hotel was perfectly comfortable but didn’t really like the Burswood resort or eating places there, but it was fine because we were out all the time. I already made a comment on the ‘Outrageous food prices in Australia!’ thread and I’m not looking to re-open it but we found the buffet dinner in the hotel was expensive at a fixed price of $50 pp. We’re more fish & chips overlooking the harbour at Freemantle kind of people. And the $38 for breakfast on our first day really got us thinking about the budget for 5 weeks. I only mention food prices because if you are planning a trip you need an idea of what to budget for food.

This is what I said on that thread:
“When we arrived in Perth we headed for the beach even before we checked into the hotel (we were too early) and had breakfast in a beach cafe - $38 dollars later (2 coffees, 1 egg on toast, one croissant and 2 fruit juices) and we were wondering if we'd mis-calculated the exchange rate! More re-planning when we found the hotel dinner buffet was $50 per person. Yes we found cheaper places later - but all I'm saying is 'be prepared' if you are on a budget. Since we were there for 5 weeks we realised we had to budget more carefully, ($38 x 35 days = $1,330 on breakfast?!) and it wasn't so hard since we were mostly self-catering, but a coffee and cake 'out' became a real treat.”

Car rental Perth: 4 days pickup/drop off airport £113

Flights Perth-Broome AU$400

Car rental: pick up Broome/drop off Perth 30 days (includes unlimited km) = $1960 + $450 drop off fee (1 off fee only) = $2410. (approx £1440). Petrol: $815, Km: 5214 (fuel price varied a lot, clearly in out of the way places they charged a premium)

We arrived in a hot and sunny Broome – perfect for a few days relaxing and getting ready for the trip. In Broome we found Kimberley Camping and bought much of our camping gear there and other odds & sods in the supermarkets. We took sleeping bag liners and torches.
Camping equipment
Tent $145
Inflatable Mattresses $140
Sleeping bags $70
Plates, cutlery, bowls, pan, pillows, towels, gas cooker, cooler (esky!), camp chairs, picnic blanket etc - approx $100

What we found expensive: batteries (should have taken rechargeable ones, but thought we’d leave that bit of equipment behind, but went through quite a few in the torches and camera), toiletries & pharmaceuticals (shampoo, cold remedies, insect repellent etc).

We ‘splurged’ for our first 3 nights in Broome at the self-catering Frangipiani ($270 per night) ( – couldn’t find fault with it, one of the nicest places we’ve ever stayed. Broome was nice & relaxed, though not the ‘frontier town’ we had imagined. Did the usual Cable Beach sunsets, explored the beaches around Broome and were lucky enough to be there for the ‘staircase to the moon’.

After 3 nights of comfort it was time to try out our tent. Headed off to Cape Leveque (Dampier Peninsula) - approx 500km round trip.

This is what we came to Australia for!! Fantastic coastal scenery, long empty beaches and sitting by a roaring log fire cooking freshly caught fish under a star-filled sky (let’s conveniently forget the night the tent nearly got blown away in a cyclone-like wind ...). Campsites were spacious and you could choose your spot. Unfortunately it was also the last time we’d be able to have an open fire, I fully understand the fire risk so I’m not complaining but it takes some of the pleasure out of the camping experience for us, it’s what we love about bush camping in Africa.

We did 6 nights camping (2 nights each) at:

Gambanan (One Arm point), lived up to the hype: “Gamabanan is wholly owner and operated by Frank Davey and Maureen Hunter who are members of the local indigenous Bardi people. Frank, Maureen and their family are committed to offering their guests a genuine and authentic indigenous cultural experience in a natural wilderness setting where guests can gain an appreciation of the beauty of the Dampier Peninsula. Located in the prestine bush wilderness on the sheltered north eastern tip of the Dampier Peninsula, Gambanan is one of the premier beach side camping locations boasting un-interrupted views of the surrounding spectacular reef from your tent. A Gambanan bush camping experience will exceed your expectations; wether you are looking for that ultimate relaxing beach-side camping experience, or to immerse yourself in the surrounding natural beauty. Go snorkelling on the reef, fishing and swimming all from the beach in the spectacular King Sound which is right on your door step. It's close proximity to local visitor attractions means there is plenty to keep adventurers occupied. Near by attractions include the Horizontal Waterfalls, remote turquoise lagoons, the turtle hatchery, experiencing Gambana's very own Staircase to the moon or bird watch for the beautiful Gouldian finch, which can be found in surrounding bush”.

Chile Creek, had safari tents as well as camping, (“Each safari tent has fans, a spacious ensuite and self catering using gas barbeques on their own exclusive decked area overlooking the beautiful bush land “) but although the units looked nice we didn’t think it was such a good idea to have them IN the campsite – I wouldn’t like to pay so much to have a tent or camper van right next to me. It was very quiet when we were there, only one other camper on the site. The coastal area was very interesting, we walked & swam along deserted beaches and explored the mangrove swamps. You do need a 4x4 to get there.

Pender Bay Whale Song campsite – our favourite, a couple of magical nights under the stars! Only one other camper on the site and he shared his freshly caught fish with us. “Idyllic and secluded location with spectacular panoramic views of Pender Bay. Be enchanted by the ever changing colours of this landscape, explore isolated beaches and the virgin bush with bush tucker fruits, wildlife and birds”. For such a remote place they also had a fantastic cafeteria, and we enjoyed a pizza one lunchtime before walking it off along the beach for the rest of the afternoon. As this is Aboriginal land you should check where you can and can’t walk – some of the beach at Pender Bay was off limits to women, for example.

Camping $30 or $34 per night. You do need a high clearance 4x4 for this area, although you could do the main road up to Cape Leveque in a sedan as they are tarring the road, but check the car insurance first, most companies don’t allow it. Our rental company did say we could take the car to the places we mentioned, although it worried us a bit that we didn’t get that in writing.

We visited the Aquaculture Hatchery at One Arm Point (a working aquaculture centre), and a Pearl Farm, Cygnet Bay Pearls . Beagle Bay is worth a visit, the church alter is constructed of beautiful pearl shells: “Both Beagle Bay and Lombadina were first established as missions and visitors to these two communities can walk back in time in their beautiful historic churches. The pearl shell alter at Beagle Bay and the bush timbers at the Lombadina church illustrate local ingenuity and craft.” There is a $10 charge to visit these communities.

But we mostly enjoyed the deserted beaches and bush and didn’t want to drive round all day with scenery like that to enjoy on foot and in the open air. We didn’t see as much wildlife as we hoped, though, not even one kangaroo!

Back to Broome for a night, decided to go for something ‘mid-range’, and the lady in the tourist office actually laughed when she asked our budget and we said $150. She found us a special late deal for $220 at Seashells resort ( which we thought was fine because it had a kitchen and washing machine so we could catch up on washing (our clothes and ourselves). I’m afraid it did not, in our opinion, live up to its 4.5 star rating . The room was dark & gloomy, the communal BBQ areas were too near the rooms (and noisy) the washing machine only ran on cold water, and I can never understand why 4* places charge extra for pool towels – I know, only a small thing but it irritates me. To top it all someone had a party going until 3 a.m. in the morning so we got very little sleep – I am still haunted by the strains of increasingly drunken “yippee ay ohhh, yippee ay ayyyy”s throughout the night.

Broome to 80 Mile beach: approx 350km

Off next day (after a visit to Broome market, a few clothing, craft and cake/jam stalls) and camped at 80 Mile beach ($30) as a stop-off on the way to Karijini National park. This was our first taste of campsites aimed mainly at campervans and trailers – row after row all lined up close enough to cross guy-ropes, we were a bit disappointed, we thought with all that space out there we’d be able to pitch our tent under some nice tree in a corner – think again. However, just a short hop over the dunes was 80 mile beach so it was easy to get away from people, we did a long walk and ate on the beach instead of on the site. I have to say that with the exception of Monkey Mia campsite, we found that campers are on the whole a considerate, quiet and well-behaved lot, usually in bed by 9 (well it gets dark early!) and even though you’re packed close together we usually got a good nights sleep (and I’m a light sleeper).

80 Mile Beach to Karijini: (approx 500km)

Got to Karijini NP comfortably next day, got nice camping spot ($14) – back to nice spacious sites, though ground was quite hard and not so easy to get tent pegs in. Some great walks, not many people around, felt like we could have been the only people there sometimes. The park is ‘famous for its sheer gorges, waterfalls and cool swimming holes’ (which were freezing cold) . More info here:
Moved to the Eco Resort campsite ($30) in Karijini the next 2 nights because we wanted to do the astronomy evening activity, ( ) which was excellent. Another nice campsite with plenty of space, hot showers and spacious bathrooms.

Karijini to Exmouth would be a long drive so broke it up by staying in Tom Price campsite ($30) – tents can pitch on the grassy roundabout outside the ablution block – not very inspiring, but surprisingly quiet. Had a walk around & caught up on shopping, washing & email but didn’t have time to do a mine tour, which several visitors raved about.

Tom Price to Exmouth (600km)

Tom Price to Exmouth is a long boring drive, but you know with certainty that if you have to cover 600 km and you drive at 100 km an hour it will take you 6 hours ... not like driving in traffic in most of Europe! In Tom Price we’d pre-booked a hotel in Exmouth because we’d been told it was a busy period,( $140 – and a few km out of town) Not the prettiest of hotels but the owner couldn’t have been more friendly and helpful and the room had everything it needed including free wireless internet. We were glad we’d not booked some of the places we’d seen in Exmouth – they looked good on the website but many seemed to have rooms overlooking the main road. We chose a good night to stay in a hotel because it was the only night it rained during the whole trip. And at last a restaurant – well kind of – an Italian restaurant ( Pinocchio's) at Ningaloo Caravan and Holiday Resort – very good pizzas and good service.

We’d heard stories along the way (and in the tourist office) about how difficult it was to get into Cape Range Nat Park (Ningaloo reef) to camp – by all accounts we had to start queuing at 4 a.m. to be in with a small chance of getting in, you can’t pre-book. So next day we thought we’d check into a campsite near the park gates to be prepared for the day after, and did a leisurely shop for provisions and then moseyed on down to the park gates around lunchtime for a little drive along the coast to see where we’d be going. At the park gates we found that there were campsites still available if we wanted to camp – great! So don’t be put off by stories that you can’t get a campsite – drive up and have a look. You do need all your supplies including water for washing and drinking, there re no facilities apart from drop toilets, which were not smelly at all! We got a great spot for 3 nights ( $14 per night) – one of our favourite camping spots, not quite on the ocean (5 mins walk away) but surrounded by kangaroos & emus. We also saw an echidna within the first hour of being in the park so we were happy! We hired snorkelling gear and spent a blissful 3 days walking along deserted beaches, snorkelling and swimming, plus a boat trip down Yardie Creek.

Exmouth – Coral Bay (approx 150km)

On the day of departure we went on a whale-watching trip from Exmouth (Captain Cook Cruises, $82 pp, I think about 3 hours, excellent). Saw quite a few whales and dolphins, even dolphins mating which the guides hadn’t seen before. After returning to shore about 4pm we managed a few km to get to Coral Bay just before dark. We wanted to be there to participate in the cruise next morning. This was a near-disaster, the only place where the stories of full accommodation actually came true, and warnings that everything is closed by 6pm are also true. If we had been turned away it would have been a long drive in the dark to another town. There are 2 caravan parks, the first said they were full but had a cabin for $280, they also insisted that the other campsite was full and if we didn’t take his cabin immediately then we wouldn’t get anywhere at all. So naturally we tried the other campsite and did get a place but it was appalling, in what was called the coach park on the map, in a space so small we thought it was just the space for the car and not for the tent and the car, and right next to the ablution block and the path to the ablutions so people were trailing past all night, and they still charged $30. We left the tent and parked up on the beach to eat dinner and breakfast. We wanted to do the cruise or kayak trip but neither were going that day so we did the glass-bottomed boat (half-submerged) trip, and that was very good, got an excellent view of the coral and coral fish as well as a couple of turtles ($35 pp Coral Bay Charter).

Coral Bay – Carnarvon (240km)

We weren’t sorry to leave Coral Bay behind, but very sorry to leave that beautiful coastline with the warm clear ocean behind, and headed for Carnarvon (Wintersun Caravan & Tourist Park, studio chalet $135). The coast north of Carnarvon looked interesting, but we didn’t really have time to explore. We intended to eat out but found nothing open, not even a fish & chip shop, so it was back to the cabin to eat. The caravan park was packed full yet the town seemed pretty dead, couldn’t really understand it.

Carnarvon -Monkey Mia. (appox 340 km)

Monkey Mia – the resort was a disappointment, especially the campsite, ($28 per night) once again on a tiny bit of grass outside the toilet block. I wouldn’t like to be the one to be told that the campsite was full yet I’m sure there should be a limit to just how many people are allowed to camp in one small area! At least we got a parking spot and a bit of grass, the mobile homes just got the parking space in the car park. But we wanted to do several activities there so we just accepted the situation, decided to make the best of it and enjoy what the resort could offer, after all we’d only be sleeping there (up to a point, very noisy group of campers there)

Catamaran day & sunset cruises to see dugongs, dolphins & turtles. We saw quite a few dugongs but I didn’t get a good photo.
Dolphins and dolphin feeding (yes, I got chosen to feed one!)
Glass-bottomed boat – a tiny motorised boat for 2, good fun, saw turtles and dolphins
Aboriginal evening ( ) – excellent guide, wear old clothes because you’ll be sitting on the ground round the campfire. “Transcend into the ancient and fascinating history of the Gutharraguda Land and its people in this thrilling nighttime adventure along the Wulyibidi Yanayina (Peron Walk Trail). Surrender yourself to the wonder of the flora and fauna that surrounds you. Visit a traditional Aboriginal (Gnurra) Camp, enjoy fresh damper by the campfire, lose yourself in the stories of the dreamtime and let your imagination drift off to a faraway place.” ($40 pp)

We wanted to get out of the campsite but still stay in the area so decided to stay in Denham for a couple of nights (Tradewinds self-catering apartments, $135 pn). We didn’t eat out much on this trip but The Old Pearler in Denham was the best restaurant we ate in ($75 for 2). Got very cold that night and we were glad not to be in the tent. Enjoyed a full day of activities: Ocean Park, Quad biking along the coast (80 pp), walking, & Francois Peron homestead. Would have loved to have explored Francois Peron Nat Park but our vehicle wasn’t suitable – really need a high clearance 4x4 AND make sure your insurance covers it.

Shell Beach & the stromatolites nearby well worth a small detour.

Denham-Kalbarri (& Kalbarri Nat Park) - (approx 380km)

On the way to Kalbarri stopped in Gingin at the Gravity Discovery Centre – an interesting stop-off point.

This would be our last 2 nights camping (Kalbarri Caravan park $28 pn), it got very cold and wasn’t at all pleasant to sit around outside, much less to cook outside, so we ate in Kalbarri, always about $40 pp. Echo Beach Cafe was excellent, The Grass Tree cafe was adequate but nothing special.

Activities for the day were feeding the pelican on the ocean front, the National park for more fantastic scenery & walking, plus the wildflower garden & parrot centre in Kalbarri. We thought we’d see more of the wild flowers, I think we were just a bit too early for the best displays.

As much as we enjoyed this and the next few days we both felt that from Kalbarri southwards to Perth we were leaving ‘wild’ Australia.

Kalbarri-Cervantes: (approx 420km)

Of course we had to stop and see the Pinnacles Desert, and on arriving in Cervantes found a large 2 bedroom self-contained unit for a very reasonable $120 ( - I think in high season they are only rented by the week but worth checking. Headed for the Pinnacles that afternoon and had a long walk – well worth a visit, but try and get the sunset too, with the long shadows cast by the rocks and kangaroos hopping about it was magical. We broke the ‘rule’ about not driving after dark but there was no other traffic on the road so we could drive slowly back to Cervantes without incident.

Cervantes-Yanchep Nat Park. (approx 200km)

We were reluctant to return to the city so stayed a couple of nights at the Yanchep Inn in Yanchep Nat Park. (£105 pn) and ate there too, meals in the Inn were about $35 pp. Visited the caves and did some more walking amongst the kangaroos (I can’t get enough of kangaroos, I might have mentioned them once or twice before, I was brought up on ‘Skippy’! – I was also brought up on ‘Daktari’ which might explain my obsession with the African bush too! – sorry if you have no idea what I’m talking about)

We found a Red Cross shop which would take the camping gear (cooker, chairs, sleeping bags etc) but we decided to keep the tent since we had enough baggage allowance to get it back home.

Sadly had to head back to Perth (Holiday Inn Centre 0$ Reward nights) to get the car back – no fuss about getting the deposit back either despite its filthy state. Explored Perth further (city centre, Kings Park, and a boat trip on the Swan River) and reluctantly packed up our bags (and tent) for the trip home.

We spent approx:
$2,416 on accommodation for 30 nights (plus 6 nights Holiday Inn Reward nights).
$2,410 on the car rental,
$815 (approx) on fuel
$400 local flights Perth-Broome
$500 (approx) on camping equipment
Plus activities & food (23 nights self-catering & 13 nights eating out)

For more detail on the Exmouth-Perth leg then try Melnq8’s trip report “Road Trip: Perth-Exmouth-Perth - It's a Bloody Long Way!” – it’s an excellent detailed report about many of the places we visited, lots of information to fill in my gaps.

We didn’t find the driving or landscape boring, well maybe the driving a bit, but we had the anticipation of the next stop to keep our enthusiasm levels high – but we were glad we didn’t go for the round trip, that would have been too much. The weather was on our side, hardly any rain, so travelling & camping was not a chore, and hardly any flies at all dared bother us. The weather got too cold (August) to camp much further south than Monkey Mia/Shark Bay.

We enjoyed every bit of the trip, but especially the north around Broome and Ningaloo Reef. We didn’t find camping a chore, but we’ve camped before, and enjoy the outdoor life. Certainly I recommend the route, however you do it!

Melnq8 Jan 25th, 2011 06:24 PM

Fantastic! Lots of wonderful information. All the car rental and pricing details will be absolute gold to others planning a similiar trip.

I don't feel the least bit stalked, although the Denham section sounds a wee bit familiar. Glad you had good service at Pinocchios, I wasn't sure they were capable of providing it. Also glad to hear M2000 worked out, we've used them in the past and have been pleased.

I sounds as if we weren't the only people underwhelmed with Coral Bay...

There's no way not to break the no driving at night 'rule' when visiting the Pinnacles at dusk - it's worth the risk though, don't you think?

I'm happy to hear you had a good time and I hope you have fond memories of your visit to WA. Thank you for taking the time to post!

dkw Jan 26th, 2011 04:20 PM

Wonderful trip report! I hope to take that road trip sometime in the next couple of years. The information you have provided will be invaluable! Thanks!

Melnq8 Jan 26th, 2011 07:19 PM

tockoloshe -

Did you find that cake in Geraldton?

jhnrbrts Jan 26th, 2011 10:08 PM

that's a pretty nice post. great photos

tockoloshe Jan 30th, 2011 04:46 PM

Melnq8, I had a map with 'X marks the spot' in Geraldton but we timed it wrong and never got that cake - one regret of the trip! However we're not ones to pass on a cake when the opportunity arises and enjoyed good afternoon tea in Yanchep NP tea rooms and also lovely Devonshire Tea in Kalbarri Wildflower centre cafe.

mongoose Feb 23rd, 2011 04:07 PM

Hi tock
I'm used to seeing you on the Africa forum and always enjoy your reports, a change of continent here! I feel as if I'm following you now (as opposed to you following Melnq8)as we did our trip to Botswana in your footsteps and now plan to drive from Perth to Broome and maybe on to Darwin. Very much appreciate the cost breakdown, I can see the attraction of camping, I think we'll look into it, I hadn't really considered it as an option before reading this.

Did you really need the 4x4 for the trip you did apart from Dampier peninsula? (it would increase costs quite a bit)

tockoloshe Mar 4th, 2011 05:04 PM

Hi mongoose,
Sorry for delayed reply, yes I've been back on the Africa forum as you saw, and haven't checked back here for a while - I get the impression that a camping trip in Oz is not many people's cup of tea!
I think you'd enjoy camping if you're used to it, but I have to say the campsites were a disappointment compared to those in southern Africa - all that space and you are pushed onto a tiny tiny patch of land, usually outside the toilets. The exception being Ningaloo reef, which was less regimented, and if you don't camp there's no other alternative accommodation in the national park. We're looking forward to those Botswana campsites when you can barely see who's on the next pitch!
But of course we enjoyed the experience, and could spend longer on the road by spending less on accommodation, so it was worth it. You don't really need a 4x4 for anywhere we went Perth-Broome, but you do have to check that your rental company will allow you to drive on gravel/unsealed roads in places like Karijini, if that's on your itinerary. We found that most car rental companies said you could only drive on tarred roads. The unsealed roads were no problem at all for a regular sedan, it's just the question of insurance. The 4x4 certainly does put up the cost of the trip so if you don't need it then you could manage perfectly well with a sedan. I would give your rental company your itinerary and check that they are OK with it, just to be on the safe side.
Hope that answers your question and happy planning!

KayF Mar 4th, 2011 06:49 PM

Fascinating reading, thanks for sharing. We're Australians and have travelled overseas a lot more than we have 'at home' which we hope to remedy in the coming years. The info you've provided is very useful, thanks again.

I have to add, that after living in London for a few years, having everything shut by 6pm gives me the horrors!


tockoloshe Mar 7th, 2011 04:32 PM

Thanks Kay, hope you get the chance to see more of your homeland! It's always the same, we haven't seen many parts of Britain and it's certainly a smaller area than you have to cover!

The 6pm closing takes a bit of getting used to if you're used to London, but it's not much different out in the smaller places in the UK too!

Brizman Mar 11th, 2011 05:40 PM

So glad I stumbled across this report - although it is a little late to help with the trip we made in 2004! Didn't know about Fodor then for Aussie travel. Will use it when we return.

Loved the idea of equipping yourself with camping kit and just shedding it - didn't quite go that far but did buy some BBQ kit to use on outdoor BBQs when we found them.

Best food - the freshly cooked crayfish for $16 at the Geraldton fisherman's coop! Last one for the day. Sweeter! we just found it by driving towards the wharves and then towards where we could see the trawler masts. Right past the place that could only sell us fozen product. What a find!

Having had the same problems with the drop off fee ($1,000 7 years ago!!) led us to do a crazy "loop", driving in two days from Perth to Exmouth and then dawdling back. We also did it in April/May and got spooked by the "you'll need to book accommodation" mantra so we ended up with a schedule. Not needed in the end. As for off-road - I decided to use common sense, for example at the Murchison Gorge, where I drove along a bright yellow sand track to get to the look-out parking area. Figured the real reason for the limitation on off-road driving was to avoid stone damage and windscreen breakages - so just took it easy. And gave the underneath a good hose down when we got to our accommodation.

Occurs to me that with a smaller company one might be able to negotiate something specific to address stone damage - which might be caused as much by passing vehicles as by you. And hitting a roo at speed can be pretty nasty - and more likely at night and off the bitumen (as we say here).

Had a better experience of Coral Bay than some of you - athough I do recall the accommodation seemed a bit expensive in a self-catering flat. But I used Coral Bay as the location for my swim-with-the-whale sharks trip. Small, high speed boat, just a dozen of so people (alternative to the larger and more crowded boats at Exmouth) and it was fabulous - two sharks with two drop-offs for each. Un-be-liev-able! (I was 58 at the time - treated with unnecessary charity, but at least I could swim, so there!) Even got shouted a beer by the guide when I went up to him the next afternoon to say thanks - where else but Australia would the guide tip the customer!

mongoose Mar 12th, 2011 04:59 AM

Thanks for the reply, tock.
And about the rental, probably Brizman has the right idea too, and just be sensible about what kind of 'off road' driving you do. I've seen insurance firms which offer additional insurance for windscreen and underbody damage etc which isn't usually covered by the rental insurance, but I suppose it would be invalid if you're using the car somewhere you shouldn't. However the one-off drop off fee remains a problem. Back to the research!
Interesting to hear other people's experiences on the forums, as always.

Toucan2 Mar 26th, 2011 04:45 PM

What an interesting trip report! It's a bit outside the "norm" so I really enjoyed reading of your trip. I'm sorry I missed it when you originally posted it.

tockoloshe Mar 28th, 2011 04:00 PM

Sorry I haven't checked back here for a while - I thought the report had faded into obscurity!

Hi Toucan2, glad you enjoyed it. Yes, I realise that it's not a trip which appeals to 'normal' people!! - well the trip might but not the simple accommodation!

Mongoose, how are you getting on with your planning? When are you going?

So you went for that 'crazy loop' Perth-Exmouth, Brizman, quite a drive! Sounds like you have good memories of your trip (and who wouldn't?). I shouldn't say that Coral Bay itself was a totally bad experience, just the campsites. The activities and the beach/ocean were brilliant, as were the people & guides we met on the boat trip, maybe I didn't make that clear. I can see the attraction of a smaller resort if it's just the beach and ocean activities you want to take advantage of. Maybe one disadvantage is that in a smaller place the trips don't run if there are not enough people, and there are no alternative operators, so if you're there for a short time you might not be able to do what's advertised. And 'when in Rome' you have to enjoy the BBQ-ing, I heard it's obligatory! I like the way they have BBQ areas in the parks and along the beaches.

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