Western Australia’s Shark Bay on Australia’s Coral Coast is a perfect getaway for those seeking a healthy dose of adventure on this particular side of the sunburnt continent. There’s hiking, camping, kayaking, sailing and diving galore. You can do the uber-touristy thing or the uber-adventurous thing, solo or with your mates/ family – it’s a winner for everybody.
In this three-part series, we’ll guide you through a road trip from Perth to Denham and give you some tips for what you can do along the way.
- Road tripping the Indian Ocean Drive alongside a gorgeous coastline
- Enjoying the beautiful scenery and wildlife
- Plan stops at some of the most beautiful parks of WA
- Make it as long (camping) or short (flying) as you want
Part 1: Perth to Overlander Roadhouse
Shark Bay is a short flight or healthy 8ish hour drive from Perth, the latter a perfect excuse for a great road trip along the coast. I drove the distance to Denham solo in a day, so it’s doable, provided you stock up on enough water and Red Bull, take no food that’s too heavy on the stomach and do regular stops with a power nap here and there. That saves you from dozing off and ending up plastered all over the shiny bullbar from that oncoming road train. The trip is well worth your time though. There’s plenty of marvellous stops you can do along the way.
Consider planning one at Nambung National Park for the infamous Pinnacles Desert. That’s like walking on David Lynchs’ 1984 version of desert planet Dune. Cue the Toto soundtrack and before you know it, you start wondering if there’s even a remote possibility a harmless earthworm might have evolved here into a colossal sandworm waiting to have you for their lunch.
The Pinnacles Desert is not that far from the coast and is easily reachable by car. There’s a short unsealed road going through parts of the park so you can drive should you prefer to. It’s not that long but I would recommend doing this with a 4WD. So if you’re in a hurry, it’s the way to go. Otherwise, I’d recommend walking the Pinnacles. That’s actually nicer, as you can explore the area way better and don’t have to photoshop dozens of tourists out of your Insta-pics.
When you go walking, just remember to bring enough water, sunscreen and a hat. The terrain is not that uneven, so you don’t need to bring any hiking poles. The park has a shop and a small but stylish museum. It’s good for escaping the heat and getting some emergency supplies. As it’s a bit remote it should be no surprise there’s quite a bit of markup on the prices.
Kalbarri National Park, on the other hand, has more green & blue but is definitely worth it too. There’s plenty of fun things to do for everybody around the town of Kalbarri. Do you only have time to drive through the park? Then you should at least do a quick stop at the beautiful Red Bluff Lookout. The deep-red rocks and equally deep-blue ocean make for a stunning contrast you rarely get to see on the planet.
There’s plenty of more parks, towns, salt lakes and beaches to explore along the way. Unfortunately, you can’t follow the coast all the way up to Shark Bay. After Kalbarri, you’ll head deeper and deeper inland.