Photo: The New Paper/ Asnah Ahmad

From breathtaking coastal journeys to intimate interactions with nature, a road trip is one of the best ways to experience the scenery of Australia.

And the best starting point for exploring the coral coast Down Under is Perth in Western Australia state.

Before you embark on your road trip, spend a couple of days exploring the city itself.

Most tourists do the southern region as the route provides for an ideal driving time of two to three hours to each stopover town – manageable for even the most anxious first-time visitors.

The north requires longer drives as the towns and places of interest are further apart.

Photo: The New Paper/ Asnah Ahmad


If you plan to spend more than 10 days in the area, there are some fascinating things to explore.

The north route is a really scenic drive as the road is right next to the coastline, offering some breathtaking views.

As you leave the city and suburbs, you will see more untouched nature and vast open coastal views.


The first spot to explore is a huge sand dune that extends towards the ocean.

You can see pure white sand that towers more than three storeys high as you approach Lancelin, a sandboarding haven, about 90 minutes from Perth.

Entry to the dunes is free and it opens every day from sunrise to sunset. If you visit in the summer, Lancelin beaches and its house reefs are perfect for snorkelling, diving or surfing.

The clear blue water is ideal for exploring shipwrecks.

Photo: The New Paper/ Asnah Ahmad


You can choose to stay the night or head for Cervantes, the home of The Pinnacles.

This is a set of peculiar 3.5m limestone pillars rising out of the yellow desert in Nambung National Park.

These unique natural limestone structures formed approximately 25,000 years ago and attract more than 190,000 visitors a year. You can walk through these incredible formations, and take some stunning pictures.


Heading further north, you will be left in awe as you drive along the stunning Turquoise Coast to the seaside town of Jurien Bay.

If interacting with wild marine life such as sea lions is on your bucket list, this is the place to go.

You may even see the majestic humpback whales making their migration between the months of June and December.

For the more adventurous, take a leap with Jurien Bay Skydive.


The next pit stop is Geraldton, where you will see beautiful green countryside contrasted against the bright blue waters along the Indian Ocean Drive.

It is the biggest town you will encounter along this route.

With beachside restaurants, this is a good place to spend the night and stock up on supplies as shops and restaurants become scarce as you go further north.

Photo: The New Paper/ Asnah Ahmad


From here, it is less than 160km to Kalbarri. You will pass magnificent coastal cliff formations such as Red Bluff.

Kalbarri is a small town with nothing much to offer. But being home to the Kalbarri National Park, its surrounding nature is amazing. If you have the time, take a hike up to see the famous Nature’s Window.

Leaving Kalbarri, head towards Shark Bay and Denham, where the famous Shell Beach is – it is literally a beach covered in shells.


But the highlight of the North has to be the next stop – Monkey Mia, a 30-minute drive from Denham.

What drives thousands of visitors here is the regular visit by dolphins to its bay every morning. You get to see them up close while the resort staff feed them.

Then it is a seven-hour drive to Coral Bay, so it is best you split this journey over two days and do a stopover at Carnarvon.


At Coral Bay beach, you will find harmless baby reef sharks swimming between your feet in shallow waters as the famous Ningaloo Reef starts just in front of Coral Bay.


The final destination is Exmouth, a 2½ hour drive from Coral Bay. It is another small town but with spectacular surroundings.

Home to Cape Range National Park, Exmouth boasts many beautiful beaches, the most popular being Turquoise Bay, aptly named for its crystal-clear waters.

This gem in the Cape Range National Park is known as one of the best beaches in Western Australia. Expect whiter-than-white sand and, if you get here before 11am, total solitude.

It has an excellent snorkel site close to shore with a rich diversity of coral and other marine life.

Its proximity to Ningaloo Reef and an exceptional beach and bay makes this a popular destination all season.

How does swimming with turtles, dolphins, dugongs and manta rays sound?

If you visit between April and July, you may even be treated to a once-in-a-lifetime experience of swimming with whale sharks that congregate along Ningaloo Reef.

The chance to snorkel with these gentle giants is the main reason visitors from all over the world head for Exmouth during whale shark season.


The original version of this story was published in The New Paper on Feb 17, 2017.

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