Most Perthies are well known for their pilgrimage south when any holidays come about and we’re right there with you, it’s freaking beautiful and delicious down there. But if you’re feeling a little adventurous and wanting to avoid the douth traffic jams, set your travel compass to north.
Once upon a time, there was a very weary old highway that sucked the life out of travellers and was the only quick route to Geraldton and beyond. Brand Highway, you’re not a whole lot of fun. In 2010, a new, glorious road was laid down and made Lancelin to Geraldton a beachside picnic. 30 minutes shorter and scenic as can be, Indian Ocean Drive is such a treat you’ll be in holiday mode before you even arrive in Geraldton.
Your first stop is for fresh, sweet and healthy snacks from the fresh produce farms just out of Perth. In summer, pop into The Mango Farm and pick your own juicy mangoes straight from the orchard and in spring, we love the trays of strawberries from Aida Strawberry farm.
Next up, Yanchep National Park is a fun stop, especially if you’re hosting out-of-towners who expect to see koalas hanging out in your backyard bottlebrush and kangaroos commuting in the CBD. There’s a 240-metre koala boardwalk and around sunrise and sunset, the western grey kangas will make themselves known. If you’re into caves, Yanchep plays host to around 400 of them or if it’s a scorcher, the Yanchep Lagoon is worth whipping out the snorkel and goggles for.
Lancelin is a little further north and while fairly small, it packs a punch with its natural wonders. While it’s one of the most popular windsurfing spots in Australia, we go to Lancelin for the epic sand dunes. Whether you pack a proper sandboard or just a flattened cardboard box, the trek up these rolling, white sand dunes is worth the quad burn as you adrenaline rush your way back down. If you’re going by Lancelin in the afternoon, take in the glorious beachfront views and have a drink at the Endeavour Tavern.
Keep up the natural wonder sightseeing at Nambung National Park where thousands of incredible limestone spires surge out of the ground to form the Pinnacles. There isn't much shade, so post rock admiration, head straight to the crystal clear waters of Hangover Bay (it’s also a common spot to see dolphins and sea lions). The Lobster Shack in Cervantes is a must for lunch, to sample the local delicacy of Western rock lobster. If you’re super interested in the trade (most of the population between here and Geraldton seem to work in the lobster fishing industry), you can also go on a pot pulling tour.
Whip out bikinis and boardshorts again in Jurien Bay and admire the underwater world of caves, coral and multi-coloured fish around the reef of Jurien Bay Marine Park. For one of the prettiest places to pull up a patch of sand, head down to Sandy Cape just north of Jurien.
The last stop before Geraldton, Dongara is the spot to fuel up. The best spot for coffee on your drive is The Green Beanie coffee van that parks up at Granny’s Beach. Pull up a towel or milk crate and soak up the vibes of this sleepy seaside town. If you need something more substantial to get you through the final kilometres, the Starfish Cafe looks like an unassuming, converted surf club but cranks out freshly made scones that would make your nana proud. The health-conscious will be stoked with their coconut, passionfruit and vanilla chia pudding.
All that’s left now is to take your full belly and beach hair on the final half-hour stretch to Geraldton.
Once you're there, here are all the best things to do in Geraldton.
Image credit: Josh Spires