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Indian Ocean Drive - Western Australia

In November, Director, Arron Mitchell travelled out to Western Australia’s for Tourism Australia’s biennial Corroboree Event. Here he recaps on why you should visit Western Australia.

I took the late-night flight out of Heathrow with Singapore Airlines to Perth via Singapore. I’ve flown with Singapore Airlines a few times to visit my partner's sister & her husband in Singapore, but it had been a while. The Airline is as good as I remember, with very polite and attentive staff. The flight literally flew by (no pun intended) with no shortage of in-flight entertainment. However, after dealing with the collapse of Thomas Cook and working, on average 20 hours a day for two weeks, I pretty much slept most of the way to Perth. Transiting in Singapore is incredibly easy, you get off one aircraft and get on another – it really is that simple. There is no immigration or security queues to deal with. Each gate has its own set of security scanners so you just go through quite quickly and Singapore’s Changi Airport is incredibly impressive. If you have slightly longer connections you can take advantage of Singapore Airlines free city tours and they even have a night tour for those later flights. With a brand new Oculus water feature, transit airport hotel, complimentary cinema and butterfly gardens your transit will be an experience on its own. My only slight grumble with Singapore Airlines, is on the return flight I was at the back of the plane on both legs and both flights ran out of the more popular dishes. Fish for dinner was ok, but I didn’t really fancy it for breakfast! The crew were very helpful and popped up to First Class and got some pastries for those that couldn’t have a standard breakfast. 

Arrival in Perth is very easy, British Passport Holders can take advantage of the e-gates or use the standard immigration desks and we were through in about 15 minutes by which time our bags were already going around the carousel.

My home for the next 6 nights was the Hyatt Regency in Perth. As there were so many agents (300) travelling to Perth we were split across four hotels. The Hyatt Regency is in a really good location within easy access to Perth City Centre and the amenities on offer. However, the rooms really did lack personality and when they say twin bed they really do mean two single beds. There was a pool & gym for those that wanted leisure facilities.

My first day was at leisure so I took advantage to explore the City with my Account Manager from our preferred Australian Travel Partner and we wandered around the city. Perth is a very condensed city with everything within walking distance. The Elizabeth Quays is the new renovated area in Perth and the Ritz-Carlton was close to opening. In the afternoon I went on a Segway Tour of Perth which is such a fun way to see the city with an incredibly knowledgeable guide who took us round the park and down along the River.

The following day we headed up the Swan Valley on Captain Cooks Cruises to the Swan Valley Wine Region. This is the third largest wine producing region in Australia and has stunning views and gorgeous wines. Captain Cooks provide a really fun commentary as you head up the river to Swan Valley and you get the chance to sample 4 wines with a knowledgeable sommelier. On Arrival we visited Mandoons Wine Estate which is right by the river, perfect for those arriving by Captain Cooks. After lunch and a wine tasting session, we headed to Whistlers Chocolate Factory to sample the chocolates. I love chocolate but the chocolate here didn’t have the rich creaminess I am used to, it tasted a little bitter. We made our way over to Old Young’s Distillery for some Vodka and Gin tasting (are you getting the drift of today’s tour?), the guide here was incredibly passionate about the Vodka and Gin, but my god, he talked at a 100 miles an hour. He could give the commentators for the Grand National a run for their money!! We sampled their range including smoked Gin and Pavlova flavoured Vodka plus many more. Ok, not going to lie but after sampling quite a large amount of wine, gin and vodka by this point I was feeling decidedly squiffy. Don’t tell me you are supposed to spit it out, what a waste of perfectly good wine!

A break from the alcohol tasting was required so we went to Maalinup Aborigonal Gallery for a Bush Tucker experience where we sample indigenous Herbs and Berries.

Our final visit for the evening was Sandalford's Wine Estate for a opening launch party of Corroboree with approx. 500 suppliers and agents meeting. Sandalford's is a set in a stunning location and a perfect way to end the day.

Over the next three days I met well over 180 suppliers from all over Australia and it was great to meet some familiar faces and meet new and exciting product being introduced across Australia. Australia has really embraced its Aboriginal past and there is some great tours and day trips that we can arrange with local guides so you can really understand how the Aboriginals are connected to Australia. I met with many hotels, and there is a huge increase in the smaller boutique hotels, lodges and budget hotels across the country. 


After three days of meeting suppliers our Post Famil Trip began with 15 of us heading along the Coral Coast of Western Australia. Our flight from Perth to Sharks Bay was on a 34 seater twin prop aircraft (not great when you have a hangover), courtesy of Rex Airlines, with stunning Ariel views of WA. On arrival at what can only be described as a shack at the end of the runway (this wasn’t the most basic airport we experienced either!), we were met by RAC Monkey Mia Resort and taken on a 30 minute journey from the airport. RAC Monkey Mia is set in an incredible location, right on the white beaches of the Indian Ocean. I need to be clear, you come here for the wildlife, sightseeing, swimming and exploring. RAC Monkey Mia is not luxury, it’s recently gone through a $33 million dollar refurb with a variety of accommodation, but it is very much a campsite with some motel style rooms. The rooms are clean and comfortable with en-suite facilities and if you get a beach view, you are overlooking the gorgeous Indian Ocean. The restaurant has incredible food and was phenomenal with the likes of crocodile and kangaroo on the menu. 

The following day we headed to Francois Peron National Park, located within Sharks Bay, with Darren “Capes” Capewell, owner of Wula Gura Nyinda Eco Adventures. We were originally supposed to be heading on a Kayaking adventure of Francois National Park, but due to the wind, we went on a 4x4 tour with Capes and his wife, Mirra. Capes is a descendant of Nhanda and Malgana Aboriginals and incredibly passionate about sharing his history with visitors to Gutharraguda (Sharks Bay) and showing what this amazing landscape has to offer. Sharks Bay is where the desert meets the ocean and the contrast of the deep red sand against the turquoise ocean is a sight to behold. After touring the ever changing landscape of Francois Peron National Park we headed down to the ocean where Capes picked fresh Oysters for us to eat and barbequed some to show the difference in flavour between fresh and cooked oysters. A chance to swim in the Indian Ocean was too great to resist and we all jumped into the sea to swim and relax.

The next morning we had the opportunity to watch the dolphins come into shore to be fed. The dolphins here are wild and despite often misconceptions, you can not swim with the Dolphins here. The recommended distance to keep from wildlife here is 30 meters so whilst you can swim and play in the ocean, you can’t actually swim and play with dolphins like you can in other destinations. Only 4 dolphins are fed and they are fed just 10% of their daily diet to ensure that they don’t become reliant on the food provided by RAC Monkey Mia Resort and remain wild and hunt for their food.

A visit to the Ocean Park Aquarium with our very knowledgeable guide showcased some of the marine life and sharks that are found in the ocean of the Western coast of Australia. After a quick bite to eat we headed down to Shell Beach. There are only 2 shell beaches in the world and this one is formed from billions of tiny sun bleached shells. The beach is blindingly white with crystal clear waters (sunglasses are recommended). Further down the coast is Hamelin Pool Marine Nature Reserve is one of only two places in the world where living marine stromatolites are known to occur and it is the only place in the world where they can easily be seen from the shore. 

Our final visit for the day and our overnight stop was at Kalbarri National Park. After watching the sunset over the dramatic ocean coastline we stopped at Upstairs Restaurant which has incredible food. Our accommodation tonight was at the Kalbarri Edge Resort a complex of apartments, located in the town of Kalbarri.

After breakfast we headed into Kalbarri National Park which is a jewel of Western Australia’s Coral Coast. We headed, first, to Nature’s Window – This iconic attraction is a wind-eroded opening in the layered sandstone that frames a view of the river. It is a moderate, one kilometre return walk beginning with a flight of stairs from the lookout point at the car park. Views of the gorge can be found from the sealed path and lookouts before the final rocky section. There are further rocky walks you can do along the gorge for further sightseeing or photo opportunities.

Our next visit was Z-Bend Lookout which overhangs the Murchison River. It’s a 500 meter walk trail from the car park and there are longer trails available for those that like to hike a bit further.

After our visit at Z-Bend we headed down to Geraldton, one of the larger towns on Western Australia’s Coral Coast. Geraldton is a great little town with the Western Australia Museum which houses relics of ships wrecked off the rugged coastline, as well as, the Memorial which is dedicated to the 645 crew members that perished onboard HMAS Sydney 11 during World War II. Our accommodation here is the newly built The Gerald Apartment Hotel which has some stylish rooms and a great roof top bar. A visit to the Latitude Gallery which designs jewellery made from pearls farmed on the Albrohos Islands, located some 90km of the coast of Western Australia. A demonstration of how pearls are made and farmed was insightful and interesting especially as we were taking a scenic flight over to the Albrohos Islands the following day. We then headed over to the Memorial with our guide to understand how this memorial is dedicated to the 645 souls lost during World War II.

Dinner this evening was at Skeetas On Boardwalk, a very busy restaurant with delectable food and wines. 

The following morning we headed to Geraldton Airport for our scenic flight over to the Albrohos Islands. The 122 Albrohos Islands were incredible and after a great commentary from our pilot, Jed, we landed on the islands for a chance to dip into the ocean. The scenic flight was incredible and a must for anyone visiting this part of Australia.

In the afternoon we headed to Cervantes, but not before stopping at the famous pink Hutt Lagoon. The lagoon is pink due to the Algae present in the water and it isn’t recommended to swim or paddle in the lagoon due to the bacteria. There are plenty of photo opportunities round the lake for those iconic Instagram picture.

On arrival at Cervantes we headed straight to Nambung National Park to find out how this curious landscape took shape and discover the abundance of flora and fauna that call this home. Watching the sunset over the Pinnacles is an absolute must.

Our accommodation for our final night was RAC Cervantes Holiday Park, a Caravan Park with lodge style accommodation.

Our final day in Australia before we headed to Perth Airport was a chance to go sandboarding at Lancelin. Lancelin is a small fishing town nestled between the ocean and the sand dunes, and is located in a natural bay which is protected by the Indian Ocean by outer reefs and island. Sandboarding, is exactly what it says, a sand board and down the dunes you go. It’s an exhilarating fun experience for all the family, but expect to get sand everywhere!

After sandboarding we headed to Scarborough, located just outside Perth for lunch at The Sandbar before heading to the Penthouse Suites at Ramada Scarborough to freshen up before our flight home.

Arron’s opinion of Western Australia

Having visited East Coast Australia, I was amazed at how different the landscape and wildlife of Western Australia was. The landscape is incredibly diverse as you travel North to South down the Coral Coast. Desert, Salt Flats, Dry shrubs merge into more tropical flora & fauna the further south you head. The region round Perth is abundant with my favourite plant, Callistemon Citrinus, known as the Bottlebrush Plant (I have one in my garden) which line the streets in the suburbs around Perth.

Western Australia is far more relaxed that the east coast of Australia. They are to bed early and up early, bars tend to shut around 9pm especially in the smaller tourist towns. You come to Western Australia to connect with the earth and ocean, relax and sightsee. Would I recommend Western Australia? In a heart beat! It’s a destination in it’s own right and I would recommend spending at least two weeks here to explore this fantastic state in Australia.

Platinum World Travel is an accredited Aussie Specialist by Tourism Australia, which sponsored this trip. Our thanks go to Singapore Airlines, Tourism Australia, Tourism WA and the many suppliers and providers that made this trip possible. 

The following morning we headed to Geraldton Airport for our scenic flight over to the Albrohos Islands. The 122 Albrohos Islands were incredible and after a great commentary from our pilot, Jed, we landed on the islands for a chance to dip into the ocean. The scenic flight was incredible and a must for anyone visiting this part of Australia.

In the afternoon we headed to Cervantes, but not before stopping at the famous pink Hutt Lagoon. The lagoon is pink due to the Algae present in the water and it isn’t recommended to swim or paddle in the lagoon due to the bacteria. There are plenty of photo opportunities round the lake for those iconic Instagram picture.

On arrival at Cervantes we headed straight to Nambung National Park to find out how this curious landscape took shape and discover the abundance of flora and fauna that call this home. Watching the sunset over the Pinnacles is an absolute must.

Our accommodation for our final night was RAC Cervantes Holiday Park, a Caravan Park with lodge style accommodation.

Our final day in Australia before we headed to Perth Airport was a chance to go sandboarding at Lancelin. Lancelin is a small fishing town nestled between the ocean and the sand dunes, and is located in a natural bay which is protected by the Indian Ocean by outer reefs and island. Sandboarding, is exactly what it says, a sand board and down the dunes you go. It’s an exhilarating fun experience for all the family, but expect to get sand everywhere!

After sandboarding we headed to Scarborough, located just outside Perth for lunch at The Sandbar before heading to the Penthouse Suites at Ramada Scarborough to freshen up before our flight home.

Arron's opinion of Western Australia

Arron’s opinion of Western AustraliaHaving visited East Coast Australia, I was amazed at how different the landscape and wildlife of Western Australia was. The landscape is incredibly diverse as you travel North to South down the Coral Coast. Desert, Salt Flats, Dry shrubs merge into more tropical flora & fauna the further south you head. The region round Perth is abundant with my favourite plant, Callistemon Citrinus, known as the Bottlebrush Plant (I have one in my garden) which line the streets in the suburbs around Perth.
Western Australia is far more relaxed that the east coast of Australia. They are to bed early and up early, bars tend to shut around 9pm especially in the smaller tourist towns. You come to Western Australia to connect with the earth and ocean, relax and sightsee. Would I recommend Western Australia? In a heart beat! It’s a destination in it’s own right and I would recommend spending at least two weeks here to explore this fantastic state in Australia.
Platinum World Travel is an accredited Aussie Specialist by Tourism Australia, which sponsored this trip. Our thanks go to Singapore Airlines, Tourism Australia, Tourism WA and the many suppliers and providers that made this trip possible. 



 

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