Trip to Western Australia from Perth to Broome and into the Kimberly


May 9th - 30th, 2017

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Travel itinerary in Western Australia
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SAMPLE TRAVEL ITINERARY IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA

Suggested travel itinerary in Western Australia

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WESTERN AUSTRALIA ESSENTIAL TRAVEL GUIDE AND TRAVEL TIPS

WHAT ARE THE MAIN ATTRACTIONS OF WESTERN AUSTRALIA?

Western Australia is a vast territory, almost as big as the European Union, and represents the least visited frontier across Australia. Reading articles or watching documentaries dedicated to Australia, you will rarely hear about places like Karijini, Shark Bay or Purnululu: all destinations still not very known among tourists, but so beautiful, to seriously compete with Australia's most popular attractions. A trip to Western Australia is especially recommended for nature lovers, mainly thanks to the unique geology and extreme landscapes, while, apart the capital Perth, you will not find large cities or shopping districts. In Western Australia there are almost all animals that can be found in the rest of Australia, plus some endemic species (such as the cute quokka), while you will not find koalas, who prefer instead the eucalyptus forests of the eastern regions. The major attractions in Western Australia are:

  • The capital Perth, Fremantle and the islands off the coast. For logistical reasons and for greater availability of flights and connections, most travels in Western Australia will either start or end in Perth. So why not take advantage of visiting this city? Because of its geographical location, Perth is one of the most isolated capitals in the world: the downtown is interesting for the modern architecture, while Kings Park has a vast botanical garden hosting rare endemic species of Australia. Fremantle is a colonial-style town where you should not miss a visit to the old prison, while Rottnest Island offers beautiful beaches in a car-free environment.

  • The Pinnacles. A couple of hours driving north of Perth, "The Pinnacles" in Nambung National Park offers an interesting glimpse into the geological past of the region, where large pinnacles of clay rise from ocher-colored sand. Along the way, a stop at Lancelin lets you experience the thrill of sandboarding along huge white sand dunes.

  • Kalbarri National Park. This protected area covers a stretch of coast and a network of beautiful inland canyons, where ancient rocks have been carved by Murchison river through millions of years of erosion, fascinating who loves extreme landscapes.

  • Shark Bay. It is a large bay bordered by vast white sandy beaches and an immense beach formed only by billions of billions of small white shells. Shark Bay is one of the few places in the world to observe live stromatolites, with marine fauna includes dolphins and dugongs.

  • Coral Bay and Exmouth. North of the Tropic of Capricorn, Coral Bay and Exmouth offer fantastic beaches not far from the Ningaloo coral reef, known for its enormous biodiversity that include whale sharks, mantas, lot of turtles, hammer sharks and infinite corals. On the other hand, the land will offer opportunities to see red kangaroos and other endemic wildlife, in a landscape made of sand dunes, gorges and endless Savannah.

  • Karijini National Park. Probably one of the most spectacular place of Australia, with canyons dug into 2.5 billion years old rocks, natural waterfalls and pools where to relax and swim. Walking through the various trails is a little demanding, but visitors are rewarded with landscapes quite unique among the world.

  • The Kimberly. With its Devonian Reef, the Kimberly seems to be the conjunction between an African Savannah and a Pacific atoll. Here, ancient coral reefs of 400 million years, emerge from a Savannah located hundreds of miles from the nearest sea, for what that once was an ocean's floor. Windjana Gorge, Geikie Gorge, Mimbi Caves and infinite other attractions, will keep visitors busy for days.

  • Purnululu and the Bungle Bungles. Only recently discovered, the Bungle Bungles are dome shaped sandstone formations, with black and orange stripes revealing an interesting geology and "biology". A series of narrow splits in the conglomerated rocks, allow visitors to enter the heart of the mountains exploring canyons and gorges.

  • The Horizontal Waterfalls and Cape Leveque. Unless you have plenty of days for your holiday, the only way to visit these attractions is by a flight-seeing tour from Broome, flying over Dampier peninsula, Buccaneer islands and Horizontal Waterfalls, before landing in Cape Leveque for a refreshing swim among almost deserted beaches.

These are just the main attractions in Western Australia, scattered along the itineraries usually offered by tour operators. For people wishing to discover more, there is probably all the coastline south of Perth and south of the State, among beautiful sea and forests.

HOW TO GET TO WESTERN AUSTRALIA?

Generally, Western Australia tours start either in Perth, Broome or Darwin. Perth has better connections compared to Darwin, with many direct flights from Middle East and Asia, while Darwin is a little bit more isolated. There aren't many international flights to Broome, but a stop in either Perth or Darwin is normally required. If the Western Australia tour ends in a different city, you may return to the departure city by an internal flight (thus closing the "circle"), although some operator offers the possibility to go back on the same bus used for the tour (but this may be very long). If you are arriving in Perth, as the flights getting there are usually quite tiring, you may wish to find a driver waiting for you, rather than looking for a taxi or take public transport: Airport City Transfer offers full peace of mind ride from Perth airport to Perth, Fremantle or to any place where you will spend your first night.

IS INDEPENDENT TRAVEL IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA SAFE, OR IS BETTER TO JOIN A GROUP?

Australia is a safe destination, people are friendly and helpful, while crime is a largely unknown: all factors which definitely encourages to travel independently. However, you must not underestimate the issues posed by the extreme environment and by the enormous distances that separate the major points of interest: distances that are often filled only by an arid desert, where it may be difficult to handle any emergency. Although Australia is a well developed country, with an excellent quality of life and good services, one should not forget that only a small fraction of the continent is actually civilized and that everything else is in the hands of a wild nature, seeing extreme weather and dangerous (poisonous) animals. Another aspect not to be underestimated is the cost of living: apart from fuel, everything else may cost up to 3 times more than your country (at least comparing to European Union average) and traveling in a group, would allow to spread fixed costs over a larger number of participants.

In general, if you are a small group of friends and the itinerary includes only "official" paved roads, you may consider going on your own, with a fair compromise on cost and safety. On the other hand, if you are traveling alone or if you want to visit remote places (just a "simple" trekking to Karijini is strongly discouraged if done independently), it is certainly best to join a group. There are many tour operators that offer itineraries in Western Australia to suit any need, with different price ranges depending on the services: the trip illustrated in this travelogue was made by Adventure Tours Australia on a vehicle suitable for all types of roads and a maximum capacity of 20 people, with overnight stays in hostels or tents and total self-sufficiency with the provisions.

HOW MANY DAYS SHOULD BE PLANNED FOR A TRIP TO WESTERN AUSTRALIA?

Probably one of the first difficulties that arise when deciding to go to Australia is just time needed, as the country is huge, with enormous distances that separate the various attractions. For a classical tour route that covers Perth and the surrounding area, before going to the north onto Kalbarri, Shark Bay, Coral Bay, Exmouth, Karijini and Broome, a minimum of 15 full days should be planned. If, once in Broome, you also want to visit the Kimberly region, you need to add between 6 and 12 days, depending on the attractions you are interested in (certainly, you will not want to miss the Devonian reef and Purnululu / Bungle Bungles National Park). Much of the organized tours use the provided schedule. Other tours, especially for the part from Perth to Broome, tend to cut the time spent between Shark Bay, Coral Bay and Exmouth, reducing the overall itinerary to 10 or 11 days, but providing only one free day at each of the three destinations just mentioned. This can be acceptable during the Austral summer, but in winter, between May and September, the best time to observe whale sharks and other marine fauna, is basically required to choose whether to take an overland ride to enjoy landscapes and kangaroos, or go snorkeling, without any chance to participate in both the activities.


WHAT IS THE BEST SEASON TO GO TO WESTERN AUSTRALIA?

People generally go to Western Australia for landscapes and nature, hoping to spend outside as many hours as possible, and therefore looking for best weather conditions. So, what is the best time to visit Western Australia? Answering this question is not very simple, as Western Australia is a huge territory having different weather patterns. Thus, let's see what is the best season to go to Western Australia, depending on the regions that you would like to visit:

  • Best time to visit Perth and surroundings: the cities of Perth and Fremantle, as well as the islands near the coast, receive most precipitations during the southern winter, typically between May and September, when the temperatures are cool but never frosty. During the southern summer the climate is drier, but daytime temperatures may be uncomfortable, although never extreme. The best season to go to Perth, when there is a good compromise between temperature and rainfall, is probably autumn, around April, and spring between September and October, when you can also see many wild flowers.

  • Best season to go to Shark Bay, Coral Bay and Exmouth: the best time to visit Shark Bay, Coral Bay and Exmouth, located along the Indian Ocean shores, is apparently from September to April when temperatures are most suitable for a beach holiday and when rainfall is statistically the lowest, although this period may be very or extremely windy. If you want to watch the whale shark, you must go in winter, between May and September, when rainfall and temperatures are still compatible with a beach holiday, but the wind is quieter.

  • Best season to visit Kalbarri: this national park has a climate characterized by dry and hot summers between December and March, and wettest but mild winters (with cool nights) between June and September. The best time to go to Kalbarri is therefore the transition period between late March and early May, or between October and November. The botanical enthusiasts will find many flowers during the winter, especially between July and August.

  • Best season to go to Karijini: Karijini National Park is located near the Capricorn Tropic, on the edge of the vast desert that occupies most of the Australian continent (Outback). Hiking within the canyons presents some degree of difficulty, especially for the rocks near the cliffs that, after a rain, become even more slippery than usual. The season with less rain (actually almost completely dry) corresponds to southern winter, between June and early November, however, at this time of the year, the night temperatures can be very cold or frosty (especially from June to August), a factor to be taken into considerations, as you will likely sleep in a tent. Traveling during the Southern Summer is however not recommended for the extremely hot temperatures reached during the day and for the increased chances of rain. The best time to visit Karijini is probably May, when there is a good compromise between temperature and chances of rain, and when waterfalls and natural pools are at their best with highest water flow.

  • Best time to go to the Kimberly: the Kimberly region occupies the northernmost part of Western Australia, north of the Tropic of Capricorn, and sees essentially two seasons: a very hot summer with heavy rainfall, which runs usually from November to April, and a dry winter with pleasant daytime temperatures and cool nights (sometimes cold) from May to October. Much of the attractions offered by the Kimberly are not accessible in the summer and therefore it is strongly advised not to travel in this period. The best time to visit Kimberly is probably May, when the vegetation is still green and lush with many flowers, and when the temperatures are pleasant even for overnights in the tents. Proceeding further into the winter, the vegetation becomes increasingly dry (yellow / brown) with more dust and cool or cold nights. The months of July and August are usually the busiest, as most people can afford to travel only during this time of the year.

  • Best time to visit Purnululu (Bungle Bungles): Purnululu National Park is located in the Kimberly and therefore the same considerations already explained for this region apply, with the further note that during southern winter, especially between late June and mid August, night temperatures can be particularly cold, with frequent frost.

OTHER USEFUL THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE GOING TO WESTERN AUSTRALIA

  • What are the requirements to enter Australia? We suggest to check on the Foreign Affairs web site of your country, as the requirements to enter Australia depends on your citizenship and country of residence. An important rule, that applies to visitors coming from any country, is to refrain from entering Australia with food or with anything that is alive (or "dead", like raw wood or similar things). In any case, if you are carrying any of such items, you must declare them to the Customs, or you may risk a fine or even more serious consequences. Do not try to hide anything to the Customs officers and in case of any doubt, just declare and ask for assistance.

  • How are the power plugs in Australia? The power plugs in Australia are of type I (same used in New Zealand and most of Oceania) therefore you may need an adapter. The voltage is 240 V, and the frequency is 50 Hz.

  • Is Wifi available in Australia? The Wifi in Australia is widely available, often for free, in almost all the facilities that provide accommodations. Some municipalities offer free connectivity among central downtown areas. However if you need Internet in remote areas, the only way is to obtain an Australian SIM to be used in your smart phone or into a portable router (there are small shops in the arrival hall of Perth Airport where you can buy the SIM). The operator offering the best coverage is Telstra, while Optus and Vodafone are to be avoided due to poor service among rural regions.

  • Will my smart phone work in Australia? Depending on your country of origin, your operator may (and probably will) charge roaming fees, which may be very expensive, so it's better to check such fees directly with your operator before leaving your country. Also, you should make sure that your operator has roaming agreement in Australia with Telstra, since either Opus and Vodafone have very poor coverage among the countryside.

  • What is the currency in Australia? Are the credit cards welcome? Australia's national currency is the Australian Dollar. Foreign currencies can be changed at the airport and in major banks, but be prepared for a change rate that is far worse than the official one. Some company, like Travelex, offers the opportunity to make a reservation on-line for the money, to be picked up at a store of your choice: in such case, the exchange rate is much closer to the official one, but the amount will be typically charged to your credit card, without any way to change cash money directly. Credit cards are widely accepted and can be used also to pay a coffee at the bar, actually, they looks to be more welcome than paper money (be aware that most hotels require a credit card for guarantee even if you already paid the bill in advance or if you want to pay cash --- in most cases, no cash money will be accepted as deposit for guarantee, making your life in Australia not very easy if you don't like plastic money).


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WESTERN AUSTRALIA TRAVELOGUE AND PHOTOS

Perth downtown Perth and Fremantle: what to see in one day <<-- GO
Most trips in Western Australia will either start or finish in Perth, the main gateway to this part of the country. The city and the surroundings have much to offer: the modern downtown, Kings Park and Fremantle with its old prison, are attractions that shouldn't be missed during any trip in Western Australia.
Rottnest Island Excursion to Rottnest Island: beaches and quokkas <<-- GO
Less than an hour sailing from Fremantle, Rottnest Island offers a real subtropical paradise with large white sandy beaches and coral reefs, quokka (a small rare marsupial) and remains from a recent past, as the island was an important base to patrol Australia's largest port.
The Pinnacles Sandboarding in Lancelin and hike among The Pinnacles <<-- GO
Traveling from Perth to the north, you shouldn't miss a visit to the spectacular white sand dunes of Lancelin, where you can try out the sandboarding (a kind of snowboarding, but on the sand). A little further north, The Pinnacles Desert will surprise visitors with its rock formations that emerge from vivid ocher-colored sand.
Kalbarri National Park Trekking in Kalbarri National Park <<-- GO
Kalbarri National Park offers spectacular landscapes among canyons and ancient rocks shaped by Murchison river over millions and millions of years. The bravest ones will be able to experience the thrill of abseiling with ropes along a tall wall of orange rock.
Shark Bay Shark Bay:Monkey Mia dolphins, Shelly Beach and the Stromatolites <<-- GO
For its particular geology and biodiversity, Shark Bay is one of the most interesting destinations in Western Australia. Here you can see a kilometers of beaches made exclusively of small white shells, while Monkey Mia will entertain visitors with dolphins. Shark Bay is also one of the few places in the world to observe live stromatolites directly from a beach.
Coral Bay (Australia) Coral Bay: beaches and sand dunes <<-- GO
North of the Tropic of Capricorn, along the Indian Ocean shores, Coral Bay offers the opportunity to swim along one of Australia's richest coral reefs, sometimes reachable by swimming directly from the beach. An excursion aboard a quad bike, can be instead a good way to visit sand dunes and remote beaches.
Exmouth (Australia) Exmouth: Cape Range National Park <<-- GO
The town of Exmouth is located on a peninsula stretching out in the Indian Ocean: it is part of the Cape Range National Park for its biodiversity and for the beautiful landscape dominated by narrow gorges, magnificent coral beaches and endless Savannah. During the Southern Winter, Exmouth is one of the best places in the world to observe the whale sharks.
Karijini canyons Trekking to Karijini National Park <<-- GO
Karijini National Park is one of the most spectacular places in Australia: its canyons, sometimes so narrow to require walking in a single line, offer a glimpse into the geological history of the planet, as most of the rocks are up to 2.5 billions of years old. Waterfalls and natural pools offers instead a good chance for a refreshing swim.
Kimberly (Australia) The Devonian Reef into the Kimberly <<-- GO
The Kimberly occupies the northernmost part of the state of Western Australia and is the ideal place to observe ancient fossil coral reefs dating dating back to the Devonian era (about 400 million years ago), but now isolated in the center of a continent, far away from any sea.
Bungle Bungles Purnululu: Bungle Bungles and canyons <<-- GO
Discovered only in 1980, Purnululu National Park is featured by spectacular dome shaped mountains with black and orange stripes (Bungle Bungles) created by a quite unique process. Instead, narrow canyons dug into conglomerate rocks will keep hikers even more busy among fantastic landscapes.
Horizontal Waterfalls Flight-seeing over Horizontal Waterfalls and excursion to Cape Leveque <<-- GO
The Dampier Peninsula and Buccaneer Archipelago offer spectacular tropical landscapes, which are most appreciated by flying over the region with a small plane. The Horizontal Waterfalls are a quite unique phenomenon in the world, while a landing at Cape Leveque allows visitors to swim among stunning beaches almost completely deserted.

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