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Western Australia National Parks: Road Trip from Darwin to Perth
Western Australia road trip. Red earth. Kangaroos. Vastness. The west coast of Australia is much wilder and more uninhabited than the east coast. And significantly fewer tourists get lost in this fantastic landscape. In 2010 we set out with a small campervan: from Darwin to Perth through Western Australia. A unique journey from the tropical rainforest of the Northern Territory along the west coast to the modern metropolis of Perth. Here are our highlights and travel tips for Western Australia.
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Bathing in Litchfield National Park - watch out for salties!
The Litchfield National Park scores with rainforest, four waterfalls and its animal inhabitants. It's Australian winter. Even so, the temperatures are tropical. Fortunately, there are a few swimming areas in the park. We use the one at the famous Wangi Falls to cool off.
In the rainy season, however, the bathing areas in the park are closed. Then they are inhabited by the dangerous saltwater crocodiles - the salties. There are warning signs everywhere. Although we are here outside of the rainy season and some other people are already splashing in the water without being disturbed, I feel quite uncomfortable. Fortunately, there is no crocodile in sight. But later on our hike we meet a few kangaroos and lots of bats hanging upside down on trees and waiting for darkness. Great!
A bird's eye view of Western Australia: The fascinating Bungle Bungles and Lake Argyle
In Kununurra we treat ourselves to a scenic flight. Even if we are usually as economical as possible on our travels, we simply cannot miss seeing the famous Bungle Bungles from the air. The Bungle Bungles are located in the Purnululu National Park (UNESCO World Heritage Site), which can only be reached overland by four-wheel drive vehicle. So definitely not for our campervan. So off to the airport! Together with a Dutch couple, we start our shaky adventure in a tiny propeller machine.
First it goes over the fertile farmland on the river and then on to Lake Argyle, the largest reservoir in Australia. From the air you have a magnificent view of the deep blue water and the many small islands. It continues over an unimaginably large area of farmland. Since the landscape is so barren, you need large areas here to feed your animals.
And then finally the fascinating Bungle Bungels of the Purnululu National Park come into view. Countless sandstone rocks in the shape of beehives tower in front of us. An unforgettable sight! Our pilot flies close over the rock formations, through narrow canyons and finally lands on a bumpy dust runway next to a green palm oasis. Phenomenal!
On the way back we fly past the Argyle diamond mine - it is one of the world's largest diamond producers. For us a rather bleak sight. The mine lies like a giant construction site in the otherwise untouched wild landscape. The huge bulldozers look like little ants from the air.
Steep rocks and baobab trees in Mirimia National Park
Back in Kununurra we take a trip to the nearby Mirimia National Park, also known as the Hidden Valley National Park or Mini Bungle Bungle. We hike through gorges framed by steep rock walls, past orange-red sandstone formations - which resemble the bungle bungles. There are also the fun baobab trees in the park, which look like they came from a fantasy movie and could come to life at any moment.
Kangaroo Paradise in Geikie Gorge National Park
Geikie Gorge National Park is located in the Kimberly region of Western Australia. Simply turn into Geikie Gorge Road at the small town of Fitzroy Crossing, and then you can't miss it. In the Geikie Gorge, the Fitzroy River has dug a canyon about 30 meters deep into the limestone cliffs. At the edge of the gorge you can hike and spot crocodiles in the water. The cute little freshwater crocodiles live here. We were there early in the morning and saw many kangaroos and wallabies in the grassy landscape above the gorge.
Danger: Geikie Gorge National Park is closed in the rainy season from December to March.
Camels, beach and horse racing in the "pearl town" of Broome in Western Australia
After 1,800 kilometers (from Darwin) on the Great Northern Highway through the dusty outback, we reach the west coast of Australia. Broome saw a big boom in the early part of the last century when it was discovered that pearls could be found on the ocean floor. At that time there was a great pearl rush with over 400 pearl diving boats (also called luggers) at times. A small museum provides information about the history today. Otherwise, you can go for a walk in Broome on Cable Beach's 22-kilometer-long sandy beach, try camel rides or go to the 90-year-old cinema. We happened to be there at the right time to watch a horse race. Perfect timing! And a real experience, because the Aussis are total horse racing fans.
Fire-red rocks and waterfalls in Karijini National Park
In the fascinating Karijini National Park you can hike to waterfalls, swim in rock pools or climb Mount Bruce. We climb down to Fortescue Falls and admire the colorful, streaky rocks around the waterfall. Then we hike through bushland above the Dales Gorge to the Fern Pool and Circular Pool. We especially like the contrast of the red rocks with the green water of the river. And we also ran into a dingo!
Tip: On the way from Broome to Karijini National Park, a stop at Eighty Mile Beach is worthwhile.
Animals in Cape Range National Park in Western Australia
The Cape Range National Park is located in the west of the North West Cape peninsula directly on the sea. We explore the dense bushland on foot, meet emus and kangaroos and are fascinated by the primeval-looking monitor lizards.
Hike to Mundu Mundu Gorge in Cape Range National Park
On the multi-hour circular hike through the Mandu Mandu Gorge, we enjoy the beautiful view and discover black-footed rock wallabies dozing in the sun in crevices. The kangaroos are super camouflaged with their gray fur. And totally cute! The longer we focus our eyes on the gray rocks, the more rock kangaroos we discover. It is only with great effort that we can finally tear ourselves away from the cuddly animals and continue hiking.
Western Australia tip: snorkeling in the Nigaloo Reef
The famous Ningaloo Reef, the little brother of the Great Barrier Reef, is located off the coast of the national park. We grab snorkels and fins and dive into the water. After all, we cannot miss the underwater landscape with its corals and colorful fish. By the way, snorkeling equipment can be rented on site.
Wonderful landscape and many exciting animals: a brilliant day in the Cape Range National Park!
Breathtaking coastline in Western Australia
On the way south it is worth stopping at Coral Bay, Carnarvaron and Shell Beach. Coral Bay has great dunes and you can go snorkeling trips by boat.
In Carnarvaron there is the legendary One Mile Jetty. The old jetty is already quite rotten in some places and sometimes sways alarmingly in the wind. A real adventure. We ran to the end then. In the meantime, the rear part should be blocked for security reasons. A small museum illustrates the former function of the jetty.
Shell Beach is also worth a stop. It consists of millions of tiny white mussel shells. The madness.
François-Peron National Park
The François-Peron National Park on the Peron Peninsula owes its name to a French zoologist. We can drive our campervan to the old sheep farm - the Peron Homestead. All other roads are unfortunately only for four-wheel drive vehicles. We always find old farm buildings exciting. So we stroll through the grounds and imagine what life was like here in the 1950s, when the park was still a sheep farm. On the way back we met an Emu family who bravely crossed the street with their striped offspring.
Visiting the dolphins in Monkey Mia
We continue to the most famous dolphins in Australia: to Monkey Mia in the east of the Peron Peninsula. Monkey Mia is a bay that is visited by wild dolphins every day. These are fed by rangers three times a day and can of course be observed particularly well during this time. These dolphin feedings are quite touristy and we're not entirely sure what to make of them. But at least the dolphins allegedly only get about a third of their daily food requirement here so that they can maintain their natural hunting behavior. There is also a beautiful sandy beach and curious pelicans in the bay.
We treated ourselves to a trip on a catamaran in Monkey Mia and even saw manatees. Totally genius. Coincidentally, participants from the Australian Farmer Wants a Wife relay were also there. We had already observed them while filming, when everyone was pulling along the beach in a camel caravan. Very funny!
Funny shaped pinnacles in the Nambung National Park
The Nambung National Park in Western Australia is famous for its up to 4 meters high - sometimes quite weathered - limestone pillars: the Pinnacles. If you think now there are just a few limestone pillars, far from it. There is a huge army of Pinnacles there. You can even drive through the so-called Pinnacles Desert. And of course, walking between them on foot. Pretty fascinating! And as if that weren't already attraction enough, there are also shifting dunes made of white sand in the Nambung National Park, which are located directly on the Indian Ocean.
Cute koalas in Yanchep National Park
Yanchep National Park is about 40 kilometers north of Perth. Our absolute highlight is the koala colony. There you can walk on a boardwalk and look out for the cute koalas in the eucalyptus trees. We are completely blown away - like every time we see koalas. They are just too cute! Even if they mostly just hang in the tree as a sleeping ball. The gray kangaroos also live in the park. They are particularly good to see in the early morning or evening, as otherwise they hide in the bushes from the sun. You can also explore one of the many caves in the park, learn something about the history of the Nyoongar - an Aboriginal tribe - or watch birds.
Useful information and links about the national parks in Western Australia
Entry into the National parks in Western Australia cost $ 12 per vehicle per day. If you want to visit several parks, the Holiday Pass may be worthwhile. It is valid for 4 weeks in all parks and costs $ 44 per vehicle.
If you still need a travel guide, we can recommend our road trip companion: The Travel Know-How Australia - West and Center.
Links to National Park Websites in Western Australia
Litchfield National Park
Monkey Mia Conservation Park
- Admission: $ 12 per day or $ 18 per month
- Dolphin feeding: 3 times a day between 8 a.m. and 12 p.m.
Have you been to Western Australia or planning a trip? Share your experiences or questions in the comments.
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