the Road Trip
With every long road trip we embark on we always question ourselves. Have we allowed enough time? Are we being optimistic thinking we can do these two fantastic destinations justice in just 2 weeks? The answer is inevitably always going to be a no! No holiday ever seems to be long enough, and we always seem to leave places like this on a promise to come back and explore more. Certainly Exmouth and Kalbarri are no exception.
The drive is definitely long…over 1200km long! However, the reward far outweighs the the seemingly never ending road. We took the very sensible option of breaking our drive up over two days. Well worth factoring in when you’re planning such a trip, although perhaps the chosen overnight stay of a roadside rest stop was not ideal. With road-trains barreling past us all throughout the night, our sleep was less than restful! Luckily, we’d managed to get a decent way up, so all that remained was a short 3 hour drive into Exmouth.
This was our first trip up into Exmouth, and looking around we were starting to wonder just what we’d got ourselves into. The landscape is baron to say the least, with termite mounds scattered throughout an uninspiring outlook. We certainly had everything crossed for something special when we pulled into town.
What a contrast! From open roads of nothingness to a bustling township that appeared from nowhere. Complete with the local emu population crossing roads and strolling down sidewalks…a double take at first, but nope, we weren’t hallucinating. It’s almost as though this place was set up for those tourists that think we ride kangaroos!
WHERE WE STAYED
We chose to stay at the RAC Exmouth Cape Holiday Park for our stay, with a touch of luxury in the form of an en-suite campsite. We find these a really great option, especially with young kids. The park itself was pretty good. Sites were a decent size and although ours was paved, the majority of non en-suite sites were nice and grassy.
With a swimming pool and playground for the kids, along with the standard peddle carts buzzing around the park, they were not short of things to do while we were at camp. We were also big fans of the evening outdoor cinema. Of course our campsite was not immune from the local emus either….with what seemed like a resident family of 4 milling around the park and inspecting campsites all day long which also proved to be great entertainment for the kids.
What to do?
With the main purpose of our trip being for Kelly’s swim with the whalesharks we were a little unsure of what else was on offer (apart from the pristine beaches of course). The beaches certainly didn’t disappoint with Turquoise bay topping the list; a must see on the Exmouth list as well as the pebble beach for something a little different.
The whaleshark swim was nothing short of spectacular, with the gentle giants providing Kelly a full day out on the water with 6 swims that could only be described as a once in a lifetime experience. The guys at Ningaloo Whalesharks certainly knew their stuff, and the on board photographer was well worth the $40 to get some awesome photos as a momento.
What did take us by surprise (particularly after such a non-descript drive into the area) was the amazing
gorges that are just outside of Exmouth. We managed to visit a couple (Shothole Canyon and Charles Knife), but fell short of making it down to the Yardie Creek Gorge.
Check out the Glass bottom boat tours as a must as well, giving you a snorkel out over the reefs as well as some excellent commentary on board by Alek; there’s nothing better when doing these type of tours than when you get someone who is passionate about what they do, and that certainly came across from the moment his assistant Yo picked us up from the campsite.
Without a doubt it’s a trek to get here, but if you allow yourself 10-12 days you should be able to check out the sights and get yourself some well earned downtime in too. There’s not too many places that offer such a variety of activities in such a beautiful setting.
Check out http://www.visitningaloo.com.au for more info and to plan your adventure.
No sooner had we arrived in Exmouth when it seemed it was time to leave again…..our 6 night stay fell short of what we think would be the perfect time frame to really enjoy what was on offer, I guess that just means we’ll have to go back!
With an early start we were Kalbarri bound. Not our first visit to Kalbarri, but one we always look forward to and the kids love whats on offer there too. That still didn’t make the 8+ hour car journey go any quicker(!) but as a stopover combination with an Exmouth or Coral Bay trip, we don’t think you could do any better. We couldn’t think of 2 better destinations to give you that taste of what our great state has to offer in the north.
Where We Stayed
Meeting up with a couple of families in Kalbarri with similar aged children to us, we again opted for the luxury of an en-suite campsite at the Kalbarri Tudor Caravan Park. This is a great little park, although the sites are quite compact! So if you’re planning on taking your super sized caravan up here, be sure that your reversing skills are finely tuned for this one!
Just a short stroll into town the park again has everything that both parents and kids could want. Playground and jumpy pillow, swimming pool and a games room. This park is family central with kids everywhere enjoying their family holidays. It gives you that holiday buzz when you pull in and the kids are in the back unbuckling their seat belts just waiting for the car to stop so they can jump out and explore; these are the type of places we love!
what to do
The one problem we have with Kalbarri is deciding what to do. Unless you travel with a bottomless pit of money (lucky those who do) the rest of us tend to pick either 1-2 tours to do per holiday. This is where the problem comes in…Kalbarri has so much to do and so much on offer you’ll just want to keep coming back again and again…and again!
There are the obligatory trips out to the gorges, natures window and the coastal cliffs, and these are a must see by the way, the scenery is nothing short of spectacular. Tours and expeditions are in abundance here. From scenic plane flights, quad bike tours, kayak tours, deep sea fishing and horse riding through to hiring your own tinny or surfcat to explore the river. If you can’t find something that you’d like to try in Kalbarri, you’re not looking hard enough!
For this trip we settled on the beach buggy tour down at Waego beach. Value for money it’s actually pretty good, and the buzz you get zipping along the beach in an open air buggy (or quad bike) is brilliant. You’re given various stops along the way and then head up into sand dunes to take in some breathtaking sights. The ocean never ceases to amaze with it’s sheer display of power when the waves crash over the rocks…and all this from front row seats on your own buggy as you swerve to miss the water reaching further and further up the beach.
The other families that we met up with opted for a couple of different tours. One of which was the kayak safari up the Murchison River. The other was an early morning horse ride along beach and river. Both trips were given a big thumbs up, making it even harder to choose which trips to do next time we visit Kalbarri!
Being just over 6 hours from Perth, for the hard core travellers it’s possible for a long weekend break 3-4 days…but it will leave you wanting to come back for more. Even after almost a week there (and our 4th visit) we again left feeling like there was still more to do. It’s a great family spot with plenty of activities, particularly in the school holidays. One recommendation would be to book early to get exactly what you want, when you want it.
If you are travelling back from further north, it’s a perfect stopover for a few bonus days holiday before heading back to reality.
For this or any trips you are thinking of doing, why not give us a call to see if we’ve done it yet. Our camper trailers are also the perfect companion on trips like these offering an abundance of storage space and great setup for any campsite. With our one low rate all year round, it also leaves you with more to explore. So get yourself out there and see whats to offer on our very own doorstep. You wont regret it!