Epic Coral Coast by road ... warts and all

I wrote a newspaper column a while back in which I explained I was in the middle of a big feature about a driving holiday — this is it. Our mission was to travel, without killing each other, from Perth to Exmouth via Kalbarri, Monkey Mia, Carnarvon and Coral Bay...

We then aimed to return south after spending a night at Wooramel River Retreat (a station which is, unsurprisingly, near the Wooramel River, east of Carnarvon) and Geraldton.

The “we” was me, my other (smarter and calmer) half Grace, and two kids.

We aren’t naming them in case they one day sue us for the cultural appropriation of their childhoods.

We made it to Kalbarri in one piece and made a beeline for our accommodation.

I have laid my weary body, which usually stank of mulies, just about everywhere in this town : the old Red Bluff caravan park ($42 for a two-bedroom chalet with ensuite back in the day), private homes in the old town, a B&B in the new part of town, a mansion overlooking the coastal cliffs, the magnificent Wittecarra Beach House, motels, lodges and villas.

Our home for two nights would be the Kalbarri Tudor Holiday Park.

It was neat and a five-minute walk from the Kalbarri bakery.

This pleased me greatly.

It also sports an impressive playground, replete with one of those big inflatable rubber domes that kids can go nuts on.

This pleased everyone under nine.

The playground was also the scene of one of the creepiest spectacles you can imagine. As I walked past the park’s playground to get a coffee the next morning, I saw 50 kids all bouncing in complete silence.

It was very early and they had apparently been told by their parents that they would be beaten mercilessly if they woke anyone up. It was like a scene from Children of the Corn.

The landscape around Kalbarriis jaw-droppingly impressive, particularly the coastal gorges. Every afternoon tourists park their cars for killer pictures at different lookouts as the sun sets.

There is one gorge called Pot Alley that you should investigate further.

If you walk down the rocky path to the sea you will find a magnificent little beach surrounded by curious caves and giant rocky fingers which push into the surf. The coastal cliffs are even better if you are on a boat looking back at them from the water. We did that on our second afternoon with the Reefwalker Ocean Discovery tour.

Seeing the massive swell gain speed and turn into thunderous waves, with lunatic surfers catching them, was quite a sight from the other side.

And with the number of whales frolicking and dolphins swimming under the boat, you could excuse yourself for thinking that maybe we haven’t completely wrecked the planet.

Read the full story here.

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