Travel Story Wildflower season: What's blooming on WA's Coral Coast

Photo of Niall McIlroy

We check out the wildflower forecast as the State's Mid West begins to erupt in colourful natural displays.

Our State’s west coast is known for its waves which attract surfers from all over the world. But at this time of year, it’s the floral wave that captures much attention.

For up on the Coral Coast around North West Cape the wave of wildflowers rises each July and August, colouring-in roadsides, peppering paddocks, sweeping southward. There are regular hotspots — places which always flush with everlastings and sandy tracks where wreath flowers grow every year. 

But the little specks of lesser-found specimens that seem to be tucked away somewhere different whenever they grow — these are the displays only the locals know. 

Thankfully, they are very sharing folk and we’ve collected all the updates and advice we’ve received from those who keep their ears close to the ground to bring you the wildflower spots worth seeing now and over the coming weeks.

The good, consistent rainfall that has reached much of the region means that the best of the blooms could be yet to come according to Kings Park and Botanic Garden senior curator Grady Brand.

“The Shark Bay region is shaping up for a good paper daisy season. They have had pretty consistent early rains. The drive from the Billabong Roadhouse into Monkey Mia should have lots of everlastings,” Mr Brand says.

“There were later rains to Geraldton and inland from there, giving the makings of a good season at that latitude.

“Dalwallinu is still a ‘must’ to go to — it is the launching pad for all the Mid West flora. You can stay there and day trip and find flowers all through that region.” 

The coastal region which stretches from Cervantes north to North West Cape has three of Australia’s 15 biodiversity hotspots so a good first port of call is the Australia’s Coral Coast website (australiascoralcoast.com/wildflowers) which lists perennial hotspots as well as this year’s more obscure colonies and one-off sightings. 

Ningaloo Reef is renowned for its beauty and colour and at this time of year there can be quite a spectacle on dry land at Cape Range National Park.

Cape Range grevillea, Cape Range kurrajong and verticordia have all been known to grow at Shothole Canyon and Charles Knife Canyon with acacia prominent in the shrubland and rock figs clinging to the tops of dramatic gorges. The green bird flower which really does look like a hummingbird is also one to look out for. The Milyering Visitor Centre on Yardie Creek Road has a good library of local flora.

Carpets of everlastings are currently providing a welcome mat into Carnarvon. There are yellow everlastings about 1km south of the OTC Satellite Dish on North West Coastal Highway, yellow and white everlastings along Blowholes Road and yet more near Oyster Creek turn-off on HMAS Sydney Memorial Drive (Carnarvon Road) and 22km north of town on Miaboolya Beach Road. Purple Dampier pea and native daisies have also been spotted in the area. 

To the south, the Shark Bay World Heritage area has plants that thrive in arid conditions and others that are commonly found in the cooler, wetter South West of the State. 

As such, the region is home to more than 820 plant species including some that are rare or threatened. 

Shark Bay daisies have started to appear while Tamala roses, which William Dampier was believed to have collected in 1699, are in bloom all over the peninsula. Kurara (acacia), dune wattle and Wurmbea odorata (a perennial herb) have all been seen flowering at dunes and close to the beach near Ocean Park Aquarium just a few minutes south of Denham. 

Near Kalbarri, native orchids can be seen from the pathways along the coastal cliffs at Natural Bridge and Red Bluff. Flowers are appearing on the Mushroom Valley walk trail to Mushroom Rock.

The coastal areas around Kalbarri are perennial hotspots with species known to flower there including: eight Nancy (Wurmbea tenella), Murchison rose (Diplolaena grandiflora), grevillea (Grevillea commutata), coastal ray flower, guinea flower (Hibbertia scandens), claw flower, hairy mirbelia (Mirbelia trichocalyx), white spider orchid, holly- leaved tail flower, milkmaids, flannel bush, tar bush and purple thryptomene.

Keep your eyes peeled when walking in Kalbarri National Park where there are flowers along the road and at the carpark for Ross Graham Lookout and Hawks Head Lookout as well as at well- known beauty spots Nature’s Window and Z-Bend Gorge.

At the Loop Walk the following flowers have all been seen: native yam, purple star (Patersonia occidentalis), leschenaultia, yellow rose, pink pokers, bird beak hakea, guinea flower, banksia, claw flower and mirbelia. There are more than 1100 species known to flower in this region between June and November so be sure to check in at the Kalbarri Visitor Centre on Grey Street, where you can also get a copy of the local wildflower guide.

A few minutes out of town along Ajana-Kalbarri Road, fire bush, vanilla bush and banksia are all reported at Murchison House Station. Further inland at the ruins of the stone and brick Warribanno Chimney, said to be the oldest European mining site in Western Australia, and to the east at Galena Nature Reserve on the North West Coastal Highway — there’s flannel bush, wattle (Acacia sphacelata), round leaf grevillea (Grevillea teretifolia) and woody pear.

The blankets of everlastings have been sweeping south and there should be a good coverage for the next few weeks east of Geraldton at Tenindewa. Take the Geraldton-Mt Magnet Road towards Mullewa, turn off at the 80km mark and take the road to Yuna. It’s about 1km to the Pioneer Well sign, pull in to see the flowers.

The Mid West is wildflower heartland and the string of inland farming towns punctuates a landscape set to blossom with the new flora brought by good rains and sunny days. Mullewa, Morawa, Perenjori, Dalwallinu, Mingenew, Three Springs, Carnamah, Coorow and Moora all have visitor or community resource centres and it’s worth phoning ahead for the latest tips on what flowers you may see. 

At Mullewa, on the Geraldton-Mt Magnet Road, there’s a 3km walk which starts opposite the caravan park. Look for the orange marker tape, not long into the walk, which has been left where clumps of green snail orchids have been spotted. Purple fairy orchids have also been seen and locals expect everlastings to put on a show from mid-August.

About 30km east of Mullewa, the wreath flowers are big and green with the promise of impressive flowers. To find them, drive east from Mullewa and at Pindar take the unsealed Pindar-Beringarra Road for about 10km. The plants are on both sides of the road and locals reckon they’ll be in full flower by the end of August. Trucks use this road so visitors are asked to exercise caution. 

About 40 minutes south-east of Mullewa on the road to Morawa (Mullewa-Wubin Road), Canna is a known orchid hotspot though the flowers are yet to appear at time of writing. There are, however, pretty pink everlastings growing along Pallotine Road, 20 minutes north near Tardun. 

Coalseam Conservation Park, 80 minutes east of Geraldton, has proved to be a rich seam of wildflowers over the years. 

A tremendous range of species has been found and the park is known for its blankets of colourful everlastings. Pink and yellow everlastings have reached a good height and density and are expected to be in full flourish within the next few weeks. 

Visitors should also look out for banksias, hakeas and grevilleas, snail and spider orchids and fringe lillies while there are also plenty of birds and the odd kangaroo and emu.

The park and town of Mingenew to the south sit in what was a glacial valley and there are fossils embedded in the banks of the Irwin river which flows through Coalseam.

The river is a great spot for a picnic and park visitors can also see old mine shafts — remnants of WA’s oldest coal mine.

Everlastings are beginning to bloom at Mingenew and there are flowering shrubs and early season orchids. 

Depot Hill Reserve, 12km north-west of town, was used as an army firing range during World War II and a walking track leads to the remnants of an old training trench.

Between August and October the reserve is cloaked in a sea of pink everlastings and is a great spot to see flowering shrubs such as the bird beak hakea (the district emblem) and orchids including snail, donkey, spider, cowslip and purple tassels. 

The Irwin River also flows through this reserve as it winds towards Dongara so it’s another good spot for a picnic. 

Three Springs is to the south along the Midlands Road and to the west of town orchids are known to thrive in Wilson Nature Reserve during August.

On Carnamah-Perenjori Road, yellow and pink everlastings should reach their peak by mid to late this month.

There’s always a friendly welcome in close-knit Coorow, where locals take pride in their native flora and in continuing the work of Bart Mailey, who championed the wildflower drive. There are white everlastings in bloom at Coorow Community Farm where there’s a carpet of yellow pompoms and some purple orchids. 

Coorow local Guy Sims says the Bart Mailey Memorial Walk Trail will certainly be worth visiting this year and is currently the best spot to enjoy the everlastings. 

It can be started in town or at the farm and includes a 1.2km loop around the top of the hill where eremophila is now flowering. Pink and blue everlastings should be out soon while donkey, spider and enamel orchids have all been spotted around the farm and on the corner of Midlands and Reservoir roads just north of Coorow. 

Wattle, thryptomene and verticordia can all be seen along Midlands Road and Marchagee Track and wreath flowers are forming and should soon be in bloom at the gravel pit near the corner of Coorow-Latham Road and Williams Road.

Locals tie pink ribbons where there are wildflowers or curious flora such as the salmon gum mushrooms, growing near the tennis courts, which are said to be bigger than a soft drink can.

Get morning tea and the latest advice on the flowers at the Wildflower Cafe in The Town Hall building every weekday from 9.30-11am. Lunch is available from 11am-2pm from Monday to Wednesday while there are lunches available at Coorow Hotel from Thursday to Sunday. 

On the coast, Arrowsmith near Dongara-Port Denison is another spot where travellers may soon see orchids and it’s all happening around the fishing towns of Green Head and Leeman. Wattles, blue fairy orchids, scarlet feather flowers, native wisteria, thryptomene and templetonia are flowering around both towns and to the east at Stockyard Gully Caves and Lake Indoon. 

Locals recommend checking out Stockyard Gully Reserve, Beekeepers Nature Reserve and Lake Logue Nature Reserve; the coastal Kwongan heathland changes constantly at this time of year with all sorts of flowers blooming at different times.

Catch Lesueur National Park at the right time and you’re in for a treat. The park is half an hour from Green Head and accessible by two-wheel-drive.

There’s a lot in flower including the relatively rare pink-flowered hakea (Hakea neurophylla) which is native to the area and can be seen in the park and on Coorow-Greenhead Road between Brand Highway and Cockleshell Gully Road. 

Hakea eneabba should flower in the coming weeks while one- sided bottlebrush (Calothamnus quadrifidus) is out between Eneabba and Badgingarra. At Eneabba itself, the orchids were pretty early with the crinkle- leafed bunny orchid all but gone and the promise of hooded and snail orchids to come. 

Set in the North Eneabba Sand Plains and with 12km of walking track, Western Flora Caravan Park is a renowned hotspot with hooded and slender snail orchids out, golden wattles and hakea such as honeybush, red bird beak and polyanthema flowering and Casuarina equisetifolia and pretty egg and bacon flowers in bloom. Phone the caravan park on 9955 2030 for information about stays which include free wildflower spotting tours. 

Halfway between Eneabba and Badgingarra, there are great displays at Hi Vallee Farm with the spectacular Dryandra catoglypta, a species which grows in a very small area, in full bloom. Also flowering is Hakea auriculata, rose of the west (Eucalyptus macrocarpa), prickly moses (Acacia pulchella) and Acacia applanata. Wildflower and birdwatching tours and camping are available on the farm — phone 9652 3035. 

Keep your eyes peeled for orchids which have been making themselves at home in patches of damp sand throughout the Mid West.

There’ve been reports of colonies of donkey orchids (Diuris sp.) and blue fairy orchids (Pheladenia deformis) around Moora.

At Nambung National Park, the sprinklings of colour amid the rather otherworldy Pinnacles can make for great pictures. Well into spring, expect to see wattles, quandong, yellowtail flower, thick-leaved fan flower, white clematis, cockies tongues, parrot bush and banksia species.

Nature doesn’t run to a timetable nor newspaper deadlines and at time of writing some areas weren’t yet in flower — it could be another few weeks before they reach their peak.

There are facilities in towns throughout the region with Geraldton, Dongara-Port Denison, Eneabba, Cervantes and Jurien Bay all great bases for a longer stay. Go to australiascoralcoast.com/wildflowers and visitor centres.

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