This fantastic 17-day itinerary starts in Perth and is timed to not only see WA’s grain crops, the Margaret River, Esperance and the North West/Coral Coast regions in all their springtime glory, but also the state’s world-famed and dazzling wildflowers.
WA is home to more than 12,000 species of wildflowers – and 60 per cent of them are found nowhere else on the planet. Tour is limited to a maximum of 20 passengers.
Tour highlights include:
Because group members will be arriving from all parts of the country, the tour is priced out of Perth. Airfares (or other means of travel) to and from Perth are additional. We are happy to help arrange these.
OPTIONAL TOUR OF THE BROOME REGION AND THE PILBARA GORGES
Almost everyone who has booked on this tour has also expressed very strong interest in making the most of their time in the west by checking out the wonders of Broome, the Buccaneer Archipelago and the Pilbara Gorges through to Exmouth.
To this end, we have put together an optional, fully guided tour for 5 nights/6 days from Broome overland through the Pilbara and onto Exmouth. This once-in-a-lifetime adventure showcases the very best of the region and links up with the Gems of the West farm tour starting in Exmouth on Sept 8. The fully inclusive cost (without airfares) is $3750 per person.
But there’s another very special part of the West Kimberley well worth visiting – The Buccaneer Archipelago and the world famous Horizontal Falls – dazzling jewels of the natural world. We have arranged a visit to this spectacular region as an add-on to the overland tour through the PIlbara. The additional cost is $1750 pp.
Click the View or Print Itinerary button below for more details about these options or contact Lloyd (0428 724 615) for more details.
If you’re not part of the optional Broome/West Kimberley/Pilbara tour/s, own arrangements for travel to Perth today as there are currently no same day flight connections from the eastern states and up to Exmouth. If you prefer, you can travel across earlier to WA to spend a few extra days in and around Perth but the whole group will be spending 2 nights exploring the capital at the end of this tour.
Early this morning we are transferred to the airport for our 7.00 am flight to Exmouth in the state’s northwest. We will be met at the airport and transferred to our hotel (The Exmouth Escape). I have requested early check-ins but these aren’t guaranteed. There is an excellent restaurant on site where you can grab a coffee or even a late breakfast. A must do this morning is to visit the nearby (10 min walk) Ningaloo Visitor Centre. Here we get a fantastic introduction to the area via interactive displays, very helpful staff members and even an aquarium. The Centre’s café also does very good Devonshire teas.
By around 1 pm today, the group members coming to Exmouth via the Pilbara, will arrive. The whole group will meet up for a welcome lunch at Adrift Café, one of the town’s best eateries.
After lunch, the Pilbara crew will have a chance to visit the Ningaloo Visitor Centre for their orientation to the Cape and then at 4.15 we are all aboard Latitude 22 which has been chartered exclusively for our group for a sunset cruise. This 21 m craft is one of the most modern, luxurious, spacious and comfortable whale spotting vessels in Australia.
We enjoy Exmouth prawns, snacks and drinks while counting how many whales we can spot. We will be cruising in the sheltered waters of Exmouth Gulf (on the eastern side of North West Cape Peninsula) where humpback whales and other large sea creatures congregate in Aug-Sep.
At 7.15 this morning we travel north for 15 mins towards the tip of the Cape for breakfast, with magnificent ocean views, at the Bundegi Beach Shack. After breakfast we venture to the western side of the Peninsula and the magnificent Ningaloo Reef. At 9 am we will board our glass bottom boat, and within minutes, we are in a magical coral reef environment where we get very up close and personal with the local inhabitants – and without getting our feet wet (we’ve got that option tomorrow).
After an hour or so on the reef we head back to (the very nearby) shore and continue south along the western side of the Cape for about 60 km and onto Yardie Creek Boat Tours. At 11 am we jump on board our specially chartered boat and head into gorge country with expert commentary supplied by very experienced locals.
After our gorge tour we will head back north and call into a few of the many beautiful beaches of the Cape Range National Park. We stop at the Milyering Discovery Centre for lunch and a chance to check out the excellent interpretive displays and to ask any questions you have about the Ningaloo Coast World Heritage Area. By mid-afternoon we continue north to the spectacular Vlamignh Head Lighthouse and then back to the hotel.
Dinner tonight is at Whalers, the excellent restaurant at our hotel.
Today has been left free of organised group activities so you can pursue your own personalised interests of the reef, the National Park or the town of Exmouth itself. The following list of activities is not an exhaustive one by any means, but it does cover the main options:
• Kings Ningaloo Reef Tours. This company, as they say, “is the original and the best” specialising in Whale Shark & Humpback Whale Eco Tours. While you might be lucky to see and swim with whale sharks in early Sept (they did last year), there will almost certainly be humpbacks about. This tour takes you to the western side of the Cape where the reef is (the whole group’s sunset cruise on the 8th is on the eastern side). The cost is $250 per person as an observer and around $350 if you want to have a swim with them. I snorkelled with a whale shark in April and it was simply amazing.
• Scenic Flights. (There are 2 options - Ningaloo Aviation and NorWest Air Work). A scenic flight will show you why the Ningaloo Coast is so worthy of its World Heritage listing. The 60 minute flight highlights the striking contrast between the rugged arid Cape Range with the sparkling white beaches, and the clear, turquoise colours of the Ningaloo Reef. The pilots are experts at spotting marine life and will be on the lookout for whale sharks, humpback whales, manta rays, dugongs, and turtles just to name a few. The more extended 90 minute flight takes you as far south as Coral Bay. Prices range from around $285 to $385 per person. Cheaper if we charter the whole plane.
• A Spot of Fishing. The fishing is excellent, very accessible and with an immense range of species. You can be reef fishing for red emperor, spangled emperor, coral trout, rankin cod, scarlet sea perch and gold band snapper to name just a few of the superb eating fish inhabiting Exmouth’s pristine waters.
• A Touch of Local Culture. Spend your day at leisure checking out some of the attractions in town including the Ningaloo Inspired gallery with all local and original artwork while Gallery 6707 features the fantastic photography of Jess Hadden. The Whalebone Brewery is a local institution offering family-brewed craft beer and pizzas showcasing local ingredients, or spend more time at the Ningaloo Visitor Centre and Aquarium. There’s plenty of local attractions and our bus is available to move you about.
Free morning in Exmouth before an early lunch and our transfer to the airport for our flight to Perth. On the way to the airport we will call into the Potshot and Jaywick/Krait Memorial. In 1942 the US Navy established a submarine base at this location under the code name “Operation Potshot”.
Australian Army, Navy and Airforce personnel operated early warning radar, radio stations, anti-aircraft guns and provided fighter cover for submarines.
The famous and very successful Operation Jaywick also departed from this location. This was a commando raid by Australian special forces disguised as Singaporean fishermen aboard the Krait which attacked shipping in Singapore Harbour.
We say good-bye to our bus driver and board our 3.15 pm flight to Perth.
On arrival we are met by our new driver and charter coach for transfer to New Norcia, 1.5 hrs to the north.
Founded in 1847 by Spanish Benedictine Monks, the town has had many purposes – a mission, a monastery and more recently, a provider of education and farm supplies to the locals.
After a guided tour of this historic location we board our coach and head southeast and into the heart of the WA Wheatbelt region. We enjoy farm visits, lunch and the wildflowers around York before continuing on our way to Corrigin for overnight.
We’ll continue southeast today before arriving at the Lake King Bush Engineers Tractor Museum housing a collection of home made tractors, built by the region’s farmers in the 1970s and 80s.
We continue south and onto Ravensthorpe and the famous Ravensthorpe Wildflower Show. More than 650 fresh wildflower specimens will be on display and there will be a number of botanists on hand to answer any questions you have. In addition, there will be art and craft stalls and other wonderful exhibits and food outlets that only country shows can offer.
We then travel onto Esperance, about 2 hours to the east. With a population of more than 14,000, Esperance is a thriving port with its major industries being agriculture, tourism and fishing.
Today we enjoy a visit to the Esperance port and other nearby attractions including the beach at Lucky Bay, located in Cape Le Grand National Park. Lucky Bay is probably the most famous of the Esperance beaches – it’s the one that the Lucky Bay kangaroos call home. We’ll visit farms in the east of the region before a get together this evening at a local Esperance brewery.
It's a big day today so a nice early start as we head westwards through sprawling farms carved out of the scrub and onto the beautiful coastal settlement of Hopetoun, the eastern gateway to the Fitzgerald River National Park and the world renowned Fitzgerald Biosphere. Almost a fifth of all WA's plant species thrive in the diverse landscapes of the Fitzgerald Biosphere, many of these are found nowhere else on Earth. Little wonder this flora hotspot is internationally recognised as one of the world's most botanically significant regions, with a listing in the UNESCO World Network of Biosphere Reserves.
At Hopetoun we take a glorious coastal drive with stunning ocean and mountain vistas. The roadside will be dotted with wildflowers in all their springtime glory. This the best place to view the magnificent Royal Hakea and other unique species.
Then we continue eastward to the small town of Ongerup. Here we meet some local farmers and visit the Yongergnow Malleefowl Centre. This is a multipurpose facility, spread over 5 hectares of native bush and two vermin-proof aviaries, dedicated to the Malleefowl conservation and local community development.
We then continue southwest through the spectacular Stirling Ranges – with wheat, barley, canola and other crops all in their springtime glory – before arriving at Albany and the end of a big but brilliant day.
The breathtaking beauty of Albany’s rugged coastline creates a fitting backdrop to a dramatic whaling, convict and settler history. While in the Albany area we will visit sights in and around the city including the WWI National Anzac Centre. Ships carrying the Australian Imperial Force and the New Zealand Expeditionary Force (later known collectively as ANZACs) set of from Albany bound for Egypt to join WWI. Two detachments departed in convoy in late 1914. Albany was the last glimpse of Australia that these ANZACs had before entering the fray.
More sights in and around Albany before a free afternoon and evening.
Continue westwards today and into the ‘Valley of the Giants’ an iconic region on the south coast between Denmark and Walpole. We visit the Walpole-Nornalup National Park, famous for its towering karri and tingle trees – some of the biggest trees on the planet. We will also do the world famous Valley of the Giants Tree Top Walk suspended 40 metres high in the canopy of the ancient tingle forest.
Overnight in the quiet and secluded Forest Lodge Resort near Pemberton where our group has exclusive use of the property.
This morning we travel on to the Margaret River region, famous for its beaches and surf breaks, wineries, craft breweries, boutiques and generally stunning scenery such as the Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park. The region is known around the world for its top quality wines and food. While the region produces less than 3% of Australia’s wine, it accounts for more than 20% of its premium wine.
The Margaret River region is particularly beautiful in the springtime when wildflowers dot the landscape. The area boasts over 150 orchid species and some 2500 wildflower species alone! For those interested, there are a number of wildflower walking and/or 4WD guided tours we’ll have to choose from, depending on where the best display is at the time of our visit. Free evening.
We board our coach this morning and head north to Busselton with its 150-year-old, 1.8 km long jetty – the longest timber-piled jetty in the Southern Hemisphere. We’ll board the jetty train with the chance of seeing whales on their migratory (Jun-Nov) path and dolphins before disembarking at the jetty’s Underwater Observatory. Here we go 8 metres below the surface to an observation chamber to view more than 300 individual marine species in their natural habitat through 11 viewing windows.
Back on board our coach and onto Perth with time to take in the major city sights.
This morning we’ll head west to the port city of Fremantle. ‘Freo’ is known for its maritime history, Victorian architecture and remnants of its early days as a British penal colony. Return to Perth for our farewell dinner.
Flights home today or you might like to stay on in Perth/WA for a few days for some of your own exploring and sightseeing.