Home' Traveller : Scoop Traveller WA 020 Contents 94 Scoop Traveller July - December 2011
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TRIPS indian ocean drive
Outside Geraldton we discovered the sleepy
town of Greenough. The historical settlement
includes a beautifully preserved but creepy
looking church, alongside an equally scary
graveyard, with leaning trees completing the
bizarre setting. Strong southerly winds had
turned these gum trees virtually horizontal.
We had a lovely cup of tea with the English
folk who run the information centre and cafe.
They’re passionate about looking after the
11 historic buildings, nine of which you can
explore at leisure. I didn’t fare well in the 1898
bursary exam you can do in the old school.
Near the Greenough Wildlife and Bird Park
we found a place much more up my alley –
the Hampton Arms Inn, owned by a fellow
Mancunian. It supposedly holds 40,000 books,
an antique collection to rival any in WA. There
are a few boutique bedrooms for those wanting
to take their time browsing the library over a
pint. I recommend a visit to this quaint country
pub on the front flats just before Geraldton.
The largest town on the Coral Coast,
Geraldton needs a few days to explore properly.
The HMAS Sydney II memorial sits prominently
on Mount Scott overlooking the town, an
excellent point of reference for visitors. The
guided tour, led by passionate volunteer guides,
nearly moved us to tears. There are amazing
stories represented in the 645 silver gulls
that symbolise the spirits of those lost in the
shipwreck. The bronze statue of the Waiting
Woman, erected as part of the memorial years
earlier, looks exactly in the direction of the
wreck that was found in 2008, 112 nautical
miles off Steep Point near Shark Bay.
It was recommended we visit the Western
Australian Museum Geraldton and not really
being museum people, we were surprised to
end up spending the afternoon engrossed in the
history of the shipwrecks of the Batavia, Gilt
Dragon, Zuytdorp, Zeewijk and HMAS Sydney
II, which has its own dedicated gallery.
Luckily we left a few hours for this as the
museum closes at 4pm. Allow half a day. The
place was full of people of all ages and the kids’
corner was packed. The staff were exceptionally
friendly and knowledgeable about the exhibits
as museums go, this was pretty special.
Geraldton was a surprise, since people we
spoke to prior to going didn’t seem to think
there was much to do and see. There is. You
could easily spend three days exploring the
many historical sites like St Francis Xavier
Cathedral, walking along the impressive new
waterfront development, and soaking up the
history at the museum before throwing a line
in the water or exploring further afield.
We’d have loved to do a scenic flight to the
Abrolhos Islands. Instead we had an amazing
woodfired pizza at a new tapas bar in town
called The Provincial.
On arrival at the Coronation Beach campsite,
20km north, the sky displayed a full spectrum
of colour – the perfect backdrop for reflecting on
our Coral Coast adventure. As we watched the
sun set and chatted about our trip, we realised
that the biggest problem was trying to fit in
everything we wanted to do on our return. ST
Afterthoughts | We didn’t get work in Broome, but ended up in Daly Waters near Darwin. Looking back, our
Indian Ocean Drive experience was defined by an off-the-beaten-track feel. We had a feeling of isolation
and space, and coming from Europe that’s something to treasure. The Pinnacles, Jurien Bay, Sandy Cape and
Greenough were highlights. It was clear a few fishermen weren’t happy the new road had opened up areas of
coastline that were once local secrets. Exploring them is now easier, but tread lightly. It’s a fragile, special place.
The HMAS Sydney II Memorial
(Photography Karl Monaghan).
The Hampton Inn
Stop for a wildlife experience at Greenough.
Coronation Beach: a great spot for
One of the bizarre leaning trees.
Camping at Coronation Beach
(Photography Peter Hall).
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