Central West Western Australia
Central West Western Australia starts north of Perth and continues along the coast to Coral Bay on the Coral Coast. There are two main routes heading north from Perth. The Great Northern Highway is a more direct route running inland through Western Australia, while the North West Coastal Highway follows the coast along.
Just east of Perth is the beautiful Avon Valley featuring wonderful landscape and the pretty Avon River. North of the Avon Valley you pass the Chittering Valley before joining the Great Northern Highway from where you can continue north to New Norcia, which was established as a Spanish Benedictine. There are some gorgeous Spanish buildings around the town, which leaves no surprise why it was the setting for 'The Name of the Rose' by Umberto Eco.
Once you reach Dalwallinu, further north from New Norcia, it is worth turning off onto the Wildflower Way. There are several towns along the way including Morawa, Mullewa and Perenjori, although the areas main attraction are its fantastic wildflowers which blossom in spring. Flowers you are likely to see include Everlastings, Foxgloves, Wattles and Wreath Leschenaultia. It really is worth making the drive through this area as the beauty is astounding. You can also travel south back to Perth along the Midlands Scenic Way which offers pleasant bushwalking, horse riding and more wildflowers, as well as passing the beautiful Yarra Yarra Lakes.
If you continue north along the Great Northern Highway you will pass Mt Magnet, Cue, Meekatharra and finally Newman, before reaching Port Hedland from where the road continues north and then east across to the Northern Territory border. Mt Magnet is a gold mining region with the surrounding Murchison Goldfields supply some of the gold. North at Cue are a number of historical buildings and several nearby Aboriginal sites including Walga Rock and Wilgie Mia. North again is Meekatharra another mining town.
The alternative route north from Perth is along the coastline. Just north of Perth is the Yanchep National Park which features a blend of rocky caves including Crystal Cave and Yondemp Cave, and lush bushland. There is also the fantastic Yaberoo Budjara Aboriginal Heritage Trail, which is worth following.
North again is Guilderton set along the Moore River, with the fishing port of Lancelin north again. Lancelin is known for a number of activities, including sand boarding, surfing and windsurfing. The Ledge Point Windsurfing Race ends in Lancelin and is well worth watching.
The next small town you will come to is Cervantes, which is close to the remarkable Pinnacles Desert. From Cervantes you can either head north to Jurien and the Drover's Cave National Park, or head east to Badgingarra and the Badgingarra National Park off of the Brand Highway. Heading north from here past the Alexander Morrison National Park, the Tathra National Park and the Watheroo National Park you will eventually return to the coast at Dongara-Denison. Dongara is a small port with several interesting buildings. Nearby Port Denison offers fabulous bird watching along the Irwin River.
North again is Greenough a pretty farming town featuring a host of historic buildings within the Greenough Historical Hamlet. There is also the interesting Pioneer Museum, which is worth a visit. Greenough is a lovely quaint place to stay, with a relaxed and old fashioned feel. Just north of Greenough is Geraldton, a large town along the Central West Coast.
More historical buildings can be found at Northampton, as well as a number of fabulous beaches at Horrocks and Port Gregory. North again is Kalbarri which is a popular place to stop, featuring great coastal landscape and a wonderful National Park. Further north is the beautiful Shark Bay which hosts a number of fabulous coastal beaches, and is home to the Shark Bay World Heritage and Marine Park and several pretty towns. The reason why Shark Bay has gained its stature on the World Heritage listing is due to Monkey Mia and its popular dolphins as well as Hamelin Pool and its magnificent Stromatolites. You can find out about the Stromatolites at the Old Telegraph Station in Hamelin Pool.
The first main town you will come across in Shark Bay is Denham, which is the most westerly town in the whole of Australia. A little further north from Denham is Monkey Mia, a favourite amongst dolphin lovers. The final town within Shark Bay is Carnarvon, which is a tropical town situated along the Gascoyne River.
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