Perth to the Abrolhos Islands: an 8-day itinerary
Discover murky maritime history, abundant rock lobster fishing grounds and epic rock formations on this drive-cruise escape in Western Australia.
By Fleur Bainger
For those seeking a true escape, Western Australia’s sparsely populated, deliciously vast spaces are irresistible. Leave the everyday behind and embrace the freedom of driving past stretches of native wildflowers, sculptural rock formations and a cluster of little-known islands along the Coral Coast.
This eight-day round-road trip itinerary departs Perth, taking in stunning scenery as it tracks north along the Western Australian coast, before heading out on the water of the Indian Ocean to explore some of the 122 islands that make up the Abrolhos Islands.
Day 1: Perth to Geraldton
- Drive time: about 4.5 hours
Get away from the city early to watch the land awaken as it’s bathed in golden light. Sea lovers should take the Indian Ocean Drive and consider pulling into the Lobster Shack at Cervantes on the way. The 10 am lobster catching tour, pulling pots and learning about the industry is a great way to prepare for this evening’s Abrolhos Islands cruise.
Arrive in Geraldton by early afternoon, sinking your toes into the sand at the foreshore beach, backdropped by a big playground and water park. The main street, Marine Terrace, is less than a minute’s walk away and is dotted with splashes of street art (take a selfie with the butterfly wings).Show more
Days 2 to 5: Cruising Abrolhos Islands
Get your sea legs on a five-to-six-hour journey to the Abrolhos Islands. On arrival, spot the islands edged with shanty-like fishermen’s dwellings, each fronted by a long, narrow jetty leading to their boats. Eco Abrolhos’ 32-person catamaran is the only cruise boat that tours the archipelago from late February to early May, and again in September and October. Its owners used to be rock lobster fishermen themselves. For 80 years, fisherfolk have been working these pristine waters; now, their numbers are dwindling.
The itinerary for the five-day cruise is a moving feast, but you might swim with schools of fish, float past coral walls, hike along island paths, birdwatch or play with curious seals; tours can also be tailored to your interests.Show more
Day 6: Abrolhos Islands to Geraldton
It’s time to head back to the mainland; the return cruise takes five to six hours. Look out for dolphins on the way, as they often swim alongside the catamaran.
Stay: Relax at the chic Gerald Hotel and have a relaxed dinner on its marine-themed rooftop, The Old Man and the Sea.
Day 7: Geraldton to Kalbarri and back
- Drive time: about 2 hours, one way
Either self-drive to the charming beachside town of Kalbarri, just north of Geraldton, and its gorges at your own pace, or remove the need to navigate by joining a Geraldton Air Charter day tour, which hits all the important sites. Don’t be confused by the name – this is a land tour, and your chariot a bus.
The company will pick you up for an 8 am departure, stopping at the astoundingly hued and much-Instagrammed Pink Lake, which is coloured by carotenoid-producing algae and harvested for use in complementary medicines and natural food colouring. The journey continues to Pot Alley, a secret beach shrouded in wind-crafted cliffs that you’ll never find on your own.Show more
Day 8: Geraldton to Perth
After a well-earned lie-in, shop for coloured Abrolhos Islands pearls at Latitude Gallery Jewellers. Grab a takeaway coffee then hit the road for the Yamaji Drive Trail. The entire trail stretches 195 kilometres (121 miles) and leads you to 14 sites of significance to the local Yamaji Aboriginal people. If you want to experience the sites but also make it back to Perth by the end of the day, you can visit the first nine sites before leaving the trail after Greenough and following the Brand Highway back to the city.