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The mid-west coast of Western Australia is blessed with turquoise blue water, hence the name the Turquoise Coast, a pristine coastline with unique natural attractions and a biological diversity second to none in the state.
The Turquoise Coast begins at Lancelin, 129 Kms north of Perth and stretches 238 Kms to Dongara. It comprises of seagrass meadows and rocky reefs of the Jurien Bay Marine Park, sleepy fishing villages, endless crystal white sandy beaches, the wondrous Pinnacles Desert National Park and other numerous National Parks that come to life in Spring with an abundance of wildflowers.
Our journey began in the town of Cervantes, that is the launching point for the Pinnacles Desert. But also has the mysterious Lake Thetis that is one of only a few places in the world with living marine Stromatolites, or ‘living fossils’. The lakes Stromatolites that look like rocky lumps have been dated to about 3,370 years old. Quite fascinating.
But even more fascinating is the Pinnacles Desert located in the Nambung National Park, where thousands of limestone pillars rise from the shifting yellow sands. You can tour through The Pinnacles either by foot or drive through the eerie landscape on 4 kilometres of tracks. There are several viewing platforms located throughout the park with great views over the park. An experience that cannot be missed.
Nambung National Park also has beautiful beaches, massive coastal dune systems and low heathlands of plants that come ablaze with vibrantly coloured flowers in Spring.
The town of Jurien Bay is home to a large population of Sea Lions with breeding sites on the nearby Buller Island and North Fisherman Islands, within the Jurien Bay Marine Park. You can get on a local charter boat to some of the chain of small islands just offshore for some fishing or diving, and to see these extraordinary wild animals in the waters in and around Jurien Bay.
There are many shallow bays and rocky reefs within the Marine Park that provide a snorkelling and diving paradise. The manmade reef around the old jetty in town was purpose built for great snorkelling right off the beach. A large jetty is also here to fish off, or to saunter out upon to catch a glimpse of pods of Dolphins that swim into the shallow waters of the bay.
For the thrillseekers, a beach tandem skydive is very popular, that gives magnificent views on the way down over the Jurien Bay coastline and chain of islands.
Just north of Jurien Bay is the Sandy Cape Recreation Park, another superb place to fish, swim or snorkel. There is a campground right on the beachfront and a great lookout on top of a towering sand dune with panoramic views of the pristine coastline. For the kids or young at heart, try some sand tobogganing down some of the steep sand dunes that surround Sandy Cape.
Situated 12 kilometres east of the town of Leeman is the Stockyard Gully Cave that was formed from limestone being eroded from the creek bed or gully near the inflow into the cave. You can only access the area by 4WD but it is well worth the effort with 100 metres of cave to explore.
The twin towns of Dongara and Point Denison, being separated by the Irwin River, are a brilliant blend of old and new with lovely coastal and rural landscapes. Dongaras main street is lined with Moreton Bay Figs that gives it charm and ambience, together with its many historical buildings dotted throughout the town.
There are several walking trails that you can take through both towns including the Calico Trail, Dongara Trail, Irwin Heritage River Trail, Fisherman’s Trail and the Coastal Trail. We did the Lookouts Trail that started at the Fisherman’s Lookout at Port Denison, along the Marina foreshore, to the crayfish factory, crossing the road to Grannies Beach and eventually the estuary of the Irwin River, where there is another lookout.
The best way to discover the historic buildings of the twin towns is to purchase a brochure from the Visitor’s Centre and do the 4.6 kilometre walk to 28 heritage buildings, including the Royal Flour Mill, Priory Lodge, the Old Police Station and Russ Cottage.
A visit to the Irwin District Museum housed in the Old Police Station, will provide an insight into the hardship and triumphs of the region’s pioneers. At Fisherman’s Lookout at Port Denison there is an obelisk that stands in memory of the sailors lost at sea and gives sweeping views of the ocean.
You can fish, swim or surf at one of the beaches or in the Irwin River. There are many beautiful parklands with good amenities that fringe both the beaches and the river for a family picnic or stroll.
Get yourself a tourist map of the Turquoise Coast from a Visitor’s Centre that will provide you with ten self drive itineraries of the area or get on a group enviro tour to take in the beauty and diversity of this wonderful region.
The good thing about this area is that is on the footsteps of Western Australia’s major city, Perth, which is only a mere 120 kilometres away, so it is a manageable day trip to see and experience nature at its best.
Kathy was a 50 something year old when she started up this blog 6 years ago, but has since turned over another decade and is now in her early 60s. She is married with two adult children and lives on the Tweed Coast of New South Wales, Australia. Kathy enjoys living life to the fullest and loves to keep fit and active by maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly. Some of her interests include reading, photography, travelling, cooking and blogging! Kathy works part-time as a freelance writer but her real passion is travelling and photographing brilliant destinations both within Australia and overseas and writing about it.
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Pinky PoinkerMay 27, 2014
I know I definitely read about the stromatolites in Bill Bryson’s, Down Under! Have you read it Kathy? It’s fascinating stuff. I’ve always wanted to see the Pinnacles. How I envy you right now :)
KathyMay 28, 2014
I must confess I haven’t read that book Pinky. Stromatolites were as foreign to me as “taking a walk on the moon”! The Pinnacles were spectacular – a bit like I imagine another planet might appear.
bmpermieMay 27, 2014
I haven’t been to this part of WA but I can see from your great pictures I should.
KathyMay 28, 2014
Yes you definitely should. It was a big surprise to me too and so close to WA’s capital, Perth.
Life Images by JillMay 28, 2014
wow you really have done a fantastic round-up of this area Kathy. Were you at the Pinnacles at sunset or sunrise – really the best time to visit. I notice they have put signs on the old jetty at Jurien, what a pitty, it ruins a great “old jetty” image. Did you stay at Dongara? What a great area. We visit only for the first time a couple of years ago. Happy travels Kathy.
KathyMay 28, 2014
Thanks Jill, I had no idea that such beauty was so bountiful just north of Perth. We visited The Pinnacles in the morning on a rather showery overcast day but would have loved to photograph it at sunrise or sunset. You are right about the signs – there is signage everywhere these days and it does spoil the appearance of such old relics. We stayed just outside of Dongara at a beach campsite, I think was called Seven Mile Beach. We are really enjoying The West, with much more to see and do yet!