●Sal Salis Safari Camp – Cape Range National Park (Ningaloo Reef); 011-61-2-9571-6399; salsalis.com.au; remote, beachside bush camp; sleep in canvas tents, dine under stars, and spend days underwater with manta rays and whale sharks on coral reef.
Sights & Sites
●Ningaloo Marine Park – from Bundegi Beach (near Exmouth) to Amherst Point (south of Coral Bay); 011-61-8-9949-1676; westernaustralia.com or mantatrust.org; UNESCO World Heritage Site; among premier manta-viewing locations in world; also: whale shark; worth special trip.
●Twilight – Twilight Beach Road (8 km west of Esperance); australiasgoldenoutback.com/Listing/Twilight_Bay; beaches rated among world’s best; impossibly white sand meets unbelievably clear turquoise water; perfect swimming conditions; rounded granite cliffs & deepening blue ocean make this coastline area among Australia’s most scenic.
●Swan – among world’s largest “purpose-sunk” wrecks.
●Bungle Bungle Wilderness Lodge – Bellburn Creek Purnululu National Park; 011-61-3-9277-8555; kimberleywilderness.com.au; comfortable tents with private baths.
Sights & Sites
●Bungle Bungle Range – Purnululu National Park; westernaustralia.com/en/search/product.htm?ID=9001661; includes Purnululu, which contains famous and geologically mysterious striped sandstone domes.
●Cathedral Gorge – Purnululu National Park; accessed through Picaninny Creek hiking trail, 1 mile into hike; huge, tear-drop shaped chamber with sloping walls that funnel up to narrow chasm; whispers reverberate against acoustic arches.
●Echidna Chasm – Purnululu National Park; narrow corridor that ends in tiny chamber.
●Mini Palms Gorge – Purnululu National Park; challenging 3-hour hike (round trip), with rocky and steep terrain; at hike’s end, trees and shade with breath-taking view.
●Mitchell River National Park – Waller Road (Cobbannah); 011-61-131-963; parkweb.vic.gov.au/explore/parks/mitchell-river-national-park; surrounds Mitchell River where it cuts through rock strata creating high cliffs, several gorges & spectacular Mitchell Falls; park originated as Glenaladale National Park in 1963 following 400 acre land donation from Australian Paper Manufacturers Ltd.; 278 acre addition in 1986 changed name to Mitchell River National Park; further extended in 2003 by 6K acres; in some gorges are found remnant warm-temperate rainforests, southernmost occurrence of this type forest in world; more than 150 bird & 25 mammal species; onetime important location to Gunai/Kurnai nation, especially Brabuwooloong & Brayakuloong people of central Gippsland.
●Picaninny Creek – Purnululu National Park; 10-mile hike winds along dome-shaped rock formations; 1 mile into hike; huge, tear-drop shaped chamber (Cathedral Gorge) with sloping walls that funnel up to narrow chasm; whispers reverberate against acoustic arches.
●Walanginjdji Lookout – Purnululu National Park; tremendous sunset views.
SHARK BAY – westernmost point on continent; World Heritage Site; huge wilderness area with red rock desert that spills into turquoise sea.
●Monkey Mia Dolphin Resort – Monkey Mia (Western Australia); 011-61-8-9948-1320; monkeymia.com.au; waterfront villas.
●Monkey Mia Yacht Charters – Monkey Mia Jetty (Denham); 011-61-8-9948-1446; monkey-mia.net; rent catamarans and see manatees, turtles, poisonous sea snakes, and humpback whales.
Sights & Sites
●Hamelin Pool Marine Nature Researve – just off Shark Bay Road (about 30 km west of Overlander Roadhouse on North West Coastal Highway); sharkbay.org; covers 1,270 sq kms; 1 of only few places in world where living marine stromatolites (rocklike fossils formed from algae); other locations for stromatolites include underwater site (6 ms deep) in Caribbean and in Persian Gulf area; Hamelin Pool contains most diverse range of stromatolites in world.
●Monkey Mia Reserve – 24 kms from Denham and 151 kms from Northwest Coastal Highway; swim with dolphins.
●Peron Peninsula – juts into Shark Bay, lying within Carnarvon Basin (geological structure lacking permanent fresh surface water); in late 1800s, when pastoral stations such as Peron established, shallow beach wells built to provide ground water of marginal quality for stock; during early 1900s, artesian bores sunk to provide greater water quality and quantity; Artesian water is hot, varying in temperature from 35-60° C in Carnarvon Basin; temperature increases as rock that stores water becomes deeper and closer to earth’s core; Artesian water often has high mineral and salt content; Artesian bore at Peron Homestead is recreational “hot tub” for public to enjoy.