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Western Australia - touring advice, please

We're considering a big holiday towards the end of the year - late Oct/ early Nov. Have been to Oz once before, and visited Sydney, Adelaide and Melbourne areas. This time we're looking at the West - Perth and around. Any insider info/ knowledge/ suggestions appreciated...looking for a combination of empty beaches, wineries and perhaps a bit of the Outback. We'll probably have about two weeks or just over, so want to see some of the highlights, but not spend the whole time just driving and driving.

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    Interesting, i'm thinking of doing the same but in early 2012 (Around this time next year)

    Been to Perth before and stayed in Fremantle, which was lovely. But looking to go up towards Broome. So any routes or ideas would be handy.
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    Definitely visit Margaret River for their wines. 3-4 hour drive south of Perth.
    Also, while in Perth, go to Fremantle and visit Little Creatures brewery + superb fish'n'chips at Cicerello's (just around the corner from Little Creatures).
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    If you go south of Perth, you'll be able to see and do a lot in 2 weeks - as those above have already highlighted.
    If you go north of Perth, you'll be spending the 2 weeks driving and driving. There are some great places to go but the distances from one to the other are vast. I'd advise against going north if you have only two weeks.

    If you want to check our advice why don't you ring Austravel and Bridge The World to get flight prices. Then you can ask about where you can go and they'll be keen to tell you because they'll want to sell you car hire and accommodation.
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    Wicked place...I travelled all the way up the West Coast. I remember a place called Hangover Bay near Perth, can't remember if it was good or bad but remember getting drunk and the name becoming very appropriate!
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    Weegie, I'll give ya a run down of what's what later mate, it's 1 am ere an I'm off to bed! But it is what some call, the real Australia!
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    Tel speaks well of the landscaope south of Perth, but I've been north a couple of times. Up towards Geraldton you get desert areas, and the Pinnacles (petrified rocks) which are great fun to drive around and explore. Lotsof massive sand dunes and wide beaches too, with Hangover Bay a favourite of mine. Further north, drive past quaint Northampton, toward Kalbarri. There's not much between towns, and Kalbarri is a good days drive from central Perth (about 400 miles, especially as it can take an hour or more to get out of the city centre!). Kalbarri has great coastline, cliffs, lots of galahs, wallabies, and a terrific gorge area along the Murcheson River. We also did a sunset cruise out on the ocean here, staying at a lovely small B&B hotel. Another 250 miles north and you can bear left toward Monkey Mia; before then you have the Shark Bay Shell Beach, and also the Hamelin Pool stromatalites - some of the earliest living objects on earth. Monkey Mia was wonderfuil, and likewise we saw baby dolphins up very close and also a baby dugong with its mother. The resort (which sounds awful, but is in fact very ecofriendly) is great and we had a fantastic catamaran ride one afternoon on the bay. Further north toward Broome you get even less people, and at Broome (at particular times of year) you can go swimming with Whale Sharks I beleive (we didn't get that far up...). There's really only one road north of Perth as everything else is desert. The drive back form Monkey Mia to Perth was much quicker though 650 miles in a day is a little too much for one driver I think. I could suggest a week in Perth, a few days south around Margaret River, a few more days north taking in two nights at Kalbarri and two at Monkey Mia, plus one more one the way back would be a great trip. You'll have a great time wherever you go.
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    Thanks for all the tips so far - certainly giving me plenty to look into.

    I look forward to your thoughts tomorrow, Oz!

    I've read that we can go whale-watching from Perth at around that time of year too - would love that! Also interested in any comments on Rottnest Island as well.

    As for Hangover Bay...well, that sounds a must!!
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    edited January 2011
    I was there in 1999-Great memories...probably changed a lot since so I am sure the "Charlton locals" will be more informed than me but anyway...

    Perth - Freemantle & Scarborough.

    North of Perth
    One place I went was Jurien Bay where I was fishing from a little jetty but a seal kept grabbing everything we caught so in the end we jumped in and hand fed the seal which had become really playful - absolutely amazing experience. We then fished in the evening and pulled up loads of squid.

    The Pinnacles were completely different to anything I have seen before or since and well worth a trip. Kalbarri was beautiful although we ended up walking round with pillow cases on our heads and eyes cut out because of all the flies...depends on the time of year I guess...to me Monkey Mia was a little too touristy/manufactured but then I was rather wild back in those days! Further north (and possibly too far for your trip) Kunnanura had very interesting rock formations and Karijini NP was very cool with pools to swim in and a gorge walk that has been featured in FHM as one of the things to do before you die. I had a memorable helicopter ride over the bungle bungles and kayaked down Katherine Gorge.

    About half way up the coast was Coral Bay which was my fav beach, completely unspoilt and reef you could just walk onto from the beach. Spent hours snorkelling around seeing so much...told my brother he had to go there when he went over and I think a hurricane had destroyed the place - such a shame.

    South of Perth
    Margaret River & the beach with the rays were great (if memory serves me correctly it may have been Hamlin Bay but I am sure someone else can confirm). Went to a little beach called Smiths beach too which was very unspolit.
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    Valleyman: I did pretty much like you. Don't you think that 'North of Perth' is difficult to do in two weeks? What would you do - try to get to Darwin, or fly out of Broome. Either way, you'd have to bypass some stuff and you'd be worrying about the schedule too much I think.

    Btw, Weegie, I think that Large has been to Rottnest - ask him.
    I repeat what I said before, ring up an Australian travel specialist ask them - you're under no obligation to buy their tours, hire cars etc although I think that with your short holiday period you'll find their internal flight and tour propositions interesting. Sometimes if you book with such an operator they'll even give you an internal flight cheap (if not free) with the long-haul flights.
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    [cite]Posted By: Weegie Addick[/cite]Thanks for all the tips so far - certainly giving me plenty to look into.

    I look forward to your thoughts tomorrow, Oz!

    I've read that we can go whale-watching from Perth at around that time of year too - would love that! Also interested in any comments on Rottnest Island as well.

    As for Hangover Bay...well, that sounds a must!!

    In my opinion Rottnest is definitely worth a day trip. There is a round island bus that stops at or near most of the beaches so that you can jump off, have a swim and a good look around and either get back on a later bus or walk a few stops and take in the scenery and then jump back on the bus further on. If you get an early ferry out and a late one back then you should be able to get about eight hours on the island which is plenty. Hopefully you will get to see it all on a lovely sunny day, it rained while we were there and my wife had a fall. A visit to Fremanle is also recommended. Hope you have a really good time.
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    [quote][cite]Posted By: jimmymelrose[/cite]Valleyman: I did pretty much like you. Don't you think that 'North of Perth' is difficult to do in two weeks? What would you do - try to get to Darwin, or fly out of Broome. Either way, you'd have to bypass some stuff and you'd be worrying about the schedule too much I think.

    Btw, Weegie, I think that Large has been to Rottnest - ask him.
    I repeat what I said before, ring up an Australian travel specialist ask them - you're under no obligation to buy their tours, hire cars etc although I think that with your short holiday period you'll find their internal flight and tour propositions interesting. Sometimes if you book with such an operator they'll even give you an internal flight cheap (if not free) with the long-haul flights.[/quote]

    Agree with you - too much in two weeks...I would probably stick to the South which is that bit closer and maybe take a trip to the Pinnacles if it isn't too far north...so long ago now I can't remember how long it is away.
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    We did Momkey Mia, The Pinnacles and a couple of beaches (one where the beach was amde up os broken shells) my memory is faded because it was 1989 on my honeymoon.....I wasn't too impressed with Freemantle but maybe it was because there was an airline strike and nobody was there.
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    Rotto is great too; get the fast ferry across from Perth or Freo; go to the information hut for a map; find the cycle hire shop, and get yourself a bike. Then make your way back to the supermarket (one of very few places you can buy food on the island) for picnic sustenance and start cycling. There are no cars on the island but be careful of that single bus that circles around and can take you unawares. It is usually best (depending how busy it is) to go straight across the middle, and then slowly work your way back along either coast later, hopping from beach to beach. My fave beach is Mary Beach, on the north west side of the island. The farther away from the ferry area you go, the less people you will get on a beach. The island is about ten miles long and just a couple wide, and pretty flat too, so easy cycling for the moderately fit. Stick to the paths or roads, as there are snakes in the grass. The quoakkas are funny to play with but have sharp teeth so be careful if you feed them by hand (which isn't really allowed anyway...). The two highpoints on the island give decent views - from the lighthouse, or the WW2 guns - but both take it out of your legs if you try to cycle up to the top. Make sure you have water, sunscreen, and a hat - the sun can be relentless! I've been to Rotto many times now and I have to say it is one of my favourite days out anywhere in the world. Enjoy!
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    edited January 2011
    If you come you've got to go to Margaret River, http://www.margaretriver.com
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    If you like your wine then it's the place to go. Beats the Hunter Valley hands down. I'm in Sorrento which is 18kms North of Perth....have only been here 6 weeks and love it. Although I'm not working yet so that helps!!!! Which reminds me....back to job hunting! :-)
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    While in Perth go to Cottesloe beach more people but great but all up the coast loads of beaches and few people its not like England when you get a few days of sun the beaches are packed. Also go to the swan valley wineries very good. but the south is excellent driving over here is the norm as its very spread out
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    Hi Weegie,

    Mate, the fellas have pretty much covered it all!
    Margret River is superb, there is a place called caves house down that way, where you can do a tour of some caves that are amazing. The tree top walk tel mentioned is great, as is rottnest Island. Fremantle have great markets on the weekend, but are busy.
    It really depends on what your looking to see and do, but you'll love it here!
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    Sounds wonderful, everyone - thanks for the advice. Better get on and plan it now!
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    anyone know of the best place to book round the world tickets? have tried trail finders and quantas so far
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    [cite]Posted By: razil[/cite]anyone know of the best place to book round the world tickets? have tried trail finders and quantas so far

    Bridge The World, AusTravel are good. Normally have good deals from the major airlines that you wouldn't get direct or elsewhere.
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    [quote][cite]Posted By: LargeAddick[/cite][quote][cite]Posted By: razil[/cite]anyone know of the best place to book round the world tickets? have tried trail finders and quantas so far[/quote]

    Bridge The World, AusTravel are good. Normally have good deals from the major airlines that you wouldn't get direct or elsewhere.[/quote]


    I got my 2 year round the world ticket from Trailfinders in '99 - cost £900 and when I got home 2 years later they gave me £650 back as my last plane was delayed (plus they flew me home first class)! Best value trip I have ever been on!
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