Our road trip started from Whitfords Shopping Centre around 8:45 am on a Saturday morning. Eight of our Seniors Group were heading to Cervantes for an overnight stay then four of us were moving further north. We were a bit of a motley crew with my husband and myself in our hired camper van, one couple in a Land rover towing a camper trailer, another couple in a station wagon towing their tent and the final couple travelling in a Combi van.
We headed north and joined the Mitchell Freeway travelling to the end of the road at Hester Avenue, then Wanneroo Road before getting onto Indian Ocean Drive. We were all impressed by the amount of passing lanes on Indian Ocean Drive – plenty of time for faster moving vehicles to pass caravans and camper vans. I did feel that Indian Ocean Drive was a bit of a misnomer as I had expected to be driving beside the ocean all the way but it was mainly bush and grazing land.
We decided to stop at a bakery in Lancelin for morning tea and arrived there around 10am. It is a popular place judging by the queues and we enjoyed our small pies and toasties although one of our group was heard to mutter that there definitely was not enough jam in the jelly doughnuts. Buy your coffee or tea from the coffee van across the street as there is only one person serving in the bakery and it was quite a wait for coffee. There is plenty of parking and public toilets nearby.
Lancelin – Cervantes
Back on the road again and the views on leaving Lancelin were spectacular – pure white sand dunes with a background of deep blue ocean. Travelling in convoy is fine but remember that drivers should leave enough space between vehicles to allow faster cars to overtake. On this stretch of Indian Ocean Drive there were no passing lanes and given the number of tourists and local traffic on the road, extra passing lanes should be a priority for the State government.
It took us just over an hour to get to Cervantes.
Cervantes – Kalbarri
Next day, our group split into two with four of us heading further north and the other four returning, regretfully, to Perth.
We stopped at Jurien Bay to fill up with petrol that was selling at $1.42 a litre. We had expected to pay more than Perth prices so were not too surprised. Petrol at our normal service station in Whitfords was priced at $1.33 that day.
We didn’t glimpse the ocean again until we were well past Leeman. There seemed to be a lot of derelict houses and farmland on this stretch. We joined the Brand Highway, which was a lot busier than Indian Ocean Drive, with lots of trucks and several road trains travelling in both directions. We had a restroom break at the Dongara service station. Very clean toilets and a café.
We followed the signs for Carnarvon whilst going through Geraldton onto the North West Coastal Highway. The turnoff to Kalbarri is about an hour out of Geraldton.
The Ajani-Kalbarri drive is very monotonous with not very interesting bush on either side. It was about 70 kms but it felt like forever – we were very glad to see the Murchison River and the town on the horizon. It took us about four and a half hours to drive from Cervantes which included two stops.
This drive took us around five hours. It included a rest room stop at Neren-Neren – composted toilets, no water so take hand sanitiser and a stop for petrol at the Billabong Roadhouse. Billabong has the cheapest petrol for 200 kilometres according to its billboard so it’s well worth making a stop. It also has a café, a general store and rest rooms.
Drivers have to be very alert on this stretch of road as there is a lot of wildlife around, especially emus, lizards and sometimes cattle. We didn’t see any kangaroos in the bush but sadly, many dead kangaroos were on the side of the road.
Parts of the World Heritage Scenic Drive on the way were stunning with long stretches of ocean but again it was mainly bush with the occasional wildflowers decorating the sides. We stopped at Shell Beach, which is beautiful.
Monkey-Mia – Dongara
We started our homeward journey very early from Monkey Mia after filling up with petrol in nearby Denham – much cheaper petrol than at the Monkey Mia resort.
This is a long drive – it took us nearly six hours with a stop at the Billabong Roadhouse. There was a lovely roadside display of wildflowers near Binnu.
Dongara – Hillarys
We left Dongara just after 6am in thick fog which made driving slower than we would have liked but still made it back home just after 11am. We again stopped at the bakery in Lancelin for breakfast and at a petrol station on Wanneroo road. Petrol was probably our biggest expense. Our road trip cost us just under $300 for fuel.
It was a great trip, the driving wasn’t too arduous. Just remember to be aware of wildlife, keep your headlights on and wake up your passenger when you get to the scenic parts of your journey.
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