The magnificent Indian Ocean Drive which links Perth and Geraldton is certainly one of the highlights of a western adventure.
The stars of the show are the inviting turquoise waters and the pristine coastal landscape. If you travel in the right season and on the right days, this truly is a trip through a near perfect paradise. Nonetheless, the near horizontal lean of the trees lining the route prove just how relentless the southerly winds are and how volatile a master Mother Nature can be.
The fully-sealed road stretches 268 scenic kilometres, making the trip from Perth to Geraldton a good 30 minutes shorter and an awful lot more attractive than the inland Brand Highway. The Indian Ocean Drive is limited to light vehicles and tourist buses leaving the Brand to continue to service heavy traffic.
Attractions such as the wonderful Wedge Island, 30 km north of Lancelin, are now easily accessible whereas once they could only be reached by 4WD along the beach.
The highlight of this trip comes soon after you pass through the coastal town of Cervantes and reach one of Australia’s most unique landscapes … the Pinnacles Desert. The Pinnacles are in the 17,000 hectare Nambung National Park. Thousands of spectacular limestone pillars, some 3.5m tall, rise mysteriously from the sand. When passing Dutch sailors saw them in 1658, they apparently believed they had seen the ruins of an ancient ciy.
Nearby at Lake Thetis visitors can take a walk above some of the earth’s oldest living fossils … the thrombolites.
Grey nomads heading north will no doubt be unhurried enough to stop and enjoy the sensational views for the numerous roadside lookouts, including Molah Hill Lookout and Grigson’s Lookout.
Beyond the interesting little coast towns of Jurien Bay and Dongara are the restored pioneer buildings of the Greenough Central Historic Settlement. And then it’s on to the delights of Geraldton … and beyond. When you throw in some great camping spots, great fishing, and – if you time it right – great wildflowers, you would have to say this route really has got the lot.