The Batavia Coast lies at the middle part of Australia’s west coast, between Cervantes to the south and Kalbarri to the north. And with just over 40,000 inhabitants, Geraldton is the largest city in the area. Geraldton’s location is its greatest asset. The city is located where the flat farmland meets the sea, a sea which shifts in every imaginable shade of blue. It is a paradise for those who love water sports. All types of surfing are practiced, and not to forget, scuba diving is popular. Geraldton is an appreciated stop for those who drive along the West Coast. You can find everything you need here. There is plenty of food to stock up with and much to see and do. The city is a five-hours-drive north of Perth and is a welcome break during the long journey. It is said that the sun shines eight hours a day in Geraldton, which led to the city being nicknamed Sunshine City.
The sandy beach is just a few steps from the city centre. The main street, Marine Terrace, runs a street away from the harbour and is lined with shops, restaurants and stately pine trees. To the east in the harbour are luxurious boats moored. At the cape in the west stands the red and white striped lighthouse, overlooking the sea. Fishing is still an important source of income and especially lobster which is exported to Japan and the USA, among other places. As a visitor, you can try your fishing luck at Point Moore, Separation Point or down in the fishing harbour. And don’t forget to taste the seafood served at any of the restaurants down in the harbour.
Boat- and airplane tours daily leave Geraldton for the magnificent Abrolhos Islands, the southernmost coral islands of the Indian Ocean, located 60 km southwest of Geraldton. The warm tropical water makes many animal and plant species thrive here. For example, Australian sea lions but also dolphins, stingrays and crayfish. The archipelago of Abrolhos consists of 122 islands that are perfect for scuba diving and snorkelling. About 10,000 years ago, the islands were part of the mainland. Here lives plenty of birds, of which several species are threatened of getting extinct. The beautiful coral reefs have caused many ships to get wrecked in the area, including Batavia, which belonged to the Dutch East India Company. The ship ran aground in 1629 at the Morning Reef. The wreck of Batavia is resting at a deep of 4.6 m and can be visited if joining an arranged diving trip. If you rather stay on dry land, there is a model to view at the city museum.
Sights and experiences
Discover and explore
Abrolhos Island Charters (abrolhosislandcharters.com.au) offers fishing trips over one or several days. But also, surfing trips, dives and eco-friendly tours around the historic islands of Abrolhos Islands. Visibility in the water is said to be the best on the entire West Coast and there is much to see; Colourful coral reefs, fish, dolphins, sea lions and underwater shipwrecks. If you do not feel like going on a boat trip, you can take the flight over to the Abrolhos Islands. Geraldton Air Charter offers daily flights and you can choose whether you just want to fly over, or add a half day tour or a full day tour (wotif.com/things-to-do/search?location=Geraldton,%20Western%20Australia) to this. Among other things, they fly over the bubble-gum pink Hutt Lagoon located between Geraldton and Kalbarri (wotif.com/things-to-do/pink-lake-fixed-wing-scenic-flight-from-geraldton.a479206.activity-details).
Batavia Coast Dive & Watersports (facebook.com/bataviacoastdive) offers, among other things, PADI certified diving courses. If you want to learn how to surf or work on your surfing technique, you can do so at Back Beach, for example through the Midwest Surf School Company (surf2skool.com).
During the summer months, from October to March, the conditions for windsurfing are good. The company G-Spot Xtreme (gspotxtreme.com.au) both sell and rent out all the equipment needed. Kitewest (kitewest.com.au) specializes in water sports and arranges various tours.
City of Greater Geraldton (cgg.wa.gov.au/play/sports-recreation/beaches.aspx) has a list of beaches and parks in and around Geraldton, as well as the facilities and activities available. Some popular beaches include Point Moore, St. Georges Beach and Coronation Beach. Surfing is best between April and October while November and March are better for kitesurfing.
Art and culture
Discover more about the region at Western Australian Museum (museum.wa.gov.au/museums/museum-of-geraldton). The museum has no fixed entrance fee, instead you pay what you think is suitable. Look at their website to not miss out on something exciting happening. They have, among other things, a full-scale replica of the Longboat Batavia which ran aground in 1629 (visitgeraldton.com.au/experiences/attractions/batavia-longboat-replica.aspx). The Longboat replica is usually outside the museum and during the summer season it sails every Sunday. It’s free to follow along but you’re asked to leave a donation. The Longboat is brought in for maintenance in the winter.
If you thirst for more culture, try the art galleries of Regional Art Gallery (artgallery.cgg.wa.gov.au) at 24 Champ Road and Latitude Gallery (latitudegallery.com.au) at 169 Marine Terrace. In the city centre is also the city-library, Geraldton Regional Library (library.cgg.wa.gov.au), where they have Wi-Fi. The library is open every day. The address is 37 Marine Terrace.
History and parks
The Point Moore Lighthouse was the first lighthouse of steel to be built on the Australian mainland in 1878. It is closed to the public, but it is photo-friendly and there is an information plate that tells more about its history. The lighthouse has red and white stripes and is 34 meters high. You can find it west on the peninsula, just follow the Marine Terrace until you reach Point Moore.
With beautiful views of the city is the memorial of HMAS Sydney II Memorial (hmassydneymemorialgeraldton.com.au). It was built in honour of the 645 Australian men who perished after a battle with the German ship Kormoran in November 1941. Daily at 10:30 am, a half-hour guided tour is arranged. You meet the guide at the memorial’s car park at Gummer Avenue.
Sports, entertainment and events
Theatre, cinema, exhibitions, and more can be found in the Queens Park Theatre (queensparktheatre.com.au) at Cathedral Avenue. The Sunshine Festival is held every October (sunshinefestival.com.au), which is a tribute to the city’s diversity. Expect heaps of culture and shows of local talent in music and art, among others.
There are two shopping centres within walking distance of the city centre. Northgate Shopping Centre (northgateshoppingcentre.com.au) is located at 110 Chapman Road and Stirling Central (stirlingscentral.com.au) is located at 54 Sanford Street.
On Saturdays and Sundays, Platform Markets (facebook.com/platformmarkets) is open. Remember to get up with the rooster because the market closes already at noon. It is the largest market in the vicinity of Geraldton and there is plenty of food, drinks and gadgets to bargain for here.
The Freemasons Hotel (facebook.com/pages/Freemasons-Hotel-Geraldton/176719502367997?nr) at 79 Marine Terrace is a popular pub. Young people go here to have their afternoon beer. The nightlife in Geraldton is not extremely pulsating but if you are looking for most possible action, go to the nightclubs on a Saturday night. Vibe (vibenightclub.com.au) has both dance floors and quieter rooms for those who just want to talk and get to know new people. This night club is located at 38 Fitzgerald Street.
The Jaffle Shack (facebook.com/TheJaffleShack) is a popular café with cosy décor, good coffee and good jaffles. Jaffles is a grilled sandwich. The place is located at 188 Marine Terrace. Dome (domecoffees.com/stores/dome-geraldton) has a really good location and is on the waterfront along Foreshore Drive. It always seems to be crowded with people who want to enjoy the lovely view and the tasty meals. The long opening hours allow you to eat all the meals of the day here if you wish. To enjoy some local lobster, you can head to Skeetas (skeetas.com.au) at 219 Foreshore Drive.
Good to know
For up-to-date tips, visit the helpful and friendly staff at Geraldton Visitor Information Centre. The office is located at 246 Marine Terrace. They are open from 09:00 to 17:00 Monday to Friday and from 09:00 to 13:00 Saturday and Sunday. If you are looking for a job, contact the information centre for help. One tip is to try your luck at Brolos (brolos.com.au/corporate/careers), which usually recruits new faces when necessary. There are several supermarkets in Geraldton, but keep in mind that they are closed on Sundays.
There are daily flights to Geraldton (wotif.com/Flights). From Perth, the journey takes only one hour. The airport is located ten kilometres east of Geraldton. To get into town, you can take a taxi or rent a car directly at the airport (wotif.com/Car-Hire).
It is possible to take the bus all the way from Perth. Obviously, the travel time will be longer and depending on the day and route, it takes between six to nine hours from Perth. But taking the bus gives you the opportunity to see more of the country. Buses with TransWA (transwa.wa.gov.au) departs from East Perth Terminal. You can also travel with the bus company called Integrity (integritycoachlines.com.au), which at the time of writing offers departures late evenings and at night from Wellington Street in central Perth. A good tip is to book your trip a few days in advance to avoid bad surprises like a cancelled bus or an early departure that will make you miss your bus ride.
If you want maximum freedom, drive your own vehicle on preferred roads to the coastal town of Geraldton. If you drive straight from Perth and the traffic conditions are good, you can get there in about four and a half hours. If you want to drive the coastal route, take the Indian Ocean Drive which extends the trip, but the scenic road makes it worth the extra time. Keep track of the conditions on the roads by peeking into Main Roads Western Australia’s website (mainroads.wa.gov.au). If you travel during the spring it may be worthwhile to partially drive inlands to see wildflowers colour its surroundings. Examples of areas with lots of flowers are Three Springs and Perenjori.
If you are travelling on a tight budget, perhaps Geraldton Backpackers (hotelscombined.com/Hotel/Geraldton_Backpackers.htm) fits. Otherwise there is the camping site called Belair Gardens Caravan Park (hotelscombined.com/Hotel/Belair_Gardens_Caravan_Park.htm), a holiday resort at Point Moore, only 250 meters from the waterfront. Wi-Fi, pool and games room are available on site. In addition to the parking places for mobile homes and caravans, one- and two-room cabins are available for rent. Also Sunset Beach Holiday Park (hotelscombined.com/Hotel/Sunset_Beach_Holiday_Park.htm) has similar housing forms for rent. Both resorts can arrange simpler tent sites if necessary.
If you are looking for a budget accommodation with sea views and a good location, the Cameliers Guest House at 92 Marine Terrace is to recommend. If you want to enjoy an apartment hotel, there is Abrolhos Reef Lodge (hotelscombined.com/Hotel/Abrolhos_Reef_Lodge.htm) located south at 126 Fire Highway or the affordable Zebras (hotelscombined.com/Hotel/Zebras.htm), which is inspired by Africa. Zebras is located further away, in the vicinity of Tarcoola Beach at 2 Glendinning Road, so having your own car is best if choosing this option. Ocean Centre Hotel (hotelscombined.com/Hotel/Ocean_Centre_Hotel.htm) is a little more expensive but a finer option. It is a four-star hotel that is centrally located on the corner of Cathedral Avenue and Foreshore Drive.
A Saturday in Geraldton
07:00 – Fresh Breakfast
Enjoy a tasty breakfast on the Salt Dish, at 35 Marine Terrace. Find your way to their courtyard and start the day in the shade. Then pack down the camera, water bottle, towel, sunscreen, hat and swimwear. Then get into a taxi that you have pre-booked. The next destination is Geraldton’s airport for an airline charter with an operator you booked via Geraldton Visitor Centre (visitgeraldton.com.au).
09:00 – Over to Abrolhos
Embark on an unforgettable flight to the magical Abrolhos Islands. The pilot will gladly point out the islands and tell you more about them and the surroundings. They are to say the least, just as impressive from above as when experienced on the ground. You land on one of the islands. Enjoy the view and the morning tea. Choose between snorkelling among the beautiful coral reefs and animals, or a guided walk through the nature. You pick snorkelling and splash around during the morning hours.
13:30 – Indian lunch
After another scenic plane trip, you are back in Geraldton. It is high time for something more filling to eat. Head to Origin India (originindia.com.au) at 60 Champan Road. This is one of the best restaurants in the city. Every dish has lots of flavours and you don’t have to leave the place hungry.
15:00 – Two-wheeled excursion
Once your energy has returned, rent a bike as your means of transportation. Cycle westwards towards the Cape. Stop by at the Point Moore Lighthouse and take some pictures. Then explore the city. See, among others, St. Francis Xavier Cathedral and Queens Park Theatre. Take a break in one of the parks nearby and sit down with a good book or a magazine for some well-deserved rest.
18:00 – Glorious sunset
Take a walk from the park in the northeast direction to the HMAS Sydney II Memorial or cycle there. Look at the memorial built for all those men killed in war. From here you have a nice view of Geraldton when the sun turns glowing orange and then descends over the city.
20:00 – A cooling evening dip
Take advantage of the fact that the beach is in the immediate vicinity. Take a cooling evening dip in the sea at Champion Bay Beach. There, the water is usually a bit calmer and the beach is long and inviting. After the trip to the beach, change into something more festive and treat yourself to a good drink at The Provincial Lounge Bar at 167 Marine Terrace.