Surely one of WA’s best-kept secrets, the seaside city of Geraldton is the thriving hub of the midwest region, and the ideal base from which to explore its attractions. It's a city with flowerbeds above and below the sea, and nature lovers call in to see carpets of colourful wildflowers in spring.
Surf enthusiasts are drawn here on the promise of consistent summer winds and perfect waves; history buffs visit to view the museums and drive trails, and the watery graves of notorious shipwrecks.
Why fly for a day to a crowded, humid, polluted dive destination when there’s pristine reef on your doorstep? The Houtman Abrolhos – informally the Abrolhos Islands – are a must-see for water babies, with clear seas and coral formations you’ll never forget. Among the world’s most important seabird breeding sites, the islands are also home to Western Australia’s largest single-species fishery, for the mighty Western Rock Lobster.
Geraldton’s stunning foreshore redevelopment offers alfresco cafes – some serving said lobster – with gorgeous ocean views, while nearby Town Beach is ideal for a relaxing picnic. Geraldton’s burgeoning arts scene has become another highlight, with galleries, street art and unique boutiques topping off a cosmopolitan coastal destination that rivals any holiday spot on the planet.
Take in the views at the HMAS Sydney II memorial on Mount Scott, and honour the 645 crew who perished in 1941.
Take a scenic flight or boat ride to the Abrolhos Islands.
Go diving off the islands to explore shipwrecks and view marine life.
Visit the National Trust treasure that is Central Greenough Historic Settlement.
Stroll along the Hampton Road Heritage Walk, or visit the Oakabella Homestead in historic Northampton – it's thought to be WA’s most haunted house.
Head to Seal Lookout and walk out onto the point to see the seals lounging on the rocks.
Peruse Geraldton Regional Art Gallery, then see Aboriginal
art works at Yamaji and Latitude Galleries.
Buy your loved one an Abrolhos Pearl from one of the many jewellery stores.
ONLY IN WA Count the stripes on the Point Moore Lighthouse – the tallest metal lighthouse in Australia.
Marvel at Monsignor Hawes’ architectural masterpiece, the St Francis Xavier Cathedral, with its orange and white patterned interior, before visiting the Monsignor Hawes trail and museum in Mullewa.
Camp out with rescued animals in the Waminda Wildlife Sanctuaryor the Greenough Wildlife Park.
Take the kids to the Foreshore Playground and Water Park for hours of free family fun. Featuring climbing equipment, swings and slides, the shaded playground caters for toddlers through to big kids.
Batavia Coast Miniature Railway Society is a volunteer group operating along a 500m track, every first Sunday of the month.
DO AND SEE
BECOME AN ISLAND CASTAWAY
The 122 islands of the Abrolhos offer a pristine ecosystem of tempting warm waters, with excellent dive sites, snorkelling and birdwatching opportunities. Take a scenic flight – the view from the air is spectacular – or cruise to the islands by boat. There’s the option to explore at a leisurely pace on a three- to five-day boat charter. The abundant waters are an irresistible lure for deep-sea fishermen – especially during rock lobster season (March to June). Be sure to check exclusion zones before casting a line.
BE A HISTORY BUFF
Head to the WA Museum in Geraldton to learn the fate of the lost souls aboard the notorious ship Batavia, before taking the 60km journey to the Abrolhos Islands to dive the wreck itself. Or, if you'd rather stay dry, Geraldton has five heritage walk trails, and there's a variety of walking and driving trails in Mullewa.
From viewing platforms on the foreshore esplanade, you can see south to the port, north to Champion Bay, and across town. Peek through telescopes at playful sea lions, and learn all about them from the interactive display.
The new Yamatji Drive Trail is a fascinating guide to the region's Indigenous Yamatji culture.
Greenough River Walk Trail is a circular 17km walk and ride trail past amazing bird life. Stop along the way for fishing or a quick breather at various viewpoints. You can walk, cycle, or drop a kayak in at the Kempton Street access.
Drive the 57km Greenough Walkway heritage trail, starting at the historic village of Greenough and running from the museum on Phillips Road to lovely Ellendale Pool near Geraldton.
The river mouth at Greenough. Photography Australia's Coral Coast.
EAT AND DRINK
Eating out is no problem in Geraldton. There are cafes and restaurants galore, from lavish cuisines with waterfront views, to the good old fish ‘n' chip shop. Be sure to try some local seafood while you’re there (and don’t miss the regional specialty, Western Rock Lobster).
Self-catering? Pick up local fruit, vegetables, honey, eggs, olive oil, capers, preserves, pickles, olives and much more at the Geraldton Greenough Farmers’ Market, on Saturday mornings at Maitland Park.
Lobsters are on the menu all around Geraldton.
See beautiful blooms between July and September, by heading to Chapman River Regional Park. It's home to 300 plant species, many found only in Geraldton. There are also 120 recorded bird species, plus 22 reptile and seven frog species making their homes by the Chapman River.
NUKARA MUSIC FESTIVAL
Enjoy original live roots music in the beautiful farmland and flattop hills setting of Nukara Farm, 30km north east of Geraldton. Mar.
The Rotary Club of Geraldton Greenough welcomes thousands of festival goers to Redhill to enjoy music outdoors. Mar.
VALLEY VIEW SUMMER CONCERT AND AIR DISPLAY
Aerobatic displays of vintage and modern aircrafts will thrill you, before a concert under the stars. Apr.
GERALDTON BOAT, CARAVAN AND CAMPING SHOW
Features local exhibitors of boats, caravans, and camping products,
plus expert talks, cooking demos, and entertainment. May.
BIG SKY READERS AND WRITERS FESTIVAL
Avid readers and writers meet to share thoughts and ideas about literary works. May.
MULLEWA MUSTER AND RODEO
The annual muster features rodeos, beaut utes, and whip crackin’ competitions, plus live music. Jun.
MULLEWA ANNUAL WILDFLOWER SHOW
See many of the region’s specimens, including the rare wreath flower. Aug.
FESTIVALS ON THE FORESHORE
A collaboration between Sunshine Festival and G-Fest, this event is packed with family fun. Oct.
Geraldton town centre. Photography Peter Hall.
DROP IN ON THE LOCALS
Rebecca Tuesley, tourism coordinator
“The Geraldton Visitor Centre is in the historic Original Railway Station, which was the very first government railway station to be built in WA. Stop in for locally made gifts and souvenirs, and a cuppa at the Carriage Cafe.”
The crew at Geraldton Visitor Centre. Photography Peta Kingdon.
Geraldton is the largest regional city north of Perth, and has a variety of accommodation options that suit families, couples and corporate travellers. If you venture away from the coast, you’ll find friendly farm stays and working stations you won’t want to leave.
Geraldton is a four-and-a-half-hour drive north of Perth, or an hour by air.
Don’t leave town without...
Lining up and being counted as you tour the Old Gaol and Victoria District Hospital. Tours run Tuesday and Thursday at 2pm.
Picnicking or camping at Ellendale Pool, part of the Greenough
River, with a deep waterhole created by Bimarra, the water serpent.
Seeing the biggest tin collection in Australia at The Tin Heads. There’s 8000 of them!
Photographing Greenough’s unique leaning trees.