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Guide to North Coast & Valleys

Guide to North Coast & Valleys

The Lancelin Ocean Classic (photography Offroad Images).

PLACES TO GO

Bindoon & Chittering Valley

At up to 300m above sea level, Bindoon and the Chittering Valley are quite different to nearby viticulture regions, and produce varieties of shiraz, chardonnay and viognier. The wine trail is the best route to visit the cellar doors – grab a brochure from the Chittering Tourist Association, (08) 9576 1100. Most cellar doors have spectacular views of the valleys, and some offer lunch platters and great picnic areas under gum trees. Must-dos for foodies exploring the region are the tastings and tours at the working groves and orchards, and a stop at the bakery in Bindoon. Accommodation options are quite varied: choose from cottages on wineries and orchards, farmstays, country hotels, B&Bs and lodges.

Gingin

This region’s Mediterranean climate has created ideal conditions for olives, fruit and vegetable farms. It’s also home to marron (freshwater lobster) farms and wineries. With the clear skies perfect for stargazing, the Gingin Observatory and Gravity Discovery Centre make great day-trip destinations to keep the kids enthralled. A 45m leaning tower stands next to the Cosmology Gallery, designed for you to climb and drop water balloons. The grounds of the park are filled with scientific experiments such as an Aeolian wind harp, Foucault Pendulum, giant black holes, and a solar system walkway made to scale. The Gingin Observatory hosts stargazing evenings for the public. In summer, live music and theatrical events can be enjoyed in Gingin’s amphitheatre.

Lancelin

For those who like the laid-back beach lifestyle yet don’t mind increasing their
heart rate with outdoor activities, Lancelin is perfect. This small lobster-fishing
town is easygoing and always attracts holiday-makers from Perth. Summer is the most popular time to visit – the ocean is packed with windsurfers and kite- boarders, and the often-large swell attracts bodyboarders and surfers. Families will enjoy the large grassy areas – great for kite-flying followed by a cook-up at one of the public barbecues. The nearby dunes are an adventure playground for dirt bikes, 4WDs and sandboarders (boards can be hired at several places around town, but a piece of cardboard will also do the trick).

Fishing at Lancelin Jetty (photography Kay Cipher).

Ledge Point

This sleepy fishing village offers the ultimate in relaxation and beach life. With lawn bowls, tennis courts, great windsurfing conditions, fishing and snorkelling, it’s a great spot for a family holiday. Accommodation-wise there’s the caravan park or beach houses to rent out.

Moore River

Take advantage of this scenic spot where the river meets the ocean, offering a range of relaxed aquatic activities such as kayaking, canoeing or fishing. There are beautiful bushwalking trails and an impressive spot known as ‘the desert’, where pure white sand dunes meet the river. Most people wouldn’t know it, but the region is olive central – it accounts for more than 70 per cent of olive trees and production in Western Australia. Harvesting is from April to July, and Fini Olives offers tastings and tours as well as disabled toilets, shade and a picnic area. Nearby Regans Ridge also offers tastings and showcases plenty of olive products. Moore River is close enough for a day trip but you can also make a weekend of it, with plenty of holiday homes, caravan parks and B&Bs in the area.

Yanchep National Park

A lagoon, spectacular golf course, native wildlife, nine bush trails and natural wonders such as the Crystal Caves – all just an hour from Perth – make this holiday hotspot a family-friendly destination. Yanchep National Park has an amazing history (some of the buildings in the park date back to the late 1800s), and a rich Aboriginal past, with informative guided tours available.

THINGS TO DO

Snorkelling and Diving

There are 15 dive sites up and down the North Coast. North of Moore River lies the wreck of the Ville de Rouen, 5km off the coast and atop a reef. One of the largest wrecks (and Australia’s first ever underwater archaeological excavation site) is the Vergulde Draeck, which is just off Ledge Point, also surrounded by reef. Lancelin Island and its lagoon are just metres off the coast and home to amazing marine life. Snorkel off the beach over coral and limestone reefs, sandy bottom and seagrass beds with more than 200 species of flora and fauna in this compact area. Be careful not to fish in the Fish Habitat Protection Area. Back Beach, around the point in Lancelin, is safe for bodyboarding, surfing and swimming, with protected areas for sunbathing. If you aren’t keen to get wet, you can visit the appropriately named Wreck Point on the beach, just south of Moore River. The wooden-hulled wreck of the Alex T. Brown rests here, exposed only in northwesterly gales, so be prepared for it to be blustery.

Four-wheel-driving

The town of Gingin, 25km inland, is a starting point for a trek along the edge of the Moore River National Park, utilising forgotten stock tracks, bush terrain and dune formations. Beachside 4WD begins at the vast sand dunes on the edge of Lancelin – ideal for recreational fun. The adventure continues north along beaches and dunes to locations such as Dide Bay and Wedge and Grey islands, before re-joining the Indian Ocean Drive to Cervantes and the Pinnacles. Regulations, no-go zones, and seasonal and environmental restrictions apply. Contact DEC Moora office on (08) 9652 1911 for everything you need to know.

Windsurfing

Lancelin is regarded as one of the best windsurfing locations in the world, and summer is the perfect time to hone your skills or take lessons. As the temperature rises, the sea breeze provides excellent windsurfing conditions and the shallow reefs close to shore in Lancelin Bay are great for beginners. Courses and gear are available from local windsurfing veteran Werner at his trailer, Werner’s Hot Spot, 0407 426 469. You’ll find the trailer at the main launching area at Grace Darling Park (or Windsurf Park, as the locals call it). Facilities include a grassed rigging area, toilets and showers.

The sand dunes at Lancelin.

FISHING

Lancelin | Lancelin has plenty of areas for onshore, offshore and spearfishing. Your first stop should be the jetty, where prawns or whitebait and berley will ensure a decent haul of herring with a chance of a squid or two. For more onshore action, head to North Point, 200m south of the rocks. Start at dusk and hook Spanish mackerel and huge tailor all night long, as well as whiting for bait. You’ll need quite a powerful cast to make it to the deep-water channels, but low waves and swell make it easier. Also, these beaches can get very weedy so it’s best to have a back-up plan. Launch your boat immediately south of the jetty where the sand is hard. There will be a 50m gap in the reef here but be sure to keep an eye on your surroundings. Once you’ve made it to the back of the reef, enjoy bagging silver trevally, dhufish, baldchin groper and Sampson fish.

Wedge Island | You’ll need a four-wheel drive here: locals tell of cars that have been bogged and swept out to sea, so experience in soft-sand terrain is essential. Explore the surrounding coast to find the perfect gutter (which will usually be dictated by the amount of swept-in seaweed). The north shore zone is extremely shallow so you can position yourself on an exposed sandbar for a loot of tailor, small sharks and skippy. Get as close as you can to submerged coral to increase your chances. If you’re hunting mulloway then go to the south rocks during good conditions. Your best offshore option is either behind or on the reef, where you’re likely to snag a large dhufish or even a snapper (in season June to October). Also, the break off the island is great for flathead, garfish and bull herring. Speak with the locals for more tips and hotspots.

Moore River | Try for bream here: it can be a challenge (they can be undersized), but hard work will usually pay off with a large catch. Head just 400m southeast from the canoe launch area. When you see six broken trees in the water by a sandy bank, you’ve arrived. Hire a canoe and head upstream to increase your odds. Use a running ball sinker rig on the south side of the rivermouth, with whole river prawns as bait, to hook mullet. When the river mouth is open you can pick up tailor, if the swept-in weed keeps them trapped. On the beach, catch mulloway, tailor and herring. Try the groyne in front of the lighthouse or, further north, there’s a beach connected to the south side of a reef.

THE LIST

  • Go windsurfing in Lancelin
  • Hire a canoe and fish for bream in the Moore River
  • Take the wine trail through the Chittering Valley
  • Try your hand at sandboarding
  • Go for a bushwalk in Yanchep National Park
  • Take a 4WD and find a secluded fishing spot
  • Go snorkelling off Lancelin Island

All these events and more at www.scoop.com.au/thingstodo

EVENTS

Bindoon and Districts Agricultural Show | Treat the family to horses in action, cookery, fresh produce and much more. For the adults, there is also amateur winemaking and home brews. A highlight for the scallywags is the Junior Pet Show. Oct.

Lancelin Ocean Classic | Australia’s biggest and longest-running windsurfing event. The two main events are wave-sailing and a marathon. This year’s event will also feature a kitesurfing component and demonstrations of the likes of jet skiing and stand-up paddleboarding. The new event village includes stalls, food, drink and entertainment. Jan.

Gingin British Car Day | The annual Gingin British Car Day is now
under the umbrella of the Gingin Coast Tourism Association in cooperation
with the event organiser, Robert Brodie Hall. There will be a plethora of vintage
cars from many decades, a huge choice of stalls, and fun and entertainment to
be had for the whole family. May.

Getting There

Car | From the Perth CBD, head north on Wanneroo Road, which takes you past
Yanchep directly to Lancelin. To navigate up the coast via Indian Ocean Road, or for an inland journey, head along Brand Highway.

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