воскресенье, 22 мая 2011 г.

Guide to Australia(3)

Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary

Currumbin began life as a bird sanctuary,
and it is almost synonymous with the wild rainbow lorikeets that flock here by the
hundreds twice a day for feeding. It’s quite an experience—flocks of chattering birds
descend onto visitors holding trays of food for them. Photographers go crazy, and
tourists love it. The amazingly beautiful birds have vivid green backs, blue heads,
and red-and-yellow chests. Lorikeet feeding is at 8am and 4pm, and lasts for about
90 minutes. Don’t miss it.

The park’s 27 hectares (67 acres) are home to 1,400 native birds and animals,
including two saltwater crocodiles, and the wetlands on the grounds attract lots of
native birds. You can also have your photo taken cuddling a koala, hand-feed kangaroos,
take a free miniature steam-train ride through the park, attend animal talks and
feeding demonstrations, and visit the new A$1.5-million animal hospital. An Aboriginal
song-and-dance show takes place daily at 3:30pm. Allow several hours to see
everything. A highlight is the free-flight birds show at 11:30am and 2pm. “Wildnight”
tours are run daily and include dinner, a guided night tour, and an Aboriginal
dance performance. Dinner is at 5:30pm, with the tour starting at 6:45pm. The cost
is A$79 adults and A$49 children 4 to 13, but you must book at least by 3pm on the
day of your tour.

28 Tomewin St., Currumbin (18km/11 miles south of Surfers Paradise). &1300/886 511 in Australia or
07/5534 1266. www.cws.org.au. Admission A$44 adults, A$26 children 4–13. Book online for discounts.
Daily 8am–5pm. Closed Dec 25 and until 1pm Apr 25 (Anzac Day). Ample free parking. Bus: 700, 760,
or 765 (stop 15m/49 ft. from entrance).

David Fleay Wildlife Park

Established in 1952 by Australian naturalist
David Fleay, this is one of Australia’s premier wildlife parks. You’ll see a platypus,
saltwater and freshwater crocodiles, wallabies, kangaroos, glider possums, dingoes,
wombats, the rare Lumholtz’s tree kangaroo, and a big range of Australian birds,
including emus, cassowaries, wedge-tailed eagles, black swans, and lorikeets. You
walk on a series of raised boardwalks through picturesque mangrove, rainforest, and
eucalyptus habitats, where most of the animals roam free. The nocturnal house,
open from 11am to 5pm daily, is where you’ll see many of the most elusive animals,
including a platypus and Australia’s answer to the Easter bunny, the bilby.

The Gold Coast’s newest, tallest build-
ing is Q1, a gleaming steel-and-glass
tower inspired by the Sydney 2000
Olympic torch. It’s a stunner. Entry is
on Surfers Paradise Boulevard, where
you take the superfast elevator for just
43 seconds to reach the Q1 Observa-
tion Deck (&07/5582 2700; www.
qdeck.com.au), 230m (754 ft.) above
the ground on levels 77 and 78 of the
building. From there, you can gaze
down on all the Gold Coast has to offer,
with 360-degree views. A small theater
in the Skyline Room shows a short film
on the history of the Gold Coast, or you
can stop in at the cafe for a piece of
Q1-shaped cake and a coffee. Better
still, head up there before sunset for a
cocktail in the Skybar. The Observation
Deck is open 9am to 9pm Sunday to
Thursday, and until midnight Friday and
Saturday. Entry costs A$19 adults, A$14
seniors and students, A$11 children
ages 5 to 14, and A$49 families of four.
A day/night ticket, which allows you to
visit during the day and return after
6pm, costs A$29 adults, A$20 seniors
and students, and A$17 children. Last
tickets are sold 45 minutes prior to
closing time.
On Top of the World On Top of the World
Talks and demonstrations include saltwater-croc feeding—at 1pm daily, usually
only October through April, when the crocs are hungry. Aboriginal rangers give talks
about weaponry, bush medicine, and their links with this region. Volunteers also give
free guided tours throughout the day. The Queensland National Parks and Wildlife
Service (QNPWS) has run the park since 1983; David Fleay continued to live here
until his death in 1993. Because the QNPWS frowns on handling animals, you can’t
cuddle a koala or hand-feed kangaroos here. However, there is a koala “contact zone”
where you can enter a koala enclosure and take your own photos standing beside
one. This costs an extra A$8.70 adults or A$12 for a family.

Kabool Rd. (17km/11 miles south of Surfers Paradise), West Burleigh. &07/5576 2411. Admission A$17
adults, A$11 seniors and students, A$7.75 children 4–17, A$43 families of 6. Daily 9am–5pm. Closed Dec
25 and until 1pm on Apr 25 (Anzac Day). Ample free parking.

Surfworld Gold Coast Queensland’s first surfing museum opened its doors at
Currumbin in 2009 to celebrate the history and contribution of surfing and beach
culture to this part of Australia. About 100 surfboards show the evolution of design and
technology from 1915 through to today, alongside photographs of early surf scenes,
videos, artwork, clothing, and current work by world-renowned surf photographers.

Level 1, 35 Tomewin St., Currumbin (18km/11 miles south of Surfers Paradise, opposite Currumbin Sanctuary).
&07/5525 6380. www.surfworldgoldcoast.com. Admission A$9 adults; A$5 seniors, students,
and children; A$25 families of 4. Daily 10am–5pm. Ample free parking.

Where to Stay

Palazzo Versace You almost have to see this to believe it. In the unlikely location
of the Australian Gold Coast, fashion designer Donatella Versace has created a
tribute to her late brother, Gianni, in the form of an extravagantly opulent resort,
furnished exclusively with Versace gear. You’ll either love it or hate it—there’s no in
between. Everything was imported from Italy, from the river stones that pave the
porte-cochere to the massive antique chandelier that dominates the vast, marbled


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The Gold Coast

lobby. Vaulted ceilings are hand-detailed in gold, and huge marble columns dominate.
The rooms are decorated in four colors (red, blue, gold, and orange) and are
less confronting than the public areas. Everything in them—furniture, cutlery,
crockery, toiletries, the lot—is Versace (either from the housewares collection or
specially created for the hotel). Many of the rooms overlook the huge pool, the
Broadwater (a stretch of ocean), and the marina. As you’d expect, everything is
beautifully appointed, and you’ll enjoy strolling the corridors lined with Gianni’s
artwork and designs. There’s an extensive spa and health club in the basement. You
can choose from eight room types (Donatella stays in the A$4,000 Imperial Suite)
or from a pool of two- and three-bedroom condominiums. All rooms and suites have

Jacuzzis; condos have kitchens. And of course, should you get the urge to shop,
there’s a Versace boutique.

94 Sea World Dr., Main Beach, QLD 4217. &1800/098 000 in Australia, or 07/5509 8000. Fax 07/5509
8888. www.palazzoversace.com. 205 units, 72 condos. A$435–A$855 double; A$640–A$1,135 double
suite; A$3,000–A$4,000 Imperial suite. AE, DC, MC, V. Amenities: 3 restaurants; 2 bars; concierge;
health club and spa; saltwater heated lagoon pool and 27 other pools (some exclusive to condos); room
service; wet and dry sauna. In room: A/C, TV w/pay movies, hair dryer, Internet (A$10 for 1 hr.; A$25 for
24 hr.), minibar, Wi-Fi (condominiums only; A$10 for 1 hr., A$25 for 24 hr.).

Paradise Resort Gold Coast

Parents, if your idea of a holiday is to not
see your kids for most of the day, this place is for you. The resort has a licensed
child-care center for little ones as young as 6 weeks and up to 5 years old. For 5- to
12-year-olds, there’s the Zone 4 Kids, complete with pedal minicars, the Leonardo
painting room, and an underwater-themed pirate adventure world. You can laze
around the leafy pool area and watch the kids play on the water slide. The child-care
center charges moderate fees, and the Zone 4 Kids is free; both operate daily yearround.
The low-rise building is comfortable, and rooms have views of the pool or the
gardens. Family quarters sleep up to five in two separate rooms, and some (the family
studios) have kitchenettes. Junior Bunkhouse rooms have queen-size beds in the
main room and brightly painted bunks in a separate kids’ area, complete with their
own TVs with Nickelodeon kids’ channel, PlayStation, chalkboard, and play desk.

The resort rents a wide range of kiddy stuff, such as prams (strollers), bottle
warmers, car seats, and PlayStations, and it has a minimarket and takeout meal
service. The big range of activities makes this a great value for families, and the

Getting the Best Value out of Vacation Apartments
Apartments make good sense for families
and for any traveler who wants to
self-cater to save money. Because the
Gold Coast has a dramatic oversupply
of apartments that stand empty except
during school vacations, you can get a
spacious modern unit with ocean views
for the cost of a midrange hotel. Apartment-
block developers got in quick to
snag the best beachfront spots when
the Gold Coast boomed in the 1970s, so
apartment buildings, not hotels, have
the best ocean views. The Gold Coast
Booking Centre (&1300/553 800;
www.gcbc.com.au) is a centralized
booking service that offers great deals
on more than 1,200 apartments.

Avoid Holiday Madness: Book Ahead
Most accommodations require a 1-week
minimum stay during school holiday
periods and a 4-day minimum stay at
Easter. When the Gold Coast SuperGP
car race takes over the town for 4 days
in October, hotel rates skyrocket and
most hostelries demand a minimum
stay of 3 or 4 nights. Don’t leave
accommodations to the last minute!
Contact the Gold Coast Tourism Bureau
(&07/5538 4419; www.verygc.com.au)
to find out the exact dates.

center of Surfers Paradise and the patrolled beach are a few blocks across the highway.
Some rooms are near the highway, so ask for a quiet spot.

122 Ferny Ave., Surfers Paradise, QLD 4217. &1800/074 111 in Australia, or 07/5579 4444. Fax 07/5579
4492. www.paradiseresort.com.au. 405 units. A$110–A$130 resort room for up to 4; A$170 King room
(sleeps 3); A$190 Junior Bunkhouse rooms (sleeps 4); A$210 resort family room for up to 5; A$220
interconnecting room (sleeps 6). Ask about special packages. AE, DC, MC, V. Free covered secure parking.
Bus: 1 or 1A (stop outside the resort). Amenities: 2 restaurants; cafe/sandwich bar; bar; babysitting; childcare
center and kids’ club; concierge; exercise room; Jacuzzi; 4 outdoor pools; sauna; spa; 2 tennis courts.
In room: A/C, TV/VCR w/free and pay-per-view movies, hair dryer, kitchenette, Wi-Fi A$5 for 30 min.).

Q1 Resort & Spa This is the best view in town, and that’s really saying something.
Q1 opened in late 2005 as the world’s tallest residential tower—it reaches 323m
(1,058 ft.). From your aerie, you can truly look down on everyone else on the Gold
Coast, especially if you are staying at level 46 or higher, which dwarfs all other Gold
Coast buildings. From inside, or on your glass-enclosed balcony, you can see much
of the wide expanse of the coast or hinterland—and for the complete 360-degree
experience, head to the 77th floor for the Observation Deck (p. 369). Each apartment
has a luxury kitchen, dining, and lounge area, and is given a daily miniservice.
It’s all glass, granite, and stainless steel, but there are nice personal touches. Each
apartment has laundry facilities, and two- and three-bedroom apartments have two

Hamilton Ave. (at Northcliffe Terrace), Surfers Paradise, QLD 4217. &1300/792 008 in Australia, or
07/5630 4500. Fax 07/5630 4555. www.Q1.com.au. 527 units. A$265 double 1-bedroom apt; A$360
double 2-bedroom apt; A$545–A$895 double 3-bedroom apt. Extra person A$40. 3-night minimum
stay (5 nights in high season, mid-Dec to mid-Jan). AE, DC, MC, V. Amenities: Restaurant; bar; concierge;
health club and spa; 2 lagoon pools and indoor heated lap pool; sauna. In room: A/C, TV w/pay
movies, hair dryer, Internet (A$4 for 30 min.; A$15 for 24 hr.), kitchenette, minibar.

Where to Dine

The Gold Coast is full to the rafters with good restaurants. Many stylish new restaurants
and cafes, most reasonably priced, are springing up around Surf Parade and
Victoria Avenue in Broadbeach, as well as in the nearby Oasis shopping mall.
Other trendy spots are the stylish Marina Mirage shopping center, opposite the
Sheraton on Sea World Drive in Main Beach, and the hip Tedder Avenue cafes in
Main Beach.

Elephant Rock Cafe

MODERN AUSTRALIAN Take your seat under the
pavilion overlooking Currumbin Beach and be mesmerized by the waves. The food’s
good too, but the view is something else. Elephant Rock Cafe is a chic, modern


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The Gold Coast Hinterland: Back to Nature

restaurant that’s one of the best on the Gold Coast. Whether you go for breakfast,
lunch, or dinner you won’t be disappointed with the food, which includes vegetarian
and gluten-free choices. Dinner might include duck risotto, a Mauritius-style fish
curry, or a char-grilled black Angus scotch fillet, and the wines are usually from small
boutique wineries. The cakes and biscuits are made at the cafe, and for lunch there
are burgers, wraps, gourmet sandwiches, and more. Menus change seasonally and
there’s also a kids’ menu.

776 Pacific Parade, Currumbin. & 07/5598 2133. www.elephantrock.com.au. Main courses A$20–
A$33. AE, DC, MC, V. Daily 7am–10pm.

Ristorante Fellini

ITALIAN Locals and visitors flock here for the flavors of

Italy—mainly from Naples and Tuscany—as well as the fantastic views of the
marina and Broadwater. When the temperature is right, the huge windows are
opened to let in the sea breeze, and the split-level design means every table gets the
same view. For so stylish a place, you’d expect the prices to be sky high, but they’re
not. Family owned, the restaurant is friendly and welcoming, but the service is
snappy. The menu includes pasta dishes such as ravioli filled with roasted duck and
vegetables cooked in a light sauce of butter, fresh sage, and grated Parmesan topped
with poppy seeds; and a range of chicken, beef, and seafood dishes, including fresh
snapper filets pan-fried with zucchini, oven roasted tomato, shallots, thyme, white
wine, and olive oil, baked in a paper envelope.

Level 1, Marina Mirage, Sea World Dr., Main Beach. &07/5531 0300. www.fellini.com.au. Reservations
recommended. Main courses A$30–A$39. AE, DC, MC, V. Daily noon–10:30pm.

The Gold Coast After Dark

It’s not as big as some Vegas casinos, but Conrad Jupiters Casino, Gold Coast
Highway, Broadbeach (& 07/5592 8282), has plenty to keep the gambler
amused—70 gaming tables and 1,300-plus slot machines with roulette, blackjack,
Caribbean stud poker, baccarat and minibaccarat, craps, Pai Gow, and sic-bo. The
1,100-seat Jupiter’s Theatre stages international musical theater productions, bigname
bands, and solo artists, usually for a 3-month run. Then there are the three
bars, including an English-style pub. Of the five restaurants, the good-value Food
Fantasy buffet is outrageously popular, so be prepared to wait. The casino is open
24 hours. You must be 18 to enter, and smart, casual dress is required.

If you’re not a gambler, head to Saks, Marina Mirage, Sea World Drive, Main
Beach (&07/5591 2755), where on Friday and Saturday nights at about 9pm, the
elegant cafe and wine bar turns into a dance floor for fashionable 20- and 30-somethings.
There’s also a live band on Sunday afternoons but no cover. There’s a plethora
of nightclubs in Surfers Paradise.


The cool, green Gold Coast hinterland is only a half-hour drive from the coast, but
it’s a world away from the neon lights, theme parks, and crowds. Up here, at an
altitude of 500 to 1,000m (1,640–3,280 ft.), the tree ferns drip moisture, the air is
crisp, and the pace is slow.

Mount Tamborine shelters several villages known for their crafts shops, galleries,
cafes, and B&Bs. Easy walking trails wander from the streets through rainforest
and eucalyptus woodland, and as you drive you will discover magnificent views.

The impressive 20,200-hectare (49,895-acre) Lamington National Park lies
south of Mount Tamborine. The park, at around 1,000m (3,328 ft.) above sea level,
is a eucalyptus and rainforest wilderness crisscrossed with walking trails. It’s famous
for its colorful bird life, wallabies, possums, and other wildlife. The road to the park
is full of twists and turns, and as you wind higher and higher, tangled vines and
dense eucalyptus and ferns make a canopy across the road—it’s so dark you need
headlights. The park is about 90 minutes from the coast, but once you’re ensconced
in your mountain retreat, the world will seem remote.

The hinterland is close enough to the Gold Coast and Brisbane to make a pleasant
day trip, but you will almost certainly want to stay overnight, or longer, once you
breathe that restorative mountain air.

Mount Tamborine

40km (25 miles) NW of Surfers Paradise; 70km (43 miles) S of Brisbane

Crafts shops, teahouses, and idyllic vistas are Mount Tamborine’s attractions. The
mountaintop is more a plateau than a peak, and it’s home to a string of villages, all
a mile or two apart—Eagle Heights, North Tamborine, and Mount Tamborine
proper. Many shops and cafes are open only Thursday through Sunday.

GETTING THERE & GETTING AROUND From the Gold Coast, head to
Nerang and follow signs to Beaudesert. The Mount Tamborine turnoff is off this
road. Alternatively, take the Pacific Highway north to Oxenford and take the Mount
Tamborine turnoff, the first exit after Warner Bros. Movie World. Many tour operators
run minibus and four-wheel-drive day trips from the Gold Coast, and some run
tours from Brisbane. A fun thing to do is take a tour with the Tamborine Trolley
Co. buses (& 07/5545 4321; www.tamborinetrolley.com.au), modeled on early20th-
century trams, which have a variety of tours to wineries and other attractions.
A 3-hour winery tour costs A$45 per person, while a full-day food and wine tour
costs A$95. Pickups from your coastal accommodations is another A$30. On
Wednesdays, the company runs a hop-on-hop-off tour of about 20 attractions. The
price of A$77 includes pick-up from Gold Coast accommodations or the Coomera
railway station.

VISITOR INFORMATION Head to Gold Coast Tourism’s Visitor Information
centers (see under “The Gold Coast,” earlier in this chapter) to stock up on information
and tourist maps before you set off. Brisbane Visitor Information Centre (see
“Visitor Information,” in chapter 7) also has information. The Tamborine Mountain
Information Centre is in Doughty Park, where Geissmann Drive joins Main Western
Road in North Tamborine (&07/5545 3200; www.tamborinemtncc.org.au). It’s
open Monday to Friday from 10am to 3:30pm, Saturdays from 9:30am to 3:30pm and
Sundays from 10am to 3:30pm. Closed Christmas Day and Good Friday.


With a map at hand, you are well equipped to drive around Mount Tamborine’s
roads, admire the views over the valleys, and poke around the shops. New Age
candles, homemade soaps, maple-pecan fudge, tropical watercolors, German


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The Gold Coast Hinterland: Back to Nature

cuckoo clocks, and Aussie antiques are some of the things you can buy in the many
stores. The best place to shop is the quaint strip of galleries, cafes, and shops known
as Gallery Walk on Long Road, between North Tamborine and Eagle Heights.
Eagle Heights has few shops but great views back toward the coast. North Tamborine
is mainly a commercial center with the odd nice gallery or two. Mount Tamborine
itself is mainly residential.

One of the area’s latest attractions is the Tamborine Rainforest Skywalk
(& 07/5545 2222; www.rainforestskywalk.com.au), set in 11 hectares (27 acres)
of privately owned rainforest. The 1.5km (1-mile) rainforest walk includes about
300m (984 ft.) of steel bridges through the rainforest canopy, combined with a

8 40m-long (131-ft.) cantilever soaring 30m (98 ft.) over the creek below. It is
accessed from 333 Geissmann Drive, North Tamborine, and is open daily (except
Christmas Day) from 9am to 4pm. The walk takes about 50 minutes.
Allow time to walk some of the trails that wind through forest throughout the
villages. Most are reasonably short and easy. The Mount Tamborine Information
Centre has maps marking them.

Tamborine Mountain Bed & Breakfast

Ideally situated close to rainforest
walks, arts and craft shops, wineries, and restaurants, Tony and Pam Lambert’s restful
timber home has stunning 180-degree views to the ocean from the breakfast
balcony. Laze by the open fire in the timber-lined living room, or on the lovely
veranda where rainbow lorikeets, kookaburras, and crimson rosellas flit about over
the bird feeders. The ferny gardens have four purpose-built rustic timber suites,
each individually decorated in style, named for the birdlife, and linked to the house
by covered walkways. Rooms are heated in winter. There’s no smoking indoors.
19–23 Witherby Crescent, Eagle Heights, QLD 4721. &07/5545 3595. Fax 07/5545 3322. www.tmbb.
com.au. 4 units, all with shower only. A$160 double midweek; A$210 double Sat–Sun. Rates include
continental breakfast Mon–Fri, full breakfast Sat–Sun. MC, V. Free parking. Children 11 and under not
accepted. In room: A/C, TV/VCR, hair dryer.

Lamington National Park

70km (43 miles) W of Gold Coast; 115km (71 miles) S of Brisbane

Subtropical rainforest, 2,000-year-old moss-covered Antarctic beech trees, giant
strangler figs, and misty mountain air characterize Lamington’s high, narrow ridges
and plunging valleys. Its stretches of dense rainforest make it one of the most important
subtropical parks in southeast Queensland, and one of the loveliest. The park
has 160km (99 miles) of walking trails that track through thick forest, past ferny
waterfalls, and along mountain ridges with soaring views across green valleys. The
trails vary in difficulty and length, from 1km (.5-mile) strolls to 23km (14-mile)

The park is a haven for bird lovers, who come to see and photograph the rosellas,
bowerbirds, rare lyrebirds, and other species that live here, but that’s not the only
wildlife you will see. Groups of small wallabies, called pademelons, graze outside
your room. In summer, you may see giant carpet pythons curled up in a tree or large
goannas sunning themselves on rock ledges. You may be stopped near streams by a
hissing Lamington spiny crayfish, an aggressive little monster 6 inches long, patterned
in royal blue and white. The park comes alive with owls, possums, and sugargliders
at night.

Most visitors are fascinated by the park’s Antarctic beech trees, which begin to
appear above the 1,000m (3,280-ft.) line. Like something from a medieval fairy tale,
these mossy monarchs of the forest stand 20m (66 ft.) tall and measure up to 8m
(26 ft.) in girth. They are survivors of a time when Australia and Antarctica belonged
to the supercontinent Gondwana, when it was covered by wet, tropical rainforest.
The species survived the last Ice Age, and the trees at Lamington are about 2,000
years old, suckered off root systems about 8,000 years old. The trees are a 21.2-hour
walk from O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat (see below).


The easiest way to explore the park is to base yourself at O’Reilly’s Rainforest
Retreat in the Green Mountains section of the park, or at Binna Burra Mountain
Lodge in the Binna Burra section (see “Where to Stay & Dine,” below). Most of the
trails lead from one or the other of these resorts, and a 23km (14-mile) Border Trail
connects them; it follows the New South Wales–Queensland border for much of the
way, and most reasonably fit folk can walk it in a day. Guided walks and activities at
both resorts are for guests only; however, both properties welcome day visitors who
want to walk the trails (which is free). Both have inexpensive cafes for

It is a good idea to bring a flashlight and maybe binoculars for wildlife spotting.
The temperature is often significantly cooler than on the Gold Coast, so bring a
sweater in summer and bundle up in winter when nights get close to freezing. September
through October is orchid season, and the frogs come out in noisy abundance
in February and March.

GETTING THERE By Car O’Reilly’s is 37km (23 miles) from the town of
Canungra. The road is twisty and winding, so take it slow. Allow an hour from
Canungra to reach O’Reilly’s, and plan to arrive before dark. Binna Burra is 35km
(22 miles) from Nerang via Beechmont, or 26km (16 miles) from Canungra, on a
winding mountain road. From the Gold Coast go west to Nerang, where you can
turn off to Binna Burra via Beechmont, or go on to Canungra, where you will see the
O’Reilly’s and Binna Burra turnoffs. From Brisbane, follow the Pacific Highway
south and take the Beenleigh/Mount Tamborine exit to Mount Tamborine. From
there, follow signs to Canungra. Allow a good 21.2 hours to get to either resort from
Brisbane, and 90 minutes from the Gold Coast. Binna Burra sells unleaded fuel;
O’Reilly’s has emergency supplies only.

BY COACH The Mountain Coach Company (& 07/5524 4249; www.
mountaincoach.com.au) does daily transfers to O’Reilly’s and Binna Burra from the
Gold Coast, leaving the airport at 8am, picking up at hotels along the way, and arriving
at O’Reilly’s at around noon. The return trip leaves O’Reilly’s at 2:30pm, arriving
at the airport by 6pm. Australian Day Tours (&07/3489 6455; www.daytours.
com.au) makes a daily coach run from outside the Roma Street Transit Centre in
Brisbane at 8:45am, arriving at O’Reilly’s at 12:45pm. The return trip leaves
O’Reilly’s at 2:15pm and gets to Brisbane at 6pm. The cost is A$84 adults and A$52

The Binna Burra lodge runs limousine transfers from the Gold Coast and Brisbane.
Bookings are essential and must be made at least 24 hours in advance. It costs
A$88 per car (for one to four passengers) from Nerang railway station, A$138 from
Gold Coast Airport, and A$253 from Brisbane Airport.


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The Gold Coast Hinterland: Back to Nature

VISITOR INFORMATION The best sources of information on hiking are
O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat and Binna Burra Mountain Lodge (see “Where to Stay
& Dine,” below); ask them to send you copies of their walking maps. There are
national parks information offices at both properties, but they are not always open.
For detailed information on hiking and camping in the park, go to the website www.


Both of these mountaintop retreats have long and interesting histories. Both offer
walking trails of a similar type and distance; guided walks, including nighttime
wildlife-spotting trips; hearty food; and a restful, enjoyable experience. They offer


similar experiences; the differences are perhaps in style, with O’Reilly’s having
become a more sophisticated and modern operation in recent years. Look into the
special-interest workshops both properties run throughout the year, which can be
anything from gourmet weekends to mountain-jogging programs.

Binna Burra Mountain Lodge

Binna Burra is a postcard-perfect mountain
lodge. The original cabins, built in 1935, are still in use; they’ve been outfitted
with modern comforts but not with contemporary “inconveniences,” such as telephones,
televisions, radios, and clocks. All the accommodations have pine-paneled
walls, floral bedcovers, heaters, and electric blankets. The popular Euphrasia Bella
rooms have balconies with wonderful views of the Numinbah Valley and private
bathrooms; they are furnished with queen or double twin beds. The spacious mudbrick
and weatherboard Acacia cabins also have private bathrooms, unlike the
Casurarina cabins, which are the least expensive option but have shared bathroom

Meals are served in the stone-and-timber dining room, where you can sit at a
communal table with other guests or at a table for two. Free tea and coffee are on
the boil all day. Also here are a crafts shop, a natural history library, and a large program
of activities. Rejoove Health Spa is open daily from 10am to 8pm.

Beechmont via Canungra, QLD 4211. &1300/246 622 in Australia, or 07/5533 3622. Fax 07/5533 3747.
www.binnaburralodge.com.au. 41 cabins, 22 with bathroom with shower only. A$180–A$280 double.
Extra person A$70. Extra child 5–12 A$40. Crib A$10 per night. Rates include breakfast; packages with
dinner included also available. MC, V. Amenities: Restaurant; bar; babysitting; free children’s programs
(ages 5–12) during school vacations; spa. In room: Minibar, no phone.

O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat

A third generation of the O’Reilly family
is now involved in this historic guesthouse, which has been welcoming visitors since
1926. You will likely meet at least some of this extended clan during your visit, possibly
presiding over the toaster at breakfast. Highlights of your stay will be the
chance to hand-feed brilliantly colored rainforest birds every morning and the fact
that the staff will remember you by name. Nestled high on a cleared plateau, the
buildings are closed in on three sides by dense tangled rainforest and open to picturesque
mountain views to the west. The timber resort complex is inviting, with
upmarket new suites. The comfortable guest lounge has an open fire, old-fashioned
sofas and chairs, and an upright piano. The six rooms in the Toolona block, built in
the 1930s, have communal bathrooms and basic furniture. The six motel-style Garden
View rooms have handcrafted maple furniture. The seven Bithongabel rooms
are singles. Mountain View rooms look out to the McPherson Ranges and have
balconies; the six family rooms in this block have bunks for kids, and two rooms have

wheelchair access. Three large Canopy suites have king-size four-poster beds, fireplaces,
Jacuzzis, libraries, stereo/CD players, minibars, and bars. One of the former
O’Reilly family homes has been transformed into two suites, called “Vince” and
“Lona,” after the second-generation couple who raised their 10 children in the
house. Each unit has two bedrooms (one with a king-size four-poster bed), two
bathrooms, a separate living room, and a two-way fireplace. The large decks have a
Jacuzzi, from which you can look out to magical sunsets. The latest accommodation
choice is a range of 48 new one-, two-, and three-bedroom villas a short distance
from the guesthouse complex.

At mealtime, the maitre d’ assigns you to a table, so you get to meet other guests.
Head to the hexagonal Rainforest Bar, perched up high for great sunset views, for
half-price cocktails from 5 to 6:30pm or a light meal. Among other facilities are a
cafe and gift shop, a basketball court, and free tea, coffee, and cookies all day. The
Lost World Spa has eight treatment rooms and offers the full array of pampering

Via Canungra, Lamington National Park Rd., Lamington National Park, QLD 4275. &1800/688 722 in
Australia, or 07/5502 4911. www.oreillys.com.au. 72 units. A$165–A$268 single rooms; A$325 double;
A$410 Canopy Suite; A$520 2-bedroom suite; A$400–A$480 1-bedroom villa; A$435–A$510 2-bedroom
villa; A$610–A$660 3-bedroom villa. 4-night minimum New Year’s, Easter, Christmas. Ask about
2-night and longer packages. Meal plan A$99 adults, A$50 children 12–15, A$30 children 4-11; 2-meal
packages available. AE, DC, MC, V. Amenities: Restaurant; bar; babysitting; children’s programs (age 6
and up) on Sat–Sun and school vacations; Jacuzzi; heated outdoor plunge pool; sauna; spa; lit tennis
court. In room: Wi-Fi (villas only; A$10 for 30 min.; A$35 for 24 hr.).


Spread over 3,000km (1,875 miles), the Outback is a heart-stopping land of clear
blue skies, burnished sunsets, rolling plains, rugged ranges, and endless vistas.
Populated with colorful characters that could have walked off a movie set, the Outback
is the heart and soul of Queensland. This is where the Aussie tradition of
mateship was born, as pioneering cattlemen and their families battled the elements
to make a go of it. The Queensland Outback is the birthplace of Australian legends
like Waltzing Matilda. History comes alive when you get to places like the Burke
River at Boulia, where explorers Burke and Wills filled their water bags and modernday
travelers are invited to do the same, or at Lark Quarry, where dinosaurs once

The main centers of Queensland Outback life are the towns of Charleville, Barcaldine,
Longreach, and Winton, and the mining town of Mount Isa. They may be
small, but they offer a completely different view of this vast state than you will get
on the coast, and they are definitely worth the effort it takes to get to them.


700km (437 miles) W of Rockhampton; 1,286km (804 miles) NW of Brisbane

With a population of about 4,500, Longreach is the largest town in Queensland’s
Central West. One of the biggest surprises for first-time visitors to Longreach is that
the town is set on the banks of a wide brown river, the Thomson. And after a hard
day’s traveling or sightseeing around Longreach, there’s nothing more relaxing than
a sunset cruise on the river or a campfire on its banks. This is bushranger country,





Outback Queensland

and wherever you go in this area, you’ll hear the story of Captain Starlight, the cattle
rustler who’s become part of local folklore—it’s one of those stories which gets better
with each telling, and which has been immortalized in the classic Australian novel
Robbery Under Arms by Rolf Boldrewood. There’s plenty to do in Longreach, and
tour operators are on hand to take the difficulty out of the distances involved.

GETTING THERE By Car From Brisbane, Longreach is 1,286km (804 miles)
northwest. Take the Warrego Highway west through Toowoomba and Roma, heading
toward Charleville. About 90km (56 miles) before Charleville, head north to Augathella
and join the Matilda Highway. From there it is about 320km (200 miles) to
Barcaldine, and from there another 108km (67 miles) west to Longreach. From

Rockhampton, the Capricorn Highway heads almost directly west through Emerald
and Alpha for about 590km (369 miles) before joining the Matilda Highway.

BY PLANE Qantaslink (& 13 13 13 in Australia; www.qantas.com.au) flies
into Longreach Airport from Brisbane daily.

BY TRAIN Queensland Rail Traveltrain (& 1300/131 722) runs the train
Spirit of the Outback from Brisbane to Longreach via Rockhampton every Tuesday
at 6:25pm and Saturday at 1:10pm, returning on Thursday and Monday. It’s A$184
for a seat from Brisbane or A$242 to A$374 for a sleeper. Alternatively, you can join
the train at Rockhampton on Wednesday or Sunday. The trip takes about 25 hours
from Brisbane, or 14 hours from Rockhampton.

BY BUS Greyhound Australia (&1300/473 946) runs between Brisbane and
Longreach daily. The trip takes nearly 18 hours and costs A$143.

VISITOR INFORMATION The Longreach Visitor Information Centre is at
Qantas Park, Eagle Street, Longreach, QLD 4730 (& 07/4658 4150; www.long
reach.qld.gov.au). It is open Monday to Friday 8:30am to 5pm and weekends 9am
to noon. Another good source of information is the Outback Queensland Tourism
Association (&1800/247 966; www.outbackholidays.info).

GETTING AROUND Rental-car companies Avis (& 13 63 33 in Australia, or
07/4658 3541) and Budget (& 07/4982 1767) both have outlets at Longreach

Several tour companies offer tours in and around Longreach and to other Central
West Outback towns. One of the best is Alan and Sue Smith’s Outback Aussie

(&07/4658 3000; www.oat.net.au), which runs trips taking in Longreach,
Ilfracombe, Winton, and Barcaldine, as well as the Lark Quarry dinosaur site.
Longreach Outback Travel Centre (& 07/4658 1776; www.lotc.com.au) at
115a Eagle St., has information on a variety of tours.
Australian Stockman’s Hall of Fame & Outback Heritage Centre

This should be the first stop on any visit to Longreach. I could spend all day at the
Hall of Fame, but try to allow at least 4 hours. (If you run out of time they will give
you a re-entry pass for the next day.) A tribute to the pioneers who developed the
Outback, the center honors explorers, stockmen, poets, and artists. Part museum,
part memorial, part interactive display, this world-class attraction is educational,
entertaining, and quite amazing. Exhibits are updated regularly and give a fascinating
insight into the Aboriginal and European history of Australia, blending modern
technology with artifacts and relics of a bygone age. The Outback Stockman’s Show,

held Monday to Saturday at 11am and 2pm (May–Oct only), showcases the skills of
a stockman and depicts working life in the bush. It costs an extra A$5 adults, A$2

Ilfracombe Rd., Longreach. &07/4658 2166. Fax 07/4658 2495. www.outbackheritage.com.au. A$23
adults, A$12 children 8–17, A$50 family. Daily 9am–5pm except Christmas.

Longreach School of Distance Education Tours of this unique school system—
also known as the School of the Air—will give you insight into the isolation of
Outback families. You can watch a teacher conducting on-air lessons via two-way
radio to students on far-flung stations. Hundreds of children in western Queensland
take advantage of this form of education. Tours even run during some school holidays,
but it’s much better to visit when there’s action!

Sir James Walker Dr., Longreach. & 07/4658 4222. www.longreacsde.eq.edu.au. A$6 adults, A$3
children. Guided tours at 9 and 10:30am Mon–Fri (except public holidays and Dec–Jan school holidays).

Qantas Founders Museum Anyone who’s ever flown on Australia’s first airline
will be interested in this tribute to pioneer aviators. Longreach is the original home
of Qantas, as the airline’s operational base from 1922 to 1934, when Australia’s first
six aircraft were built here. The acronym Q.A.N.T.A.S. stands for Queensland and
Northern Territory Air Service. During World War II, Longreach was used as a base
by U.S. Flying Fortress bombers for their Pacific operations. The original hangar is
now complemented by a A$9-million world-class museum, with the main exhibit a
full-size replica of an AVRO 504K, a 747 Jumbo, the first type of aircraft operated
by Qantas. You can tour the 747, including walking out onto the wing, clambering
down into the computer bay and cargo bays, and sitting in the pilot’s seat. Tours of
the 747 must be booked and cost A$19 adults, A$10 children, and A$45 for a family.
They take between 1 and 2 hours, depending on whether you take the wing walk
(this costs A$85 adults, A$55 children, and A$170 for a family). You can also take a
30-minute guided tour of the recently arrived, fully restored Boeing 707, VH-XBA,
the first passenger jet registered in Australia and Qantas’s first jet aircraft. Located
at the airport, opposite the Australian Stockman’s Hall of Fame, this sleek building,
which resembles an aircraft hangar, contrasts perfectly with the original hangar.

Qantas hangar, Longreach Airport, Sir Hudson Fysh Drive, Longreach. &07/4658 3737. www.qfom.
com.au. A$19 adults, A$10 children 7–16, A$45 family. Ask about entry and tour packages. Daily 9am–
5pm except Christmas Day.


Thomson River cruises—usually at sunset—are run by two local companies, Billabong
Boat Cruises and Yellowbelly Express River Cruises. Billabong operates
the Thomson Belle, the only paddle wheeler in Western Queensland. The dinner
cruise costs A$55 adults, A$40 children 3 to 14, and A$10 children under 3. At the
end of the night, you’ll be entertained by some of the local talent, which could be
bush poetry or a singalong. A sunset cruise with Yellowbelly Express includes transfers
from your accommodations, an informative and entertaining commentary on the
river, and a few nibbles. It costs A$38 adults and A$15 children, A$10 for kids under

3. All drinks (not just alcohol) are BYO for both cruises. Both can be booked through
the Longreach Outback Travel Centre (&07/4658 1776; www.lotc.com.au).
A 30-minute drive from Longreach is the small town of Ilfracombe. Attractions
include the folk museum, with its large collection of old vehicles, including a
horse-drawn wool wagon, sulkies, cart, and farm machinery. The museum also has a





Outback Queensland

turn-of-the-20th-century police cell and a collection of Aboriginal artifacts, historic
photographs, and early pioneering silver and china.

Stop at the historic Wellshot Hotel in Ilfracombe for a cool drink. Named for

the largest sheep station in the world in its heyday, the pub is a popular local water

ing hole.

Albert Park Motor Inn This is a fairly standard motel, but is among the best in
town, and location is everything. The Albert Park is close to all the major attractions—
just 200m (660 ft.) from the airport and Qantas Founders Museum, and 500m
(1,600 ft.) from the Australian Stockman’s Hall of Fame. It’s about 1.5km (just under


a mile) to the center of town. The Oasis restaurant serves large meals at reasonable
prices, and there’s a nice lagoon-style pool to cool off in. You’re also likely to spot
some of the local wildlife including goannas, kangaroos, and wallabies.

Sir Hudson Fysh Dr., Longreach, QLD 4730. &1800/821 811 in Australia, or 07/4658 2411. Fax 07/4658
3181. 56 units (with shower only). A$128 double. Extra adult A$16, extra child 14 and under A$11. AE, DC,
MC, V. Free parking. Amenities: Restaurant; bar; Internet (A$3 for 15 min.; A$5 for 30 min.); Jacuzzi;
shaded heated saltwater pool and children’s wading pool; room service. In room: A/C, TV w/free movies,
hair dryer, minibar.


175km (109 miles) NW of Longreach; 1,500km (94 miles) NW of Brisbane; 470km (294 miles) E of
Mount Isa

Winton is best known as the place where Banjo Paterson wrote “Waltzing Matilda”
in 1885, for which the nearby Combo Waterhole was the inspiration. The town has
a population of 1,200 and most of its major attractions are linked to the song.

GETTING THERE & GETTING AROUND The nearest car hire is in Longreach.
Roads are all sealed between Winton, Longreach, and Mount Isa. Greyhound
Australia (&1300/473 946) has daily coach services between Longreach
and Winton. The trip takes about 2 hours and costs A$37. Coach connections from
Longreach to Winton are also available to passengers on the Spirit of the Outback
train, run by Queensland Rail Traveltrain (&1300/131 722; www.traveltrain.
com.au). The fare from Brisbane is A$205 for a seat or A$264 to A$396 for a sleeper.

VISITOR INFORMATION The Winton Visitor Information Centre
(& 1300/665 115 in Australia or 07/4657 1466; www.experiencewinton.com.au)
is located in the Waltzing Matilda Centre, 50 Elderslie St., Winton. It’s open daily
from 9am to 5pm, with restricted hours on public holidays and weekends from
October through March. It’s closed Christmas Day, Boxing Day, and New Year’s Day.
If you’re planning to spend a few days here, buy a “Shin Plaster” pass to Winton’s
attractions for A$23 adult or A$50 family. For A$32 adult or A$70 family, it also covers
entry to the Lark Quarry dinosaur tracks.

Combo Waterhole Conservation Park Believed to be the inspiration for the
song “Waltzing Matilda,” the waterhole is a short drive off the Matilda Highway,
about 150km (94 miles) north of Winton. It is then an easy 40-minute walk from the
parking lot to the waterhole. Combo Waterhole’s story is told on interpretive signs
along the way, which will take you across the Diamantina River channels on

ON THE dinosaur TRAIL

The stampeding footprints of 150 terrified
coelurosaurs and ornithopods—
reputedly Steven Speilberg’s inspiration
for a scene for the blockbuster Jurassic
Park—can be found in Outback
Queensland, where dinosaurs once
roamed and have left their calling cards.
Lark Quarry (www.dinosaurtrackways.
com.au) is one of the most amazing fossil
sites in the world, recording a dramatic
moment in time 95 million years
ago, when the hot, dusty area outside
the town of Winton was once a small
prehistoric lake. A large flesh-eating carnosaur
trapped around 150 smaller coelurosaurs
and ornithopods at the lake
edge, causing them to flee in panic.

It is the only surviving record of a
dinosaur stampede on Earth. The tracks
were undiscovered until 1962 and are
now protected by conservation works
that include a building that helps conserve
the footprints by controlling the
temperature, humidity, and moisture levels,
and an elevated walkway for best
viewing and photography of the tracks.
A lookout offers panoramic views over
the vast Lark Quarry environmental
park. There are also interpretive displays,
picnic tables, and toilets.

Lark Quarry is 110km (69 miles)
southwest of Winton, on the mostly
unsealed Jundah Road, about a 2-hour
drive. Before setting out, check road
conditions and directions with the
Waltzing Matilda Centre (&07/4657
1466). Several companies operate
tours from Winton and Longreach,
including Carisbrooke Tours &07/4657
0084; www.carisbrooketours.com.au)

and Outback Aussie Tours (&1300 787
890 in Australia; www.oat.net.au). Lark
Quarry is open daily from 9am to 4pm.
Admission is A$10 adults, A$6 schoolage
children, and A$25 per family. Entry
is by guided tour only, daily at 10am,
noon, and 2pm. For more information
call the Winton Visitor Information Centre
(&1300/665 115 in Australia, or
07/4657 1466).

Outback Queensland’s other major
dinosaur sites can be found in the towns
of Richmond and Hughenden. If you’re a
real enthusiast and intend to take the
“Dinosaur Triangle”—you’ll need about
a week to do it—it’s worth buying a
Dino Pass for A$20 adults or A$50 per
family. Your drive will be a loop starting
and ending in Mount Isa via various
interesting spots covered in this chapter.
Stop in Richmond to visit the Kronosaurus
Korner Marine Fossil Museum
(&07/4741 3429; www.kronosaurus
korner.com.au) to discover an ancient
time when this area was a great inland
sea. You can go fossicking to find your
own fossils which can be identified by
the local palaeontologist.

Finally on to Hughenden, the start of
the great ancient inland sea. (Take a
side trip to Porcupine Gorge National
Park, a spectacular sandstone gorge
about 63km/33 miles outside the town.)
The Flinders Discovery Centre
(&07/4741 1021) in Hughenden
includes a 7m (23-ft.) replica of the Muttaburrasaurus
langdoni (named after the
town of Muttaburra, where the remains
were found close to the Thomson River
in 1963).



century-old stone-pitched overshots. The waterhole might inspire you to break into
a chorus of “Waltzing Matilda.” This is a great place for bird-watching too.

150km (94 miles) north of Winton off Matilda Hwy. &07/4652 7333 for the Queensland Parks &
Wildlife Service in Longreach. Free admission. Information center: Mon–Fri 8:30am–5pm; closed public
holidays and Christmas to New Year.



Outback Queensland


Queensland has long known the benefits
of covering vast distances by train, and
its iconic Outback trains are a fantastic
way of seeing the countryside as you
travel through it—in comfort. The most
luxurious is Spirit of the Outback, which
runs the 1,300km (808 miles) from Brisbane
to Longreach via Rockhampton
every Tuesday and Saturday, returning
on Thursday and Monday. Alternatively,
you can join the train at Rockhampton
on Wednesday or Sunday. The trip takes
about 25 hours from Brisbane, or 14
hours from Rockhampton.

 The Inlander runs from Townsville to
Mount Isa every Sunday and Thursday,
returning on Monday and Friday. The
977km (610-mile) journey takes 22 hours.

 The Westlander takes you from Brisbane
across the Great Dividing Range
through the lush green countryside of
the Darling Downs, and on to the Outback
town of Charleville, famed for its
stargazing (make sure you visit the Cosmos
Centre and Observatory). The


777km (483-mile) journey takes about
17 hours, leaving Brisbane on Tuesday
and Thursday at 7:15pm. A one-way
adult fare is A$102 for a seat, A$160 to
A$244 for a sleeper.

 The Savannahlander (&1800/793
848 in Australia or 07/4053 6848; www.
savannahlander.com.au) is a classic
1960s rail motor that takes 4 days to
travel through the remote heart of
Queensland’s far northern Gulf country
between Cairns and Forsayth. You can
also do shorter day trips, joining the
train at various points along the way.
For the full journey, you first travel up
the Kuranda range, before the “Silver
Bullet” heads west for the tiny settlements
of Almaden, Einsleigh, Mount
Surprise, and Forsayth. Don’t be in a
hurry; the pace is leisurely and the
driver will even stop the train here and
there to point out things along the way,
including wildlife alongside the track.
The train stops overnight in Almaden so
passengers can take a tour to the old

Waltzing Matilda Centre Dedicated to Australia’s most famous song, written by
Banjo Paterson in 1898 at Dagworth Station, near Winton, the center uses modern
technology and interactive displays to celebrate the writer’s life and times and the role
his song has played in Australia’s psyche. The complex also includes the Outback
Regional Gallery, the Qantilda local history museum, a restaurant, and gift shop.

50 Elderslie St., Winton. &07/4657 1466. Fax 07/4567 1886. www.matildacentre.com.au. A$19 adults,
A$8 children, A$42 family of 6. Apr–Oct daily 9am–5pm; Nov–Mar Mon–Fri 9am–5pm, Sat–Sun 9am–
3pm; public holidays 9am–3pm. Closed Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

Boulder Opal Motor Inn This family-owned business is one of Winton’s best
motels. All rooms have a queen size and a single bed, and two rooms are specially
designed for people with disabilities. The licensed restaurant has an Outback theme,
but that doesn’t extend to the cuisine, which is more Mediterranean-inspired. It is
open daily for breakfast and Monday to Saturday for dinner. The reception area has
a great display of handcrafted opal jewelry (the owners are also active in local opal
mining). The motel is only 500m (1,600 ft.) from the Waltzing Matilda Centre.

mining village of Chillagoe where ruins
of the Chillagoe Smelters, built around
1900 and operated until 1943, still dominate
the skyline. Other attractions along
the way include the therapeutic Tullaroo
Hot Springs, the massive underground
caves of the Undara Lava Tubes, and the
stunning Cobbold Gorge. The train usually
runs between early March and mid-
December, depending on weather and
track conditions. There are various touring
options available, but if you want to
do the whole trip over 4 days, with all
tours and overnight accommodation in
Chillagoe, Cobbold Gorge, and in the
restored railway carriages at Undara
Lava Lodge, it will cost A$1,040 adults
and A$702 children.

An equally interesting journey is the
half-day trip on the Gulflander
(&07/4036 9222; www.gulflander.com.
au). This train travels the 152km (95
miles) from Normanton to Croydon,
through some of Queensland’s most
remote, inaccessible, and diverse

countryside—from wetlands and grasslands
to arid savannah country. Opened
in 1891 to connect Normanton to the rich
Croydon goldfields, the line has never
been linked to the main Queensland Rail
network. Affectionately known as the
“Tin Hare,” it leaves Normanton on
Wednesdays at 8:30am and arrives in
Croydon 4 or 5 hours later. It turns
around for the return journey on Thursday
at the same time. The fare is A$61
adults or A$31 children 4 to 14 one-way,
or A$105 adults and A$53 children
round-trip. Normanton is around 700km
(435 miles) from Cairns, but if you don’t
want to drive, there are a number of
Gulflander packages that include getting
there. There are also packages which
combine the Savannahlander and

For more information about all of
Queensland’s Outback, scenic, and longdistance
trains, contact Queensland Rail
Traveltrain (&1300/131 722; www.



16 Elderslie St., Winton. & 07/4657 1211. Fax 07/4657 1331. www.boulderopalmotorinn.com.au. 26
units, all with shower only. A$115–A$120 double; A$165 2-bedroom unit. A$12 extra person. Free crib.
AE, DC, MC, V. Free undercover parking. Amenities: Restaurant; bar; free airport transfers; outdoor
pool; room service. In room: A/C, TV, hair dryer, dial-up Internet.

Mount Isa

893km (558 miles) W of Townsville; 633km (395 miles) NW of Longreach

Mount Isa is Queensland’s largest provincial city west of the Great Dividing Range.
The town was built around mining, and the population of 22,000 reflects that in the
50 different nationalities represented. The huge Mount Isa Mine dominates the
town. It is the world’s largest single producer of copper, silver, lead, and zinc. A social
highlight of the year is the annual Mount Isa Rodeo (& 07/4743 2706; www.
isarodeo.com.au), held every August (in 2011, it’s Aug 10–12). It’s the biggest rodeo
in the southern hemisphere.

GETTING THERE By Car Mount Isa is 893km (558 miles) west of Townsville
on the Flinders Highway. From Longreach, take the Landsborough Highway northwest
through Winton and on to Cloncurry. Mount Isa is about 120km (75 miles)



Outback Queensland

west of Cloncurry on the Barkly Highway. The total trip from Longreach is 633km
(395 miles). Motorists should check all road conditions with local authorities before
setting out.

BY TRAIN Queensland Rail Traveltrain (& 1300/131 722) operates the
Inlander train from Townsville to Mount Isa every Sunday and Thursday, returning
on Monday and Friday. The 977km (610-mile) journey takes 22 hours and costs
A$123 per adult for a seat or A$182 to A$280 for a sleeper.

BY BUS Greyhound Australia (&1300/473 946 in Australia) services Mount
Isa from Townsville. The trip takes about 12 hours and costs A$143 one-way.

BY PLANE Qantas (& 13 13 13 in Australia; www.qantas.com.au) serves


Mount Isa from Brisbane and Townsville.

VISITOR INFORMATION The Outback@Isa Visitor Information Centre
is at 19 Marian St., Mount Isa, QLD 4825 (& 1300/659 660 in Australia, or
07/4749 1555; www.outbackatisa.com.au). It is open daily from 8:30am to 5pm.

GETTING AROUND Car hire companies Avis (& 07/4743 3733), Budget
(& 13 27 27 or 07/4749 1828), and Hertz (& 07/4743 4142) have offices in
Mount Isa.

Boodjamulla (Lawn Hill) National Park Sheer red cliff walls, deep flowing
green water, walking tracks, and Aboriginal sites are the features of this spectacular
Outback oasis. World Heritage–listed Riversleigh is part of Lawn Hill’s fossil section.
This is a very remote area, and you really need a four-wheel drive to access it,
as the last 280km (174 miles) is unsealed road. A better option is to take a 3-day,
2-night safari tour from Mount Isa with Yididi Aboriginal Guided Tours (book
through Outback @ Isa, & 07/4749 1555). The tour costs A$990 adults, A$475
children 5 to 15, and A$238 children 2 to 4. Owner/operator Harry Burgen is a
member of the Waanyi Aboriginal tribe, the traditional owners of these lands. The
tour includes 2 nights’ accommodation at the area’s only permanent accommodation,
Adel’s Grove (www.adelsgrove.com.au; 10km/6 miles outside the park); all meals;
canoe hire; and transfers. The guided tour takes you to Riversleigh’s fossil fields,
walking in the national park, to Aboriginal rock painting sites, canoeing on Lawn Hill
Creek, and swimming in the natural spa. It only operates April to September.

About 500km (312 miles) northwest of Mount Isa. &07/4743 2055 for Queensland Parks & Wildlife
Service in Mount Isa, or 07/4748 5572 for the ranger (3–4pm only).

Outback@Isa You may get better insight into this mining town with a Hard
Times Mine Tour. The fully guided tours, run out of the Outback@Isa Visitor
Information Centre, descend to the 1.2km (3.4 miles) of tunnels in an Alimak cage at
10am and 2pm daily. Wearing protective clothing, including a miner’s cap and lamp,
you are led by former miners who really know what they are talking about. Tours take
about 21.2 hours and are not suitable for children under 7. The Outback@Isa complex
also includes several other attractions. The Outback Park is a cool oasis with
a lagoon, lush vegetation, and waterfalls. The Deluxe Pass includes the underground
tour, and gives 2 days’ entry to Riversleigh Fossil Centre (see below), the Isa
Experience Gallery, and the Outback Park for A$55 adults, A$33 children, and
A$150 for a family of four.

Outback @ Isa: 19 Marian St., Mount Isa. &1300/659 660 in Australia, or 07/4749 1555. www.outback
atisa.com.au. Undergound tour A$45 adult, A$26 child 7–17, A$120 family of 4. Bookings essential. Daily
8:30am–5pm. Closed Dec 25 and Good Friday.

Riversleigh Fossil Centre This interpretive center gives insight into life in the
Riversleigh region some 25 million years ago when dinosaurs roamed. The fossil
fields have given up some of their secrets, and dioramas re-create some of the
ancient animal life, such as Obdurodon, an ancestral platypus, and the wonderfully
named Thingodonta. In the fossil treatment laboratory, you can watch as fossils
come to light for the first time in millions of years as a laboratory technician and
paleontologist carry out preparatory work on the fossils gathered from the Riversleigh
site. Tours to this section are held Monday to Friday at 10am and 2pm, and
include a step-by-step explanation. It’s a “must-see” for visitors to the center.

19 Marian St., Mount Isa. &07/4749 1555. www.outbackatisa.com.au. A$10 adults, A$6.50 children
ages 5–17, A$30 family of 4. Daily 8:30am–5pm. Closed Christmas Day and Good Friday.

Royal Flying Doctor Base A 15-minute movie shows “a day in the life” of a
flying doctor who covers 1.3 sq. km (500,000 sq. miles) of northwest Queensland.
There’s also a small museum and display area and a souvenir shop, and picnic and
barbecue facilities are available in the shady gardens.

11 Barkly Hwy., Mount Isa. & 07/4743 2800. www.flyingdoctor.org.au. Entry by donation. Mon–Fri
9:30am–4:30pm. Closed weekends, public holidays, and Queensland school holidays.


Mount Isa has plenty of accommodations, from backpacker hostels and caravan
parks to host farms and four-star hotels. Make sure your lodgings are air-conditioned
because you’ll need it.

All Seasons Mount Isa Verona Hotel In this heat, you don’t want to be far
from anything, especially if you’re walking, so this hotel’s location, right in the heart
of town, is a bonus. The hotel’s restaurant is among the best in town, and the adjoining
cocktail bar is a pleasant place for a predinner drink. There’s also a small library
to browse in. Executive rooms have a small desk area.

Rodeo Drive and Camooweal St., Mount Isa, QLD 4825. &1800/679 178 in Australia, or 07/4743 3024.
Fax 07/4743 8715. www.accorhotels.com.au. 57 units. A$179 double; A$199 executive room. AE, DC, MC,

V. Free parking. Amenities: Restaurant; bar; exercise room; outdoor pool. In room: A/C, TV w/free movies,
hair dryer, minibar, Wi-Fi (A$28 for 24 hr.).




by Lee Mylne

he Red Centre is the landscape most closely associ

ated with Australia’s Outback—endless horizons,

vast deserts of red sand, mysterious monoliths, and

cloudless blue skies. If there is a soundtrack, it is the rhyth

mic haunting tones of the didgeridoo.

The Centre is home to sprawling cattle ranches, ancient mountain
ranges, “living fossil” palm trees that survived the Ice Age, cockatoos and
kangaroos, ochre gorges, lush water holes—and, of course, to Uluru, the
massive rock monolith.

Aboriginal people have lived here for tens of thousands of years, but
the Centre is still largely unexplored by non-Aboriginal Australians. One
highway cuts from Adelaide in the south to Darwin in the north, and a
few roads and four-wheel-drive tracks make a lonely spider web across it;
in many other areas, non-Aborigines have never set foot.

Alice Springs is the only big town in Central Australia, which together
with the Top End makes up the Northern Territory. And let’s get one
thing straight from the start: Alice Springs and Uluru are not side by side.
Uluru is 462km (286 miles) away. You can get there and see it in a day
from Alice Springs, but it’s an effort, and in doing so you will miss much
of what is on offer, for visiting Uluru is much more than just a quick
photo opportunity. It may well be the most meaningful and memorable
part of your trip to Australia.

Give yourself a few days to experience all there is in the Centre—visiting
the magnificent domes of Kata Tjuta (“the Olgas”) near Uluru,
walking the rim of Kings Canyon, riding a camel down a dry riverbed,
exploring the intricacies of Aboriginal paintings (either on rock or canvas),
swimming in waterholes, or staying at an Outback homestead. Alice
Springs gives you a better flavor for the Outback than Uluru. If you base
yourself in Alice, it’s easy to radiate out to less crowded but still beautiful
attractions such as Palm Valley, Ormiston Gorge, and Trephina Gorge
Nature Park, each an easy day trip. Too many visitors jet in, snap a photo
of the Rock, and head home, only to miss the essence of the desert.

The Red Centre

THE RED Introduction
87Uluru—Kata Tjuta National Park
see inset
See Alice Springs Map
PalmerRiverHughRiverLakeAmadeusWatarrkaNational ParkFinke GorgeNational ParkWest MacDonnellNational ParkUluru—KataTjuta NationalParkTrephina GorgeNature ParkRainbow ValleyConservationReserveTnorala ConservationReserveHaast BluffAboriginal LandPetermannAboriginal LandSantaTeresaAboriginalLandUluru/Ayers RockKata Tjuta/Mt.OlgaSimpson's GapStandleyChasmAyersRock
GosseBluffCorroboreeRockEmily GapEllery CreekBig HoleSerpentineGorgeOrmistonGorgeMACDONNELLRANGEAyers Rock ResortConnellan AirportPark Entrance StationSunsetViewingAreaCultural CentreSunsetViewingAreaKata TjutaViewing AreaAliceSpringsHermannsburg
KingsCanyonStuartsWellGlen HelenGorgeCurtin SpringsMt.EbenezerErldundaStuart HighwayLuritjaRoadLuritjaRoadMereenieLoopRoadRossHwy.
FinkeRiverSunrise Viewing AreaSunrise Viewing AreaFinkeRiverPalmerRiverFinkeRiver
WatarrkaNational Park
Finke GorgeNational ParkWest MacDonnellNational Park
Uluru—KataTjuta NationalPark
Trephina GorgeNature Park
Rainbow ValleyConservationReserve
Tnorala ConservationReserve
Haast BluffAboriginal LandPetermannAboriginal Land
SantaTeresaAboriginalLandUluru/Ayers RockKata Tjuta/Mt.OlgaSimpson's GapStandleyChasm
Emily Gap
Ellery CreekBig Hole
GEAyers Rock ResortConnellan AirportPark Entrance StationSunsetViewingArea
Cultural Centre
Kata TjutaViewing Area
Sunrise Viewing Area
Glen HelenGorge
Curtin Springs
ErldundaStuart Highway
50 mi00
50 km
DarwinSydneyMelbourneMelbourneMelbourneBrisbaneBrisbaneBrisbaneArea ofArea ofdetaildetailArea ofdetail


Exploring the Red Centre


VISITOR INFORMATION The Central Australian Tourism Industry Association
(see “Visitor Information” under “Alice Springs,” p. 392) can send you a
brochure pack. It is your best one-stop source of information.

Most of the Red Centre lies within the Northern Territory. The Northern Territory
Tourist Commission, Tourism House, 43 Mitchell St., Darwin, NT 0800
(& 13 67 68 in Australia, or 08/8951 8471; www.travelnt.com), can supply information
on traveling in this region. The website has special sections tailored for
international travelers (choose your country) and for the self-drive market. It can
help you find a travel agent who specializes in the Northern Territory and details
many hotels, tour operators, rental-car companies, and attractions, as well as lots of
information on local Aboriginal culture and Aboriginal tours. The Commission’s Territory
Discoveries division (www.holidaysnt.com) offers package deals.

WHEN TO GO April, May, September, and October have sunny days (coolish in

May, hot in Oct). Winter (June–Aug) means mild temperatures with cold nights.
Summer (Nov–Mar) is ferociously hot and best avoided. In summer, limit exertions
to early morning and late afternoon, and choose air-conditioned accommodations.
Rain is rare but can come at any time of year.

DRIVING TIPS The Automobile Association of the Northern Territory,
79–81 Smith St., Darwin, NT 0800 (& 08/8925 5901), offers emergency breakdown
service to members of affiliated overseas automobile associations and dispenses
maps and advice. It has no office in the Red Centre. For a recorded report
of road conditions, call &1800/246 199 in Australia.

Only a handful of highways and arterial roads in the Northern Territory are sealed
(paved) roads. A conventional two-wheel-drive car will get you to most of what you
want to see, but consider renting a four-wheel-drive for complete freedom. All the
big car-rental chains have them. Some attractions are on unpaved roads good enough
for a two-wheel-drive car, but your car-rental company will not insure a two-wheeldrive
for driving on them.

Normal restricted speed limits apply in all urban areas, but speed limits on Northern
Territory highways (introduced only in 2006) are considerably higher than in
other states. The speed limit is set at 130kmph (81 mph) on the Stuart, Arnhem,
Barkly, and Victoria highways, while rural roads are designated 110kmph (68 mph)
speed limits unless otherwise signposted. However, drivers should be careful to keep
to a reasonable speed and leave enough distance to stop safely. The road fatality toll
in the Northern Territory is high: 27 fatalities per 100,000 people each year, compared
with the Australian average of 8 per 100,000.

Another considerable risk while driving is that of hitting wildlife: camels, kangaroos,
and other protected native species. Avoid driving at night, early morning, and
late afternoon, when ’roos are more active; beware of cattle lying down on the warm
bitumen at night.

Road trains (trucks hauling more than one container) and fatigue caused by driving
long distances are two other major threats. For details on safe driving, review the
tips in the “By Car” section of “Getting There & Getting Around” in chapter 3.

If you plan to “go bush” in remote regions not covered by this guide, you may need
a permit from the relevant Aboriginal lands council to cross Aboriginal land. This can

Uluru is notorious for plagues of flies in
summer. Don’t be embarrassed to cover
your head with the fly nets sold in sou-
venir stores—there will be “no flies on
you, mate,” an Aussie way of saying
you are clever.
Buzz Off! Buzz Off!
be a drawn-out bureaucratic affair
that takes weeks, so plan ahead. The
Northern Territory Tourist Commission
(see “Visitor Information,” above)
can put you in touch with the appropriate
council. All good road maps
mark Aboriginal lands clearly.


carry drinking water. When hiking,

carry 4 liters (about a gallon) per person
per day in winter, and a liter (1. gal.) per person per hour in summer. Wear a

4broad-brimmed hat, high-factor sunscreen, and insect repellent.

Bring warm clothing for chilly evenings in winter. Make sure you have a full tank
of gas before setting out and check distances between places you can fill up.

TOUR OPERATORS Numerous coach, minicoach, and four-wheel-drive tour
operators run tours that take in Alice Springs, Kings Canyon, and Uluru. They
depart from Alice Springs or Uluru, offering accommodations ranging from spiffy
resorts, comfortable motels, and basic cabins to shared bunkhouses, tents, or swags
(sleeping bags) under the stars. Most pack the highlights into a 2- or 3-day trip,
though leisurely trips of 6 days or more are available. Many offer one-way itineraries
between Alice and the Rock (via Kings Canyon if you like), or vice versa, which will
allow you to avoid backtracking.

Among the reputable companies are AAT Kings (&1300/556 100 in Australia,
or 08/8952 1700 for the Alice Springs office; www.aatkings.com), which specializes
in coach tours but also has four-wheel-drive camping itineraries; Alice Springs
Holidays (& 1800/801 401 in Australia or 08/8953 1411; www.alicesprings
holidays.com.au), which does upscale soft-adventure tours for groups; Connections
Safaris (& 1300/886 332 in Australia, or 02/8252 5300 for the Sydney
booking office; www.connections.travel), which conducts camping safaris in small
groups for all ages; and Discovery Ecotours (& 08/8953 7800; www.ecotours.
com.au), which specializes in ecotours for groups. Tailormade Tours (&1800/806
641 in Australia or 08/8952 1731; www.tailormadetours.com.au) offers public tours
as well as customized luxury charters.


462km (286 miles) NE of Uluru; 1,491km (924 miles) S of Darwin; 1,544km (957 miles) N of Adelaide;
2,954km (1,831 miles) NW of Sydney

“The Alice,” as Australians fondly call it, is the unofficial capital of the Red Centre.
In the early 1870s, a handful of telegraph-station workers struggled nearly 1,600km
(992 miles) north from Adelaide through the desert to settle by a small spring in
what must have seemed like the ends of the earth. Alice Springs, as the place was
called, was just a few huts around a repeater station on the ambitious telegraph line
that was to link Adelaide with Darwin and the rest of the world.

Today Alice Springs is home to 27,000 people, with supermarkets, banks, and the
odd nightclub. It’s a friendly, rambling, unsophisticated place. No matter what direction
you come from, you will fly for hours over a vast, flat landscape to get here. On


Alice Springs



Alice Springs

arrival, you will see that in fact it is close to a low, dramatic range of rippling red
mountains, the MacDonnell Ranges. Many visitors excitedly expect to see Uluru,
but that marvel is about 462km (286 miles) down the road.

Many tourists visit Alice only to get to Uluru, but Alice has charms of its own,
albeit of a small-town kind. The red folds of the MacDonnell Ranges hide lovely
gorges with shady picnic grounds. The area has an old gold-rush town to poke
around in, quirky little museums, wildlife parks, a couple of cattle stations (ranches)
that welcome visitors, hiking trails to put red dust on your boots, and one of the
world’s top 10 desert golf courses. You could easily spend 2 or 3 days here.

This is the heart of the Aboriginal Arrernte people’s country, and Alice is a rich
source of tours, shops, and galleries for those interested in Aboriginal culture, art, or
souvenirs. However, parts of this region are also evidence that ancient Aboriginal
civilization has not always meshed well with the 21st century, which has resulted in
fractured riverbed communities plagued by alcohol and other social problems.



GETTING THERE By Plane Qantas (& 13 13 13 in Australia) flies direct
from Sydney, Adelaide, Darwin, Perth, Melbourne, Brisbane, Cairns, and Uluru.
Flights from most other cities connect via Sydney or Adelaide. Low-cost newcomer
Tiger Airways (& 03/9335 3033; www.tigerairways.com.au) has direct flights
from Melbourne and Adelaide.

The Alice Springs Airport Shuttle (&08/8953 0310; www.buslink.com.au)
meets all flights and transfers you to your Alice hotel door for A$18 one-way or A$28
round-trip. A taxi from the airport to town, a distance of 15km (91.3 miles), is around

BY TRAIN The Ghan train, named after Afghan camel-train drivers who carried
supplies in the Red Centre during the 19th century, makes the trip from Adelaide to
Alice every week, continuing to Darwin. The twice-weekly Adelaide-Alice service
(leaving Adelaide on Sun and Wed at 12:20pm and Alice Springs on Thurs and Sun
afternoons) takes roughly 24 hours. The Ghan departs Alice Springs for Darwin on
Monday and Thursday at 6pm, arriving in Katherine on Tuesday and Friday mornings,
and Darwin in the late afternoon. The service from Darwin departs on Wednesday
and Saturday. Stopovers in Katherine last around 4 hours. The train has sleeper
berths, but don’t worry about missing much by overnighting on the train; much of
the scenery is the same for hours, and you will see plenty of it during daylight hours.
For information, contact Great Southern Railway (& 13 21 47 in Australia, or
08/8213 4592; www.gsr.com.au) or see “Getting There & Getting Around,” in chapter
3, for its booking agencies abroad.

The Airport Shuttle (&08/8953 0310) runs between the station and the town

center for A$9 one-way and A$14 round-trip. A taxi costs about A$10 for the trip.
BY BUS Greyhound (& 1300/473 946 in Australia; www.greyhound.com.au)
runs from Adelaide and Darwin. It’s a 21-hour trip from Adelaide, and the fare is
around A$280. The 22-hour trip from Darwin costs about A$336.

BY CAR Alice Springs is on the Stuart Highway linking Adelaide and Darwin.
Allow a very long 2 days or a more comfortable 3 days to drive from Adelaide, the
same from Darwin. From Sydney, connect to the Stuart Highway via Broken Hill and
Port Augusta north of Adelaide; from Cairns, head south to Townsville, then west via

Alice Springs

THE RED Alice Springs
M uel l er
see inset below
Stephens Rd.WalkerSt.
G a son S t.
P e d l e r A v e .
R o s e n b a u m S t .
e r t s
C i r .
b l e t t
C i r .
Milner Rd.
Senden Ave.Lewis St.Rounsevell St.
Larapinta Dr.
Hong St.
GeorgeFogarty St.Wilkingson St.
Elder St.Kidman St.
Clarke St.
Barrett Dr.
Tuncks Rd.
The FairwayRangeCir.
Stott Terr.
Khalick St.
Goyder St.
Traeger Ave.
Skinner St.
Undoolya Rd.
Renner St.
North Rd.
Stokes Rd.
Smith St.
Priest St.
Woods Terr.
Jarvis St.
Keswick Ave.
Tietkens Ave.
Harvey St.
McKinlay St.
Knuckey Ave.
Head St.
Elliot St.Cheong St.
Lachman Terr.Campbell St.Abrahams Cir.Madigan St.Timbira St.
Aldidja St.
K r a e g e n
S t .
HighwayTodd St.
Stott Terr.
Railway Terr.Bath St.Hartley St.Todd MallOlive Pink
Flora ReserveBillyGoat
ParkRailwayStationPower StationTo Airport(normallydry)
r l es
e .
Lasseter'sLasseter'sCasinoCasinoStephens Rd.Walker St.Mahomed St.South Terr.
Gap Rd.
Achilpa St.
Kempe St.
Strehlow St.Hayes St.Breaden St.Ballingall St.
Speed St.Bloomfeld St.
Bradshaw Dr.StandleyCir.
BarclayCir.CrannSt.Carruthers Cir.
Palmer St.Memorial Ave.
Flynn Dr.
AdamsonAve. Newland St.
Gason St.
Pedler Ave.
Rosenbaum St.
Roberts Cir.Hablett Cir.
Milner Rd.
t .
Senden Ave. Lewis St.Rounsevell St.
Ci r.
Larapinta Dr.
Hong St.
GeorgeFogarty St.Wilkingson St.
Elder St. Kidman St.
Clarke St.
Barrett Dr.
Tuncks Rd.
The Fairway
Stott Terr.
Sadadeen Rd .
Khalick St.
Goyder St.
Traeger Ave.
Skinner St.
Undoolya Rd.
Renner St.
North Rd.
Stokes Rd.
Smith St.
Priest St.
Woods Terr.
Jarvis St.
Keswick Ave.
Tietkens Ave.
Harvey St.
McKinlay St.
Knuckey Ave.
Head St.
Elliot St.Cheong St.
Lachman Terr.Campbell St.Abrahams Cir.Madigan St.Timbira St.
Aldidja St.
Todd St.
Railway Terr.Bath St.Hartley St.Todd Mall
e .
Olive Pink
Flora Reserve
Power Station
To Airport
(normally dry)
r l e s
Aboriginal Art
& Culture Centre 15
Alice Springs Desert
Park 4
Alice Springs Reptile
Centre 18
Alice Springs Telegraph
Station Historical
Reserve 2
Araluen Cultural
Precinct 3
Mbantua Fine Art Gallery
and Cultural Museum 10
Royal Flying Doctor
Service 19
School of the Air 1
Alice on Todd 9
Alice Springs Resort 6
Annie’s Place 7
Aurora Alice Springs 11
Best Western Elkira
Resort Motel 14
Desert Palms Resort 8
Bar Doppio 12
Barra on Todd 6
Bojangles Saloon and
Restaurant 16
Casa Nostra 5
Steakhouse 13
Red Ochre Grill 17
1/4 mi0
0 1/4 km
Post Office
Simpson St.SimpsonSt.
Stott Terr.
Railway Terr.RailwayTerr.Bath St.BathSt.Hartley St.HartleySt.
Parsons St.ParsonsSt.
Wills Terr.WillsTerr.
Todd MallToddMall
Simpson St.
StuartTerr. Todd St.ToddSt.Todd St.
Railway Terr.Bath St.Hartley St.
Parsons St.
Wills Terr.Downtown Area
Todd Mall


Alice Springs

the town of Mount Isa to join the Stuart Highway at Tennant Creek. Both routes are
long and dull. From Perth, it is even longer; drive across the Nullarbor Plain to connect
with the Stuart Highway at Port Augusta. If you fancy a driving holiday of the
area, check out www.travelnt.com for specific advice on routes, accommodations,
and everything else you’ll need to know, including things like locations of fuel stops.

VISITOR INFORMATION The Tourism Central Australia Visitor Information
Centre, 60 Gregory Terrace (&1800/645 199 in Australia or 08/8952 5800;
www.centralaustraliantourism.com), is the official one-stop shop for bookings and
touring information for the Red Centre, including Alice Springs, Kings Canyon, and
Uluru–Kata Tjuta National Park. It also acts as the visitor center for the Parks &
Wildlife Commission of the Northern Territory. It’s open Monday through Friday
from 8am to 5pm and weekends and public holidays from 9:30am to 4pm. It also
has desks at the airport and train station.

SPECIAL EVENTS Alice Springs hosts a couple of bizarre events. The Camel
Cup camel race takes place on the second Saturday in July. In late August, folks from


hundreds of miles around come out to cheer the Henley-on-Todd Regatta , during
which gaudily decorated, homemade bottomless “boats” race down the dry Todd
River bed. Well, what else do you do on a river that flows only 3 days a year? See
“Australia Calendar of Events” in chapter 3 for more details.

GETTING AROUND Virtually all tours pick you up at your hotel. If your itinerary
traverses unpaved roads, as it may in outlying areas, you will need to rent a fourwheel-
drive vehicle, because regular cars will not be insured on an unpaved surface.
However, a regular car will get you to most attractions. Avis, Gregory Terrace (at
Bath St.; &08/8953 5533); Budget, Shop 3, 79 Todd Mall (&08/8952 8899);
Europcar, at the airport (&08/8953 3799); Hertz, 76 Hartley St. (&08/8952
2644); and Thrifty, corner of Stott Terrace and Hartley St. (& 08/8952 9999),
all rent conventional and four-wheel-drive vehicles. You may get a better deal on car
rental by going through the Outback Travel Shop (& 08/8955 5288; www.out
backtravelshop.com.au) in Alice Springs, a booking agent that negotiates bulk rates
with most Alice car-rental companies.

Many rental outfits for motor homes (camper vans) have Alice offices. They
include Apollo Campers, 40 Stuart Hwy., corner of Smith Street (& 1800/777
779 in Australia); Britz Australia Campervan Hire, corner of Stuart Highway
and Power Street (& 08/8952 8814); and Kea Campers, 7 Kidman St. (& 08/
8955 5525). Renting a camper van can work out to be significantly cheaper than
staying in hotels and going on tours, but it pays to do your sums first. See “Where to
Stay,” p. 398, for caravan park locations.

The best way to get around town without your own transport is aboard the Alice
Wanderer bus (see “Organized Tours,” below). For a taxi, call Alice Springs Taxis
(& 13 10 08 or 08/8952 1877) or Territory Taxis (& 08/8953 3322), or find
one at the rank (stand) on the corner of Todd Street and Gregory Terrace. Taxi fares
here are high.

CITY LAYOUT Todd Mall is the heart of town. Most shops, businesses, and
restaurants are here or within a few blocks’ walk. Most hotels, the casino, the golf
course, and many of the town’s attractions are a few kilometers outside of town. The
dry Todd River “flows” through the city east of Todd Mall.

Seeing the Sights in Alice

Aboriginal Art & Culture Centre Set up by the Southern Arrernte Aboriginal
people, this center houses a small, intriguing museum with exhibits on Aboriginal
life. It displays a timeline of the Aboriginal view of history since “contact” (the arrival
of Europeans). It also sells artifacts and art. It’s worth a visit if you’re interested in
indigenous cultures; allow up to an hour.

125 Todd St. &08/8952 3408. www.aboriginalart.com.au. Free admission. Mon–Fri 9am–5pm.

Alice Springs Desert Park

By means of an easy 1.6km (1-mile) trail
through three reconstructed natural habitats, this impressive wildlife and flora park
shows you 120 or so of the animal species that live in the desert around Alice but
that you won’t spot too easily in the wild (including kangaroos you can walk among).
Most of the creatures are small mammals (like the rabbit-eared bilby), reptiles (cute
thorny devil lizards), and birds. Don’t miss the excellent Birds of Prey
at 10am and 3:30pm. There’s a cafe here, too. The Alice Wanderer bus (&1800/
722 111 in Australia, or 08/8952 2111; www.alicewanderer.com.au) offers a service
to the park as an add-on to its town tour (see “Organized Tours,” below). Desert
Tours & Transfers (& 08/8952 1731) also operates a bus service from accommodations,
departing approximately 7:30, 9, and 11:30am, and 2 and 4pm (pickup
times vary according to accommodation, so ask when booking). Return buses leave
the Desert Park at 9:30am, noon, 2:30, 4:30, and 6pm. The cost is A$40 adults,
A$28 children 5 to 15, A$8 to A$115 for families, including return transfers and
park entry fee. Allow 2 to 3 hours.

Larapinta Dr., 6km (33. miles) west of town. &08/8951 8788. www.alicespringsdesertpark.com.au.

4Admission A$20 adults, A$10 children 5–16, A$55 families of 6. Daily 7:30am–6pm (last suggested
entry 4:30pm). Closed Dec 25.

Alice Springs Reptile Centre

Kids love this place, where they can drape a
python around their neck or have a bearded dragon (lizard) perch on their shoulders.
Rex, the easygoing proprietor, helps you get the best photos and lets kids hand-feed
bugs to the animals at feeding time. Some 30 species are on display, including the
world’s deadliest land snake (the taipan) and big goannas. Also here are brown
snakes, death adders, and mulga, otherwise known as king brown snakes. Don’t miss
the saltwater croc exhibit featuring underwater viewing. The best time to visit is
between 11am and 3pm, when the reptiles are at their most active. There are talks
at 11am and 1 and 3:30pm. Allow an hour or so.
9 Stuart Terrace (opposite the Royal Flying Doctor Service). &08/8952 8900. www.reptilecentre.
com.au. Admission A$12 adults, A$6 children 4–16, A$30 families of 4. Daily 9:30am–5pm. Closed Jan
1 and Dec 25.

Alice Springs Telegraph Station Historical Reserve

This oasis marks
the first European settlement of Alice Springs, which takes its name from the water
hole nearby. Alice Springs began life here in 1872 as a telegraph repeater station,
against a backdrop of red hills and sprawling gum trees. Arm yourself with the free
map or join a free 45-minute tour. You can wander around the old stationmaster’s
residence; the telegraph office, with its Morse-code machine tap-tapping away; the
shoeing yard, packed with blacksmithing equipment; and the stables, housing vintage
buggies and saddlery. From the on-site computer, you can “telegraph” e-mails to


Alice Springs



Alice Springs

your friends. May through October, “kitchen maids” in period dress serve scones
(biscuits) and damper (campfire bread) from the original wood-fired ovens. The park
has pet camels and sometimes orphaned kangaroo joeys. Overall, it’s a charming and
much-underrated place. Allow a good hour—more to walk one of the several hiking
trails leading from the extensive grounds—or bring a picnic and stay longer. There
is a gift shop, and coffee and snacks are for sale. To get there, take a cab or Alice
Wanderer bus (see “Organized Tours,” p. 395) or the 4km (21.2-mile) riverside pedestrian/
bike track that starts near the corner of Wills Terrace and Undoolya Road.
Section One of the Larapinta Trail to Simpson’s Gap starts here. Walkers are advised
to register with the Walker Registration Scheme through the Parks and Wildlife
Office or by phoning &1300/650 730.

Stuart Hwy., 4km (21.2 miles) north of town (beyond the School of the Air turnoff). &08/8952 3993.
Free admission to picnic grounds and trails; station A$7 adults, A$3.75 children 5–15. Daily 8am–5pm
(picnic grounds and trails till 9pm). Station closed Dec 25.

Araluen Cultural Precinct

Take several hours to explore the many facets of
this interesting grouping of attractions, all within walking distance of one another.
The Museum of Central Australia mostly shows local fossils, natural history
displays, and meteorites. Some impressive Aboriginal and contemporary Aussie art
is on display at the Araluen Arts Centre (&08/8951 1122), the town’s performing-
arts hub, which incorporates the Albert Namatjira Gallery, with works by this
famous Aboriginal artist, as well as a display of the Papunya Community School
Collection, a group of 14 paintings from the early 1970s. Check out the Honey Ant
Dreaming stained-glass window in the center’s foyer. Aviation nuts may want to
browse the old radios, aircraft, and wreckage in the Central Australian Aviation
Museum, which preserves the territory’s aerial history. You can buy stylish crafts,
and sometimes catch artists at work, in the Central Craft gallery. You may also want
to amble among the fabulous outdoor sculptures, including the 15m (49-ft.) Yeperenye
caterpillar, or among the gravestones in the cemetery, where “Afghani” camel
herders (from what is now Pakistan) are buried facing Mecca. To reach the precinct,
take a cab, the Alice Wanderer bus, or Desert Park Transfers.

Larapinta Dr., at Memorial Ave., 2km (11.4 miles) west of town. &08/8951 1120. Admission (includes
Museum of Central Australia, Araluen Arts Centre, Central Australian Aviation Museum, Territory Craft,
and Memorial Cemetery) A$10 adults; A$7 seniors, students, and children 5–16; A$30 families of 4.
Mon–Fri 10am–4pm; Sat–Sun 11am–4pm. Closed Good Friday and usually for 2 weeks from Dec 25.

Royal Flying Doctor Service Alice is a major base for this airborne medical
service that treats people living and traveling in the vast Outback. An interesting
20-minute tour featuring a video and a talk in the communications room runs every
half-hour; allow another 30 minutes or so to browse the small museum and listen to
some of the recorded conversations between doctors and patients. You can explore a
replica fuselage of a Pilatus PC12 or test your hand at the throttle in a flight simulator.
There is also a nice garden cafe and a gift shop.

8–10 Stuart Terrace (at end of Hartley St.). &08/8952 1129. www.flyingdoctor.org.au. Admission A$7
adults, A$3.50 children 6–15. Mon–Sat 9am–5pm; Sun and public holidays 1–5pm. Closed Jan 1 and Dec 25.

School of the Air Sitting in on school lessons may not be your idea of a vacation,
but this school is different—it broadcasts by radio to a 1.3-million-sq.-km
(507,000-sq.-mile) “schoolroom” of 140 children on Outback stations. That area’s as

big as Germany, Great Britain, Ireland, New Zealand, and Japan combined—or
twice the size of Texas. Visitors watch and listen in when classes are in session;
outside class hours, you may hear taped classes. You can browse the kids’ artwork,
photos, video, and other displays in the well-organized visitor center. Free 30-minute
tours run throughout the day.

80 Head St. (2.5km/11.2 miles from town). &08/8951 6834. Admission A$6.50 adults; A$4.50 children
5–16; A$18 families of 4; A$22 families of 6. Mon–Sat 8:30am–4:30pm; Sun and public holidays 1:30–
4:30pm. Closed Dec 25–Jan 1 and Good Friday. Bus: 3 (costs A$2.20 for 2-hr. ticket) or Alice Wanderer
(see “Organized Tours,” below).

Organized Tours

AROUND TOWN & OUT IN THE DESERT The Alice Wanderer bus (&1800/
722 111 in Australia, or 08/8952 2111; www.alicewanderer.com.au) does a running
loop of 14 town attractions every 70 minutes, starting at 9am, with the last departure
at 4pm. Hop on and off as you please and enjoy the commentary from the driver. The
bus departs daily from the south end of Todd Mall. Tickets are sold on board and cost
A$42 for adults, and A$28 for kids 4 to 14. Call for free pickup from your hotel. The
ticket lasts for 2 days and you can use it on nonconsecutive days. The company also
runs full- and half-day tours to outlying areas, including to Palm Valley in the West
MacDonnell Ranges, costing A$117 for adults and A$75 for kids (p. 402); to Bond
Springs Cattle Station, costing A$95 for adults and A$65 for kids; and to Santa Teresa
Aboriginal Community. Here you can meet local Aboriginal artists and view and
purchase their work. This half-day tour costs A$130 for adults and A$100 for kids.

The bus calls at most of the attractions above, plus the Old Ghan Museum &
Road Transport Hall of Fame, housing the original Ghan train that plied the
Adelaide–Alice Springs line from 1929 to 1980; and Panorama Guth, an art gallery
housing a 360-degree painting of central Australian landscapes by artist Henk Guth.
It’s well worth checking out the Alice Wanderer website to help you plan your time
before you visit.

Many Alice-based companies offer minicoach or four-wheel-drive day trips and
extended tours of Alice and of outlying areas including the East and West Macs,
Hermannsburg, and Finke Gorge National Park. Among the well-regarded ones are
Discovery Ecotours (&08/8953 7800; www.ecotours.com.au) and Alice Springs
Holidays (& 1800/801 401 in Australia, or 08/8953 1411; www.alicesprings


Alice Springs

Billy Tea & Damper
Any tour in the Outback isn’t complete
without the traditional bushman’s meal
of billy tea and damper. Billy tea is
made from tea leaves, and sometimes
eucalyptus leaves, put into water (traditionally
from a water hole or river)
and boiled in an open-topped canister
on an open fire. You don’t have to stir
it; the trick is to pick up the canister by
the wire handle and swing the entire
thing around, sometimes over your
head—centrifugal force keeps the liquid
in (don’t try this at home, though).
Damper is simply flour, water, and salt
mixed into dough and thrown in the
ashes of the fire to cook into bread.



Alice Springs

Several companies run tours by motorcycle or four-wheel-drive ATV (all-terrain

vehicle). One option is Central Oz Tours (&0407/105 899 mobile phone; www.


CAMEL SAFARIS The camel’s ability to get by without water was key to opening
the arid inland parts of Australia to European settlement in the 1800s. With the
advent of cars, they were released into the wild, and today more than 200,000 roam
Central Australia. Australia even exports them to the Middle East! Pyndan Camel
Tracks (& 0416/170 164; www.cameltracks.com) runs camel rides daily, with
pickup from your hotel. A 1-hour tour, at noon, 2:30pm, or sunset, costs A$45 adults
and A$25 for kids 14 and under. Kids under 3 must ride with an adult. A half-day
ride, leaving at 9am and returning about noon, costs A$95 per person. Make sure
you wear comfortable, casual clothes and sensible shoes—you are likely to get a bit

HOT-AIR BALLOON FLIGHTS Dawn balloon flights above the desert are
popular in central Australia. You have to get up 90 minutes before dawn, though.


Several companies offer flights. Outback Ballooning (& 1800/809 790 in Australia,
or 08/8952 8723; www.outbackballooning.com.au) is one of the most upscale.
A 1-hour flight followed by champagne breakfast in the bush costs A$385, with a
20% discount for kids 6 to 16. A 30-minute breakfast flight costs A$275. Kids under
6 are discouraged from participating because they cannot see over the basket. Don’t
make any other morning plans—you probably won’t get back to your hotel until close
to noon.

Active Pursuits

BIKING A gently undulating 17km (11-mile) bike trail weaves from John Flynn’s
Grave on Larapinta Drive, 7km (41.3 miles) west of town, through the bushland and
desert foothills of the MacDonnell Ranges to Simpson’s Gap (p. 403). The Penny
Farthing Bike Shop, 1 Hearne Place, North Stuart Highway, about 900m (just
over a half mile) from the center of town (&08/8952 4551), rents bikes for A$20
for 24 hours, including helmet, lock, pump, and spare tubes. A tandem bike costs
A$40, and they also have other rates for more than a day. The shop is open 8:30am
to 5:30pm weekdays, 9am to 2pm Saturdays, and 11am to 2pm Sundays. Note:
Carry water, because the two taps en route are a long way apart. Bike in cooler
months only.

BUSHWALKING The 223km (138-mile) Larapinta Trail winds west from
Alice through the sparse red ranges, picturesque semidesert scenery, and rich bird
life of the West MacDonnell National Park (p. 402). This long-distance walking
track is divided into 12 sections, each a 1- to 2-day walk. Sections range from easy
to hard. The shortest is 8km (5 miles), all the way up to 29km (18 miles). The
Larapinta Trail begins at the old Alice Springs Telegraph Station and meanders
through many gaps and sheltered gorges and climbs steeply over rugged ranges.
Each section is accessible to vehicles (some by high-clearance four-wheel-drive
only), so you can join or leave the trail at any of the trail heads. Camping out under
a sea of stars in the Outback is a highlight of the experience. Although they vary,
most campsites offer picnic tables and hardened tent sites—all trail heads have a
water supply and some have free gas barbecues. If you are planning to camp overnight,
we strongly recommend that you take advantage of the Overnight Walker

Registration Scheme. This is voluntary and requires a refundable deposit of A$50
per person, but ensures that if anything untoward happens, a search party will be
sent for you. The Parks & Wildlife Commission of the Northern Territory
office in Alice Springs (& 1300/650 730 in Australia or 08/8951 8211) and the
CATIA Visitor Information Centre (see “Visitor Information,” earlier in this
chapter) dispense trail maps and information. Check www.nt.gov.au/nreta/parks/
walks/larapinta for detailed information on the trail and the walker registration
scheme, and for downloadable maps. It also has details of companies that provide
transfers to access points along the trail, food drops, camping equipment, or fully
guided and supported treks. Warning: Always carry drinking water. The trail may
close in extremely hot summer periods.

GOLF The Alice Springs Golf Club , 1km (just over a half mile) from town
on Cromwell Drive (& 08/8952 1921; www.alicespringsgolfclub.com.au), boasts
a Thomson-Wolveridge course rated among the world’s top desert courses by touring
pros. The course is open from sunup to sundown. Nine holes cost A$47; 18 holes,
A$80. Club rental costs A$35, and a motorized cart, which many locals don’t bother
with, goes for A$50 for 18 holes. It’s best to book a tee time.

Shopping at the Source for Aboriginal Art

Alice Springs is one of the best places in Australia to buy Aboriginal art and
crafts . You will find no shortage of stuff: linen and canvas paintings, didgeridoos,
spears, clapping sticks, coolamons (dishes used by women to carry anything from
water to babies), animal carvings, baskets, and jewelry, as well as books, CDs, and
all kinds of non-Aboriginal merchandise printed with Aboriginal designs. Prices can
soar to many thousands for large canvases by world-renowned painters, but you’ll
also find plenty of smaller, more affordable works. Major artworks sell unmounted
for ease of shipment, which most galleries arrange. Store hours can vary with the
seasons and the crowds, so it pays to check ahead.

Papunya Tula Artists, 63 Todd Mall (& 08/8952 4731; www.papunyatula.
com.au), sells paintings on canvas and linen from Papunya, a settlement 240km
(150 miles) northwest of Alice Springs, and work by other artists living in the Western
Desert, as far as 700km (434 miles) from Alice Springs.

Gallery Gondwana, 43 Todd Mall (&08/8953 1577; www.gallerygondwana.
com.au), has been selling Aboriginal art in Alice Springs since 1990. It showcases
both established and emerging artists, with a changing exhibition program.

The Aboriginal Australia Art & Culture Centre, 125 Todd St. (& 08/8952
3408; www.aboriginalaustralia.com), is a community-based, Aboriginal-owned and
-operated business that runs painting classes, has a retail gallery, and is a community
arts base. It is open 9am to 5pm weekdays; weekends by appointment for serious

Mbantua Australian Aboriginal Art Gallery and Cultural Museum

Vividly colorful paintings line the walls at this museum-gallery, which is a highly
respected and reliable source of authentic Aboriginal art. The selection is dizzying, but
prices can be affordable, and chances are good that an artist or two will be around
when you visit. The art comes from a harsh desert region called Utopia, 2 hours by car
from Alice Springs, which encompasses several Aboriginal communities. Mbantua
owner Tim Jennings began supplying locals with paints and canvas during food deliveries


Alice Springs



Alice Springs

to Utopia, first as sheriff, then as the general-store owner. Every 2 weeks, the Mbantua
gallery team drops off new materials and pays the artists for finished works. More than
250 Utopia residents paint; the website features artists’ portraits and bios in conjunction
with their work. Some have garnered international recognition; in 2007, the New
York Times praised the work of Barbara Weir, Gloria Petyarre, and the late Emily Kame
Kngwarreye and Minnie Pwerle. Predictably, as Aboriginal artwork grows in value,
forgeries are on the rise. Jennings authenticates every piece of art; he and his team
photograph the artist with the work and elicit the Aboriginal dreaming, or traditional
meaning, behind it. Works by established artists can range in price from A$850 to tens
of thousands of dollars; in early 2007, a painting by Kngwarreye broke a record for
Aboriginal art by fetching more than A$1 million. A much smaller investment, however,
will fetch you work by lesser known but talented painters.

The museum houses a vast collection of landscape paintings by Aboriginal artists
including Albert Namatjira (Australia’s first Aboriginal artist and Aboriginal Australian
citizen), Gabriella Wallace, and Wenten Rubuntja. A bush tucker display highlights
the importance of these plants in traditional medicine, ceremony, diet, and


Dreamtime. There is also a large collection of artifacts including spears, bloodstained
woomeras, shields, bowls, hair belts, and Kadaitcha shoes (feather boots
worn by those who are feared for carrying out punishment). The permanent collection
includes the first Emily Kame Kngwarreye painting on canvas purchased by
Mbantua Aboriginal Art Gallery in 1987, as well as Gloria Petyarre’s first Leaves
painting. You can watch a 30-minute DVD on the Aboriginal art industry and Mbantua
Gallery’s relationship with the people of Utopia, and much more. Mbantua
Gallery is a member of Art.Trade, an organization that operates to promote the ethical
trade of indigenous art. Free half-hour guided tours (excluding the museum) run
Monday to Friday at 9:30am.

71 Gregory Terrace, Alice Springs. &08/8952 5571. Fax 08/8952 5191. www.mbantua.com.au. Admission
(museum only) A$6.60 adults, A$4.40 seniors, A$3.30 children 6–15, A$16 families of 4. Gallery
Mon–Fri 9am–6pm; Sat 9:30am–5pm; Sun noon–5pm. Cultural Museum Mon–Fri 9am–6pm; Sat
9:30am–5pm; Sun 1–5pm. Last entry to museum 1 hr. before closing.

Where to Stay

Alice’s hotel stock is not grand. Many properties have dated rooms and modest facilities;
they’re no match for the gleaming Ayers Rock Resort (described later in this
chapter). You may pay lower rates than those listed in the summer off season (Dec–
Mar) and even as late as June. Peak season typically runs from July through October
or November. Besides the more upmarket properties below, there are several backpacker
resorts offering dorm rooms and doubles. One of the best is Annie’s Place,
4 Traegar Ave., Alice Springs, NT 0870 (&1800/359 089 in Australia, or 08/8952
1545; www.anniesplace.com.au). Doubles cost between A$55 for a room with
shared bathroom and A$65 for one with your own. Dorm rooms (single sex or mixed)
sleep four to six and cost A$22 per person. Annie’s Place runs Mulga’s Adventures,
which operates a 3-day backpackers’ tour of the area, including Uluru, for A$250,
with most things included.

If you’ve rented a camper van, the Stuart Tourist and Caravan Park, Larapinta
Drive, Alice Springs (& 1300/823 404 in Australia or 08/8952 2547; www.stuart
caravanpark.com.au), has powered sites costing A$30 a night. Cabins here cost
between A$75 and A$165 per night, depending on the cabin and the season.

Alice Springs Resort

This friendly, well-run, low-rise property is a 3-minute
walk from town over the Todd River. Standard and superior rooms are quite pleasant,
while deluxe rooms are a bit plusher, with such touches as bathrobes, and have a
balcony or veranda overlooking the Todd River or the gardens. In summer, it’s nice
to repair to the pool under a couple of desert palms after a hot day’s sightseeing. If
you time it right (weather permitting), there’s live jazz at the Barra Poolside Bar.
34 Stott Terrace, Alice Springs, NT 0870. &1300/272 132 in Australia or 08/8951 4545 (resort). Fax
08/8953 0995. www.alicespringsresort.com.au. 144 units, 108 with shower only. A$160–A$250 double.
Extra person A$40. Children 11 and under stay free in parent’s room with existing bedding. Ask about
packages with Ayers Rock Resort and Kings Canyon Resort. AE, DC, MC, V. Free parking. Amenities:
Restaurant; 2 bars; free airport shuttle; babysitting; bikes; concierge; solar-heated outdoor pool; room
service. In room: A/C, TV w/pay movies, hair dryer, minibar, Wi-Fi (A$10 per hr., A$25 for 24 hr.).

Bond Springs Outback Retreat

This working 1,515-sq.-km (591-sq.mile)
cattle ranch is a great place to get a taste of Outback life with a real Aussie
family. Hosts Ben and Laura welcome guests to the homestead where Ben grew up,
accommodating them in two appealing cottages. The first is Corkwood Cottage,
which was originally built for the station’s head stockman and his family. The main
bedroom features a queen-size bed, and two other bedrooms have twin beds and a
single bed. There’s a comfortable lounge and dining room, a fully equipped kitchen,
and an outdoor barbecue. The second cottage, the “Wurlie,” has a main bedroom
with a queen-size bed and a second bedroom with twin beds. There’s a lounge and
dining room, which includes a kitchenette. Gourmet breakfasts are delivered to both
cottages, but other meals are not provided, so you’ll have to ensure you buy provisions
in Alice Springs. No smoking indoors.

Note: All but the last 6km (33.4 miles) of the road to the ranch is paved. Car-rental
companies do not allow driving on unpaved roads, but they may permit it here;
check with your company. Try to ensure you arrive before dark.

25km (16 miles) north of Alice Springs (P.O. Box 4), Alice Springs, NT 0870. &08/8952 9888. Fax
08/8953 0963. www.outbackretreat.com.au. 2 cottages. A$277 Corkwood Cottage; A$231 Wurlie Cottage.
Rates include full breakfast. Extra adult A$58; extra child 6–15 A$47. MC, V. Closed Dec 25–Jan.
Ask about transfers from Alice Springs. Amenities: Swimming pool; tennis court. In room: A/C, hair
dryer, no phone.

Alice on Todd

This contemporary complex has nice studio, one-bedroom,
and two-bedroom apartments. It’s a very good option, particularly if you have kids.
(If they’re under 4, they stay free.) The hotel overlooks the Todd River and is just a
short stroll from town. All but the studios have balconies. The two luxury two-bedroom
apartments each have an extra sofa bed. There is a washing machine in each
unit, and other amenities such as free storage lockers. Another 22 one-bedroom
deluxe apartments were being added to the complex at press time and should be
ready before you arrive.

Strehlow St. and South Terrace (P.O. Box 8454), Alice Springs, NT 0870. &08/8953 8033. www.
aliceontodd.com. 56 units. A$120 studio apt; A$147–A$160 1-bedroom apt; A$184–A$198 2-bedroom
apt. Additional person A$20. AE, MC, V. Undercover parking. Amenities: Babysitting; bikes; children’s
playground; Jacuzzi; pool. In room: A/C, TV, hair dryer, kitchenette, Wi-Fi (A$6 for 1 hr.; A$16 for 24 hr.;
A$60 per week).


Alice Springs



Alice Springs

Aurora Alice Springs This pleasant hotel is smack in the center of town. Rooms
in the newer wing are standard motel-style lodgings, all large and nicely decorated.
Those in the original wing are small and a little dark; they have a pretty heritage
theme, with floral bedcovers and lace curtains. Executive rooms have a king-size bed
and private balconies facing the Todd River. Deluxe and standard rooms have one
double bed and one single bed. Family rooms have a double bed and two bunk beds.
The courtyard has a barbecue. The tiny pool and Jacuzzi are tucked away in a corner,
so this is not the place for chilling out poolside; stay here to be within walking distance
of shops and restaurants.

11 Leichhardt Terrace (backing onto Todd Mall), Alice Springs, NT 0870. &1800/089 644 in Australia
or 08/8950 6666. Fax 08/8952 7829. www.auroraresorts.com.au. 109 units, all with shower only. A$210
double standard room; A$230 deluxe room; A$299 executive room; A$299 family room. Extra adult
A$20. Children 12 and under stay free in parent’s room with existing bedding. AE, DC, MC, V. Free parking.
Amenities: Restaurant (Red Ochre Grill; see review, p. 401); airport shuttle; babysitting; Jacuzzi;
small heated outdoor pool; room service. In room: A/C, TV/DVD w/pay movies, free Internet (executive
rooms only), minibar.


Best Western Elkira Resort Motel

The cheapest rooms in the heart of
town—decent ones, that is—are at this unpretentious motel, which has been
revamped and refurbished. The chandeliers in the lobby may seem a bit incongruous,
as the rooms are basic, but you won’t get better value. Deluxe rooms have kitchenettes
and some have queen-size beds. Deluxe Spa rooms have two-person Jacuzzis. Ask for
a room away from the road, because the traffic is noisy during the day.
65 Bath St. (opposite Kmart), Alice Springs, NT 0870. &131 779 in Australia or 08/8952 1222. Fax
08/8953 1370. http://elkira.bestwestern.com.au. 58 units, some with shower only. A$130 double standard
room; A$145 double deluxe room; A$180 double Executive Spa Room. Extra person A$20. AE, DC,
MC, V. Free parking. Amenities: Restaurant; airport shuttle; nearby golf course; Jacuzzi; outdoor pool;
room service. In room: A/C, TV, hair dryer, free Wi-Fi.

Desert Palms Resort

A large swimming pool with its own palm-studded
island is the focal point at this complex of bright cabins. Privacy from your neighbors
is ensured by trailing pink bougainvillea and palm trees, making this one of the nicest
places to stay in Alice. Don’t be deterred by the prefab appearance; inside the
cabins are surprisingly large, well kept, and inviting, with pine-pitched ceilings,
minikitchens, a sliver of bathroom, and furnished front decks. Four rooms are suitable
for travelers with disabilities. The pleasant staff at the front desk sells basic
grocery and liquor supplies, and books tours. You are also right next door to Lasseter’s
Casino (a debatable advantage) and the Alice Springs Golf Club.

74 Barrett Dr. (1km/1.2 mile from town), Alice Springs, NT 0870. &1800/678 037 in Australia, or 08/8952
5977. Fax 08/8953 4176. www.desertpalms.com.au. 80 units, all with shower only. A$135 double; A$150
triple; A$165 quad; A$180 family. Free crib. AE, DC, MC, V. Free parking. Amenities: Free coach station/
train station/airport shuttle twice daily; golf course nearby; access to nearby health club; large pool;
half-size tennis court. In room: A/C, TV, hair dryer, kitchenette, Wi-Fi (A$6 for 1 hr.; A$25 per day; A$150
per week).

Where to Dine

Barra on Todd

MODERN AUSTRALIAN Ask the locals for the best chow

in town, and this is where they’ll send you. Part of the Alice Springs Resort, the

restaurant usually has two or three barramundi dishes on the menu, as well as lamb

shanks, steak, flambeed prawns (in a rum, garlic, and sweet-chili cream sauce, rice,
and asparagus), and roasted chicken roulade (with bacon, leek, and sweet-potato
filling; parsnip and cream-cheese mash; and oven-roasted tomato salsa). It does a
good breakfast menu and has all-day (well, 11:30am–5:30pm) dining by the pool,
with dishes costing just A$15.

At the Alice Springs Resort, 34 Stott Terrace. &08/8951 4545. Reservations recommended at dinner.
Main courses A$18–A$37. AE, DC, MC, V. Daily 6am–9:30pm.

Overlanders Steakhouse

STEAK/BUSH TUCKER This landmark on the
Alice dining scene is famous for its “Drover’s Blowout” menu, which assaults the
megahungry with soup and damper, then a platter of crocodile vol-au-vents, camel
and kangaroo filets, and emu medallions—these are just the appetizers—followed by
rump steak or barramundi (freshwater fish) and dessert. There’s a regular menu with
a 700-gram (11.2-lb.) steak, plus some lighter fare. The barnlike interior is Outback
all through, from the rustic bar to the saddlebags hanging from the roof beams.
Vegetarians take heart, there’s actually a reasonable menu for you too.
72 Hartley St. &08/8952 2159. www.overlanders.com.au. Reservations required in peak season. Main
courses A$18–A$43; Drover’s Blowout A$45. AE, DC, MC, V. Daily 6–10pm.

Red Ochre Grill

GOURMET BUSH TUCKER The chef at this upscale restaurant
fuses native Aussie ingredients with dishes from around the world. There are
two menus—“Aussie specialties” and “wild foods.” If you’ve never tried kangaroo
filet, rubbed with dukkah and served with pumpkin and wattleseed bake, sauteed
baby spinach, and a port wine jus, then this is your chance. Maybe start your meal
with a gumnut-smoked emu salad. A “game medley” plate combines kangaroo with
camel, barramundi, and emu dishes. Although it might seem a touristy formula, the
food is delicious. Dine in the contemporary interior fronting Todd Mall, or outside
in the attractive courtyard.
Todd Mall. &08/8952 9614. www.redochrealice.com.au. Reservations recommended at dinner. Main
courses A$25–A$40. “Early Bird” dinner, prebooked before 6pm and ordered before 7pm, gives 20%
off your food bill (not available for specials or on Sun or public holidays). AE, DC, MC, V. Daily 6:30am–

Bojangles Saloon and Restaurant

BAR FOOD Swing open the saloon
doors, confront a life-size replica of Aussie bushranger Ned Kelly, and prepare for a
fun night. Old guns, motorbikes, cars, pioneering artifacts, and photos line the walls.
Reggie, a wedge-tailed eagle, is suspended over the bar, and an 8-foot carpet python
called Jangles is a permanent live attraction. Park yourself on a cowhide seat at a
thick wooden Jarrah table, made from old Ghan railway sleepers, and order a beer.
The front bar is friendly and serves good beers by the bottle or schooner and food
such as burgers, nachos, and steak sandwiches. The restaurant has more gourmet
offerings, but either way it’s a great atmosphere. Aussie country and folk singers
strum away in the evenings, and the bar staff is terrific.
80 Todd St. &08/8952 2873. www.bossaloon.com.au. Main courses A$15–A$39. AE, DC, MC, V. Daily

Casa Nostra

ITALIAN The only difference between this cheery homespun
family eatery and every other Italian restaurant in the world is that this one has
autographed photos of Tom Selleck pinned to the wall. Judging by his scrawled


Alice Springs



Road Trips from Alice Springs

praise, Tom loved eating here (when on location in Alice filming Quigley Down
Under) as much as the locals do. You’ve seen the red-checked tablecloths and the
basket-clad Chianti bottles before, but the food is surprisingly good. A long list of
pastas (including masterful carbonara), pizzas, and chicken and veal dishes are the
main offerings. All meals are available to take out. It’s BYO.

Corner of Undoolya Rd. and Stuart Terrace. & 08/8952 6749. Reservations recommended. Main
courses A$13–A$22. MC, V. Mon–Sat 5–10pm. Closed Dec 25–Jan.

Bar Doppio

CAFE If you’re in need of a dose of cool—style, as well as airconditioning—
this bohemian cafe is the place to chill over good coffee and feast on
cheap, wholesome food. Sacks of coffee beans are stacked all over, Gypsy music
plays, no tables and chairs match, and the staff doesn’t care if you sit here all day.
Sit inside or in the narrow laneway outside. It’s largely vegetarian, but fish and meat
figure on the blackboard menu. Try lamb chermoula cutlets on Gabriella potatoes
with rocket, red onion, and tomato salad; chickpea curry; warm Turkish flatbread

with dips; or spuds with hot toppings. Hot and cold breakfast choices stay on the
menu until 11am. Takeout is available. It’s BYO.

Fan Arcade (off the southern end of Todd Mall). &08/8952 6525. Main courses A$7–A$16; sandwiches
average A$6. No credit cards. Mon–Thurs 7:30am–5pm; Fri–Sat 7:30am–9pm; Sun 10am–
4:30pm. Closed public holidays and Dec 25–Jan 1.


The key attraction of a day trip to the MacDonnell Ranges is unspoiled natural
scenery and few crowds. Many companies run coach or four-wheel-drive tours—
half- or full-day, sometimes overnight—to the West and East Macs. Some options
appear in “Organized Tours” in the “Alice Springs” section, earlier in this chapter.
Expect to pay about A$100 for a full-day trip. Families and backpackers alike love
getting around with Wayward Bus

(&1300/653 510 in Australia, or 08/8132
8230; www.waywardbus.com.au). The company runs buses from Alice Springs on a
2-night camping trip stopping off at Kings Canyon and Uluru. You can sleep in a tent
or outside in a “swag”—a heavy waterproof sleeping bag—so you can see the stars as
you drop off. Tours cost A$375 Alice Springs to Alice Springs, or Alice Springs to
Uluru, with the option to fly out of Ayers Rock, plus park fees of A$25 and a A$10
fuel levy.
The West MacDonnell Ranges

WEST MACDONNELL NATIONAL PARK The 300km (186-mile) round-trip
drive west from Alice Springs into West MacDonnell National Park is a stark but
picturesque expedition to a series of red gorges, semidesert country, and the occasional
peaceful swimming hole. The 12-stage, 223km (138-mile) Larapinta Walking
Trail takes you along the backbone of the West MacDonnell Ranges through
some of the most unique and isolated country in the world. The hills, colors, birds,
water holes, gorges, and the never-ending diversity of this trail will leave you spellbound
by the beauty of Central Australia. The track stretches from the Telegraph
Station in Alice Springs to Mount Sonder, past Glen Helen Gorge. Detailed track

notes are on the website of the Parks & Wildlife Commission (www.nt.gov.au/
nreta/parks/walks/larapinta) and at the visitor information center in Alice Springs.
Don’t attempt the walk in the height of summer unless you are very well prepared.
For great tips, and other information, look up the Alice Wanderer website (www.

From Alice, take Larapinta Drive west for 18km (11 miles) to the 8km (5-mile)
turnoff to Simpson’s Gap, a water hole lined with ghost gums. Black-footed rock
wallabies hop out on the cliffs in the late afternoon (so you may want to time a visit
here on your way back to Alice). There are a couple of short trails here, including a
.5km (.3-mile) Ghost Gum circuit and a 17km (11-mile) round-trip trail to Bond
Gap. Swimming is not permitted. The place has an information center/ranger station
and free use of barbecues.

Twenty-three kilometers (14 miles) farther down Larapinta Road, 9km (51.2 miles)
down a turnoff, is Standley Chasm (&08/8956 7440). This rock cleft is only a few
meters wide but 80m (262 ft.) high, reached by a 10-minute creek-side trail. Aim to
be here at midday, when the walls glow orange in the overhead sun. A kiosk sells
snacks and drinks. Admission is A$6.50 for adults and A$5.50 for seniors and children
5 to 14. The chasm is open daily from 8am to 6pm (last entry at 5pm; closed Dec 25).

Six kilometers (33. miles) past Standley Chasm, you can branch right onto

4Namatjira Drive or continue to Hermannsburg Historical Precinct (see below). If
you take Namatjira Drive, you’ll go 42km (26 miles) to picturesque Ellery Creek
Big Hole. The spring-fed water is so chilly that the tourism authority warns swimmers
to take a flotation device in case of cramping. A 3km (2-mile) walking trail
explains the area’s geological history.

Eleven kilometers (7 miles) farther along Namatjira Drive is Serpentine Gorge,
where a trail leads up to a lookout for a lovely view of the ranges through the gorge
walls. Another 12km (71.2 miles) on are ocher pits, which Aboriginal people quarried
for body paint and for decorating objects used in ceremonial performances.
Twenty-six kilometers (16 miles) farther west, 8km (5 miles) from the main road, is
Ormiston Gorge and Pound (& 08/8956 7799 for the ranger station/visitor
center). This is a good spot to picnic, swim in the wide deep pool below red cliffs,
and walk a choice of trails, such as the 30-minute Ghost Gum Lookout trail or the
easy 7km (41.3-mile) scenic loop (allow 3–4 hr.). The water is warm enough for swimming
in the summer. You can camp here for A$6.60 per adult, A$3.30 per child 5 to
15, or A$15 for a family of six. The campground has no powered sites but does have
hot showers, toilets, and free barbecues.

Farther on is Glen Helen Gorge, where the Finke River cuts through the ranges,
with more gorge swimming, a walking trail, guided hikes, and helicopter flights.
Modest Glen Helen Resort (& 08/8956 7489; www.glenhelen.com.au) has 25
air-conditioned motel rooms. Rates are A$150 for a double from December to
March and A$160 from April to November; extra guests (over 12 years) in the same
room pay A$25, extra children aged 5 to 11 pay A$13. Bunkhouses, each with their
own bathroom, sleep four; beds are A$30 per person. Campgrounds are A$12 per
person for a tent site or A$30 double for a powered campsite (extra adult A$12, extra
child aged 5–11 A$6). There’s a restaurant serving three meals a day, a bar, a swimming
pool, and barbecues for which the resort sells meat packs. It also offers 2-day
trips of the area, including Palm Valley, that cost A$720 adults and A$360 for kids 5
to 12 (no children under 5).


Road Trips from Alice Springs



Facilities are scarce outside Alice, so
bring food (perhaps a picnic, or meat to
barbecue), drinking water, and a full gas
tank. Leaded, unleaded, and diesel fuel
are for sale at Glen Helen Resort and
Hermannsburg. Wear walking shoes.
Many of the water holes dry up too
much to be good for swimming—those
at Ellery Creek, Ormiston Gorge, and
Glen Helen are the most permanent.
Being spring-fed, they can be intensely
cold, so take only short dips to avoid
cramping and hypothermia, don’t swim
alone, and be careful of underwater
snags. Don’t wear sunscreen, because
it pollutes drinking water for native
Two-wheel-drive rental cars will not
be insured on unsealed (unpaved)
roads—that means the last few miles
into Trephina Gorge Nature Park, and
the 11km (7-mile) road into N’Dhala
Gorge Nature Park, both in the East
Macs. If you are prepared to risk it, you
will probably get into Trephina in a two-
wheel-drive car, but you will need a
four-wheel-drive for N’Dhala and Arl-
tunga. The West MacDonnell road is
paved to Glen Helen Gorge; a few
points of interest may require driving for
short lengths on unpaved road. Before
setting off, drop into the CATIA Visitor
Information Centre (see “Visitor Infor-
mation,” earlier in this chapter) for tips
on road conditions and for details on
the free ranger talks, walks, and slide-
shows that take place in the West and
East Macs from April through October.
Entry to all sights, parks, and reserves
(except Standley Chasm) is free.

Road Trips from Alice Springs

GETTING THERE You can arrange to be dropped off by the Alice Wanderer
(& 08/8952 2111; www.alicewanderer.com.au) at several stops in the Ranges. It
costs around A$100 for two people for the return trip to Simpson’s Gap; A$120 to
Standley Chasm; A$215 to Serpentine Gorge; and A$250 to Ormiston Gorge or
Glen Helen Gorge. If you plan to camp out, call &1300 650 730 to register your
intentions (it’s voluntary but worth it if you get lost—a rescue team will try to find
you). You must pay a A$50 refundable deposit by credit card. Take plenty of water.
The Alice Wanderer also does group tours to the area.

HERMANNSBURG HISTORICAL PRECINCT An alternative to visiting the
West Mac gorges is to stay on Larapinta Drive all 128km (79 miles) from Alice
Springs to the old Lutheran Mission at the Hermannsburg Historical Precinct
(&08/8956 7402; www.hermannsburg.com.au). Some maps show this route as an
unpaved road, but it is paved. Settled by German missionaries in the 1870s, this is
a cluster of 16 National Trust–listed farmhouse-style mission buildings and a historic
cemetery. There is a museum, a gallery housing landscapes by Aussie artist
Albert Namatjira, and tearooms serving light snacks and apple strudel from an old
German recipe. The mission is open daily from 9am to 4pm. Admission to the precinct
is A$10 for adults, A$5 for school-age kids, or A$25 for families of four. The
precinct is closed for 5 weeks in December and January.

FINKE GORGE NATIONAL PARK Just west of Hermannsburg is the turnoff
to the 46,000-hectare (113,620-acre) Finke Gorge National Park, 16km (10
miles) to the south on an unpaved road (or about a 2-hr. drive west of Alice Springs).
Turn south off Larapinta Drive just west of Hermannsburg. Access along the last

16km (10 miles) of road, which follows the sandy bed of the Finke River, is limited
to four-wheel-drive vehicles only. Heavy rains may cause this section of the road to
be impassable. The park is most famous for Palm Valley, where groves of rare Livistona
mariae cabbage palms have survived since Central Australia was a jungle
millions of years ago. You will need to have a four-wheel-drive vehicle or take a tour
to explore this park. Four walking trails between 1.5km (1 mile) and 5km (3 miles)
take you among the palms or up to a lookout over cliffs; one is a signposted trail
exploring Aboriginal culture. There is a campsite about 4km (21.2 miles) from the
palms; it has showers, toilets, and free barbecues. Collect your firewood outside the
park. Camping is A$6.60 for adults, A$3.30 for kids 5 to 15, or A$15 for families of
six. For information, call the CATIA Visitor Information Centre in Alice Springs
before you leave, because there is no visitor center in the park. The ranger station
(&08/8956 7401) is for emergencies only.

The East MacDonnell Ranges

Not as many tourists tread the path on the Ross Highway into the East Macs, but if
you do, you’ll be rewarded with lush walking trails, fewer crowds, traces of Aboriginal
history, and possibly even the sight of wild camels.

The first points of interest are Emily Gap, 10km (6 miles) from Alice, and Jessie
Gap, an additional 7km (41. miles), a pretty picnic spot. You can cool off in the

3Emily Gap swimming hole if there is any water. Don’t miss the Caterpillar Dreaming
Aboriginal art on the wall, on your right as you walk through.

At Corroboree Rock, 37km (23 miles) farther, you can make a short climb up
the outcrop, which was important to local Aborigines. The polished rock “seat” high
up in the hole means Aboriginal people must have used this rock for eons.

Twenty-two kilometers (14 miles) farther is the turnoff to Trephina Gorge
Nature Park, an 18-sq.-km (7-sq.-mile) beauty spot with peaceful walking trails
that can take from 45 minutes to 41.2 hours. The last 5km (3 miles) of the 9km (51.

road into the park are unpaved, but you can make it in a two-wheel-drive car.

N’Dhala Gorge Nature Park, 10km (6 miles) past Trephina Gorge Nature
Park, houses an “open-air art gallery” of rock carvings, or petroglyphs, left by the
Eastern Arrernte Aboriginal people. An interesting 1.5km (1-mile) signposted trail
explains the Dreamtime meanings of a few of the 6,000 rock carvings, hundreds or
thousands of years old, that are thought to be in this eerily quiet gorge. A four-wheeldrive
vehicle is a must to traverse the 11km (7-mile) access road.

The Ross Highway is paved all the way to Ross River Resort, 86km (53 miles)
from Alice Springs.


Anyone who saw the movie The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert will
remember the stony plateau the transvestites climb to gaze over the plain below. You
can stand on that same spot (wearing sequined underpants is optional) at Kings

in Watarrka National Park (& 08/8956 7460 for park headquarters).
As the crow flies, it is 320km (198 miles) southwest of Alice Springs. The
sandstone walls of the canyon drop about 100m (330 ft.) to rock pools and centuries-
old gum trees. There is little to do except walk the dramatic canyon rim for a
sense of the peaceful emptiness of the Australian Outback.

Kings Canyon



Kings Canyon

GETTING THERE The best way is to drive. There’s no regular air service to
Kings Canyon.

Numerous four-wheel-drive tours head to Kings Canyon from Alice Springs or
Uluru, with time allowed for the rim walk. See “Exploring the Red Centre,” earlier
in this chapter, for recommended companies.

With a four-wheel-drive, you can get to Kings Canyon from Alice Springs on the
unpaved Mereenie Loop Road. The regular route is the 480km (298-mile) trip from
Alice Springs south on the Stuart Highway, then west onto the Lasseter Highway, and
then north and west on the Luritja Road. All three roads are paved. Uluru is 306km
(190 miles) to the south on a paved road; from Yulara, take the Lasseter Highway east
for 125km (78 miles), turn left onto Luritja Road and go 168km (104 miles) to Kings
Canyon Resort. The resort sells leaded and unleaded gasoline and diesel.

GETTING AROUND AAT Kings (& 1300/556 100 in Australia, or 08/8956
2171; www.aatkings.com) provides a number of tours, including a 12-hour day tour
to Kings Canyon from the Ayers Rock Resort for A$198 per person. You can book

through AAT Kings or the resort. Be warned, you will have to start out at 4 or 5am,
depending on the time of year.

Exploring the Park

The way to explore the canyon is on the 6km (33.4-mile) walk up the side (short but
steep!) and around the rim. Even if you’re in good shape, it’s a strenuous 3- to 4-hour
hike. It leads through a maze of rounded sandstone formations, called the Lost City;
across a bridge to a fern-fringed pocket of water holes, called the Garden of Eden;
and back along the other side through more sandstone rocks. There are lookout
points en route. If you visit after the odd rainfall, the walls teem with waterfalls. In
winter, don’t set off too early, because sunlight doesn’t light up the canyon walls to
good effect until midmorning.

If you’re not up to making the rim walk, take the shady 2.6km (1.6-mile) roundtrip
trail along the mostly dry Kings Creek bed on the canyon floor. It takes about
an hour. Wear sturdy boots, because the ground can be rocky. This walk is all right
for young kids and travelers in wheelchairs for the first kilometer (.6 miles).

Both walks are signposted. Avoid the rim walk in the middle of the day between
September and May, when it’s too hot.

An exhilarating option is a guided tour of Kings Creek Station on your own fourwheel
quad bike. You journey through the rugged Outback, taking in spectacular
scenery, including red sand dunes, on the search for wildlife. Your adventure takes
you through the cattle country, where you will often see santa/shorthorn cattle and
occasionally surprise camels, kangaroos, and dingoes. Kings Creek Station is approximately
20 minutes drive south of Kings Canyon Resort (see below), and the tours
are booked though the resort. It costs A$67 for 30 minutes, A$78 for an hour, and
A$176 for 21.2 hours. The minimum age is 16.

Professional Helicopter Services (& 08/8956 2003; www.phs.com.au)
makes 8-minute flights over the canyon for A$80 per person, 15-minute flights for
A$130 or 30-minute flights also taking in George Gill Range for A$240 per person.

Where to Stay & Dine

Apart from campgrounds, the only place to stay in Watarrka National Park is at Kings
Canyon Resort.

Kings Canyon Resort

This attractive, low-slung complex 7km (41. miles)
3from Kings Canyon blends into its surroundings. The 32 deluxe rooms have Jacuzzis
beside large windows giving desert views (and ensuring privacy). Each Deluxe Spa
Room also has a balcony looking out onto a magnificent rocky escarpment that is lit
at night. The other rooms are typical hotel accommodations, comfortable enough,
with range views. The double/twin, shared quad, and family lodge rooms are adequate
low-budget choices, with a communal kitchen and shared bathroom facilities.
Children are not permitted in lodge (dorm-style) rooms unless you book the entire
room. The resort has a well-stocked minimart, where you can buy meat for barbecuing.
Live entertainment plays some nights (June–Nov), and you can do a 1-hour
sunrise or sunset camel ride for A$55 per adult, A$44 children 5 to 14.

Luritja Rd., Watarrka National Park, NT 0872. &1300/233 432 in Australia, or 03/9413 6288 (reservations
office) or 08/8956 7442 (resort). www.kingscanyonresort.com.au. 164 units, 128 with bathroom;
72 powered campsites and tent sites. A$260 double standard room; A$355 double Deluxe Room. Extra
person A$44. Children 11 and under stay free in parent’s room with existing bedding. Lodge A$115
double; A$172 quad; A$90 per person in shared quad room. Tent site A$17 per person; powered site
A$19 per person; children 6–15 A$7; children 5 and under free. Children 11 and under dine free at restaurant
buffet or with kids’ menu (1 child per adult). AE, DC, MC, V. Amenities: 2 restaurants; cafe; 2 bars;
bikes (from nearby gas station); Internet (A$2 for 15 min.); 2 outdoor pools; outdoor lit tennis court.
In room: A/C, TV, fridge. Hotel only: TV w/pay movies, hair dryer, minibar.


462km (286 miles) SW of Alice Springs; 1,934km (1,199 miles) S of Darwin; 1,571km (974 miles) N of
Adelaide; 2,841km (1,761 miles) NW of Sydney

Why travel so far to look at a large red rock? Because it will send a shiver up your
spine. Because it may move you to tears. Because there is something indefinable and
indescribable but definitely spiritual about this place. Up close, Uluru is more magnificent
than you can imagine. It is immense and overwhelming and mysterious.
Photographs never do it justice. There is what is described as a “spirit of place” here.
It is unforgettable and irresistible (and you may well want to come back again, just
for another look). It will not disappoint you. On my first visit—yes, I am one who
will keep coming back—a stranger whispered to me: “Even when you are not looking
at it, it is always just there, waiting to tap you on the shoulder.” A rock with a

“The Rock” has a circumference of 9.4km (6 miles), and two-thirds of it is thought
to be underground. In photos, it looks smooth and even, but the reality is much more
interesting—dappled with holes and overhangs, with curtains of stone draping its
sides, creating little coves hiding water holes and Aboriginal rock art. It also changes
color from pink to a deep wine red depending on the angle and intensity of the sun.
And if you are lucky enough to be visiting when it rains, you will see a sight like no
other. Here, rain brings everyone outside to see the spectacle of the waterfalls created
off the massive rock formed by sediments laid down 600 to 700 million years ago in
an inland sea and thrust up aboveground 348m (1,141 ft.) by geological forces.

In 1985, the Uluru–Kata Tjuta National Park

was returned to its
Aboriginal owners, the Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara people, known as the
Anangu, who manage the property jointly with the Australian government. Don’t


Uluru-Kata Tjuta National



Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park

think a visit to Uluru is just about snapping a few photos and going home. There are
many ways of exploring it and one of the best is to join Aboriginal people on guided
walks. You can walk around the Rock, climb it (we’ll talk about that later), fly over
it, ride a camel to it, circle it on a Harley-Davidson, trek through the nearby Olgas,
and dine under the stars while you learn about them.

Just do yourself one favor: Plan to spend at least 2 days here, if not 3.

Isolation (and a lack of competition) makes such things as accommodations,
meals, and transfers relatively expensive. A coach tour or four-wheel-drive camping
safari is often the cheapest way to see the place. See “Exploring the Red Centre,” at
the beginning of this chapter, for recommended tour companies.


GETTING THERE By Plane Qantas (&13 13 13 in Australia) flies to Ayers
Rock (Connellan) Airport direct from Sydney, Melbourne, Alice Springs, Perth, and
Cairns. Flights from other airports go via Alice Springs. Virgin Blue (&13 67 89
in Australia) flies direct from Sydney daily. The airport is 6km (33.4 miles) from Ayers


Rock Resort. A free shuttle ferries all resort guests, including campers, to their door.

By Car Take the Stuart Highway south from Alice Springs 199km (123 miles),
turn right onto the Lasseter Highway, and go 244km (151 miles) to Ayers Rock
Resort. The Rock is 18km (11 miles) farther on.

If you are renting a car in Alice Springs and want to drop it at Uluru and fly out

from there, be prepared for a one-way penalty. Only Avis, Hertz, and Thrifty have

Uluru depots.

VISITOR INFORMATION The Central Australian Tourism Industry Association
(CATIA) has a Visitor Information Centre at 60 Gregory Terrace, Alice
Springs (& 1800/645 199 in Australia or 08/8952 5800; www.centralaustralian
tourism.com). Another good source of online information is Ayers Rock Resort’s site,

The Ayers Rock Resort Visitor Centre, next to the Desert Gardens Hotel
(& 08/8957 7377), has displays on the area’s geology, wildlife, and Aboriginal
heritage, plus a souvenir store. It’s open daily from 8:30am to 7:30pm. You can book
tours at the tour desk in every hotel at Ayers Rock Resort, or visit the Ayers Rock
Resort Tour & Information Centre (&08/8957 7324) at the shopping center
in the resort complex. It dispenses information and books tours as far afield as Kings
Canyon and Alice Springs. It’s open daily from 7:30am to 8:30pm.

The Rock in a Day?
It’s a loooong day to visit Uluru in a day
from Alice by road. Many organized
coach tours pack a lot—perhaps a
Rock-base walk or climb, Kata Tjuta
(the Olgas), the Uluru–Kata Tjuta Cultural
Centre, and a champagne sunset
at the Rock—into a busy trip that leaves
Alice around 5:30 or 6am and gets you
back late at night. You should consider
a day trip only between May and September.
At other times, it’s too hot to
do much from early morning to late
afternoon. At press time, there were no
companies offering day scenic flights
from Alice to Uluru.

One kilometer (a half mile) from the base of the Rock is the Uluru–Kata Tjuta
Cultural Centre

(& 08/8956 1128), owned and run by the Anangu, the
Aboriginal owners of Uluru. It uses eye-catching wall displays, frescoes, interactive
recordings, and videos to tell about Aboriginal Dreamtime myths and laws. It’s worth
spending some time here to understand a little about Aboriginal culture. A National
Park desk has information on ranger-guided activities and animal, plant, and birdwatching
checklists. The center also has a cafe, a souvenir shop, and two Aboriginal
arts and crafts galleries. It’s open daily from early in the morning to after sundown;
exact hours vary from month to month.
PARK ENTRANCE FEES Entry to the Uluru–Kata Tjuta National Park is A$25
per adult, free for children under 16, valid for 3 days. The cost of many organized
tours includes the entry fee.

ETIQUETTE The Anangu ask you not to photograph sacred sites or Aboriginal
people without permission and to approach quietly and respectfully. For more information
on climbing Uluru, see p. 411.

Getting Around

Ayers Rock Resort runs a free shuttle every 20 minutes or so around the resort
complex from 10:30am to after midnight, but to get to the Rock or Kata Tjuta (the
Olgas), you will need to take transfers, join a tour, or have your own wheels. The
shuttle also meets all flights. There are no taxis at Yulara.

BY SHUTTLE Uluru Express (& 08/8956 2152; www.uluruexpress.com.au)
provides a minibus shuttle from Ayers Rock Resort to and from the Rock about every
50 minutes from before sunrise to sundown, and four times a day to Kata Tjuta. The
basic shuttle costs A$43 for adults and A$30 for kids 1 to 14. To Kata Tjuta, it costs
A$75 for adults and A$40 for children. A 2-day pass that enables you to explore
Uluru and Kata Tjuta as many times as you wish costs A$155 adults and A$80 children;
a 3-day pass costs A$170 for adults and A$80 for kids. All fares are round-trip.
A National Park entry pass, if you don’t already have one, is A$25 extra.

BY CAR If there are two of you, the easiest and cheapest way to get around is
likely to be a rental car. All roads in the area are paved, so a four-wheel-drive is
unnecessary. Expect to pay around A$120 to A$140 per day for a medium-size car.
Rates drop a little in low season. Most car-rental companies give you the first 100 or
200km (63–126 miles) free and charge between A17. and A25. per kilometer after
that. Take this into account, because the round-trip from the resort to the Olgas is
just over 100km (63 miles), and that’s without driving about 20km (13 miles) to the
Rock and back. Hire periods of under 3 days incur a one-way fee based on kilometers
travelled, up to about A$330. Avis (& 08/8956 2266), Hertz (& 08/8956
2244), and Thrifty (&08/8956 2030) all rent regular cars and four-wheel-drives.

The Outback Travel Shop (& 08/8955 5288; www.outbacktravelshop.com.
au), a booking agent in Alice Springs, often has better deals on car-rental rates than
you’ll get by booking direct.

BY ORGANIZED TOUR Several tour companies run a range of daily sunrise and
sunset viewings, circumnavigations of the Rock by coach or on foot, guided walks at
the Rock or the Olgas, camel rides, observatory evenings, visits to the Uluru–Kata
Tjuta Cultural Centre, and innumerable permutations and combinations of all of


Uluru-Kata Tjuta National



Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park

Water taps are scarce and kiosks non-
existent in Uluru–Kata Tjuta National
Park. Always carry plenty of your own
drinking water when sightseeing.
Water, Water . . .
these. Some offer “passes” containing
the most popular activities. Virtually
every company picks you up at your
hotel. Among the most reputable are

Discovery Ecotours, AAT Kings,
and Tailormade Tours (see “Exploring
the Red Centre” at the start of this
chapter for details).

ABORIGINAL TOURS Because Anangu Tours

(& 08/8950 3030;
www.ananguwaai.com.au) is owned and run by the Rock’s Aboriginal owners, its
excellent tours give you firsthand insight into Aboriginal culture. Tours are in the
Anangu language and translated by an interpreter. If you are going to spend money
on just one tour, this group is a good choice.

The company does a 31.2-hour Kuniya walk, during which you visit the Uluru–
Kata Tjuta Cultural Centre and the Mutitjulu water hole at the base of the Rock,
9 learn about bush foods, and see rock paintings before watching the sun set. It
departs daily at 2:30pm March through October, 3:30pm November through February.
With hotel pickup, the tour costs A$116 for adults and A$75 for children 5 to

15. There’s also a 41.2-hour breakfast tour costing A$139 for adults and A$93 for
children. It includes a base tour and demonstrations of bush skills and spear-throwing.
A standard tour during the day costs A$87 for adults and A$58 for kids. Dotpainting
workshops at the Uluru Cultural Centre cost A$87 for adults and A$61 for
kids. There are various other combinations of tours to choose from.
Discovering Uluru

AT SUNRISE & SUNSET The peak time to catch the Rock’s beauty is sunset,
when oranges, peaches, pinks, reds, and then indigo and deep violet creep across its
face. Some days it’s fiery, other days the colors are muted. A sunset-viewing car park
is on the Rock’s western side. Plenty of sunset and sunrise tours operate from the
resort. A typical sunset tour is offered by AAT Kings (& 08/8956 2171; www.
aatkings.com). It departs 75 minutes before sunset, includes a free glass of wine
with which to watch the “show,” and returns 20 minutes after sundown; the cost is
A$50 for adults, half-price for children 4 to 14. AAT Kings offers several other tours
around the area, so if large-group touring is what you want, check out their website
before leaving home.

At sunrise, the colors are less dramatic, but many folks enjoy the spectacle of the
Rock unveiled by the dawn to birdsong. You’ll need an early start—most tours leave
about 75 minutes before sunup. A new sunrise viewing area was opened in late
2009, about 3km (1.8 miles) from the Rock, designed to allow visitors to take in the
southeastern face of Uluru without revealing any sacred sites.

WALKING, DRIVING, OR BUSING AROUND IT A paved road runs around
the Rock. The easy 9.4km (6-mile) Base Walk circumnavigating Uluru takes about
2 hours, but allow time to linger around the water holes, caves, folds, and overhangs
that make up its walls. A shorter walk is the easy 1km (.6-mile) round-trip trail from
the Mutitjulu parking lot to the pretty water hole near the Rock’s base, where there
is some rock art. The Liru Track is another easy trail; it runs 2km (1.2 miles) from
the Cultural Centre to Uluru, where it links with the Base Walk.


The Pitjantjatjara people refer to tourists
as minga—little ants—because that’s
what they look like crawling up Uluru.
Climbing this sacred rock is a fraught
subject, and one which Australians fall
into two camps over. Those who have or
want to and those who never will. I fall
into the latter category. Climbing Uluru
is against the wishes of the traditional
owners, the Anangu (“the people,” a
term used by Aboriginal people from
the Western Desert to refer to themselves),
because of its deep spiritual significance
to them. The climb follows the
trail the ancestral Dreamtime Mala
(rufous hare-wallaby) men took when
they first came to Uluru, something you
will hear about when you visit. While
tourists are still allowed to climb, the
traditional owners strongly prefer that
they don’t, and you will see signs and
information to this effect.

Apart from respecting Uluru as a
sacred place, there are several good
practical reasons for resisting the temptation
to become one of the more than
200,000 people each year who complete
the 348m (1,142-ft.) hike. “The
Rock” is dangerously steep and rutted
with ravines about 2.5m (81.4 ft.) deep;
and 35 people have died while climbing—
either from heart attacks or falls—
in the past 4 decades. Anangu feel a
duty to safeguard visitors to their land,
and feel great sorrow and responsibility
when visitors are killed or injured. The
climb, by all accounts, is tough. There

are sometimes strong winds, the walls
are almost vertical in places (you have
to hold onto a chain), and it can be
freezing cold or maddeningly hot. Heat
stress is a real danger. If you’re unfit,
have breathing difficulties, heart trouble,
high or low blood pressure, or are
scared of heights, don’t do it. The climb
takes at least 1 hour up for the fit, and 1
hour down. The less sure-footed should
allow 3 to 4 hours. The Rock is closed to
climbers during bad weather; when
temperatures exceed 97°F (36°C), which
they often do from November to March;
and when wind speed exceeds 25 knots.
It is closed at 8am daily in January and
February because of the extreme heat.

The Australian government recognized
the existence of the traditional
Aboriginal owners in 1979 and created a
national park to protect Uluru and Kata
Tjuta. In 1983, the traditional owners
were granted ownership of the land and
the park was leased to the Australian
National Parks and Wildlife Service for
99 years, with the agreement that the
public could continue to climb it. The
issue of climbing was again the subject
of heated debate under a new Labour
government in 2009; the government’s
new 10-year management plan states
that the climb will close if climber numbers
drop to below 20% of all visitors to
Uluru. In any case, visitors will be given
18 months’ warning of any planned closure.


Uluru-Kata Tjuta National

Before setting off on any walk, it’s a good idea to arm yourself with the self-guided
walking notes available from the Cultural Centre (see “Visitor Information,” above).

Most companies offer base tours. As an example, Discovery Ecotours (& 08/
8956 2563; www.discoveryecotours.com.au) conducts a 6-hour guided base tour
that gives you insight into natural history, rock art, and Dreamtime beliefs. It’s scheduled
to coincide with sunrise. The tour costs A$125 for adults and A$99 for children
6 to 15, but it’s not suitable for kids under 10. The company also runs a 4-hour
sunset trip to the Olgas for A$99 for adults and A$79 for kids.



Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park

FLYING OVER IT Several companies do scenic flights by light aircraft or helicopter
over Uluru, Kata Tjuta (the Olgas), nearby Mount Conner, the vast white
saltpan of Lake Amadeus, and as far as Kings Canyon. Professional Helicopter
Services (& 08/8956 2003; www.phs.com.au), for example, does a 12- to
15-minute flight over Uluru for A$130 per person, and a 30-minute flight, which
includes Kata Tjuta, for A$240. Helicopters don’t land on top of the Rock, however.


Harley-Davidson tours are available as

sunrise or sunset rides, laps of the

Rock, and various other Rock and

Kata Tjuta tours with time for the

Olgas walks. A blast out to the Rock at

sunset with Uluru Motorcycle

Tours (& 08/8956 2019) will set

you back A$160, which includes a

glass of champagne. The guide drives

the bike; you sit behind and hang on.

If you have an open class motorcycle
license and are over 25 years old, you can hire a Harley for a few hours, a half-day,
or a full day, at a hefty price. Rates start at A$275 for 2 hours, plus a A$2,500 insurance

VIEWING IT ON CAMELBACK Legend has it that a soul travels at the same
pace as a camel; it’s certainly a peaceful way to see the Rock. Uluru Camel Tours
(&08/8950 3030; www.ananguwaai.com.au) makes daily forays aboard “ships of
the desert” to view Uluru. Amble through red-sand dunes with great views of the
Rock, dismount to watch the sun rise or sink over it, and ride back to the depot for
billy tea and beer bread in the morning, or champagne in the evening. The 1-hour
rides depart Ayers Rock Resort 1 hour before sunrise or 11.2 hours before sunset and
cost A$99 per person, including transfers from your hotel. All tours leave from the
Camel Depot at the Ayers Rock Resort. Shorter rides are also available.

Exploring Kata Tjuta

While it would be worth coming all the way to Central Australia just to see Uluru,
there is a second unique natural wonder to see, just a 50km (31-mile) drive away.
Kata Tjuta, or the Olgas, consists of 36 immense ochre rock domes rising from the
desert, rivaling Uluru for spectacular beauty. Some visitors find it lovelier and more
mysterious than Uluru. Known to the Aborigines as Kata Tjuta, or “many heads,” the
tallest dome is 200m (656 ft.) higher than Uluru, and Kata Tjuta figures more prominently
in Aboriginal legend than Uluru.

This part of Australia’s red heart was first discovered in the 1870s by English
explorers. Ernest Giles named part of Kata Tjuta “Mount Olga” after the reigning
Queen Olga of Wurttemberg, while William Gosse gave Uluru the name “Ayers
Rock” after Sir Henry Ayers, the Chief Secretary of South Australia.

Two walking trails take you in among the domes: the 7.4km (4.6-mile) Valley of
the Winds

walk, which is fairly challenging and takes 3 to 5 hours, and the
easy 2.6km (1.6-mile) Gorge walk, which takes about an hour. The Valley of the
Winds trail is the more rewarding in terms of scenery. Both have lookout points and

Most tourists visit Uluru in the morn-
ings and Kata Tjuta (the Olgas) in the
afternoon. Reverse the order (do the
Valley of the Winds walk in the morn-
ing and Uluru in the afternoon), and
you’ll find both spots a little more
silent and spiritual.
Timing Your Trip


Why sit in a restaurant when you can
eat outside and soak up the desert
air? Ayers Rock Resort’s Sounds of
Silence dinner is not just a meal, it’s
an event. In an outdoor clearing, you sip
champagne and nibble canapes as the
sun sets over the Rock to the strains of
a didgeridoo. Zero in on people you
want to sit with, and then head to com-
munal white-clothed, candlelit tables
and a serve-yourself meal that will
include kangaroo, emu, crocodile, and
barramundi (a large freshwater fish).
The food is not exceptional, but you’re
really here for the atmosphere. After
dinner, the lanterns fade and you’re left
with stillness. For some city folk, it’s the
first time they have ever heard complete
silence. Look up into the usually clear
skies and an astronomer will point out
the constellations of the Southern Hemi-
sphere. You can also look at the stars
through telescopes. Sounds of Silence is
held nightly, weather permitting, and
costs A$155 for adults and A$79 for
children 10 to 12, including transfers
from Ayers Rock Resort. Surcharges
apply for Christmas Day and New Year’s
Eve. It’s mighty popular, so book as far
ahead as you can, even up to 3 months
ahead in peak season. Book through the
Ayers Rock Resort office in Sydney
(&1300/134 044 in Australia, or
02/8296 8010) or online (www.
shady stretches. The Valley of the Winds trail closes when temperatures rise above
97°F (36°C).

Where to Stay & Dine

Ayers Rock Resort is not only in the township of Yulara—it is the township.
Located about 30km (19 miles) from the Rock, outside the national park boundary,
it is the only place to stay. It is an impressive contemporary complex, built to a high
standard, efficiently run, and attractive—all things you can end up paying an arm
and a leg for. Because everyone either is a tourist or lives and works here, it has a
village atmosphere—with a supermarket; a bank; a post office; a newsdealer; babysitting
services; a medical center; a beauty salon; several gift, clothing, and souvenir
shops; a place to buy beer; and a gas station.

You have a choice of seven places to stay within the complex, from hotel rooms
and apartments to luxury and basic campsites. In keeping with this village feel, no
matter where you stay, even in the campground, you are free to use all the pools,
restaurants, and other facilities of every hostelry, except the exclusive Sails in the
Desert pool, which is reserved for Sails guests.

Voyages Hotels & Resorts manages Ayers Rock Resort, and you can book any
of the seven accommodations options through the central reservations office in
Sydney (&1300/134 044 in Australia, or 02/8296 8010, or 0800/700 715 in New
Zealand; fax 02/9299 2103; www.voyages.com.au). High season is July through
November. Book well ahead, and shop around for special deals on the Internet and
with travel agencies. All properties offer special packages for 2- or 3-night stays,
which reduce the nightly rate and throw in some extras.


Uluru-Kata Tjuta National



Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park

A tour desk, same-day dry-cleaning and laundry service, and babysitting are all
available at each hostelry and campground.

In addition to the dining options, the resort’s small shopping center has the pleasant
Gecko’s Cafe, which offers wood-fired pizzas, pastas, and sandwiches; a bakery;
an ice cream shop; and takeout. Sails in the Desert, Desert Gardens, and the
Outback Pioneer Hotel & Lodge can provide picnic hampers and breakfast backpacks.
Kids under 15 dine free at any of the hotels’ buffets in the company of an
adult. It’s a good idea to bring some wine with you, because the place really has
things sewn up, including prices.

Longitude 131°

When you wake in your luxury “tent” here, you can reach
out from your king-size bed and press a button to raise the blinds on your window
for a view unmatched anywhere in the world: Uluru as dawn strikes its ochre walls.
Your bed, under a softly draped romantic white canopy, is in one of 15 five-star
ecosensitive “tents” set among isolated sand dunes a mile or two from the main


resort complex. Each room is decorated in tribute to the European explorers and
pioneers of this region. There’s a CD player but no TV (and who needs one?). The
central area, the Dune House, has a restaurant with superb food, a bar, and a
library. Settle in for some after-dinner chess or chat. For a special dining experience,
book your place at Table 131, where dinner is set up in style under the stars among
gently rolling sand dunes. No children under 12.

Yulara Dr., Yulara, NT 0872. &08/8957 7888. Fax 08/8957 7474. www.longitude131.com.au. 15 units.
A$2,020 double. Rates include walking and bus tours, meals, selected drinks. 2-night minimum. AE, DC,
MC, V. Amenities: Restaurant; bar; free airport shuttle; outdoor pool. In room: A/C, CD player, hair dryer,

Sails in the Desert

This top-of-the-range hotel offers expensive, contemporary-
style rooms with private balconies, many overlooking the pool, some with
Jacuzzis. You can’t see the Rock from your room, but most guests are too busy sipping
cocktails by the pool to care. The pool area is shaded by white shade “sails” and
surrounded by sun lounges. The lobby art gallery has artists in residence. The
Kuniya restaurant serves elegant a la carte fine-dining fare with bush tucker ingredients,
Winkiku is a smart a la carte and buffet venue, and Rockpool offers a
tapas-style platter menu with Mediterranean and Asian influences. The hotel’s new
Red Ochre Spa is the only day spa at Yulara. It has four therapy rooms offering a
range of treatments and therapies, with two rooms offering “dry” massage therapies
and two “wet” rooms, which have tubs on the veranda to soak in.
Yulara Dr., Yulara, NT 0872. &08/8957 7888. Fax 08/8957 7474. 232 units. A$480–A$580 double
standard room; A$568–A$690 double spa room; A$900–A$950 double deluxe suite. Extra person
A$40. Children 12 and under stay free using existing bedding and eat free when dining with a paying
adult at the buffet or from children’s menu. AE, DC, MC, V. Amenities: 3 restaurants, bar; free airport
shuttle; large outdoor pool; room service; 2 outdoor lit tennis courts, Wi-Fi (A$10 per hour; A$25 for 3
days). In room: A/C, TV w/pay movies, minibar, hair dryer.

Desert Gardens Hotel

This is the only hotel with views of the Rock (albeit
rather distant ones), from some of the rooms. It is set amid wonderful ghost gum
trees and the flowering native shrubs that give it its name. The accommodations are
not as lavish as Sails in the Desert, but they’re equally comfortable and have elegant

Seeing the Southern Cross for the First Time
Light pollution is extremely low in the
Red Centre, so the night sky is a dazzler.
At the Ayers Rock Observatory, you can
check out your zodiac constellation and
take a 1-hour tour of the Southern Hemisphere
heavens (they’re different from
the Northern Hemisphere stars).
To visit the observatory, you must
join a tour with Discovery Ecotours
(&1800/803 174 in Australia, or
08/8956 2563; www.discoveryecotours.
com.au), which provides hotel pickup
and a tour. Tours depart twice a night;
times vary. They cost A$33 for adults,
A$25 for children 6 to 15. Family rates
are available on request.

furnishings. The White Gums restaurant serves a la carte flame grill and buffet

Yulara Dr., Yulara, NT 0872. &08/8957 7888. Fax 08/8957 7716. 218 units, 100 with shower only.
A$390–A$490 double standard room; A$450–A$550 double deluxe room; A$490–A$590 double
deluxe Rock-view room. Extra person A$40. Children 12 years and under stay free in parent’s room
using existing bedding, and eat free when dining with a paying adult at the buffet or from the children’s
menu. AE, DC, MC, V. Amenities: 2 restaurants, bar; free airport shuttle; outdoor pool; room service.
In room: A/C, TV w/pay movies, hair dryer, minibar.

Emu Walk Apartments

These bright, contemporary apartments have full
kitchens, separate bedrooms, and roomy living areas. They have daily maid service,
and sleep up to six people, so they’re great for families or groups of friends. There’s
no restaurant or pool, but Gecko’s Cafe and the market are close, and you can cool
off in the Desert Gardens Hotel pool next door.
Yulara Dr., Yulara, NT 0872. &08/8957 7888. Fax 08/8957 7742. 59 apts, all with shower only. A$398–
A$499 double 1-bedroom apt; A$480–A$580 double 2-bedroom apt. Extra person A$40. AE, DC, MC,

V. Amenities: Free airport shuttle; room service. In room: A/C, TV w/pay movies, hair dryer, kitchen,
The Lost Camel

This AAA-rated three-and-a-half-star hotel is aimed at young
urbanites and is as bright, crisp, and modern as something you might find in Sydney,
with just a touch of an Aboriginal theme about it. If you want to forget that you’re in
the Outback (but why would you?), head to the lobby bar and lounge, where a
plasma screen plays news channels and music videos. The Lost Camel has lush
courtyards and a generous swimming pool.
Yulara Dr., Yulara, NT 0872. &08/8957 7888. Fax 08/8957 7474. 99 units. A$330–A$430 double. AE,
DC, MC, V. Amenities: Bar; free airport shuttle; outdoor pool. In room: A/C, TV, CD player, hair dryer,

Outback Pioneer Hotel and Lodge A happy all-ages crowd congregates at this
midrange collection of hotel rooms, budget rooms, shared bunkrooms, and dorms.
Standard hotel rooms offer clean, simple accommodations with private bathrooms,
a queen-size bed, and a single; these have TVs with pay movies, a fridge, a minibar,
and a phone. Budget rooms have access to a common room with a TV and Internet
access, as well as a communal kitchen and laundry. Each quad bunkroom holds two
sets of bunk beds; these are coed and share bathrooms. The single-sex dorms sleep

20. Plenty of lounge chairs sit by the pool. The Bough House Restaurant offers

Uluru-Kata Tjuta National


buffets, and a kiosk sells burger-style fare. What seems like the entire resort gathers
nightly at the great-value Outback Barbeque. This barn with big tables, lots of
beer, and live music is the place to join the throngs throwing a steak or sausage on
the cook-it-yourself barbie.

Yulara Dr., Yulara, NT 0872. &08/8957 7888. Fax 08/8957 7615. 125 units, all with private bathroom;
12 budget rooms without bathroom; 30 budget rooms with bathroom; 32 quad bunkrooms; 20-bed
male-only dorm without bathroom, 20-bed female-only dorm without bathroom. A$330–A$430 double
standard room; A$225–A$235 budget room with bathroom; A$194–A$204 budget room without
bathroom; A$44 quad share bed; A$36 dorm bed; A$176 budget quad room per room. AE, DC, MC, V.
Amenities: 2 restaurants; bar; free airport shuttle; Internet (A$2 for 10 min.); outdoor pool. In room:
A/C, TV/w pay movies (standard room only), minibar (standard room only).


Moderately priced cabins and inexpensive bunkhouse and dorm beds are available
at the Outback Pioneer Hotel and Lodge, above.

Ayers Rock Campground Instead of red dust, you get green lawns at this

campground, which has barbecues, a playground, swimming pool, a small general
store, and clean communal bathrooms and kitchen. If you don’t want to camp but
want to travel cheap, consider the modern two-bedroom cabins. They’re a great
value; each has air-conditioning, a TV, a kitchenette with a fridge, dining furniture,
a double bed, and four bunks. They book up quickly in winter.

Yulara Dr., Yulara, NT 0872. &08/8957 7001. Fax 08/8957 7004. 220 tent sites, 198 powered sites, 14
cabins, none with bathroom. A$150 cabin for up to 6; A$33 double tent site or A$42 family of 4; A$38
double powered motor-home site or A$47 family of 4; A$95 double village tents. Extra adult A$16,
extra child 6–15 A$9. AE, DC, MC, V. Amenities: Free airport shuttle; children’s playground; outdoor
pool. In room: No phone.


Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park


by Lee Mylne

he “Top End” is a last frontier, a vast sweep of barely
inhabited country from Broome on the west coast
to Arnhemland in the Northern Territory and eastern
Queensland. Most of it is in the Northern Territory, and the
term also differentiates the northern part of the Territory
from the Red Centre. It is a place of wild, rugged beauty
and, sometimes, hardship.

The Northern Territory’s capital, Darwin, is a small city, modern, wealthy,
tropical, and rapidly growing. To the east of Darwin is Kakadu National
Park, home to wetlands teeming with crocs and birds; a third of the
country’s bird species are here. Farther east is Arnhemland, a stretch of
rocky escarpments and rivers owned by Aborigines and seen by few others.
The town of Katherine is famous for its river gorge. You’ll find a
wealth of experiences: Visit an Aboriginal community, canoe along lonely
rivers, and soak in thermal pools.

Life in the Top End is different from life elsewhere in Australia. Its
slightly lawless image is one the locals enjoy, but in Darwin you’ll also get
a sense of a city on the move. And it seems unlikely that development
will change its essence. Isolation, the summer Wet season, monsoons,
predatory crocodiles, and other dangers make ’em tough up here, but you
don’t have to do without the comforts you’re used to.


Read “Exploring the Red Centre,” in chapter 9, p. 388; it contains information
on traveling the entire Northern Territory.

VISITOR INFORMATION Tourism NT, Tourism House, 43 Mitchell
St., Darwin, NT 0800 (&13 67 68 in Australia or 08/8951 8471; www.
travelnt.com), can supply information on Darwin, Litchfield National
Park, Kakadu National Park, Katherine, and other destinations in the
territory. The website can help you find a travel agent who specializes in
the Northern Territory; details many hotels, tour operators, rental-car
companies, and attractions; and features a special fishing guide. The
Commission’s Territory Discoveries division (www.holidaysnt.com) offers
package deals.


The Tourism Top End information center in Darwin and Katherine Visitor
Information Centre (listed in the “Katherine” section, later in this chapter) can
supply information about the Top End in addition to their local regions.

WHEN TO GO Most folks visit the Top End in the winter Dry season (“the
Dry”). It’s more than likely that not a cloud will grace the sky, and temperatures will
be comfortable, even hot in the middle of the day. The Dry runs from late April to
late October or early November. It is high season, so book every hotel or tour in

The Wet season (“the Wet”) runs from November through March or April, sometimes
starting as early as October and sometimes lasting a few weeks longer in the
Kimberley. While rain does not fall 24 hours a day, it comes down in buckets for an
hour or two each day, mainly in the late afternoon or at night. The land floods as far
as the eye can see, the humidity is murderous, and the temperatures hit nearly 104°F
(40°C). The floods cut off many attractions, and some tour companies close for the
season. Cyclones may hit the coast during the Wet, with the same savagery and frequency
as hurricanes hit Florida. Some find the “buildup” to the Wet, in October and
November, when clouds gather but do not break, to be the toughest time.

Despite that, traveling in the Wet has its own special appeal and you’ll see things
you’d never encounter at other times of year. Waterfalls become massive torrents,
lightning storms crackle across the afternoon sky, the land turns emerald green,

cloud cover keeps the worst of the sun off you, crowds vanish, and there is an eerie
beauty to it all. Keep your plans flexible to account for floods, take it slowly in
the heat, and carry lots of drinking water. Even if you normally camp, sleep in airconditioned
accommodations now. Book tours ahead, because most operate on a
reduced schedule. See the tips about traveling in the Wet, below.

GETTING AROUND The Automobile Association of the Northern Territory
(AANT), 79–81 Smith St., Darwin, NT 0800 (&08/8925 5901; www.aant.
com.au), is a good source of maps and road advice. See also the Northern Territory
Tourist Commission’s site, www.travelnt.com, which has sections designed specifically
for those setting out on a driving holiday.

Normal restricted speed limits apply in all urban areas, but speed limits on Northern
Territory highways (introduced only in 2006) are considerably higher than in
other states. The speed limit is set at 130kmph (81 mph) on the Stuart, Arnhem,
Barkly, and Victoria highways, while rural roads are designated 110kmph (68 mph)
speed limits unless otherwise signposted. However, drivers should be careful to keep
to a reasonable speed and leave enough distance to stop safely. The road fatality toll
in the Northern Territory is high: 27 fatalities per 100,000 people each year, compared
with the Australian average of 8 per 100,000.

Most Aboriginal land is open to visitors, but in some cases you must obtain a
permit first. If you are taking a tour, this will be taken care of, but independent
travelers should apply to the relevant Aboriginal Land Council (see www.nlc.org.au
for more information) for permission. Most permits are free, but some entry fees
may apply.

Always carry 4 liters (1 gal.) of drinking water per person a day when walking
(increase to 1 liter/1.4 gal. per person per hour in summer). Wear a broad-brimmed
hat, high-factor sunscreen, and insect repellent containing DEET (such as Aerogard


Exploring the Top End

The Northern Territory

Exploring End
See Chapter 9,
"The Red Centre"
See "Kakadu
Nat'l Park" map
SpringsTennant CreekGlen HelenRoss RiverHomesteadElliotRenner SpringsWauchopeBarrow CreekHermannsburgKingsCanyonErldundaAyers Rock
WatersMatarankaPineCreekAdelaideRiverDaly RiverLarrimahWyndhamKatherineTimberCreekKununurraDalyWatersDarwinJabiruBarklyNhulunbuy(Gove)
IslandGroote Eylandt
Mt. OlgaSimpsonDesertCobourgPeninsulaWest MacDonnellNational ParkUluru–Kata TjutaNational ParkFinke GorgeNational ParkNitmilukNational Park(Katherine Gorge)
Devil's MarblesConservation
ReserveStuart Hwy.
MereenieLoop Rd.
Stuart Hwy.
Luritja Rd.
LitchfieldLitchfieldNat'l ParkNat'l ParkS.AlligatorR.
KakaduKakaduNat'l ParkNat'l ParkGurigGurigNat'l ParkNat'l ParkTropic of CapricornTropic ofCapricorn
Tropic of Capricorn
Tennant Creek
Glen Helen Ross River
Renner Springs
Barrow Creek
Ayers Rock
Daly River
Kununurra Daly
Groote Eylandt
Sir Edward
Pellew Group
Mt. Olga
Uluru (Ayers Rock)Uluru (Ayers Rock)Uluru (Ayers Rock)
Tiwi Islands
Wessel Is.
C. Wessel
West MacDonnell
National Park
Uluru–Kata Tjuta
National Park
Finke Gorge
National Park
Nat'l Park
Nat'l Park
National Park
(Katherine Gorge)
Devil's Marbles
Nat'l Park
Stuart Hwy.
Loop Rd.
Stuart Hwy.
Luritja Rd.
Gulf of
Arafura Sea
100 mi0
0 100 kmUnpaved Road

and RID brands) to protect against the dangerous Ross River Fever virus carried by
mosquitoes in these parts.
Deadly marine stingers (see p. 57) put a stop to ocean swimming in the Top End
from roughly October to April or May.

TRAVELING IN THE WET Some roads will be under water throughout the
Wet, while others can flood unexpectedly, leaving you cut off for hours, days, or even
months. Flash floods pose dangers to unwary motorists. Don’t cross a flooded road
unless you know the water is shallow, the current gentle, and the road intact. Never
wade into the water, because crocodiles may be present. If you’re cut off, the only
thing to do is wait, so it’s smart to travel with food and drinking water in remote
parts. Check road conditions every day by calling the Northern Territory Department
of Infrastructure, Planning & Environment’s 24-hour recorded report on road
conditions (&1800/246 199; www.roadreport.nt.gov.au); dropping into or calling
the AANT (see “Getting Around,” above) in Darwin during office hours; or tuning in
to local radio stations. Tour companies, tourist bureaus, and police stations should
also be able to help.

TOUR OPERATORS Organized tours can bust the hassles posed by distance,
isolation, and Wet floods in the Top End, and the guides will show and tell you
things you almost certainly would not discover on your own. A loop through Darwin,
Litchfield National Park, Kakadu National Park, and Katherine is a popular route

10 that shows you a lot in a short time.
Reputable companies include AAT Kings (& 1300/556 100 in Australia, or
08/8923 6555; www.aatkings.com); Odyssey Tours & Safaris (&1800/891 190
in Australia, or 08/8952 6811; www.odysaf.com.au); Intrepid Connections (&1300/
442 183 in Australia, or 03/9277 8444; www.connections.travel); and Adventure
Tours (&1300/654 604 in Australia, or 08/8132 8230; www.adventuretours.com.au).
VIP Touring Australia (&08/8947 1211; www.viptouring.com.au) offers luxury
organized and tailor-made tours.
Far Out Adventures

(& 0427/152 288 mobile; www.farout.com.au) runs
award-winning tailor-made four-wheel-drive safaris into Kakadu, Darwin, Arnhemland,
Litchfield National Park, Katherine, the Kimberley, and more Top End regions.
Proprietor-guide Mike Keighley, who has been operating in the Top End for 15 years,
will create an adventure to suit your interests, budget, and time restrictions. Accommodations
can range from luxury hotels to “under the stars” in Aussie bush swags.
Touring with Mike can involve hiking, fishing, meeting or camping with his Aboriginal
mates, canoeing, seeing Aboriginal rock art, extras such as scenic flights, and
swimming under (croc-free) waterfalls. Mike is one of a select group of operators
with Australia’s Advanced Eco Tour Accreditation and Savannah Guide status, and
has a great knowledge of the Top End’s geography, Aboriginal culture, and ecology.
Fun and personal, his trips are accompanied by good wine (sometimes in such
places as a bird-filled lagoon at sunset) and “bush gourmet” meals. Mike also runs
what he calls—for want of a better name—“Out of the Blue” trips, where solo travelers
can join him on trips to relatively unchartered areas. Costs vary, but a private
3-day tour to Kakadu for two people would cost around A$3,000, depending on the
time of year and inclusions. You can travel with Mike in his four-wheel-drive vehicle
or you can “tag along” for a lower cost in your own. Check the website for details of
upcoming trips and costs.

Exploring the Top End

Lord’s Kakadu & Arnhemland Safaris (&08/8948 2200; www.lords-safaris.
com) is based in Jabiru and operates charter tours throughout Kakadu and Arnhemland.
Owner Sab Lord was born on a buffalo station in Kakadu before it was a
national park and has a strong rapport with local Aborigines. His small-group fourwheel-
drive tours, which can be tailor-made, visit the Injalak Hill rock-painting sites
in Arnhemland and the Injalak Arts Centre at Oenpelli and have exclusive access to
the Minkinj Valley. Day tours to Arnhemland cost A$195 for adults and A$155 for
children under 14 from Jabiru, or A$230 adults and A$185 for kids from Darwin.
They operate May to October. The company also runs tours to Jim Jim and Twin

Peregrine Adventures (&1300/791 485; www.peregrineadventures.com) runs
a range of environmentally and culturally sensitive small-group holidays led by local
experts. In the Top End, these include the 8-day Katherine River Adventure, which
includes 3 days of hiking, a three-gorges river cruise, and 3 days of canoeing in
Nitmiluk (Katherine) Gorge with a local Aboriginal leader. The trek costs A$2,090
per person (carrying your own pack) and includes a tour leader, local guide, transport,
canoe hire, park entrance fees, most meals, and camping gear.


1,489km (923 miles) N of Alice Springs

Australia’s proximity to Asia is never more apparent than when you are in Darwin.
The northernmost capital, named after Charles Darwin, is an exotic blend of frontier
town, Asian village, and modern life. With a population of about 90,000, Darwin has
had a turbulent history—and it shows. This city has battled just about everything
that man and nature could throw at it. Most of its buildings date from the mid1970s;
Cyclone Tracy wiped out the city on Christmas Eve 1974. Despite all this
destruction, some of Darwin’s historic buildings—or at least parts of them—have
survived, and you can see them around the city center.

The Darwin waterfront underwent a major redevelopment in 2009, with a new
shopping and recreation precinct springing up near Stokes Wharf, looking out to the
Arafura Sea. A large lagoon, wave pool, new hotels, high-rise residential apartments,
restaurants, and shops are linked to the city center by a covered, elevated walkway
through a corridor of bushland. Some locals think the advent of high-rise buildings—
also springing up within the city itself—will alter the face of Darwin forever.
Whether it will change the city’s character as well, only time will tell. For the
moment, it’s still relaxed and very casual. Don’t bother bringing a jacket and tie;
shorts and sandals will be acceptable most places—even the swankiest invitations
stipulate “Territory Rig” dress, meaning long pants and a short-sleeved open-neck
shirt for men.

Darwin is most commonly used as a gateway to Kakadu National Park, Katherine
Gorge, and the Kimberley, and many Australians have never bothered to visit it—or
at least not for long. And that’s a shame, because it is an attractive and interesting
place. Give yourself a day or two to wander the pleasant streets and parklands, see
the wildlife attractions, and discover some of the city’s rich history. Then take time
for some wetlands fishing, or shop for Aboriginal art and the Top End’s South Sea
pearls. An easy day trip is Litchfield National Park , one of the Territory’s




best-kept secrets, boasting waterfalls that you’d usually only see in vacation brochures
to swim under.


GETTING THERE Qantas (&13 13 13 in Australia; www.qantas.com) serves
Darwin daily from Alice Springs, Adelaide, Brisbane, and Canberra, either direct or
connecting through Alice Springs. Virgin Blue (& 13 67 89 in Australia; www.
virginblue.com) flies direct to Darwin from Brisbane, Melbourne, and Perth with
connections from other cities and regional centers. Jetstar (&13 15 38 in Australia;
www.jetstar.com.au) flies from Melbourne, Cairns, Brisbane, Sydney, and Adelaide.
Airnorth (& 1800/627 474 in Australia, or 08/8920 4000; www.airnorth.
com.au) and Skywest Airlines (& 1300/660 088 in Australia or 08/9477 8301;
www.skywest.com.au) both fly from Perth, Broome, and Kununurra in Western
Australia. Airnorth also flies from Mount Isa in Queensland.

Darwin Airport Shuttle Services (&08/8981 5066; www.darwinairportshuttle.
com.au) meets every flight and delivers to any hotel between the airport and city for
A$12 one-way or A$22 round-trip adults, or A$8 one-way, A$15 round-trip for children
aged 5 to 12. Bookings are only necessary for city–airport transfers. A cab to
the city is around A$35. Avis, Budget, Europcar, Hertz, and Thrifty have airport
desks (see “Getting Around,” below, for phone numbers).

Greyhound Australia (& 1300/473 946 in Australia; www.greyhound.com.


au) makes a daily coach run from Alice Springs. The trip takes around 22 hours, and
the fare is A$349. Greyhound also has a daily service from Broome via Kununurra
and Katherine; this trip takes around 27 hours and costs A$358.

The Adelaide–Alice Springs–Darwin railway line is the Top End’s only rail link.
Great Southern Railway’s Ghan (&13 21 47 in Australia; www.trainways.com.au)
runs a twice-weekly round-trip, leaving Adelaide on Sundays and Wednesdays at
12:20pm and Alice Springs on Mondays and Thursdays at 6pm. The return trip
leaves Darwin on Wednesday and Saturday mornings. The adult one-way fare is
A$358 for a “day-nighter” seat, A$656 for a sleeper, A$1,019 for a first-class sleeper,
more for Platinum Class, which has cabins around twice the size of standard Gold
Twin Cabins, each with a double bed, en-suite bathroom, and 24-hour room service.

Darwin is at the end of the Stuart Highway. Allow at least 2 long days, 3 to be
comfortable, to drive from Alice. The nearest road from the east is the long and dull
Barkly Highway, which connects with the Stuart Highway at Tennant Creek, 922km
(572 miles) south. The nearest road from the west is Victoria Highway, which joins
the Stuart Highway at Katherine, 314km (195 miles) to the south.

VISITOR INFORMATION Tourism Top End runs the official visitor center, 6
Bennett St. (at Smith St.), Darwin, NT 0800 (& 1300/138 886 in Australia or
08/8980 6000; www.tourismtopend.com.au). There is also a visitor center at Darwin
Airport (& 08/8927 7071). They can make bookings and provide you with
maps, national park notes, and information on Darwin and other regions throughout
the Northern Territory, including Arnhemland, Katherine, and Kakadu and Litchfield
national parks.

CITY LAYOUT The city heart is the Smith Street pedestrian mall. One street
over is the Mitchell Street Tourist Precinct, with backpacker lodges, cheap
eateries, and souvenir stores. Two streets away is the harborfront Esplanade. The




Beagle St.
Frances Bay Dr.Harry Chan
Smith St.
Mitchell St.
EsplanadeBennett St.
Herbert St.
Knuckey St.
Peel St.
Lindsay St.
Daly St.
Gardiner St.
Woods St.
McMinn St.
McMinn St.
Edmunds St.
West La.
Shadforth Ln.
Itchfield St.
Searcy St.
Whitfield St.
Cavenagh St.McLachlan St.
Harvey St.
Duke St.
King St.Queen St.
Henry St.
Meigs Cres.
Coronation Margaret
Salonika St.
Lambell Tce.
MyillyMarella St.Manoora St.Baroosa St.
Houston St.
Gilruth Ave.
Maria Liveris Dr.
Beagle St.
Kahlin Ave.
Manton St.
Shepherd St.
EsplanadeCullen BayCrescentMarinaBlvd.
PRECINCTTheMallCullen BayMarinaLamerooBeachMindil BeachDarwin HarbourEsplanade–
BicentennialParkGardens ParkGolf Course
George Brown DarwinBotanic GardensStuartHwy.
Beagle St.Beagle St.
Frances Bay Dr.Harry Chan
Smith St.
Mitchell St.
Bennett St.
Herbert St.
Knuckey St.
Peel St.
Lindsay St.
Daly St.
Gardiner St.
Woods St.
McMinn St.
McMinn St.
Edmunds St.
West La.
Shadforth Ln.
Itchfield St.Foelsche
Searcy St.
Whitfield St.
Cavenagh St.McLachlan St.
Harvey St.
Salonika St.
Lambell Tce.
Marella St.Manoora St.Baroosa St.
Houston St.
Gilruth Ave.
Maria Liveris Dr.
Beagle St.
Kahlin Ave.
Manton St.
Shepherd St.
Cullen Bay
Cullen BayMarina
Mindil Beach
Fannie Bay
Frances BayDarwin Harbour
George Brown Darwin
Botanic Gardens
Gardens Park
Golf Course
To AirportTo Airport
Coast 11
Mandalay 17
Mantra on The Esplanade 14
Medina Grand
Darwin Waterfront 22
Moonshadow Villas 10
SkyCity Darwin 5
Travelodge Mirabeema Resort 12
Value Inn 15
Vibe Hotel Darwin Waterfront 22
Villa La Vue 17
Buzz Cafe 6
Hanuman 18
Il Piatto 5
Pee Wee's at the Point 3
Shenanigan's Irish Pub,
Restaurant & Bar 13
Tim's Surf 'n' Turf 19
Australian Aviation
Heritage Centre 8
Australian Pearling Exhibition 23
Crocodylus Park 9
Crocosaurus Cove 16
Deckchair Cinema 20
East Point Military Museum 1
Mindil Beach Sunset Market 4
Museum and Art Gallery
of the Northern Territory 2
Oil Storage Tunnels 21
Territory Wildlife Park 7
11 10
1/4 Mi0
0 250 Meters

Tours of Darwin
The Tour Tub bus (&08/8985 6322;
www.tourtub.com.au) does a loop of
major city attractions and hotels
between 9am and 4pm daily. Hop on
and off all day for A$35 for adults, A$15
for children 4 to 7, or A$90 for a family
of four (which includes entry fee to the
World War II oil storage tunnels). A
2-day pass is A$55 adults. Your ticket
will also get you discounts to some
attractions. The bus departs the
Knuckey Street end of Smith Street Mall
every 70 minutes. Buy your tickets on
board (cash only). The bus does not
run in December or on Good Friday and
New Year’s Day.

Wharf Precinct underwent a massive redevelopment in 2009, with a new swimming
lagoon with a wave pool and artificial beaches, new apartment and retail
blocks, a convention center, and two new hotels. The Medina Grand Darwin
Waterfront and its neighboring sister property, Vibe Darwin Waterfront, are
linked by a covered walkway right into the heart of the city, just minutes away (see
“Where to Stay” below). The precinct, which also encompasses a couple of preexisting
tourist attractions, a jetty popular with fishermen, and a working dock, is now
linked to the city center by an elevated walkway from the top of one of the hotels.

Cullen Bay Marina is a hub for restaurants, cafes, and expensive boats; it’s about
a 25-minute walk northwest of town. Northwest of town is Fannie Bay, where you’ll
find the Botanic Gardens, the sailing club, a golf course, a museum and art gallery,
and the casino.

GETTING AROUND By Car For car and four-wheel-drive rentals, call Avis
(& 08/8945 0662), Budget (& 08/8981 9800), Europcar (& 08/8941 0300),
Hertz (&08/8941 0944), or Thrifty (&08/8924 0000).

BY BUS Darwinbus (&08/8924 7666) is the local bus company. A A$2 adult
or A50. child bus fare gives unlimited travel for 3 hours. A Show&Go ticket gives
unlimited bus travel for 1 day for A$5 or for a week (valid Mon–Sun) for A$15. The
city terminus is on Harry Chan Avenue (off Smith St., near Civic Sq.). Get timetables
there, or from the Tourism Top End visitor center (see “Visitor Information,”

Darwin Day Tours (&1300/721 365 in Australia, or 08/8923 6523; www.darwin

daytours.com.au) also has a range of sightseeing tours.
BY TAXI Darwin Radio Taxis (& 13 10 08) is the main cab company. Taxi
stands are at the Knuckey Street and Bennett Street ends of Smith Street Mall.

Exploring Darwin

Darwin’s parks, harbor, and tropical clime make it lovely for strolling during the Dry.
The tourist office distributes a free map showing a Historical Stroll of 17 points of
interest around town. The Esplanade makes a pleasantly short and shady saunter,
and the 42-hectare (104-acre) George Brown Darwin Botanic Gardens (&08/
8981 1958), on Gardens Road 2km (11. miles) from town, has paths through


palms, orchids, every species of baobab in the world, and mangroves. Entry is free.
Take bus no. 4 or 6; the buses drop you at the Gardens Road entrance, but you might
want to walk straight to the visitor center (daily 8:30am–4pm), near the Geranium



Street entrance (24 hr.), to pick up self-guiding maps to the Aboriginal plant-use

The pleasant 5km (3-mile) trail along Fannie Bay from the Skycity Darwin hotel
and casino to the East Point Military Museum is also worth doing. Keep a lookout
for some of the 2,000 wild wallabies on the east side of the road near the museum.

Darwin has two wildlife parks worth visiting. At the Territory Wildlife Park
(& 08/8988 7200; www.territorywildlifepark.com.au), 61km (38 miles) south of
Darwin at Berry Springs, you can take a free shuttle or walk 6km (33.4 miles) of bush
trails to see native Northern Territory wildlife in re-created natural habitats, including
monsoon rainforest boardwalks, lagoons with hides (shelters for watching birds),
a walk-through aviary, a walk-through aquarium housing sting rays and sawfish, and
a nocturnal house with marsupials such as the bilby. Bats, birds, spiders, crocs, frillneck
lizards, kangaroos, and other creatures also make their homes here (but not
koalas, because they don’t live in the Territory). A program of animal talks runs
throughout the day. The best is the birds of prey show, at 11am and 2:30pm. Go first
thing to see the animals at their liveliest, and allow 4 hours to see everything, plus
45 minutes traveling time. It’s open daily from 8:30am to 6pm (last entry at 4pm),
and closed December 25. Admission is A$26 for adults, A$13 for children 5 to 16,
A$46 for a family of one adult and two children, or A$72 for families of six. Take the
Stuart Highway for 50km (31 miles) and turn right onto the Cox Peninsula Road for
about another 11km (7 miles).

In addition to housing a small crocodile museum, Crocodylus Park & Zoo
(&08/8922 4500; www.crocodyluspark.com), a 15-minute drive from town at 815
McMillan’s Rd., Berrimah (opposite the police station), holds croc-feeding sessions
and free hour-long guided tours at 10am, noon, 2pm, and 3:30pm. It doubles as
Darwin’s zoo, with exotic species including lions, Bengal tigers, leopards, and monkeys
on display. It’s open daily from 9am to 5pm (closed Dec 25). Admission is A$30
for adults, A$22 for seniors, A$15 for children 3 to 15, and A$80 for families. Bus
no. 5 (Mon–Fri only), from Darwin, will drop you about a 5-minute walk from the
park entrance.

The Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Conacher Street,
Bullocky Point (&08/8999 8264), also holds an attraction for crocodile fans—the
preserved body of Sweetheart, a 5m (16-ft.) man-eating saltwater croc captured in
Kakadu National Park. The museum and gallery is a great place to learn about Darwin’s
place in Australia’s modern history. It has sections on Aboriginal, Southeast
Asian, and Pacific art and culture, and a maritime gallery with a pearling lugger and
other boats that have sailed into Darwin from Indonesia and other northern parts. A
highlight is the Cyclone Tracy gallery, where you can stand in a small, dark room as
the sound of the cyclone rages around you. The gallery and museum are open from
9am to 5pm Monday through Friday, and 10am to 5pm weekends and public holidays;
closed January 1, Good Friday, and December 25 and 26. The cafe has lovely
bay views. Admission is free to the permanent exhibits. Take bus no. 4 or 6.

Darwin was bombed 64 times during World War II, and 12 ships were sunk in the
harbor. It was an Allied supply base, and many American airmen were based here.
The Darwin Military Museum, Alec Fong Lim Drive, East Point (& 08/8981
9702; www.darwinmilitarymuseum.com.au), housed in a World War II gun command
post, plays a video of the 1942 and 1943 Japanese bombings. It has small but
fine displays of photos, memorabilia, artillery, armored vehicles, weaponry old and




new, and gun emplacements outside. It’s open daily from 9:30am to 5pm (closed
Good Friday and Dec 25). Admission is A$12 adults, A$10 seniors, A$5 children 5
to 15, and A$30 families.

Empty World War II oil storage tunnels (& 08/8985 6322), on Kitchener
Drive, in the Wharf Precinct, house a collection of black-and-white photographs of
the war in Darwin, each lit up in the dark. The simple but haunting attraction is
worth a visit. Admission is A$5 adults and A$3 children. The tunnels are closed in
December. They open daily from 9am to 4pm May through September and 9am to
1pm October through April.

Even if you are not a military or aircraft buff, you may enjoy the excellent Australian
Aviation Heritage Centre , 557 Stuart Hwy., Winnellie (& 08/8947
2145; www.darwinsairwar.com.au). A B-52 bomber on loan from the United States
is the prized exhibit, but the center also boasts a B-25 Mitchell bomber; Mirage and
Sabre jet fighters; rare Japanese Zero fighter wreckage; and funny, sad, and heartwarming
(and heart-wrenching) displays on World War II and Vietnam. Hours are
daily from 9am to 5pm (closed Good Friday and Dec 25). Admission is A$12 for
adults, A$9 for seniors, A$7.50 for students, A$7 for children 5 to 12, and A$30 for
families. Guided tours are at 10am and 2 and 4pm. The Heritage Centre is 10 minutes
from town; take the no. 5 or 8 bus.

For an insight into Darwin’s pearling industry, visit the Australian Pearling
Exhibition (& 08/8999 6573), on Kitchener Drive near the Wharf Precinct. It


has displays following the industry from the days of the lugger and hard-hat diving
to modern farming and culture techniques. It’s open from 10am to 3pm daily, except
January 1, Good Friday, and December 25 and 26. Tickets cost A$6.60 for adults,
A$3.30 for children, and A$17 for families of five.

If you have an evening free, get out on the harbor. Australian Harbour Cruises
(& 0428/414 000 mobile phone; www.australianharbourcruises.com.au) offers
3-hour sunset cruises aboard the restored lugger Anniki. They leave Cullen Bay
Marina daily at 4:45pm and cost A$70 for adults and A$50 for kids 15 and under.
The price includes a glass of bubbly and some nibbles. Darwin Harbour Cruises
(& 08/8942 3131; www.darwinharbourcruises.com.au) operates a sunset champagne
cruise aboard the sailing schooner Tumlaren, which costs A$66 per adult and
A$43 for children 4 to 14, or a barbecue lunch cruise for A$75 adults and A$46
children 4 to 12. A sit-down three-course dinner cruise aboard the Alfred Nobel costs
A$105 adults and A$65 children 2 to 12. Cruises leave from Cullen Bay Marina.

The Top End’s wetlands and warm oceans are fishing

heaven. The big prey is
barramundi, or “barra.” Loads of charter boats conduct jaunts of up to 10 days in the
river and wetland systems around Darwin, Kakadu National Park, and into remote
The same company that runs Darwin’s Tour Tub bus runs the Northern Territory
Fishing Office (& 1800/632 225 in Australia, or 08/8985 6333; www.
ntfishingoffice.com.au), a booking agent for a number of fishing charter boats offering
barramundi day trips and extended wetland safaris, reef fishing, light tackle
sportfishing, fly-fishing, and estuary fishing. A day’s barra fishing on wetlands near
Darwin will cost around A$320 per person; for an extended barra safari, budget
between A$550 and A$825 per person per day, depending on the size of your group
(up to five people). If you simply want to cast a line in Darwin Harbour for trevally,



The Cage of Death
Strong men have known to pale in the
face of an attack by Chopper, a 790kg
(1,742-lb.) crocodile with no front feet.
At Darwin’s latest attraction, Crocosaurus
Cove, the very brave can get into a
Perspex “cage” and be lowered into
Chopper’s enclosure, which also houses
several huge crocs who have survived
into their 70s and 80s, as well as large
numbers of juveniles. These most territorial
of monsters aren’t usually happy
with the intrusion—and the scratch
marks on the 145mm (6-in.) thick walls
of the cage tell the rest of the story. I
confess: I have not done this and will
not—not even in the interests of
research! Less scary is the chance to
swim in a pool next door to the
younger crocs, with just a Perspex wall
between you and them. Crocosaurus
Cove also has Australia’s largest collection
of reptiles, about 70 species, all
from the Top End. Crocosaurus Cove is
at 58 Mitchell St. (&08/8981 7522;
www.crocosauruscove.com). It’s open
daily 9am to 7pm (last admission at
6pm). Admission is A$28 adults, A$16
children 4 to 15, or A$57 to A$99 for
families. The Cage of Death experience
costs A$120 for one person or A$160
for two in the cage together. You spend
about 15 minutes in the water.

queenfish, and barra, the company will take you out for A$110 per person (or A$95 10
for kids under 12) for a half-day. It also rents skipper-yourself fishing boats and
tackle. Also check out the fishing section on www.travelnt.com for detailed information
on fishing tours, guides, and everything you need to know to make your arms
ache from reeling ’em in!

The Darwin Shopping Scene

Darwin’s best buys are Aboriginal art and crafts, pearls, opals, and diamonds.

You will find many shops and galleries selling authentic Aboriginal artworks and
artifacts at reasonable prices. To make a heavyweight investment in works by internationally
sought-after artists, visit the Aboriginal-owned Aboriginal Fine Arts
Gallery, on the second floor at the corner of Knuckey and Mitchell streets (&08/
8981 1315; www.aaia.com.au). Its website is a useful guide to art and artists.

The world’s best South Sea pearls are farmed in the Top End seas. Buy, or just
drool in the window at Paspaley Pearls, at the Bennet Street end of the Smith
Street Mall (&1300/888 080 in Australia or 08/8982 5515; www.paspaleypearls.
com). The World of Opal, 52 Mitchell St. (&08/8981 8981), has a re-creation
of an opal mine in the showroom. If you fancy a pink diamond (the world’s rarest)
from the Argyle Diamond Mine in Kununurra (see “Kununurra,” in chapter 11), you
can get them at Creative Jewellers, 27 Smith St. Mall (& 08/8941 1233), an
Argyle-appointed supplier that buys direct from the mine. It also stocks the champagne
diamonds, for which Argyle is renowned, and other Argyle diamond colors, as
well as South Sea pearls and opals. The jewelers try to fashion pieces for overseas
visitors in a short time to match your traveling schedule.

Jokes about “snapping handbags” abound in croc country. For your own croc-skin
fashion statement, head to di Croco, in the Paspaley Pearls building in Smith Street
Mall (&08/8941 4470; www.dicroco.com). You’ll find bags, purses, wallets, card



holders, belts, pens, and other accessories, all made from saltwater croc skins
farmed locally.

Where to Stay

April through October is the peak Dry season; hotels usually drop their rates from
November through March (the Wet).


Mantra on the Esplanade

This eight-floor apartment hotel right on the
Esplanade overlooking Darwin Harbour and the Arafura Sea and just a block from
Smith Street Mall, is one of Darwin’s most comfortable, elegant lodgings. Rich, dark
cane lobby armchairs and sofas are welcoming, and there are 64 hotel rooms as well
as 140 spacious contemporary-style one-, two-, and three-bedroom apartments that
boast their own private balconies with great views. Apartment kitchens feature new
modern granite bench tops and stainless-steel appliances, including dishwashers,
and all have laundry facilities. The two penthouses include 104-centimeter (40-in.)
plasma screens with digital surround sound. All rooms and apartments have city or
harbor views. All rooms are nonsmoking.
88 The Esplanade (at Peel St.), Darwin, NT 0800. &1300/987 604 in Australia, or 08/8943 4333. Fax
08/8943 4388. www.mantracityhotels.com.au. 204 units. A$259–A$284 double hotel room; A$368–
A$393 1-bedroom apt; A$479–A$504 2-bedroom apt; A$624 3-bedroom apt; A$641 penthouse. Chil

dren 14 and under stay free in parent’s room with existing bedding. AE, DC, MC, V. Parking A$10. Bus: 4.
Amenities: Restaurant; bar; concierge; executive-level rooms; access to nearby golf course and health
club; Internet in business center; Jacuzzi; outdoor pool; room service. In room: A/C, TV w/pay movies,
CD player (premium apts only), hair dryer, minibar, Wi-Fi (55. per min. to A$28 for 24 hr.).

Medina Grand Darwin Waterfront

I had a sneak preview of Darwin’s
newest hotel a week before it opened in March 2009, just before press time. Along
with its neighboring sister property, Vibe Darwin Waterfront, this apartment hotel
has a prime location overlooking the city’s new development, which includes a swimming
lagoon and wave pool at Stokes Wharf. From the top floor of the hotel, you can
take a covered walkway right into the heart of the city, just minutes away. All onebedroom
apartments have balconies (studios do not), while all rooms have full
kitchens with microwaves, and laundry facilities. Most apartments connect with a
studio to make a two-bedroom apartment, if needed. There are two two-bedroom
apartments, which with a studio combine to make a very spacious three-bedroom.
7 Kitchener Drive, Darwin, NT 0800. &1300/MEDINA [633 462] in Australia, 0800/101 100 in New
Zealand, 02/9356 5061 (Sydney reservations center) or 08/8982 999. Fax 08/8982 9700. www.medina.
com.au. 121 units. A$195–A$420 studio double; A$245–A$470 1-bedroom apt; A$600 2-bedroom apt.
Extra person A$50. Crib A$5. AE, DC, MC, V. Free undercover parking. Amenities: Restaurant; bar;
babysitting; exercise room; outdoor pool; room service; spa. In room: A/C, TV w/pay movies, CD player,
hair dryer, Internet (A$13 per hr. to A$25 for 24 hr.), kitchen, minibar.

Skycity Darwin

A A$30-million refurbishment has given this five-star complex
a new outdoor restaurant and bar to further increase the many facilities on offer.
Attached to Darwin’s casino on Fannie Bay, the hotel is owned by the Skycity Entertainment
Group. The complex resembles a tropical palace, with white blocky architecture,
an infinity-edge pool, and 7 hectares (18 acres) of gardens on Mindil Beach,
next to the Botanic Gardens. The rooms are a cocktail of European-style contemporary
Spanish furniture and tropical elegance. All have balconies. It’s worth paying a


Where Can I Swim?
Crocodiles and stingers render Darwin’s
beaches a no-swim zone year-round.
The new man-made lagoon at Stokes
Wharf has solved the problem for most
people. The lagoon has two parts, one
a wave pool. Locals also sunbathe on
Casuarina Beach and swim within view
of the sea in Lake Alexander in East
Point Reserve. About an hour’s drive
from the city, on the way to the Territory
Wildlife Park, Berry Springs Nature
Park has swimming holes along Berry
Creek, with steps for easy access, and
small waterfalls that create natural
whirlpool action. They may be closed in
the Wet season.

little extra for an ocean-facing room so you can watch Darwin’s great Dry season
sunsets and spectacular monsoon-season lightning storms. Superior rooms feature
luxurious spa tubs and cool marble in the bathrooms. Full-length glass windows
provide views over a private balcony terrace to lush tropical gardens and Mindil
beach. A free shuttle runs four times a day to and from the city. There are also 10
rooms for families and travelers with disabilities.

Gilruth Ave., Mindil Beach, Darwin, NT 0801. &1800/891 118 in Australia, or 08/8943 8888. Fax 08/
8943 8999. www.skycitydarwin.com.au. 117 units. A$260–A$340 double; A$390–A$860 suite. Extra
person A$50. Children 13 and under stay free in parent’s room with existing bedding. AE, DC, MC, V.
Free valet and self-parking. Bus: 4 or 6. Amenities: 3 restaurants; 5 bars; babysitting; concierge; executive
suites; free access to nearby 9-hole golf course; exercise room; Jacuzzi; heated outdoor pool; room
service; sauna; access to 20 nearby tennis courts; free Wi-Fi. In room: A/C, TV/DVD w/pay movies, hair
dryer, free Internet, minibar.

Moonshadow Villas

This private villa complex is a little bit of Bali, transplanted
into Darwin. The villas center around a small but tranquil pool area, complete
with stone Buddhas and turtles, shaded by towering palms and surrounded by
orchids and lilies. The interiors are equally lush and exotic, and there’s a small patio
area to sit out in. The villas have two double bedrooms and two bathrooms (one with
an enclosed semi-outdoor rainwater shower). There’s a gas barbecue for you to use
too. The fridge is stocked with chilled champagne and beer for your arrival.
6 Gardens Hill Crescent, The Gardens, NT 0800. &08/8981 8850 or mobile phone 0412/890 662.
www.moonshadowvillas.com. 5 units. Rates from A$249 per night; A$1,999–A$4,893 per week. Min
3-night stay. AE, DC, MC, V. Free off-street parking. Amenities: Outdoor pool. In room: A/C, TV, VCR,
hair dryer, kitchen, free Wi-Fi.

Travelodge Mirambeena Resort You’re just a stone’s throw from the city center
at this modern hotel complex, where the tempting swimming pools and the
Treetops restaurant, all shaded by the leaves of a sprawling strangler fig, have a
castaway-island feel. Each room is a decent size and has a garden or pool view. As
well as a range of hotel rooms, the complex has 32 self-contained one-bedroom town
houses, which sleep up to six and are a good option for families. Budget and standard
rooms sleep up to four.

64 Cavenagh St., Darwin, NT 0800. &1300/886 886 in Australia, or 08/8946 0111. Fax 08/8981 5116.
www.travelodge.com.au. 256 units, all with shower only. A$325–A$485 double; A$520 town house
(sleeps 6). Extra person A$40. Crib A$5 per night. AE, DC, MC, V. Free off-street parking. Bus: 4, 5, 6,




If you’re looking for a bit more space
and privacy than a hotel room gives
you, or perhaps are traveling as a fam-
ily, a “home away from home” option is
provided by More Than a Room Holiday
Accommodation (&08/8942 3012 or
0418/616 888 mobile phone; www.more
thanaroom.com.au). The company has
five properties. The luxurious and styl-
ish Mandalay, built in 1988 by Lord
McAlpine, is on the Esplanade, close to
the city center. It has three bedrooms,
free Internet, a pool, barbecue area,
off-street parking, and bikes for your
use. Breakfast provisions are in the
fridge on your arrival, along with a bot-
tle of wine. Next door is Villa La Vue,
which is equally spacious but has a dif-
ferent style. There’s a minimum 2-night
the Wet (Oct–Apr) for one bedroom
and A$120 per night for each extra
room. In the Dry (May–Sept), you must
rent the whole house, for A$695 per
stay and the rates are from A$395 in
night. For a “typical Darwin” style of
accommodation, there’s Coast, a 1970s
elevated coastal beach house just out-
side the city center with four double/
twin bedrooms, polished floors, TVs
and DVD players in the bedrooms,
bikes, a small pool in the yard, and
water views. There’s a minimum 5-night
stay, with rates from A$295 per night in
the Wet to A$395 in the Dry for up to
six people (A$455 per night during
school holidays). Extra person rate is
A$25 per person per night. Other prop-
erties are available at Cullen Bay and
on The Esplanade, near the Darwin
Convention Centre.
More Than a Room More Than a Room
8, or 10. Amenities: Restaurant; poolside cafe; 2 bars; babysitting; bikes; exercise room; 2 Jacuzzis; 2
outdoor pools; children’s pool; room service. In room: A/C, TV w/pay movies, hair dryer, Internet ($11
per hr. or A$22 for 24 hr.), minibar.

Vibe Hotel Darwin Waterfront Along with its sister property, the adjacent
Medina Grand Darwin (see above), this is one of Darwin’s newest properties. Less
grand than the Medina, it’s a casual place to stay and relax. The rooms are spacious
and fresh, with a cheery white-and-aqua color scheme, but no balconies. Reception,
the pool, and the restaurant are shared with the Medina Grand (see above).

7 Kitchener Dr., Darwin, NT 0800. &13 VIBE [84 23] in Australia, 0800/101 100 in New Zealand, 02/
9356 5063 (Sydney reservations center) or 08/8982 9998. Fax 08/8982 9700. www.vibehotels.com.au.
120 units. A$199–A$400 double. Extra person A$50. AE, DC, MC, V. Free undercover parking. Amenities:
Restaurant; bar; babysitting; exercise room; outdoor pool; room service; spa. In room: A/C, TV
w/pay movies, hair dryer, Internet ($13 per hr. to A$25 for 24 hr.), minibar.

Value Inn

The cheerful rooms at this neat little hotel in the Mitchell Street
Tourist Precinct are compact but tidy, with colorful modern fittings. Each room is just
big enough to hold a queen-size and a single bed and a small writing table. The views
aren’t much, but you’ll probably spend your time in the nearby cafes. Smith Street
Mall and the Esplanade walking path are 2 blocks away. There is a pay phone, cold
drink and coffee vending machines, an iron on each floor, microwave ovens on the
first and second floors, and a very small garden swimming pool off the parking lot.

50 Mitchell St., Darwin, NT 0800. &08/8981 4733. Fax 08/8981 4730. www.valueinn.com.au. 93 units,
all with shower only. A$160 double for 1 night; rates reduce with each night you stay. AE, MC, V. Limited



free parking. Bus: 4. Amenities: Bikes; access to nearby golf course and health club; outdoor pool; tennis
courts. In room: A/C, TV, no phone.

Where to Dine

Cullen Bay Marina, a 25-minute walk or a short cab ride from town, is packed
with trendy restaurants and cafes. If it’s Thursday, don’t even think about eating
anywhere other than the Mindil Beach Sunset Market . And on Saturday,
head to the suburban Parap markets for Asian goodies (see the box, “Cheap Eats &
More!” below).

Buzz Cafe CONTEMPORARY This smart, busy waterfront cafe is as well known
for its “loo with a view” as it is for its relaxed atmosphere. The men’s bathroom just
nudges out the women’s for interest value. Ladies, get a man to take you in there to
see what I mean—everybody does! The food is East-meets-West fare, such as jungle
curry of chicken with snake beans and green peppercorns, or pan-fried barramundi
on potato mash in lemon-butter sauce. Service can be slow, but the cocktails and
views almost make up for it.

Marina Blvd., Cullen Bay. &08/8941 1141. Reservations recommended in the Dry (May–Oct). Main
courses A$17–A$30. AE, DC, MC, V. Mon–Fri noon–2am; Sat–Sun 10:30am–2am (brunch until 11:30am).
Bus: 4 or 6.


CONTEMPORARY ASIAN A move to large new premises in the
new Holiday Inn Esplanade complex has given this popular Darwin institution an
alfresco dining area and stylish cocktail bar—and room for many more diners. With
seating for 90 people outside and about the same number inside, this is still one of
the most exotic places in Darwin to eat. Its “Nonya”-style cuisine is a fusion of Chinese-
and Malaysian-style cooking. You can rely on dishes such as red duck curry
with coconut, litchis, kaffir lime, Thai basil, and fresh pineapple; or wok-tossed
prawns in a coconut, wild ginger, and curry sauce. There is also a tandoori menu.
Service is prompt and friendly.
93 Mitchell St. &08/8941 3500. www.hanuman.com.au. Reservations recommended. Main courses
A$24–A$33. AE, DC, MC, V. Mon–Fri noon–3pm; daily 6–11pm.

Il Piatto

ITALIAN Would you pay A$140—or even A$70—for a pizza? I
wouldn’t, but plenty of diners at this smart restaurant inside the Skycity Darwin
Casino complex have made that grandiose gesture. These “operas from the oven” are
laced with Wagyu beef, foie gras, fresh truffles, lobster, and other high-priced delicacies,
so perhaps if you have had a big win at the casino, it might be worth splashing
out—but this seems largely aimed at people with more money than sense. Less
extravagant pizzas cost A$20 to A$28, and there are also three- and four-course set
menus for A$60 and A$75, respectively. And even without the gimmicks, the food is
very good.
Skycity Darwin, Gilruth Ave., Mindil Beach. & 08/8943 8940. Reservations recommended. Main
courses A$20–A$45. AE, DC, MC, V. Daily noon–3pm and 6:30pm–late.

Pee Wee’s at The Point

CONTEMPORARY Surrounded on three sides by
forest, this steel-and-glass venue affords views of Fannie Bay from just about every
table, inside, out on the deck, or down on the lawn. The owners—two chefs and a
sommelier—offer an extensive wine list that includes some older and hard-to-find



Cheap Eats & More!
If it’s Thursday, join the entire city and
hundreds of other visitors at the Mindil
Beach Sunset Market to feast at
the 60 terrific (and cheap—most dishes
are less than A$10 a serving) Asian,
Greek, Italian, African, Mexican, and
Aussie food stalls; listen to live music;
wander among almost 200 arts-andcrafts
stalls; and mix and mingle with
masseurs, tarot-card readers, and street
performers as the sun sets into the sea.
The action runs from 5 to 10pm in the
Dry (approximately May–Oct). A
smaller market of about 50 stalls runs
Sunday from 4 to 9pm. The market’s
season changes from year to year, so if
you’re visiting on the seasonal cusp, in
April or September, check whether it’s
on by calling the organizers (&08/
8981 3454) or visiting www.mindil.com.
au. The beach is about a A$10 cab ride
from town, or take bus no. 4. The Tour
Tub’s last run of the day, at 4pm (see
“Getting Around,” earlier in this chapter),
goes by the markets.
On Saturdays (7:30am–1:30pm),
head to suburban Parap Markets ,
which transform a small street into a
corner of Asia. The focus is on food,
with a sprinkling of arts and crafts,
and it’s a favorite place for locals to
have breakfast or brunch, choosing
from the Southeast Asian soups, noodle
dishes, and satays, washed down
with fresh-squeezed tropical fruit
drinks. The market stalls cover only
about a block, on Parap Road in Parap
(&08/8942 0805 or 0438/882 373
mobile phone).



Australian wines. The food emphasizes fresh local produce and employs some dishes
that have an Asian twist. An example: grilled kangaroo tenderloin filet, marinated in
yogurt and tandoori spices, served with mashed sweet potato and a black sesame,
mustard seed, and mango mint salsa. Get there in time to watch the sunset.

Alec Fong Lim Dr., East Point Reserve (4km/21.2 miles from town). &08/8981 6868. www.peewees.
com.au. Reservations recommended, especially in the Dry (May–Oct). Main courses A$29–A$46. AE,
DC, MC, V. Daily 6pm–late. Closed Dec 26. Free parking. Cab fare from the city about A$15.


IRISH PUB FARE Hearty Irish stews and slow-cooked beefand-
Guinness (plus the odd pint of Guinness itself) get everyone in the mood for
eating, talking, and dancing at this convivial bar and restaurant. A friendly mix of
solo travelers, families, seniors, and backpackers eat and drink in atmospheric
wooden booths, standing up at bar tables, or by the fire. Besides hearty meat dishes,
there is lighter stuff, including vegetarian dishes and a good smattering of local
produce. Try the Territory Mixed Grill—crocodile sausage, kangaroo fillet, and barramundi
with house dried tomatoes, field mushrooms, and roast garlic butter. There
are also daily chef’s specials. There’s entertainment every night—live bands, a quiz
game, or karaoke.
69 Mitchell St. (at Peel St.). & 08/8981 2100. www.shenannigans.com.au. Reservations recommended.
Main courses A$15–A$28. AE, DC, MC, V. Daily 10:30am–2am.

The Roma Bar

CAFE The cool crowd hangs out here. You’ll see media
types rubbing shoulders with politicians, musicians, artists, and lobbyists. The

coffee’s good and the food is tasty and well priced. It’s a great spot for breakfast (they
make their own muesli) and at lunch—if you want something more than a sandwich—
there’s pasta and Asian-influenced dishes, such as an asparagus-and-shiitakemushroom
omelette with black bean and ginger broth, or maybe a fish curry. BYO

9 Cavenagh St. & 08/8981 6729. www.romabar.com.au. Main courses A$12–A$15. AE, DC, MC, V.
Mon–Fri 7am–4pm; Sat–Sun 8am–2pm.

Tim’s Surf ’n’ Turf

STEAK/SEAFOOD This Darwin favorite is housed
in a classic elevated Darwin home that has been transformed into a modern restaurant.
Diners can choose between the air-conditioned open-plan dining and bar area,
its walls hung with Top End Aboriginal artworks, or head outside to sit under the
shady trees and palms. The lunch menu offers a range of A$10 specials including
salads, baguettes, and rolls, or hot dishes such as crocodile schnitzels, Malay curries,
crumbed barramundi, and salmon fettuccine. At dinner, the menu includes steaks,
seafood platters, oysters, and vegetarian dishes, along with a range of salads,
chicken, and pasta dishes. The wine list features mostly Australian wines, with
around half offered by the glass.

10 Litchfield St. &08/8981 1024. Main courses A$14–A$21. AE, DC, MC, V. Mon–Fri noon–2pm; daily
for dinner.

Darwin After Dark

The gaming tables at the Skycity Darwin Casino, Gilruth Avenue, Mindil Beach
(&08/8943 8888), are in play from noon until 4am Sunday to Thursday, until 6am
Friday and Saturday. Slot machines operate 24 hours. The dress code allows neat
jeans, shorts, and sneakers, but men’s shirts must have a collar.

A good spot to catch Darwin’s Technicolor sunsets is the supercasual Darwin
Sailing Club, Atkins Drive on Fannie Bay (&08/8981 1700). Ask a staff member
to sign you in. Dine on affordable meals outdoors while a family of goannas (monitor



Lie back in a canvas deck chair under
the stars at the Deckchair Cinema
(&08/8981 0700; www.deckchair
cinema.com) to watch Aussie hits, for-
eign films, and cult classics. Located on
the edge of Darwin Harbour (at the end
of Jervois Rd., opposite Parliament
House on the Esplanade), this Darwin
institution is run by the Darwin Film
Society. Take a picnic dinner and get
there early to soak up the scene: the
twinkling lights from boats anchored in
the Arafura Sea and the fabulous sun-
sets. A kiosk sells wine, beer, soft drinks,
and snacks. There are 250 deck chairs as
well as about 100 straight-backed seats,
and staffers can supply cushions and
even insect repellent if you need it.
Entry is by a walkway from the Espla-
nade, or by car off Kitchener Drive
(there’s a parking lot). The box office
and kiosk open at 6:30pm and movies
start at 7:30pm daily in the Dry (Apr–
Nov), with double features on Friday
and Saturday. Tickets are A$13 adults,
A$6 children, and A$30 for families of
four, or A$20 adults, A$9 children, and
A$45 families for double features. (In
the Wet, the movies screen indoors, so
call for details of the current venue.)
Movie Stars Under the Stars

lizards) swirls around your feet looking for meaty scraps. The bar is open Monday to
Friday from 11:30am to midnight and until 2am on Saturdays and Sundays (Dec–
Mar), and Monday to Friday from 10am to midnight and on Saturday to Sunday
10:30am to 2am (Apr–Nov). The club is closed on Good Friday and Christmas Day.

The cafes and restaurants of Cullen Bay Marina are a good place to be day or
night, but especially for Dry season sunsets.
If it’s Thursday, you are mad to be anywhere except the Mindil Beach Sunset

(see “Cheap Eats & More!” above).
A Side Trip to Litchfield Park

120km (74 miles) S of Darwin

An easy 90-minute drive south of Darwin is a miniature Garden of Eden full of
forests, waterfalls, rocky sandstone escarpments, glorious swimming holes, and
prehistoric cycads that look as if they belong on the set of Jurassic Park. Litchfield
National Park is much smaller (a mere 146,000 hectares/360,620 acres) and much
less famous than its big sister, Kakadu, but it is no less stunning.

The park’s main attractions are the spring-fed swimming holes, like the magical
plunge pool at Florence Falls , 29km (18 miles) from the forest. It’s a
15-minute hike down stairs to the water, so the easily accessible pool at Wangi
Falls , 49km (30 miles) from the eastern entrance, gets more crowds. (It’s also a

10 beautiful spot, surrounded by cliffs and forests with a lookout from the top.) More
idyllic grottoes are 4km (21.2 miles) from Florence Falls at Buley Rockhole, a series
of tiered rock pools and waterfalls. You can’t swim at Tolmer Falls, but during the
Wet when they’re flowing, take the boardwalk about 400m (1,312 ft.) to the lookout
and see the cascade against a backdrop of red cliffs.
There are a number of short walking trails through the park, such as the halfhour
Shady Creek Circuit from Florence Falls up to the parking lot.
Parts of the park are also home to thousands of 2m-high (61.2-ft.) “magnetic”
termite mounds, so called because they run north-south to escape the fierce midday
heat. A display hut and a viewing point are 17km (11 miles) from the park’s
eastern entrance.
Warning: Most of the park’s swimming holes are regarded as crocodile-free; the
same is not true of the Finniss and Reynolds rivers in the park, so no leaping into
To get there from Darwin, head south for 86km (53 miles) on the Stuart Highway
and follow the park turnoff on the right through the town of Batchelor for 34km (21
miles). A number of minicoach and four-wheel-drive day trips run from Darwin.
Katherine-based tour operator Travel North (&1800/089 103 in Australia, or 08/
8971 9999; www.travelnorth.com.au) runs a day tour to Litchfield that starts in
Darwin and ends in Katherine, a convenient way to combine sightseeing and transport
if you plan to visit both. It costs A$199 adults and A$179 children 5 to 15.
Crowds of locals can shatter the peace in Litchfield on weekends, especially in the
Dry season, but the park is worth visiting, crowds or no crowds. Entry to the park is
Roads to most swimming holes are paved, although a few are accessible only by
four-wheel-drive. In the Wet (approximately Nov–Apr), some roads—usually the
four-wheel-drive ones—may be closed, and the Wangi water hole may be off-limits



due to turbulence and strong currents. Check with the Parks & Wildlife Commission
(&08/8999 4555) before you leave Darwin during this time.

A number of locations in the park have basic campsites. The camping fee per
night is A$6.60 for adults, A$3.30 for kids under 16, or A$15 for families of two
adults and four kids. A kiosk at Wangi Falls sells some supplies, but stock up on fuel
and alcohol in Batchelor.


257km (159 miles) E of Darwin

Kakadu National Park, a World Heritage area, is Australia’s largest national park,
covering a massive 1.7 million hectares (4.2 million acres).

Cruising the lily-clad wetlands to spot crocodiles, plunging into exquisite natural
swimming holes, hiking through spear grass and cycads, fishing for prized barramundi,
soaring in a light aircraft over torrential waterfalls during the Wet season,
photographing thousands of birds flying over the eerie red sandstone escarpment
that juts 200m (650 ft.) above the flood plain, and admiring some of Australia’s most
superb Aboriginal rock-art sites—these are the activities that draw people to
Kakadu. Some 275 species of birds and 75 species of reptiles inhabit the park, making
it one of the richest wildlife habitats in the country.

Kakadu is an ecological jewel. But be aware that the vast distances between
points of interest in the park and the sameness that infects so much Australian
landscape can detract from Kakadu’s appeal for some people. Wildlife here is not the
breathtaking equivalent of an African game park, where herds roam the plains—
which is why even Australians get so excited when they spot a kangaroo in the wild.
It is best in the late Dry, around September and October, when crocs and birds
gather around shrinking water holes. Wildlife viewing is not particularly good in the
Wet season, when birds disperse widely and you may not see a single croc.

The name Kakadu comes from Gagudju, the group of languages spoken by
Aborigines in the northern part of the park, where they and their ancestors are
believed to have lived for 50,000 years. Today, Aborigines manage the park as its
owners, in conjunction with the Australian government. This is one of the few places
in Australia where some Aborigines stick to a traditional lifestyle of hunting and living
off the land. You won’t see them, because they keep away from prying eyes, but
their culture is on display at a cultural center and at rock-art sites. Kakadu and the
wilds of Arnhemland to the east are the birthplace of the “X-ray” style of art for
which Aboriginal artists are famous.


VISITOR INFORMATION Both the park entrances—the northern station on
the Arnhem Highway used by visitors from Darwin and the southern station on the
Kakadu Highway for visitors from Katherine—hand out free visitor guides with
maps. In the Dry they also issue a timetable of free ranger-guided bushwalks, art-site
talks, and slide shows taking place that week. An A$25 park entry fee was reintroduced
in 2010, for all visitors over 16. Park permits can be purchased at Tourism
Top End in Darwin (see p. 422) or at the Bowali Visitor Centre (& 08/8938
1120), on the Kakadu Highway, 5km (3 miles) from Jabiru, 100km (62 miles) from
the northern entry station, and 131km (81 miles) from the southern entry station.


Kakadu National


Permits are also available through other outlets; check the website, www.environment.
gov.au/parks/kakadu, for more information. An online ticketing system was being
developed as this book went to print.

The Bowali Visitor Centre is an attractive, environmentally friendly Outback-style
building, which shows a program of 1-hour videos on the park’s natural history and
Aboriginal culture, stocks maps and park notes, has a library and displays, and
includes a gift shop and a cafe. Information officers are on hand to help you plan
your visit. (They provide tour times, costs, and telephone numbers, but do not make
bookings.) You may want to spend a good hour or so here, more to see a video. It is
open daily from 8am to 5pm.

You can also book tours and get information at Kakadu Tours and Travel, Shop 6,
Tasman Plaza, Jabiru, NT 0886 (&08/8979 2548; www.kakadutours.com.au).

Before you arrive, you can find information on Kakadu, and book tours at the
Tourism Top End information center in Darwin. You can also contact the rangers at
the park directly (&08/8938 1120).

WHEN TO GO Kakadu has two distinct seasons: Wet and Dry. The Dry (May–
Oct) is overwhelmingly the best time to go, with temperatures around 86°F (30°C)
and sunny days. Many tours, hotels, and even campsites are booked a year in
advance, so make sure you have reservations.

In the Wet season, November through April, floodwaters cover much of the park,

some attractions are cut off, and the heat and humidity are extreme. Some tour
companies do not operate during the Wet, and ranger talks, walks, and slide shows
are not offered. The upside is that the crowds vanish, the brownish vegetation bursts
into green, waterfalls swell from a trickle to a roar, and lightning storms are spectacular,
especially in the hot “buildup” to the season in October and November. The
landscape can change dramatically from one day to the next as floodwaters rise and
fall, so be prepared for surprises—nice ones (such as giant flocks of geese) and
unwelcome ones (such as blocked roads). Although it can pour down all day, it’s
more common for the rain to fall in late-afternoon storms and at night. Take it easy
in the humidity, and don’t even think about camping in this heat—stay in air-conditioned

GETTING THERE Follow the Stuart Highway 34km (21 miles) south of Darwin,
and turn left onto the Arnhem Highway to the park’s northern entrance station. The
trip takes 21.2 to 3 hours. If you’re coming from the south, turn off the Stuart Highway
at Pine Creek onto the Kakadu Highway, and follow the Kakadu Highway for
79km (49 miles) to the park’s southern entrance.

A big range of coach, minibus, and four-wheel-drive tours and camping safaris,
usually lasting 1, 2, or 3 days, depart from Darwin daily. These are a good idea,
because many of Kakadu’s geological, ecological, and Aboriginal attractions come to
life only with a guide. The best water holes, lookouts, and wildlife-viewing spots
change dramatically from month to month, even from day to day.

TIPS ON GETTING AROUND Kakadu is a big place—about 200km (124
miles) long by 100km (62 miles) wide—so plan to spend at least a night. Day trips
are available from Darwin, but it’s too far and too big to see much in a day.

Most major attractions are accessible in a two-wheel-drive vehicle on sealed (paved)
roads, but a four-wheel-drive vehicle allows you to get to more falls, water holes, and
campsites. Car-rental companies will not permit you to take two-wheel-drive vehicles


Kakadu National Park

Kakadu National Park

Kakadu National KAKADUKAKADU
Waldak IrrmbalWaldak Irrmbal(West Alligator Head)(West Alligator Head)
Four Mile HoleFour Mile HoleTwo Mile HoleTwo Mile HoleAlligator BillabongAlligator BillabongGagudju Cooinda LodgeGagudju Cooinda LodgeMardugalMardugalMerlMerlJabiru EastJabiru EastJim JimJim JimBillabongBillabongJabiruJabiruSandy BillabongSandy BillabongMuirella ParkMuirella ParkBurdulbaBurdulbaMalabanjbanjdjuMalabanjbanjdjuLilyLilyBillabongBillabongAurora KakaduAurora KakaduResortResortGiyamungkurrGiyamungkurr(Black Jungle Spring)(Black Jungle Spring)
GungurulGungurulMagukMagukMary RiverMary RiverRanger StationRanger StationBukbuklukBukbuklukGunlomGunlom(Waterfall Creek)(Waterfall Creek)
WirnwirnmilaWirnwirnmilaMary RiverMary RiverRoadhouseRoadhouseYurmikmikYurmikmikJim Jim FallsJim Jim FallsTwin FallsTwin FallsJarrangbarnmiJarrangbarnmiGimbat Picnic AreaGimbat Picnic AreaPicnic AreaPicnic AreaWarradjanWarradjanAboriginalAboriginalCult. CentreCult. CentreNourlangie RockNourlangie RockGubaraGubaraRangerRangerUraniumUraniumMineMineVisitors CentreVisitors CentreBucket BillabongBucket BillabongBorderBorderStoreStoreUbirrUbirrMamukala BillabongMamukala BillabongAboriginalAboriginalRock ArtRock ArtSleisbeck MineSleisbeck MineNITMILUKNITMILUK
Mt. LambellMt. Lambell
Mt. EvelynMt. Evelyn
To Pine CreekTo Pine CreekTo DarwinTo DarwinGardangarlGardangarl(Field Island)(Field Island)
DjidborduDjidbordu(Barron Island)(Barron Island)
GularriGularri(Pt. Farewell)(Pt. Farewell)
Van Diemen GulfVan Diemen Gulf
Finke BayFinke Bay
Waldak Irrmbal
(West Alligator Head)
Four Mile Hole
Two Mile Hole
Alligator Billabong
Gagudju Cooinda Lodge
Jabiru East
Jim Jim
Sandy Billabong
Muirella Park
Aurora Kakadu
Giyamungkurr(Black Jungle Spring)
Mary RiverRanger Station
(Waterfall Creek)
Mary RiverRoadhouse
Jim Jim Falls
Twin Falls
Gimbat Picnic Area
Picnic Area
WarradjanAboriginalCult. Centre
Nourlangie Rock
Visitors Centre
Bucket Billabong
Mamukala Billabong
AboriginalRock Art
Sleisbeck Mine
Mt. Lambell
Mt. Evelyn
To Pine Creek
To Darwin
(Field Island)
(Barron Island)
(Pt. Farewell)
Van Diemen Gulf
Finke Bay
20 mi0
0 20 km
KakaduKakaduNat'l ParkNat'l ParkKakadu
Nat'l Park


The Aboriginal Gagudju people of the
Top End have long worshiped a giant
crocodile called Ginga, but the way
white Australians go on about these
reptilian relics of a primeval age, you’d
think they worshiped them, too. There is
scarcely a soul in the Northern Territory
who will not regale you with his or her
personal croc story, and each one will
be more outrageous than the last.
Aussies may be good at pulling
your leg with tall tales, but when they
warn you not to swim in crocodile
country, they’re deadly serious. After
all, crocodiles are good at pulling your
leg, too—literally. Here are some tips:
* There are two kinds of crocodile in
Australia: the highly dangerous and
enormously powerful saltwater or
“estuarine” croc; and the “harmless”
freshwater croc, which will attack only
if threatened or accidentally stood on.
Saltwater crocs can and do swim in
the ocean, but they live in fresh water.
* Don’t swim in any waterway, swim-
ming hole, or waterfall unless you have
been specifically told it is safe. Take
advice only from someone such as a
recognized tour operator or a park
ranger. You can never be sure where
crocodiles lurk from year to year,
because during every Wet season
crocs head upriver to breed, and they
spread out over a wide flooded area.
As the floodwaters subside, they are
trapped in whatever water they hap-
pen to be in at the time—so what was
a safe swimming hole last Dry season
might not be croc-free this year.
* Never stand on or walk along a river-
bank, and stand well back when fish-
ing. A 6m (20-ft.) croc can be 21.2
centimeters (1 in.) beneath the surface
of that muddy water yet remain invisi-
ble. It moves fast, so you won’t see it
until you’re in its jaws.
* Plant your campsite and clean your fish
at least 25m (82 ft.) from the bank.
And if you do come face to face with
a crocodile? There is little you can do.
Just don’t get into this situation in the
first place!

Kakadu National Park

on unpaved roads. Thrifty (&1300/367 227 in Australia or 08/8979 2552) rents
cars at the Gagudju Crocodile Holiday Inn, Flinders Street, Jabiru; otherwise, rent
a car in Darwin. If you rent a four-wheel-drive in the Wet season (Nov–Apr), always
check floodwater levels on all roads at the Bowali Visitor Centre (& 08/8938
1120). The Bowali Visitor Centre, many attractions such as Nourlangie and Yellow
Water Billabong, and the towns of Jabiru and Cooinda usually stay above the floodwaters

Facilities are limited. The only town of any size is Jabiru (pop. 1,500), a mining
community where you can find banking facilities and a few shops. The only other
real settlements are the park’s four accommodations houses.

Highlights En Route to Kakadu

En route to the park, stop in at the Fogg Dam Conservation Reserve (& 08/
8988 8009 is the ranger station), 25km (16 miles) down the Arnhem Highway and
7km (41. miles) off the highway. You’ll get a close-up look at geese, finches, ibis,

3brolgas, and other wetland birds from lookouts over ponds of giant lilies, or by walking
through monsoon forests to viewing blinds. There are two lookouts on the road

and three walks, two that are 2.2km (1.5 miles) round-trip and one that is 3.6km

(2.3 miles) round-trip. Entry is free. Crocs live here, so don’t swim, and keep away
from the water’s edge. To take a ranger-guided walk, reserve by calling &08/8999
Four kilometers (21. miles) down the Arnhem Highway at Beatrice Hill, you can

2stop at the Window on the Wetlands Visitor Centre (&08/8988 8188), which
offers views across the Adelaide River flood plain, as well as displays and touch-screen
information on the wetlands’ ecology. It’s free and open daily from 8am to 7pm.

Just past Beatrice Hill on the highway at the Adelaide River Bridge (look out for
the statue of a grinning croc), Adelaide River Queen Cruises (&1800/888 542
in Australia, or 08/8988 8144) runs the jumping crocodiles cruise. From the
relative safety of a restored paddle steamer (or a smaller boat in the Wet), you can
watch wild crocodiles leap out of the water for hunks of meat dangled over the edge
by the boat crew—but don’t lean out too far! It’s an unabashed tourist trap, with a
souvenir shop that sells all things croc, including crocodile toilet-seat covers. It may
not be to my, or your, taste, but because crocs typically move fast only when they
attack, it may be your only chance to witness their immense power and speed. The
cruises depart at 9 and 11am and 1 and 3pm daily year-round (except on Dec 24–25
and Sundays from Nov–Feb). The cost is A$35 adults and A$20 for children 5 to 15
for all cruises. If you need transport, Darwin Day Tours (&08/8924 1111) and
Goanna Eco Tours (&1800/003 880 in Australia) both run tours from Darwin
that include the cruise.

Top Park Attractions

WETLANDS CRUISES One of Kakadu’s biggest attractions is Yellow Water
Billabong, a lake 50km (31 miles) south of the Bowali Visitor Centre at Cooinda
(pop. about 20). It’s rich with freshwater mangroves, Paperbarks, pandanus palms,
water lilies, and masses of birds gathering to drink—sea eagles, honking magpie
geese, kites, china-blue kingfishers, and jacanas (called “Jesus birds” because they
seem to walk on water as they step across the lily pads). This is one of the best places
in the park to spot saltwater crocs. Cruises in canopied boats with running commentary
depart near Gagudju Lodge six times a day starting at 6:45am in the Dry
(Apr–Oct) and four times a day starting at 8:30am in the Wet (Nov–Mar). A 90-minute
cruise is A$56 for adults and A$41 for children 4 to 15. A 2-hour cruise (available
in the Dry only) is A$93 for adults, A$69 for children. Book through Gagudju
Lodge Cooinda (& 1800/500 401 in Australia or 08/8979 0145; www.gagudjudreaming.

Fair warning: In the Wet, when the Billabong floods and joins up with Jim Jim
Creek and the South Alligator River, the bird life spreads far and wide over the park
and the crocs head upriver to breed, so don’t expect wildlife viewing to be spectacular.

Another good cruise is the Aboriginal-owned and -operated Guluyambi Cultural
Cruise on the East Alligator (&1800/089 113 in Australia, or 08/8979 2411; www.
guluyambi.com.au). The East Alligator River forms the border between Kakadu and
isolated Arnhemland. Unlike the Yellow Water cruise, which focuses on crocs, birds,
and plants, this excursion teaches you about Aboriginal myths, bush tucker, and
hunting techniques. The cruise lasts about 1 hour and 45 minutes, starting at 9 and
11am and 1 and 3pm daily May through October (tours sometimes operate in the
Wet too, so check the website or call for details). A free shuttle will take you from


Kakadu National


the Border Store, at Manbiyarra just before the river, to the boat ramp. It costs A$45
for adults and A$25 for children 4 to 14. It takes only 25 people.

ABORIGINAL ART & CULTURE There are as many as 5,000 art sites throughout
the park, though for cultural reasons the Aboriginal owners make only a few
accessible to visitors. Dating the rock art is controversial, but some paintings may be
50,000 years old. The best are Nourlangie Rock and Ubirr Rock. Nourlangie,
31km (19 miles) southeast of the Bowali Visitor Centre, features “X-ray”-style paintings
of animals; a vivid, energetic striped Dreamtime figure of Namarrgon , the
“Lightning Man”; and modern depictions of a white man in boots, a rifle, and a sailing
ship. You’ll also find rock paintings at Nanguluwur, on the other side of Nourlangie
Rock, and a variety of excellent sites at Ubirr Rock, which is worth the 250m
(820-ft.) climb for the additional sites higher up, and for views of the flood plain.

Ubirr Rock can be cut off in the Wet, but the views of afternoon lightning storms
from the top at that time are breathtaking.

Unlike most sites in Kakadu, Ubirr is not open 24 hours—it opens at 8:30am
April through November and at 2pm December through March, and closes at sunset
year-round. There is a 1.5km (1-mile) signposted trail past Nourlangie’s paintings
(short trails to the art sites shoot off it), an easy 1.7km (1-mile) trail from the parking
lot into Nanguluwur, and a 1km (.5-mile) circuit at Ubirr. Access to the sites is free
(once you have your park permit, available from Tourism Top End or the Bowali

10 Visitor Centre; see p. 435).
Displays and videos about bush tucker, Dreamtime creation myths, and lifestyles
of the Bininj Aborigines can be found at the Warradjan Aboriginal Cultural

at Cooinda (&08/8979 0145). This building was built in the shape of
a pig-nose turtle at the direction of the Aboriginal owners. It has a quality gift shop
selling such items as didgeridoos, bark paintings by local artists, and baskets woven
from pandanus fronds. The center is open daily from 9am to 5pm, and admission is
free. A 1km-long (.5-mile) trail connects it to Gagudju Lodge Cooinda and the Yellow
Water Billabong.
If you are taking a tour to Arnhemland, check if it goes to Injalak Arts and
Crafts (&08/8979 0190; www.injalak.com) at Gunbalanya (Oenpelli). This small
Aboriginal township, about 300km (186 miles) east of Darwin, draws its inspiration
from Injalak Hill, a site rich in rock paintings. Since it opened in 1989, the center has
gained a reputation for producing fine indigenous contemporary art, carvings, and
weavings. This is the place to buy them at their source and to meet the artists, some
of whom are likely to be working on the veranda when you visit. Injalak is a nonprofit,
community enterprise, and you can be sure that all artists are paid in full, upfront for
their work. Injalak is open weekdays from 8am to 5pm. From June to October, it may
also be open on Saturdays from 8:30am to 2pm, but it is advisable to check first. It is
only possible to drive in the Dry, May to November. Unless you have a 4WD, ensure
you check road conditions before setting out. You will need to drive across a flooded
causeway on the East Alligator River, so check tide times and seek advice from the
Northern Land Council (&08/8920 5100 in Darwin, or 08/8938 3000 in Jabiru).
You will also need to buy a permit (A$13 adults, children free) from the NLC.
Between December and April, in the Wet, it is not possible to cross the East Alligator
River at all and access is by air only. Permits are required whether driving or flying. The
permit is to visit Injalak only. Once you cross the East Alligator River you may not stop


Kakadu National Park

A Side Trip to a Tiwi Island
Separated from the northern mainland
by a narrow strait are the Tiwi Islands,
Bathurst and Melville. The Tiwi culture
is distinct from that of the Aborigines,
and one of the main reasons for visiting
is to see their distinctive art style firsthand.
Tiwi Tours (&1300/721 365 in
Australia, or 08/8923 6523; www.aussie
adventure.com.au) takes small groups
on day tours to Bathurst Island. (Melville
Island is closed to the public.)
The trip includes visits to two art centers,
where you can watch artists at
work and buy their paintings, carvings,
silk-screen printing, and basketwork at
“island prices”—usually up to a third
cheaper than buying the same item in
Darwin. You will learn the history of
the islands, have tea with some Tiwi
women and see them making baskets,
and visit a mock burial site. The tour,
which runs Monday to Friday (except
public holidays) from March to November,
costs A$465 adults and A$418
children aged 3 to 15, including the
round-trip light-plane airfare from Darwin
(which takes about 30 min.) and

anywhere until you arrive at Injalak. It may sound difficult, but if you are fascinated
by Aboriginal art and culture you will find it very rewarding.

SCENIC FLIGHTS Scenic flights over the flood plains and the rainforest-filled
ravines of the escarpment are worth taking if the strain is not too great on your wallet.
They’re much more interesting in the Wet than in the Dry, because the flood
plains spread and Jim Jim Falls and Twin Falls swell from their Dry season trickle to
a flood. Viewing it from the air is also the best way to appreciate the clever crocodile
shape of the Gagudju Crocodile Holiday Inn. North Australian Helicopters
(&1800/898 977 in Australia, or 08/8979 2444; www.northaustralianhelicopters.
com.au) operates flights from Jabiru from A$190 per person, but to see Jim Jim and
Twin Falls, you must take the flight costing A$450 per person. Kakadu Air Services
(& 1800/089 113 in Australia, or 08/8941 9611; www.kakaduair.com.au)
runs 30-minute fixed-wing flights from Jabiru and Cooinda for A$130 adults and
A$103 children, as well as heli-flights from A$195 per person for 20 minutes. Airborne

(&08/8972 2345, or 0437/254 121 mobile; www.airborne
solutions.com.au) runs a Kakadu helicopter day trip from Darwin for A$1,995 per
person (minimum two people), in which you will cover nearly 700km (435 miles)
and see places inaccessible to most people. The tour includes a stop at the Injalak
Art Centre at Gunbalanya (Oenpelli) in Arnhemland (see above) and isolated rock
painting sites. It’s expensive, but worth every cent in my book!

Gagudju Adventure Tours

(book through Gagudju Lodge Cooinda; & 1800/
500 401 in Australia or 08/8979 0145; www.gagudju-dreaming.com) runs an excellent
small-group day trip for active people. You take a 4WD through savannah woodland
to the edge of the Arnhemland escarpment; then bushwalk through the
monsoon forest along the river gorge to the base of Jim Jim Falls. Another short 4WD
trip, then a cruise with an Indigenous guide, and a walk along the gorge cliff-face
brings you to the sandy beach at Twin Falls. Tours depart daily from Jabiru and
Cooinda from May through November and cost A$168 adults and A$128 children

Kakadu National


A Swim in the Falls
Remember the idyllic pool that Paul
Hogan and Linda Koslowski plunged
into in Crocodile Dundee? That was
Gunlom Falls, 170km (105 miles) south
of the Bowali Visitor Centre. A climb to
the top rewards you with great views of
southern Kakadu. It is generally
regarded as croc-free and safe for
swimming. Access is by four-wheeldrive;
it is cut off in the Wet.

(no children under 4). Book in advance for July, the busiest month. A less predictable
tour program runs during the Wet season; check the website for details.

Kakadu’s wetlands are brimful of barramundi, and Territorians like nothing more
than to hop in a tin dinghy barely big enough to resist a croc attack and go looking
for them. Kakadu Fishing Tours (& 08/8979 2025 or book through Gagudju
Lodge Cooinda) takes you fishing in a 5.7m (19-ft.) sportfishing boat. Tours depart
from Jabiru, 5km (3 miles) east of the Bowali Visitor Centre, and cost A$200 per
person for 51.2 hours and A$320 per person for a full day (101.2 hours).

Wide-ranging bush and wetlands walking trails, including many short walks

and six half- to full-day treks, lead throughout the park. Typical trails include a less

than 1km (less than .5-mile) amble through the Manngarre Monsoon Forest near


Ubirr Rock; an easy 3.8km (2.5-mile) circular walk at the Iligadjar Wetlands near the
Bowali Visitor Centre; and a tough 12km (7.5-mile) round-trip trek through rugged
sandstone country at Nourlangie Rock.

One of the best wetlands walks is at Mamukala wetlands, 29km (18 miles)
from Jabiru. Thousands of magpie geese feed here, especially in the late Dry season
around October. An observation platform gives you a good view, and a sign explains
the dramatic seasonal changes the wetlands undergo. Choose from a 1km (.5-mile)
or 3km (1.8-mile) round-trip meander. The Bowali Visitor Centre sells hiking-trail
maps. There are also some challenging unmarked trails along creeks and gorges, for
which you will need good navigational skills.

WHERE CAN I SWIM? In the eastern section of the park rises a massive redsandstone
escarpment that sets the stage for two waterfalls, Jim Jim Falls and Twin
Falls. In the Dry, the volume of water may not be all that impressive, but the settings
are magical. Both are accessible by four-wheel-drive only, and neither is open in the
Wet. At Twin Falls, you must swim or float the last 500m (1,640 ft.) to the base of the
falls—and be warned that saltwater crocodiles have been found in this area.

Some people swim at spots that are generally regarded as croc-free, such as Jim
Jim Falls and water holes such as Gubara (it’s a long walk, but it can be lovely in the
Wet), Maguk, and Koolpin Gorge. However, you do so at your own risk. Although
rangers survey the swimming holes at the start of the season, and crocodiles are territorial
creatures that stick to one spot, no one can guarantee that a saltwater crocodile
has not moved into a swimming hole.

A good indication that a hole is croc-free is the presence of other people swimming.
Crocs tend to eat whatever’s moving, so if people are swimming happily, the
pool is almost certainly croc-free! Macabre it may be, but it’s a tool many people use
to gauge a pool’s safety. Ask at the Bowali Visitor Centre which pools are croc-free
that year (it can change from year to year) before setting off into the park. If you are


Kakadu National Park

unsure about a water hole’s safety, the only place rangers recommend you swim is
your hotel pool. Water hole depths change dramatically with the season. Check with
the Bowali Visitor Centre for the swimming spots that are best at the time you visit.

A 1km (.5-mile) walk over rocks and through rainforest leads to a deep green
plunge pool

at Jim Jim Falls, 103km (64 miles) from the Bowali Visitor Centre.
An almost perfectly circular 150m (492-ft.) cliff surrounds the water. Allow 2 hours
to drive the final unpaved 60km (37 miles) off the highway. Due to floodwaters, Jim
Jim Falls may not open until as late as June. At Twin Falls, the waterfalls descend
into a natural pool edged by a sandy beach, surrounded by bush and high cliffs.
Where to Stay & Dine

A campground near Jim Jim Falls and Twin Falls has sites for 200 people. Garnamarr
Campground (named for the red-tailed black cockatoo commonly found
in Kakadu) doesn’t accept reservations, so check at the Bowali Visitor Centre
(&08/8938 1121) before driving there, to see whether it is full. The campground
manager collects the fee of A$10 per adult per night (cash only; free for children
under 16). A gate at the campground controls access to Jim Jim and Twin Falls and
is locked between 8:30pm and 6:30am. High season is usually from April 1 to late
October or early November. For information on other campgrounds, check www.

Aurora Kakadu This property is near the northern entrance to the park. The
downside is that it is the farthest accommodation from such major attractions as
Yellow Waters and Nourlangie, although many tour operators pick up here. The
upside is that the resort’s green lawns and tropical gardens adorned with wandering
peacocks and goannas and chattering native birds are a wonderfully restful haven
from the harsh surroundings of Kakadu outside. Don’t yield to the temptation to dive
into the lily-filled lagoon down the back—like every other waterway in Kakadu, it is
home to saltwater crocs! A 3.6km (2-mile) nature trail winds from the hotel through
monsoon forest and past a billabong. All rooms have restful views from a balcony or
patio. There are also 60 unpowered campsites.

Arnhem Hwy., South Alligator (41km/25 miles west of Bowali Visitor Centre), Kakadu National Park, NT
0886. &1800/818 845 in Australia, or 08/8979 0166. Fax 08/8979 0147. www.auroraresorts.com.au.
138 units. A$200–A$237 double. Extra person A$45. Free crib. Family rooms (sleep 4) double rate plus
extra person rate. AE, DC, MC, V. Free parking. Amenities: Restaurant; cafe; bar; Jacuzzi; shaded outdoor
pool; day/night tennis court. In room: A/C, TV.

Bamurru Plains

There can be few experiences to beat waking up to the
sight of buffalo roaming the green, lush floodplains of Kakadu in the Wet. This stylish
luxury lodge on the edge of the Mary River flood plains, between the coast and
the western boundary of Kakadu National Park, offers a rich array of wildlife
encounters and an eco-friendly environment in which to base yourself. Your luxury
tent has a timber floor, fine linens on the bed, and a high-pressure shower in the
bathroom but no phone, TV, or other distractions. On three sides, the walls are oneway
screens which give stupendous views and total privacy. I have only visited in the
Wet, but other guests were repeat visitors, determined to see both seasons . . . a sure
indication their first visit—in the Dry—was memorable. Meals are served at the
main lodge building around a communal table. Activities include guided walks, river
cruises, fishing, four-wheel-drive safaris to view wildlife (Bamurru is the Aboriginal


Kakadu National


name for the magpie geese you will see in the thousands), and day trips to Kakadu
and Arnhemland by light plane to see Aboriginal rock art. The best way to get to
Bamurru Plains is by light plane, a 20-minute flight from Darwin. If you drive to this
working buffalo station, you will have to leave your car at the gate, and a staff member
will pick you up for the 20-minute drive to your accommodations. It is about a
3-hour drive from Darwin and 21.2 hours from Jabiru.

Swim Creek Station, Harold Knowles Rd. (P.O. Box 1020), Humpty Doo, NT 0836. &1300/790 561 in
Australia, or 02/9571 6399. www.bamurruplains.com. 9 units. A$1,860 double; A$470 children ages 8–15
sharing with adults; A$837 children ages 8–15 sharing a separate room. Extra adult A$699. Minimum
2-night stay. Rates include all meals, drinks, and activities and an A$10 levy donated to the Australian
Wildlife Conservancy. AE, DC, MC, V. Closed Nov 1–Jan 31. No children 8 and under. Amenities: Restaurant;
bar; swimming pool. In room: A/C (at a price: to discourage the use of generator power, Bamurru
Plains has a A$100 surcharge for the use of the air-conditioning in the 3 guest rooms that have it; A/C
must be requested when booking), no phone.

Gagudju Crocodile Holiday Inn

Some people think this hotel is kitsch; others
declare it an architectural masterpiece. I like it. It was built to the specifications of
its owners, the Gagudju Aborigines, in the form of their spirit ancestor, a giant crocodile
called Ginga. The building’s entrance is the “jaws,” the two floors of rooms are in
the “belly,” the circular parking lot clusters are “eggs,” and so on. From the ground, it’s
hard to see, but from the air, the shape is quite distinct. Love it or hate it, it is the most
luxurious place to stay in Kakadu, a stylish modern hotel with basic but comfortable

rooms. Guests can use the town’s 9-hole golf course, tennis courts, and Olympic-size
swimming pool a few blocks away. The lobby doubles as an art gallery selling the works
of local Aborigines, and a trail leads to the Bowali Visitor Centre.

1 Flinders St. (5km/3 miles east of Bowali Visitor Centre), Jabiru, NT 0886. &1800/007 697 in Australia,
800/465-4329 in the U.S. and Canada, 0800/405060 in the U.K., 1800/553 155 in Ireland,
0800/322 222 in New Zealand, or 08/8979 9000. Fax 08/8979 9098. www.holidayinn.com.au. 110 units.
A$170–A$275 double. Discounts often available in the Wet. Children 19 and under stay free in parent’s
room with existing bedding. Free crib. AE, DC, MC, V. Amenities: Restaurant; 2 bars; babysitting; concierge;
free access to nearby gymnasium; Internet ($2 for 15 min.); small outdoor pool; room service.
In room: A/C, TV w/free movies, hair dryer, Internet (at standard phone charges for dial-up).

Gagudju Lodge Cooinda These modest but pleasant accommodations are set
among tropical gardens at the departure point for Yellow Water Billabong cruises.
The simply furnished tile-floor bungalows are big and comfortable, and there are
four family rooms that sleep up to four. Budget rooms are twin or triple share (four
have double beds) in an air-conditioned corrugated iron demountable, or portable
cabin, with shared bathrooms. The lodge is something of a town center, with a general
store, gift shop, currency exchange, post office, fuel, and other facilities. Eat at
the rustic and ultracasual Barra Bistro and Bar, which serves an all-day snack
menu, with live entertainment in the Dry season. Dining options can be limited
between November and March in the Wet. Scenic flights take off from the lodge’s
airstrip, and the Warradjan Aboriginal Cultural Centre is a 15-minute walk.

Kakadu Hwy. (50km/31 miles south of Bowali Visitor Centre), Jim Jim, NT 0886. &1800/500 401 in
Australia, or 08/8979 0145. Fax 08/8979 0148. www.gagudjulodgecooinda.com.au. 48 bungalows, all with
shower only; 24 budget rooms, none with bathroom; 80 powered and 300 unpowered campsites. Lodge
A$169–A$400 double. Budget rooms A$70–A$85 double; A$35 per person for twin or triple share. Campsites
A$35–A$50 powered sites; A$15–A$27 unpowered sites. Children 13 and under stay free in campsites.
Bungalow and budget room discounts often available in Wet season. AE, DC, MC, V. Amenities:
Restaurant; babysitting; small outdoor pool. In room (lodge only): A/C, TV, hair dryer (on request).


Kakadu National Park


314km (195 miles) S of Darwin; 512km (317 miles) E of Kununurra; 1,177km (730 miles) N of Alice Springs

The key draw to the farming town of Katherine (pop. 11,000) is Katherine (Nitmiluk)
Gorge. It’s small by the standards of, say, the Grand Canyon, but its dramatic
sheer ochre walls dropping to a blue-green river make it an unexpected delight in the
middle of the dry Arnhemland plateau that stretches to the horizon.

The gorge and its surrounding river ecosystem run through the 292,008-hectare
(721,260-acre) Nitmiluk National Park. In the Dry, the gorge is a haven not just
for cruisers but for canoeists, who must dodge the odd “friendly” freshwater crocodiles
as they paddle between the walls. In the Wet, the gorge can become a torrent,
and jet boating is sometimes the only way to tackle it. Hikers will find trails any time
of year throughout the park. Farther afield are hot springs, water holes, uncrowded
rivers to canoe, and Aboriginal communities where visitors can make dot paintings
and find bush tucker.


GETTING THERE Greyhound Australia (& 1300/473 946 in Australia)
buses stop in Katherine on their Darwin–Alice Springs routes. From Darwin, it’s
about a 4-hour trip costing A$84. From Alice, with departures once a day, it’s about
a 16-hour journey, for which the fare is A$281. Greyhound also runs to Katherine
daily from Broome via Kununurra, a journey of about 221.2 hours costing A$307.

Visitors to Katherine can hop aboard the Ghan (see “Getting There & Getting
Around,” in chapter 3) in Adelaide or Alice Springs and hop off in Katherine. The
train leaves Adelaide on Sundays and Wednesdays at 12:20pm and Alice Springs on
Mondays and Thursdays at 6pm. The trip from Alice takes about 15 hours. One-way
fares are A$358 for a “day-nighter” seat or A$656 to A$1,019 for a sleeper from Alice.
Contact Great Southern Railways (&13 21 47 in Australia; www.trainways.com.
au) for details on connections from Sydney and Melbourne.

At press time, there were currently no airlines operating flights into Katherine.

Katherine is on the Stuart Highway, which links Darwin and Alice Springs. From Alice
Springs, allow a good 2 days to make the drive. The Victoria Highway links Katherine
with Kununurra to the west. There is no direct route from the east; from, say, Cairns,
you need to go via Townsville, Mount Isa, and Tennant Creek, a long, dull journey.

VISITOR INFORMATION The Katherine Visitor Information Centre, Lindsay
Street at Katherine Terrace, Katherine, NT 0850 (&1800/653 142 or 08/8972
2650; www.visitkatherine.com.au), has information on things to see—not only all
around Katherine, but as far afield as Kakadu National Park and the Kimberley. It’s
open daily from 8:30am to 5pm in the Dry season (Mar–Oct); in the Wet (Nov–Feb)
it’s open Monday through Friday from 8:30am to 5pm and on weekends and public
holidays 10am to 2pm. Closed Christmas Day and Good Friday.

The Nitmiluk Visitor Centre, on the Gorge Road, 32km (20 miles) from town
(&08/8972 1886), dispenses information on the Nitmiluk National Park and sells
tickets for gorge cruises, which depart outside. The center has maps; displays on the
park’s plant life, birds, geology, and Aboriginal history; a gift shop; and a cafe. It’s
open daily from 7am to 6pm, sometimes closing a little earlier in the Wet. Entry to
the park is free.




GETTING AROUND Hertz (& 08/8971 1111) and Thrifty (& 1800/626
515) have outlets in Katherine.

Nitmiluk Tours (&1300/146 743 in Australia or 08/8971 0877; www.nitmiluk
tours.com.au) makes transfers from Katherine hotels to the cruise, canoe, and helicopter
departure points at the Nitmiluk Visitor Centre every day at 8am, 12:15pm,
and 4pm. Return services leave the gorge at 9am, 1pm, and 5:15pm. Round-trip
fares are A$24 for adults and A$12 for children.

Most Katherine activities and attractions can be booked through Travel North
(& 1800/089 103 in Australia, or 08/8971 9999; www.travelnorth.com.au) or Nitmuluk
Tours (see above). Both companies run a wide range of tours and activities,
including horseback cattle musters, visits to an old homestead, half-day trips to
Mataranka Thermal Pools (see below), and tours of up to 5 days taking in Katherine,
Darwin, Litchfield and Kakadu national parks and outlying Aboriginal communities.

For personalized tours off the beaten path and around town, contact Far Out

(&0427/152 288 mobile), described below.
Exploring Katherine Gorge
(Nitmiluk National Park)

Cruising the gorge in an open-sided boat is the most popular way to appreciate its
beauty. Katherine Gorge is actually a series of 13 gorges, but most cruises ply only

10 the first two, because the second gorge is the most photogenic.
Nitmiluk Tours (&1300/146 743 in Australia or 08/8971 0877; www.nitmiluk
tours.com.au) operates all cruises. Most people take a 2-hour cultural cruise, available
four times a day at 9 and 11am and 1 and 3pm. The cost is A$58 for adults and
A$35 for children 5 to 15. There is also a 4-hour cruise at least once daily, although
you will probably be satisfied with 2 hours. They also run breakfast and lunch
cruises. Wear sturdy shoes; because each gorge is cut off from the next by rapids, all
the cruises involve some walking along the bank.
Cruising is nice, but in a canoe

you can discover sandy banks and waterfalls
and get up close to the gorge walls, the birds, and those crocs. (Don’t worry—they’re
the freshwater kind and not typically regarded as dangerous to humans.) Rocks
separate the gorges, so be prepared to carry your canoe quite often. You may even
want to camp out on the banks overnight. A half-day canoe rental is A$44 for a
single and A$66 double, with a A$20 cash deposit. Canoeing the gorge is popular,
so book canoes ahead, especially in the Dry season. Canoe hire doesn’t operate from
December to March.
Guided paddles are a good idea, because you will learn and see more. The most
knowledgeable company is Gecko Canoeing

(& 1800/634 319 in Australia,
or 08/8972 2224; www.geckocanoeing.com.au), whose tours are known for their
ecotourism content. Gecko’s guides have Australia’s elite Savannah Guide status.
They offer 3- to 6-day canoeing-camping safaris on the Katherine River. The 3-day
trip costs A$750 per person and leaves on Wednesdays and Sundays. The company
also runs canoeing and camping safaris (with any other activities you like, such as
mountain biking, rock climbing, wildlife photography, hiking, or fishing) of up to 10
days in little-explored wildernesses and river systems across the Top End. Tours run
between April and November, with departures on request, and can be tailored to
your needs.


Some 100km (62 miles) of hiking trails crisscross Nitmiluk National Park, ranging
in duration from 1 hour to the lookout to 5 days to Leliyn (Edith Falls; see
below). Trails—through rocky terrain and forests, past water holes, and along the
gorge—depart the Nitmiluk National Park ranger station, in the Nitmiluk Visitor
Centre, where you can pick up trail maps. Overnight walks require a deposit of A$20
to A$50 per person, and a A$3.30 per-person camping permit, payable at the Nitmiluk
Visitor Centre.

One of the nicest spots in the park is 42km (26 miles) north of Katherine, 20km
(13 miles) off the Stuart Highway: Leliyn (also known as Edith Falls)

is an Eden
of natural (croc-free) swimming holes bordered by red cliffs, monsoonal forest, and
pandanus palms. Among the bushwalks leading from Edith Falls is a 2.6km (1.5mile)
round-trip trail, which takes about 2 hours and incorporates a dip at the upper
pool en route.
More than the gorge itself, the aerial views of the ravine-ridden Arnhem Plateau,
which stretches uninhabited to the horizon, are arresting. North Australian Helicopters
(&1800/621 717 in Australia, or 08/8972 1666) offers daily flights over
the gorges, starting at A$220 per person for 35 minutes. To see all 13 gorges will cost
you A$280 per person and takes 45 minutes. Airborne Solutions (& 08/8972
2345 or 0437/254 121 mobile phone; www.airbornesolutions.com.au) has a helipad
near the Nitmiluk Gorge Visitor Centre and runs a range of scenic flights, starting
from A$75 per person for an 8-minute flight over the first three gorges.

Aboriginal Culture Tours, Hot Springs & More

On a 1-day visit to the Manyallaluk Aboriginal community , a 90-minute drive
southeast from Katherine, you chat with Aborigines about how they balance traditional
ways with modern living; take a short bushwalk to look for native medicines and bush
tucker such as green ants; and try lighting a fire with two sticks, weaving baskets,
throwing spears, painting on bark, and playing a didgeridoo. You can buy locally made
Aboriginal art and artifacts at better prices than you may find elsewhere. Lunch is a
barbecue featuring kangaroo tail cooked on hot coals. Don’t expect this to be some
kind of Aboriginal theme park; it’s an unstructured experience (this is the community’s
home), and taking part, rather than just watching, will make it a better one.

A 1-day tour costs A$165 for adults and A$90 for children 5 to 15, A$60 per adult
extra if you need transfers from Katherine. The last 35km (22 miles) of road is
unsealed (unpaved), and rental cars will be insured only if they are four-wheel-drive.
The tour runs Monday through Saturday from April to November, but hours may be
reduced, or the place may close, in the Wet. The Manyallaluk community also has a
basic camping ground with powered and unpowered sites if you want to stay longer.
The cost is A$12 for adults and A$6 for children 5 to 15. Bookings are essential no
matter what the time of year, because sometimes the community may be closed for
cultural reasons. You can book through Nitmiluk Tours (see “Getting Around,” p. 43).

Mike Keighley of Far Out Adventures

(&0427/152 288; www.farout.com.
au) runs upmarket tailor-made tours that include Manyallaluk and areas around
Katherine. Meet children of the Mangarrayi Aborigines, sample bush tucker, learn a
little bush medicine, and swim in a vine-clad natural “spa-pool” in the Roper River.
Mike has been accepted as an honorary family member of the Mangarrayi people
and is a mine of information about Aboriginal culture and the bush.



About 110km (68 miles) south of Katherine, you can soak your aches away at the
Mataranka Thermal Pools. The man-made pools are fed by 93°F (34°C) spring
water, which bubbles up from the earth at a rate of 16,495 liters (4,124 gal.) per
minute! It’s a little paradise, surrounded by palms, pandanus, and a colony of flying
foxes. The pools are open 24 hours and admission is free. They are 7km (41.3 miles)
along Homestead Road, off the Stuart Highway 1.5km (1 mile) south of Mataranka
township. They make a welcome stop on the long drive from Alice Springs.

If you can’t be bothered to drive to Mataranka, you can soak in the pleasantly

warm Katherine Hot Springs, under shady trees 3km (2 miles) from town on

Riverbank Drive. Entry is free.

At the School of the Air, Giles Street (&08/8972 1833), you can sit in on an
800,000-sq.-km (312,000-sq.-mile) “classroom” as children from the Outback do
their lessons by radio. Forty-five-minute tours begin on the hour at 9, 10, and 11am
from mid-March to mid-November. Tours also run during school holidays and public
holidays, minus the on-air classes. Admission is A$5 for adults and A$2 for schoolage

Where to Stay

The ranger station in the Nitmiluk Visitor Centre has maps of available “bush campsites”
throughout the park. These are very basic sites—no showers, no soaps or
shampoos allowed (they pollute the river system), and simple pit toilets or none at


all. Most are beside natural swimming holes. You must buy a camping permit at the
ranger station; the fee is A$3.30 per person per night.

There are caravan and camping sites at Springvale Homestead (& 08/8972
1355 or book through Travel North), 7km (41.3 miles) from Katherine township on
the banks of the Katherine River. Sites are in a shady park, and there’s a licensed
bistro and kiosk, swimming pool, and children’s water slide. Wallabies roam freely.
Fees are A$10 per adult, A$6 per child for a tent site, and A$27 double for a powered
site (A$10 for each extra person).

Knotts Crossing Resort At this low-key resort, you have a choice of huge, wellfurnished
motel rooms, some with kitchenettes, minibars, and in-room dataports
and fax machines; cabins with a kitchenette inside and a private bathroom just outside
the door (but no phone); or caravan sites, all located amid the tropical landscaping.
The “village” rooms are a good budget choice, built in 1998 and smartly
furnished with a double bed and bunks, a kitchenette, and a joint veranda facing a
small private pool with a barbecue. Locals meet at the casual bar beside the pool,
and Katie’s Bistro is one of the smartest places to eat in town.

Corner of Giles and Cameron sts., Katherine, NT 0850. &1800/222 511 in Australia, or 08/8972 2511.
Fax 08/8972 2628. www.knottscrossing.com.au. 123 units, some with shower only, 75 powered caravan
sites. A$98 double cabin; A$20 double “village” room; A$145 double motel room; A$155 deluxe rooms;
A$175 family rooms; A$185 executive rooms. Powered site A$35 per night single or double. AE, DC, MC,

V. Amenities: Restaurant; bar; free airport transfers; Jacuzzi; 2 outdoor pools (1 large, 1 small); room
service. In room: A/C, TV w/pay movies, kitchenette (except motel rooms), minibar (executive rooms





by Ron Crittall

estern Australia (WA or “The West”) is huge;
it’s bigger than the Congo and more than
three and a half times the size of Texas. It’s also
largely empty, with only 2.2 million people in its 2.5 million
sq. km (1 million sq. mi.)—almost 75% (1.6 million) of whom
live in Perth. And Perth is the most remote large city on
earth—with Adelaide 2,700km (1,700 miles) away to the

One advantage is that if you want a glorious golden beach to yourself, a
spectacular gorge, or a carpet of wildflowers, then you’ve got a great
chance here. Solitude, peace, and far horizons are freely available.

WA has reverted to “Boom State” status with gigantic projects underway
to develop or expand the extraction of iron ore, natural gas, nickel,
aluminum, and gold across the Outback and offshore. One downside is
that the hospitality industry can’t compete with the wages being offered,
so you may find hotels and restaurants short-staffed.

WA may be enormous, but there are several jewels to entice and entertain.
It’s worth the trip for great wine regions, some of Australia’s best
snorkeling and diving, historic towns, magnificent if scattered natural
scenery, untouched wilderness, and a chance to really go “Outback.”
Every spring (Aug–Oct), wildflowers carpet the land.

The capital, Perth , one of the world’s most livable cities, has a
fabulous outdoor lifestyle with parks, rivers and beaches, great walking and
biking trails, excellent food, and a beautiful historic port, Fremantle .

The Southwest

corner of the state, below Perth, is the prettiest
part. Vineyards and pastures sit between stands of hardwood forest,
the surf is world-class, and there are sparkling limestone caverns. The
Margaret River region has some of Australia’s most acclaimed wines, and
many top-notch eateries. The nearby South Coast

has some of the
tallest trees on earth, superb coastal scenery, more vineyards, and WA’s
oldest town, Albany, sitting beside a wonderful natural harbor.



Head east 596km (372 miles) inland from Perth and you strike what, in the

1890s, was the richest square mile of gold-bearing earth the world has seen. The

mining town of Kalgoorlie

is a repository of ornate 19th-century architecture,
and still Australia’s biggest gold producer. If Australia has an answer to the Wild
West, Kalgoorlie is it.
Going north from Perth you reach the Outback. Red sand, scrubby trees, and spinifex
grass are all you’ll see for hundreds of miles. About 855km (534 miles) north of Perth,

wild dolphins

make daily visits to the shores of Monkey Mia. Even farther north
is Exmouth, entry point to one of Australia’s best-kept secrets, the 300km (187-mile)
fringing Ningaloo
coral reef, where you can swim with enormous whale sharks.
The rugged northern portion of Western Australia is known as The Kimberley .
It’s Australia’s last frontier, a vast area of cattle ranches, Aboriginal settlements, and
the exotic coastal town of Broome. This is a rugged rocky region of red cliffs, strange
bulbous boab trees, waterfalls, and billabongs. You can experience real remoteness,
visit a cattle station (ranch), see ancient Aboriginal rock art, ride a camel on the
beach, and shop for the world’s biggest South Sea pearls.

Exploring the State

VISITOR INFORMATION Tourism Western Australia is the official source
of information on the state. Its website, www.westernaustralia.com, provides a
good overview, and you may find the Australian Tourist Commission’s website
(www.australia.com) useful, or the web pages of local tourism boards (see “Visitor
Information” in each regional section of this chapter). A private company, Visit WA
(www.visitwa.com.au), offers an online tour-planning service.

Also contact the Western Australian Visitor Centre in Perth, which dispenses
information about the state and makes bookings. See p. 457 for information. The
Department of Environment & Conservation website (www.dec.wa.gov.au) has
information on the numerous national and marine parks.

WHEN TO GO Perth, South Australia, and the southwest are blessed with long,
dry summers and mild, wet winters. You’ll want some warm gear in winter, but temperatures
rarely hit freezing point. In the north, summer is seriously hot; temperatures
soar to between 104°F and 120°F (40°C–49°C). The cooler months of May
through September (for the Kimberley) or April through October (for the Outback
Coast) are the times to go north.

GETTING AROUND Before you plan a driving tour of this state, consider the
distances and the mostly flat monotonous countryside. The forests, coastal scenery,
and vineyards of the South and Southwest make for pleasant driving; otherwise you
should fly, especially if time is a factor.

If you do hit the road, remember that gas stations and emergency help are often far
apart. (Keep the gas tank full!) Road trains (convoys up to 53m/174 ft. long) and wildlife
pose more of a threat than in any other state. Try to avoid driving at night, dusk,
and dawn—all prime animal-hopping and feeding times. Read “Road Conditions &
Safety,” in “Getting There & Getting Around,” in chapter 3, before setting off.

The Royal Automobile Club of Western Australia, 832 Wellington St.,
Perth, WA 6000 (&13 17 03; www.rac.com.au), is a good source of maps and motoring
advice. For a recorded road-condition report, call Main Roads Western Australia
(&1800/013 314 in Australia).

Western Australia

Tropic of CapricornTropic of CapricornTropic of Capricorn
Port Hedland
Fitzroy Crossing Halls
Margaret River
Monkey Mia
Mt. Magnet
New Norcia
H a m e r s l e y R a n g e
Rottnest Island
Cape Naturaliste
Cape LevequeCape Leveque
Cape LondonderryCape Londonderry
Eighty Mile BeachEighty Mile Beach
“Inside Australia”Inside Australia
L. Barlee
L. Cowan
L. Carnegie
L. Mackay
“Inside Australia”
HighwayGreat Eastern Hwy. CoolgardieHwy.Eyre
Port Hedland
Fitzroy Crossing Halls
Margaret River
Monkey Mia
Mt. Magnet
New Norcia
Eighty Mile Beach
H a m e r s l e y R a n g e
King Leopold RangeDurrackRange
Rottnest Island
Cape Naturaliste
Cape Leeuwin
Cape Leveque
Cape Londonderry
300 mi0
0 300 km
CanberraCanberra PerthPerth


Introduction Every year from August to mid-Novem-
ber, the southern half of Western Aus-
tralia is blessed with a magnificent
range of wildflowers . The drier,
more northerly areas produce great car-
pets of white, yellow, pink, and red
daisy-like everlastings, while the south-
ern reaches have an incredible variety of
individual flowering plants.
Wildflower shows and festivals in
country towns throughout the state
accompany the annual blossoming, and
coach- and rail-tour companies carry
enthusiasts from all around the globe on
wildflower tours. You can check out the
wildflowers on day trips from Perth or
on longer jaunts of up to 5 days or so.
If time is short, you can go to Perth’s
Kings Park & Botanic Garden
(p. 472), which has a month-long Wild-
flower Festival every September.
The display of everlastings is not con-
stant, but varies from year to year
depending on winter rains. The Western
Australian Visitor Centre (see “Visitor
Information,” below) can keep you up to
speed on whatever spot is blooming
brightest that week, and the staff can
book you on one of the wildflower
tours. Tourism WA produces a 40-page
Wildflower Holiday Guide brochure that
describes self-drive wildflower routes,
accommodations and events en route,
and wildflower tour operators. Down-
load it from the dedicated wildflower
website, www.wildflowerswa.com.
Interstate buses and trains, and the
few local accommodations fill up fast
in wildflower season, so book ahead.
Skywest (& 1300/660 088 in Australia; www.skywest.com.au) is the state’s
major regional airline. Qantas (&13 13 13 in Australia; www.qantas.com.au) also
provides service from Perth to some smaller centers.

One of the great train journeys of the world provides a passenger service from the
eastern states. The Indian Pacific

runs once or twice weekly on a continentcovering
66-hour trip from Sydney via Adelaide and Kalgoorlie to Perth (see “Getting
There & Getting Around,” in chapter 3). Greyhound Australia (& 13 14 99 in
Australia) has one interstate coach service, from Darwin through Broome to Perth.
Inside the state, passenger trains run only in the southwest. They are managed by
the Public Transport Authority (PTA), which operates as Transwa (&1300/662
205 in WA; www.transwa.wa.gov.au) in the country areas of Western Australia (from
Perth to Bunbury, 21.2 hr. south of Perth; to Northam, an hour or so east in the Avon
Valley; and to Kalgoorlie). Transwa also runs coach services throughout the southwest
of WA, north to Kalbarri, Geraldton, and Meekatharra; to the wine and forest
regions of Margaret River, Augusta, and Pemberton; south to Albany; and southeast
to Esperance. The railways in the northern part of WA are there only to cart vast
tonnages of iron ore, not passengers.

All major car- and motor-home-rental companies have offices in Perth.

TOUR OPERATORS Western Australia’s biggest coach tour company, Australian
Pinnacle Tours (& 1300/551 687 in Australia, or 08/9417 5555; www.
pinnacletours.com.au) serves Perth, the Southwest, Monkey Mia, the Northwest
Cape, the Kimberley, and attractions about a day’s drive away, such as New Norcia
and the Pinnacles (see the box “Dragon’s Teeth in the Dunes” below). Australian

Dragon’s Teeth in the Dunes
The Pinnacles , a 3-hour drive
north of Perth, attract thousands of visitors
each year. Masses of limestone pillars,
from a few inches to over 3m (10
ft.) high, simply rise up out of golden
sand dunes. Some are just a small fragile
tracery, some are tall, solid mushroom-
headed giants, while some of the
sharp jagged versions could well be
taken for fossilized dragon’s teeth.
From a distance, the Pinnacles can look
like the remnants of a deserted city,
and they are best seen around dawn or
dusk. See “Tour Operators” above for
details on two companies that visit
here. A faster driving route to the Pinnacles,
using the completed Indian
Ocean Drive, will be available mid-2011.

Pinnacle Tours also does four-wheel-drive tours. Western Xposure (&1800/621
200 in Australia; www.westernxposure.com.au) specializes in soft adventure and
promotes its tours as “eco-based,” covering much of the state. Global Gypsies
(& 08/9341 6727; www.globalgypsies.com.au) runs four-wheel-drive tag-along
safaris into the Outback, including the Kimberley. The tours are fully escorted and
catered, and there is limited passenger seating for nondrivers (three seats per tour).
Global Gypsies can help with the hire of four-wheel-drive vehicles and all equipment.

Aerial tours make sense in Western Australia. Look into the personalized or set
tours offered by Kookaburra Air (& 08/9417 2258; www.kookaburra.iinet.net.
au). Tours from Perth can take you throughout Western Australia, including Ningaloo
and Margaret River, as well as to the Red Centre.

If you’re looking for background information on indigenous (Aboriginal) issues
and more particularly indigenous tours, check the website for the WA Indigenous
Tourism Operators Collective (www.waitoc.com).


4,405km (2,731 miles) W of Sydney; 2,389km (1,481 miles) S of Broome

Perth is probably the most outdoorsy of all Aussie cities. The climate, Perth’s brilliant
setting along the Swan River and the Indian Ocean, and the abundance of parkland
mean that it’s almost obligatory to get outside and enjoy the sun and fresh air. One
of Perth’s great advantages is that virtually the entire river and seafront is public land;
everyone can stroll, cycle, or picnic along the waterfront—and they do.

Perth has a wonderful Mediterranean climate that gives it more hours of sun than
any other major city in Australia, from October right through to April. This sunshine
capital is also home to a thousand mining and exploration companies, which bring a
casual, but can-do, Outback feel to the city.

All these elements give Perth a youthful, energetic vibrancy. It’s friendly too, partly
because of the outdoor openness and partly from the Outback influence. Perth is on
the cusp of major change—with significant developments and much intense discussion
about how best to plan for the future—as it struggles with the transition from
what has really been a big country town into an international city.

There’s much to do and see, though the city center tends to be rather dead once
the shops close. Wander through the restored historic warehouses, museums, and






working docks of bustling Fremantle ; stroll through the 400-hectare (1,000acre)
Kings Park in the middle of the city; visit art galleries and museums; eat at
some of the country’s best restaurants; enjoy the riverside parks and gardens; catch
a few waves at one of the beaches; stock up at the Aboriginal art and souvenir stores;
and pedal your bike around Rottnest Island , a small reef resort 19km (12
miles) offshore, to find a great snorkeling spot.

More than most other Aussie capitals, Perth gives you good choices of side trips:

Drop in on the Benedictine monks in the Spanish Renaissance monastery town of

New Norcia , nip out to the Swan Valley

vineyards, or spend a few days in
Margaret River

country, one of Australia’s top wine regions.

Perth’s climate is fabulous for almost the entire year. Most visitors focus on the
brilliant summer months of December through March, with lots of sun, sea, and
sand, though the sea breeze can get (annoyingly) strong. The winter months of June
to August can be cold and rainy but still average 6 hours of sun a day, while the inbetween
times of April to May and September to November are often superb with
mild, fine, still days.


ARRIVING By Plane Qantas, or its subsidiary Qantaslink (& 13 13 13 in
Australia; www.qantas.com.au), flies at least once a day from all mainland capitals as
well as Broome, Kalgoorlie, and Alice Springs. It also services several mining towns in
Western Australia. Virgin Blue (& 13 67 89 in Australia; www.virginblue.com.au)
flies direct from Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Brisbane, Darwin, and Broome, with
connections from other cities. Jetstar (& 13 15 38 in Australia; www.jetstar.com)
has daily flights from Sydney, Melbourne, Cairns, and Adelaide, with connections
from other eastern states cities. Skywest (& 1300/660 088 in WA; www.skywest.
com.au) connects Perth to all significant towns in WA, and to Darwin and Melbourne
(weekly). Tiger Airways (& 03/9335 3033 in Australia; www.tigerairways.
com) has daily flights from Melbourne, with connections to other mainland cities.

Perth Airport is 12km (71.2 miles) northeast of the city. Be aware that the domestic
terminal tends to be overcrowded, and delays and long waits for taxis are common.
Luggage trolley hire is an expensive exercise, costing A$4 (have coins with you)
curbside at the domestic and international terminals and in the domestic arrivals
area. They are free for international arrivals, and there are usually some available in
either car park (if you can find them). Allow a minimum of 20 minutes to transfer
between the international and domestic terminals. Both terminals have ATMs,
showers, baby-changing rooms, a mailbox (newsdealers sell stamps), and limited
tourist information. Internet kiosks and currency-exchange bureaus are in the international
and Qantas domestic terminals. The international terminal has cellphones
for rent. At the international terminal, look out for volunteer Customer Service
Officers called “Gold Coats,” who can provide assistance and information; domestic
terminals have WOWs (West Oz Welcomers) wearing Akubra hats.

Avis (&08/9277 1177 domestic terminal, 08/9477 1302 international terminal),
Budget (&08/9277 9277), Europcar (&08/9237 4325 domestic, 08/9237 6870
international), Hertz (&08/9479 4788), and Thrifty (&08/9277 1854) have desks
at both terminals.

The Perth Airport CONNECT shuttle (& 1300/666 806 in Australia, www.
perthairportconnect.com.au) aims to meet all flights within 30 to 45 minutes of


WellingtonSquareMurray St. MallHay St. MallTo AirportWest PerthRailway StationClaisebrookRailwayStationMcIverRailwayStationGovernmentHouseSt. Georges TerraceTerrace Rd.Riverside Dr.
Adelaide TerraceHay St.Murray St.
Goderich St.
Wellington St.
Roe St.
Moore St.
James St.
Aberdeen St.
Lake St.
William St.
Beaufort St.
Milligan St.
King St.
PierIrwin St.
Hill St.
Bennett St.
Forrest Pl.
Fitzgerald St.
Shenton St.
Parker St.
John St.
Lord St.
Brook St.
Parry St.
Edward St.
RoyalWittenoomStirlingPier St.
St.Short St.
Hay St.
Mount St.
William St.
Barrack St.
ForestPlaceBrown St.
Langley ParkWellington St.
Wellington St.
Bus StationBus StationTo FremantleTo FremantleNewcastle St.
Newcastle St.BarrackBarrackSquareSquare
VictoriaVictoriaSquareSquareVictoriaSquareMurray St. MallHay St. Mall
To Airport
West PerthRailway Station
Barrack St.JettyPerth RailwayPerth RailwayStationStationPerth RailwayStation
To FremantleWellington St.Bus StationPerth Convention
Perth ConventionExhibition CentreExhibition Centre& Esplanade Bus Port& Esplanade Bus PortPerth ConventionExhibition Centre& Esplanade Bus PortPERTHCITYSt. Georges Terrace
Terrace Rd.Riverside Dr.
Adelaide Terrace
Hay St.Murray St.
Goderich St.
Wellington St.
Roe St.
Moore St.
James St.
Aberdeen St.
Lake St.
William St.
Beaufort St.
Milligan St.
King St.
PierIrwin St.
Victoria Ave.Victoria Ave.Victoria Ave.
Hill St.
Bennett St.
Forrest Pl.
Fitzgerald St.
Shenton St.
Parker St.
John St.
Lord St.
Brook St.
Parry St.
Edward St.
Newcastle St.
StirlingPier St.
St.Short St.
Hay St.
Riverside Dr.
Riverside Dr.
Riverside Dr.
Mount St.
William St.
Barrack St.
Bay Rd.
Brown St.
Langley Park
Supreme CourtGardensSupreme CourtSupreme CourtGardensGardensSupreme CourtGardens
24Medina Executive Barrack Plaza
Miss Maud Swedish Hotel
Parmelia Hilton
The Richardson
10The Sebel Residence East Perth
Sullivans Hotel
9Fast Eddy’s Cafe
44 King Street
2Lamont’s East Perth
5Miss Maud Swedish Restaurant
Must Wine Bar
3Romany Restaurant
ATTRACTIONSArt Gallery of Western Australia
His Majesty’s Theatre
16Holmes a Court Gallery
4Kings Park & Botanic Garden
Perth Concert Hall
Perth Mint
Perth Zoo
Swan Bells
20Western Australian Museum
1/4 Mi00
250 Meters
InformationPost Office



11 Customs clearance, or luggage collection for domestic flights. The shuttle services
hotels, motels, and hostels in the city and Northbridge. There is no need to book.
Prices are on a sliding scale depending on numbers in a group. Transfers to/from the
international terminal cost A$18 one-way and A$30 return for one passenger, and up
to A$48 one-way and A$89 return for four passengers, or A$35 for families; from the
domestic terminal, they cost from A$15 one-way and A$25 return for one passenger,
up to A$36 one-way and A$67 return for four passengers, and A$28 for families.
Transfers can also be booked to or from the northern suburbs, Fremantle and Mandurah.
The Fremantle Airport Shuttle (& 08/9457 7150; www.fremantleairport
shuttle.com.au) transfers from and to both airport terminals to anywhere in Fremantle
and nearby suburbs. Bookings, especially to the airport, are essential. The
fare is A$25 for one passenger, A$35 for two passengers, A$50 for three, A$55 for
four, and A$45 for families, for transfers between 6am and 8pm; hand luggage is
free, otherwise luggage is A$2.50 per item.
CONNECT also operates a transfer service between the domestic and international
terminals, for bona fide passengers only, from 3am to 2am daily. Qantas/One
World interflight passengers are given transfer vouchers, otherwise it costs A$8 per
passenger; taxis between the terminals are about A$24.
Public bus no. 37 runs to the city from the domestic terminal, but no buses run
from the international terminal. A taxi to the city is about A$40 from the international
terminal and A$32 from the domestic terminal, including a A$2 fee for picking
up a taxi at the airport.

BY TRAIN The 3-day journey to Perth from Sydney via Broken Hill, Adelaide,
and Kalgoorlie aboard the Indian Pacific , operated by Great Southern Rail
(&13 21 47 in Australia; www.gsr.com.au), is a great experience. It has the world’s
longest straight stretch of rail (over 483km/300 miles) along the Nullarbor Plain.
The train runs twice a week (Sept 1–Dec 6 and Jan 5–March 31, otherwise once a
week) in each direction, and can carry your vehicle. The one-way fare ranges from
A$3,450 in the spacious Platinum Service (only certain times of year) to A$2,008 in
Gold Service with meals and an en-suite bathroom to A$1,362 in comfy but
cramped (if you’re large or tall) Red Sleeper Service (meals cost extra, and bathrooms
are shared), down to A$716 for sit-up-all-the-way Daynighter Seats (for the
young budget traveler). Rail passes are available. There are connections from Melbourne
on the Overland train, and to Alice Springs and Darwin from Adelaide with
the Ghan. See “Getting There & Getting Around,” in chapter 3, for contact details
in Australia and abroad. The Prospector train makes the 63.4-hour trip to and from
Kalgoorlie daily; call the Public Transport Authority (&1300/662 205 in Western
Australia; www.transwa.wa.gov.au).

All long-distance trains pull into the East Perth Terminal, Summers Street off
Lord Street, East Perth. A taxi to the city center costs about A$18.

BY BUS Greyhound Australia (& 13 14 99 in Australia) has no service from
the eastern states; there’s only a 5-days-a-week service from Darwin via Broome
(about 62 hr.), and the full fare is about A$718. The Western Explorer Pass gives
greater flexibility; it is valid for 183 days and costs A$849.

BY CAR There are only two interstate routes—the 4,310km (2,694-mile) route
from Darwin via Broome in the north, and the 2,708km (1,679-mile) odyssey from
Adelaide, which has some of the world’s straightest and most featureless roads on
the trek across the Nullarbor Plain. Arm yourself with up-to-date details on sightseeing
(including whale-watching and the Nullarbor Golf Links) and the limited
accommodations before setting off. The South Australian or Western Australian
state auto clubs (listed under “Getting There & Getting Around,” in chapter 3) can
provide advice and information. Both routes are pretty boring, with very few towns
along the way, but they certainly bring home just how big and empty much of Australia

VISITOR INFORMATION The Western Australian Visitor Centre, Albert
Facey House, Forrest Place, Perth (& 1800/812 808 in Australia; www.wavisitor
centre.com), in the city center, is the official visitor information source for Perth and
the state. It’s open Monday through Thursday from 8:30am to 6pm (to 5:30pm
May–Aug), Friday from 8:30am to 7pm (to 6pm in winter), Saturday from 9:30am
to 4:30pm, and Sunday from 11am to 4:30pm year-round. The City of Perth’s i-City
Information Kiosk, in the Murray Street Mall, near Forrest Place, is open Monday
to Thursday and Saturday 9:30am to 4:30pm, Friday 9:30am to 8pm, and Sunday
11am to 3:30pm (closed public holidays).

Volunteers provide free 90-minute guided tours around the city from the Kiosk,
Monday to Friday at 11am and 2pm, Saturday at 11am, and Sunday at 2pm. The
morning and Sunday sessions are general city orientation tours, while the other
afternoon tours are more heritage-oriented. There’s no need to book. You can do the
walking tours yourself, using the comprehensive guides available at the Kiosk.

For an untouristy lowdown on the city’s restaurants, cultural life, shops, bars,
nightlife, concerts, and the like, buy the excellent glossy quarterly magazine Scoop
(www.scoop.com.au; A$11.95), available at bigger newsdealer stands.

CITY LAYOUT The city center is 19km (12 miles) upriver from the Indian
Ocean, on the north bank of a broad reach of the Swan River. Four long avenues run
east–west between riverside parkland and the railway reserve. St. Georges Terrace
(it becomes Adelaide Terrace at Victoria Ave.), known colloquially as “The Terrace,”
is the main thoroughfare and commercial and banking address, while Hay Street
and Murray Street are the major retail avenues with pedestrian malls in the central
blocks. All three, plus Wellington Street (which has Perth’s suburban railway station
on its northern side), are linked by the main north–south streets of Barrack and William,
plus several shop-lined arcades.

MAPS Of the many free pocket guides to Perth available at tour desks and in hotel
lobbies, Your Guide to Perth & Fremantle has the best street map. It shows oneway
streets, public toilets and telephones, taxi stands, post offices, police stations,
and street numbers, as well as most attractions and hotels. The Royal Automobile
Club of Western Australia (see “Exploring the State,” earlier in this chapter) is a
good source of maps of the state, as is Mapworld, 900 Hay St. (&08/9322 5733).
You will find tourist maps at the Western Australian Visitor Centre and the Perth
Tourist Lounge (see “Visitor Information,” above). Google Transit (www.google.com/
transit) is available in Perth and can help you plan your trip using public transportation
in the metro area.






Neighborhoods in Brief

City Center The central business district
(CBD) is home to offices, shops, and
department stores. It has a modest collection
of 19th-century heritage buildings,
especially the convict-built Government
House and Town Hall. A good introduction
to Perth’s charms is to take in the views
from the pathway that skirts the river along
Riverside Drive. Within walking distance is
Kings Park & Botanic Garden .

Northbridge Most of Perth’s nightclubs,
and a good many of its cool restaurants,
bars, and cafes, are in this 5-block precinct
north of the railway line. It’s within easy
walking distance of the city center, or take
the free Blue CAT buses. The Cultural Centre
is here too, with the Western Australian
Museum, Art Gallery of Western Australia,
State Library, new State Theatre Centre
(scheduled to open late 2010), and Perth
Institute of Contemporary Arts.

Subiaco This well-heeled inner suburb is
on the other side of Kings Park. Take a stroll
through “Subi’s” villagelike concoction of
restaurants, cafes, markets, boutiques,
antique shops, pubs, and galleries. Most of
the action is near the intersection of Hay
Street and Rokeby (pronounced Rock-erbee)
Road, with the Subiaco Hotel and Art
Deco Regal Theatre on opposing corners.
Take the train to Subiaco station.

Fremantle Not only is “Freo” a working
port, it’s also Perth’s second city heart, and
a favorite weekend spot to eat, drink, shop,
and sail. A 1980s restoration of Victorian
warehouses and hotels turned Freo into a

marvelous example of a 19th-century seaport,
although a takeover of many buildings
by Notre Dame University has taken
away some of the old vibrancy. Take the
train 19km (12 miles) to Fremantle, at the
mouth of the Swan River.

Scarborough Beach This is one of Perth’s
prize beaches, 12km (71. miles) northwest

2of the city center. The district is a little tatty,
with an oversupply of cheap takeout-food
outlets, but if you like sun, sand, and surf,
this is the place to be. You will find bars,
restaurants, and surf-gear rental stores
here. Allow 20 to 30 minutes to get here by
car, 50 minutes by public transport.

Cottesloe Beach This is another great
beach, quieter, safer, and less frenetic than
Scarborough, with a protective rocky
groyne (jetty) to one side. The surrounding
area is very pleasant with grassy slopes,
good hotels, and cafes, and the entire suburb
is defined by towering Norfolk pines.
Allow 20 minutes to get here by car, 30
minutes by bus or train.

Burswood/East Perth These two areas
are on opposite sides of the Swan River just
upstream of Perth city. Both are on land
reclaimed from earlier industrial use, and
show enlightened development with parkland,
pathways, and artworks. Burswood
has major entertainment complexes, a public
golf course, and superb gardens. East
Perth is mostly modern housing, parks, galleries,
and restaurants, based around a river
inlet with walkways.

Getting Around

BY PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION Transperth (www.transperth.wa.gov.au)
runs Perth’s buses, trains, and ferries. For route, bus stop, and timetable information,
call &13 62 13 in Western Australia, or drop into the Transperth InfoCentres
at the Perth Train Station, the Wellington Street Bus Station, or the Perth Esplanade
Busport on Mounts Bay Road. You can transfer between bus, ferry, and train services
for up to 2 hours (Zones 1–4) or 3 hours (Zones 5–9). Travel costs A$2.40 in one
zone (to Subiaco, for instance), and A$3.60 in two, which gets you most places,
including Fremantle, with discounts for kids ages 5 to 14.

A welcome freebie in Perth is the avail-
ability of free public transport within
the city center and some nearby areas.
It’s a great facility. There are the free
CAT (Central Area Transit) buses (see
below for details), and there is the Free
Transit Zone (FTZ). You can travel free
on all buses within this zone any hour,
day or night. For free train travel in the
FTZ, a SmartRider (see above) must be
used, but it’s not practical for most visi-
tors. The FTZ allows free travel to Kings
Park, Northbridge, east to major sport-
ing grounds, and anywhere within the
city center. Signs mark the FTZ bound-
aries; just ask the driver if you’re
Take a Free Ride
SmartRider is an electronic ticketing system, which can save up to 25% off the
cash fare, but it involves a basic A$10 cost plus a minimum A$10 travel component,
so it’s of doubtful value to most tourists unless you plan to stay several days. Check
the website or an InfoCentre for more information. To use SmartRider, you need to
validate in the machines on the bus, train platform, or ferry wharf by tagging on and
off as you travel.

A DayRider ticket can be purchased to allow 1 day of unlimited travel after 9am
on weekdays and all day on weekends and public holidays for A$8.80. A Family-
Rider pass is valid for unlimited all-day travel to any destination and back, for a
group of up to seven people, including two full fares, but only on weekends and
public holidays, or from 9am during school holidays, also for A$8.80.

BY BUS The Wellington Street Bus Station (close to Perth Train Station) and the
Perth Esplanade Busport on Mounts Bay Road are the two main arrival and departure
points. The vast majority of buses travel along St. Georges Terrace. You must
hail the bus to ensure that it stops. Buy tickets from the driver. Buses run from about
5:30am until about 10:30 or 11:30pm, depending on the route.

The best way to get around town is on the free CAT buses

that run a continual
loop of the city and Northbridge. The Red CAT runs east-west every 5 minutes,
Monday through Friday from 6:50am to 6:20pm, and every 25 minutes from 10am
to 6:15pm weekends. The Blue CAT runs north-south, between Northbridge and
Barrack Street Jetty every 7 minutes from 6:50am. The last Blue CAT service is at
6:20pm Monday through Thursday, but on Friday it then runs every 15 minutes from
6:20pm until 1am Saturday. Saturday it runs from 8:30am to 1am the next day every
15 minutes, and Sunday every 15 minutes from 10am to 6:20pm. The Yellow CAT
runs between East Perth and West Perth every 10 minutes from 6:50am to 6:20pm
weekdays, and every 30 minutes 10am to 6:10pm weekends. There are no CAT
services on public holidays. Look for the silver CAT bus stops with the black cat on
them. Transperth InfoCentres (see above) dispense free route maps. For beach
services, check the website.
Perth Tram Co. tours (see “Whale-Watching Cruises, Tram Trips & Other
Tours,” later in this chapter) are a good way to get around, too.

BY TRAIN Trains are fast, clean, and safe. They start at about 5:30am and run
every 15 minutes or more often during the day, and every half-hour at night until
midnight. All trains depart from Perth Station or the adjacent Perth Underground


Fast Facts: Perth
You are allowed, even encouraged, to
take your bicycle on Perth’s suburban
trains and ferries—free. The limitations
are to avoid the Monday to Friday peak
services—toward the city between 7
and 9am, and away from the city
between 4 and 6:30pm—and to not
have your bike at Perth Station during
these times.
Bring Your Bike, Too! Bring Your Bike, Too!

Station. Buy your ticket before you board, at the vending machines on the platform.
There are five lines: north to Clarkson (called the Joondalup Line); northeast to
Midland; southeast to Armadale; southwest to Fremantle; and south to the resort
town of Mandurah.

BY FERRY You will use ferries to visit South Perth and Perth Zoo. They run every
half-hour or so, more often in peak hours, every day from 6:50am weekdays and
7:50am weekends and public holidays, until 7:36pm (or until 9:30pm Fri–Sat in
summer, Sept–Apr) from the Barrack Street Jetty to Mends Street in South Perth.
Buy tickets before you board from the vending machine on the wharf. The trip takes
approximately 7 minutes.

BY TAXI Perth’s two biggest taxi companies are Swan Taxis (&13 13 30) and
Black & White Taxis (&13 10 08). Ranks (stands) are at Perth Railway Station
and at the Barrack Street end of Hay Street Mall.

BY CAR Perth’s signposting is reasonably good for helping drivers find their way
around. The major car-rental companies are Avis (&08/9325 7677), Budget (&08/
9480 3111), Europcar (&08/9226 0026), Hertz (&08/9321 7777), and Thrifty
(&08/9225 4466). All except Hertz also have outlets in Fremantle.


American Express
The foreign exchange
office at 645 Hay St. Mall
(& 1300/139 060) is
open Monday through Friday
9am to 5pm and Saturday
9am to noon.

Business Hours Banks
are open Monday through
Thursday from 9:30am to
4pm and until 5pm Friday,
though some branches
open Saturday mornings.
Standard suburban shopping
hours are 8am to
6pm Monday through Friday
(until 9pm on Thurs),

and from 8am to 5pm on
Saturday. The so-called
tourism precincts (including
the CBD, Northbridge,
Fremantle, and Subiaco)
have extended trading
until 9pm Monday to Friday
and 5pm Saturday and
Sunday. Note that not all
stores open from 6pm

Currency Exchange
Go to the American Express
office (see above) or Interforex,
Shop 24, London
Court, off Hay Street Mall
(&08/9325 7418; Mon–Fri

8am–7pm, Sat 9am–5pm,
Sun 11am–5pm). Interforex
has a Fremantle bureau at
the corner of William and
Adelaide streets (& 08/
9431 7022; Mon–Sat 9am–
6pm, Sun 10am–3pm).

Dentists LifeCare Dental
(& 08/9221 2777, or
0411/960 492 after-hours)
is on the Upper Walkway
Level, Forrest Chase shopping
complex, 419 Wellington
St., opposite Perth
Railway Station. Open daily
8am to 8pm.

Doctors Central City
Medical Centre is on the
Perth Railway Station concourse,
378 Wellington St.
(& 08/9221 4747). Open
daily 8am to 6pm.

Embassies &
Consulates The United
States Consulate-General

is at 16 St. Georges Terrace
(& 08/9202 1224). The
Canadian Consulate is at
267 St. Georges Terrace
(& 08/9322 7930). The
British Consular Agency is
at Level 26, 77 St. Georges
Terrace (&08/9224 4700).

Emergencies Dial
& 000 for fire, ambulance,
or police for emergencies
only. This is a free
call; no coins are needed
from a public phone.

Hospitals Royal Perth
Hospital, in the city center,
has a public emergency/
casualty ward (& 08/9224
2244). Enter from Victoria
Square, which is off the
eastern end of Murray

Where to Stay

Luggage Storage &
Lockers The Perth YHA
Backpackers Hostel, 300
Wellington St. (& 08/9287
3333) stores luggage, and
there are baggage lockers
at both international and
domestic terminals at the

Pharmacies Forrest
Chase Pharmacy (& 08/
9221 1691), on the upper
level of the Forrest Chase
shopping center, 425 Wellington
St. (near the dentist’s
office listed above),
is open Monday through
Thursday 8am to 7pm
(until 9pm Fri), Saturday
8:30am to 6pm, and Sunday
10am to 6pm. Most
pharmacies will make local
deliveries—try either
Friendlies or Amcal Chemist
branches, listed in the
telephone directory.

Police Dial &000 in a
life-threatening emergency.
Otherwise call & 13 14 44
to be connected to the

nearest station. Perth
Police Station, 60 Beaufort
St. (& 08/9223 3715),
and Fremantle Police Station,
45 Henderson St.
(& 08/9430 1222), are
open 24 hours.

Safety Perth is safe,
but steer clear of the back
streets of Northbridge and
the city center malls late
at night—where groups of
teenagers tend to congregate—
even if you are not

Time Zone Western
Australian time (WS) is
Greenwich Mean Time plus
8 hours. Standard time is 2
hours behind Sydney and
Melbourne, but 3 hours
behind from October to
March. Call & 1194 for the
exact local time.

Weather Call &1196
for a recorded local
weather forecast, or check




The city center has loads of hotels, but occupancy levels tend to be high. Friday
through Sunday nights, when the business travelers go home, can be quiet, so ask
about lower rates on weekends. You may strike a deal on a week night if business is
slow. Many hotels throw breakfast or some other feature into weekend packages.
Most hotels have rooms for travelers with disabilities. If you can’t find a hotel that
suits you, there are several B&Bs to choose from in and near the city; check www.
babs.com.au/02_wa/perth.htm for details.


Very Expensive

The Richardson

This is style. Opened in late 2006, this quiet, contemporary,
elegant, and discreet five-star hotel is tucked away in leafy West Perth,
within easy reach of the city center. It is only 2 blocks from Kings Park. There’s
24-hour room service, a day spa offering the ESPA range of treatments and products,
security-card access, and original artwork throughout. The business center includes




meeting rooms and serviced offices. The entire first floor is dedicated to the spa, a
good-size gym, and a pool and outdoor area. You can choose your own pillow type,
and dine in style at the Opus Restaurant. The standard rooms are all spacious and
classified (and priced) by size. It received an award for “Favorite Overseas Hotel
Spa” in 2009 from Conde Nast Traveller magazine.

32 Richardson St., West Perth, WA 6005. &08/9217 8888. Fax 08/9214 3931 www.therichardson.com.
au. 74 units, including 18 suites, some with shower only. A$450–A$550 standard rooms; A$695 2-bedroom
rooms; A$615–A$745 suites; A$850–A$2,500 penthouse suites. Room only prices. Extra person
(where possible) A$50. Children 11 and under stay free in parent’s room using existing bedding. Ask
about packages. AE, DC, MC, V. Valet parking A$25. Bus: Red CAT Stop 23 nearby. Amenities: Restaurant;
bar; concierge; gym and sauna; indoor heated pool; 24-hr. room service; day spa. In room: A/C,
TV/DVD w/free movies, fridge, hair dryer, high-speed Internet access (free 2 hr. per day), minibar, MP3
docking station (in suites).


Medina Executive Barrack Plaza

This is a modern apartment hotel with
contemporary styling in central Perth, within easy walking distance of the pedestrian
malls, railway station, Cultural Centre, and Northbridge eateries. It opened in July
2006 and appeals to the corporate market but is also geared toward families. Most
units are one-bedroom apartments of a good size, especially the living area. There
are studio rooms and two-bedroom apartments, with an option to link these for
secure family use. All units have small balconies, with the north-facing units best in
the cooler months, getting the most sun. Apartments have full kitchen facilities,
while studios have kitchenettes with microwave but no stove or washing machine.
You’ll get much better rates if you book online, so head for the website if this is your
choice. Rates tend to be higher October to March, with a quiet period mid-December
to mid-January (not New Year).

138 Barrack St. (btw. Murray and Wellington sts.), Perth, WA 6000. &1300/633 462 Medina in Australia,
or 08/9267 0000. Fax 08/9267 0199. www.medina.com.au. 99 units. A$255–A$335 studio;
A$245–A$360 1-bedroom apt; A$350–A$510 2-bedroom apt. Extra person/rollaway A$50, crib A$5.
AE, DC, MC, V. Parking A$25. Train: Perth. Bus: All Cats nearby. Amenities: Cafe next door with room
service and charge-back available; small gym and sauna; 12m (39-ft.) lap pool. In room: A/C, TV w/pay
movies, CD, hair dryer, Internet (A$13 per hr., A$25 per day), kitchenette (in studios), kitchen (in apts).

Parmelia Hilton Hotel

Perth’s first five-star hotel and still one of the best.
If you want a city-center hotel with style, this is it. It’s only a few steps to the Perth
Convention Centre, with the Swan River foreshore not far away. The elegant marble
foyer has a brass plaque commemorating the SS Parmelia, which brought 150 of the
first settlers to these shores. The hotel has subtly striped wallpaper throughout, the
spacious standard rooms and deluxe rooms are decorated in cool relaxing shades,
while the suites boast separate living, working, and dining areas. In 2009, it won an
award as having WA’s Best Environmental Initiative for a hotel. Soft furnishings have
been replaced since the last refurbishment in 1999. There is key-card elevator
access. The Globe Restaurant has one of Perth’s most innovative menus, and hosts
regular fashion and winemaker events.

14 Mill St. (just off St. Georges Terrace), Perth, WA 6000. &1300/445 866 Hilton in Australia, or 08/
9215 2000. Fax 08/9215 2001. www.hilton.com. 284 units. A$210–A$375 double; A$450–A$605 suite.
Ask about packages and specials, especially on weekends. AE, DC, MC, V. Valet parking A$39 per 24 hr.
Bus: Blue CAT Stop 1 (St. Georges Terrace). Amenities: 2 restaurants, 3 bars; babysitting service; concierge;
gym; outdoor pool; room service. In room: A/C, LCD TV w/pay movies, hair dryer, minibar, Wi-Fi.

The Sebel Residence East Perth

This 7-year-old hotel is in a great location
in East Perth, a contemporary redevelopment area just minutes from the city. It’s
quiet and has good views across Claisebrook Cove, lined with artwork and upmarket
housing. Galleries, restaurants, parks, and riverside walkways are a few steps away. A
barbecue area and 25m (82-ft.) lap pool overlook the Cove. There is no restaurant, but
the corner cafe will deliver breakfast, and it and other local restaurants, including
Lamont’s (p. 467) and a wine shop, offer charge-back facilities to the hotel. Each
one-bedroom apartment has a full kitchen with microwave, washer and dryer, and
balcony. Studios have kitchenette and shower only. You can combine a studio and a
one-bedroom apartment to make a private two-bedroom apartment. The best rooms
overlook Claisebrook Cove and involve a premium. Internet access is also available in
the lobby, and the staff is friendly and helpful. The prices may have significant seasonal
variations. A soft refurbishment program is scheduled for mid-2010.
60 Royal St. (at Plain St.), East Perth, WA 6004. &1800/010 559. Mirvac in Australia, or 08/9223
2500. Fax 08/9223 2590. www.mirvachotels.com. 57 units. Prices start from A$235–A$325 city-view
studio; others available on application. AE, DC, MC, V. Covered parking A$20 per day. Train: Claisebrook.
Bus: Yellow CAT stops 5 and 32. Amenities: Small, well-equipped gym; heated outdoor lap pool.
In room: A/C, TV/DVD w/in-house movies, fridge, hair dryer, kitchenette.


Goodearth Hotel Just a 5-minute walk from the CBD is this low-key but comfortable
three-and-a-half-star apartment-style hotel. It won the state award the last
3 years for standard accommodations. A casual restaurant offers breakfasts and dinners,
while the lobby shop has meals available (prepared daily). Reception operates
24/7. Ask for rooms on the top three floors, which have balconies and views. All have
queen beds or two singles. A soft refurbishment is confirmed for 2010.

195 Adelaide Terrace Perth, WA 6004. &08/9492 7777. Fax 08/9221 1956. www.goodearthhotel.com.
au. 181 units, most with shower only. A$130–A$145 studio; A$150–A$165 executive apt; A$165–A$180
1-bedroom apt; A$190–A$210 2-bedroom apt. AE, DC, MC, V. Limited on-site parking. Bus: stop right
outside, in Free Transit Zone. Amenities: Restaurant; bar; Internet kiosk; day spa. In room: A/C, TV w/
free movies, hair dryer, kitchenette, Wi-Fi (A$20 per day).

Miss Maud Swedish Hotel

This hotel offers a fresh European pensionstyle
presence in the heart of the city, 1 block from the Murray Street Mall. It’s a
1911 building so it’s a bit of a rabbit warren. The entire place has been refurbished
over recent years, but still retains its Swedish ambience, and it has a comfortable
“feel.” Miss Maud is real: Maud Edmiston started the hotel and restaurant 35 years
ago. Many staff have been with her for years, and there’s a loyal customer base.
Single women find it a safe and comfortable place to stay. Sixty percent of visitors
are corporate, and there’s a strong European market. There are six single rooms. Two
principal aims are to provide sleeping comfort and a good breakfast, so large beds are
provided, and there’s a fabulous buffet next door at Miss Maud Swedish Restaurant
(p. 467). All windows are double-glazed to eliminate traffic noise.

97 Murray St. (at Pier St.), Perth, WA 6000. &1800/998 022 in Australia, or 08/9325 3900. Fax 08/
9221 3225. www.missmaud.com.au. 52 units, 35 with shower only. From A$179 double; from A$159
single. Rates include smorgasbord breakfast. Treat for Two package includes smorgasbord dinner from
A$23. AE, DC, MC, V. Public parking 1 block away. Bus: Red CAT Stop 1 (Pier St.); Blue CAT Stop 5 (Murray
St. Mall E.). Amenities: Restaurant, takeout pastry shop; babysitting; discounted access to nearby
health club; Internet cafe (A$2 for 15 min.); room service. In room: A/C, flatscreen TV/VCR w/free cable,
hair dryer, minibar, Wi-Fi.






11 Sullivans Hotel This small, intimate, family-owned hotel about 1.5km
(1 mile) from town is immediately below Kings Park and close to the Swan River. It’s
popular with British and other Europeans for its small-scale ambience and friendly
service. The rooms are simply furnished, not glamorous but roomy. Larger Deluxe
rooms come with balconies and views over parkland and the freeway to the river.
There is one two-bedroom apartment with kitchenette. Out back is a pleasant little
pool with sun deck. Use of bikes is free, the restaurant is affordable, and free Wi-Fi
is available. The city, Swan River, and Kings Park are just a stroll away.

166 Mounts Bay Rd., Perth, WA 6000. &08/9321 8022. Fax 08/9481 6762. www.sullivans.com.au. 71
units, 69 with shower only, 5 family rooms. A$155–A$175 standard double; A$175–A$195 Deluxe double;
A$170 1-bedroom apt; A$210 2-bedroom apt. Winter package (pay for 3 days, stay 4) available. B&B
and weekly rates available. AE, DC, MC, V. Free parking. Bus: Blue Cat by front door, otherwise hotel is
within Free Transit Zone. Amenities: Restaurant/bar; free bikes; free Internet access; small outdoor
pool. In room: A/C, TV w/free movies, hair dryer.

InterContinental Burswood Hotel

It’s the location of this hotel that
first grabs your attention: The distinctively tiered building is set within parkland
right next to the Swan River, overlooking the city. Then you walk into the full-height,
glass-ceiling atrium, all set about with high-flying triangular sails. Glass-sided elevators
ascend one wall. The foyer and public facilities have all been upgraded since
2003, with ongoing guest-room refurbishment. The hotel is part of an entertainment
complex that includes Perth’s only casino, a large theater, and another hotel (Holiday
Inn Perth Burswood), with a public 18-hole golf course nearby; the entire complex
won a major 2008 award for water savings. The surrounding parks and gardens
include lakes and fountains, free barbecue facilities, a heritage walk, an outdoor
summer cinema, a tourist helipad, and a children’s playground. Being outside the
city center, the clientele is a mix of tourists and corporate travelers. The real stars
are the spacious suites with large balconies facing straight downriver; otherwise, ask
for river-view rooms. The fitness center is staffed from 6am to 9pm.

Great Eastern Hwy. (by the Causeway), Burswood, WA 6100. &1800/221 335 (reservations) in Australia,
or 08/9362 8888. www.perth.intercontinental.com. 402 units. A$275–A$495 Classic room, room
only; A$380–A$620 Club Intercontinental room (includes breakfast, valet parking, and club access);
A$888–A$1,120 suite. Max usage 3 adults in twin, or with 2 children using existing bedding. AE, DC, MC,

V. Valet parking A$30 per day to max A$75 per stay; some free parking available. Bus: Numerous along
Great Eastern Hwy. Starting point for Perth Tram. Train: Burswood station. Amenities: 8 restaurants; 8
bars (including casino); bikes for hire; concierge; well-equipped fitness center and sauna; enormous
free-form pool; heated indoor pool; 24-hr. room service; day/beauty spa; tennis courts. In room: A/C,
TV w/pay movies, hair dryer, Internet (up to A$29 per 24 hr.), minibar with freezer.
Hotel Rendezvous Observation City Perth

If you’re looking for absolute
beach frontage, this is it. The only high-rise along Perth’s Indian Ocean coast,
the Rendezvous has superb views up and down Scarborough’s long sandy beach. It’s
known for its surf lifesaving club and beach amphitheater. There’s also a children’s
playground, and part of the coastal bike/walking track is right here. Surfing lessons
and bike hire are available, and the hotel’s no-fuss ambience makes it popular with
vacationers from around the world, and families. Most of the rooms, refurbished in
2004, have private balconies with ocean views; some are interconnected. Bed configurations
are king-size, queen-size plus single, or two doubles. The suites have

prime position on the top floors with spacious balconies. It has the largest hotel gym
in Perth (refitted 2006), and a large pool area with palm trees and a waterfall—sheltered
from the sea breeze.

The Esplanade, Scarborough Beach, WA 6019. &1800/067 680 in Australia, or 08/9245 1000. Fax
08/9245 1345. www.rendezvoushotels.com. 327 rooms, 6 suites. A$175–A$275 standard room (limited
views/balconies); A$215–A$315 deluxe; from A$540 suite. Prices for rooms as configured. Ask about
packages. AE, DC, MC, V. Valet parking A$20; self-parking A$7. Bus: 400. Amenities: Restaurant; cafe;
2 bars; babysitting; bike rental; concierge; executive-level rooms top 3 floors; fitness center and steam
rooms; Jacuzzi; heated outdoor pool; children’s wading pool; room service; spa; 2 outdoor day/night
tennis courts; limited watersports equipment rentals. In room: A/C, TV w/pay movies, hair dryer, Internet
(most rooms; A$25 per day), minibar.


There’s something of a perpetual holiday atmosphere in this picturesque port city.
Public transport for the 19km (12-mile) journey to Perth’s city center is good, especially
the train, so you can happily explore all of Perth from here—but many top attractions
are in Freo as well. There are good restaurants and a happening nightlife, too.

Esplanade Hotel Fremantle

Freo’s best hotel is this low-rise 1897 colonial
building wrapped by two verandas, now modernized and extended, and centered
on the original glass and iron four-story atrium. It’s opposite a leafy park close to the
Fishing Harbour and within walking distance of all Freo’s cafes, shops, and attractions.
A major expansion in 2003 added 41 rooms and a 1,000-seat convention
center. Room refurbishment was completed in 2007. The rooms are all of reasonable
size, with the suites especially spacious and having large balconies. Some studio
units have Jacuzzis. Eleven rooms are designed for wheelchair access. The larger
pool in the courtyard is a good sheltered place to chill out without getting buffeted
by the pesky sea breeze. The Esplanade claims to be WA’s only carbon-neutral hotel
and won a national hotel “Environmental Initiative Award” in 2008.

Marine Terrace at Essex St., Fremantle, WA 6160. &1800/998 201 in Australia, or 08/9432 4000. Fax
08/9430 4539. www.esplanadehotelfremantle.com.au. 300 units, some with shower only. A$415–
A$472 double; A$504–A$546 studio; A$578–A$788 suite. Extra person A$50. Children 11 and under
stay free in parent’s room with existing bedding. Cribs free. Check for impressive Internet discounts and
several 1- and 2-night packages. AE, DC, MC, V. Valet parking A$25; paid street parking nearby. Train:
Fremantle. Amenities: 2 restaurants; cafe; 2 bars; babysitting; bike rental; concierge; small gym; 2
heated outdoor pools; room service; sauna; 3 outdoor spas. In room: A/C, TV w/pay movies, hair dryer,
minibar, Wi-Fi.

Fothergills of Fremantle

One of Perth’s best bed-and-breakfast establishments,
Fothergills is located in two lovely old restored 1890s limestone mansions.
Fremantle, with all its charms, is a 10-minute walk, and Fremantle Prison (see
“Seeing the Sights in Fremantle,” later in this chapter) is a block away. The houses
have been extensively and tastefully modernized; and owner David Cooke has spread
his extensive art collection throughout, bringing color, light, and life. The upstairs
balconies have views over the roofs of Fremantle to the Indian Ocean, ideal for
evening sundowners. Most rooms have queen-size beds, while the O’Connor Suite
has a king-size and double fold-out bed. There’s no lounge, but the courtyards are
quiet, restful havens, and an option for alfresco breakfasts.

18–22 Ord St., Fremantle, WA 6160. & 08/9335 6784. www.fothergills.net.au. 6 units, most with
shower only. A$170–A$235 double. Extra adult A$45. Children 4 and under stay free in parent’s room.
Minimum stay 2 nights; extra A$10 if 1 night. Week-stay package. Full breakfast included. MC, V. Street






parking. Bus: Fremantle Cat bus, stop 4 (High St.), 2 blocks away. Amenities: Breakfast conservatory.
In room: A/C, TV/DVD, CD, fridge, hair dryer, Wi-Fi (free).

Where to Dine

An array of upscale choices plus terrific cheap ethnic spots make Perth’s restaurant
scene as sophisticated as Sydney’s and Melbourne’s—which is to say, excellent.
You’ll find a great range in “restaurant city,” Northbridge. Friday and Saturday nights
tend to be very busy, so service can suffer. Midweek is less busy, quieter, and generally
more pleasant. In addition to the eateries listed below, many hotels have excellent
restaurants, including the Globe at the Parmelia Hilton (p. 462) and Opus
at the Richardson (p. 461).

Many outlets emphasize the use of fresh local produce. Western Australia is
blessed with several climate zones plus pristine ocean waters, so look out for seasonal
berry, stone, citrus, and tropical fruit; lamb, beef, veal, and goat; seafood such
as rock lobster, abalone, and prawns; freshwater crustaceans, such as marron and
yabbies; and superb fish, including dhufish, snapper, red emperor, and cobbler.

For inexpensive pasta, a Turkish bread sandwich, or excellent coffee and cake, you
can’t beat Perth’s homegrown DOME chain of cafes. Look for the dark green logo
at Trinity Arcade between Hay Street Mall and St. Georges Terrace (& 08/9226
0210); 149 James St., Northbridge (& 08/9328 8094); 13 South Terrace, Fremantle
(&08/9336 3040); and 26 Rokeby Rd., Subiaco (&08/9381 5664)—to
name a few.

There’s been major growth in both the cafe culture and the availability of small
bars (often with tapas-style menus). Two adjacent and casual cafes, Tiger Tiger
(&08/9322 8055) and Secret Garden (&08/9322 5885), are in Murray Mews,
329 Murray St., while the sophisticated Andaluz Bar & Tapas (&08/9481 0093)
is at 29 Howard St., just off St. Georges Terrace.

Western Australian law bans smoking in enclosed public spaces, including bars and
restaurants. Some licensed premises are allowed smoking zones in their outdoor areas.




MODERN AUSTRALIAN What a sensational view! You look
past spiky grass trees and towering lemon-scented gums to Perth’s panoply of skyscrapers
and the Swan River. Even better, the victuals match the vista. Executive
chef Chris Taylor changes the menu daily to focus on the very latest fresh produce,
with seafood and fish especially prominent. This place was awarded a national title
for “Best Informal Dining in Australia” in 2006. Seared scallops with green leek
puree are a great starter, while crisp fried soft-shell crabs with cumin salt or panfried
goat-cheese gnocchi both come as starters or entrees. For the best view, ask for
a seat on the terrace.

Fraser Ave. (near the Information Kiosk), Kings Park. &08/9481 7100. www.frasersrestaurant.com.au.
Reservations required. Main courses A$35–A$50. AE, DC, MC, V (all with 1.75% surcharge). Breakfast
Sun and Dec daily from 8am. Daily noon–late. Closed Good Friday. Bus: 37 and 39 stop behind the
information kiosk. Red CAT Stop 26 (Havelock St.) is 2 blocks from the gates.



stated contemporary design and ambience only help to emphasize the quality of the

food here. Chef Neal Jackson has a loyal clientele and a host of awards for his ability

to bring out the best in local produce, with some quirky touches based partly on his
English background. This place is a short distance out of town but well worth the
trip. The menu changes seasonally but with a reputation for duck dishes and souffles,
both sweet and savory, and several vegetarian choices. His degustation menu,
called “the Dego,” offers nine courses, with suggested matching wines. Friday and
Saturday are booked out weeks ahead, and diners are warned, “This food may contain
traces of nuts, love, quality produce, and passion!”

483 Beaufort St., Highgate. &08/9328 1177. www.jacksonsrestaurant.com.au. Reservations essential.
Main courses A$44; “Dego” A$120 or A$175 with wines (A$235 premium wines). AE, DC, MC, V. Mon–
Sat 7pm–late. Closed Good Friday. Bus: 21 or 67 (limited night services) by Queen’s Tavern.

Lamont’s East Perth

well-deserved reputation for the flavor-driven food she produces at her three restaurants
in Margaret River, Swan Valley, and here. The menu changes regularly depending
on the availability of seasonal produce. Marron (a local crustacean) is a specialty,
presented in various manners, especially a poached version with pea risotto. The
modern glass-fronted restaurant faces directly on to Claisebrook Inlet, with the
Swan River 50m (164 ft.) away, and regular food and wine events are held here—
check the website for details. There’s an extensive wine list, with the option to take
away the Lamont family wines at cellar-door prices.

11 Brown St., East Perth. &08/9202 1566. www.lamonts.com.au. Reservations essential. Main courses
A$36–A$39. AE, DC, MC, V. Wed–Sun noon–late. Closed public holidays. Bus: Yellow Cat Stop 5 (Trafalgar
Rd.); then cross Claisebrook Bridge.

Must Winebar

FRENCH BISRO This place has one of Australia’s finest wine
lists, and there’s some pretty good food too. Check out the cool contemporary
design, with a suspended wine rack separating the bar from the restaurant. It’s a
trendy hangout especially on Friday and Saturday nights. There are 500 wines in
stock, with some 40 available by the glass. Food is contemporary French; the charcuterie
plate (shared appetizer) and the pan-fried potato gnocchi with braised rabbit
ragout are specialties.
519 Beaufort St., Highgate (close to Jackson’s). &08/9328 8255. www.must.com.au. Reservations
recommended. Main courses A$35–A$40. AE, DC, MC, V. Daily noon–midnight. Closed public holidays.
Bus: 21 or 67 (limited night services) by Queen’s Tavern.


44 King Street BISTRO Socialites, hip corporate types, and plain casuals adorn
this bustling hangout—for a meal, a snack, or just good coffee, roasted on-site. The
interior is a mix of industrial chic and European cafe, with high ceilings, dark timber
tables, exposed air ducts, and windows onto the street. The open kitchen produces
all its own bread and pastries and has a menu that changes monthly depending on
what’s available. (Try the King Street Tasting Plate.) The menu helpfully lists wine
suggestions for each dish and offers over 70 wines by the glass in either 150ml or
60ml size. There’s also a good beer selection.

44 King St. & 08/9321 4476. Reservations not accepted. Breakfast A$10–A$18, lunch and dinner
A$20–A$50. AE, DC, MC, V. Daily 7am–late. Closed Dec 25 and Good Friday. Bus: Red CAT Stop 29
(King St.); Blue CAT Stop 1 (Cloisters).

Miss Maud Swedish Restaurant

INTERNATIONAL “Good food and
plenty of it” is the motto at Miss Maud’s homey establishment, and the crowds packing






Looking for a Late-Night Bite
Eating after midnight in Perth can be a
problem. Fast Eddy’s (see above) is an
option; otherwise, try Chung Wah Lane
in Northbridge. It’s more “China Alley”
than Chinatown, with several Chinese
restaurants, including Uncle Billy’s
(&08/9228 9388; http://unclebillys.
blogspot.com), tucked behind a red-gilt
Chinese gateway at 60 Roe St. (behind
the Bus Station, btw. William and Lake
sts.). The restaurants on this strip
mostly open daily between 5 and 6pm
and close at 4am.

the place prove it works. Most diners skip the a la carte menu and go straight for the
smorgasbord. At breakfast, that means 50 dishes, including pancakes cooked before
your eyes. At lunch and dinner you can tuck into soup, salads, a big range of seafood
(including oysters at dinner), cold meats, roasts, hot vegetables, pasta, cheeses,
European-style breads, half a dozen tortes, fruit, and ice cream—65 dishes in all.
Service is fast and polite.

97 Murray St. (at Pier St.), below the Miss Maud Swedish Hotel. &08/9325 3900. www.missmaud.
com.au. Reservations recommended. Smorgasbord breakfast A$24 Mon–Fri, A$26 Sat, A$28 Sun and
holidays; lunch A$31 Mon–Fri, A$32 Sat, A$36 Sun and holidays; dinner A$41 Sun–Fri, A$48 Sat and
holidays. Higher prices in December for Christmas Smorgasbord. Significant discounts for children 4–13.
A la carte main courses, sandwiches, and light meals A$8–A$30. AE, DC, MC, V. Daily smorgasbord
times 6:45–10am (10:30am on Sun and holidays), noon–2:30pm (3pm on Sun and holidays), and
5–9:30pm (10pm Sat and holidays). A la carte, coffee, and cake served all day. Bus: Red CAT Stop 1 (Pier
St.); Blue CAT Stop 5 (Murray St. Mall E.).


Fast Eddy’s Cafe FAST FOOD A hefty menu of steaks, burgers, sandwiches,
salads, pancakes, sundaes, shakes, and all-day brekkies (breakfasts) are served at this
popular chain—and it’s open 24/7. The interior sports 1930s soap-powder posters and
Coca-Cola advertisements. One side is table service; the same food minus the side
orders will cost you about half of the already-low prices at the Victorian-Era-meets1950s-
counter-service diner and takeout section on the other side. It’s licensed.

454 Murray St. (at Milligan St.). &08/9321 2552. www.fasteddyscafes.com. Main courses A$16–A$35.
MC, V. Daily 24 hr. Bus: Red CAT Stop 28 (Milligan St.).


The area is jam-packed with cafes and restaurants, many reflecting the waves of
migration that have made this part of Perth a staging point in their assimilation. Italian,
Greek, Chinese, and Vietnamese have all lived here and now cook here.

Romany Restaurant

ITALIAN In new premises since 2006, this longlasting
traditional (and popular, even on weeknights) Italian restaurant has a new
life. It has a classy but comfortable appearance with (subtle) maroon chairs and
walls, in and out, which show up the brilliant white tablecloths. The effect is to
make you feel that you could happily spend several hours here and the staff wouldn’t
mind. The mains are mainstream Italian, featuring dishes such as osso buco and
capretto (baby goat). It has a good but inexpensive wine list. A lot of regulars appear
at lunch and weekends.

105 Aberdeen St., Northbridge. &08/9328 8042. Reservations recommended for dinner. Main courses
A$22–A$34. 10% surcharge public holidays. AE, DC, MC, V. Mon–Fri noon–2:30pm; Mon–Sat 5:30–9.30pm
(last orders). Closed Good Friday, Apr 25, and for 3 weeks from Dec 24. Bus: Blue CAT Stop 11.

Star Anise

David Coomer has propelled this small restaurant on a quiet suburban street
to become perhaps the best rated in Perth. The converted house features several
dining areas, including a small open courtyard, and the decor is clean and subtle
with Asian influences and contemporary artworks. The innovative menu is done
daily and features a “Signature Menu” of six fixed courses (with suggested wines).
The a la carte section is kept simple with five dishes listed in each of the appetizer,
main, and dessert sections. Among David’s noted creations are crispy aromatic duck,
seared scallops, and licorice ice cream. Tuesday is an optional BYO (bring your own
alcohol) night.

225 Onslow Rd., Shenton Park (next to Subiaco). &08/9381 9811. www.staraniserestaurant.com.au.
Reservations essential. Main courses A$40–A$55; Signature Menu A$110 food only, A$165 with wine
(A$195 premium wines). AE, DC, MC, V. Tues–Sat 6:30–10:30pm. Closed Good Friday, Apr 25, Christmas,
and Dec 31. Taxi necessary.

Witch’s Cauldron

MODERN AUSTRALIAN Australia’s best garlic prawns
arrive preceded by a wafting cloud of aroma. The Cauldron has twice been voted as
Perth’s favorite restaurant. Started in a single room in 1971, its owners, Geoff and
Tanis Gosling, have expanded it into a large double-story establishment without
compromising style or standards. They have even bought some street-side parking
bays, effectively extending the restaurant right across the sidewalk. Numerous
witches, including political cartoons, adorn the walls and ceilings without being
kitsch. One feature is a series of circular banquettes for cozy dining for groups of
four to six. Service is brisk, friendly, and efficient. Besides the garlic prawns, there’s
an emphasis on simple cooking of quality fish and steak. Try tournedos chasseur (beef
rolled with mushrooms and bacon) or dhufish meuniere (dhufish grilled in a light
lemon-butter sauce). It’s also open for breakfast (but without the garlic prawns).
89 Rokeby Rd. (near Hay St.), Subiaco. &08/9381 2508. www.witchs.com.au. Reservations essential
on weekends. Main courses A$31–A$51; lunch includes set menus, A$39 2 courses, A$55 3 courses. AE,
DC, MC, V. Daily 7:30–11am, noon–5pm, and 6pm–late. Closed Good Friday, Apr 25, Dec 25 and 31. Train:

The Blue Duck

INTERNATIONAL/PIZZA For ocean views and a lively
atmosphere, it’s hard to beat this casual restaurant perched right above the beach.
The balcony has pride of place and is always booked out, but the interior isn’t bad
either, with full-length picture windows. It’s popular throughout the day and especially
appealing at sunset, but standards can slip when the place is busy. North
Cottesloe Beach is a favorite spot for early morning bathers, so breakfast is served
from 7am (coffee from 6:30am), with the full menu available from noon. The menu
offers a variety of salads, while the seafood tasting plate is always popular.
151 Marine Parade, North Cottesloe. &08/9385 2499. www.blueduck.com.au. Reservations recommended.
Breakfast A$12–A$20; main courses A$26–A$40, pizzas and salads A$18–A$29. 10% surcharge
public holidays. AE, MC, V. Daily 6:30–11:30am and noon–late. Bus: 102 or 381.






The Capri

ITALIAN A Fremantle institution, this place has been owned and run
by the Pizzale family for 57 years. This is dining as it once was—no fussy furnishings,
just good honest Italian grub, at good honest prices. Free bread and water are served
immediately, and complimentary soup is served with main courses. It’s unlicensed, so
BYO. Here you’ll find standard Italian fare, such as spaghetti marinara and scaloppine,
available in small or large servings. It’s right in the middle of the Cappuccino Strip.
21 South Terrace, Fremantle. &08/9335 1399. Main courses A$26–A$31. MC, V. Daily noon–2pm and
5–9:30pm. Train: Fremantle.


SEAFOOD Right on Fremantle’s Fishing Boat Harbour, this is
one of several places offering freshly cooked, tasty fish and chips—and other seafood.
It’s a functional, informal, volume restaurant but still has character. Large fish
tanks (for show) are the decorative feature, and floor-to-ceiling glass doors lead out
to the broad timber balcony, also with seating, directly above the water. Fishing boats
are moored next door. The food comes battered and fried, or grilled, but the essential
meal is fish and chips. There’s a kid’s menu.

44 Mews Rd. (Fisherman’s Wharf), Fremantle. &08/9335 1911. www.cicerellos.com.au. Main courses
A$15–A$35. AE, DC, MC, V. Daily 10am–8:30pm. Closed Dec 25. Train: Fremantle.

The Essex

MODERN AUSTRALIAN For a quiet, elegant, romantic
night out, the Essex is hard to beat. Located just off Fremantle’s Cappuccino Strip,
and up the road from the Esplanade Hotel, it’s in a restored 120-year-old limestone
cottage, with the dining areas spread among several rooms. The service is discreet
but can leave you lonely at times. Try the Balmain bugs (a curiously flattened, but
tasty, crustacean) and ravioli, or the beef Gabrielle filled with scallops.

20 Essex St., Fremantle. &08/9335 5725. www.essexrestaurant.com.au. Reservations recommended.
Main courses A$38–A$59; lunch A$38 2 courses, A$45 3 courses. AE, DC, MC, V. Daily 6pm–late;
lunches Wed–Fri and Sun from noon. Train: Fremantle. Bus: Fremantle Cat (South or Marine Terrace)—
does not run at night.

Little Creatures PUB/PIZZA This place is hard to categorize but is essentially a
noshery serving good, cheap food to showcase the beers made onsite. Half the huge
tin shed—which was formerly a boatshed, then a croc farm—is the award-winning
microbrewery, also called Little Creatures; the stainless-steel tanks are in full view
of the bar and eating area. It’s all rather barnlike, with ultrasimple furnishings. But
there’s an open kitchen, an alfresco section by the harbor, and a lively atmosphere.
The wood-fired pizzas, tapas-type dishes, and freshly cut frites are best known. The
staff, known as “creatures,” are young but provide fast, friendly service.

The Cappuccino Strip
Don’t leave Freo without a “short
black” (that’s an espresso) or a “flat
white” (coffee with milk) at one of the
many alfresco cafes along South Terrace.
On weekends, the street bursts at
the seams with locals flocking to Italian-
style eateries that serve good coffee
and excellent focaccia, pasta, and
pizza. DOME, The Merchant, and Gino’s
are three to look for.

40 Mews Rd., Fremantle. & 08/9430 5155. www.littlecreatures.com.au. Mains A$16–A$32. MC, V.
Mon–Fri 10am–midnight; Sat–Sun brunch from 9am–midnight. Closed Dec 25. Train: Fremantle.

The Loose Box

FRENCH One of the true stars of the Australian
dining scene, chef Alain Fabregues gives diners at the Loose Box a chance to experience
traditional French cuisine, adapted to reflect fresh local produce. The restaurant
has been named “Australia’s Best” by both American Express and Gourmet
Traveller magazine. Alain provides seasonal set degustation menus—either standard
or vegetarian (Loose Box has its own vegetable and herb garden). WA has recently
become a major source of black truffles (see “The South Coast” later in this chapter),
and there’s a truffle-based menu in season (June–Aug). It’s a 40-minute drive
to get here, in the hills at Mundaring, but well worthwhile, and you can stay the
night in well-appointed cottages at the bottom of the garden.

6825 Gt. Eastern Hwy., Mundaring. &08/9295 1787. www.loosebox.com.au. Degustation menu A$150
food only. AE, DC, MC, V. Wed–Sat from 7pm; Sun lunch from noon. Closed Dec 25.

What to See & Do in Perth

AQWA (Aquarium of Western Australia)

There’s plenty to see here,
including Australia’s largest walk-through aquarium, where you are surrounded by 4m
(13-ft.) sharks, stingrays, turtles, and hundreds of colorful fish. You can also come
face to fin with pretty leafy sea dragons, and observe some of the ocean’s deadliest
creatures, such as blue-ringed octopus and stone-like stonefish. AQWA specializes in
the various ocean ecosystems around WA, and you can experience each of them during
your visit. It has a touch pool, a great attraction for small (and bigger) kids, a
lagoon full of stingrays, and exhibits on coral reefs. Ocean Guides provide talks on
marine creatures throughout the day. For A$159 plus A$20 for snorkel gear or A$40
for dive gear (diving qualifications required), you can swim with the sharks (daily
1 and 3pm). Advance bookings essential. Allow half a day here.

Hillarys Boat Harbour, 91 Southside Dr., Hillarys. &08/9447 7500. www.aqwa.com.au. Admission A$28
adults, A$20 seniors and students, A$16 children 4–15, free for children 3 and under, A$75 families of 4.
Daily 10am–5pm; sometimes later in Jan. Closed Dec 25. Train: Joondalup line to Warwick, transfer to bus
no. 423. By car, take Mitchell Fwy. 23km (14 miles) north, turn left onto Hepburn Ave. and proceed to
roundabout at entrance to Hillarys Boat Harbour; AQWA is at the south western end of the harbor.

Art Gallery of Western Australia

This is a well laid out and attractive gallery
that houses the State Art Collection. Outstanding among the international and
Australian sections is the Aboriginal art collection, regarded as the finest in Australia.
There are regular visiting exhibitions, with occasional blockbusters. Free 1-hour
tours of a particular collection run Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays
at 11am and 1pm; Friday tours are at 12:30 and 2pm; Saturdays at 1pm.
Cultural Centre, Roe St. and Beaufort St. (enter off the elevated walkway opposite Perth Railway Station),
Northbridge. &08/9492 6600 administration, or 08/9492 6622 recorded info line. www.artgallery.
wa.gov.au. Free admission. Entry fee may apply to special exhibitions. Daily 10am–5pm. Closed Good
Friday, Dec 25, and Apr 25 (Anzac Day). Train: Perth. Bus: Blue CAT Stop 7 (Museum).

Cohunu Koala Park

WA allows you to actually hold a koala, and this large
park set in bushland is the only place to do so. You can also hand-feed kangaroos,
wallabies, and emus wandering in natural enclosures, see wombats and dingoes,
walk through an aviary housing Aussie native birds, and see wild water birds on the





ponds. The Caversham Wildlife Park in the Swan Valley (see “Side Trips from
Perth,” later in this chapter) has a bigger, more intriguing range of native species, but
does not allow koala cuddling. It’s hard to get here without a car.

Lot 103, Nettleton Rd., Byford (500m off the South West Hwy.). &08/9526 2966. www.cohunu.com.
au. Admission A$15 adults, A$5 children 4–13. Koala holding A$25 (take your own photo/video). Daily
10am–5pm; koala photo sessions 10am–4pm. Closed Dec 25. Train: Armadale line to Armadale; then bus
no. 251/2, followed by 1km (1.2-mile) walk. By car, take Riverside Dr. across Swan River onto Albany Hwy.
to Armadale, then South West Hwy. for 5km (3 miles); turn left onto Nettleton Rd. for 500m (1,640
ft.)—about a 45-min. drive from city.

His Majesty’s Theatre and King Street

A lovely old wedding cake of an
Edwardian theater, “The Maj” was rescued from demolition in 1979. It’s Perth’s major
venue for the WA Ballet and Opera companies, cabaret performances (downstairs),
and visiting theater productions, including those for the Perth International Arts Festival.
Friends (volunteers) of His Majesty’s are on hand Monday to Friday 10am to 4pm
to provide information and tours of the auditorium (unless it’s in use) and public areas
for a donation. There’s a magnificent “Lyre Bird” curtain backstage which can sometimes
be viewed on group tours (minimum of 10 people), which take in this area.
Downstairs houses the Museum of Performing Arts, with an engrossing collection of
costumes and other memorabilia. A modern cafe, Barre, occupies part of the ground
floor. King Street, just north of the theater, is a charming little thoroughfare with
numerous restored buildings housing upmarket bistros, galleries, and fashion stores.
Theater on corner of Hay St. and King St., Perth. &08/9265 0900 administration. www.hismajestys
theatre.com.au. Check daily newspaper or Web for current productions. Performing Arts Museum
Mon–Fri 10am–4pm with gold coin donation. King St. outlets include 44 King St. (see “Where to Dine,”
earlier in this chapter) and Creative Native (see “The Shopping Scene,” later in this chapter).

Kings Park & Botanic Garden

In prime position, overlooking both the
city and Swan River, is this 406-hectare (1,000-acre) hilltop jewel of parkland, a
botanical garden, war memorials (including the State War Memorial, which sits
imposingly on a steep bluff above the river), and native bush. The main entry, along
Fraser Avenue, is lined with magnificent lemon-scented gums, while each tree on
the other roads is dedicated to a fallen soldier. You can inspect Western Australian
flora; experience the solitude of the bush; and bike, stroll, or drive an extensive
network of roads and trails. A walk through the Botanic Garden showcases many of
the state’s plant species, including banksias and boabs, and leads to the Federation
Walkway, a glass arched bridge that soars through the treetops. Visiting the spring
wildflower displays (which peak Aug–Oct) is a highlight for many, with an excellent
Wildflower Festival running through September. A range of excellent maps can
be downloaded from the website, showing the locations of barbecue and picnic
facilities, playgrounds, tearooms, an information center manned by volunteer guides,
the stylish Aspects of Kings Park craft shop (p. 482), Fraser’s restaurant (p. 466),
and the Zamia Cafe.

Pick up self-guiding maps from the Visitor Information Centre (&08/9480 3634),
or join one of the free guided walks leaving from opposite the Centre. Walks depart
daily at 10am and 2pm and take 11.2 hours, or 21.2 hours for bushwalks from May to
October only. For an Aboriginal take on the park and the entire Perth region, don’t
miss the Kings Park Indigenous Heritage Tour

(& 08/9483 1111). Greg
Nannup provides an excellent 11.2-hour tale of his people and their use of the area

Anzac Day (Apr 25), which commemo-
rates the Australian landings at Gallipoli
in 1915 that helped to define the nation,
is the most poignant public holiday in
Australia. The Perth Dawn Service is
held by the War Memorial in Kings
Park. You arrive in the dark and ease
your way into the throng. The muffled
tapping of a drum marks the official
procession to the memorial, and then
the service starts as the predawn light
reveals a hushed crowd of up to
40,000, young and old. The sun rises
behind the memorial silhouetted
against the Swan River, and the Last
Post sounds.
Anzac Day Dawn Service
and its resources, including a riveting description of the local Creation story. Bookings
are essential; the tour costs A$25 adults, or A$15 children 4 to 16.

The Perth Tram Co. (&08/9322 2006) runs hop-on-and-off tours of the park
in replica wooden trams, as part of their standard circuit. Trams depart from the
main car park off Fraser Avenue, and it’s possible to just ride through the park for
A$8. Buy tickets on board.

Fraser Ave. off Kings Park Rd. &08/9480 3634 Visitor Information Centre, or 08/9480 3600 administration.
www.bgpa.wa.gov.au. Free admission. Information Centre daily 9:30am–4pm (closed Dec 25).
Bus: 37 stops by the Information Centre; Red CAT Stop 25 (Havelock St.) is 1 block from the entrance.

Perth Mint

This lovely historic building—built in the 1890s to refine gold and
mint currency from the Kalgoorlie goldfields—is one of the world’s oldest mints
operating from its original premises. It now produces legal-tender precious metal
bullion and commemorative coins for investors and collectors around the world, and
bullion is still traded here. Hourly guided tours allow visitors to see Australia’s largest
collection of nuggets, watch gold coins being minted, handle a 400-ounce gold bar,
and engrave their own medallion. Tours start with a guided heritage walk on the
half-hour and lead on to the molten-gold pouring demonstration (on the hour 10am–
4pm weekdays, and 10am–noon on weekends and public holidays). The shop sells
gold coins and jewelry made from West Australian gold, diamonds, and pearls.
310 Hay St. (at Hill St.), East Perth. &08/9421 7223. www.perthmint.com.au. Admission to the Gold
Exhibition A$15 adults, A$13 seniors and students, A$5 school-age children. Shop admission free. Mon–
Fri 9am–5pm; Sat–Sun and holidays 9am–1pm. Closed Jan 1, Good Friday, Apr 25 (Anzac Day), and Dec
25–26. Bus: Red CAT Stop 10 (Perth Mint).

Perth Zoo

This is an excellent modern zoo—with re-created natural habitats
including the African savanna, Australian wetlands and Asian rainforest. It has several
successful breeding programs, including its world-leading orangutan one; others
cover a selection of West Australian fauna, including the numbat, which is WA’s
animal emblem. This is a good place to see a wide range of Australian wildlife such
as the kangaroo, koala, wombat, dingo, emu, echidna (the Aussie answer to the
porcupine), and penguin, and there’s a walk-through aviary. Exotic animals include
other primates, Rothschild’s giraffes, lions, African painted dogs, tigers, meerkats,
and elephants. Feeding demonstrations and keeper talks run throughout the day.
Volunteer guides, called docents, are around 10am to 3pm to provide information,
and conduct free daily walking tours at 11am (Oct–Apr) and 1:30pm. Guided 1-hour
tours are available on environmentally friendly Zebra cars, while Close Encounter



Australia Day (Jan 26) commemorates
the arrival of the First Fleet in Australia.
The main celebrations in Perth are
around Perth Water, climaxing with a
massive fireworks display set off from
moored barges. It’s free and draws over
300,000 people, so you need to stake
out a vantage point early or, if you’re
staying in a hotel with river views,
make sure you’re at the window!
Catch the Fireworks
Tours (check website for details; at minimum 3 weeks’ notice) offer a real behindthe-
scenes adventure.

20 Labouchere Rd., South Perth. &08/9474 3551 for recorded information, or 08/9474 0444 administration.
www.perthzoo.wa.gov.au. Admission A$19 adults, A$9.50 children 4–15, A$50 family of 4.
Zebra car tour A$3.50 adults, A$2.50 student/senior rate, with minimum cost of A$10. Daily 9am–5pm.
Ferry: Barrack St. Jetty to Mends St. Jetty, South Perth. Bus: 30 or 31.

Swan Bells A needlelike tower, wrapped in copper sails, was specially built to
house a complete “ring” of 18 bells, including 12 historic, centuries-old bells from
London’s St. Martin-in-the-Fields (given to Perth for Australia’s bicentenary) and
others that were specially cast. The tower stands out above Barrack Street Jetty on
the Swan River, immediately below the city. It had to be soundproofed to minimize
disturbing people working nearby but, as a result, can hardly be heard away from the
jetty, which is sad. Try to visit when ringing is in progress.

Barrack Square, Perth. &08/6210 0444. www.swanbells.com.au. Admission A$11 adults, A$8 students/
seniors, children 4 and under free. Family discount available. Daily from 10am. Closed Good Friday
and Dec 25. Demonstration bell ringing Sat–Tues and Thurs noon–1pm. Bus: Blue CAT to Barrack

Swan River

The river is a great natural and free asset to the city. Perth
Water, the section of the Swan immediately below the CBD, is a superb foreground
and mirror to the city—best seen from South Perth, and stunning at and just after
sunset. The South Perth ferry (see “Getting Around,” earlier in this section) is the
easiest way of getting there. Perth Water is shallow, ideal for “messing about in
boats,” and small catamarans can be hired on the South Perth foreshore. Once past
the Narrow Bridge, the river widens out and becomes home to several yacht clubs.
Biking along the riverside pathways is also a great way to enjoy the city, the river, and
the climate. You can rent bikes near the Causeway bridges. See “Active Pursuits”

(p. 480).
Surfcat hire: South Perth foreshore. &0408/926 003 in Australia. www.funcats.com.au. Bike rental:
Point Fraser Reserve (Causeway Carpark). &08/9221 2665. www.aboutbikehire.com.au.

Western Australian Museum

Kids will like the dinosaur gallery, the drawers
full of insects, and assorted other examples of Australia’s weird natural creatures.
The main attraction for grown-ups is one of Australia’s best displays of Aboriginal
culture and heritage, and the rare photographs, many housed in the 1856 Old Gaol
(jail). Allow 90 minutes to see most highlights.
Off James St. Mall, Cultural Centre, Northbridge. &08/9212 3700. www.museum.wa.gov.au. Enter by
gold coin donation. Fee may apply for temporary exhibitions. Thurs–Tues 9:30am–5pm. Closed Good
Friday, Easter Monday, Dec 25–26 and Jan 1. Train: Perth. Bus: Blue CAT Stop 8 (Museum).

Yanchep National Park

This is the best place in Perth to see some traditional
Aboriginal culture, with presentations three times a day on Saturdays and Sundays,
and the local wildlife. The park is 51km (32 miles) north of the city, set in
glorious natural woodland around a reed-fringed lake. You can follow a boardwalk
through the koala enclosure, hire a rowboat (depending on water levels), take a limestone
cavern tour, and have a coffee and snack (or beer) at the tearooms or the historic
Tudor-style Yanchep Inn. Kangaroos abound, and there are noisy Carnaby’s black
cockatoos; other birds include swans, pelicans, wrens, parrots, and kookaburras.

Off Wanneroo Rd., Yanchep. & 08/9405 0759. Entry fee A$11 per vehicle. Tours, including the
Aboriginal Experience, A$10 adults, A$5 children, A$25 families (2 adults, 2 children). Daily 9:15am–
4:30pm. Aboriginal Experience Sat and holidays 1 and 3pm, Sun 2 and 4pm; didgeridoo and dance
tours Sat and holidays 2pm, Sun 3pm. By car, take Wellington St. west and turn into Thomas St., which
feeds into Wanneroo Rd. Follow this for about 45km (28 miles) to the park turnoff.

Hitting the Beaches

Perth shares Sydney’s good luck in having beaches in the metropolitan area—in an
almost continuous line from Fremantle’s Port Beach in the south to Quinns Rocks in
the north, including a section called the Sunset Coast. Mornings are usually best,
because the sea breeze can make the afternoons unpleasant in summer. Evenings and
sunsets are lovely on quiet days (remember, Perth faces west over the Indian Ocean).
Always swim between the red and yellow flags, which denote a safe swimming zone.

Bus no. 400 runs to Scarborough Beach every 15 minutes weekdays, half-hourly
on Saturdays and hourly on Sundays, while 102 goes to Cottesloe every 30 minutes.
Bus no. 458 operates a summer timetable along the northern beaches from Scarborough
to Hillarys, half-hourly on weekends and public holidays and hourly on weekdays,
in both directions. Surfboards of 2m (6 ft. 7 in.) can be carried on the 400 and
458 provided they do not affect safety. Bus no. 381 operates a weekday service
between Fremantle and Warwick, with stops at Scarborough.

The three most popular beaches are Cottesloe, Scarborough, and Trigg.

COTTESLOE This pretty crescent, graced by the Edwardian-style Indiana Tea
House, is Perth’s most fashionable beach. It has grassed slopes overlooking the
beach, safe swimming, and a small surf break. Some good cafes and hotels are
nearby. Every March the beach is taken over by an eye-popping exhibition of Sculpture
by the Sea (www.sculpturebythesea.com). Train: Cottesloe, and then walk
several hundred meters (btw. a quarter and a half mile). Bus: 102.

SCARBOROUGH Scarborough’s white sands stretch for miles from the base of
the Hotel Rendezvous Observation City (p. 464). Swimming is generally safe,



Find Me a Swan
The black swan is the state emblem,
and the Swan River was named after it,
but sadly has very few, because most
of the swans’ preferred habitat, the
shallows, has been destroyed. Lake
Monger, 3.5km (2 miles) northwest of
the city, usually has hundreds by its
shores, plus cormorants, native ducks,
herons, coots, and swamphens. Taxi is
the easiest way to get here; ask for
Lake Monger Drive.


PerthIn the summer, Perth gets an easterly
offshore breeze in the morning; then,
as the land heats up, it switches to a
southwesterly on-shore wind. This is
called the “Fremantle Doctor,” because
it blows up the river from Fremantle
and provides relief on hot summer
days. The timing and strength of the
breeze varies and it can be almost gale
force, whipping up the sand on
exposed beaches. Check the daily
weather forecast for likely wind
A Pesky Sea Breeze A Pesky Sea Breeze
and surfers are always guaranteed a wave, although inexperienced swimmers should
take a rain check when the surf is rough. The busy shopping precinct across the road
means there’s always somewhere to buy lunch and drinks. Bus: 400.

TRIGG Surfers like Trigg best for its consistent swells, but it can have dangerous
rips. Stay within the flags. Bus: 400 to Scarborough, and then walk, or bus no. 458
(summer only).

A Day Out in Fremantle

The heritage port precinct of Fremantle, 19km (12 miles) from downtown Perth at the
mouth of the Swan River, is probably best known outside Australia as the site of the
1987 America’s Cup challenge. In the lead-up to that event, the city embarked on a
major restoration of its gracious warehouses and Victorian buildings. Today, “Freo” is
a bustling district of 150 National Trust heritage buildings, alfresco cafes, museums,
galleries, pubs, markets, and shops in a masterfully preserved historical atmosphere.
European influences are strong, thanks to the migrant fishermen, especially Italians,
who made Fremantle their new home. It’s still a working port, so you can see fishing
boats unloading in the Fishing Harbour on one side, and yachts and container ships
gliding in and out of the main commercial river-mouth harbor on the other. However,
some of the buzz has gone from the historic heart since many buildings were taken
over by the local Notre Dame University. Weekends are best, with a wonderful hubbub
of shoppers, merchants, coffee drinkers, locals, tourists, and fishermen. Allow
a full day to take in even half the sights, and don’t forget to knock back a beer or two
on the veranda of one of the gorgeous old pubs, or sip an espresso on the Cappuccino
Strip (see p. 470).

GETTING THERE Parking is plentiful, but driving is frustrating in the maze of
one-way streets. Most attractions are within walking distance (or accessible on the
free CAT bus), so take the train to Fremantle and explore on foot.

A nice way to get to Freo and see Perth’s river suburbs is on the cruises that run
a few times a day from Barrack Street Jetty. See “Whale-Watching Cruises, Tram
Trips & Other Tours,” below, for cruise operators.

GETTING AROUND The orange Fremantle CAT bus makes a comprehensive
running loop of local attractions every 10 minutes Monday through Friday 7:30am
to 6:30pm, and on weekends and holidays from 10am to 6:30pm, except Good Friday
and December 25 and 26. It is free and departs from the train station.


Bannister St.
The Esplanade
Royal Perth
Royal PerthRoyal Perth
Yacht Club
Yacht ClubYacht Club
(Fremantle Annex)
(Fremantle Annex)(Fremantle Annex)
Bannister St.
Little High St.
Little High St.Little High St.
St. Ellen
To Perth
To PerthTo Perth
1/8 km00
1/8 mile
The Essex
14Little Creatures
2Fremantle Arts Centre
Fremantle FishingBoat Harbour
12Fremantle Markets
Fremantle Prison
17Fremantle Railway Station
High Street Shopping Mall
The Roundhouse
8Shipwreck Galleries
9Town Hall (Visitor Centre)
Western AustraliaMaritime Museum
Pedestrian OnlyTourist Information






VISITOR INFORMATION The Fremantle Visitors Centre is in Town Hall,
Kings Square (at High St.), Fremantle, WA 6160 (& 08/9431 7878; www.
fremantlewa.com.au). It’s open Monday through Friday from 9am to 5pm, Saturday
10am to 3pm, Sunday 11:30am to 2:30pm, closed public holidays.


You’ll want to explore some of Freo’s excellent museums and other attractions, but
don’t forget to stroll the streets and admire the 19th-century offices and warehouses,
many painted in rich, historically accurate colors. Take time to wander down to the
docks—either Victoria Quay in the main shipping harbor, where sailing and pleasure
craft dodge between tugs and container ships, or Fishing Boat Harbour, off Mews
Road, where the catches are brought in—and get a breath of salt air.

Fremantle Trams (&08/9433 6674; www.fremantletrams.com)—an old tram
carriage on wheels—conducts hop-on/hop-off commentated tours around the main
sights. The tours depart from Fremantle Town Hall eight times a day starting at
9:45am, with the last tour leaving at 3:05pm. Tickets cost A$22 adults, A$18 students,
A$5 children, and A$48 for families of four, and include discount entry to the
prison. The popular Friday-night Ghostly Tour includes a fish-and-chips dinner and
admission to a range of attractions, including a walking tour of Fremantle Prison. It
runs from 6:45pm to 10:30pm and costs A$60 adults and A$45 children under 15.
You must book for this. On Sundays, the Highway to Hell Tour covers the local story
of AC/DC lead singer Bon Scott (A$25 adults, A$10 children; check for times).

Freo’s best shopping is for arts and crafts, from hand-blown glass to Aboriginal
art to alpaca-wool clothing. Worth a look are the assorted art, crafts, and souvenir
stores on High Street west of the mall; the E Shed markets on Victoria Quay
&08/9430 6393 (Fri–Sun and Mon holidays 9am–5pm, Food Court to 8pm); and
the Fremantle Arts Centre (see below). The Fremantle Markets, 74 South Terrace
at Henderson Street (& 08/9335 2515; www.fremantlemarkets.com.au), are
the oldest and best markets in Perth. Over 150 stalls sell local as well as cheap
imported handicrafts, jewelry, housewares, clothing, and inexpensive food. They’re
open Friday 9am to 8pm; Saturday, Sunday, and Monday 9am to 5pm in winter and
6pm in summer.

The most popular watering holes are the Sail & Anchor, 64 South Terrace (&08/
9431 1666); the Norfolk, 47 South Terrace at Norfolk Street (& 08/9335
5405); and Little Creatures brewery bar and restaurant, 40 Mews Rd., in Fishing
Boat Harbour (& 1300/722 850; see “Where to Dine,” p. 490). The happening
“Cappuccino Strip” (see p. 470) on South Terrace is good for people-watching—oh,
and coffee, too.

Fremantle Arts Centre Housed in a striking neo-Gothic 1860s building built by
convicts as a lunatic asylum, this center contains some of Western Australia’s best
contemporary arts-and-crafts galleries, with a constantly changing array of works and
exhibitions. A newly renovated shop sells crafts from Western Australia, a bookstore
stocks Australian art books and literature, and the leafy courtyard cafe is the perfect
place for a quiet break from sightseeing. There’s free “Courtyard Music” October to
April every Sunday from 2 to 4pm, with numerous other concerts during summer
(check website). You can even visit an original asylum cell.

1 Finnerty St. at Ord St. &08/9432 9555. www.fac.org.au. Free admission. Daily 10am–5pm. Closed
Jan 1 and Dec 25–26. Bus: Fremantle CAT.

Fremantle Prison

Even jails boasted attractive architecture in the 1850s.
This limestone jail, built to house 1,000 inmates by convicts who no doubt ended up
inside it, was Perth’s maximum-security prison until 1991. Take the 75-minute Day
Tours “Doing Time” and “Great Escapes” to see cells re-created in the style of past
periods of the jail’s history, bushranger (highwayman) Moondyne Joe’s “escape-proof”
cell, the gallows, chapel, jailers’ houses, and cell walls featuring artwork by the former
inmates. You must book ahead for the spooky 90-minute Torchlight Tour
Wednesday and Friday nights only, and the 21.2 hour Tunnels Tour , which takes
you by foot and boat through a labyrinth of limestone tunnels 20m (66 ft.) down.

1 The Terrace. & 08/9336 9200. www.fremantleprison.com.au Free admission to the Gatehouse,
which includes an exhibition, cafe, gift shop, and visitor center. Day Tours A$19 adults, A$16 seniors and
students, A$10 children 4–15 and people with disabilities, A$52 families (maximum 3 children). Torchlight
Tour A$25 adults, A$21 seniors and students, A$15 children and people with disabilities, A$72
families. Tunnel Tour A$59 adults, A$49 seniors and students, A$39 children 12–15. Daily 10am–5pm.
Torchlight tours Wed and Fri every 15 min. from sunset. Closed Good Friday and Dec 25.

The Roundhouse This 12-sided jail is the oldest public building in the state
(built in 1831). It’s worth a visit for history’s sake, and for the one o’clock gun. The
time cannon (a replica of a gun salvaged from an 1878 wreck) is fired and a time
ball dropped at 1pm daily from a deck overlooking the ocean, just as it was in the
early 1900s. You might be that day’s honorary gunner chosen from the crowd! Volunteer
guides are on hand to explain it all.

10 Arthur Head (enter over the railway line from High St.). &08/9336 6897. Admission by gold coin
donation. Daily 10:30am–3:30pm. Closed Good Friday and Dec 25.

Shipwreck Galleries

The massive, and magnificent, remnant hulk of
the Dutch ship Batavia, wrecked north of Perth in 1629, will stop you in your tracks
as you enter one of the first displays in this fascinating museum, located in a lovely
old 1850s limestone building. The Batavia’s story is of survival and betrayal; most of
the survivors of the wreck were massacred by a handful of mutineers. The mutiny
and massacre have been the subject of films and an opera. You will love the tales of
old wrecks and displays of pieces of eight, glassware, cannon, and other deep-sea
treasure recovered off the Western Australian coast. Displays date from the 1600s,
when Dutch explorers became the first Europeans to encounter Australia. The
museum is world-renowned for its work in maritime archaeology and preservation.

Cliff St. at Marine Terrace. & 08/9431 8444. www.museum.wa.gov.au/oursites/shipwreckgalleries.
Admission by gold coin donation. Daily except Wed 9:30am–5pm. Free tours daily 10:30am, 11am, and
2:30pm (subject to availability). Closed Good Friday, Easter Monday, Dec 25–26, Jan 1, and Apr 25.

Western Australian Maritime Museum

This fascinating museum at the
western end of Fremantle’s main harbor faces straight out through tall glass panels
to the Indian Ocean—and focuses on WA’s links to that ocean. The museum also
looks at Fremantle’s history and operations as a port, shipping in both the Indian
Ocean and Swan River, signaling and piloting, current sailing technology, naval
defense, and Aboriginal maritime heritage. It features historic boats, including Australia
II (the Aussie yacht that won the America’s Cup back in 1983). You can tour
the HMAS Ovens, an Oberon-class submarine, every half-hour from 10am to
3:30pm, but bookings are recommended. You can buy a ticket just for the sub, or a
joint one for the museum and sub at a discount.





Victoria Quay, Fremantle. & 08/9431 8444. www.museum.wa.gov.au/maritime. Admission A$10
adults, A$5 seniors and students, A$3 children 5–15, A$22 families (up to 6). Special gold coin admission
2nd Tues of each month. Admission to submarine only A$8 adults, A$5 seniors and students, A$3
children 5–15, A$22 family. Daily except Wed 9:30am–5pm. Closed Good Friday, Easter Monday, Dec
25–26, Jan 1, and Apr 25.

Whale-Watching Cruises, Tram
Trips & Other Tours

Captain Cook Cruises (&08/9325 3341; www.captaincookcruises.com.au) runs
a wide assortment of cruises on the Swan River. There are regular departures downstream
to Fremantle, with options to spend time in the harbor city and/or to take
lunch before cruising back to Perth. Full-day and half-day cruises, with lunch, go
upstream to historic homes and vineyards in the Swan Valley, operating daily from
9:45am to 4:45pm (A$146 adults, A$103 children 4–14) or at 1:15pm (A$92 adults,
A$71 children). A dinner vineyard cruise on the Swan operates Wednesday to Sunday,
leaving at 6:30pm, for A$115.

From September through November, Perth’s ocean waters are alive with humpback
whales returning from the north with their calves. To join a 2- or 3-hour jaunt
to watch them, contact Rottnest Express (&1300/467 688 in Australia). Departure
days and times vary from year to year, so check ahead. Prices are about A$55
adults, A$45 children 13 to 16, A$25 children 4 to 12 from Fremantle, or A$70
adults, A$60 children 13 to 16, A$35 children 4 to 12 from Perth.

The Perth Tram Co. (& 08/9322 2006; www.perthtram.com.au) offers frequent
daily City Explorer Tours of loops of the city, the casino, and Kings Park in
replica 1899 wooden trams with live commentary. You can hop on and off as often
as you wish. The full journey takes about 2 hours. Tickets, which you buy on board
and are valid for 2 days, cost A$30 for adults, A$12 for children 4 to 14, and A$60
for families (up to four children), and are also valid for the associated Double Decker
Tour. Join anywhere; the tram starts at 565 Hay St. at 8:30am and operates on an
hourly basis.

Heli West (& 08/9499 7700; www.heliwest.com.au) offers three helicopter
trips: around the city for A$75; down the Swan River to Fremantle and return for
A$180; and along the northern beaches and back up the Swan for A$300. Prices are
subject to change and availability. Takeoff and landing are at Burswood Park by the
river, 7 days a week, between 10am and 4pm.

Active Pursuits


Perth’s superb bike-track network stretches for miles along the
Swan River, through Kings Park, around Fremantle, and all the way along the
beaches. A great 9.5km (6-mile) track enables a complete loop around Perth Water,
the broad expanse of river in front of the central business district. The state Department
of Transport’s cycling division, Bikewest, publishes a range of useful bike-route
maps to the city. They are available in bike shops, from most newsdealers, and at
Perth Map Centre, 900 Hay St. (&08/9322 5733).
Rental from About Bike Hire by the Swan River at Point Fraser Reserve (Causeway
Carpark; &08/9221 2665; www.aboutbikehire.com.au), about 2km (11.4 miles)
from the city center, is A$10 for an hour, or A$36 for a 24-hour day for adults, and
A$7 or A$22 for children under 12. The day rate, which reduces the longer you have

the bike, includes a complimentary helmet (required by law in Australia), lock, and
pump. Road racers, tandems, kayaks, and other specialized bikes can also be hired.
It’s open daily 9am to 5pm (8am–6pm in summer).

GOLF Most convenient to the city is Burswood Park Public Golf Course,
adjacent to (but not part of) the Burswood International Resort Casino, across the
river on the Great Eastern Highway, Burswood (& 08/9362 7576 for bookings;
www.burswoodparkgolfcourse.com). A 9-hole round is just A$18 weekdays and
A$25 weekends and public holidays; 18 holes are A$26 or A$35. A cart is A$25 and
club rental A$20 for 9 holes.
Even more scenic are the 27 championship fairways designed by Robert Trent
Jones, Jr., at Joondalup Resort , Country Club Boulevard, Connolly, a 25km
(16-mile) drive north of Perth (& 08/9400 8811 pro shop; www.joondalupresort.
com.au); and the Vines in the Swan Valley (& 08/9297 3000 resort, or 08/9297
0777 pro shop; www.vines.com.au), which has two 18-hole championship bushland
courses. Joondalup has three times been ranked the number-one resort golf course
in Australia by Golf Australia magazine. Kangaroos are seen regularly on both
courses. At Joondalup you’ll pay A$65 for 9 holes, A$129 for 18 holes Monday to
Thursday, or A$139 for 18 holes Friday to Sunday and holidays (all prices include
use of a cart); ask about specials. At the Vines, fees are A$59 for 9 holes Monday to
Friday, A$79 weekends; 18 holes cost A$89 Monday to Friday, A$99 weekends and
holidays, including use of buggy. Bookings are essential at both courses, and dress
standards apply at all courses (that is, in general, shirts with collars, closed footwear,
socks, no jeans or running suits; dress shorts are acceptable).

SAILING The tallest Tall Ship in Australia, the barquentine (three-masted) SS

Leeuwin II

(& 08/9430 4105; www.sailleeuwin.com), sails from B Shed at
Victoria Quay, Fremantle, when it is not on voyages around Western Australia. You
get the chance to try your hand at sailing the way it used to be, even clambering up
the rigging. The ship takes 3-hour daytime, twilight, or brunch trips at A$95 adults
or A$60 children 3 to 13. Check the website for longer, live-on-board ocean voyages.
Experienced sailors can sometimes find a spot in Thursdays’ summer twilight
events with members of the Royal Perth Yacht Club, Australia II Drive, Crawley
(& 08/9389 1555, ask for the sailing administrator), if there is a place available.
It’s not spinnaker sailing, so the action is at an easy pace. Dress standards apply.

Funcats Catamaran Hire & Sailing Centre (&04/0892 6003; www.funcats.
com.au) rents simple, small catamarans from the South Perth Foreshore.

SCUBA DIVING & SNORKELING Just 19km (12 miles) off Perth, Rottnest
Island’s corals, reef fish, wrecks, and limestone caverns, in 18-to-35m (59–115-ft.)
visibility, are a gift from heaven to Perth divers and snorkelers. Contact Perth Diving
Academy (&08/9344 7844; www.perthdiving.com.au; see “Rottnest Island”
in “Side Trips from Perth,” p. 485), to rent gear and/or join a dive trip.

SURFING You will find good surfing at many city beaches, Scarborough and Trigg
in particular. See the “Hitting the Beaches” section, earlier in this chapter. Rottnest
Island (see “Side Trips from Perth,” below) also has a few breaks. Vision Surf Centre,
Shop 3, Observation City, The Esplanade, Scarborough (& 08/9245 3227),
rents surf boards for A$30 for 2 hours or A$50 for the day, body boards for A$15 for
2 hours or A$25 per day, and wetsuits for A$10 per day. Surfing WA (&08/9448
0004; www.surfingwa.com.au) runs surfing classes at Trigg Beach, from A$55 per






person for a 2-hour course (minimum two people), to A$120 for four 90-minute
classes (maximum eight people). Boards, wet suits, and sunscreen are provided.

The Shopping Scene

Most major shops are downtown on the parallel Hay Street and Murray Street
malls, and in the network of arcades running off them, such as the Plaza, City,
Carillon, and Tudor-style London Court arcades. Off Murray Street Mall on Forrest
Place is the Forrest Chase shopping complex, housing the Myer department
store and boutiques on two levels. The other major department store, David Jones,
opens on to both malls. Add to your collection of international designer brands on
posh King Street, in the west end. Harbourtown, at the western edge of the city,
is a large complex housing “factory outlets” of numerous retail chains.

If you want to avoid the chains, spend half a day in Subiaco

or “Subi,” where
Hay Street and Rokeby Road are lined with smart boutiques, galleries, cafes,
antiques shops, and markets. The Colonnade shopping center at 388 Hay St. showcases
some groovy young Aussie fashion designers.
Fremantle’s shopping is mostly limited to a good selection of crafts, markets, and
Aboriginal souvenirs, with several galleries in High Street.
Most shops are open until 9pm on weeknights in the city, Subiaco, and Fremantle.

LOCAL ARTS & CRAFTS Two shops showcase contemporary ceramic, textile,
glass, and jewelry products: Form, at 357 Murray St. just round the corner from
King Street (& 08/9226 2161); and Aspects of Kings Park, behind the Visitor
Centre in Kings Park (& 08/9480 3900).

ABORIGINAL ARTS & CRAFTS Creative Native, Shop 58, Forrest Chase,
opposite the Visitor Centre (&08/9221 5800; www.creativenative.com.au), stocks
Perth’s widest range of Aboriginal arts and crafts, and includes a gallery that sells
original works by some renowned Aboriginal artists. There’s another branch at 73
High St., Fremantle (&08/9335 6995).

Indigenart (incorporating the Mossenson Gallery), 115 Hay St., Subiaco
(& 08/9388 2899, www.indigenart.com.au), stocks works on canvas, paper, and
bark, as well as artifacts, textiles, pottery, didgeridoos, boomerangs, and sculpture,
by Aboriginal artists from all over Australia.

JEWELRY Western Australia is renowned for farming the world’s best South
Sea pearls off Broome, for Argyle diamonds mined in the Kimberley, and for being
one of the world’s biggest gold producers.

Kailis Jewellery, 29 King St. (& 08/9422 3888; www.kailisjewellery.com.au),
sells elegant South Sea pearls and gold jewelry. Another branch is located at the
corner of Marine Terrace and Collie Street, Fremantle (&08/9239 9330).

Some of Perth’s other leading jewelers, where you can buy Argyle diamonds,
Broome pearls, and opals set within locally designed WA gold jewelry, are Linneys,
37 Rokeby Rd., Subiaco (&08/9382 4077; www.linneys.com.au), and Costello’s,
Shop 5–6, London Court (&08/9325 8588). Linneys also has locations at 39 King
St. and Burswood Resort.

For opals to suit all budgets, head to the Perth outlet of Quilpie Opals, Shop 6,
Piccadilly Arcade off Hay Street Mall (&08/9321 8687).

Japingka Gallery, 47 High St., Freman-
tle (&08/9335 8265; www.japingka.
com.au), is dedicated to encouraging
and exhibiting Aboriginal art from
around Australia. It has a large stock of
certificated art, covering a broad cross
section of areas and styles. There’s an
ongoing exhibition program, which
usually involves having the artist pres-
ent for discussion and explanation. The
gallery is based over two floors in a
historic building in central High Street.
Aboriginal Fine Art
Perth After Dark

Scoop (see “Visitor Information,” earlier in this chapter) is a good source of information
on festivals and concerts, theater, classical music, exhibitions, and the like. Your
best guide to dance clubs, rock concerts, gig listings, and art-house cinemas is the
free weekly X-press magazine, available at pubs, cafes, and music venues every
Thursday. The West Australian (especially the Sat. edition) and Sunday Times
newspapers publish entertainment information, including cinema guides.

Three ticket agencies handle most of the city’s major performing arts, entertainment,
and sporting events: the performing arts–oriented BOCS (&1800/193 300
in Australia, or 08/9484 1133; www.bocsticketing.com.au), the sports-and-familyentertainment-
oriented Ticketmaster (& 13 61 00; www.ticketmaster.com.au),
and Ticketek (& 13 28 49; www.ticketek.com.au). Book opera, ballet, and the
various theater companies (see below) through BOCS. The orchestra handles its
own bookings.

THE PERFORMING ARTS The West Australian Opera (&08/9278 8999
administration; www.waopera.asn.au) and West Australian Ballet (& 08/9214
0707 administration; www.waballet.com.au) usually perform at His Majesty’s
Theatre, 825 Hay St. (see earlier in “What to See & Do in Perth”). Perth’s leading
theater company, the Black Swan State Theatre Company (& 08/6389 0311
administration; www.bsstc.com.au), plays at theaters around town, but is planning
to move into the new State Theatre Centre, corner of William and Roe streets,
Northbridge, in late 2010, together with the Perth Theatre Company (&08/9323
3433; www.perththeatre.com.au). The West Australian Symphony Orchestra
(& 08/9326 0000; www.waso.com.au) usually performs at the Perth Concert
Hall, 5 St. Georges Terrace, but with other performances (for example, the open-air
summer series) in Kings Park. Perth Concert Hall has the best acoustics of any
such venue in Australia and features a wide range of other artists.

Perth is an outdoors kind of place. In summer, look for outdoor concerts or jazz at
Perth Zoo (&08/9474 3551 for recorded information, or 08/9474 0444 administration);
movies at Perth’s several outdoor cinemas; and open-air concerts, plays,
and movies in Kings Park (& 08/9480 3600 administration; 08/9480 3666
24-hr. events information).

The Perth International Arts Festival

(& 08/6488 2000 administration;
www.perthfestival.com.au; bookings through BOCS) is the oldest arts festival
in the Southern Hemisphere, producing 31.2 weeks of local and international theater,
dance, music, and a wide variety of free performances every February. It makes great





Catch an art house movie in the superb
tree-lined Somerville Auditorium in the
grounds of the University of WA. Picnic
on the grass beforehand (you can buy
food and drinks there) while the sun
sets; then watch the film from rows of
deck chairs, with the stars visible over-
head. The season runs nightly at 8pm
from December through mid-February,
or at 7:30pm from March 1 to mid-April,
as part of the Perth International Arts
Movies & Stars
use of Perth’s summer weather and outdoor venues, especially with its 4-month film
festival (see “Movies & Stars,” below), and Beck’s Music Box (see under “Pubs, Bars
& Nightclubs,” below).

One of Australia’s premier arts training colleges, the West Australian Academy
of Performing Arts (WAAPA) is based in Perth, at 2 Bradford St., Mt Lawley. The
students, as part of their training, regularly put on some of Perth’s best performances
of drama, musical theater, dance, jazz, classical music and song, and percussion.
Check & 08/9370 6636 (box office) or www.waapa.ecu.edu.au for current

PUBS, BARS & NIGHTCLUBS Northbridge houses most of the city’s lively
pubs and dance clubs, but don’t forget that Freo has good pubs, too (see “A Day Out
in Fremantle,” p. 476).

For a take on the traditional pub, head to the Brass Monkey, 209 William St., at
James Street, Northbridge (&08/9227 9596; www.thebrassmonkey.com.au). Downstairs
are several bars, including the Grapeskin Wine and Tapas Bar, and there’s a
refurbished grill room upstairs. The Laugh Resort comedy club performs upstairs in
the Glass House at 8pm on Wednesdays for an A$12 cover.

The Subiaco Hotel, also known as the “Subi,” 465 Hay St. at Rokeby Road,
Subiaco (& 08/9381 3069; www.subiacohotel.com.au), is a popular historic pub
with great cocktails, live music on Wednesday and Saturday nights, and an eatery
rated as WA’s Best Hotel/Tavern Restaurant in 2009.

The Perth International Arts Festival (see above) has a vibrant, jumping music
scene, nightly, for the entire 31.2 weeks, at Beck’s Music Box, a specially created
and licensed open-air venue on Perth’s Esplanade. There are ticketed headline acts
at 8:30pm, followed by varied performers from 10:30pm until late with free entry,
but numbers limited by capacity—check www.perthfestival.com.au.

The biggest place on the nightclub scene is Metro City, 146 Roe St., Northbridge
(&08/9228 0500), with 10 bars over three levels. It opens every Saturday
night from 10pm with its “Empire” party, featuring R&B, house, and commercial
music. The cover of A$10 increases to A$15 after 11pm. It opens frequently on
other weekend nights, with varying cover charge, for special events with visiting
bands and artists; check www.metroconcertclub.com for details.

In Fremantle, the Metropolis, 58 S. Terrace (& 08/9336 1880), is a complex
of two dance floors and eight bars on several levels. It has disco nights Fridays from
9:30pm to 4am, and Saturday 9pm to 5am; the cover varies depending on the entertainment,
but is usually in the A$15 range. It may open other nights for visiting
bands and artists; see www.metropolisfremantle.com.au for details.

Jazz is alive and well with a strong local following. There are several jazz clubs run
on a not-for-profit basis, including the Perth Jazz Society, with modern contemporary
music played every Monday night at the Charles Hotel, 509 Charles St.,
North Perth (www.perthjazzsociety.com), and Jazz Fremantle, with “crossover”
music played most Sundays from 4 to 7pm at the Navy Club, 64 High St., Fremantle
(www.mediahighway.com.au/jazzfremantle). But Perth’s jazz scene took a
considerable leap with the opening of its first dedicated commercial jazz establishment
in 2009, the Ellington Jazz Club, at 191 Beaufort St., Northbridge, Perth
(& 04/0806 9867; www.ellingtonjazz.com.au). It has a performance/cabaret area
and upstairs bar, open Tuesday to Sunday and some Mondays.

GAMING Burswood International Resort Casino complex, on the Great Eastern
Highway just over the river from the city (& 08/9362 7777; www.burswood.
com.au), is WA’s only legal casino, with 137 tables and 1,500 gaming machines, and
the premium gaming Pearl Room. Some of the casino’s most popular games include
roulette, keno, blackjack, and two-up. The casino operates 24 hours every day except
Good Friday and December 25 (closed 3am–10pm), and April 25 (Anzac Day; closed
3am–noon), and is open to everyone over the age of 18. Dress code is “neat and tidy,”
with smarter standards after 7pm. There are multiple restaurants and bars, a 900-seat
nightclub, and a 2,300-seat theater which features numerous major international acts.
Live bands, disco, cabaret performers, or karaoke play nightly. It’s an A$15 to A$20 cab
ride from the city, or take a train to Burswood station.


Rottnest Island

19km (12 miles) W of Perth

The delightful wildlife reserve of Rottnest Island, off the Perth coast, has been WA’s
favorite holiday island for a hundred years. It’s surrounded by sheltering reefs, which
ensure safe swimming and snorkeling in glorious, protected bays. Its jewel-bright
waters, warmed by a south-flowing current, harbor coral outcrops and 400 kinds
of fish. The island is also home to 10,000 quokkas, cute little marsupials that reach
up to your knees when they sit up and beg for a piece of lettuce (though you’re not
supposed to feed them). The island and the water have a wonderful Mediterranean
feel. Rottnest is publicly owned and accessible to all. It’s the sort of place where you
feel your cares fall away as soon as you arrive, and it’s almost decadent in the way
that everything is so laid back and casual. Try to spend a night here; the experience
tends to be so much better than just taking a day trip.

The island is only 11km (7 miles) long and 4.5km (3 miles) across at its widest point
with two main areas of settlement, where self-catering cottages and villas can be
rented from the Rottnest Island Authority. Getting about is restricted to walking
and cycling, with a few buses taking visitors around the island or linking the settlements.
There are strong historical links: Following mainland clashes between settlers
and Aborigines, Rottnest was a “native prison” from 1839 until 1931. The main settlement
now has WA’s oldest and most intact precinct of heritage buildings and an
Aboriginal cemetery. The island was then a major military base during World War II.


Side Trips from Perth



Side Trips from Perth

GETTING THERE Rottnest Express (&1300/GO ROTTO [467 688] in Western
Australia; www.rottnestexpress.com.au) operates trips from Perth (trip time:
about 1 hr. 45 min.) and, more frequently, from Fremantle (about 30 min.). Roundtrip
same-day adult fares average about A$75 from Perth, or about A$60 from Fremantle,
with varying children’s prices depending on age. There’s free pickup from
most Perth and Fremantle hotels. You may pay about A$8 extra if you return on a
later day. Bike hire and various day trips (including Rottnest Express’s Eco Adventure,
cruising around the island bays and coves) are available, and accommodations
packages. There’s an online booking service.

Rottnest Air Taxi (& 1800/500 006 in Western Australia, or 08/9292 5027;
www.rottnest.de) provides aerial transfers in four- or six-seater aircraft (allow one
seat for the pilot!), about 15 minutes each way. A same-day round-trip in a fourseater
costs about A$300 for up to three passengers, and a six-seater A$400 for up
to five. Kookaburra Air (& 08/9417 2258; www.kookaburra.iinet.net.au) also
operates a range of tours to Rottnest. Both operate from Jandakot Airport, 18km (11
miles) or 20 minutes south of Perth.

VISITOR INFORMATION The Rottnest Island Visitor & Information Centre
(&08/9372 9732) is right at the end of the jetty on the island. The center is
run by the Rottnest Island Authority (&08/9432 9111; www.rottnestisland.com),
as is the entire island. The Western Australian Visitor Centre (see “Visitor Information”
in the Perth section, earlier in this chapter) also has information.

GETTING AROUND Ferries pull into the jetty in Thomson Bay (it’s often just
called “The Settlement”), which has most of the facilities and accommodations lining
its shores. Rottnest Island Bike Hire (&08/9292 5105), next to the Rottnest
Hotel near the jetty, rents 1,300 bikes of every size, speed, and type, as well as trailers
or carriers for everything from surfboards to babies. A multispeed bike is A$26
for 24 hours (plus a A$25 refundable deposit), including a helmet (compulsory in
Australia) and lock. The price reduces for subsequent days.

The air-conditioned Bayseeker

bus does half-hourly circumnavigations in
summer (hourly in winter), calling at 18 stops, including all the best bays. You can
get on and off as often as you like, with an all-day ticket costing A$13 for adults, A$6
for children 4 to 12, and A$26 for families of four. Buy tickets for this and the tours
below at the Visitor & Information Centre, gift shop, main ticket booth, or on board.
A free shuttle bus runs regularly between the airport and Thomson Bay, and the

secondary settlement at Geordie, Fay’s, and Longreach Bays on the northern shore.

It does not run to the Basin, which is a 15-minute walk from the Settlement.


Many first-time visitors take the 11.2-hour Discovery Tour, a good introduction to
the bays and the island’s cultural and natural history, which includes a stop to see
the quokkas. It costs A$33 for adults, A$16 for kids 4 to 12, and A$70 for families
of four. Standard departure times are 11:30am and 1:30pm daily.


Most people come to Rottnest to snorkel, swim, surf, dive, or fish. As soon as you
arrive, rent a bike and your preferred aquatic gear, and pedal around the coast until
you come to a beach that suits you. (Don’t forget to carry drinking water and food,

because the only shops are at the Settlement and Geordie Bay.) The Basin, Little
Parakeet Bay, Little Armstrong Bay, Little Salmon Bay, and Parker Point are good
snorkel spots. There are two snorkel trails, with underwater information points, at
Little Salmon and Parker Point. Surfers should try Cathedral Rocks or Strickland
Bay. Fishermen will catch squid, herring, and tailor, as well as all kinds of reef fish,
but several areas are now off-limits to fishing. The Rottnest Adventure Centre
(& 08/9292 5292), behind the DOME Cafe, rents snorkel gear, kayaks, fishing
rods, beach shelters, and umbrellas. It operates a semisubmersible boat, the Underwater
Explorer, for the warmer months of September through April. It’s used for
45-minute wreck-and-reef viewing tours from the main jetty (A$29 adults, A$15
children 4–12, A$75 families of four) at 10:45am, 2pm, and 3pm, and for guided
90-minute snorkeling tours (A$39 adults, A$30 children 4–12, more if gear is hired)
on Friday to Monday at 11:45am. Both tours are dependant on numbers.

Several companies conduct boat trips to some of the 100-plus dive sites around
Rottnest, which feature reefs, limestone caverns, and the island’s 14 shipwrecks.
Perth Diving Academy (&08/9225 7555; www.perthdiving.com.au) has roundtrip
boat trips to Rottnest from Fremantle that include two dives and lunch for
A$150. From December to February tours operate daily; from June to August they
operate only Thursday to Sunday. Single-dive trips are also available on Saturdays
and Sundays only: The dives take place at night or in the early morning; the boat
departs at 6:30am and returns at 9am the following day. Bookings are essential, and
hire of equipment is extra. Trips are always subject to the weather.


Rottnest has a lot to offer for history buffs. There are numerous heritage buildings,
especially along the Thomson Bay foreshore, which make up WA’s oldest and best
preserved heritage precinct. The Salt Store, Pilot’s Boatshed, and numerous accommodation
cottages date from the mid–19th century when the island was a prison and
convict labor was employed.

The island became a major base during World War II, protecting the sea lane to
Fremantle, and the Oliver Hill 91.4-inch guns are still there. Guided 1-hour tours (gold
coin fee) take visitors around them as well as the battery tunnels housing an engine
room, a plotting room, and observation posts. You can make your own way there, or
take a train. The tours start at 9:30am or on the hour 11am to 2pm. The train, the
Captain Hussey, departs from the station near the Visitor & Information Centre hourly
from 10:30am to 2:30pm (the last trip is a train ride only—no tour). The return train
ride plus the gun tour costs A$26 for adults, A$21 students, A$16 for children 4 to 12,
and A$52 for families. Lower prices apply if you take only the train ride or the gun tour.

Volunteer guides run several free 1-hour walking tours. One is a historical tour around
Thomson Bay, including the governor’s residence, chapel, octagonal prison, small
museum (& 08/9372 9752; open daily 10:45am–3:30pm), and the former boys’
reformatory. Another heritage trail takes you to the memorial commemorating de Vlamingh,
the Dutch explorer who named the island Rottenest (“Rat’s Nest”) in 1696 when he
mistook quokkas for (very large) rats. There are also quokka walks, and the “Reefs,
Wrecks, and Daring Sailors” tour, which includes a walk to Bathurst lighthouse.


Call the Rottnest Island Authority’s accommodations booking service (&08/
9432 9111) to book one of the island’s 300-plus holiday homes, villas, or historic


Side Trips from Perth



Side Trips from Perth

11 cottages, or the campground. Don’t expect anything grand, and there is no air-conditioning.
Book well in advance all through summer and autumn; accommodations
during the WA school vacation times are allocated through a ballot system, for which
you must submit an online application. Reduced pricing applies May through
The Authority’s units are all furnished and self-catering, with gas stoves and barbecues.
Both hotels (listed below) have good restaurants; otherwise, dining is available
at the licensed Aristos Waterfront Rottnest, the Geordie Bay Cafe
(Thurs–Sat evenings, summer only), the DOME Cafe (rebuilt in 2008), and a
couple of lackluster takeout joints.

Hotel Rottnest Known to generations as the Quokka Arms, this 1864 building
near the jetty began life as the state governor’s summer residence and has undergone
a major renovation and upgrade. It’s been brought into the 21st century, and even
the lovely old timber balcony is back in service.

Bedford Ave., Rottnest Island, WA 6161. &08/9292 5011. Fax 08/9292 5188. www.hotelrottnest.com.
au. 18 units. A$320–A$350 Bayside doubles; A$270–A$290 Courtyard doubles. Twin rooms available.
Ask about packages. AE, DC, MC, V. Amenities: Restaurant; 2 bars. In room: A/C, ceiling fans, TV w/pay
movies, fridge, hair dryer.

Rottnest Lodge This former colonial barracks has been heavily modified to
provide attractive, comfortable visitor accommodations, with newer units added at
the rear, facing across salt lakes to the main Rottnest Lighthouse. The Premium
Lakeside rooms, updated in 2005, are the island’s most luxurious accommodations.
They have king-size beds, flagstone floors, private balconies, and a spacious living
area. The standard Lakeside rooms, upgraded in 2009, are set up with both queensize
and single beds and also have balconies, but with limited views. The remaining
rooms are in the historic quarters. The Deluxe rooms are bright and cheery, with
courtyard entry and French windows opening on to a colonial veranda. The twobedroom
family rooms have the advantage of a kitchen and laundry. The area known
as the Quod has budget accommodations. The lodge is just a short stroll from the
jetty and Visitor & Information Centre.

Kitson St., Rottnest Island, WA 6161. &08/9292 5161. Fax 08/9292 5158. www.rottnestlodge.com.au.
80 units, all with shower only. A$260–A$330 Deluxe double; A$215–A$285 standard double; A$270–
A$340 Lakeside double; A$310–A$385 Premium Lakeside double; A$455–A$550 family apt. Extra
person A$75. Rates include continental breakfast and are seasonal. Ask about packages. AE, DC, MC,

V. Amenities: Restaurant; 2 bars; Internet; small lagoon-style pool. In room: Ceiling fan, TV w/pay movies,
fridge, hair dryer, Internet (maximum A$25 per day).
In Pursuit of the Grape in the Swan Valley

20km (13 miles) NE of Perth

You don’t have to go all the way to Margaret River to find rolling vineyards, local
produce, good food and wine, and some of WA’s early heritage. The Swan Valley is
only 25 minutes from the Perth city center, but has 30 or so wineries, a wildlife park,
antiques shops, galleries, several restaurants, and one of Australia’s best golf resorts.
Some outlets are closed Monday to Wednesday. Good times to visit are during two
annual festivals, “Spring in the Valley” (second weekend in Oct), and “Taste of the
Valley” (during Feb).

Lord Street from the Perth city center becomes Guildford Road and takes you to
the historic town of Guildford at the start of the Swan Valley. The Swan Valley

Visitor Centre is in the historic old courthouse at the corner of Meadow and Swan
streets, Guildford (& 08/9379 9400; www.swanvalley.com.au). It’s open daily,
except Christmas, from 9am to 4pm. It provides helpful information, advice, maps—
including an excellent Food & Wine Trail map—and separate sheets listing the
venues that are open during the quiet times of Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays.
Several companies (see “Whale-Watching Cruises, Tram Trips & Other Tours,”
earlier in this chapter) run day tours or cruises from Perth, and local companies run
tours by black cab or Rolls-Royce.

The Swan Valley Shuttle Service (& 08/9274 6569) is a hop-on-hop-off
service to and from the Visitor Centre and Guildford Train Station, calling at Houghton
Wines, Chesters, and the Novotel Vines Resort (see below), and a few other
wineries and breweries. It runs hourly 8:30am to 4:30pm, Wednesday to Sunday,
A$30 round-trip.


Most Swan wineries are small, family-run affairs, many with links to early Italian or
Yugoslav origins. An exception is Houghton Wines , Dale Road, Middle Swan
(&08/9274 9540; www.houghton-wines.com.au), Western Australia’s oldest, biggest,
and most venerable winery. The tasting room is light, airy, and appealing. and
there are lovely picnic grounds, where jacaranda trees blossom gloriously in November.
There’s a pleasant cafe, and an art gallery housed in old beamed timber cellars
lined with barrels (still in use). Hours are 10am to 5pm (cafe 10am–4pm) daily
except Good Friday and December 25.

The other big-name winery, and winner of the “Best Tourism Winery” award in
2008 and 2009, is Sandalford Wines, 3210 W. Swan Rd., Caversham (&08/9374
9374; www.sandalford.com). It has twice-daily 90-minute winery tours (minimum
five people), which take you along walkways over the high-tech production areas.
The A$22 fee includes a tasting of premium wine and a wine-education kit. A very
popular tour is “Become a Winemaker for a Day,” Saturdays at 11am. Besides the
winery tour, you get a chance to blend your own wine, which you can then drink over
a three-course lunch, all for A$125. The winery also has a good gift shop and a pleasant
restaurant (lunch noon–3pm) with a pretty vine-covered alfresco area. It’s open
10am to 5pm daily except Good Friday and December 25.

In general, the tastings at the Swan wineries are free, with some wineries charging
a small fee for their premium offerings.

The popular Margaret River Chocolate Company has an outlet at 5123 W.
Swan Rd. (near the Reid Hwy.), West Swan (& 08/9250 1588). It offers tastings,
and you can watch chocolate-making through the viewing window. It’s open daily from
9am to 4:30pm, except December 25. A more recent addition to the sweet scene is
Mondo Nougat, 640 Great Northern Hwy., Herne Hill (&1300/997 875 in Australia,
or 08/9296 0111; www.mondonougat.com.au), run by a migrant family following
their southern Italian traditions. The cafe opens daily except Monday.

Caversham Wildlife Park (& 08/9248 1984; www.cavershamwildlife.com.
au) is a large reserve of 4,300 hectares (10,621 acres) with a collection of 200 species
of mostly Western Australian wildlife, the majority kept in natural surroundings.
You can stroke koalas (but not hold them), feed kangaroos, pet farm animals, take a
camel ride, and sometimes cuddle joeys and wombats. There are barbecue and
picnic sites, train and tram rides, and a cafe. It’s at Whiteman Park, West Swan, and


Side Trips from Perth



Side Trips from Perth

11 open daily from 9am to 5:30pm (last entry 4:30pm), closed December 25. Admission
is A$22 for adults, A$8 for children 3 to 14.
Antiques lovers should browse the strip of shops on James Street, Guildford (most
shops are open daily), or visit Woodbridge House, a beautifully restored 1883 manor
house on Ford Street, West Midland (&08/9274 2432). The house is open Thursday
to Sunday from 1 to 4pm; closed December 24 to February 6. Admission is A$5 adults,
A$3 seniors and children under 16, and A$12 families of four. The Riverside at Woodbridge
cafe opens 9am to 5pm daily (except Wednesday) for breakfast, lunch, and tea.
Drop into Guildford Village Potters, 22 Meadow St., next to the Visitors Centre
(& 08/9279 9859; www.guildfordpotters.webs.com), to check out work by about
two dozen local potters. You may find it hard to resist the raku (open-fired) glazes. It’s
open 9:30am to 3pm weekdays, 10am to 4:30pm weekends and holidays. One of
Perth’s finest galleries is half-hidden within woodland just off the Roe Highway: The
Gomboc Gallery and Sculpture Park , at 50 James Rd., Middle Swan (&08/
9274 3996; www.gomboc-gallery.com.au), has been in operation for 25 years. The
grounds feature an eclectic array of sculptures, while the gallery houses regular exhibitions
of major WA artists. Open 10am to 5pm Wednesday to Sunday.

Grandis Cottages

Two excellently furnished two-bedroom cottages sit in a
rural setting, looking over rolling lawns, a small dam, and a large bed of roses. Birds
include kookaburras, cockatoos, and blue wrens, while kangaroos roam the back
lawn. A breakfast hamper is supplied, otherwise the cabins are self-catering, with
full kitchens and comfortable lounges featuring gas stoves and two recliners. The
large veranda has a seating area with gas barbecue. The water supply is 100% rainwater,
and all wastewater is recycled.
45 Casuarina Place (off West Swan Rd.), Henley Brook, WA 6055. &08/9296 3400. Fax 08/9296
3500. www.grandiscottages.com.au. 2 self-contained cottages, 1 with facilities for people with disabilities.
Sun–Thurs A$300 double; Fri–Sat A$320 double. Extra adult A$50; extra child (to 12 years) A$30.
Ask about packages. AE, DC, MC, V. Take West Swan Rd. to Henley Brook, turn left onto Woolcott St.
and right into Casuarina Place. In room: A/C, TV/DVD, CD player, hair dryer.

Novotel Vines Resort This rural retreat has one of the best resort golf courses
in Australia and is the most upmarket place in the Swan Valley. Most rooms or apartments
in the low-rise accommodations have balconies looking onto the 36-hole
championship golf course or over the pool or vineyard. Kangaroos are a regular sight
along the bush-fringed fairways. The rooms are of a high standard, if a bit stiff and
citified. A suite consists of a room with a living area and some feature spas.

Verdelho Dr., The Vines (Swan Valley), WA 6069. &1300/656 565 Accor in Australia, 800/221 4542
in the U.S. and Canada, or 08/9297 3000. Fax 08/9297 3333. www.vines.com.au. 103 hotel rooms, 54
apts. From A$255 double; A$285 suite; A$310 2-bedroom apt; A$365 3-bedroom apt. Children 14 and
under stay free in parent’s room with existing bedding. Ask about packages. AE, DC, MC, V. Take West
Swan Rd. to Upper Swan and turn left on to Millhouse Rd. The resort entrance is about 1.5km (1 mile)
on the right. Amenities: Restaurant; 2 cafes; 2 bars; golf course (guest discounts available); exercise
room; outdoor heated Jacuzzi; large outdoor pool; room service; 4 tennis courts (2 floodlit). In room:
A/C, TV w/pay movies, hair dryer, minibar.

Chesters MODERN AUSTRALIAN This simple, casual setting with a semiopen
kitchen provides a good venue for easy dining. Originally a fruit shed, it has views

A Side of Art with Your Meal
Taylor’s art and coffee house, 510 Great
Northern Hwy., Middle Swan (&08/
9250 8838; www.taylorstudio.com.au),
is a quirky, even eccentric, cafe that is
simple yet appealing. The Taylor family
has converted the old family home,
with corrugated iron walls and polished
floorboards, into an intriguing venue—
part cafe (run by daughter Caroline),
part gallery (by matriarch Jude). The
outside has a shady courtyard with a
mix of tables, chairs, and sculptures,
many made by son Michael. “The Shed”
is an old workshop, which is the venue
for quarterly professional theater productions
(seating for 150). The cafe is
open for “brekky” and lunch Wednesday
to Sunday. The food is tasty and

past gum trees to open paddocks. Chesters is part of the Heafod Glen Winery, and
the food is excellent; try the mushroom galette.

8691 West Swan Rd., Henley Brook. &08/9296 3444. www.heafodglenwine.com.au. Reservations
recommended on weekends. Main courses A$35–A$50. AE, DC, MC, V. Wed–Sat 11am–3pm; Sun and
public holidays noon–3pm; Fri–Sat 6–11pm. Closed Good Friday.

Lamont Winery Cellar Door

TAPAS The cellar-door kitchen serves food
Friday to Monday from a “small tastes” bar menu that features fresh seasonal produce
for eating indoors or outside at the farm tables. Lamont’s wines are also available
for sale.
85 Bisdee Rd. (off Moore Rd.), Millendon, near Upper Swan. &08/9296 4485. www.lamonts.com.au.
Reservations recommended. Platters A$12–A$18. AE, DC, MC, V. Sat–Sun and holidays noon–4pm (cellar
door 11am–5pm). Closed weekdays, Dec 25–26, Jan 1, and Good Friday. Take the Great Northern Hwy.
to Baskerville, near Upper Swan, take a right onto Haddrill Rd. for 1.6km (1 mile), turn right onto Moore
Rd. for 1km (just over 1.2 mile), and make a right onto Bisdee Rd.

New Norcia: A Touch of Spain in Australia

132km (82 miles) N of Perth

It’s the last thing you expect to see in the Australian bush—a Benedictine monastery
town, with elegant European architecture, a fine museum, and a collection of
Renaissance art—but New Norcia is no mirage. Australia’s only monastic town (and
still a working community) retains an aura of peace and quiet and calming spirituality.
The pretty town and the surrounding 8,000-hectare (19,760-acre) farm were
established in 1847 by Spanish Benedictine missionaries. Visitors can tour beautifully
frescoed chapels, marvel at one of the finest religious art collections in Australia,
attend prayers with the monks who live here, and stock up on Abbey Wines,
Abbey Ale, or famous New Norcia nut cake or bread from the monastery’s 120-yearold
wood-fired oven.

Ten kilometers (61. miles) south of the town is the New Norcia Deep Space

4Ground Station, run by the European Space Agency. It’s not open to the public, but
visitors can learn about it at the town’s Education Centre.

New Norcia is an easy 2-hour drive from Perth. From downtown, take Lord
Street, which becomes Guildford Road, to Midland, and follow the Great Northern
Highway to New Norcia. The Public Transport Authority (PTA; &1300/662 205


Side Trips from Perth



Side Trips from Perth

11 in Western Australia, or 08/9326 2000; www.transwa.wa.gov.au) runs a coach from
Perth on Tuesday and Thursday at 9:30am, returning at 2:50pm from the roadhouse,
at A$20 one-way. Day tours from Perth are available (check with Perth’s WA Visitor
Centre, under “Visitor Information” earlier in the chapter).
You can get information and book guided town tours at the New Norcia Tourist
Information Centre, New Norcia, WA 6509 (& 08/9654 8056; www.newnorcia.
wa.edu.au), in the Museum and Art Gallery, off the highway behind St. Joseph’s. It
keeps the same hours as the museum (see below). Reserve accommodations in
advance, especially in the wildflower season of August through October.


The intriguing 2-hour walking tours are a must. Tickets cost A$23 for adults and
A$14 for children 12 to 17, free for younger children, and include entrance to the
Museum and Art Gallery, and tastes of local produce. Tours depart daily at 11am and
1:30pm, except December 25, and they allow time for you to attend prayers with the
monks (see below) if you wish. The guide leads you around some of the town’s 27
National Trust–classified buildings and gives insight into the monks’ lifestyle. You
will also see the frescoes in the old monastery chapel and in St. Ildephonsus’s and
St. Gertrude’s colleges.

The Museum and Art Gallery

is full of relics from the monks’ past—old
mechanical and musical instruments, artifacts from the days when New Norcia was
an Aboriginal mission, gifts from the queen of Spain, and an astounding collection
of paintings by Spanish and Italian artists, dating from the 1400s. Give yourself at
least an hour here. The Museum and Art Gallery are open daily from 9am to 4:30pm
(closed Dec 25). Admission is A$10 for adults, A$6 for children 12 to 17, free for
younger children. Don’t leave the gift shop without some of the famous New Norcia
Nut Cake.
Apart from joining the monks for 15-minute prayers in the monastery chapel five
times a day (noon and 2:30pm are the most convenient for day visitors), you can join
them for Mass in the Holy Trinity Abbey Church Monday to Saturday at 7:30am,
Sunday at 9am, or 6:30pm for vespers.


St. Benedict’s rules of hospitality are paramount, which means that part of the monastery
is open to guests, but it’s really for those who are looking for a quiet, reflective
place to stay and don’t mind abiding by a few rules. The accommodation is spartan,
and the cost is a donation, with A$75 suggested. Contact the guesthouse
(& 08/9654 8002; guesthouse@newnorcia.wa.edu.au) to book. For other visitors,
the hotel (see below) is the best bet.

New Norcia Hotel When they thought a Spanish royal visit to New Norcia was
imminent in 1926, the monks built this grandiose hotel fit for, well, a king. Sadly,
the story is a myth, and the building was used for parents visiting children boarding
at the town’s colleges. In 1955, it became a hotel. The grand central staircase, soaring
pressed-metal ceilings, and imposing Iberian facade hint at its former splendor.
The rooms are simple but comfortable, and there are only shared facilities. It’s nice
to eat a meal at the bar or the charmingly faded dining room and to wander out of
your room to sit on the massive veranda upstairs. The bar gets jumping (everything
is relative) on Friday and Saturday nights when local farmers come to town. An
exclusive beer, Abbey Ale, is available on tap and for takeaway. No smoking.

Great Northern Hwy., New Norcia, WA 6509. &08/9654 8034. Fax 08/9654 8011. hotel@newnorcia.
wa.edu.au. 15 units. A$95 double/twin with shared facilities. Extra person A$22. Continental breakfast
included. AE, MC, V. Amenities: Restaurant; bar; smoke-free rooms. In room: Fridge, no phone.


Margaret River: 277km (173 miles) S of Perth

For most Australians, the name “Margaret River” is synonymous with great wine.
This is an area where every prospect pleases; no wonder U.S.-based Wine Market
Report gave it the award for “Wine Tourism Region of the World” in 2006. It’s a mere
31.2 hours’ drive from Perth.

Forty years ago, this was a quiet backwater, a simple countryside of dairy farms
and forest, with a few insiders aware of some great surfing spots. A survey then
found that the climate was remarkably similar to that of Bordeaux, and the first
vineyards were planted. The area now has about 100 wineries and, while they produce
only about 1% of Australia’s wine output, they turn out around 15% of the
country’s “premium” wines. There’s a growing selection of quality lodges and B&Bs,
galleries, gourmet food outlets, and superb restaurants. Many craftspeople have set
up here, together with producers of venison, cheese, chocolate, and olive oil. Statuesque
forests, including tall but graceful karri trees (the world’s third-tallest plant
species), create beautiful dappled drives; the west coast has curving sandy beaches,
spectacular surf breaks, and cliffs perfect for abseiling (rappelling) and rock climbing;
the northern coast has wonderfully peaceful safe beaches; and there’s a honeycomb
of limestone caves filled with stalagmites, stalactites, and superb reflecting
pools. Whales pass by June through December, wildflowers line the roads August
through October, and wild birds, kangaroos, and shingle-backed lizards are everywhere.
And the climate is kind to humans as well as vines.

The Margaret River region isn’t very large, so is easy to get around. It reaches
120km (75 miles) from Cape Naturaliste in the north to Cape Leeuwin on the
southwest tip of Australia, both with attendant lighthouses. If you like hiking, pack
your boots, because there are plenty of trails, from a 15-minute stroll around Margaret
River township or an hour’s stroll along the Dunsborough beaches to a 6-day
Cape-to-Cape trek along the western shore.

The main settlements are Dunsborough in the north, Margaret River Township in
the center, and Augusta in the south. Busselton is the gateway to the region, though
not really part of it.


GETTING THERE It’s a 31.2-hour drive to Margaret River from Perth; take the
Kwinana Freeway, which becomes the Forrest Highway, to Bunbury and pick up the
Bussell Highway to Busselton. Beyond Busselton you turn left for Margaret River
town and Augusta, or go straight on for Dunsborough and Caves Road.

Air Australia (&08/9332 5011; www.airaustralia.net) operates charter flights
from Perth’s Jandakot airport, from about A$660 same day return for up to three
passengers. Leeuwin Estate winery (& 08/9759 0000; www.leeuwinestate.
com.au) arranges charter flights from Perth for A$550 per person (minimum two


Margaret River & the



Margaret River & the Southwest
The wild dolphins that come to Monkey
Mia’s shore (see “The Coral Coast,”
p. 522) are justly famous. But you can
swim with these creatures on the way to
Margaret River, at Rockingham, 45 min-
utes south of Perth, and Bunbury 2
hours away.
Rockingham Wild Encounters
offers a “Swim with Wild Dolphins”
adventure cruise from the Val Street Jetty,
Rockingham (&08/9591 1333; www.
dolphins.com.au). You are taken out into
Cockburn Sound, where guides use aqua
scooters to tow snorkelers into the action.
The dolphins certainly seem to enjoy the
encounter and a 99% success rate is
claimed. Tours are daily September to May
and include a light lunch, at A$205 per
person, A$20 more with pickup from your
Perth hotel. An alternative is the 2-hour
“Dolphin Watch Eco Adventure” at A$65
adults, A$50 kids 3 to 12, and A$205 fam-
ilies of two adults and two children, more
with Perth pickup. This leaves from the
Penguin Island Jetty in nearby Shoalwater,
as does the more extensive “Dolphins,
Penguins, and Sea Lions” tour, which
includes time on Penguin Island and a
light lunch. Costs are A$108 adults, and
A$84 children 3 to 12; more with Perth
At the Bunbury Dolphin Discovery
Centre, Koombana Drive, Bunbury (&08/
9791 3088; www.dolphindiscovery.com.
shore in Koombana Bay. You can stand
with them free in the waist-deep
au), bottlenose dolphins come into
“interaction zone” on the beach. The
dolphins show up about 90% of the
time in summer, but less so in winter;
the best chance to see them is
between 8am and noon. However, the
water rarely has the same clarity as at
Monkey Mia. Reservations are not nec-
essary. From November to April
(weather dependent), 3-hour “Dolphin
Swim Encounter” tours enable you to
snorkel, accompanied by a marine biol-
ogist, with some of the bay’s 200-plus
dolphins, for A$185 including equip-
ment; you must be over 6 years old.
Dolphin Eco Cruises run twice daily
(except Dec 25 or in bad weather)
from the center at 11am and 3:15pm
(2pm in winter); they cost A$53 adults,
A$35 kids 4 to 14, or A$161 families of
two adults and two kids. The center
has showers, a cafe, and a good little
eco-display on the dolphin life cycle;
admission is A$8 adults; A$5 seniors,
students, and children; A$21 families.
Tour costs include center entry. The
center opens daily 8am to 4pm Octo-
ber to May, and 9am to 2pm June to
September; closed December 25. For
information about the ethics of swim-
ming with dolphins, visit the Whale
and Dolphin Conservation Society site
passengers), including return flights, tea, winery tour and tastings, and full a la carte
lunch (excluding drinks) in the restaurant.

Southwest Coachlines (&08/9324 2333; www.southwestcoachlines.com.au)
runs a daily service to Margaret River from Perth for about A$34. Transwa (&1300/
602 205 in Western Australia, or 08/9326 2600; www.transwa.wa.gov.au) also runs
a coach service from Perth. The services take between 41.2 and 51.2 hours, so are not
recommended. There is no train service to Margaret River, though the twice-daily
Australind train does run from Perth to Bunbury, with coach connections onward.

Margaret River & the Southwest

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Vasse Hwy.
Hwy.Gt.Southern Hwy.
Caves Rd.
Bussel Hwy.
30 mi00
30 km
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Bibbulmun Track


Margaret River & the Southwest

Concerts & Kookaburras
Every summer, Leeuwin Estate Winery
(&08/9759 0000; www.leeuwin
estate.com.au) stages its Leeuwin
Concert Series starring leading
showbiz lights (past performers have
included Sting, k.d. lang, Dame Kiri Te
Kanawa, Julio Iglesias, and Diana Ross)
and usually a major orchestra, attended
by 6,000 picnicking guests. Tickets are
about A$130. There may be three of
these events in a season, and they sell
out months ahead. The concerts are
held in the open air, below the winery,
just as the sun is setting, accompanied
by kookaburras cackling in the surrounding
karri trees.

Driving yourself is the best way to get to Margaret River, and it gives you the
necessary freedom to get around the region.

VISITOR INFORMATION The award-winning Margaret River Visitor Centre
is one of the best and most helpful in the country. It’s at 100 Bussell Hwy.,
Margaret River, WA 6285 (&08/9780 5911; www.margaretriverwa.com). You can
book accommodations and pick up a winery guide, one listing the artisans of the
region, and maps. The Dunsborough Visitor Centre, Shop 14, Dunsborough Park
Shopping Centre, Dunsborough, WA 6281 (&08/9755 3299; www.geographebay.
com), provides similar information. Both are open daily from 9am to 5pm; closed
December 25.

GETTING AROUND Two north–south roads service the area, Bussell Highway
and the slower, winding Caves Road. Numerous smaller roads connect the two, or
loop down to bayside settlements renowned for their surfing opportunities. The Bussell
Highway turns south 9km (51.2 miles) past Busselton and runs down the middle
of the region, through Margaret River town to Augusta and windswept Cape Leeuwin.
Caves Road runs past Dunsborough, and then swirls southward, closer to the
coast, past limestone caves and through karri forests toward Augusta.

A car is essential. Hertz (&13 30 39 in Australia) has an office in Bunbury, or
call Avis (& 13 63 33 in Australia) for reservations in the Southwest. For a taxi,
call Margaret River Taxi Service (&08/9757 3444).

Several companies run sightseeing and winery tours from Margaret River or Perth,
including Margaret River with Neil McLeod (see below, “Beyond the Wineries:
Caves, Bush Tucker & More”).

Touring the Wineries

Fans of premium wines will have a field day. Cabernet sauvignon and merlot are the
star red varieties, with most wineries making a straight cabernet and/or a cabernetmerlot
blend. Shiraz is also popular and Cape Mentelle makes a powerful zinfandel.
Chardonnay is the standard single variety white wine, while fresh vibrant semillon–
sauvignon blanc blends have become synonymous with the region. A few wineries
make (Australian-style) Rieslings. Most wineries offer free tastings from 10am to
4:30pm daily, and several have restaurants serving lunch. There are two main clusters
of vineyards; the biggest grouping is in the northern half in the Willyabrup area,
with a smaller number, including several big names, around Margaret River Township.

Margaret River & the Jetty (&08/9754 0900;
www.busseltonjetty.com.au) is the lon-
gest timber pile jetty in the Southern
Hemisphere, stretching 1,841m (over 1
mile) out into shallow Geographe Bay.
An underwater observatory has been
built at the end, allowing visitors to go
8m (26 ft.) down and look out at the
marine life that congregates around the
massive 145-year-old timber supports.
A major refurbishment to be completed
in 2010 has restored damaged supports
and facilities, widened the jetty, and
allowed the jetty train to operate once
more. The observatory is open daily
except December 25, weather permit-
ting, with tours operating hourly from
9:25am to 4:25pm October to April,
and 10:25am to 3:25pm May to Sep-
tember. Jetty entry is A$2.50 adults
over 14 years; the return train journey is
A$10 adults and A$5 children 3 to 14;
the train and observatory tour is A$28
adults, A$14 children, and A$75 families
(two adults and two kids).
A Pretty Jetty
The region’s best known winery is Leeuwin Estate , Stevens Road, Margaret
River (& 08/9759 0000; www.leeuwinestate.com.au), set within magnificent
grounds. It has a towering reputation with its Art Series chardonnay often rated
Australia’s finest. Winery tours run three times a day (see “Concerts & Kookaburras,”

p. 496). Its next-door neighbor, Voyager Estate , Stevens Road, Margaret River
(&08/9757 6354; http://voyagerestate.com.au), has exquisite rose gardens and a
South African Cape Dutch–style cellar and top-notch restaurant (see p. 504).
The three pioneer vineyards from the late 1960s all still rate very highly. Moss
Wood , 926 Metricup Rd., Willyabrup (& 08/9755 6266; www.mosswood.
com.au), accepts visitors for really comprehensive tours Monday to Friday by
appointment, while both Vasse Felix , Corner Caves Road and Harmans South
Road, Cowaramup (&08/9756 5000; www.vassefelix.com.au), and Cullen Wines ,
Caves Road, just north of Harmans South Road, Cowaramup (& 08/9755 5277;
www.cullenwines.com.au), have tasting rooms and restaurants. Other labels to look
for are Cape Mentelle, Devil’s Lair, Madfish (Howard Park Wines), Lenton Brae,
Pierro, Woodlands, and Cape Grace Wines. Ashbrook , 379 Harman’s Rd. South,
Willyabrup (& 08/9755 6262; www.ashbrookwines.com.au), takes a very serious
approach to style and quality, and makes one of the best WA Rieslings. Some wineries
make excellent “quaffers”—Aussie slang for easy-drinking, inexpensive wines.
Vasse Felix makes Theatre Red and Theatre White, while Cape Mentelle sells 1.5liter
bottles of its red and white CMV wines.

Beyond the Wineries: Caves,
Bush Tucker & More

Two lighthouses still operate (automatically) and are open to the public. Cape
Naturaliste Lighthouse (&08/9755 3955; www.geographebay.com) is 13km (8
miles) outside Dunsborough set among wildflower-rich bushland, and surrounded
by a variety of walk trails. It’s a great spot for whale-watching in season. The entry
fee, A$12 adults, A$6 children 5 to 16, and A$29 families of two adults and two kids,
includes a guided tour. It’s open 9am to 4:30pm (tours from 9:30am–4pm), closed



Margaret River & the Southwest

Most wineries don’t deliver internation-
ally, and the wine you like might not be
exported to your country of residence,
so use the services of the Margaret
River Regional Wine Centre, 9 Bussell
Hwy., Cowaramup (&08/9755 5501;
www.mrwines.com). It stocks most
local wines, does daily tastings, and
sells maps and guides. The expert staff
will help you make your choices and
even tailor your day’s foray. It’s open
Monday to Saturday 10am to 8pm, and
Sunday noon to 6pm (closed Good Fri-
day and Dec 25). You can also order
through the website.
A Wine-Buying Tip
December 25. Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse (& 08/9758 1920), just south of
Augusta, stands proudly where two oceans meet. It’s the tallest lighthouse on mainland
Australia. Guided tours run throughout the day, and the price includes the
precinct entry fee—A$15 adults, A$7 children 4 to 16 (children under 4 not allowed
up the tower). Precinct entry is A$5 adults and A$3 children. It’s open daily, except
December 25, from 8:45am to 5pm.

Six of the Southwest’s 100 or so limestone caves are open to the public. Some
contain elaborate formations and have lighting, stairs, and boardwalks to help you
along the way. Stop at CaveWorks’s eco-interpretive center, Lake Cave, Caves Road
(&08/9757 7411; www.margaretriver.com), before or after you visit the caves. It’s
open daily, except December 25, from 9am to 5pm. Entry is free if you tour Lake,
Jewel, or Mammoth caves, otherwise it’s A$2 per person.

Lake Cave, outside CaveWorks and 300 steps down an ancient sinkhole, contains
a tranquil pond that reflects the exquisite formations. Four kilometers (21.2
miles) north along Caves Road is Mammoth Cave, where you can see the fossilized
jaw of an extinct giant wombat. Jewel Cave , 8km (5 miles) north of Augusta on
Caves Road, is the prettiest. Tours of Lake and Jewel, and self-guided tours of Mammoth
(using an MP3 system), each cost A$20 adults, A$10 children 4 to 16, A$50
for families of four. A Grand Tour Pass to all three costs A$48 adults, A$22 children
4 to 16, A$135 families, and is valid for 7 days. Mammoth is open from 9am to 5pm
(last tour at 4pm); tours of Lake and Jewel run hourly from 9:30am to 3:30pm, daily
except December 25. Booking is not required.

Calgardup and Giants Caves, run by the Department of Environment and
Conservation, are more challenging. Both are unlit and self-guided but there are
elevated boardwalks and marked paths. Visitors receive helmets, lamps, and information,
and may spend as long as they like exploring (wear old clothes and sturdy
footwear). Calgardup Cave on Caves Road, about 12 minutes’ drive south of Margaret
River, has seats throughout the cave and a stream that trickles through, all year.
It opens daily (except on Dec 25 and 26) 9am to 4:15pm, and is suitable for all ages.
Giants Cave, 20 minutes south of Margaret River on Caves Road, is one of the largest
and deepest caves on the Leeuwin-Naturaliste Ridge, and provides a more
adventurous experience. The infrastructure is minimal, and you clamber down 86m
(282 ft.) utilizing ladders and tunnels. Entry times vary seasonally so check with
National Park Information Centre (& 08/9757 7422). Children under 6 are
not allowed in Giants Cave. Tickets are available at either cave for A$15 adults, A$8

Scenic Forest Drives
Boranup Drive is a magical detour
off Caves Road through towering karris.
It leaves Caves Road 6km (33.4 miles)
south of Mammoth Cave and meanders
through the forest on gravel roads on a
glorious 14km (83.4-mile) drive. Boranup
Forest, despite its impressive height, is
regrowth, the entire area having been
logged in the early 20th century. Make
sure to check that your hire car can be
driven on gravel roads.

children 6 to 15, and A$40 families (two parents and two kids), all including helmets
and lamps. The center, at Calgardup Cave, also has walking maps and information
on camping sites and activities in the Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park.

Ngilgi Cave, Caves Road, Yallingup (& 08/9755 2152; www.geographebay.
com), farther north (closer to Dunsborough), has beautiful translucent stalactite
“shawls” in its main chamber. Semiguided tours (guides are available to answer questions)
run half-hourly from 10am to 3:30pm for A$19 adults, A$9.25 children 5 to
15, or A$47 for families of four. Ngilgi offers excellent guided adventure tours,
where you go “backstage,” crawling and even sliding through the farther reaches of
the cave, in protective clothing. The tours usually run at 9:30am with a minimum of
two people. The Ancient River Bed Tour takes 2 hours (A$42 adults and A$21 children);
the Crystal Crawl Tour is 3 hours (A$93); the Ultimate Ngilgi Adventure
takes 4 hours and costs A$135. The last two tours have a minimum age of 16 years.
Book all tours at least 48 hours ahead. The cave is open every day except December 25.
Guided walking tours around Ngilgi and Cape Naturaliste can also be booked here.

Food-based attractions are opening up in the area all the time. The Berry Farm,
43 Bessell Rd., outside Margaret River (& 08/9757 5054; www.berryfarm.com.
au), has attractively packaged, fruit-based preserves, wines, jams, and vinegars. The
Cottage Cafe offers seasonal produce, open daily 10am to 4pm, except December
24, 25, and 26, Good Friday, and January 1. At the Margaret River Chocolate
Company , Harman’s Mill Road (at Harman’s Rd. S.), Metricup (& 08/9755
6555), you can participate in free tastings, watch the candy-making through a window,
buy coffee and cakes at the cafe, and, of course, buy some mouth-watering
chocolate. It’s open daily 9am to 5pm, closed December 25. Olio Bello , 1
Armstrong Rd., off Cowaramup Bay Road, Cowaramup (&1800/982 170 in Australia
or 08/9755 9771; www.oliobello.com), was the 2006 Australian Olive Grower
of the Year. You can buy a range of organic olive oils, soaps, and body creams, dips,
and tapenades, and there’s a cafe. Olio Bello also has macadamias, fruit trees, and
native shrubs, so the place is full of birds. It’s open daily 10am to 4:30pm, closed
Good Friday, December 25 and 26, and January 1.

Margaret River Venison, Caves Road, Margaret River, just south of Olio Bello
(&08/9755 5028; www.mrvenison.com), is a family-run enterprise, selling products
derived from deer raised on the property. It’s open daily 9am to 5pm, closed
December 25. The Margaret River Dairy Company, Bussell Highway,
Cowaramup, just north of the village (&08/9755 7588; www.mrdc.com.au), uses
local milk to make a range of award-winning cheeses and yogurts and is open 9:30am
to 5pm; it’s closed Good Friday, December 25 and 26, and January 1. Some of WA’s


Margaret River & the



galleries GALORE

Margaret River & the Southwest
The natural beauty of the Margaret River
region and its associated lifestyle have
inspired many artists to make their
homes here. You can watch them work
and perhaps buy a unique souvenir from
around 35 studios and galleries, mostly
found close to Dunsborough or Marga-
ret River town. Follow the Artisans Map,
available from tourist information cen-
ters, hotels, and galleries, or check
Near Dunsborough, John Miller
Design , 51 Marrinup Dr. (off Caves
Rd.), Yallingup (&08/9756 6336),
showcases the creative handcrafted jew-
elry of John Miller. Others in the “don’t
miss” category here are Gunyulgup Gal-
leries, Gunyulgup Valley Drive (off
Caves Rd.) near Yallingup (&08/9755
2177), and Yallingup Galleries on Caves
Road (&08/9755 2372), where you
can see the work of many fine Austra-
lian artists, jewelers, and craftspeople.
Not far away is Happs Vineyard and
Pottery, Commonage Road, Dunsbor-
ough (&08/9755 3479). Miles Happ
runs the pottery side while his father is
in charge of the winery.
Just outside Margaret River, stop off
to see potters Rod Dilkes and Tova Hoff-
man creating their lustrous “phoenix”
bowls with iridescent glazes. Dilkes-
Hoffman Ceramics is on Caves Road,
4km (21.2 miles) north of Walcliffe Road
(&08/9757 2998).
Serious lovers of glass art should
head to Fox Galleries, Brockman High-
way, Karridale, south of Margaret River
(&08/9758 6712), which master glass-
maker Alan Fox only opens by appoint-
ment. His superb creations are in
numerous collections, including Buck-
ingham Palace.
Beautiful furniture is made at several
places, using the magnificent local jar-
rah timber. The best is at Boranup Gal-
lery , Caves Road, close to the
Boranup Road turnoff (&08/9757
7585), featuring stunning jarrah burl
inlays, as well as art, glass, and ceramic
An unusual gallery celebrates the life
and work of one the world’s greatest
cartoonists, Paul Rigby. Rigby worked in
Australia, London, and New York, includ-
ing 25 years with the New York Post and
the New York Daily News. He was also a
prolific artist and illustrator, but sadly
died in 2006. His widow and son now
run the Rigby Gallery & Studio, featur-
ing his work, at 282A Caves Rd., 2km (11.4
miles) south of Wallcliffe Road (&08/
9757 3713), open Wednesday, Saturday,
and Sunday 11am to 4pm or by appoint-
finest ice cream is made at Simmo’s Ice Creamery , southeast of town at 161
Commonage Rd., Dunsborough (&08/9755 3745; www.simmos.com.au), which
is open 10:30am to 5pm but closed December 25.

If you want to learn more about this region and see kangaroos in the wild, make
time for an excellent value Margaret River with Neil McLeod tour

(& 08/
9757 2747; www.margaretriver-mcleodtours.com). Neil was raised in the area on
his parents’ dairy farm and now runs illuminating tours covering the karri forest,
vineyards and wildflowers; aspects of the region’s early history; visits to Surfer’s Point
and Redgate Beach; and even his own bush property bounding with kangaroos.
Billy tea and “Mum’s orange cake” are served as part of the Sunset Kangaroo Safari,
which costs A$45 adults and A$20 children 4 to 14. The full day winery, gallery, and

brewery tour costs A$90 adults and A$65 children, including lunch. Tours depart
daily, from the Margaret River Visitor Centre, or free from accommodations within
10km (61.4 miles) of the town. Neil also offers a comprehensive 3-day “Escape Package”
out of Perth, including 2 nights of bed and breakfast and three lunches, for
A$650 per person; it leaves on Tuesdays with a two-passenger minimum.

Surfing lessons from four-time Western Australian professional surfing champion
Josh Palmateer (& 08/9757 3850, or 0418/958 264 mobile; www.mrsurf.
com.au) are a must! Two-hour lessons at Margaret River mouth (they will collect you
from Margaret River town) cost A$130 for an individual lesson, and A$50 per person
if you join a group (daily at 11am), including use of wet suits and boards. You can
also have a private group, and discounts for 3-day attendance. Lessons run November
to July. He also rents boards and wet suits and offers surf-guiding tours, if you
are already a master of the surf universe and want to try any of the legendary breaks
along the coast. Canoes and kayaks are available for hire, for paddling up the river.

From June through December, whales play just offshore all along the coast.
There is a whale lookout near the Cape Naturaliste lighthouse. Daily 3-hour whalewatching
cruises with Naturaliste Charters

(&08/9725 8511; www.whalesaustralia.
com) depart June to August from Augusta and cruise around Flinders Bay,
where you’ll usually see both humpback and southern right whales, often in large
numbers, and dolphins. September to December, the cruise departures switch to
Dunsborough, where the migrating humpbacks rest their calves in sheltered Geographe
Bay. Cruises cost A$75 adults, A$45 students 13 to 17, A$35 children 4 to 12,
and A$200 for families of four.
For an intelligent and comprehensive take on the local indigenous history and
culture, visit the Wardan Aboriginal Cultural Centre , 55 Injidup Spring Rd.,
Yallingup (&08/9756 6566; www.wardan.com.au).

Where to Stay

There’s an amazing selection of places to stay in Margaret River town and Dunsborough,
and around the vineyards. A couple of medium-size hotels can be found
near Dunsborough on the edge of Geographe Bay; otherwise there are B&B establishments,
self-catering villas and cottages, and many excellent lodges. Some places
may require a minimum 2-night stay on weekends. The Margaret River Visitor
Centre is a good place to get advice and suggestions. Nowhere here is far away, so
the best idea is just to find a place that really suits your style and wallet, and use it
as a base to tour the region.

Cape Lodge

A lovely secluded lodge in Cape Dutch style, it has been
voted in the world’s top 100 hotels and was rated Australia’s best boutique hotel in
2008 and 2009. A member of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World group, it’s set
within 16 hectares (40 acres) of vineyards and natural forest, with lakes, rolling
lawns, and rose beds. The immediate impression is of space and tranquillity—
accompanied by birdsong. A number of small blocks or wings are strategically
located so there are uninterrupted views, and you’re never really aware of other
people. The rooms are large and elegantly furnished with king-size beds and balconies
or small courtyards. The Lodge Suite, in the original homestead, has an
extremely comfortable lounge and two en-suite bathrooms. The restaurant, incorporating
a guest lounge, has a glass wall and decking on the edge of the main lake. It


Margaret River & the


has won several awards and opens for breakfast and dinner, with limited evening
space for nonguests. About 50% of guests are international, mostly from the United
Kingdom. There is no smoking indoors. The pool, the garden wing, and the Superior
Spa Suites were refurbished in 2008.

Caves Rd. (btw. Abbey Farm and Johnson roads), Yallingup, WA 6282. &08/9755 6311. Fax 08/9755
6322. www.capelodge.com.au. 22 units, with tub or spa and shower; unit for those with disabilities has
shower only. A$475 garden suite; A$575–A$675 superior and forest suite; A$695 lodge suite. Rates
include gourmet breakfast. 2-night stay required Sat–Sun. Inclusive packages at Christmas, Easter, and for
special events. Ask about special offers. AE, DC, MC, V. Free parking. Children not recommended. Amenities:
Licensed restaurant (14,000-bottle cellar); golf nearby; outdoor pool; tennis court; Wi-Fi main lodge
(free). In room: A/C, LCD TV/DVD, CD player, hair dryer, minibar, MP3 docking station available.

Heritage Trail Lodge

Although it’s on the highway in Margaret River town
(within walking distance of restaurants), this row of cabin-style rooms, built in 1997
and renovated in 2007, sits in a serene karri forest, out of sight. Each spacious unit
(including one for travelers with disabilities) has a veranda, a king-size double or
king-size twin beds, and a double Jacuzzi, from which you can see the forest. Go for
the rooms that overlook the bushwalk trails. No smoking indoors.
31 Bussell Hwy. (almost .5km/1.4 mile north of town), Margaret River, WA 6285. &08/9757 9595. Fax
08/9757 9596. www.heritage-trail-lodge.com.au. 10 units, all with shower and spa tub. A$259–A$370
double Dec–Apr, slightly less in low season. Extra person A$75. Rates include continental breakfast. Ask
about midweek and romantic packages. Minimum 2-night stay weekends and holidays. AE, DC, MC, V.
Free parking. Not suitable for children. Amenities: Wi-Fi in conservatory (free). In room: A/C, TV/DVD,
CD player, hair dryer, minibar.

Redgate Beach Escape

Four comfortable contemporary cottages sit on a
hill, looking out across native bush to an expanse of ocean. There is no noise, just
the breeze, birdsong, and the distant sound of the sea, with an occasional eagle floating
past. The nearest traffic lights are 30 minutes away! The fully furnished cottages
have a Balinese theme, feature full-height doors and windows facing the ocean, and
are self-catering. Hosts Roger and Mim Budd built with a philosophy of clean
uncluttered lines and sustainability. All utilities are underground, including a
250-kiloliter (66,000-gallon) rainwater tank that supplies the cottages. The Margaret
River supermarket and several gourmet-produce outlets are nearby. No smoking
Lot 14 Redgate Rd., off Caves Rd. (12km/71.2 miles southwest of) Margaret River, WA 6285. &08/9757 6677
or 0407/049 044 mobile. www.redgatebeachescape.com.au. 4 2-bedroom cottages, with indoor and outdoor
showers. A$230–A$290 double. A$20 per extra person. Minimum 2-night stay. Long stay discounts.
Ask about packages. AE, DC, MC, V. In room: A/C, TV/DVD, fridge, hair dryer, full kitchen, no phone.

Seashells Resort Yallingup

The restored Art Deco gem of Caves House (built
1938) is the heart of this resort, just a short walk up the slope from Yallingup Beach.
The house, gardens, and croquet lawn (yes indeed milord) are all heritage-listed.
Refurbishment completed in January 2006 retained the essential character of the
place while introducing modern facilities, such as marble en-suite bathrooms with
double spa baths. The property was further enhanced with the opening of the Garden
Wing, featuring spa studios and self-contained apartments, in December 2007.
Yallingup Beach Rd., Yallingup, WA 6282. &1800/800 850 in Australia or 08/9750 1500. Fax 08/9750
1533. www.seashells.com.au. 22 units. A$185–A$215 Heritage rooms (shower only); A$255–A$315 Spa
rooms and suites; A$385–A$425 Indijup (Caves House) suite; A$260–A$355 1-bedroom apt; A$375–
A$555 2-bedroom apt. Ask about packages. AE, DC, MC, V. Free parking. Amenities: Restaurant; bar,


Margaret River & the Southwest

guest lounge. In room: A/C, TV w/in-house movies, CD player, hair dryer, broadband Internet (A$10 per
hr., A$35 per day), kitchen (in apts), minibar, MP3 docking station.

Where to Dine

Some of WA’s finest dining is to be found in Margaret River, with quality chefs
attracted by the opportunities, the produce, and the lifestyle. Many of the better wineries
have restaurants, several of them superb, but most are open only for lunch.
Besides the wineries listed below, you should consider Driftwood Estate, Brookland
Valley Vineyard (Flutes Restaurant), Amberley Estate, Wise Vineyard, Lamont’s Margaret
River, and Rivendell Wines. Leeuwin Estate’s restaurant , Stevens Road,
Margaret River (&08/9430 4099), also has terrific food. It’s cozy in winter, and in
summer its deck overlooking lawns is just the spot for lunch; it is open Saturday night.

Cullen Wines

the kitchen garden here are certified biodynamic. The granite-and-timber restaurant
is unpretentious but comfortable, with a shady outdoor option, and offers casual,
relaxed dining using totally fresh local produce. All dishes are defined as organic,
biodynamic, gluten-free, vegetarian, and/or free-range. (Ask for the Organic Platter.)
Cullen’s produces an excellent semillon–sauvignon blanc blend, and its Diane Madeleine
cabernet-merlot is perhaps the best in Margaret River.
Caves Rd., just north of Harmans South Rd., Cowaramup. &08/9755 5656. www.cullenwines.com.au.
Reservations recommended, especially on weekends. Main courses A$28–A$42 lunch only. AE, DC, MC,

V. Daily 10am–4:30pm.
Must Margaret River

MODERN AUSTRALIAN Russell Blaikie, part-owner
and chef of Must Winebar in Perth, has extended his winning wine bar/French
bistro recipe to the heart of WA’s wine country. Must Margaret River has added a
new dimension to the region’s dining and drinking options; the slick, smart, city-type
place, which is slightly at odds with the usual laid-back style of the region, is attractive
and appealing. Numerous wines are available by the glass or the taste, and
there’s also a snack-style menu. Dry-aged beef is a specialty.
107 Bussell Hwy., Margaret River. &08/9758 8877. www.must.com.au. Reservations recommended.
Main courses A$29–A$42. AE, DC, MC, V. Daily noon–midnight.

Newtown House

far and wide to savor owner-chef Stephen Reagan’s dishes, such as rare local venison
with roast pears or quince. Desserts are no letdown—caramel souffle with lavender
ice cream is typical. The menu changes seasonally. Located in a historic 1851 homestead,
the restaurant consists of two simple, intimate rooms with log fires in winter,
and it’s BYO. It was voted “Best Country Restaurant in WA” five times.
737 Bussell Hwy. (9km/51.2 miles past Busselton), Vasse. &08/9755 4485. www.newtownhouse.com.
au. Reservations recommended, especially for dinner. Main courses about A$34. AE, DC, MC, V. Tues–
Sat lunch from 10am, dinner from 6:30pm.

Vasse Felix

MODERN AUSTRALIAN One of Margaret River’s original
wineries, the restaurant and cellar door are set within forest and vineyards 2km (11.4
miles) from Caves Road. They occupy an attractive modern two-story building, with
the upstairs dining area presenting fresh regional cuisine. Some of the extensive
Holmes a Court family art collection is displayed downstairs. The restaurant is frequently
rated as the best in the area, and the menu varies seasonally.

Margaret River & the


The South Coast
If you need a “cleansing ale” after your
wine-tasting, head for Bootleg Brew-
ery, Pusey Road, Wilyabrup
(&08/9755 6300), for a range of
amber fluids, all brewed on the prem-
ises. There’s a tasty golden pils and a
real snorter—a prizewinning porter
called Raging Bull. Complementing the
beers is a menu of tasty dishes, such as
Bootleg Stockman’s Pie and a Brewers
Platter, as well as the usual pub-style
food. Main courses cost around A$20
to A$30, and the lakefront setting—
with a playground—is a relaxing spot
for lunch after a tough morning on the
tourist trail. It’s open daily 11am to
6pm, with lunch served from noon.
Make a reservation on weekends and
If Wine Is Not Your Tipple If Wine Is Not Your Tipple
Corner Caves Rd. and Harmans South Rd., Cowaramup. &08/9756 5000. www.vassefelix.com.au. Reservations
recommended, especially on weekends. Main courses A$30–A$40; set menu A$45 for 2 courses,
A$55 for 3 courses (lunch only). AE, DC, MC, V. Daily from noon. Closed Dec 25–26, and Good Friday.

Voyager Estate

MODERN AUSTRALIAN Nothing has been spared
in attention to style and detail at WA’s finest winery and restaurant. Palatial white
gates lead into spotless grounds lined with rose gardens and what surely is the tallest
flagpole in WA. In one corner, tucked behind a formal Cape-style garden, is the
elegant white Cape Dutch cellar and restaurant (based on the mansions and wineries
in South Africa’s Cape region). The restaurant is in a long timber-vaulted room
strung with chandeliers; it won WA’s award for “Best Winery Restaurant” for 3 successive
years. The menu is imaginative, varies seasonally, and comes with recommended
wines (available by the glass). Try the taste plate or seafood assiette, and
leave room for the specially selected range of cheeses. There are alternative vegetarian
and gluten-free menus.

Stevens Rd. (just south of) Margaret River. &08/9757 6354. www.voyagerestate.com.au. Reservations
recommended, especially on weekends. Main courses A$29–A$44; degustation menu with wine
for A$145 (lunch only). AE, DC, MC, V. Daily 10am–5pm. Winery tours at A$25 Tues, Thurs, and Sun at
11am, or with set lunch for A$65. Closed Good Friday and Dec 25–26.

Watershed Wines

MODERN AUSTRALIAN Most restaurants here have
beautiful settings, but Watershed tops the lot. You sit on the balcony, looking out
over serried vineyards with a stunningly blue lake sitting in the middle distance. It’s
enough to make you forget your lunch—almost. Once again, quality food is married
with wine by the glass, with the restaurant winning an award for “Best Family Dining”
2 years in a row. There’s also a cafe, which caters to kids and provides more
casual dining. Try the beef fillet with the savoury fig baklava.

Corner Bussell Hwy. and Darch Rd., Margaret River. &08/9758 8633. www.watershedwines.com.au.
Reservations recommended, especially on weekends. Main courses A$32–A$40 lunch only. AE, DC, MC,

V. Daily noon–3pm; cafe 10am–4:30pm.

The coastal region from Albany westwards to Margaret River has suffered—and
gained—from the proximity of its famous neighbor. Like Margaret River it is a rich

region of forests and pastures, vineyards and craft outlets, coastal scenery, and
appealing accommodation options, but without the crowds and sophistication, and
there’s more wilderness. It’s a simpler existence here, closer to nature and without
the need to instantly impress. You’re encouraged to linger, to savor the countryside
and its bounty, based upon a mild climate tempered by the nearby ocean.


is WA’s oldest settlement, set alongside a superb natural harbor. It
has been involved with some of Australia’s most significant historical events, but has
retained an essential simplicity. West from here are the two adjacent but very different
towns of Denmark
and Walpole. Denmark is a bustling town, part seaside
resort, part retirement/lifestyle retreat, and part tourist center, while Walpole is
much smaller and more basic. They are “tied” together by the magnificent forest that
sits midway between the two, and the magical Treetop Walk
that soars
through the upper reaches of giant tingle and karri trees. The karri is one of the
world’s tallest trees, growing up to 90m (295 ft.) high; it’s also one of the most graceful,
growing true and straight with no branches in its lower half, and with a beautiful
smooth bark that shades from pale grey to creamy-gold.

Another 120km (75 miles) northwest of Walpole is the timber town of Pemberton
. The timber industry is slowly dying, with most “old growth” forests now
preserved for posterity, but vineyards and truffle farms are taking over. There are
superb tree-lined drives and, for the adventurous, the chance to climb towering old
fire-lookout trees.

Sweeping through the region is Australia’s greatest bushwalk, the Bibbulmun
Track , which takes in the best of the wilderness areas. That’s the real focus of
this region—the wilderness—and why many of the listed accommodation options
are outside the towns; they are by streams, forests, or vineyards, surrounded by the
sights and sounds of nature.


409km (256 miles) SE of Perth

First settled in 1826, Albany (pop. 25,000) is now the largest town and port along the
south coast. It’s set among wooded granite hills on the shores of an enormous doublebay
natural harbor. The outer portion is the broad King George Sound, while the inner
part is Princess Royal Harbour, where the port stands. Albany has several strong links
to the Anzac story, and the first great Anzac Convoy assembled here, but these days
the harbor plays host only to grain carriers, fishing boats, dolphins, and pelicans.

History of a different sort can be found on the opposite side of the Sound, on the
site of Australia’s last whaling station at Cheynes Beach, now converted to the
Whale World Museum . The whaling only stopped in 1978, and the whales
have since become a tourist attraction, with increasing numbers cruising past and
into King George Sound. The untamed Southern Ocean is very close to here, with
various natural features carved into the granite as testament to the power of the sea.

Modern developments and high-rises have passed Albany by, so it remains a quietly
bustling and attractive town, with numerous buildings reflecting its early days.
It’s the centre of a rich agricultural region, historically important for sheep and
wheat but now with numerous vineyards producing high class wines. The local
national parks are ablaze with wildflowers every spring, with WA’s only “mountain”
range, the Stirlings, 80km (50 miles) north of town, a major center.


The South



The South Coast

Albany’s heritage and business activities are based along York Street, which slopes
down to the harbor. Several 19th-century buildings, and many of the town’s cafes
and restaurants, line the street, which is wide enough to have center parking. There
are numerous scenic drives and walkways.

GETTING THERE Skywest Airlines (& 1300/660 088 in Australia; www.
skywest.com.au) has approximately 11.4-hour flights up to three times daily from
Perth. Airfares start at approximately A$140 one-way. The airport is 11km (7 miles)
north of town.

Transwa (&1300/662 205 in Australia) operates a daily coach service between

Perth and Albany. The journey takes about 6 hours and costs A$56 adults and A$28

children 5 to 15.

If driving yourself, beware of wildlife at dusk and nighttime. A good spot to stop

on the journey is Kojonup with its excellent Kodja Place which tells the graphic story

of a country community.

Several tour companies, including Australian Pinnacle Tours (& 1300/551
687 in Australia, or 08/9417 5555; www.pinnacletours.com.au) and Western Xposure
(&1800/621 200 in Australia; www.westernxposure.com.au), offer package
trips to Albany and the surrounding regions.

VISITOR INFORMATION The Albany Visitor Centre (& 08/9841 9290;
www.albanytourist.com.au) is in the old railway station, Proudlove Parade, Albany
WA 6330, on the foreshore. It is open daily from 9am to 5pm except December 25.

GETTING AROUND Avis (&08/9842 2833) and Budget (&08/9841 7799)
have offices in Albany. You may want to drive on gravel roads in the forest areas to
the west, so check for restrictions for driving on such roads before hiring.

What to See & Do

Stroll the streets of downtown, taking in historic buildings such as the Town Hall,
St. John’s Church, and those along Stirling Terrace—especially the wonderful brick
confection of the Old Post Office. Walk or cycle along the bush-lined Marine Drive
Scenic Path, which loops around the Mt. Adelaide headland between Albany Port
and Middleton Beach, passing the Ataturk statue.

You must visit Whale World , Frenchman Bay Road, 22km (14 miles) south
of Albany (& 08/9844 4021; www.whaleworld.org), to see how Australia’s last
whaling station operated. The entire process is there for you to see or rather, imagine,
with all the original decks and boilers, vats and cranes still in place. Several
whale skeletons provide an impressive reminder of the size to which whales can
grow. The site opens daily from 9am to 5pm, except December 25. Admission is
A$25 adults, A$10 children 6 to 12, A$15 students 13 to 18, and A$55 families (up
to three children). This includes free guided tours which leave on the hour from
10am to 3pm. There’s a cafe with views across the sound. Allow 2 to 3 hours.

A short distance across the headland is the Southern Ocean with all its uncertainties:
brilliant sparkling blue sea when fine, and wind-swept storm-laden fury when
roused. Sheer granite cliffs plunge into the water, with dramatic sea-eroded features
such as the Gap, the Blowholes, and the Natural Bridge.

The road back into town passes an unusual venture, the Great Southern
Distilling Company , 252 Frenchman Bay Rd., Albany (& 08/9842 5363;

The South The Princess Royal Fortress was built in
the late 19th century overlooking King
George Sound, to counter a perceived
Russian threat. It is now a museum that
commemorates, among other things, the
start of the Anzac legend. The Anzac
Convoy that assembled here in October
1914 had 20,000 men on 36 troop-car-
rying ships, and six accompanying war-
ships. Albany later saw the start of the
Anzac Day dawn service tradition when
Padre Arthur White, who had been a
chaplain with the forces, returned to
Albany and decided there should be a
commemoration, here where the troops
last saw Australia.
A statue of Turkish leader Kemal
Ataturk was erected between King
George Sound and Princess Royal Har-
bour, in recognition of the bond that
later developed between Australia and
Turkey. The Desert Mounted Corps
Memorial on nearby Mt. Clarence was
originally built at Port Said after World
War I, but blown up during the 1956
Suez conflict. The remnants came back
to Australia and this is a replica, but
using the stones of the original base.
The Anzac Trail
www.distillery.com.au). This boutique distillery uses mostly local produce to generate
small quantities of gin, brandy, grappe, and WA’s first single-malt whisky. There
are plans to create a peated whisky as well. The stylish tasting room and coffee
lounge is open daily 10am to 5pm. A nearby turnoff leads to the Albany Wind
Farm , located in prime position high above the ocean some 12km (71. miles)

2southwest of the town. Twelve giant turbines spin endlessly, generating about 75%
of Albany’s power needs. It’s a surprisingly attractive and feel-good installation, open
to the public.

Several wineries provide cellar doors and tastings, in and near Albany. One of the
more unusual is Oranje Tractor , 198 Link Rd., off South Coast Highway, 12km
(71.2 miles) from town, Albany (&08/9842 5175; www.oranjetractor.com), named
after its still-working 1964 Fiat tractor. The grapes are organically grown and handpicked,
and their Riesling won a trophy at the 2008 National Wine Show. A cellar
door tasting plate is offered, based on “food miles” to support local producers.

If natural fragrances or oils are your thing, make your way to Mount Romance
on the corner of Down Road and Albany Highway, 15km (91.2 miles) north of Albany
(&08/9845 6888; www.mtromance.com.au), open daily 9am to 5pm. The wafting
soothing scent of sandalwood is almost palpable. A distillery and factory produce a
wide range of sandalwood (and emu) oils and other body-care products, and there
are free daily tours of the facility. Sandalwood oil is a major element of the on-site
Santal Signature Spa treatments, and of “The Cone, the Gong, and the Bowl” experience,
which is available in 1-hour sessions for A$18. Bookings are essential.

Try to be in town on a Saturday morning, to experience the Albany Farmers
Market , on Collie Street, when the local farmers and orchardists bring their
produce to town, or follow the Taste Albany Trail, which takes you to the individual
farm gates.

For a gentle relaxing time, take a half-day scenic cruise around King George
Sound, with Silver Star Cruises (&04/2842 9876; www.whales.com.au). You’ll
have the company of passing dolphins and optimistic pelicans and the chance to see



The South Coast

11 whales from June to October. The 21.2-hour cruises leave at 9:30am and 1pm (subject
to weather conditions) and cost A$75 adults, A$40 children, and A$200 families
of four.
The Albany Waterfront is being extensively redeveloped, with plans for a marina,
an entertainment center, a hotel, a promenade, shops, cafes, and restaurants. They’re
all scheduled to open late 2010.


The Albany Visitor Centre offers a free accommodation booking center (&08/9841
9290; www.albanytourist.com.au).

Dog Rock Motel Albany has numerous motels and this is probably the best of
them. Close to the center, it’s named after a nearby granite boulder that looks like a
dog’s head. Go for the front rooms which have been renovated and have something
of a view. The motel’s Lime 303 Restaurant has won a WA award for best casual
licensed restaurant.

303 Middleton Rd., Albany, WA 6330. &1800/035 265 in Australia, or 08/9841 4422. Fax 08/9842
1027. www.dogrockmotel.com.au. 81 units, 66 with shower only. A$125–A$189 double; A$229 family
room. Extra person A$20. Children 2 and under stay free in parent’s room. AE, DC, MC, V. Amenities:
Restaurant. In room: A/C, TV, fridge, hair dryer, Internet.

Norman House

Half-hidden behind an enormous magnolia tree, this house
was built in 1852 but has been extensively modified. It’s something of a rabbit warren
and rather cluttered but with an idiosyncratic charm. This is a friendly, quirky,
home-style bed and breakfast place. The house, magnolia, and oak tree out the back
are all heritage-listed, and the town center is just steps away.
28 Stirling Terrace, Albany, WA 6330. &08/9841 5995. Fax 08/9841 5995. http://members.westnet.
com.au/normanhouse. 6 units, 3 with en-suite bathroom, 3 with private bathroom, all with showers
only. A$130–A$140 double including breakfast. Extra adult A$35, extra child (3–12) A$25. MC, V. Amenities:
Breakfast room, TV lounge; Internet. In room: Fridge, hair dryer.

The Rocks Albany

This is the best accommodation on the south
coast. It has style, location, comfort, and an impeccable pedigree. Once a vice-regal
summer residence, it has been lovingly restored to provide that same level of luxury.
The elegant, two-storied, balconied stone mansion sits on 0.8 hectares (2 acres) of
tended gardens and rolling lawns, with a secure parking area and sloping brick pathways
to allow full wheelchair access. Inside are a library, billiard and music rooms,
lounges, and six superbly furnished bedrooms, some with four-poster beds and most
with views across Princess Royal Harbour. A genuine gourmet breakfast is provided.

182–188 Grey St. West (500m/1. mile from town center), Albany, WA 6330. &08/9842 5969. Fax


08/9842 5972. www.therocksalbany.com.au. 6 units, 2 with shower only. A$355–A$455 double. Rates
include gourmet breakfast. Minimum 2 nights on long weekends, 3 nights Christmas and Easter. Ask
about packages. AE (3.5% extra), MC, V. Not suitable for children 11 and under. Amenities: Dining room;
lounge; tennis court. In room: A/C, TV/DVD, fridge, hair dryer, Wi-Fi (free).


Albany has numerous, mostly casual eating places, which largely promote the use of
fresh local produce.

Calamari’s at Beachside SEAFOOD The setting is great, right on Middleton
Beach, gazing out to King George Sound. The service is friendly, but the cooking of

fish dishes can be uneven. The wine list has local wines at excellent prices, by the
glass or bottle.

2 Flinders Parade, Middleton Beach, Albany. &08/9841 7733. Mains A$29–A$45. MC, V. Daily from 6pm.

Lavender Cottage

FRENCH This is a delightful place, with friendly
service and good food in a charming old cottage. It’s open for tea and cakes or
lunches through the week, with fresh salads and French-inspired blackboard menu.
The piece de resistance is the Friday night gourmet dinner, with a set menu based on
whatever is fresh at the time.

55 Peels Place (close to York St.), Albany. &08/9842 2073. Fri evening gourmet dinner A$60; bookings
essential. MC, V. Mon–Fri 9am–3:30pm; Fri from 6:30pm.

Tanglehead Brewing Company PUB FOOD Based in a revamped and refurbished
old hotel, Tanglehead (the name is based on an old Scottish myth) is a
microbrewery clearly seen behind glass panels, with adjacent eating area. The large
modern kitchen dishes up good-size appetizing meals from an adventurous menu.
The “hand-crafted” pilsner goes very well with the ’roo filet.

72 Stirling Terrace, Albany. &08/9841 1733. Main courses A$19–A$35. MC, V. Daily from 11am.

Venice Pizza Bar & Restaurant

ITALIAN This is a popular, bustling place
slap bang in the center of town. Open all day, it provides an excellent spot for coffee
or a casual meal, with friendly service. A few tables on the pavement allow you to
become part of the York Street ambience. Pizzas are popular, as well as the standard
Italian and seafood dishes, and it’s BYO.
179 York St., Albany. & 08/9841 3978. Mains A$19–A$33. MC, V. Mon–Sat 9:30am–10:30pm; Sun

Wild Duck MODERN AUSTRALIAN This restaurant has been reported as the
best in Albany and one of the best in WA. The menu is limited but imaginative, with
unusual combinations and contrasts. The focus is apparently very much on the food,
with duck a feature, and the place is BYO.

112 Lower York St., Albany. &08/9842 2554. www.wildduckrestaurant.com. Reservations essential.
Mains A$28–A$40. MC, V. Wed–Sun from 6pm.

Denmark & Walpole

Denmark: 54km (34 miles) W of Albany; Walpole: 120km (75 miles) W of Albany

These two towns, strung out along the South Coast Highway, both lay claim to the
magnificent Valley of the Giants , which stands between them. The rolling
forested countryside has green paddocks and vineyards where cleared, with a number
of rivers slicing down to coastal inlets. The area is made for slow touring, with
winding roads, frequent vistas, and a succession of wineries, craft outlets, cafes, and
restaurants—and friendly open people.

Denmark sits on the Denmark River, just above where the paperbark-tree-lined
river runs into the broad Wilson Inlet. It’s a compact, busy little place with all the
essential services. The inlet is an ideal spot for quiet fishing, sailing, and canoeing.
Two significant tourist drives loop away into the hills north and west of the town.
Mt. Shadforth Drive is the shorter, while Scotsdale Road has a greater variety of
interesting places to visit.


The South



The South Coast

Walpole is a much smaller and quieter place, hemmed in by national parks on all
sides, with the finest areas designated as the Walpole Wilderness. It’s a pleasant
little spot, with a few accommodation and eating options. The adjacent waterways
are one of the highlights of this area.

The jewel in the crown, however, is the Valley of the Giants, some 15km (9 miles)
east of Walpole. This area has never been logged and the trees are simply magnificent,
mostly a mix of towering karri and red tingle. Looping through the upper
branches is the elevated walkway of the Treetop Walk , while a boardwalk
at ground level leads through the Ancient Empire.

There are several roads that lead down to bays and beaches along the coast, such
as rightly named Peaceful Bay and the granite-boulder-decorated beaches of Greens
Pool and Elephant Rocks. Like everywhere in this region, they are quiet, uncrowded
places, except during the Christmas holidays and summer long weekends.

The Bibbulmun Track

weaves its slow and scenic way through the entire
area. If you really want to get away from it all, this is the way to do it.
GETTING THERE There are tours that take in the area, but otherwise you’re
best driving yourself and going at your own pace. If so, be aware of the potential
wildlife and gravel road problems. A normal car is fine for this area, unless you want
to take some of the four-wheel-drive tracks that lead down to remote coastal bays.

Several tour companies, including Australian Pinnacle Tours and Western
Xposure (see “Albany” earlier) offer package trips that traverse this region.

VISITOR INFORMATION The Denmark Visitor Centre, 73 South Coast
Hwy. at Ocean Beach Road, Denmark, WA 6333 (& 08/9848 2055; www.
denmark.com.au), provides information on the area and an accommodation booking
service. The center was designed especially to house the Bert Bolle Barometer (see
below) and is open daily 9am to 5pm except December 25.


When you arrive in Denmark call into the Visitor Centre, to look at the world’s largest
barometer, as recognized by Guinness World Records. The Bert Bolle Barometer is
a giant water-based working instrument 12m (47 ft.) high housed in its own tower.

Take a day’s leisurely driving to follow the Scotsdale and/or Mount Shadforth
tourist drives that wind through the countryside north and west of Denmark. On
the Scotsdale route, call in on modern, sophisticated Howard Park Winery, 2km
(11.4 miles) from town (&08/9848 2345; www.howardparkwines.com.au), one of
the highly regarded producers in this area. Try their Riesling and shiraz wines. It’s
open 10am to 4pm daily, except on December 25, Good Friday, and until noon on
April 25. Take a short diversion on to Lantzke Road to visit the Denmark Berry Farm
and the Jonathan Hook Studio (&08/9848 1436; www.jonathanhook.com) to
see some striking ceramic work. The studio opens 10am to 5pm Monday to Friday
and holiday weekends noon to 4pm. Farther on, at the junction with McLeod Road,
make sure you stop at the Pentland Alpaca Tourist Farm (& 08/9840 9262;
http://pentlandalpacafarm.com.au), which has an amazing collection of animals—
not just alpacas—for you to get really close and intimate with. There are koalas,
dingoes, baby kangaroos, emus (with inquisitive habits), and Tyson the Bison.
There’s also a cafe and craft gallery. The farm is open daily 10am to 4pm, with koala

Swaying Through the Treetops
The Treetop Walk (&08/9840
8263; www.dec.wa.gov.au/content/
view/355/1045) is something really
special. A 600m (2,000-ft.) seethrough
steel-mesh walkway some 40m
(131 ft.) above the ground reaches out
across a forested valley. The walkway,
ensconced within the tops of the trees,
is built upon tall anchored pylons at the
end of each walkway section, which
allows the structure to sway with the
wind or as a reaction to people walking
along it. It can be a spooky feeling to
realize that the steel structure you’re
standing on is moving, and not necessarily
in concert with the branches all
around you. But it’s exciting and wonderful,
too. Each anchor point has a
platform where you can catch your
breath and let others overtake you. It’s
impossible to take everything in on
your first walk, so there’s provision to
go round again at no extra charge.

feeding at 10am and bottle feeding of the “babies” at 3pm; it’s closed December 24
and 25. Entry is A$12 adults, A$6 children 3 to 15, and A$35 families with up to
three children. The Mount Shadforth Drive has some great views, as well as the
charming rural retreat of the Lake House , Turner Road off Mount Shadforth
(& 08/9848 2444; www.lakehousedenmark.com.au), with its wine tasting area
and restaurant (serving fresh lunches and coffee) overlooking a tranquil lake and
terraced gardens. It’s open 11am to 5pm daily except December 25.

Other attractions worth visiting in the Denmark area include the South Coast
Wood Works Gallery, South Coast Highway, 17km (10 miles) east of Denmark
(&08/9845 2028; www.wn.com.au/dmalcolm/ww), which showcases the work of
some 40 local craftspeople. It’s open 10am to 5pm Wednesday to Sunday and daily
during school holidays, except May to August, when it’s open by appointment. The
sweetest place of all around Denmark is Bartholomew’s Meadery, South Coast
Highway, 16km (10 miles) west of Denmark (&08/9840 9349; www.honeywine.
com.au), which sells a wide range of honey-based products, including ice cream and
mead (honey wine). It’s open daily 9:30am to 4:30pm, 9am to 5pm during school
holidays, and is closed on December 25.

The Valley of the Giants

is the must-see attraction around here. In addition
to the Treetop Walk (see “Swaying Through the Treetops,” below), there’s the
Ancient Empire, at ground level, where a boardwalk takes you round and even
through the gnarled and buttressed trunks of the venerable red tingles. One ticket
covers both. Both are open 9am to 5pm daily, and 8am to 6pm December 26 to
January 26 (closed Dec 25). The cost is A$10 adults, A$6 children 6 to 15, and A$25
families. There’s a shop and interpretive center.

In Walpole, the WOW Wilderness Ecocruise

(&08/9840 1036; www.
wowwilderness.com.au) sails through the shallow Walpole and Nornalup Inlets to
the coastal wilderness. Guide Gary Muir provides one of the most informative,
entertaining, and thought-provoking tours you will find, and has fittingly won the
state’s top guiding award. The tours run daily from 10am to 12:30pm, except in
August and on December 25, and cost A$40 adults and A$15 children 5 to 15.

The South



The South Coast


The Denmark Visitor Centre offers a free tour and accommodation booking service
(&08/9848 2055; www.denmark.com.au). It’s open daily 9am to 5pm except
on December 25.

Bayside Villas Walpole has limited facilities, and these self-catering villas, built
in late 2000, on the edge of town provide simple but comfortable accommodation.
One villa has three bedrooms, while two others have two stories (with spas). They’re
close to the WOW cruises jetty.

2 Boronia Ave., Walpole, WA 6398. &08/9840 1888. www.baysidevillas.com.au. 6 units, most with
shower only. High season (long weekends and Christmas holidays) A$160–A$180 double; low season
A$135–A$155 double. Extra person A$20 (high) or A$15 (low). MC, V. Free parking. In room: A/C, TV/
DVD, hair dryer, kitchen.

Karma Chalets Ten well-appointed cedar chalets, each with private balcony,
stand on the edge of eucalypt woodland, with views over forests, vineyards, and paddocks
to Wilson Inlet. It’s all very peaceful, with ample birdlife, semitame possums,
and wandering kangaroos. Two chalets are designed for a couple while the others
have additional upstairs accommodations. Most have two-person spa baths.

1572 South Coast Hwy., 5km (3 miles) west of Denmark (next to Forest Hill Winery), WA 6333 &08/
9848 1568. www.karmachalets.com.au. 10 units. From A$155–A$255 double, extra adult A$25–A$30,
extra child A$15–A$25. Ask about specials. MC, V. In room: A/C, TV/DVD, fridge, hair dryer, kitchen, BBQ.

Tree-Elle Retreat

Four beautifully furnished double-story houses
with stocked pantries stand among landscaped gardens looking across natural bush
to Irwin Inlet. A large communal organic veggie and herb garden—and chicken
coop—are there for guest consumption, while the numerous pets on the grounds
will entertain the youngsters. Fresh food (including marron) and wine can be provided
if ordered ahead.

Bow Bridge, Denmark, WA 6333 (38km/24 miles west of Denmark on South Coast Hwy.). &08/9840
8471. www.treeelle.com. 4 units. A$290–A$310 2 guests in 3-bedroom house, extra person A$40;
A$310–A$330 2 guests in 4-bedroom house, extra person A$45. Minimum 2-night stay; A$50 extra for
less than 2-night stay. Breakfast included. Ask about packages. AE, DC, MC, V. Amenities: Spa studio.
In room: A/C, TV/DVD w/free movies, CD, hair dryer, kitchen.


A few of the wineries have lunchtime restaurants, including Lake House (see above)
and Forest Hill (see Greenpool below), and there are several cafes in both towns.
Below are some of the best restaurants in the area.

Denmark Bakery

BAKERY This is no ordinary pie shop; it makes awardwinning
gourmet varieties, including “Garlic Tiger Prawn” and “Vinda-Roo.” The
pies are a good size with plenty of filling, and you can eat at veranda tables or take
away. Because it’s a bakery, you can also buy cakes, rolls, and sandwiches.
27 Strickland St., Denmark. &08/9848 2143. Gourmet pies A$5–A$7. MC, V. Daily 7am–5pm.

Greenpool Restaurant

MODERN AUSTRALIAN This stylish, modern
eatery is part of the Forest Hill winery complex, 4km (21.2 miles) west of Denmark.
The menu is short and reflects the chef’s focus on fresh local produce. Try the
Regional Tasting Plate.

South Coast Hwy., Denmark. & 08/9848 0091. www.foresthillwines.com.au. Reservations recommended.
Main courses A$30–A$40. AE, DC, MC, V. Mid-Feb to mid-Dec Fri–Sun noon–4pm and 6–9pm
(Fri only); mid-Dec to mid-Feb daily noon–4pm and 6–9pm (Fri only).

Nornalup Teahouse Restaurant

AUSTRALIAN This was a real surprise.
Nornalup is not even big enough to be called a village, but we’d asked for suggestions
on where to eat, and this was the first to come up. The enterprising chef at the
Nornalup Teahouse is producing some top-notch food, with a good locally based
wine list. Try the marron with scallops and fennel.
6684 South Coast Hwy., Nornalup. &08/9840 1422. www.nornalupteahouse.com.au. Main courses
A$24–A$38. MC, V. Wed–Sun, Mon, and school holidays 11:30am–9pm.


335km (209 miles) S of Perth; 122km (76 miles) NW of Walpole.

Pemberton and nearby Manjimup have been major timber towns and still have operating
mills—though at much reduced capacity. The surrounding countryside is a
mosaic of forest (mostly karri), pasture, orchards and vineyards, crisscrossed by
numerous flowing rivers, many with wild trout. Pemberton has been slowly changing
its focus, and now has appealing hideaways, modern wineries producing high-quality
wines, olive and cherry orchards, tours to the nearby South Coast, glorious forest
drives, and a rattling good ride along an old timber railway. And truffles are the new
black gold—after years of trial and error, the quantity and quality of truffles coming
out of Pemberton are repaying the investment.

GETTING THERE This area is best accessed and enjoyed with your own vehicle.

VISITOR INFORMATION The Pemberton Visitor Centre, Brockman Street,
Pemberton, WA 6260 (& 1800/671 133 in Western Australia, or 08/9776 1133;
www.pembertontourist.com.au), offers a free tour and accommodation booking
service. It’s open daily from 9am to 5pm, except on December 25 and 26.

GETTING AROUND Be aware that some of the roads are unsealed and can be
narrow, slippery, and steep in forest areas. Check your car hire restrictions. Sandy
areas are found near the coast and require four-wheel-drive.


Most of the activities and attractions around Pemberton are related to the forest, the
karri trees in particular. The Karri Forest Explorer Drive provides a comprehensive
tour of the main highlights. You can pick up a map from the Visitor Centre and/
or follow the signposted roads. One magical route that’s part of the drive is the
Heartbreak Trail , off the Old Vasse Road, south of Pemberton. This one-way
gravel track winds through magnificent old-growth forest, at times just above the
Warren River, and with a few steep sections. You have to get out of your car to really
appreciate the grandeur. There are some tranquil stopping places.

Anther special adventure, not for the faint of heart or those with no head for
heights, is climbing the Gloucester Tree , just 3km (2 miles) east of the town.
Some of the forest’s tallest trees were converted to be fire lookouts in the 1940s;
series of wooden stakes have been hammered into their trunks in spiral fashion,
leading up to a sort of tree house where the rangers could watch out for smoke or


The South



The South Coast

11 fire. Visitors today are the ones who clamber the 60m (200 ft.) to the top—and it’s
the climb rather than the view that excites. Wire netting surrounds the spiraling
stakes as a nod to safety. Passing people going the other way can be interesting.
Taking a Pemberton Discovery Tour, 48 Brockman St. (& 08/9776 0484;
www.pembertondiscoverytours.com.au), is an informed and entertaining way of seeing
the countryside. The half-day “Beach and Forest Eco Adventure” takes you
through remote old-growth forest and on to the enormous Yeagarup Dunes, before
driving along an empty beach by the Southern Ocean. The tour operates all year at
9am and 2pm, including lunch or tea, for A$90 adults, A$50 children under 14, or
A$270 families, with a minimum of two passengers. Booking is essential.
Then there’s the Pemberton Tram, which leaves from the railway station
(& 08/9776 1322; www.pemtram.com.au). The diesel-powered tram rattles its
way along a narrow-gauge line over several wooden trestle bridges. There’s an informative
commentary, and opportunities to stroll into the forest. The tram runs daily,
except December 25, at 10:45am and 2pm. Fares are A$18 adults, A$9 children 4
to 15, A$2.50 under 4.
Trout fishing is an option, and most local rivers are stocked, but you need to be
aware of seasonal and licensing requirements. Several accommodations have their
own lakes where guests can cast a line; King Trout Restaurant & Marron Farm,
Northcliffe Road and Old Vasse Road (& 08/9776 1352; see “Where to Dine,”
below), also provides for fishing and/or dining.
Pemberton is yet another quality wine-producing region boasting cool conditions,
and it’s becoming particularly known for its Burgundy-style wines, including WA’s
best pinot noir. Salitage , Vasse Highway near Pemberton (&08/9776 1195;
www.salitage.com.au), is the top winery (with two wines classified in Australia’s Top
100), established and owned by Margaret River pioneer John Horgan. The sleek
modern winery is set in carefully tended gardens and vineyards, open 9am to 5pm
daily, closed December 25 and 26.
The newest attraction around Pemberton is that amazing delicacy the truffle. The
Wine & Truffle Company

(see “Where to Dine,” below) has established its
trufferie (13,000 trees, mostly hazelnut), refined its harvesting techniques, and is
now producing commercial quantities of the famed black truffle. Guided truffle
hunts are available at A$95 adults and A$58 children 16 and under, available
throughout the year but best during the in season. The company also produces quality
wines, which can be tasted at the cellar door, together with a range of trufflebased
products. The restaurant serves excellent lunches, with a gourmet truffle
menu in season May to August. Both are open daily.
Big Brook Retreat A quiet, peaceful, relaxing place to stay, set in farmland and
overlooking Big Brook Forest, 6km (4 miles) outside Pemberton. There are two welllaid-
out rooms available for bed-and-breakfast stays in the main house, plus four
stand-alone, self-catering chalets on the grounds.

Stirling Rd., Pemberton, WA 6260. &08/9776 0279. www.bigbrookcottages.com.au. 6 units: 2 B&B
rooms, 1 with spa; 4 chalets, 2 with spa. A$130–A$150 double B&B; A$190 1-bedroom spa chalet; A$160
2-bedroom chalet. A$10 extra for chalets on weekends and school holidays. Surcharges on Christmas
and long weekends. Extra person A$25. Ask about packages and weekly rates. AE, DC, MC, V. Amenities:
Dining area. In room: A/C, TV/DVD w/free movies, CD player (in chalets), fridge, hair dryer, kitchen
(in chalets).

Salitage Suites

This adult retreat is really a set of beautifully furnished,
self-contained two-bedroom chalets, carefully laid out in a grove of soaring stringybark
and karri trees. It’s a stunning and tranquil setting. Each suite has its own large
balcony and private outlook to the surrounding vineyards, with the background
sound of bird calls and a small reticulated stream. The spacious interiors have all you
could need, with the furniture made locally from marri timber. The premium Salitage
winery is just next door, and guests receive a free winery tour.
Vasse Hwy., Pemberton, WA 6260. &08/9776 1195. Fax 08/9776 1504. www.salitagesuites.citysearch.
com.au. 6 units, showers only. A$250 1 couple; A$350 2 couples. Minimum 2 nights, more on peak
weekends. MC, V. No pets. Not suitable for children. In room: A/C, flatscreen TV w/DVD, CD player, hair
dryer, kitchen.


This adults-only luxury retreat opened in late 2008, built
from local stone and timber. It’s a real hideaway, tucked deep within the forest. The
whole place has been created with love, attention to detail, and the feel of a top
African safari lodge. The six large elegantly furnished bedrooms are upstairs, most
with four-poster kings, other locally made bespoke furniture, and small but well
designed balconies. Downstairs has the dining room and lounge, which opens onto
a broad patio above a lake stocked with trout and marron. This is a very superior
B&B (with gourmet breakfasts), but the resident chef will produce an excellent dinner
on request.

Langley Rd., Pemberton (take Southwest Hwy. south from Manjimup for 23km/14 miles, turn left
600m/1.3 mile after Roonies Bridge, and follow Stonebarn signs), WA 6258. &08/9773 1002. www.
stonebarn.com.au. 6 units. A$345–A$375 double, more over Easter and Christmas period. Minimum
2-night stay. Ask about packages. AE, DC, MC, V. Not suitable for children. Amenities: Dining room.
In room: A/C, ceiling fans, TV w/free movies, hair dryer, kitchenette, MP3 docking station, Wi-Fi (free).


With a few exceptions, the area is still finding its feet as far as dining is concerned.
There are several cafes making the transition from country town to tourist venue,
and some of the vineyards offer lunches. King Trout Restaurant & Marron
Farm, Northcliffe Road and Old Vasse Road (& 08/9776 1352), offers fresh
home-grown trout and marron. Main courses are A$20 to A$35. It’s open Friday to
Wednesday 9:30am to 5pm daily, except on December 25 and Good Friday.

Shamrock Restaurant

AUSTRALIAN An old-fashioned cafe in appearance
and style, it generates a certain nostalgia with its values and friendly service. Helen
Lowe has been running the place for 19 years with the philosophy “value for money.”
Her home farm grows avocados and has 25 hectares (62 acres) of potatoes, as well as
cattle and marron in a large dam, and she serves everything in the restaurant. You have
to try the marron—large, sweet, and succulent. Wagyu beef is another specialty.
18 Brockman St., Pemberton. &08/9776 1186. www.shamrockdining.com.au. Main courses A$35. MC,

V. Tues–Sun from 6:30pm.
The Wine & Truffle Company

MODERN AUSTRALIAN WA’s truffle industry
has come of age, with a regular commercial crop of the black gold being produced
at the Wine & Truffle Company just outside Manjimup in WA’s South Coast region.
The in-house restaurant produces good-quality lunches; the menu changes every 3
months, and always includes some truffle-flavored dishes, using preserved truffle or
truffle oil out of season (although that cannot compare with the fresh product). They

The South


may start evening meals in conjunction with an abbreviated truffle hunt in 2010, so
check the website.

Seven Day Rd., Manjimup. &08/9777 2474. www.wineandtruffle.com.au. Reservations recommended
on weekends and truffle season (May–Aug). Main courses A$20–A$40. Daily 10am–4:30pm; lunch
served noon–3pm. Closed Dec 25, 26, and Good Friday.


595km (369 miles) E of Perth

The adjoining towns of Kalgoorlie and Boulder were at the heart of an incredible
Gold Rush in the late 19th century, which has left a wonderful repository of gloriously
extravagant architecture, which sits cheek by jowl with the scale and innovation
of 21st-century mining. After Paddy Hannan struck gold here in 1893 in WA’s
vast Outback, one area soon became known as the “Golden Mile,” the richest square
mile of gold-bearing earth in the world, and the entire state was transformed.

Today, the City of Kalgoorlie-Boulder

(pop. 32,000) has lost none of its zing;
nickel mining is important here, and gold still holds great appeal. The city has
retained most of its original gold-fueled architectural extravagances, such as towers
and turrets, and wrought-iron lace verandas and balconies. It’s like stumbling onto a
Western movie set: The broad streets are wide enough to turn a camel train, and
countless bars (some with skimpily dressed barmaids) enjoy a roaring trade as they
did in the 1890s, serving young miners with often more money than sense.
THE o’connor LEGACY


The Goldfi

Charles Yelverton (C. Y.) O’Connor is one of water was a major problem—whisky
of WA’s heroes. He was appointed Engi-was said to be cheaper than fresh water.
neer-in-Chief for Western Australia in C. Y. devised a daring and challenging
1891, a position he held until his death in scheme to build a reservoir near the
1902. His first significant success was coast and then pipe the water some
the creation of Fremantle Harbour at the 560km (350 miles) inland. It would be
mouth of the Swan River. This was one of the world’s greatest engineering
against all current advice, including that schemes of the era, and required new
of one of England’s top marine engi-techniques for the construction and layneers,
who recommended the building ing of the pipes, as well as the building
of an offshore jetty. O’Connor knew this of eight pumping stations in mostly
would be subject to damaging storms, remote, uninhabited locations.
and instead took the option of blasting The scheme, and C. Y., were subthe
rock bar at the river mouth, opening jected to massive criticism and doubt,
up what has remained WA’s main port which finally wore him down: He comfor
over 100 years. mitted suicide a year before water

The project for which he is justly finally flowed into Kalgoorlie. The Goldmost
famous is the Goldfields Water fields Pipeline has celebrated its cente-
Supply Scheme. Gold had been discov-nary and has been expanded so that it
ered in the 1890s in the arid hinterland now feeds some 8,000km (4,970 miles)
of WA around Kalgoorlie, where the lack of pipe throughout the interior.

Streets Paved with . . . Gold?
In Kalgoorlie’s early days, its streets were
paved with a blackish spoil from the mining
process called “tellurides.” When
someone realized tellurides contain up to
40% gold and 10% silver, those streets
were ripped up in a big hurry. The city
fathers had paved the streets with gold
and didn’t know it!

Kalgoorlie is semidesert (260 mm/10 in. annual rainfall), though you wouldn’t
know it, given the vast and unique woodland (including salmon gums up to 25m/82
ft. high) that surrounds the town. But the lack of water was a serious problem, both
for the population and the mining processes, until one of the world’s great engineering
projects pumped water from the hills outside Perth some 600km (372 miles) to
Kalgoorlie (see “The O’Connor Legacy,” below).

Just outside town, where dozens of head frames and chimneys were once starkly
silhouetted against the skyline earlier in the 20th century, there is now an enormous,
terraced hole: the Super Pit . Australia’s biggest open-cut gold mine, it is unbelievably
massive: 3.5km (2 miles) long, 1.5km (almost 1 mile) wide, and 360m
(1,181 ft.) deep. The Empire State Building would almost disappear inside it.

Not all the old mining centers around here are still vibrant, and ghost towns
abound. Just 39km (24 miles) down the road is Coolgardie (pop. 1,100), another
1890s boomtown whose semi-abandoned air is a sad foil to Kalgoorlie’s energy. Some
of the lovely architecture remains, and you can wander the gracious streets and a
few museums for a pleasant nostalgic buzz.

Don’t miss the sensational installation called “Inside Australia” , which
was created by renowned British sculptor Antony Gormley in the Outback north of
Kalgoorlie. A series of metal figures is scattered across a salt lake, forging an unforgettable
image of endeavor, vulnerability, and loneliness.


GETTING THERE Qantas (&13 13 13 in Australia; www.qantas.com.au) has
several flights a day between Kalgoorlie and Perth. Skywest (&1300/660 088 in
Australia; www.skywest.com.au) also flies from Perth daily. Fares range from about
A$170 one-way.

Kalgoorlie is a stop on the 3-day Indian Pacific

train service, which runs
between Sydney and Perth once or twice a week in both directions. See the “Getting
There & Getting Around” section in chapter 3 for contact details. The Prospector
train makes nine trips a week from Perth to Kalgoorlie (and back) in just over 61.2
hours, for A$82 adults, A$41 children under 16. Contact Transwa (& 1300/662
205 in Western Australia, or 08/9326 2600; www.transwa.wa.gov.au).
Driving from Perth, take the Great Eastern Highway, through the Perth Hills and
the Wheatbelt on to Coolgardie and Kalgoorlie. The otherwise boring trip can be
livened up by following the Golden Pipeline Heritage Trail

(map and booklet
available from the National Trust: & 08/9321 6088; www.ntwa.com.au), which
celebrates the Goldfields’ Pipeline, with its old pumping stations, reservoirs, and
isolation. Both the pipeline and highway follow much the same track and, at times,
both they and the railway loop together in parallel lines across the countryside.

The Goldfi



The Goldfi

If you want to make the long 2,182km (1,353-mile) journey on the Eyre Highway

from Adelaide, contact the South Australian or Western Australian state auto clubs

listed under “Getting There & Getting Around,” in chapter 3, for advice.

VISITOR INFORMATION The Kalgoorlie Goldfields Visitor Centre, in the
Town Hall, 250 Hannan St., Kalgoorlie, WA 6430 (&1800/004 653 in Australia,
or 08/9021 1966; www.kalgoorlietourism.com), dispenses information on Kalgoorlie,
Coolgardie, and outlying regions. The center’s inexpensive walking trail map (A$3.50)
to the town’s heritage is worth buying. The center is open Monday to Friday 8:30am
to 5pm, and Saturday, Sunday, and public holidays 9am to 5pm. The Coolgardie
Visitor Centre, 62 Bayley St., Coolgardie, WA 6429 (&08/9026 6090), is open
Monday to Friday 8:30am to 4:30pm, and Saturday, Sunday, and public holidays
9am to 4pm.

GETTING AROUND Avis (& 08/9021 1722), Budget (& 08/9093 2300),
Hertz (&08/9093 2211), and Thrifty (&13 61 39) have offices in Kalgoorlie.
Bear in mind that each company has different rules and restrictions for driving on
unsealed roads, so check before hiring.

Goldrush Tours (& 1800/620 440 in Australia; www.goldrushtours.com.au)
has several coach tours around the Goldfields, ranging from a half-day town tour at
A$50 adults and A$25 children. Kalgoorlie Tours & Charters (& 08/9021
2211; www.kalgoorlietours.com) has a 2-hour tour Monday to Friday at 1:30pm for
A$30 adults and A$20 children. Finders Keepers Tours (&08/9093 2222; www.
finderskeepersgold.com) has gold prospecting and Super Pit tours (see below).

What to See & Do

As you might guess, gold is a common thread running through many of the town’s
attractions. One of the best is the Australian Prospectors & Miners Hall of
Fame , Broad Arrow Road, 3km (2 miles) north of the Tourist Centre on the
Goldfields Highway (& 08/9026 2700; www.mininghall.com). Opened in late
2001, it has five interactive galleries focusing on modern high-tech mining, plus a
number of historic mining and processing facilities, including several derricklike
head frames. There’s a statue of Paddy Hannan (the prospector who started the
region’s gold rush), and you can find out how prospecting was done in the past and
is done now, learn how the business of mining is conducted, and then revisit the old
days. The underground tour goes 36m (118 ft.) underground in a mining cage and
explores the tunnels where “real” miners once worked. You can pan for gold, watch
a gold pour, see a video in a re-created miner’s tent, and pore over an extensive collection
of mining memorabilia in a miners’ village. The site is open daily 9am to
4:30pm March to October, and 10am to 4pm November to February; it’s closed
January 1 and December 25 and 26. Admission, which includes a level-1 underground
tour, is A$30 adults, A$20 children, and A$80 families. The Pitch Black Tour
(level 2 underground) costs A$60 adults, A$40 children (over 10 years), and A$180
families. Allow half a day to see everything.

The WA Museum Kalgoorlie–Boulder, 17 Hannan St. (& 08/9021 8533;
www.museum.wa.gov.au), is worth a look. You’ll find it easily, with its enormous red
head frame dominating upper Hannan Street and making a grand entrance statement.
A glass elevator within it takes you to a great view over the city. You’ll see the
first 400-ounce gold bar minted in town, nuggets and jewelry, mementoes of the

The Kalgoorlie Race Round is the high
point in the local social calendar, with a
week of horse (gee-gees in Aussie-
speak) races, the World Two Up Cham-
pionship, and a variety of events
around Kalgoorlie, including a bush
picnic. The Round has been running
since 1896, and finishes with over half
of the town partying at the Kalgoorlie
Cup. It’s held in the second week of
September. Check www.kbrc.com.au.
Time for the Gee-Gees
Goldfields Pipeline, a wooden bicycle, and other historical displays. It is open daily
(except Wednesday) 9:30am to 4:30pm; it’s closed Good Friday, Easter Monday,
January 1, April 25, and December 25 and 26. Admission is by donation. Tours are
at 11am and 2:30pm. Allow an hour.

Don’t leave town without goggling at the Super Pit

open-cut mine (www.
superpit.com.au)—it makes giant dump trucks (which carry 225 tons of ore apiece)
look like ants. The lookout is off the Goldfields Highway in Boulder. It’s open daily
from about 8am to about 9:30pm, but check with the visitor center when the daily
blast will take place (the lookout may be closed then for safety reasons). Entry is
free. KCGM, the mining company, operates the Super Pit Shop (& 08/9093
3488), where you can find out all about the mine and buy memorabilia; open Monday
to Friday 9am to 4pm and Boulder Market Days (every third Sun). KCGM also
provides free Super Pit tours on Market Days at 10, 10:30, 11, and 11:30am, departing
from the Shop, or with a small charge if prebooked.
Finders Keepers Super Pit Tours (&08/9093 2222; www.superpittour.com)
provide a more comprehensive firsthand look at the mining and milling operations.
The 21.2-hour tours run Monday to Saturday at 9am all year, and at 1pm March to
December; tours cost A$60 adults and A$40 children under 17 (not recommended
for children under 10). Advance bookings are essential. A shorter family-oriented
tour operates at 9am during school holidays for A$40 adults, A$25 children.

The Royal Flying Doctor Service (& 08/9093 7500) base at Kalgoorlie–
Boulder Airport is open for visitors to browse memorabilia, see a video, and look over
an aircraft (if one is in). It is open Monday to Friday 10am to 3pm. Admission is by
A$2 donation. Tours run on the hour, the last one at 2pm, and take 45 minutes.

Kalgoorlie’s—and maybe Australia’s—most unusual attraction must be Langtrees
181 , 181 Hay St. (& 08/9026 2181), a working brothel presented as a
sort of sex-industry museum, in the heart of Kal’s infamous red-light district. Despite
laws to the contrary, brothels flourished in red and pink corrugated-iron sheds festooned
with colored lights, known as “starting stalls,” and became a popular drive-by
spot for gawping tourists. Langtrees is a swish modern establishment offering
90-minute tours, which are fun rather than sleazy, showing some of the 12 themed
(only if unoccupied) rooms, at a cost of A$35 (A$25 for seniors!). Tours depart at 1, 3,
and 6pm daily.

The two town halls are both worth a visit. Kalgoorlie Town Hall houses the
Visitor Centre and has a replica statue of Paddy Hannan (complete with drinking fountain)
outside, while the Boulder Town Hall has the magnificent 100-year-old
Goatcher Theatre Curtain, depicting the Bay of Naples, inside. It’s lowered for viewing


The Goldfi



The Goldfi

Play the World’s Longest Golf Course
Opened in October 2009, the Nullarbor
Links bring a new and unique attraction
to the long, lonely crossing of the Nullarbor
Plain along the Eyre Highway.
Billed as the “World’s Longest Golf
Course,” the 18 holes are spread along
1,365km (853 miles) between Ceduna
in South Australia and Western Australia’s
gold-mining center of Kalgoorlie.
Most of the intermediate holes are sited
in glorious isolation at each of the
remote roadhouses that punctuate the
Outback highway. This is one golf
course where you won’t be walking
between the holes; they’re up to 180km
(113 miles) apart. Life memberships are
available and include some memorabilia;
check www.nullarborlinks.com for
information and membership.

Tuesday to Thursday 10am to 3pm, and on Boulder Market Days (every third Sun
of the month) 9:30am to 1pm.

Take a step, and a taste, back to your childhood with a visit to the Little Boulder
Sweet Shop, 41 Burt St., Boulder (&08/9093 0011). It’s a visual delight, stocking
all the old style sweets and chocolates.

Wandering Coolgardie’s quiet streets, which are graced with historic facades, is
a stroll back in time. More than 100 signboards throughout the town, many with
photos, detail what each site was like at the turn of the 20th century. The Goldfields
Exhibition Museum, 62 Bayley St. (& 08/9021 1966), tells the town’s
story in a lovely 1898 building once used as the mining warden’s courthouse. (The
Tourist Bureau is also here.) Admission is free, and it’s open 9am to 5pm Monday to
Friday, 10am to 3pm weekends and holidays (except Dec 25).

“Inside Australia”

is a series of sculptures scattered across a salt lake
187km (116 miles) north of Kalgoorlie. Fifty-one metal figures, derived from computer
scans of the residents of nearby Menzies, were created by the renowned British
sculptor Antony Gormley in 2003. They are spread in lonely splendor across the
brilliant white salt surface of Lake Ballard, creating an eerily beautiful effect. Sunset
can be particularly evocative. You can drive here, getting supplies and meals at Menzies,
or Goldrush Tours offers trips with a minimum of 10 passengers.

The Golden Quest Discovery Trail is a 965km (598-mile) self-drive tour
through old and new mining areas to the north of Kalgoorlie, including ghost towns
and the “Inside Australia” statues. A comprehensive guidebook, with associated
CDs, adds immeasurably to the drive and can be bought at all local visitor centers.

If you fancy trying your hand at a bit of prospecting, grab a half-day tour with
Finders Keepers Prospecting Adventures, 20 Burt St., Boulder (& 08/9093
2222; www.finderskeepersgold.com). The tours, on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays
at 8:30am, provide an introduction to the local bush and a chance to use a
metal detector; you keep any gold that you find. The tour costs A$95 adults, A$50
children under 13. Advance bookings are recommended.

Where to Stay

The Kalgoorlie Goldfields Visitor Centre offers a free accommodation booking
service (&08/9021 1966; fax 08/9021 2180; www.kalgoorlietourism.com).

Palace Hotel The “Grand Old Lady of Kalgoorlie” was built 110 years ago at the
height of the gold rush, on the town’s principal intersection. It was the most luxurious
hotel outside Perth and has been restored to its original grandeur, and maintains
a more genteel atmosphere than most of the other, rowdier pubs. An elegant twostory
building, it’s graced with a splendid balcony, part of which is now the Balcony
Restaurant (see below) and the rest of which provides private settings for the Superior
rooms. The hotel has a magnificent carved mirror donated by mining engineer
(and later U.S. president) Herbert Hoover. He apparently fell in love with a Palace
barmaid while working on the Goldfields. All rooms reflect their era and are somewhat
cramped, but there’s a spacious suite in the next-door building.

137 Hannan St., corner Boulder Rd., Kalgoorlie, WA 6430. &08/9021 2788. Fax 08/9021 1813. www.
palacehotel.com.au. 50 units, some with shared facilities, all with showers only. A$130 Balcony double;
A$110 Balcony single; A$90 standard double; A$120 standard family; A$160 1-bedroom suite; A$260
2-bedroom suite (sleeps 5); A$500 apt (5 bedrooms). AE, DC, MC, V. Free parking. Amenities: Restaurant;
cafe; 3 bars. In room: A/C, TV w/in-house movies, fridge, Wi-Fi most rooms (free).

Rydges Kalgoorlie

Kalgoorlie’s only AAA-rated five-star hotel opened in
2003, bringing much-needed luxury accommodations to this major mining center
and has already won awards for both its accommodations and dining. The studios
are comfortable and spacious, and there are 10 one-bedroom and two two-bedroom
apartments—all with spa tubs. It’s about 2km (11.4 miles) from the town center and
has a free shuttle service to Hannan Street. The low-profile blocks of units are
expertly screened by banks of native plants (using gray water) and set around the
outdoor pool. The rooms are modern and well-appointed, the staff are helpful, and
the security includes pass-controlled parking. There’s an excellent restaurant, Larcombe’s
Grill, renovated in 2009.
21 Davidson St., Kalgoorlie, WA 6430. &1300/857 922 in Australia, or 08/9080 0800. Fax 08/9080
0900. www.rydges.com. 92 units. A$290 deluxe studio; A$365 1-bedroom apt; A$500 2-bedroom apt
(sleeps 4). Ask about packages. AE, DC, MC, V. Free parking. Amenities: Restaurant; bar; free airport
transfers; bike hire; outdoor and indoor pool; outdoor spa. In room: A/C, TV/VCR w/in-house movies,
fridge, hair dryer, Internet.

Where to Dine

Kalgoorlie’s dining has come of age, with quality produce and innovative cooking
served in a casual but friendly atmosphere.

Balcony Restaurant MODERN AUSTRALIAN The restaurant, on the balcony
of the Palace Hotel (or indoors), overlooks some of the Goldfields’ finest buildings.
The food is almost as good as the setting, ideal for a sunset drink followed by dinner
as the evening air and the sounds of the passing parade come wafting in.

137 Hannan St. (inside Palace Hotel), Kalgoorlie. &08/9021 2788. www.palacehotel.com.au/Balcony.
html. Reservations recommended. Main courses A$30–A$50. AE, DC, MC, V. Mon–Sat 6pm–late.

Blue Monkey Restaurant

MODERN AUSTRALIAN One of Kalgoorlie’s
mainstays, the lunches stand out, with tasty salads and Turkish bread offerings. It’s
also open for breakfast and dinner.
418 Hannan St., Kalgoorlie. &08/9091 3833. www.bluemonkeyrestaurant.com.au. Reservations recommended.
Main courses A$24–A$40. 15% surcharge public holidays. AE, DC, MC, V. Mon–Fri 6am–
2pm and 6pm–late; Sat–Sun 7am–2pm and 6pm–late.


The Goldfi



The Coral Coast

Danny’s Restaurant

MODERN AUSTRALIAN Danny’s is housed in a
lovely refurbished high-ceilinged 1897 building and has a clean modern appearance.
The excellent food is based on fresh WA produce enhanced by Asian herbs and
spices, served from the semiopen kitchen.

14 Wilson St. (2 blocks from Town Hall), Kalgoorlie. &08/9022 7614. Reservations recommended.
Mains A$28–A$45. AE, DC, MC, V. Mon–Sat 6:30pm–late.

Larcombe’s Bar & Grill

MODERN AUSTRALIAN This modern setting in
the Rydges Kalgoorlie Hotel has full glass windows giving sunset views. The open
kitchen here produces food of imagination and flair, including wild mushroom
risotto with truffle oil and grana padano.
21 Davidson St., Kalgoorlie. &08/9080 0800. Reservations recommended. Main courses A$25–A$45.
AE, DC, MC, V. Mon–Sat 5am–midnight; Sun 6am–10pm.

Saltimbocca Restaurant

ITALIAN This is one of Kal’s favorite eateries, with
good crowds—even on Monday nights. Its central location helps, with modern
decor, friendly service, and a nice candlelit atmosphere. Opened in 2003, it serves
up modern takes on the standard Italian fare, with the veal saltimbocca a standout.
90 Egan St. (1 block from Hannan St.), Kalgoorlie. &08/9022 8028. Reservations recommended. Main
courses A$23–A$30. AE, DC, MC, V. Mon–Sat 6–10pm.


There is magic in the waters of the Indian Ocean where it brushes the shores of the
northern portions of Western Australia’s west coast. Brilliant coral reefs just offshore,
whale sharks, dolphins, turtles, and manta rays make this one of the world’s
most marvelous (and accessible) marine environments. Much of this is paradoxically
due to the fact that inland is largely treeless semidesert, occupied by vast sheep stations
and a mere handful of people. This is real Outback, with soaring summer
temperatures and little rain, but this also means there are no rivers—or towns—to
introduce sediments and pollutants to the sea. The ocean is untainted and has been
able to develop some glorious natural attractions.

Since the 1960s, a pod of bottlenose dolphins has been coming into shallow
water at Monkey Mia , in the World Heritage–listed Shark Bay Marine Park,
to greet shore-bound humans. The dolphins’ magical presence has drawn people
from every corner of the globe.

Another 730km (453 miles) by road north on the Northwest Cape, adventure
seekers from around the world come to swim with whale sharks —measuring
up to 18m (59 ft.) long—from March to June. The Cape’s parched shore and
green waters hide another dazzling secret—a fringing coral reef 300km (186 miles)
long called Ningaloo , protected by a Marine Park. It contains 250 species of
coral and 450 kinds of fish, dolphins, manta rays, whales, turtles, and dugongs. Even
the Great Barrier Reef can’t beat Ningaloo Reef’s proximity to shore—just a step or
two off the beach delivers you into a wondrous underwater garden. What is amazing
is that so few people seem to know about it. That and the remoteness means
beaches you’ll pretty much have to yourself, seas teeming with life because humans
haven’t scared (or fished) it away, pristine surrounds, and a genuine sense of the
frontier. There are also carpets of everlastings (daisy-like wildflowers) stretching
across vast areas in August and September in good years.

This coast, called both Coral and Outback, is lonely and remote—and often too hot
and too windy to enjoy between November and March. The best time to visit is April
through October, when it is warm enough to swim and the weather is balmy, though
snorkelers might want a wet suit June and July. Humidity is always low. Facilities, gas,
and fresh water are scarce, and distances are immense, so be prepared.

Shark Bay (Monkey Mia)

857km (535 miles) N of Perth; 1,867km (1,157 miles) SW of Broome

Monkey Mia’s celebrity dolphins may not show on time—but they rarely pass up a
visit. Apart from these delightful sea mammals, Shark Bay’s waters heave with fish,
turtles, the world’s biggest population of dugongs (11,000 at last count), manta rays,
sea snakes, and, June through October, humpback whales.

Shark Bay is an enormous body of clean clear shallow water, sheltered by a line of
islands and protected by its status as a Marine Park and World Heritage Site. The
Peron Peninsula, a strangely shaped prong of land, juts far out into the bay and features
some of the cleanest most brilliant beaches you will find anywhere, other beaches
composed entirely of shells, and “living fossils”—rocklike structures by the shore
(called stromatolites) that are earth’s first life. On the northern tip of the peninsula,
Francois Peron National Park

is home to many endangered species, thanks to
a fence built across the narrowest point to keep out feral cats and foxes.
The bay’s only municipality is the one-time pearling town of Denham (pop. 500),
129km (80 miles) from the main coastal highway. It has a couple of hotels, a bakery,
a newsdealer, some fishing-charter and tour operators, and the World Heritage Discovery
Centre. Monkey Mia, 25km (16 miles) away on the opposite side of the
peninsula, exists purely because of the dolphins. It has a dolphin information center
and the pleasant but basic Monkey Mia Dolphin Resort (p. 526).

GETTING THERE Skywest Airlines (& 1300/660 088 in Australia; www.
skywest.com.au) has approximately 2-hour flights from Perth, Friday to Sunday and
Tuesdays. Skywest also links Monkey Mia to the other Coral Coast destination of
Exmouth. Airfares start at approximately A$260 one-way. The Monkey Mia Dolphin
Resort (&08/9948 1320) bus meets every Skywest flight and transfers you
to the resort for A$13 per person one-way.

Greyhound Australia (&13 14 99 in Australia) travels 5 days a week between
Perth and Broome. A separate service runs three times a week between Monkey Mia
and the Overlander Roadhouse at the Shark Bay turnoff on the North West Coastal
Highway. It connects with the services between Perth and Broome (and Exmouth).
From Broome, it’s about 25 hours through featureless landscape—not recommended.

If driving yourself, beware of wildlife on the lonely 10-hour trip from Perth, and
keep the gas tank full. From Perth, take the Brand Highway 424km (263 miles)
north to Geraldton, then the North West Coastal Highway for 278km (172 miles) to
the Overlander Roadhouse. Turn left onto the Denham–Hamelin Road, and follow
it for 154km (96 miles) to Monkey Mia. If you want to break the journey, the Ocean
Centre Hotel, at Foreshore Drive and Cathedral Avenue, Geraldton, WA 6530
(& 08/9921 7777; www.oceancentrehotel.com.au), has the best rooms and location
in Geraldton, overlooking the bay and the spanking new foreshore redevelopment.
Doubles range from A$130; ask about specials. It also has a relaxing breakfast


The Coral Coast


The Coral Coast
It was November 1941, at the height of
World War II, when the pride of the
Australian Navy, the battle cruiser
HMAS Sydney, disappeared off the
West Australian coast somewhere near
Geraldton. Survivors from the German
raider Kormoran told of a battle at sea
with the Sydney, and how it was seen
ablaze shortly before their own ship
sunk, but there were no survivors from
the Sydney’s crew. The mystery was
only solved in March 2008, when the
wreckage was finally located offshore.
Geraldton is home to an evocative
memorial to the Sydney and its crew.
Located on a hill with sweeping views
across the Indian Ocean, it features a
woman looking out to sea anxiously
waiting for a sighting, as well as a
superb silver dome of 645 seagulls in
flight—one for each lost sailor.
The Lost Battleship The Lost Battleship
cafe and bar, in-house movies, secure parking, and Wi-Fi. While in Geraldton, do not
miss the brilliantly inspirational HMAS Sydney Memorial , Gummer Avenue,
Mount Scott, Geraldton. The Sydney (see “The Lost Battleship,” below) was an Australian
cruiser that sank with all hands in 1941. Free half-hour tours run daily at 10:30am.

Numerous tour companies, including Australian Pinnacle Tours (&1800/999
069 in Australia, or 08/9417 5555; www.pinnacletours.com.au) and Western Xposure
(&1800/621 200 in Australia; www.westernxposure.com.au), offer package
trips to Monkey Mia.

VISITOR INFORMATION Wide-ranging ecological information on Shark Bay
Marine Park, Francois Peron National Park, and Hamelin Pool Marine Nature
Reserve, as well as details on local tours, is available at the Monkey Mia Visitor
Centre (&08/9948 1366) in the Monkey Mia Reserve; videos run throughout the
day, and researchers give free talks and slide shows most nights. It’s run by the WA
Department of Environment and Conservation, which has an excellent local website:
www.sharkbay.org. The regional information outlet is the Shark Bay World
Heritage Discovery Centre, 53 Knight Terrace, Denham, WA 6537 (&08/9948
1590; www.sharkbayinterpretivecentre.com.au), open daily 8am to 6pm and closed
December 25, April 25 (Anzac Day), and Good Friday.

GETTING AROUND Shark Bay Car Hire (& 08/9948 3032) delivers cars
and four-wheel-drives to the airport and the resort from its Denham office. Several
local companies run tours to the various attractions.

FAST FACTS Daily admission to the Monkey Mia Reserve, in which Monkey
Mia Dolphin Resort is located, is A$8 per adult, A$3 per child under 16, and A$15
per family. A 4-week pass can be worthwhile at A$30 for families. Resort guests as
well as day-trippers pay this fee.

There are ATMs at the Heritage Resort, 73 Knight Terrace (at Durlacher St.),
Denham (&08/9948 1133), and at the local supermarket, but there are no banks.
A banking agency is in the post office in Denham.


At 7am, guests at Monkey Mia Dolphin Resort are already gathering on the beach
(as are the resident pelicans) in anticipation of the dolphins’ arrival. By 8am, three

Where Can I See the Dolphins?
The main advantages to making the
trek to Monkey Mia are that
dolphin sightings are virtually
guaranteed every day; they swim into
the shallows and lie in the ultraclear
water, and you can watch them being
fed and interacting with the rangers.
But it can be crowded, and rangers
strictly monitor behavior with the
dolphins—not the interactive frolic you
might have imagined. The first
sightings, generally around 8am, are
the most popular and crowded, after
which the tour groups all disappear. If
you stay around, the dolphins will often
return, and you can have a much more
satisfying encounter. At Rockingham
and Bunbury, south of Perth, you can
swim with wild dolphins (see “Taking a
Dip with Flipper,” earlier in this
chapter), but the dolphins there don’t
show up as reliably.

or more dolphins usually show, and they come and go until the early afternoon.
Because of the crowds the dolphins attract (about 40 people a session in low season,
busloads in high season), park rangers instruct everyone to line up knee-deep in the
water as the playful swimmers cruise by your legs. You may not approach them or
reach out to pat them, but they sometimes come up to touch people of their own
accord, and you may be chosen to help feed them. Feeding times are different each
day, and the quantities are strictly limited, so the dolphins won’t become dependent
on the food. Apart from the Monkey Mia Reserve entry fee, there is no charge to see
the creatures.


Don’t do what so many visitors do—see the dolphins, and then shoot off to your next
sight. Stay to see Shark Bay’s other fascinating attractions.

Observe the incredible marine life from the sailing maxi-catamaran Shotover
(&1800/241 481 in Australia, or 08/9948 1481; www.monkeymiawildsights.com.au).
During a 3-hour dugong (sea-cow) cruise, you may see sharks, sea snakes, turtles,
dolphins, and, of course, dugongs—and possibly have a swim in the bay. Every passenger
is given polarized sunglasses, which help you spot animals underwater. The
cruise departs from Monkey Mia Dolphin Resort at 1pm daily and costs A$84
adults, half-price for children 7 to 16, and includes a free sunset cruise as well. The
Shotover also runs a fascinating 21.2-hour dolphin cruise at 9am—worth doing even
if you’ve already seen the dolphins on the shore. It costs A$69 adults, free for children
under 17. Sundown cruises are a daily option, at A$54 adults, half-price children
7 to 16. Package prices are available.

On your way in or out of Monkey Mia, stop by the Hamelin Pool Historic
Telegraph Station, 29km (18 miles) from the highway turnoff (&08/9942 5905).
A small museum houses old equipment, farming tools, and historical odds and ends
from the 19th-century days when this was a telegraph repeater station. The A$5
admission fee to the museum includes an explanation of the stromatolites, rocky
formations about a foot high that were created by the planet’s first oxygen-breathing
cells—in other words, earth’s first life. You might want to skip the museum, but do
wander down to the shoreline and stroll out along a boardwalk to see them close up.
(Warning: They look, and act, just like rocks!)


The Coral Coast



The Coral Coast

Entry to most national parks in Western
Australia, including Cape Range and
Francois Peron, costs A$10 per car
(maximum eight people) per day. If you
are planning to visit several, a Holiday
Park Pass at A$35 per vehicle is worth
the money and is valid for 4 weeks in
all WA national parks. Obtain passes
from the Department of Environment
and Conservation (www.dec.wa.gov.au).
The passes are not valid for Monkey
Mia Dolphin Reserve.
Save on Park Passes
Nearby Shell Beach , 43km (27 miles) from the highway, is amazing. The
beach is said to be 110km (68 miles) long and over 10m (33 ft.) deep, made up of
billions of tiny snow-white shells; the numbers are incalculable. They crunch
beneath your feet as you walk along and stretch beneath the rich, clear blue water.
Solidified blocks of the shells were quarried nearby to build many local buildings.
There is a cafe and gift store.

The conservation plan “Project Eden” is reintroducing and protecting various
endangered small marsupials, such as bilbies, woylies, and wallabies, to the isthmus.
An electronic fence has been built across the peninsula at its narrowest point, to
keep out cats and foxes; there’s even an electronic “barking dog” to deter the predators.
Dirk Hartog Island has recently been purchased by the WA Government and
will add a new dimension to Project Eden.

The northern part of the peninsula, beyond Denham and Monkey Mia, is the
52,500-hectare (130,000-acre) Francois Peron National Park . You can
explore its salt pans, dunes, coastal cliffs, beaches, and old homesteads, either alone
(you will need a four-wheel-drive, but stay on the marked road—the clay pans,
known as birridas, are seriously boggy) or on a full-day tour with Monkey Mia
Wildsights (& 1800/241 481; www.monkeymiawildsights.com.au). The scenery
is harsh, but there is great coastal beauty where the red cliffs meet beaches fringed
with vivid turquoise water. You should spot kangaroos, birds, and emus, and you may
see turtles, dolphins, rays, dugongs, and sharks from the cliffs. Other activities
include game- and deep-sea-fishing trips from Denham, scuba diving, excursions to
the deserted beaches and 180m (590-ft.) cliffs of nearby Dirk Hartog Island, and a
couple of pearl-farm tours.

Monkey Mia Dolphin Resort Set right on the beach the dolphins visit, this oasis
of green lawns and palms doubles as a town settlement, and is the only place to stay
at Monkey Mia. (All other accommodations are 25km/16 miles away, in Denham.)
The beachside Dolphin Lodge (and backpacker lodge) opened in 2004, offering 24
motel-style units. Each has a king-size bed and private bathroom. Ground-floor units
open right onto the dolphin beach, and first-floor units have balconies with views
across the bay. The backpacker lodge, with its own Monkey Bar and large communal
kitchen, is behind the lodge. It holds four- and seven-bed dormitories as well as
shared and family rooms with bathrooms. The new accommodations complement
the existing villas (which sleep three to five people), and the trailer and camping
sites. The pleasant open-sided all-day restaurant overlooks the sea; the resort has a

minimarket, an Internet cafe, and a dive shop, and you can hire a kayak or boat.
Most tours in the area depart from here. A 1.5km (1-mile) nature trail leads from the

Monkey Mia Rd., Shark Bay (P.O. Box 119), Denham, WA 6537. &1800/653 611 in Australia, or 08/9948
1320. Fax 08/9948 1034. www.monkeymia.com.au. 57 powered trailer sites, 20 tent sites; 60 villas; 24
motel units, all with shower only. A$14 per person tent site; from A$27 per person in backpacker dorm;
A$229 double or triple Garden Villa; A$308 double or triple Beachfront Villa; A$229 Beachside Dolphin
Unit. Extra person A$25. Children under 6 free with existing bedding. Weekly rates available. AE, DC,
MC, V. Free parking. Amenities: Restaurant; bar; takeout cafe; Jacuzzi (fed by naturally warm underground
water); outdoor pool; outdoor tennis court; use of snorkel gear. In room: A/C, TV w/in-house
movies, small fridge, hair dryer.

The North West Cape & Ningaloo

Exmouth: 1,260km (781 miles) N of Perth; 1,567km (972 miles) SW of Broome

Driving along the only road on the Exmouth Peninsula toward North West Cape is
surreal. Hundreds of anthills march through the scrub and away to the horizon,
clumps of spinifex dot the red earth, occasional sheep and ’roos threaten to get
under the wheels, and the sun shines down from a cloudless blue sky. On the western
shore is the tiny reef resort settlement of Coral Bay (pop. 120), a cluster of dive
shops, backpacker lodges, a low-key resort, and charter boats nestled on sand so
white, water so blue, and ocher dust so orange you’d think the townsfolk had computer-
enhanced the colors. Another 141km (88 miles) farther north is Exmouth
(pop. 2,400), built in 1967 as a support town to the Harold E. Holt Naval Communications
Station, a joint Australian–United States base. It has since become the
principal center for trips and tours to Ningaloo and has a new marina.

Apart from swimming with the whale sharks, the reason you come here is to
scuba dive and snorkel in the Ningaloo Marine Park , which hugs the peninsula’s
western shores. You can also take four-wheel-drive trips into the Cape
Range National Park, which forms the spine of the peninsula, and the adjacent
sheep stations.

Exmouth is on the eastern shore, facing Exmouth Gulf, and tends to be several
degrees warmer than the west (Ningaloo-facing) coast. Coral Bay, on the west coast,
is one of Australia’s most casual resorts, but it has divine diving, swimming, and snorkeling.
Exmouth has more facilities, including a supermarket, an outdoor cinema,
rental cars, and smarter accommodations and dining options. Most tours pick up or
leave from Exmouth. Both places have plenty of dive, snorkel, fishing, and whale-watch


The Coral Coast

’Roos & Wedgies
Driving between Shark Bay and
Exmouth, you need to be aware not just
of live kangaroos on the road (mostly at
dusk, dawn, and at night), but also of
the ones that didn’t make it. You do not
want to hit one of the carcasses, but you
should also be aware of scavengers,
mostly crows and wedge-tailed eagles.
The crows are not a problem, but wedgies
are large and ponderous when trying
to get out of your way. Getting one of
these in your windshield is not recommended,
so slow down and beep your
horn if you see a large bird on the road



The Coral Coast

companies. Wherever you stay, book ahead in whale-shark season (from late Mar to
June) and school holidays. Carry drinking water everywhere you go.

GETTING THERE Skywest (&1300/660 088 in Australia; www.skywest.com.
au) flies from Perth daily. A shuttle bus meets every flight and takes you to your
Exmouth hotel for A$20 one-way. Reservations can be made with Exmouth Bus
Charter (& 08/9949 4623; www.exmouthwa.com.au). Have cash on you; there’s
no ATM at the airport. Coral Bay Adventures (&08/9942 5955; http://coralbay
adventures.com) makes transfers, on demand, from the airport to Coral Bay, approximately
120km (74 miles) away, for A$80 adults, A$40 children under 13, one-way
(minimum charge A$160).

Greyhound Australia (&13 14 99 in Australia) has a service to Coral Bay and
Exmouth from Minilya on the Great Northern Highway. It connects with both the
Perth-Broome and Broome-Perth services, in the wee hours of the morning. The trip
time from Perth is 19 hours, and the full fare is A$264.

If driving from Perth, the 14-hour journey (plus rest stops) is through lonely country
on a two-lane highway. Check that your contract allows you to drive your rental
car this far north and includes unlimited mileage. Wildlife can be a problem, and gas
stations are few. From Perth, take the Brand Highway or Indian Ocean Drive (the
last portion of which won’t open until mid-2011) north to Geraldton, 424km (263
miles) away, then the North West Coastal Highway for 618km (386 miles) to Minilya
gas station; the Exmouth turnoff is 7km (41.3 miles) north of Minilya. The Coral
Bay turnoff is 79km (49 miles) farther north, and Exmouth another 145km (90
miles). Overnight at the Ocean Centre Hotel, Geraldton (see “Shark Bay,”

p. 523), or Best Western Kalbarri Palm Resort, 8 Porter St., Kalbarri, WA 6536
(&13 17 79 in Australia or 08/9937 2333; http://kalbarri.bestwestern.com.au). Rooms
are from A$150 double. Kalbarri, 166km (104 miles) north of Geraldton, is one of
WA’s favorite resorts, located where the Murchison River has broken through the
coastal cliffs to reach the Indian Ocean. Kalbarri has dramatic scenery and, with its
parrot and seahorse breeding centers, is well worth a couple of days. Everything else
that looks like a town on your map is just a roadhouse (a gas station with shop, cafe,
and perhaps some limited accommodations), other than Carnarvon. Keep in mind
that the roadhouses can be 200km (124 miles) apart.
VISITOR INFORMATION The Exmouth Visitor Centre, Murat Road,
Exmouth, WA 6707 (&1800/287 328 in Western Australia, or 08/9949 1176; www.
exmouthwa.com.au), is open daily 9am to 4:30pm, 9am to 1pm on public holidays;
it’s closed on Saturday and Sunday October through March and Good Friday,
December 25 and 26, and January 1. The Milyering Visitors Centre, on the west
coast, 52km (32 miles) from Exmouth, is the Cape Range and Ningaloo National
Parks’ information center (& 08/9949 2808), run by the Department of Environment
and Conservation (DEC). It is open daily 9am to 3:45pm (closed Dec 25). You
can also pick up information, including a hiking-trail map of the Cape Range park
from DEC’s office on Nimitz Street, Exmouth. Coastal Adventure Tours runs an
information and booking center, and Internet cafe, in Coral Bay Shopping Arcade,
Coral Bay, WA 6701 (&08/9948 5190; www.coralbaytours.com.au).

GETTING AROUND Tour and dive operators pick up from either Exmouth or
Coral Bay accommodations. The roads to Exmouth and Coral Bay are paved, as is

much of the only road that runs from Exmouth along the west (Ningaloo) coast.
Two-wheel drive is possible as far south as Yardie Creek, thereafter it’s four-wheel
drive. Avis (& 08/9949 2492), Europcar (& 08/9949 2940), Hertz (& 08/9949
4610), Budget (&08/9949 1534), and local operator Allens Car Hire (&08/9949
2403) have offices in Exmouth; there is no car rental in Coral Bay.


Whale sharks are sharks, not whales, and are the world’s biggest fish, reaching a
railway engine size of 12 to 18m (39–58 ft.) in length. Terrified? Don’t be. Their
gigantic size belies their gentle nature and swimming speed and, despite having
mouths big enough to swallow a boatload of snorkelers, they eat plankton. Several
boat operators, using spotter planes, take people out to swim alongside the whale
sharks when they appear from late March to June and possibly into July. You simply
float in the water wearing mask and snorkel and watch this magnificent speckled
fish moving effortlessly past you; it’s mind-blowing that you can be so close to such
a huge, beautiful, and harmless creature. The images stay with you forever. A day
trip with one of the longest established whale-shark companies, Exmouth Diving
Centre (&08/9949 1201; www.exmouthdiving.com.au), or its Coral Bay alternative,
Ningaloo Reef Diving Centre (& 08/9942 5824; www.ningalooreefdive.
com), costs about A$385 for snorkeling or A$415 including a subsequent scuba dive
on the reef, including all gear.


Dive and snorkel

Ningaloo’s unspoiled waters at a dozen or more sites and
you will see marvelous reef formations, groper, manta rays, octopus, moray eels,
small reef sharks, potato cod (which you can hand-feed), and other marvels. Divers
often spot humpback and false killer whales and large sharks, while snorkelers may
see dolphins, dugongs, manta rays, and turtles. Loads of dive companies in Exmouth
and Coral Bay (including the two listed in “Swimming with Whale Sharks,” above)
rent gear and run daily dive or snorkel trips and learn-to-dive courses. A two-dive day
trip costs from A$200 with all gear supplied (snorkelers A$150).
Three great accessible snorkeling spots are: right off the shore at Coral Bay, where
you can stroll up the beach, put on your mask and snorkel, drift with the current
past corals and limitless fish, and then climb out and do it all over again; Pilgramunna
Ledges, 72km (45 miles) from Exmouth, where you’re rarely more than 10m
(33 ft.) from the beach; and sheltered Turquoise Bay , a 60km (37-mile) drive
from Exmouth, which also has a drift option, but you need to be a reasonable swimmer.
In deeper waters off Coral Bay, you can snorkel with manta rays

with a
“wingspan” of up to 7m (23 ft.). If you’re lucky, the rays may encounter a good feeding
patch, and they will perform a series of backward somersaults to keep themselves
within the same area. Companies in both towns run manta and reef-snorkel trips
and rent gear. The Ningaloo shores have loads of swimming beaches, but, for safety’s
sake, never swim alone.
Reef fish, tuna, and Spanish mackerel are common catches in these waters, and
black, blue, and striped marlin run outside the reef September through January. Up
to a dozen boats operate reef and game-fishing day trips

out of Exmouth and
Coral Bay, and tackle and fishing dinghies are easy to rent in either town. Note that


The Coral Coast



The Coral Coast

11 several fishing sanctuary zones have been established, so check with DEC or visitor
centers for their locations.
Green and loggerhead turtles

lay eggs at night November to February or
March on the Cape’s beaches. You can join one of several turtle-watch tours from
either town. Cruises run from either town to spot humpback whales August to
You can take an off-road 240km (149-mile) four-wheel-drive escapade with Ningaloo
Safari Tours (& 08/9949 1550; www.ningaloosafari.com). Their “Top of
the Range” tour will allow you to cross the arid limestone ridges of 50,581-hectare
(124,935-acre) Cape Range National Park, snorkel Turquoise Bay, climb a lighthouse,
and cruise orange-walled Yardie Creek Gorge to spot rock wallabies. This
full-day trip departs your Exmouth hotel at 7:30am and returns at 6pm, at A$195
adults and A$140 children under 13. A full day snorkeling tour is also available
depending on numbers.

Coral Bay’s Coastal Adventure Tours (&08/9948 5190; www.coralbaytours.
com.au) has quad bike tours which head off to quiet deserted beaches via bush
tracks and over sand dunes. A 3-hour snorkel trek is A$105 and a 2-hour sunset trek
is A$90. Passengers are A$45 adults and A$30 children.


In or Near Exmouth

Novotel Ningaloo Resort

This four-star resort has brought a new standard
and style to Exmouth—and it’s brought recognition of the quality of the local attractions.
Opened in December 2006, it sits just outside town, where a new marina is
being developed. It has a superb position looking east across Exmouth Gulf. The
low-rise buildings have an Outback theme (rammed earth and corrugated iron) and
all face the sea and/or pools. There’s a mix of hotel rooms and apartments, all spacious
with king-size beds and balconies, and spa tubs in Superior rooms, bungalows,
and two-bedroom apartments. Apartments have kitchens. High season is April to
October and December 19 to January 12. The in-house restaurant, Mantaray’s, has
become Exmouth’s top eating spot, garnering a major award in 2008.
Madaffari Dr. (Exmouth Matina), Exmouth, WA 6707. &08/9949 0000. Fax 08/9949 0001. www.
novotelningaloo.com.au. 68 units, all with showers, and most with spa tubs. High season A$275 double;
A$325–A$400 Superior room, 1-bedroom apt, 1-bedroom bungalow; A$425–A$495 2-bedroom apt,
2-bedroom bungalow. AE, DC, MC, V. Free parking. No bus; taxis available. Amenities: Restaurant; bar;
exercise room; large pool and kid’s pool. In room: A/C, TV/DVD w/movies on demand, fridge, hair dryer,
kitchen (in apt and 2-bedroom bungalow).

Sal Salis

If you want a quiet, remote, and luxurious—but environmentally
sensitive—place to stay, this is it. Set in Cape Range National Park, within sight and
smell of the Indian Ocean, you stay in spacious new “wilderness” tents connected
by boardwalks and gravel paths to the “Retreat,” which contains a lounge, dining
area, kitchen, sun deck, and small reference library. This small exclusive eco-camp
provides “Wild Bush Luxury”: All meals; guided snorkeling, walking, and kayaking
tours; park fees; transfers; and most drinks are included. The kayak and snorkel trip
to “Blue Lagoon,” the best snorkel site in Ningaloo, is not to be missed. Fresh food
is delivered daily from Exmouth and cooked by the resident chef. Evenings are special,
with the sun setting over a quiet sea and, almost invariably, kangaroos in the
foreground. All power is solar-generated.

Yardie Creek Rd., Cape Range National Park, 66km (41 miles) from Exmouth, WA 6707. &02/9571
6677. www.salsalis.com.au. 9 tents, with solar shower and private facilities. A$730 (min 2 nights) based
on twin share, inclusive of all meals, select open bar, airport transfers, and guided local activities. Extra
adult A$514, extra child 16 and under A$365 (using swags). Inquire about whale-shark packages Apr–
July. DC, MC, V. No smoking in covered areas. No children 4 and under. Amenities: Dining tent; lounge;
bar. In room: No phone.

In Coral Bay

Ningaloo Reef Resort

This low-rise complex of motel rooms, studios, and
apartments stands out as the best place to stay among Coral Bay’s selection of camp
grounds and backpacker hostels. Located on a blissfully green lawn with a swimming
pool overlooking the bay, the rooms are nothing fancy, but they’re clean, with views
toward the bay and the pool. The place has a nice communal air, thanks to the bar
doubling as the local pub. The entire place is being progressively refurbished over
the next few years, with a new bar and restaurant and to make all rooms self-catering.
Fins Restaurant farther up Robinson Street is worth checking out.
1 Robinson St., Coral Bay, WA 6701. &08/9942 5934. Fax 08/9942 5953. www.ningalooreefresort.
com.au. 34 units, all with shower only. A$196–A$218 double; A$250–A$370 apt, penthouse. Extra person
A$18. Weekly rates available. MC, V. Amenities: Restaurant; bar; outdoor pool. In room: A/C, TV w/
in-house movies, hair dryer, no phone.


The Kimberley has been called Australia’s last frontier. This is true wilderness, a
vast, empty, rugged chunk in the far north of Western Australia that pushes out into
the Timor Sea like a giant fist. Dry in winter and impassable in summer after one of
the regular cyclones passes through, it is a region of endless bush punctuated with
enormous bulbous boab trees, rough rocky ridges, a lonely but beautiful islandstrewn
and croc-infested coastline, and a surprising number of running rivers with
long, life-giving waterholes. The dry lightly wooded savanna scenery calls to mind
parts of Africa or India.

It’s the rivers and gorges that make the Kimberley special even at the end of the
dry season. It often seems like a miracle, after a long dusty drive, to find a broad
sparkling pool fringed by paperbark trees and pandanus palms. Where the rivers
have carved their way through the ranges there are spectacular gorges and plunging
waterfalls. Two massive river systems define the Kimberley’s outer reaches: the Ord
and Fitzroy. The Fitzroy loops around the south and southwestern flanks and runs
into the sea near Derby, while the Ord in the east has been dammed to provide
irrigation for a major scheme below Kununurra.

Few people live here, other than on the vast cattle stations or remote Aboriginal
reserves. It’s over three times the area of England, but with only two roads traversing
it. One is the sealed, sanitized Great Northern Highway, skirting around the south
of the region, along which the Kimberley’s few settlements are found. The other, the
Gibb River Road , cuts through the heart of the Kimberley. Most of it is
unsealed—a rough, dusty, corrugated route. If you haven’t been along this road, you
haven’t experienced the real Kimberley. One other rough, unsealed road heads north
half way along the Gibb River Road: the Kalumburu Road that leads to the Aboriginal
community of the same name. Mitchell Falls , one of the major if hard-toget-
to attractions of the Kimberley, is accessible from the Kalumburu Road.


The Kimberley



The Kimberley

It can be hard for people who’ve lived
their entire lives in the Northern Hemi-
sphere—especially city folk—to appreci-
ate the glory of the southern skies, with
the Milky Way curving majestically
through the heavens. The Kimberley is
one place where there is no pollution,
or city lights, to diminish the evening
show. Find time to go away from your
camp or lodge, lie on the ground, and
try to take in the immensity of what’s
up there. You’ll probably see a satellite
and maybe a shooting star.
Starry, Starry Nights
The Kimberley is a land of extremes, with incredible light and vibrant colors—of
sea, sky, and terrain—including the fiery red fine soil called pindan. The region is
famous for Wandjina

Aboriginal rock art depicting people with circular
hairdos that look more than a little like beings from outer space. It is also known for
the “Bradshaw figures” rock paintings, sticklike representations of human forms that
may be the oldest art on earth.

The unofficial capital of the East Kimberley is Kununurra. The small agricultural
town serves as the base for wildlife cruises on the Ord; tours to the Bungle
Bungle , a massive labyrinth of beehive-shaped rock formations; and El
Questro , a cattle station where you can hike, fish, and cruise palm-filled
gorges by day and sleep in comfy permanent safari tents or glamorous homestead
rooms by night.

The largest town, Broome , is the gateway to the West Kimberley and starting
point for most tours. It’s not really part of the Kimberley but rather an exotic
resort which started life as a 19th-century pearling port. Its waters now produce the
world’s biggest and best South Sea pearls, and it has become a major winter holiday
destination. There are only four other small towns, all on the fringes of the region.

The Kimberley coast

between Broome and Kununurra is littered with
islands, gulfs, and long inlets, almost all uninhabited and with no trace of human
activity. Everything is affected by massive tides of up to 10m (33 ft.), which create
impressive effects when funneled through narrow passages. Cruises to this remote
and dramatic coastline have become progressively more popular.


VISITOR INFORMATION Australia’s North West Tourism (& 08/9193
6660; www.australiasnorthwest.com) supplies information on the entire region. The
Kununurra Visitor Centre (p. 535) and the Broome Visitor Centre (p. 541) also
handle inquiries and bookings about things to see and do, and places to stay, across
the Kimberley, and you can drop into their offices once you arrive.

Best of the Kimberley (&1800/450 850 in Australia, or 08/9192 6070; www.
kimberleytravel.net) is a Broome-based one-stop agency marketing a large range of
tours and experiences, and it specializes in personalized vacations.

GETTING AROUND Enormous distances, high gasoline costs (A$1.50 per liter
or more), and very limited roads and facilities can make traveling the Kimberley difficult
and time-consuming. The region is effectively closed during the cyclone season
from November to April, other than along the sealed highway. Most attractions

The Kimberley Region

The Kimberley
King SoundCambridgeGulfLakeArgyleFitzroy
MitchellFallsDurackRiverPrinceRegentRiverGeikie GorgeNational ParkWindjana GorgeNational ParkTunnel CreekNational ParkWolf Creek MeteoriteCrater National ParkEl QuestroWildernessParkPRINCE REGENTNATIONALPARKArgyleDiamondMineFar Away BushCamp
KununurraDerbyWyndhamHalls CreekFitzroy CrossingKalumburuBeagleBayGreatHwy.
Timor Sea
King Sound
King EdwardRiver
Roebuck Bay
Geikie GorgeNational Park
Windjana GorgeNational Park
Tunnel CreekNational Park
Wolf Creek MeteoriteCrater National ParkEl QuestroWildernessPark
WyndhamHalls CreekFitzroy Crossing
To DarwinTo DarwinTo Darwin
Cockatoo IslandCape LevequeDAMPIERPENINSULA
Cape Londonderry100 mi00
100 km
Airport4-wheel driveonlyAUSTRALIAA
SydneyMelbourneMelbourneMelbourneArea ofArea ofDetailDetailArea ofDetail

The Kimberley
The Kimberley is one area where
Aboriginal culture, to a larger extent
than elsewhere, has remained intact.
Try to get involved with some aspects.
Find a gallery that encourages and
stocks the work of local artists, such as
those of the Warmun (Turkey Creek)
school, which owes much to the superb
interpretations of Rover Thomas. An
Aboriginal commentary on the Kimberley
landscape and/or the Wandjina rock art
can add immeasurably to one’s under-
standing. You have a good chance of
getting some Aboriginal contact and
input when staying at Kooljaman
Resort or traveling on an APT Kimber-
ley Wilderness Adventure—both are at
least part-owned by local Aboriginal
Aboriginal Culture Aboriginal Culture
are only accessible along unsealed roads, for which a two-wheel-drive rental car is
totally unsuitable, while others can only be reached by aerial tours or charter boats.
If you don’t want to rely on tours, rent a four-wheel-drive (available in Broome and
Kununurra), but check on restrictions (Hertz and Thrifty have fewest). Allow for an
average speed of 80kmph (50 mph) or less on the area’s rough unsealed roads, and
be prepared for soft patches where the road surface has collapsed. Most outfits will
allow one-way rentals between Broome and Kununurra, at a surcharge of approximately
A$500 to A$750. Review “Road Conditions & Safety,” “What If Your Vehicle
Breaks Down?” and “Tips for Four-Wheel Drivers,” in the “Getting There & Getting
Around” section of chapter 3, before starting.

Kimberley Camping & Outback Supplies, 65 Frederick St., Broome
(& 08/9193 5909; fax 08/9193 6878; www.kimberleycamping.com.au), sells and
rents every piece of camping equipment you might need, from tents and “mozzie”
(mosquito) nets to cooking utensils and outdoor clothing.

Taking a guided four-wheel-drive camping or accommodated safari is usually the
best way to travel the Kimberley. Safaris depart Broome, Kununurra, or Darwin, and
last between 2 days and 2 weeks. Popular tours make the cross-Kimberley journey
between Broome and Kununurra, especially along the Gibb River Road, and into
the Bungle Bungle.

Most safaris run only in the Dry season, April or May through October or November.
Respected operators include APT Kimberley Wilderness Adventures (&1800/
889 389 in Australia or 03/9277 8444; www.kimberleywilderness.com.au) for the
most comprehensive selection including cruises; East Kimberley Tours (&1800/
682 213 in Australia, or 08/9168 2213; www.eastkimberleytours.com.au) concentrating
on the Bungle Bungle; Australian Adventure Travel (& 1800/621 625
in Australia, or 08/9248 2355; www.safaris.net.au); and Kimberley Wild (&1300/
738 870 in Australia, or 08/9193 7778; www.kimberleywild.com), dealing mostly
with West Kimberley. Kimberly Wild was named WA’s “Best Tour Operator” in 2009.

Both APT Kimberley Wilderness and East Kimberley (in the Bungles only) operate
semipermanent, catered, and environmentally sensitive camps in remote scenic
spots. While primarily for people on their tours, they may be available to independent
travelers, from A$195 per person twin share, including dinner, bed, and breakfast.
The APT Bungles and Ungolan (Mitchell Plateau) camps boast en-suite facilities

and cost A$225 to A$255 twin share for dinner, bed, and breakfast. You should book
well ahead; go to www.kimberleywilderness.com.au for more information.

Broome Aviation (& 08/9192 1369; www.broomeaviation.com) and King
Leopold Air (& 08/9193 7155; www.kingleopoldair.com.au), based in Broome,
and Alligator Airways (& 1800 632 533 in Australia, or 08/9168 1333; www.
alligatorairways.com.au) and Slingair Heliwork (& 1800/095 500 in Australia,
or 08/9169 1300; www.slingair.com.au), based in Kununurra, run a range of flightseeing
tours all over the Kimberley, lasting from a couple of hours to several days.
Some also involve sightseeing on the ground, hiking, four-wheel-drive trips, overnights
at fishing camps, or stops at cattle stations.


827km (513 miles) SW of Darwin; 1,032km (640 miles) E of Broome

Given the generally arid and rocky conditions in the Kimberley, it’s quite a surprise
to swoop over broad green fields as you come in to land at Kununurra. This relatively
new town (pop. 6,000) was developed as an agricultural center based on major irrigation
works created by the damming of the mighty Ord River. There are two dams:
Lake Argyle, Australia’s largest, and the smaller, downstream, Lake Kununurra that
actually feeds the irrigation areas.

Kununurra (the name is Aboriginal for “meeting of big waters”) has become the
base for visiting several outstanding attractions and is now a significant tourist center.
A cruise or canoe trip down the Ord River

to see real wilderness, dramatic
cliffs, birds, and crocs is a must. So is a flight over, or a trip into, the Bungle
Bungle , monumental striped domes of rock that look like giant beehives.
The world’s biggest diamond mine is not in South Africa but out in the rugged Kimberley
wilds near Kununurra, and it can be visited by air. The town is a gateway to
the Kimberley proper via the Gibb River Road . There’s also El Questro
Wilderness Park , a 405,000-hectare (million-acre) cattle station (ranch)
where you can hike magnificent gorges, fish, cruise rivers, and ride horses. The port
of Wyndham, terminus for some Kimberley cruises and with a superb lookout over
Cambridge Gulf, is 101km (63 miles) away on a sealed road.

GETTING THERE Air North (&1800/627 474 in Australia, or 08/8920 4000;
www.airnorth.com.au) flies from Broome and Darwin most days. Skywest
(& 1300/660 088 in Australia; www.skywest.com.au) flies to and from Perth most
days, from A$320. Greyhound Australia (&13 14 99 in Australia) serves the town
five times a week from Perth via Broome and from Darwin via Katherine. From Perth,
the trip takes about 48 hours, from Broome about 14 hours. The one-way fare from
Perth is A$640. From Darwin, the trip time is around 9 hours, and the fare is A$186.

Kununurra is 512km (317 miles) west of Katherine on the Victoria Highway. The
Great Northern Highway from Broome connects with the Victoria Highway 45km
(28 miles) west of Kununurra. The Gibb River Road connects with the Great Northern
Highway a few miles further north, 53km (33 miles) west of Kununurra.

VISITOR INFORMATION The Kununurra Visitor Centre is at 75 Coolibah
Dr., Kununurra, WA 6743 (&1800/586 868 in Australia, or 08/9168 1177; www.
kununurratourism.com). Hours change with the season (May–Sept daily 8am–5pm


The Kimberley



The Kimberley

weekdays, 9am–4pm weekends; Oct–Mar daily 8am–4pm weekdays, closed weekends;
Apr 8am–5pm weekdays, 8am–4pm Sat, 9am–1pm Sun).

GETTING AROUND Avis (& 08/9169 1258), Budget (& 08/9168 2033),
Europcar (&08/9168 3385), Hertz (&08/9169 1424), and Thrifty (&08/9169
1911) all rent four-wheel-drive vehicles. All have restrictions on where you can take
these vehicles (especially Budget) so check before you commit. Hertz also rents
camping gear.

ON THE ORD RIVER & AROUND KUNUNURRA Several operators offer
tours on the Ord River and/or Lake Argyle, a man-made inland sea bigger than 19
Sydney Harbours and ringed by red hills. Both options are good, but do not miss the
Ord trip. The Ord is one of the most picturesque waterways in Australia, lined with
raw scenery and teeming with all kinds of wetland birds and freshwater crocodiles.

Triple J Tours

(&1800/242 682 in Australia, or 08/9168 2682; www.triplej
tours.net.au) runs excellent cruises, with several itineraries which vary from Dry
season to Wet. The most popular starts with a 70km (43-mile) narrated coach ride
to Lake Argyle, including a visit to the historic Durack homestead, and ends with a
55km (34-mile) cruise down the Ord back to Kununurra. The boat travels through
rock-lined gorges and along still satiny reaches, and pulls in at numerous tranquil
spots. This costs A$155 adults and A$115 for children 15 and under, including
pickup from your hotel and afternoon tea. You usually catch the sunset with flocks
of birds going home over the river as the cruise is finishing. The same tour, plus a
2-hour cruise on Lake Argyle, costs A$210 and A$155.
If you have a vehicle, Kununurra has a few sights worth visiting, including the
Mirima (Hidden Valley) National Park, the Ivanhoe Crossing over the Ord
River, and the Hoochery, Lot 300 Weaber Plains Rd. (&08/9168 2122), a small
distillery producing very acceptable rum in the middle of the irrigation area. The
Lovell Gallery, 144 Konkerberry Dr. (&08/9168 1781), has some excellent local
artworks. Wyndham, 101km (63 miles) northwest of Kununurra, has the magnificent
Five Rivers Lookout , with immense views taking in the five major rivers
which flow into the mangrove-fringed Cambridge Gulf. On the way, take a short
diversion to the bird sanctuary of Parry Lagoons Nature Reserve.

A full day on the river to fish for barramundi with Greg Harman’s Ultimate
Adventures (& 08/9168 2310; www.ultimateadventures.citysearch.com.au) costs
around A$320 per person, based on a minimum of two people. Greg also offers halfdays,
and trips of 2 to 7 days at his Hairy Dog’s Fishing Camp.

Triangle Tours (& 08/9168 1272; triangletours@bigpond.net) has half-day
tours to the Ord River irrigation area at A$75 adults, A$45 children (under 16); and
full-day tours (on weekends) to the historic port of Wyndham at A$175 adults,
A$110 children. Ask about packages.

DIAMONDS IN THE ROUGH Turning out an impressive 38 million carats a
year is the world’s biggest diamond mine, the Argyle Diamond Mine, 176km (109
miles) south from Kununurra. It is the only mine in the world that produces pink
diamonds in commercial quantities; champagne, cognac, yellow, green, and white
ones are also found. Slingair Heliwork (& 1800/095 500 in Australia, or
08/9169 1300; www.slingair.com.au) can take visitors to the mine. The visits include
the process plant and diamond display room (closed shoes must be worn for security

reasons!), and are part of two all-day tours. The flights also go over nearby Purnululu
(Bungle Bungle) National Park and Lake Argyle, while one includes a helicopter trip
around the Bungles. Costs are A$575, or A$875 with the helicopter flight. Children
under 12 are not permitted on the mine tours.


This is about as far from everything as you can
get. Nestled right in the middle of nowhere on the pristine Kimberley coast, a
70-minute flight from Kununurra, Faraway Bay (&08/9169 1214; www.faraway
bay.com.au) is an ecofriendly bush camp offering comfort, luxury, and tranquillity on
the edge of the Timor Sea. It has won the Australian Tourism Award for Unique
Accommodation in 2003, 2007, and 2008.

You do not have to stay at El Questro (see “Where to Stay,” below), in the eastern
Kimberley, to enjoy the facilities. The 405,000-hectare (million-acre) cattle ranch
has been turned into a kind of Outback resort, which provides a good introduction
to the nature and attractions of the Kimberley without the distances and discomfort,
but also without the real wilderness impact and isolation. It’s still a working cattle
station with 5,000 head of Brahman cattle, but you’re unlikely to see any of this.

You can go barramundi fishing and heli-fishing in pristine wetlands and rivers;
soak under palm trees in the thermal waters of Zebedee Springs; hike gorges with
pockets of rainforest; take four-wheel-drive fishing safaris; cruise tranquil Chamberlain
Gorge; horseback ride across stony plains; or join rangers on bird-watching or
“bush tucker” tours. If you’re short on time, the station’s 10-hour ranger-guided day
tour from Kununurra is a good option, for A$230 per person.

El Questro is open April 1 to October 31 (closed during the Wet) and offers a
variety of accommodations options (see below). All visitors must purchase a Wilderness
Park Permit, valid for 7 days, for A$18; children under 12 go free.

Four-wheel-drive transfers for guests operate from Kununurra; a ranger drives and
gives a commentary en route. The costs for daily scheduled transfers is A$82 per
person one-way to Emma Gorge, A$98 to Station Township, or A$120 to Homestead.
If you are driving yourself, take the Great Northern Highway 58km (36 miles)
from Kununurra toward Wyndham, then the (unsealed) Gibb River Road 25km (16
miles) to Emma Gorge Resort at the foot of the Cockburn Range. A separate turnoff
11km (7 miles) farther on leads to Station Township (16km/10 miles) and the
Homestead (another 9km/51.2 miles). A light aircraft from Kununurra will cost from

Station Township has the main facilities (bungalows, restaurant, store, airstrip,
camping areas, stables, and so forth), and most tours and activities depart from here.
Hiring a four-wheel-drive in Kununurra (check limitations) is recommended, to
allow you to explore at your leisure and avoid the cost of transfers to and within the


At El Questro

All of the accommodations place a 1% surcharge on credit card payments, and all
have public pay phones but no in-room phones or TVs. In addition to the listings
below, there are two camping areas with a total of 73 campsites at Station Township
Riverside Camping (see El Questro Homestead below for contact information).
All campsites are A$16 per person per night; free for children under 12.


The Kimberley



The Kimberley

Campers share shower facilities and a laundry, and use the Steakhouse

El Questro Homestead

Perched over the Chamberlain River on the
edge of a gorge, this homestead is one of the world’s most luxurious yet simple and
private getaways. Visitors (make that wealthy visitors) come for the seclusion and the
comfort-within-wilderness experience. You stay in airy rooms furnished with modern
designer pieces blended with Aussie country style, with a view of the gardens and
the river from your veranda. Rooms were refurbished in 2008.

Mailing address: P.O. Box 909, Kununurra, WA 6743. & 08/9169 1777. Fax 08/9169 1383. www.el
questro.com.au. 6 units, 3 with shower only and 3 with bathtub on the veranda. From A$945 per person
per night double or twin. Rates include all meals, open bar, and most tours and activities excluding
helicopter flights. 2-night minimum. 15% off for 3 or more nights. AE, DC, MC, V. Children 12 and under
not catered for. Amenities: Internet (free); Jacuzzi; small outdoor pool; tennis court. In room: A/C, CD,
hair dryer, complimentary minibar, MP3 docking stations, no phone.

Emma Gorge Resort

The neatly kept oasis of permanent tent cabins set
among pandanus palms and boab trees sits at the foot of the stunningly red Cockburn
Range. The “tents” are very comfortable, with en-suite facilities. The rustic
restaurant serves excellent gourmet bush-tucker meals and has a retractable roof for
See contact details for El Questro Homestead, above. 60 tented cabins, all with shower only. A$270
deluxe tented cabins twin share. Extra adult A$40. 15% off 3 or more nights. AE, MC, V. Amenities:
Restaurant; bar; outdoor pool. In room: No phone.

Station Township Bungalows These basic but comfortable bungalow-style
rooms are good for anyone without their own transportation—tours depart from right
outside—and for families. The nicest units are the eight newish ones with balconies
overlooking the Pentecost River. Two of the four original stone bungalows sleep six.
The Steakhouse restaurant and bar serves three meals a day of the steak and barramundi
kind, and there is often live entertainment at the Swinging Arm Bar.

See contact details for El Questro Homestead, above. 12 bungalows, all with shower only. A$312 bungalow
twin share. Extra adult A$40. Transfers A$950 per person. AE, MC, V. Amenities: Restaurant; bar.
In room: A/C, fridge, no phone.

In Kununurra

Kimberley Grande

The best offering in Kununurra, the Grande is appropriately
defined by an avenue of boab trees. It has a quiet secluded feel; the decor has
muted tones and all the rooms are well back from the road, many set around the
large 25m (82-ft.) pool. Spaciousness is the key, especially with the spa suites.
20 Victoria Hwy., Kununurra, WA 6743. &1800/746 282 in Australia; 08/9166 5600. Fax 08/9169 1172.
www.thekimberleygrande.com.au. 72 units, all with showers except spa suites. Dry season (Apr–Oct)
A$395 spa suites, A$260 Premier King, A$220 Deluxe Queen; Wet season (Nov–Mar) rates 25% less but
include breakfast. Children 11 and under stay free in parent’s room with existing bedding. Extra person
A$50. AE, DC, MC, V. Amenities: Bistro; 2 bars; outdoor pool with lap lanes. In room: A/C, fan, TV, fridge,
hair dryer, Internet (A$12/day).

Kununurra Country Club Resort Just down the road from the tourist bureau,
this low-rise hotel is set in tropical gardens. It has a lovely shaded pool with sun
lounges and a bar, and a couple of simple dining and bar venues. The rooms have
recently been refurbished and have plenty of space.

47 Coolibah Dr., Kununurra, WA 6743. &1800/808 999 in Australia, or 08/9168 1024. Fax 08/9168
1189. www.kununurracountryclub.com.au. 88 units, 80 with shower only. Dry season (Apr–Oct) A$216
Club room, A$247 triple, A$283 2-bedroom apt; Wet season (Nov–Mar) rates are about 10% less. Extra
person A$30. AE, DC, MC, V. Amenities: Restaurant; 3 bars; airport transfers; outdoor pool. In room:
A/C, TV w/in-house movies, fridge, hair dryer.

Purnululu (Bungle Bungle) National Park

250km (155 miles) S of Kununurra

Rising precipitously out of the landscape 250km (155 miles) south of Kununurra are
thousands of enormous striped sandstone domes 200 to 300m (656–984 ft.) high,
called the Bungle Bungle, and often simply the Bungles. The Bungle Bungle get
their distinctive orange-and-gray stripes from algae found in the permeable layers
and mineral staining in nonpermeable layers. The domes look spectacular from the
air, which is the only way to see them in the Wet, when the roads are closed. They
are even better from close up, with sheer cliffs and narrow gorges slicing deep into
the massif. Several of the gorges end in enormous precipitous amphitheaters, where
giant boulders squat like king-size dollops of cake mix. High up, straight up, watercourses
come to an abrupt end where the runoff just drops into the gorge.

Highlights are the beehive-shaped walls of Cathedral Gorge, the rock pool at Frog
Hole Gorge, and palm-filled Echidna Chasm. Keep an eye peeled for rainbow beeeaters,
flocks of budgerigars, and rare nail-tailed wallabies. The Bungles aren’t
intimidating, but this is one place where you feel incredibly small and insignificant.
It’s quiet, contemplative, and seriously dramatic.

VISITOR INFORMATION For information, call the Department of Environment
and Conservation (&08/9168 4221) in Kununurra. There’s also a visitor
center/ranger station (&08/9168 7300) in the park.

GETTING THERE & GETTING AROUND One road leads into the Bungles,
a 52km (32-mile) bone-shaker four-wheel drive; no caravans are allowed. The access
road is closed to ground traffic January 1 to March 31. Scenic flights over the park
from Kununurra are available with Slingair Heliwork (&1800/095 500 in Australia,
or 08/9169 1300) or Alligator Airways (& 1800/632 533 in Australia, or
08/9168 1333). The flight takes about 2 hours, incorporates a flight over Lake Argyle
and Argyle Diamond Mine, and costs about A$295 adults and A$245 children 3 to

12. Slingair also has 45-minute scenic heli-flights from Turkey Creek on the Great
Northern Highway for A$225. Both companies have day trips that combine the
flight with ground tours, though they’re pricey, starting at A$640 adults and A$590
kids. Heliwork has a helicopter option over the Bungles from the local airstrip, the
30-minute award-winning flight costing A$295 adults and A$245 kids. APT Kimberley
Wilderness Adventures and East Kimberley Tours (see “Getting
Around,” in the Kimberley section, earlier in this chapter) run an array of fourwheel-
drive and fly-drive camping (using semipermanent camps) tours, with some
1-day “express” versions.

2,389km (1,481 miles) N of Perth; 1,859km (1,152 miles) SW of Darwin

Part rough Outback town, part glam seaside resort, the pearling port of Broome
(pop. 15,000) is a hybrid of Australia, Asia, and some exotic tropical island that you


The Kimberley



The Kimberley

Try to be in Echidna Chasm at midday.
This incredibly narrow gorge runs
straight back into the rock. The walls
rise to impossible heights, curving and
slipping out of sight somewhere high
above. At midday, the dark impenetra-
ble shadows give way to roseate glows
and sudden, blinding, glaring flashes of
direct sunlight. A great sunset spot is
on a small ridge near the Kurrajong
Campsite, where you watch the rock
face turn orange and fiery red in the
fading light. If you’re lucky, you may
then get a great big fat full moon rising
over the Bungles.
Midday & Sunset
won’t see anywhere else. Chinese and Japanese pearl divers worked the pearling
luggers (for the pearl shell, to make buttons) in the old days, and brought some of
their distinctive architecture. The result is Chinatown, with neat rows of corrugated
iron buildings wrapped by verandas and trimmed with Chinese peaked roofs.
Many Japanese divers also died here—cyclones and the “bends” took their toll—and
their legacy is the Japanese pearl divers’ cemetery , with ornate inscriptions
on 900 rough-hewn headstones.

The wonderfully casual free-and-easy Broome is a marine oasis, mere kilometers
from the Great Sandy Desert, with dramatic colors, swaying palm trees, and masses
of blooming bougainvillea and frangipani. It’s situated on a small peninsula that
partially defines the broad Roebuck Bay to the east of the town. The mangrovefringed
bay is shallow and changes dramatically between high and low tide. At low
tide, masses of mudflats are exposed, which at full moon create the impression of a
Staircase to the Moon

(see p. 542), while at high tide the water has a vivid
milky turquoise color. It’s stunning. (The old pearling luggers used to tie up here, and
so this was where Chinatown developed.) On the western side, broad, gleaming
Cable Beach

faces straight out on to the Indian Ocean, and many of the
modern developments have taken place here.

For such a small and remote place, Broome can be surprisingly sophisticated.
Walk the streets of Chinatown and you’ll rub shoulders with Aussie tourists, itinerant
workers, Asian food-store proprietors, tough-as-nails cattle hands, and wellheeled
visitors from Europe and America who down good coffee in Broome’s few
trendy cafes. Broome’s South Sea pearls are its bread and butter (together with tourism),
but the old timber pearling luggers have been replaced with gleaming hightech

To be honest, it’s kind of hard to explain Broome’s appeal. There is not much to
do, but it’s like nowhere else in Australia and it’s such a pleasant, relaxing place to
be. It has generated its own laid-back style, epitomized by the expression “Broome
Time,” where nothing is ever urgent. Most people simply come to laze by the jadegreen
Indian Ocean on Cable Beach, ride camels along the sand as the sun plops
into the sea, fish the pristine seas, mosey around the art galleries and jewelry stores,
and soak up the atmosphere. One experience not matched anywhere is an evening
sitting in the deck chairs watching a film at Sun Pictures

Broome is the main departure point for tours into the Kimberley, whether by boat
or by four-wheel-drive along the Gibb River Road .


GETTING THERE Qantas/Qantaslink (& 13 13 13 in Australia) flies direct
from Perth daily, and Sydney and Melbourne in peak season. Virgin Blue (& 13
67 89 in Australia) flies direct to Broome from Perth and Adelaide, with connections
from other cities. Skywest (& 1300/660 088 in Australia; www.skywest.
com.au) flies from Perth daily. Landing at Broome is surreal, either sweeping low
across Cable Beach or roaring in at rooftop height over the town. Never mind innercity
suburbs; this is an inner-city airport—literally within walking distance.

Greyhound Australia (&13 14 99 in Australia) has five services a week from
Perth, taking around 33 hours. The fare is A$432. Greyhound’s daily service from
Darwin via Katherine and Kununurra takes around 27 hours; the one-way fare is

Broome is 34km (21 miles) off the Great Northern Highway, which leads from
Perth in the south and Kununurra to the east.

VISITOR INFORMATION The Broome Visitor Centre on the Broome Highway
at Bagot Street, Broome, WA 6725 (&1800/883 777 in Australia, or 08/9192
2222; www.broomevisitorcentre.com.au), provides information and a booking service.
It’s open Monday to Friday 8am to 4pm, and Saturday and Sunday 8:30am to
4pm. It’s closed Good Friday, December 25, and open with restricted hours on other
public holidays.

Book hotels and tours well in advance of the peak June to August season.

GETTING AROUND Avis (& 08/9193 5980), Budget (& 08/9193 5355),
Europcar (&08/9193 7788), Hertz (&08/9192 1428), and Thrifty (&08/9193
7712) all rent conventional cars and four-wheel-drives. Check the rules on where
you’re allowed to take your vehicle. Hertz also rents camping-gear kits and car-top
tents that affix to larger four-wheel-drives. Among the motor-home companies are
Britz (& 1800/331 454 in Australia, or 08/9192 2647) and Australian Pinnacle
Tours (&08/9192 8080).

The Town Bus Service (& 08/9193 6585; www.broomebus.com.au) does an
hourly loop of most attractions, including Chinatown and Cable Beach, 7:10am to
7:10pm daily. During May to October, it also runs every half-hour 8:40am to
6:40pm. On public holidays the service starts at 10:23am. A single adult fare is
A$3.50, a day-pass is A$10, and a five-trip multirider is A$16. Children under 16
travel free with a parent; otherwise the fare is A$1.50.

There are several taxi companies, including Broome Taxis (& 13 10 08) and
Roebuck Taxis (& 1800/880 330).

Many companies (including those listed under “Essentials” in the Kimberley section,
earlier in this chapter) run a variety of day tours of the town, plus trips to natural
attractions farther afield, like Windjana and Geikie Gorges, Tunnel Creek, and
the Dampier Peninsula, or four-wheel-drive camping safaris along the Gibb River
Road (both described in “Beyond Broome & the Gibb River Road,” below).


When you arrive, head to Chinatown, in the town center on Carnarvon Street and
Dampier Terrace, to get a feel for the town. The wide streets, the tropical-style
buildings with their broad verandas and Chinese influences, the corrugated iron
frontages, and the Sun Pictures

outdoor cinema (see below) are typical Broome.


The Kimberley



The Kimberley

On the happy coincidence of a full
moon and low tide (which happens on
about 3 consecutive nights a month
Mar–Oct), nature treats the town to a
show. The light of the rising moon falls
on the remnant channels between the
exposed mudflats in Roebuck Bay, with
the reflections creating a “staircase to
the moon.” The best places to see it are
from the cliff-top gardens at the Man-
grove Resort Hotel (see “Where to Stay
& Dine,” below) or the food and crafts
markets at Town Beach. Live music
plays at the Mangrove most staircase
nights, including a didgeridoo player to
accompany the rising moon.
Staircase to the Moon
The main shops and cafes are here, with every corner featuring a pearl shop, which
reflects the growth of both the pearling and the tourist industries.

Probably the most popular pastime is lazing on the 22km (14 miles) of glorious,
white sandy Cable Beach . The beach is 6km (33.4 miles) out of town; the
bus runs there regularly. In the Wet, about November through April or May, the
water is off-limits due to nasty marine stingers. Crocodiles, on the other hand, seem
not to like surf, so you should be safe swimming here. Go to the beach for at least
one of the magnificent sunsets, when the sun sinks into the sea behind the romantic
outlines of a pearling lugger, while strings of camels sway along the edge of the water.
The sand is very firm so don’t be surprised to find you’re sharing the beach and
sunset with dozens of four-wheel-drives parked facing out to sea—and their owners,
who have set up tables and chairs for drinks. (This is Broome after all.)

A novel way to experience the beach is on a camel ride. Several outfits offer rides,
with sunset the most popular time. A 1-hour sunset ride with Red Sun Camels
(& 08/9193 7423; www.redsuncamels.com.au) costs A$60 adults (maximum
100kg/220 lbs.), A$40 children 6 to16, and A$10 kids under 6 (they must sit in an
adult’s lap).

Four-time state surf champ Josh Palmateer

(& 0418/958 264 mobile;
www.mrsurf.com.au) gives 2-hour surf lessons on the beach August to October for
A$130 for individual lessons, or A$50 per person in group lessons. Discounts are
available for 3-day attendees, and he supplies the boards and the wet suits.
Don’t miss the Pearl Luggers

exhibition at 31 Dampier Terrace (&08/9192
2059; www.pearlluggers.com.au). A 1-hour tour includes a look over two beautifully
restored Broome pearling luggers, a browse through a small pearling museum, and a
riveting and hilarious talk about pearl diving and its history. You also get a taste of
pearl shell meat. Admission is A$20 adults, A$17 students, A$10 children under 16.
Tours run daily. Closed December 25 and Good Friday.

A dinosaur footprint 120 million years old is on show at very low tide on the
cliff at Gantheaume Point, 6km (33. miles) from town. The town authorities have

4set a plaster cast of it higher up on the rocks, so you can see it anytime. Bring your
camera to snap the point’s breathtaking palette of glowing scarlet cliffs, white beach,
and jade-turquoise water.

You should also take a walk through the haunting Japanese pearl divers’ cemetery

on Port Drive. Entry is free.

During a tour of the Willie Creek Pearl Farm , 38km (24 miles) north of
town (&08/9192 0000; www.williecreekpearls.com.au), you will see the delicate
process of an oyster getting “seeded” with a nucleus to form a pearl, learn about pearl
farming, and discover what to look for when buying a pearl. The tour includes a
cruise along Willie Creek and morning or afternoon tea. You can also buy pearls in
the showroom. You must book the tour whether you drive yourself or not. Tides can
limit access to the farm (four-wheel-drive vehicles are recommended), so it could be
wise to take a coach tour, which costs A$90 adults, A$45 children 6 to 16, and
A$225 families of four, including pickup and drop-off at your hotel. Self-drive prices
are A$50 adults, A$25 children 6 to 16, and A$125 for families. Willie Creek has
won WA tourism awards in 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2009.

If you want to see crocs up close and mean, even if you have seen them in the
wild during your travels, take a 1-hour tour at the Broome Crocodile Park, next
to Cable Beach Club Resort Broome, Cable Beach Road (& 08/9192 1489). It’s
open April to November Monday to Friday 10am to 5pm, and Saturday and Sunday
2pm to 5pm; from December to March it’s open from 3:30 to 5:50pm daily. Admission
is A$30 adults; A$25 seniors, backpackers, and students; A$20 kids 5 to 15; and
A$75 for families. Ring for tour times, and ask about combined passes for here and
Malcolm Douglas Park (see below).

The superb Malcolm Douglas Wilderness Wildlife Park , about 16km (10
miles) out of town on the Highway (& 08/9193 6580; www.malcolmdouglas.com.
au), has 30 hectares (74 acres) of bush, billabongs, and enclosures featuring an array
of Australia’s wildlife. Two huge billabongs hold about 200 crocs, there are beautiful
dingoes, and the most “macho” big red ’roo you’re ever likely to see lives there. It’s open
daily from 3:30pm to 5:50pm December to March, with crocodile feeding tours at
4pm; from April to November, it’s open 10am to 5pm Monday to Friday, with alligator
feedings at 11am and crocs at 3pm, and 2pm to 5pm Saturday and Sunday with tours
at 3pm. Prices are A$35 adults, A$20 children 5 to 15, or A$90 families.

Several art galleries sell vivid oil and watercolor Kimberley landscapes and a range
of Aboriginal art. Monsoon Gallery (& 08/9193 5379), in a historic pearling
master’s house at 48 Carnarvon St., stocks a large range of European and Aboriginal
paintings, sculpture, pottery, carvings, and books, and has regular exhibitions by
noted artists. Matso’s, next door, has a lovely veranda cafe and a boutique brewery
that turns out unusual recipes, such as alcoholic ginger beer. The brewery displays
many of the Monsoon pictures. The gallery is open daily 10am to 5pm May to October
(shorter hours out of season), while the cafe is open 7am to late.

On Saturdays from 8am to 1pm, browse the town markets in the gardens of the
colonial courthouse at the corner of Frederick and Hamersley streets. It used to be
the official station for the telegraph cable from Broome to Java (thus Cable Beach).

A number of boats, including a restored pearling lugger, run sunset cruises off
Cable Beach. Fishing for trevally, barracuda, barramundi, queenfish, tuna, shark,
sailfish, marlin, salmon (in the May–Aug run), and reef fish is excellent around
Broome; fly- and sport-fishing are also worth a go. Rent tackle and try your luck from
the deepwater jetty beyond Town Beach 2km (11.4 miles) south of town, or join one
of several charter boats, such as Sentosa Charters (& 08/9192 8163; www.
sentosacharters.com), for a day, or longer, trip. Pearl Sea Coastal Cruises (see
“Boating the Kimberley Coast,” below) runs live-aboard fishing safaris up the coast.


The Kimberley



The Kimberley

11 Cyclones, rain, and strong tides restrict fishing from December to April. Whalewatching
has recently become a major attraction, with dozens of migrating humpbacks
passing through from May to October. Sentosa Charters runs 3-hour cruises.
More than a third of Australia’s bird species live in the Kimberley, and Roebuck Bay
has the greatest diversity of shorebird species anywhere, with over 800,000 birds visiting
every year. The Broome Bird Observatory research station , 25km (16
miles) out of town on Roebuck Bay (&08/9193 5600; www.broomebirdobservatory.
com), monitors the thousands of migratory wetlands birds that gather here from Siberia.
Entry is by donation (A$5 suggested), while a 2-hour tour costs A$70 if you drive
yourself or A$115 with pick up from Broome. Tour timings depend on the tides; check
the excellent website. The all-day Lakes Tour is A$150 per person, or A$190 from
Broome. Children 8 to 12 are half-price, and under 8 go free (except on the Lakes
Tour). There are basic accommodations and camping facilities at the observatory.
Australia’s “first family of pearling,” the Paspaleys, sell their wonderfully elegant
jewelry at Paspaley Pearls, Carnarvon Street at Short Street (&08/9192 2203).
Linneys (&08/9192 2430) is another reputable jeweler nearby.
Don’t leave without taking in a movie at the Heritage-listed Sun Pictures

cinema, 8 Carnarvon St. (&08/9192 1077; www.sunpictures.com.au). Built in
1916, these are the oldest “picture gardens” in the world. The occasionally vocal audience
sits in canvas deck chairs, and the show may be interrupted by the evening flight
roaring just overhead. Tickets are A$16 adults, A$11 children, A$50 families (two
adults and two kids). It’s open nightly except December 25—even through the Wet.

Broome has developed enormously over the last 5 years, leading to a large increase
in the number of places offering accommodations, with many superior offerings
close to Cable Beach—including Pinctada Cable Beach and The Frangipani. Many
places are self-catering. The Broome Visitor Centre (&1800/883 777 in Australia)
can provide expert advice and bookings. As far as dining is concerned, both
hotels listed below and Pinctada have good restaurants, and there are numerous
other cafes and restaurants, including Matso’s (see p. 543).

Originally the entrance to a zoo that no longer exists, the very pleasant, quiet, and
casual Old Zoo Cafe , 2 Challenor Dr. (&08/9193 6200), is half enclosed and
half alfresco, in a tropical garden setting. It has a good ambience and is close to
Cable Beach.

The Aarli , on the corner of Fredrick and Hamersley streets (& 08/9192
5529), is a small and casual eatery centrally situated on the edge of Chinatown, and
serves breakfast, wood-fired meals, and tapas plates. Try the whole fresh fish, but
beware, it may be big enough for two or three.

Cable Beach Club Resort & Spa Broome

For some Aussies, a visit to
Broome is just an excuse to stay at this chic Asia-meets-Outback resort. Its corrugated-
iron walls (inside as well as out), verandas, and Aboriginal artworks are
blended with red-and-green latticework, pagoda roofs, and polished timber floors.
The entire place is laid out within mature gardens, giving a gracious colonial atmosphere.
Electric buggies carry guests and luggage to their rooms. A major refurbishment
was completed in 2008. Bungalows (some sleep up to seven) have kitchens
and central bedrooms wrapped on three sides by a veranda. The luxurious villas have
private courtyards with plunge pools and butler service. Pool Terrace studios have

direct access to the adults-only pool. For sheer indulgence, the Colonial Pearling
Master suites are lavishly decked out with eye-popping Asiatic antiques and valuable
Australian art. These are truly to die for, so ask about suite packages. The resort has
a guest-activities program, including art and history tours, and a pearl boutique.

Cable Beach Rd., Broome, WA 6725. &1800/199 099 in Australia, or 08/9192 0400. Fax 08/9192
2249. www.cablebeachclub.com. 263 units, some with shower only. June–Oct 10 A$423, Apr–May
A$349, Oct 11–Mar A$313 Garden View Studio; 5% less for 4-night stay; check website for other room
prices. Extra person A$50. Children 12 and under stay free in parent’s room with existing bedding. Ask
about packages. AE, DC, MC, V. Free on-site parking. Amenities: 4 restaurants (2 seasonal); cafe; bar;
airport shuttle; babysitting; concierge; golf course nearby; gymnasium; 2 outdoor pools (family pool
and adults-only saltwater pool); room service; Chahoya Spa; 2 flood-lit tennis courts; Wi-Fi (free).
In room: A/C, TV w/free movies, hair dryer, minibar.

Mangrove Resort Hotel

The best views in Broome across Roebuck Bay—
especially for the “staircase to the moon” (see above)—are from this recently refurbished,
modest-but-appealing cliff-top hotel, a 5-minute walk from town. The
executive rooms are of a good size and contain a queen and single beds. The four
Premier suites are spacious, with spa baths. Soft furnishings are being refurbished
in 2010. The Tides
is a lovely outdoor restaurant set under the palms and along
the cliff edge. Inside, Charters restaurant is one of Broome’s best.
47 Carnarvon St., Broome, WA 6725. &1800/094 818 in Australia, or 08/9192 1303. Fax 08/9193 5169.
www.mangrovehotel.com.au. 70 units, most with shower only; suites have spa baths. Apr–Oct A$195–
A$225 double, A$299 standard suite, A$375 Premier suite; Nov–Mar 5%–10% lower. Extra person A$35.
Children 2 and under stay free in parent’s room. Ask about packages. AE, DC, MC, V. Amenities: 2
restaurants; 2 bars; free airport transfers; 2 outdoor pools with spa; room service. In room: A/C, TV w/
free movies, fridge, hair dryer.

McAlpine House

This is the place to stay for a genuine touch of the style
and charm of old Broome. Built in 1910 for a pearling master, the house has been
extended and converted into an intimate boutique hotel with all the comforts and
facilities of the 21st century, though it retains its essential colonial features of corrugated
iron and latticed verandas. It’s set within a luxuriant tropical garden.
84 Herbert St., Broome, WA 6725. &1800/746 282 in Australia; 08/9192 3886. Fax 08/9192 3887. www.
mcalpinehouse.com. 8 units, all with en-suite bathroom. Apr–Oct A$500–A$550 Veranda and Library
rooms, A$675 Garden suites, A$800 McAlpine Suite; low season (Nov–Mar) rates up to 50% lower. Minimum
2-night stay, or A$50 surcharge. Includes gourmet breakfast. AE, DC, MC, V. Secured parking. No
children 15 and under. Amenities: Alfresco dining 5 nights per week Apr–Sept; 24-hr. bar; free airport
transfers; small outdoor pool. In room: A/C, fans, TV w/free movies, fridge, hair dryer, Internet (free).

Seashells Resort

This is one of the best self-catering resorts, situated
among tropical gardens and palm trees a short distance back from Cable Beach. The
attractive colonial-style two-story blocks of units surround the large freeform pool
and children’s paddling pool. The units are spacious, with full kitchens and laundries,
queen beds (and singles), and a surprising degree of privacy. Everything has
been refurbished since January 2007.

4–6 Challenor Dr., Cable Beach, Broome, WA 6725. &1800/800 850 in Australia, or 08/9192 6111. Fax
08/9192 6166. www.seashells.com.au. 49 units. Nov–Mar (low season) A$210 1-bedroom apt, A$245
2-bedroom apt (4 people), A$300 3-bedroom bungalow (6 people); high-season A$295 1-bedroom
apt, A$345 2-bedroom apt, A$425 3-bedroom apt. Children 13 and under stay free in parent’s room
with existing bedding. Ask about packages. AE, DC, MC, V. Amenities: Babysitting on request; outdoor
pool and paddling pool. In room: A/C, fans, TV w/free movies, fridge, hair dryer, Internet (A$9.95 for 1
hr.; A$30 per day).


The Kimberley


Beyond Broome & the Gibb River Road


The Kimberley

North and east of Broome is wilderness at its best, suited to those who love nature
at its most raw and isolated. Swimming in the ocean and river mouths, however, is
off-limits due to crocodiles, although many of the inland rivers and pools are free of
saltwater crocodiles and can provide welcome relief from heat and dust.

Stretching 220km (136 miles) north of Broome, the Dampier Peninsula is
home to several Aboriginal communities and a small resort at the northern tip of
Cape Leveque. The four-wheel-drive Cape Leveque Road runs through the fine red
pindan dust, past Beagle Bay’s wonderful pearl-shell church built by missionaries,
and up to the remote red-cliffed cape. The Aboriginal community-run Kooljaman
Resort here has cabins and deluxe safari tents gazing out over an empty azure sea.

Traveling the Gibb River Road

is not for everyone, being rough, dusty, and
lacking the world’s little luxuries; it’s for those who love wilderness and adventure in
a primal land. Facilities really are few and far between. Both this road and the
Kalumburu Road are classified as four-wheel-drive, but you must check whether
your rented vehicle can travel them. The roads are often closed during the Wet from
December to April; call &13 81 38 for up-to-date road conditions.
The western part of the Kimberley is the most accessible and can be explored on
a long day trip (or two) from Broome. The Mowanjum Aboriginal Community,
12km (71.2 miles) beyond Derby, has an excellent art gallery worth visiting. The
350-million-year-old Windjana Gorge, 240km (149 miles) east of Broome, has tall
gray limestone cliffs enclosing long, silent pools separated by enormous sand
banks—basking places for freshwater crocodiles. Another unsealed road leads south,
past Tunnel Creek, a limestone cavern which you can walk through, to the Great
Northern Highway. Some 100km (62 miles) farther east (or 418km/259 miles east
of Broome) is Geikie Gorge (pronounced Geek-ee). Its 30m-high (98-ft.) walls are
part of the same ancient coral-reef system as Windjana; you explore Geikie Gorge
on walking trails or on small cruise boats.

Traveling farther along the Gibb River Road, you wind through rough rocky
ranges, with detours to take in the delights of stunning pools and waterfalls such as
those at Bell and Manning Gorges. Facilities exist only at isolated homesteads and
Aboriginal communities, and there are a few designated camping areas. At night the
stars are absolutely magnificent, with the Milky Way a silvery blaze across the sky.

Up the Kalumburu Road 130km (81 miles) is the turnoff to Mitchell Plateau.
The plateau is heavily dissected and marked by tall mop-headed livistona palms.
This is the home of magnificent rock art . Some rock outcrops contain
superb painted images, particularly the Wandjina, showing vivid haloed figures,
sometimes with a body, or simply a head, but never with a mouth. The Bradshaw
figures, or Gwion, are also found here; these are stylized human figures, often sticklike
in appearance, of unknown but certainly great age.

There’s a scenic 3.5km (2.3-mile) walk to the Mitchell Falls , although you
can take a helicopter transfer. The falls drop down in three tiers, with deep pools
enclosed by sheer rock walls. The best chopper trip goes from the falls way out to
Admiralty Gulf, a milky turquoise sea with sharks and crocs visible in the shallows,
and back along the lower Mitchell River gorge. The flight shows the immensity and

The Fitzroy River is Australia’s largest
wild river. It has no dams, it’s totally
unfettered, and its flow after the sum-
mer cyclones has been rated among
the highest in the world. This makes its
waters highly desirable to Australia’s
drying cities well to the south—there
are regular (and perhaps not totally
farfetched) plans to harness it and
carry the precious water thousands of
kilometers away. The Greens and local
Aborigines do not agree! Most visitors
only see the Fitzroy in the Dry, either at
Geikie Gorge or the long Willare Bridge
east of Broome, when it is but a quiet
and unremarkable stream.
One Big River
emptiness of the Kimberley, bringing a superb vista of rocky terraces, islands, mangroves,
bays, and creeks extending in all directions—with absolutely nothing else to
be seen.

Several operators offer tours along the Gibb River Road. APT Kimberley Wilderness
Adventures (see “Getting Around,” at the beginning of the Kimberley
section) has an excellent 13-day tour from Broome to Broome that takes in Mitchell
Falls, Kununurra, Ord River, Bungle Bungle, and Geikie Gorge at A$6,395 per person
twin share.


Boating this vast, unspoiled Kimberley coastline is a true adventure. There are no
towns, marinas, or service facilities. You take everything with you. But it allows some
unforgettable experiences: magnificent if stark scenery, utter isolation, showering
under pristine waterfalls, experiencing the size and power of the tides, including the
so-called “Horizontal Falls,” and the brilliant night skies.

Several boat operators run fishing and adventure trips from Broome, Derby
(221km/137 miles northeast of Broome), or Wyndham. Otherwise, there are cruises
that can only be described as luxurious. North Star Cruises even travels with its own
helicopter for sightseeing and heli-fishing. Some boats take scuba divers and snorkelers
to Rowley Shoals, a marvelous outcrop of coral reef and giant clams 260km
(161 miles) west of Broome. Find a trip and vessel that suits you—some provide
comfortable en-suite private cabins, while others are camp-on-the-beach jobs.

Some of the most established operators are North Star Cruises (& 08/9192
1829; www.northstarcruises.com.au), Pearl Sea Coastal Cruises (&1300/156
035 in Australia or 08/9193 6131; www.kimberleyquest.com.au), and Coral Princess
Cruises (& 931/924 5253 in North America, or 07/4040 9999; www.coral
princesscruises.com), all operating from Broome; Buccaneer Sea Safaris
(& 08/9191 1991; www.buccaneerseasafaris.com) operates out of Derby. The
cruises run only in the Dry, generally between April and October, and tend to book
up well in advance, with many 2011 trips already sold out at press time.

The 34m (112-ft.) North Star can carry 36 passengers on 13-day cruises
between Broome and Wyndham at A$16,495 to A$24,995 per person. It also offers
some 6- or 7-day intermediate options, and September trips to Rowley Shoals. Pearl
Sea carries 18 passengers onboard the 25m (82-ft.) Kimberley Quest II, with its


The Kimberley


13-day Broome-Wyndham prices ranging from A$12,095 to A$19,355, but most of
its cruises are 7 days, from A$8,345 to A$12,085. Coral Princess has the largest
vessels: the 35m (115-ft.) Coral Princess and the 63m (207-ft.) Oceanic Discoverer,
with 10-night cruises between Broome and Darwin for A$6,850 to A$9,750.
All the above prices are based on twin share. Buccaneer has beach camping with
swags and tents, and trips of between 5 and 10 days from Derby. You need to check
what is supplied with the cruises in the way of excursions or transfers, such as seaplane
and/or helicopter flights.


The Kimberley


by Lee Atkinson

outh Australia is a state of extremes: It’s the country’s
driest state with some of the most inhospitable
deserts on the continent, and at the same time, it’s
also one of the country’s most fertile—the lush green valleys
and hills produce some of the best wines in Australia,
if not the world. With its red, rocky gibber plains and wild
windswept coastlines, pristine beaches, ancient mountain
ranges, wide sweeping rivers, soft forested hills, and seascrapped
islands, South Australia is Australia in microcosm.


Despite all this variety, it’s the one state that often gets left off travelers’
itineraries in favor of other states, with their reefs, rainforests, tropical
beaches, big bustling cities, and monolith rocks. I reckon it’s not such a
bad thing really, because it means that those who do make the effort to
get here don’t have to share it with hordes of others.

The capital, Adelaide, is an elegantly laid out city, the only metropolis
in the country other than Canberra that was actually planned, and it’s big
enough to offer lots of variety and excitement without losing its countrytown
vibe. On its doorstep are the vineyards of the Adelaide Hills,
McLaren Vale, Clare, and Barossa valleys, but wherever you venture in
the countryside, you’re almost always guaranteed to find some of the
freshest and best food and wine in the country.

Australia’s longest river, the Murray, spills into the sea in the east of
the state; to the west, the spectacular cliffs of the Great Australian
Bight follow the path of the longest, straightest road in the world across
the Nullarbor Plain. Along the Indian Ocean, peninsulas and islands
provide a rugged and beautiful coastline.

Offshore, Kangaroo Island is the place to be bowled over by the
wildlife—spend a couple of days here and you’ll see more wild kangaroos,
wallabies, koalas, penguins, and sea lions than you thought possible in
one place.

You don’t have to travel very far north of the capital city to find yourself in the
midst of some of the meanest, harshest, and most ethereally beautiful desert landscapes
in the world; 70% of the South Australia is “Outback.” Out here you’ll find
bizarre opal-mining towns, such as Coober Pedy, where summer temperatures can
reach 122°F (50°C), where most people live underground to escape the heat. The12 beautiful Flinders Ranges, the eroded stumps of mountains that were once higher
than the Himalayas and are some of the oldest in the world, are another “must see.”

If you prefer your landscape with more moisture, head to the Coorong, a waterbird
sanctuary rivaled only by Kakadu National Park in the Northern Territory (see
chapter 10).

Exploring the State

VISITOR INFORMATION The South Australia Visitor & Travel Centre,
18 King William St., Adelaide, SA 5000 (&1300/655 276 in Australia, or 08/8463
4547; www.southaustralia.com), is the best place to find information on Adelaide
and South Australia. It’s open weekdays from 8:30am to 5pm and weekends from
9am to 2pm. There’s also an information booth at the Adelaide airport.

GETTING AROUND The best way to see South Australia is by car. Limited rail
service connects Adelaide with some areas. The Stuart Highway bisects the state
from south to north; it runs from Adelaide through the industrial center of Port
Augusta (gateway to the Flinders Ranges) and through Coober Pedy to Alice Springs
in the Red Centre. The Eyre Highway travels westward along the coastline and into
Western Australia, and the Barrier Highway enters New South Wales just before the
city of Broken Hill (see chapter 6). The Princes Highway takes you east to Melbourne.
If you plan to drive into the Outback regions, contact the Royal Automobile
Association of South Australia (RAA), 55 Hindmarsh Sq., Adelaide, SA
5000 (&13 11 11 in South Australia, or 08/8202 4600; www.raa.net). The RAA provides
route maps and emergency breakdown service.

Greyhound Australia (& 1300/473 946 in Australia; www.greyhound.com.
au) operates bus services to and around South Australia. Within the state, Premier
Stateliner (&08/8415 5555; www.premierstateliner.com.au) runs daily services
to most regional centers. There are also a number of private sightseeing companies
that run full and half-day tours of the city, the Barossa Valley, and Adelaide Hills.
Visit or call the South Australia Visitor & Travel Centre (see above) for details and


Adelaide (pop. 1,180,000) has always been a free-spirited, free-thinking type of
place—the first to outlaw sexual and racial discrimination, the first to do away with
capital punishment, the first to recognize Aboriginal land rights and legalize nude
swimming, and the first state to give women the vote. Perhaps that’s because Adelaide
was the only capital to have been settled by free settlers, rather than convicts,
and was totally self-sufficient, receiving no financial backing from the British government.
The fledgling colony promised settlers civil and religious liberty, a 19thcentury
vision of utopia that attracted thousands of European immigrants escaping
religious persecution.



South Australia

ADELAIDE Adelaide1
WitjiraNat'l. ParkLake EyreNat'l. ParkCoorong
Nat'l. Park
LincolnNat'l. ParkNullarborNat'l. ParkS i m p s o n
D e s e r t
C o n s e r v a t i o n
P a r k
Flinders RangesNat'l. ParkPort PirieQuornHawkerWilpenaMt. GambierPort
AugustaAdelaideCoober PedyCoonawarraPenolaKingscoteRenmarkPortLincolnWhyallaCedunaClareGawlerPenongYalataNullarborCookAndamookaLeighCreekWoomeraRoxbyownsNaracoorteMarlaOodnadattaInnaminkaBirdsvilleBAROSSAVALLEYNULLARBOR PLAINFLINDERSRANGESS T U R T
ADELAIDEHILLSLake EyreNorthLake EyreSouthStuart Hwy.
Eyre Hwy.
Sturt Hwy.
StrzeleckiTrackBirdsvilleTrackOodnadattaTrackNORTH E RN T E RR I T O RY
Dey-Dey LakeDey-Dey LakeL. MauriceL. MauriceLakeLakeGairdnerGairdnerLakeLakeTorrensTorrensL. FromeL. FromeWESTERN AUSTRALIAWESTERN
Nat'l. Park
Lake Eyre
Nat'l. Park
Nat'l. Park
Flinders Chase
Nat'l. Park
Nat'l. Park
Nat'l. Park
Flinders Ranges
Nat'l. Park
Port Pirie
Mt. Gambier
Coober Pedy
Oodnadatta Innaminka
Great Australian Bight
Lake Eyre
Lake Eyre
SouthDey-Dey Lake
L. Maurice
L. Frome
Stuart Hwy.
Eyre Hwy.
Sturt Hwy.
100 mi0
0 100 kmFerry Route
See "Kangaroo
Island" Map
Australians who have never visited Adelaide tend to dismiss the city as little more
than a large country town, but that is the city’s greatest charm. Meticulously planned
by surveyor-general Colonel William Light in 1837, the city is an elegant grid of
broad streets surrounded by a green belt of parkland set beside the River Torrens,
between the Adelaide Hills and the waters of Gulf St. Vincent. Light’s grand plan
has produced an easily navigable city with next to no traffic jams and, best of all, a
city center where everything is within easy walking distance of everything else.

Any season is a good time to visit Adelaide, though May through August can be
chilly and January and February hot.





GETTING THERE By Plane Qantas (&13 13 13 in Australia; www.qantas.
com.au), Virgin Blue (& 13 67 89 in Australia; www.virginblue.com.au), and
Jetstar (& 13 15 38 in Australia; www.jetstar.com) all fly to Adelaide from the
other major state capitals. Check their websites for cheap deals. Tiger Airways
(&03/9335 3033; www.tigerairways.com) also has daily flights from most capital
cities apart from Perth and Darwin. Within South Australia, Regional Express (REX
airlines; & 13 17 13 in Australia; www.rex.com.au) offers daily services to some
regional centers.

Adelaide International Airport is 8km (5 miles) west of the city center. Major car

rental companies (Avis, Budget, Hertz, and Thrifty) have desks in both the interna

tional and domestic terminals.

The Skylink (& 1300/383 783 in Australia; www.skylinkadelaide.com) connects
the airport with major hotels and the rail and bus stations. On weekdays, buses
leave the terminals at 30-minute intervals from 5:30am to 9:30pm, and on weekends
and public holidays hourly (on the half-hour). Adult tickets are A$8.50 one-way, kids
A$3.50. A cheaper alternative is the JetBus (& 08/8210 1000; www.adelaide
metro.com.au), which links the airport to Glenelg, West Beach, and the North Eastern
suburbs and costs A$1.80 from 9am to 3pm on weekdays and A$2.60 at most
other times one way. It operates daily, 4:30am to 11:35pm.

BY TAXI A taxi to the city from the airport will cost around A$20.

BY TRAIN The Keswick Interstate Rail Passenger Terminal, 2km (11.4 miles)
west of the city center, is Adelaide’s main railway station. The terminal has a small
snack bar and a cafe.

Contact Great Southern Railways (&13 21 47 in Australia; www.gsr.com.au)

for information, timetables, fares, and bookings for all trains described below.
One of the great trains of Australia, the Indian Pacific

transports passengers
from Sydney to Adelaide (trip time: 28 hr.) every Saturday and Wednesday at
2:55pm and from Perth to Adelaide (trip time: 36 hr.) on Wednesday and Sunday at
11:55am. One-way tickets from Sydney to Adelaide are around A$694 for adults and
A$527 for children in first class; A$501 for adults and A$365 for children in an
economy sleeper; and A$308 for adults and A$130 for children in coach. From Perth
to Adelaide, the one-way fare is A$1,514 for adults and A$1,022 for children in first
class; A$1,036 for adults and A$628 for children in an economy sleeper; and A$458
for adults and A$211 for children in coach. Prices keep going up, so check before
you leave home, but take it from me, you’d be crazy to consider anything less than a

The other legendary Australian train is the Ghan, which runs from Adelaide to
Alice Springs and on to Darwin twice a week on Sunday and Wednesday at
12:20pm. Trip time from Alice Springs to Adelaide is 20 hours. From Alice Springs
to Adelaide and vice versa, the one-way fare is A$1,019 for adults and A$701 for
children in first class; A$656 for adults and A$400 for children in an economy
sleeper; and A$358 for adults and A$166 for children for an economy seat. From
Adelaide to Darwin, which is a 2-night trip, it costs A$1,973 for adults and A$1,357
for kids in first class; A$1,312 for adults and A$800 for kids in an economy sleeper;
and A$716 for adults and A$331 for kids in an economy seat. If you can’t afford a
sleeper though, you’d be better off flying, and you’d save yourself a whole lot of time,


ToMt. LoftyToGlenelgInterstateRail TerminalRailwayStationSt. PetersCathedralTo PortAdelaideParliamentHouseTownHallConventionCentreGlenelg–CityTramwayHACKNEY
RiverTorrensCurrie St.Grenfell St.
Goodwood Rd.
Wright St.
Sturt St.
Gilbert St.
South Terr.
West Terr.
Hindley St.
Franklin St.
Grote St.
Gouger St.Burbridge Ave.
Waymouth St.
North Terr.
Richmond St.
Anzac Hwy.
Hutt St.
Glen Osmond Rd.
Sir Lewis Cohen Ave.
Halifax St.
Gilles St.
South Terr.
Frome Rd.
Hackney Rd.
Rundle St.
Bartels Rd.
Rundle Rd.
Flinders St.GawlerCollege Rd.
Wakefield Rd.
Port Rd.
Port Rd.North Terr.
Glover St.
MontefiorePulteney St.
Morphett St.Wakefield St.
Angas St.
Carrington St.
ParkArcher St.
Ward St.
Lefevre TerrMargaret St.
Jeffcott St.
Frome Rd.
Stanley St.Melbourne St.
ParadeFinninss St.Bundeys Rd.Jerningham St.
StrangwaysPark Terr. Barton Terr.
Buxton St.
Main North
MildredChilders Barton Terr.Gover St.
Tynte St.
O'Connell St.
Molesworth St.
Barnard St.
Strangways Terr.
Hill St.
Memorial Dr.PenningtonTerr.
Kingston Terr.
KermodeBrougham Pl.PalmerBrougham Pl.
Mann Tce.
Frome St.
North Terr.
Dequetteville Terr.
King William St.
King William Rd.
Pirie St.
Rundle MallCentralCentral
Mt. Lofty
Rail Terminal
St. Peters
To Port
Currie St. Grenfell St.
Goodwood Rd.
Wright St.
Sturt St.
Gilbert St.
South Terr.
West Terr.
Hindley St.
Franklin St.
Grote St.
Gouger St.Burbridge Ave.
Waymouth St.
North Terr.
Richmond St.
Anzac Hwy.
Hutt St.
Glen Osmond Rd.
Sir Lewis Cohen Ave.
Halifax St.
Gilles St.
South Terr.
Frome Rd.
Hackney Rd.
Rundle St.
Bartels Rd.
Rundle Rd.
Flinders St.Gawler
College Rd.
Wakefield Rd.
Port Rd.
Port Rd.North Terr.
Glover St.
Pulteney St.
Morphett St.Wakefield St.
Angas St.
Carrington St.
ParkArcher St.
Ward St.
Lefevre TerrMargaret St.
Jeffcott St.
Frome Rd.
Stanley St.Melbourne St.
Finninss St. Bundeys Rd.Jerningham St.
Park Terr. Barton Terr.
Buxton St.
Main North
Mildred Childers Barton Terr.Gover St.
Tynte St.
O'Connell St.
Molesworth St.
Barnard St.
Strangways Terr.
Hill St.
Memorial Dr. PenningtonTerr.
Kingston Terr.
KermodeBrougham Pl.PalmerBrougham Pl.
Mann Tce.
Frome St.
North Terr.
Dequetteville Terr.
King William St.
King William Rd.
Pirie St.
Rundle Mall
Beyond India 4
Botanic Cafe 18
Jolleys Boathouse
Restaurant 7
Matsuri 22
Mekong Thai 16
Rigoni's Bistro 17
Wellington Hotel 5
Adelaide Casino 8
Adelaide Zoo 6
Art Gallery of South Australia 12
Botanic Gardens 13
Haigh’s Chocolates
Visitors Centre 25
National Railway Museum 2
National Wine Centre of Australia 19
South Australian
Maritime Museum 1
South Australian Museum 11
The Migration Museum 10
Adelaide City Park Motel 24
Hilton Adelaide 21
InterContinental Adelaide 9
Medina Grand
Adelaide Treasury 20
Mercure Grosvenor Hotel 15
Mesa Lunga 21
Brecknock Hotel 23
North Adelaide
Heritage Group 3
Rockford Adelaide 14
23 24
1211 13
1/2 mi0
0 1/2 km
Post Office
PerthPerth SydneySydney

World-Class Festivals in Adelaide
Adelaide is home to Australia’s largest
performing arts festival, the Adelaide
Festival , which takes place over 3
weeks in March in even-numbered
years. The festival includes literary and
visual arts as well as dance, opera, classical
music, jazz, cabaret, and comedy.
The festival includes a Writers’ Week
and the Adelaide Fringe Festival. Visit
In February or March, the 3-day
WOMADelaide Festival of world music
takes place. Crowds of 60,000 or more
turn up to watch Australian and international
artists. Visit www.womadelaide.



money, and back pain. If you really want to splurge, the Platinum Service offers
luxury cabins twice the size of standard first class cabins, with double beds and full
en-suite and lots of extras thrown in. It only operates on the Adelaide to Darwin
service and costs A$2,987 per adult. No kids’ fares are available.

The Overland operates three weekly trips from Adelaide to Melbourne (Mon,
Wed, and Fri at 7:40am) and Melbourne to Adelaide (Tues and Thurs at 8:05am and
Sat at 8:40am). Trip time is 12 hours. From Melbourne to Adelaide, one-way ticket
prices are A$134 for adults and A$95 for children in first class, and A$90 for adults
and A$45 for children in an economy seat.

BY BUS Intercity coaches serve the central bus station, 101 Franklin St. (&08/
8415 5533), near Morphett Street in the city center. Greyhound Australia
(& 1300/473 946 in Australia; www.greyhound.com.au) runs buses between Adelaide
and all other major cities. The trip from Melbourne takes 10 hours and costs
A$70; from Sydney, 23 hours and A$190; and from Alice Springs, 21 hours and
A$280. Check the website for discounts before you book.

Adventurous types should consider traveling to Adelaide from Melbourne (or vice
versa) on the Wayward Bus, operated by the Wayward Bus Touring Company
(&1300/654 604 in Australia, or 08/8132 8230; www.waywardbus.com.au). The
fare is A$445 with backpacker’s accommodations and around A$510 with twin motel
accommodations. You spend about 3 hours a day on the bus, and the driver acts as
your guide. The fare includes a picnic or cafe lunch each day and entry to national
parks. You can leave the trip and rejoin another later. Reservations are essential.
Wayward Bus also runs 8-day overland trips traveling between Adelaide and Alice (or
vice versa), via Uluru, Kata Tjuta (the Olgas), Kings Canyon, Coober Pedy, Lake
Eyre, William Creek, Wilpena Pound, the Flinders Ranges, and the Clare Valley
wineries. Accommodations are a mix of camping, swags (thick sleeping bags), dugout
caves, and hostels. It costs A$1,095. Check the website for more tours, including
to Outback South Australia and Kangaroo Island.

Another bus company, the Nullarbor Traveller (& 08/8687 0455; www.the
traveller.net.au), takes adventurous travelers from Adelaide to Perth in 10 days
across the Nullarbor Plain. The tour includes a mixture of camping and farmstay
accommodations and most meals. It costs A$1,450. A good area website is www.

BY CAR To drive from Sydney to Adelaide on the Hume and Sturt highways takes
roughly 20 hours; from Melbourne it takes around 10 hours on the Great Ocean

Road and Princes Highway; from Perth it takes 32 hours on the Great Eastern and
Princes highways; and from Alice Springs it takes 15 hours on the remote Stuart
Highway. For more information on driving distances, consult the website www.

VISITOR INFORMATION Go to the South Australia Visitor & Travel Centre,
18 King William St. (&1300/655 276 in Australia, or 08/8463 4547; fax 08/
8303 2249), for maps, travel advice, and hotel and tour bookings. It’s open weekdays
from 8:30am to 5pm, weekends from 9am to 2pm.

CITY LAYOUT Victoria Square is the geographical heart of the city, surrounded
by grand government buildings, some of which have been reborn into elegant hotels.
This is also where you’ll find the historic tram that takes 20 minutes to trundle to
the seaside suburb of Glenleg, with its famous long pier and white sandy beaches.
On the western side of the square is the Central Market, Australia’s oldest continuously
operating produce market (it’s been going since 1869), which is today home to
the best range of international foods in Australia.

Bisecting the city from south to north is the main thoroughfare, King William
Street. Streets running perpendicular to King William Street change their names on
either side; Franklin Street, for example, changes into Flinders Street. Of these cross
streets, the most interesting are the restaurant strips of Gouger and Rundle streets,
the latter running into the pedestrian-only shopping precinct of Rundle Mall. Another
is Hindley Street, with inexpensive restaurants and nightlife. On the banks of the
River Torrens just north of the city center, you’ll find the Riverbank Precinct, the home
of the Festival Centre, the Convention Centre, and the SkyCity Adelaide Casino.

North Terrace is one of the four boundary streets that mark the edge of the city
center and the beginning of the parkland belt that slopes down toward the River
Torrens, where you’ll find almost all of the city’s major attractions and museums,
most of which are free.

Follow King William Street north and it crosses the River Torrens and flows into
sophisticated North Adelaide, an area crammed with Victorian and Edwardian
architecture. The main avenues in North Adelaide, O’Connell and Melbourne
streets, are lined with restaurants, cafes, and bistros that offer the tastes of a multicultural

Northwest of the city center is Port Adelaide, a seaport and the historic maritime
heart of South Australia. It’s home to some of the finest colonial buildings in
the state, as well as good pubs and restaurants.

GETTING AROUND By Bus Adelaide’s public bus network covers three
zones, and fares are calculated according to the number of zones traveled. The city



A Money-Saving Transit Pass
If you plan to get around the city on
public transportation, it’s a good idea
to purchase a Daytrip ticket, which covers
unlimited travel on buses, trams,
and city trains within the metropolitan
area for 1 day. The pass costs A$8.30
for adults and A$4.20 for children 5 to
15 and is available at most train stations,
newsagents, and the Adelaide
Metro InfoCentre (&1300/311 108 in


center is in Zone 1. The fare in Zone 1 is A$1.80 from 9am to 3pm on weekdays and
A$2.60 at most other times. Kids travel for around half-price. You can buy tickets on
board or at larger newsdealers around the city. You can get timetable and destination
information over the phone or in person from the Adelaide Metro InfoCentre
(&08/8210 1000; www.adelaidemetro.com.au), on the corner of Currie and King

12 William streets. It’s open Monday to Friday from 8am to 6pm, Saturday 9am to 5pm,
and Sunday from 11am to 4pm.
The free CityLoop bus (no. 99C) operates every 15 minutes (Mon–Thurs 8am–
6pm; Fri 8am–9pm; Sat 8am–5pm) around the city center, along North Terrace,
East Terrace, Grenfell Street, Pulteney Street, Wakefield Street, Grote Street, Morphett
Street, Light Square, Hindley Street, and West Terrace. There is also a free
tram that runs between South Terrace and North Terrace approximately every 7
Bus nos. 181 and 182 run from the city to North Adelaide.

BY TRAM The Glenelg Tram runs between Victoria Square and the beachside
suburb of Glenelg. Tickets cost A$2.70 for adults and A$1.20 for children 5 to 14
from 9am to 3pm, A$4.40 for adults and A$2.10 for children at other times. The
journey takes 29 minutes.

BY TAXI & CAR The major cab companies are Yellow Cabs (& 13 19 24 in
South Australia), Suburban (&13 10 08 in South Australia), and Adelaide Independent
Taxi Service (&13 22 11 in South Australia). Access Cabs (&1300/
360 940 in South Australia) offers wheelchair taxis.

Major car-rental companies are Avis, 136 North Terrace (& 08/8410 5727);
Budget, 274 North Terrace (&08/8418 7300); Hertz, 233 Morphett St. (&08/
8231 2856); and Thrifty, 23 Hindley St. (&08/8410 8977).

The Royal Automobile Association of South Australia (RAA), 55 Hindmarsh
Sq. (& 13 11 11 in South Australia, or 08/8202 4600; www.raa.net), has route
maps and provides emergency breakdown services.



Fast Facts: Adelaide

American Express
The office, at Shop 32 in
Rundle Mall (& 1300/139
060), is open Monday to
Friday 9am to 5pm, and
Saturday 9am to noon.

Business Hours
Generally, banks are open
Monday through Thursday
from 9:30am to 4pm and
Friday from 9:30am to
5pm. Stores are generally
open Monday through
Thursday from 9am to
5:30pm, Friday from 9am
to 9pm, Saturday from

9am to 5pm, and Sunday

from 11am to 5pm.
Currency Exchange
Banks and hotels, the
casino, and the Myer
department store in Rundle
Mall cash traveler’s
checks. The Travelex office
is at Shop 4, Rundle Mall
(& 08/8231 6977). It’s
open Monday to Saturday
9am to 5:30pm (7pm
on Fri).

Dentists Contact
the Australian Dental
Association Emergency

Information Service
(& 08/8272 8111), open
weeknights from 5 to 9pm,
and Saturday and Sunday
from 9am to 9pm. It will
put you in touch with a

Doctors In an emergency,
go to the casualty
department of the Royal
Adelaide Hospital, North
Terrace (& 08/8222
4000). The Travellers’
Medical & Vaccination
Centre, 29 Gilbert Place
(& 08/8212 7522), offers

vaccinations and travel

related medicines.
Emergencies Dial
& 000 to call an ambulance,
the fire department,
or the police in an

Hospitals The Royal
Adelaide Hospital (& 08/
8222 4000), is on North
Terrace in the city center.

Hot Lines Call the Crisis
Care Centre (& 13 16
11 in Australia); the Royal
Automobile Association of
South Australia, or RAA
(& 08/8202 4600); the
Disability Information and
Resource Centre (& 08/
8236 0555) for information
on those respective

Internet Access The

State Library of South
Australia, at the corner of
North Terrace and Kintore
Avenue (& 08/8207
7250), has e-mail facilities
available Monday through
Wednesday 10am to 8pm,
Thursday and Friday 10am

to 6pm and Saturday and
Sunday 10am to 5pm.
Internet access is readily
available around town at
other libraries and in Internet
cafes. For free Wi-Fi
hot spots see https://

Lost Property If
you’ve lost something on
the street, contact the
nearest police station. For
items left on public transport,
contact the Lost
Property Office, on the
main concourse of the
Adelaide Railway Station
on North Terrace (& 08/
8218 2552); it’s open Monday
through Friday from
9am to 5pm.

Luggage Storage &
Lockers There are luggage
lockers at Adelaide
Airport in the domestic
terminal as well as the
Central Bus Station on
Franklin Street.

Pharmacies (Chemist
Shops) Burden Chemists,
Shop 11, Southern

Cross Arcade, King William
Street (& 08/8231 4701),
is open Monday through
Thursday from 8am to
6pm, Friday from 8am to
8pm, and Saturday from
9am to 1pm.

Post Office The General
Post Office (GPO), 141
King William St., Adelaide,
SA 5000 (& 13 13 18 in
Australia), is open Monday
through Friday from 8:30am
to 5:30pm. General delivery
mail (poste restante)
can be collected Monday
through Friday during
opening hours.

Restrooms Public restrooms
are at the Central
Market Arcade, between
Grote and Gouger streets,
in both Hindmarsh and Victoria
squares, and at James
Place (off Rundle Mall).

Safety Adelaide is a
safe city, though it’s wise
to avoid walking along the
River Torrens and through
side streets near Hindley
Street after dark.


Fast Facts: Adelaide

Where to Stay

The South Australia Visitor & Travel Centre (see “Visitor Information,” above)
can supply information on B&Bs and home stays around the state. The rates given
below are rack rates, or what the hotels hope they’ll get on a good day—you can
often get a room for much less, especially by booking directly through the hotel’s



Hilton Adelaide

The Hilton is a great business hotel in the very heart of the
city center and just around the corner from a host of restaurants on Gouger Street.
Guest rooms are quite spacious and pleasant, with all you might expect from a fivestar
establishment, and the service has always been spot on every time I’ve stayed.
Some rooms have great views of the city and Adelaide Hills. There are 11 rooms
equipped for travelers with disabilities.
233 Victoria Sq., Adelaide, SA 5000. &08/8217 2000. Fax 08/8217 2001. www.hilton.com. 374 units.
A$210–A$320 standard double; suites from A$410 and up. Children 11 and under stay free in parent’s




room. AE, DC, MC, V. Valet parking A$28. Tram stops in front of hotel. Amenities: Restaurant; bar; babysitting;
concierge; health club; Jacuzzi; heated outdoor pool; room service; sauna; tennis court. In room: A/C,
TV w/pay movies, fridge, hair dryer, minibar, Wi-Fi (A55. per minute up to A$29 for 24 hr.).

InterContinental Adelaide

The 20-story InterContinental is in the heart
of the city and part of the complex that includes the Adelaide Festival Centre, the
Casino, the Exhibition Hall, and the Convention Centre. The property overlooks
the River Torrens and nearby parklands, and there are some wonderful views from
the higher floors. Guests staying in club-level rooms get a good complimentary
breakfast and free evening drinks and canapes.
North Terrace, Adelaide, SA 5000. &08/8238 2400. Fax 08/8231 1120. www.ichotelsgroup.com. 367
units. A$225–A$350 double; suites from A$500 and up. Extra person A$50. Children 11 and under stay
free in parent’s room. Executive Club Level rates include breakfast and access to the Club InterContinental,
which includes complimentary canapes and drinks 5:30–7:30pm each day. Ask about packages and
weekend discounts. AE, DC, MC, V. Parking A$27. Bus/tram: CityLoop. Amenities: 2 restaurants; bar;
lounge; nightclub; babysitting; concierge; health club; Jacuzzi; heated outdoor pool; room service.
In room: A/C, TV w/pay movies, fridge, hair dryer, minibar, Wi-Fi (A$5.50 for 5 min. up to A$29 for 24 hr.).

Medina Grand Adelaide Treasury

My favorite place to stay in Adelaide,
the Medina is part of a very clever makeover of the former treasury building—
it has managed to combine stylish modern design without sacrificing the heritage of
this beautiful sandstone building right on Victoria Square, in the heart of the city.
Apartments are so big you can get lost in them, with the highest ceilings I’ve ever
seen in a hotel room. There is a gorgeous garden courtyard with fountain. The only
downside is that there is no parking, but the State Centre car park is just 3 minutes
away. You can almost always get a good deal on the hotel’s website, so check before

2 Flinders St., Adelaide, SA 5000. &08/8112 0000. Fax 08/8112 0199. www.medina.com.au. 80 units.
A$185–A$395 studio room; A$220–A$420 1-bedroom apt; A$350–A$425 2-bedroom apt. Extra person
A$50. Check the website for good deals. AE, DC, MC, V. Parking nearby. Bus: CityLoop/tram. Amenities:
Restaurant; bar; fitness center; Jacuzzi; indoor swimming pool; sauna. In room: A/C, TV w/pay
movies, hair dryer, Internet (A$13 for 1 hr. up to A$25 for 24 hr.), kitchen, minibar.


The Mercure Grosvenor Hotel

This pleasant hotel is conveniently located
in the center of Adelaide, opposite SkyCity Casino and the Convention and Exhibition
Centre. It’s modern and the rooms are light filled. The economy and standard
rooms are small with a tiny en-suite bathroom, but are great value. If you want more
space, opt for a deluxe room and try to get one with a balcony.
125 North Terrace, Adelaide, SA 5000. &08/8407 8888. Fax 08/8407 8866. www.mercuregrosvenor
hotel.com.au. 243 units. A$105–A$220 double. Check website for good deals, especially on weekends.
Children 14 and under stay for free in parent’s room. AE, DC, MC, V. Parking A$16. Bus: CityLoop. Amenities:
Restaurant; bar; concierge; fitness center; room service; sauna. In room: A/C, TV w/pay movies,
fridge, hair dryer, Internet (A50. per minute up to A$28 for 24 hr.), minibar.

Rockford Adelaide

This contemporary boutique hotel is a 10- to 15-minute
walk from the center of town, 5 minutes from the casino, and near the nightclub and
red-light district. There are nice spa rooms, each with a large LCD TV. All rooms are
spacious and comfortable, and modern and riverside rooms have balconies. The
hotel has a lovely heated rooftop pool with great views.
164 Hindley St., Adelaide, SA 5000. &1800/788 155 in Australia, or 08/8211 8255. Fax 08/8231 1179.
www.rockfordhotels.com.au. 68 units. A$159–A$249 standard double. Children 11 and under stay free in

If you plan to be in town during the
Adelaide Festival, make sure you book
accommodations well in advance. The
town can be packed during Christmas
and New Year’s, so it’s wise to book
well in advance then, too.
Plan Ahead Plan Ahead
parent’s room. Off-season and weekend discounts available. Check for Internet specials and ask about
package deals. AE, DC, MC, V. Parking A$15, must be prebooked. Amenities: Restaurant; bar; concierge;
golf course nearby; access to nearby health club; heated outdoor pool; limited room service; sauna.
In room: A/C, TV/DVD w/free movies, fridge, hair dryer, minibar, Wi-Fi (free in club rooms, other rooms
A$3 for 15 min. up to A$25 for 24 hr.).


Adelaide City Park Motel

The spacious rooms in this high-end boutique
motel have modern furnishings and nice bathrooms with showers. Some rooms have
private balconies overlooking parkland. Family rooms sleep from four to six people:
The largest has a double bed and two sets of bunks. The best double room is no. 45,
which has two double beds and a large balcony.
471 Pulteney St., Adelaide, SA 5000. &1800/231 444 in Australia, or 08/8223 1444. Fax 08/8223 1133.
www.citypark.com.au. 18 units. A$99 budget double with shared bathroom; A$120 standard double
with en-suite; A$150 double with balcony. Extra person A$20. AE, DC, MC, V. Limited parking by
arrangement. The tram to Glenelg is a 5-min. walk away; 4 streets up is a bus stop for the free City Loop
Bus. Amenities: Restaurant; bar. In room: A/C, TV, fridge.

Moore’s Brecknock Hotel Adelaide’s original Irish pub, built in 1851, still
attracts a lot of Irish patrons who come here for the great selection of beer and
reasonably priced home-style cooking—it reputedly serves Adelaide’s best hamburgers.
Live bands play downstairs on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, but the music finishes
at 1am on Friday and Saturday and at 10pm on Sunday, so you shouldn’t have
too much trouble sleeping. Rooms are large, if a little spartan, and decorated in your
granny’s old-world style. Some rooms have a single bed as well as a double. Each has
a sink, with the bathrooms down the hall.

401 King William St., Adelaide, SA 5000. &08/8231 5467. Fax 08/8410 1968. www.brecknockhotel.
com.au. 10 units, none with bathroom. A$110 double; A$145 triple. Rates include continental breakfast.
AE, DC, MC, V. Free parking. Tram: Glenelg route. Amenities: Restaurant; 3 bars; bike rental. In room:
A/C, fridge.


This leafy and attractive suburb across the river is an interesting place with nice
architecture and a great restaurant strip. It’s about a 10-minute bus ride from the
city center.

North Adelaide Heritage Group

It’s worth coming all the way to
Adelaide just for the experience of staying in one of these apartments, cottages, or
suites. Each of the 20 properties in North Adelaide and Eastwood are good but I
particularly recommend the very elegant Bishop’s Garden on Molesworth Street.
Originally the house and gardens of Bishop Nutter Thomas, the fourth Anglican
Bishop of Adelaide, it’s full of gorgeous antiques and artwork collected by the current
owners, Rodney and Regina Twiss, who have added little touches that make you
feel at home, from magazines liberally piled everywhere to bacon and eggs in the






fridge. The company also offers a suite in the old North Adelaide Fire Station which
comes complete with a full-size, bright red, very old fire engine and the original fireman’s
pole. All properties are within easy walking distance of the main attractions in
the area.

Office: 109 Glen Osmond Rd., Eastwood, SA 5063. &08/8272 1355. Fax 08/8272 1355. www.adelaide

heritage.com. 20 units. A$240–A$445 double. Extra person A$60–A$85. Child 11 and under A$30. AE,
DC, MC, V. Free parking. Amenities: Concierge; golf course nearby; Jacuzzi; limited room service; tennis
courts nearby. In room: A/C, TV, hair dryer, kitchenette.

Where to Dine

With more than 600 restaurants, pubs, and cafes, Adelaide boasts more dining spots
per capita than anywhere else in Australia. Many cluster in areas such as Rundle
Street, Gouger Street, and North Adelaide—where you’ll find almost every style of
cuisine you can imagine. For cheap noodles, laksas, sushi, and cakes, head to Adelaide’s
popular Central Markets (&08/8203 7494), behind the Hilton Adelaide
between Gouger and Grote streets.

Glenelg has a host of nice cafes, including Zest Cafe Gallery, 2A Sussex St.

(&08/8295 3599), which serves baguettes and bagels; and Cafe Blu, Oaks Plaza

Pier Hotel, 16 Holdfast Promenade (&08/8350 3108), which has good pizzas.

Because of South Australia’s healthy wine industry, you’ll find that many of the
more expensive restaurants have extensive wine lists—though with spicier foods, it’s
probably wiser to stick with beer. Many Adelaide restaurants allow diners to bring
their own wine (BYO), but most charge a steep corkage fee to open the bottle—A$6
or so is not uncommon.



Botanic Cafe ITALIAN New York meets Tuscany in this buzzy bistro overlooking
the Botanic Gardens. If it’s a sunny day or balmy evening, try to secure an outside
table. The menu features Italian classics with a stylish twist. The fried local squid
with fresh rocket and chili garlic aioli is some of the best I’ve had in a long time.

4 East Terrace. &08/8232 0626. Reservations recommended. Main courses A$28–A$38. AE, DC, MC,

V. Mon–Fri noon–3pm; Mon–Sat 6:30–10pm.
Jolleys Boathouse Restaurant

housed in an 1880s boathouse on the banks of the River Torrens with views of boats,
ducks, and black swans, is best suited for long lunches, as it closes very early at night
(8:30pm). There are a handful of outside tables, but if you miss out, the bright and
airy interior, with its cream-colored tablecloths and directors’ chairs, isn’t too much
of a letdown. You might start with miso-crusted venison with grilled mushroom,
mizuna salad, and Japanese mustard sauce. Moving on, you could tuck into the
crisp-fried tea-smoked duck, with Chinese spinach, and blood plum and tamarind
sauce. (Ignore the peaceful quacking out on the river if you can.)
Jolleys Lane. &08/8223 2891. www.jolleysboathouse.com. Reservations recommended. Main courses
A$26–A$40. AE, DC, MC, V. Sun–Fri noon–2pm; Mon–Sat 6–8:30pm.


Matsuri JAPANESE There’s a great atmosphere at this popular but authentic
restaurant that serves ups some fantastic sushi and sashimi dishes. Try the “funamori”—
a brilliant array of delicate sushi and sashimi artfully presented on a decorative boat.

Something Different: Market Tours
Adelaide’s Top Food and Wine Tours
(&08/8263 0265; www.topfoodand
winetours.com.au) offers a range of
food-based tours, including both dawn
and midmorning tours of the Central
Market. Dawn Tours cost A$48 for
adults and A$25 for kids, and start
at 7:15am on Tuesday and Thursday
through Saturday; midmorning tours
depart at 9:30am and cost A$35 for
adults and A$19 for kids.

Other popular dishes include vegetarian and seafood tempura, yose nobe (a hot pot
of vegetables, seafood, and chicken), and chawan mushi (a steamed custard dish).
The service is friendly and considerate. Make sure you wear your best socks though—
no shoes allowed!

167 Gouger St. (upstairs). &08/8231 3494. Reservations recommended. Main courses A$20–A$28.
AE, DC, MC, V. Fri noon–2pm; Wed–Mon 5:30–10pm.

Mesa Lunga

SPANISH/ITALIAN I love this wine bar and restaurant—it’s
housed in an old shop that’s been transformed into a very groovy bar with quirky
decorating touches (think antler chandeliers, Moorish mosaics, and dark timbers).
Most of the eating’s done at the long communal table, and the menu is a clever mix
of Spanish and Italian. One half of the space is the Sangria Bar, with a great wine
and cocktail list and a handful of bar snacks and pintxos (tiny tapas)—try the miniature
hamburgers. The other half, Mesa Lunga, serves up more substantial plates of
tapas to share, gourmet pizzas, traditional pastas, and other main courses. The outside
tables on the street make for fascinating people-watching.
140 Gouger St. & 08/8410 7617. www.mesalunga.com. Tapas A$7–A$14; pizzas A$15–A$24; main
courses A$19–A$36. AE, DC, MC, V. Wed–Sun noon–3pm; Tues–Sun 6pm till late.

Rigoni’s Bistro ITALIAN On a narrow lane west of King William Street, this
traditional Italian trattoria is often packed at lunch and less frantic in the evening.
It’s big and bright, with high ceilings and russet quarry tiles. A long bar runs through
the middle of the dining room; brass plates mark the stools of regular diners. The
food is very traditional and quite good. The chalkboard menu often changes, but
you’re likely to find lasagna, veal in white wine, marinated fish, and various pasta
dishes. It’s a good place for a nice pasta lunch.

27 Leigh St. &08/8231 5160. Reservations recommended. Main courses A$25–A$35; pastas A$19–
A$34. AE, DC, MC, V. Mon–Fri 7am till late.


Mekong Thai

ASIAN/HALAL Though this place is not much to look
at—with simple tables and chairs, some outside in a portico—it has a fiery reputation
for good food among in-the-know locals. The food is spicy and authentic, and
the portions are filling. It’s also a vegetarian’s paradise, with at least 16 meat-free
mains on the ethnically varied menu. It’s Adelaide’s only fully halal (suitable for
Muslims) restaurant. Be warned: The laksa is addictive.
68 Hindley St. &08/8231 2914. Main courses A$12–A$18. AE, MC, V. Mon–Fri 11:30am–3pm and 5:15–





Beyond India

INDIAN This busy eatery, Adelaide’s favorite Indian
diner, serves up a range of really, really good southern and northern Indian dishes
with a modern twist. My vegetarian friends can’t get enough of the house-made
paneer (fresh cheese) with pureed spinach, but I can never get past the famous

lucknawi lamb shanks—slowly simmered in a double-glazed onion masala, they are
simply the best. Service is warm, friendly, and fast, and the menu includes lots of
great wine suggestions to go with each dish.

170 O’Connell St. &08/8267 3820. www.beyondindia.net.au. Main courses A$12–A$23. AE, DC, MC, V.
Daily noon–3pm and 5–11pm.

Wellington Hotel

PUB/STEAK The garden atrium restaurant at the back
of this historic two-storied, verandaed pub on Wellington Square has some of the
best steaks in Adelaide. Take your pick from the pile of huge (500g, or just over 1
lb.) Coroong and Wagyu beef and it’s whisked away to be cooked just how you like
it. There’s also plenty of fresh seafood and Coffin Bay oysters (from South Australia’s
Eyre Peninsula—in my opinion, the best oysters on the planet). The wine list’s predominately
South Australian, and there are 32 Aussie beers on tap. The atmosphere
is cheerful and friendly.

36 Wellington Sq. &08/8267 1322. Main courses A$14–A$19; steaks priced by weight but average
A$20–A$40. AE, DC, MC, V. Daily noon–3pm and 6–9pm.

Seeing the Sights

Adelaide is a laid-back city. It’s not jam-packed with tourist-oriented attractions like
some of the larger state capitals, though the Migration Museum (see below) is easily
one of the best museums in Australia. The best way to enjoy this pleasant city is to
take things nice and easy. Walk beside the River Torrens, ride the tram to the beachside
suburb of Glenelg, and spend the evenings sipping wine and sampling some of
the country’s best alfresco dining.

Art Gallery of South Australia

Adelaide’s premier public art gallery has a
good range of local and overseas works and a fine Asian ceramics collection. Of
particular interest are Charles Hall’s Proclamation of South Australia 1836; Nicholas
Chevalier’s painting of the departure of explorers Burke and Wills from Melbourne;
several works by Australian painters Sidney Nolan, Albert Tucker, and Arthur Boyd;
and some excellent contemporary art. For an introduction, take a free guided tour.
The bookshop has an extensive collection of art publications. Allow 1 to 2 hours.
North Terrace. &08/8207 7000. Free admission. Daily 10am–5pm. Guided tours daily 11am and 2pm.
Closed Dec 25. Bus: City Loop.

Botanic Gardens A green haven in the heart of the city. First opened in 1857, the
gardens are European in style, the original garden plans being influenced by Kew Gardens
in England and Versailles in France. Highlights include several grand avenues and
arched walkways crowned in wisteria, the ornate 1868 glass house, and the new Bicentennial
Conservatory, the largest single span conservatory in the Southern Hemisphere,
which houses tropical rainforest plants and looks like a huge beetle from the air. The
newly restored Museum of Economic Botany, the last purpose-built colonial



museum in the world, is also onsite. The museum is open Wednesday to Sunday
from 10am to 4pm and every day during exhibitions.

North Terrace. &08/8222 9311. www.environment.sa.gov.au/botanicgardens. Free admission. Mon–
Fri 8am–sundown; Sat–Sun 9am–sundown.

Haigh’s Chocolates Visitors Centre

If you have a sweet tooth, head to
Haigh’s Chocolates Visitors Centre (a 5 min. drive from the city center) for free
tastings, displays, and a peek into the chocolate production process. Established in
1915, Haigh’s is Australia’s oldest chocolate manufacturer, and Adelaide locals swear
it is the best-tasting chocolate anywhere. Free guided tours are run Monday to Saturday
at 11am, 1, and 2pm (the factory is not fully operational on Sat, so go midweek
if you can), and bookings are essential. Wheelchair and pram access is limited.
154 Greenhill Rd., Parkside. &08/8372 7077. www.haighschocolates.com.au. Free admission. Mon–Fri
8:30am–5:30pm; Sat 9am–5pm. Closed public holidays. Bus: 197 from Victoria Sq.

The Migration Museum

This tiny museum dedicated to immigration
and multiculturalism is one of the most important and fascinating in Australia. With
touching personal displays, it tells the story of the waves of immigrants who have
helped shape this amalgamated society, from the boatloads of convicts who came in
1788 to the ethnic groups who have trickled in over the past 2 centuries. Allow 1 hour.

82 Kintore Ave. &08/8207 7580. Admission by donation. Mon–Fri 10am–5pm; Sat–Sun and public
holidays 1–5pm. Closed Good Friday and Dec 25. Bus: any to North Terrace.

National Railway Museum This former Port Adelaide railway yard houses Australia’s
largest collection of locomotive engines and rolling stock. The 104 or so items
on display include some 30 engines. Among the most impressive trains are the gigantic
“Mountain” class engines, and “Tea and Sugar” trains that once ran between
railway camps in remote parts of the desert. Entrance includes a train ride. You need
to be a train buff to really enjoy this place.

Lipson St., North Adelaide. &08/8341 1690. Admission A$12 adults, A$5 children, A$29 families. Daily 10am–
5pm. Bus: 151 or 153 from North Terrace, opposite Parliament House, to stop 40 (approximately 30 min.).

The National Wine Centre of Australia

This architectural masterpiece
concentrates on Australia’s 53 wine regions. Interactive exhibits and displays allow
you to blend your own virtual wine. It’s not as simple as you think; sadly, my Riesling
turned out to be “the perfect accompaniment to an appalling meal, better suited as
a niche cleaning agent for exterior surfaces.” The Tasting Gallery displays an extensive
range of Australian wines and wine-tasting packages allow you to sample some
of the rarest vintages. A restaurant and bar overlook the Wine Centre, which has its
own vineyard. You can fit in a trip here with a visit to the nearby Botanic Gardens.
Hackney Rd. (eastern end of North Terrace). & 08/8303 3355. www.wineaustralia.com.au. Free
admission. Wine-tasting packages A$5–A$30. Mon–Fri 9am–5pm; Sat–Sun 10am–5pm. Closed Good
Friday and Dec 25. Limited parking. Bus: CityLoop to Botanic Gardens.

South Australian Maritime Museum This Port Adelaide museum commemorates
more than 150 years of maritime history. Most of the exhibits are in the 1850s
Bond Store, but the museum also incorporates an 1863 lighthouse and three vessels
moored alongside Wharf No. 1, a short walk away. The fully rigged replica of the
16m (52-ft.) ketch Active II is very impressive. Allow 11. hours. Port Adelaide is


approximately 30 minutes from the city center by bus.




126 Lipson St., Port Adelaide. & 08/8207 6255. Admission A$8.50 adults, A$3.50 children, A$22
families. Daily 10am–5pm. Closed Dec 25. Bus: 151 or 153 from North Terrace opposite Parliament House
to stop 40 (Port Adelaide). Train: Port Adelaide.

South Australian Museum

The star attraction of this interesting museum
is the Australian Aboriginal Cultures Gallery. On display is an extensive collection of
utensils, spears, tools, bush medicine, food samples, photographs, and the like. Also
in the museum is a sorry-looking collection of stuffed native animals (sadly including
a few extinct marsupials, such as the Tasmanian tiger); a good collection of Papua
New Guinea artifacts; and a fascinating gallery devoted to South Australia’s most
famous explorer, Antarctic expedition leader Douglas Mawson (the man on the
Australian A$100 note). There are free guided museum tours Monday to Friday at
11am and weekends and public holidays at 2 and 3pm.
North Terrace, btw. State Library and Art Gallery of South Australia. &08/8207 7500. www.samuseum.
sa.gov.au. Free admission. Daily 10am–5pm. Closed Good Friday and Dec 25.


Grayline Day Tours (&1300/858 687 in Australia; www.grayline.com.au) operates
a city sightseeing tour for A$59 for adults and A$30 for children. It operates
from 9:30am to 12:45pm daily and departs from the Sightseeing Travel Centre, 211
Victoria Square. Other Grayline tours take in central Adelaide, with either Hahndorf
or Cleland Wildlife Park included; the Flinders Ranges; and Kangaroo Island.

BIKING Adelaide’s parks and riverbanks are very popular with cyclists. The city
bikes scheme allows you free bike hire for use anywhere within the city limits. All
you need is either your driver’s license, proof of identity card, or passport. Your ID
will be held as a deposit for the duration of the hire and will be returned to you when
you return your city bike. You can get bikes from the Rundle Street Market on Sundays;
Bicycle SA at 111 Franklin St. (&08/8168 9999). For other locations around
the city, check www.bikesa.asn.au or call the Bicycle SA number above. Recreation
SA (&08/8226 7301) publishes a brochure showing Adelaide’s bike routes.
Pick one up at the South Australia Visitor & Travel Centre (see “Visitor Information,”
earlier in this chapter). In January, Adelaide is host to the Tour Down Under (&08/
8463 4701; www.tourdownunder.com.au), which attracts some of the biggest
names in world cycling. Keen cyclists can take part in special legs of the race and
there are routes open to children and families too.

GOLF The Adelaide Golf Links (& 08/8267 2171) in North Adelaide have
great views of the city. Greens fees for the full-size championship course are A$24
weekdays and A$29 weekends. To play the par-3 course (great for families) costs
A$14 for adults and A$11 for kids. Club rental is available.

HIKING & JOGGING The banks of the River Torrens are a good place for a jog.
The fit and adventurous might want to tackle the Heysen Trail, a spectacular
1,600km (992-mile) walk through bush, farmland, and rugged hill country that starts
80km (50 miles) south of Adelaide and goes to the Flinders Ranges by way of the
Adelaide Hills and the Barossa Valley. For more information on the trail, visit the
South Australia Visitor & Travel Centre (see “Visitor Information,” earlier in this



CRICKET The Adelaide Oval (& 08/8300 3800), on the corner of War
Memorial Drive and King William Street, is the venue for international matches
during the summer season and is widely regarded as the most picturesque Test
cricket ground in the world. Take a guided behind-the-scenes tour of the oval to find
out all you ever wanted to know about Australia’s national game, and national hero,
cricketing legend Sir Donald Bradman (who lived in Adelaide for most of his adult
life). Tours depart Monday to Friday, nonmatch days, at 10am (no tours on public
holidays). You’ll need to book by calling &08/8300 3800, and tickets are A$10 for
adults, A$5 for kids. If you’re a real cricket tragic, you’ll also love the Bradman
Collection Museum here, which has all sorts of memorabilia on show and charts
the cricketer’s rise to national hero status. It’s open weekdays 9:30am to 4:30pm.
Entry is free.

FOOTBALL Unlike New South Wales, where Rugby League is the most popular
winter sport, in Adelaide you’ll find plenty of Australian Rules fanatics. Games are
usually played on Saturday at the Adelaide Oval (see above) or at AAMI Stadium
(formerly known as Football Park), Turner Drive, West Lakes. The home teams are
the Adelaide Crows and the Port Adelaide Power. Games are played February
through October, with the finals in September and October. Tickets must be purchased
well in advance from Ticketmaster (&13 60 00 in South Australia; www.

The Shopping Scene

Rundle Mall (btw. King William and Pulteney sts.) is Adelaide’s main shopping
street. This pedestrian-only thoroughfare is home to the big names in fashion, but
you’ll also find stores along King William Road at Hyde Park; Glen Osmond Road at
Eastwood is the place to go for designer seconds and clearance shops.

Adelaide’s Central Markets (& 08/8203 7203), behind the Adelaide Hilton
Hotel between Gouger and Grote streets, make up the largest produce market in the
Southern Hemisphere. They’re a good place to shop for vegetables, fruit, meat, fish,
and the like, although the markets are worth popping into even if you’re not looking
for picnic fixings. The markets, held in a warehouselike structure, are open Tuesday
from 7am to 5:30pm, Thursday from 9am to 5:30pm, Friday from 7am to 9pm, and
Saturday from 7am to 3pm. Some stalls are open on Wednesdays.

The six-story Myer Centre, next door to the Myer department store, 22–38
Rundle Mall, has more than 100 specialty stores and is open Monday to Thursday
9am to 5:30pm, Friday until 9pm, Saturday 9am to 5pm, and Sunday 11am to 5pm.



Shopping for Opals
South Australia is home to the world’s
largest sources of white opals. (The more
expensive black opals generally come
from Lightning Ridge in New South
Wales.) There are plenty of places to buy
around town, but Opal Field Gems, 33
King William St. (&08/8212 5300), has
a re-created opal mine downstairs. It’s a
bit touristy, and as a rule you’re not
going to find any bargains, so just buy
what you like (and can afford—good
opals cost many thousands of dollars).




The renowned Jam Factory Craft and Design Centre, 19 Morphett St. (&08/
8410 0727), sells an excellent range of locally made ceramics, jewelry, glass, furniture,
and metal items. You can also watch the craftspeople at work here.

Head to the R. M. Williams shop at 5 Gawler Place (&08/8232 3611) for the
best hand-crafted elastic-sided boots you’re likely to find (although they are expen12
sive), as well as other Aussie fashion icons, including Akubra hats, moleskin pants,

and Driza-bone coats.

Adelaide After Dark

The Adelaide Advertiser lists all performances and exhibitions in its entertainment
pages. Tickets for theater and other entertainment events in Adelaide can be purchased
from BASS ticket outlets (& 13 12 46 in South Australia, or 08/8400
2205) at the following locations: Festival Theatre, Adelaide Festival Centre, King
William Road; Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, 91 Hindley St.; City Cross Lotteries,
City Cross Arcade, Rundle Mall; Chemist Warehouse, Level 1, Adelaide Central
Plaza (David Jones), 100 Rundle Mall; SA Travel & Visitor Centre, Ground Floor,
18 King William St.


The major concert hall is the Adelaide Festival Centre, King William Road
(&08/8216 8600 for general inquiries, or 08/8400 2205 for box office). The Festival
Centre encompasses four auditoriums: the 1,978-seat Festival Theatre, the
612-seat Playhouse, the 1,000-seat Her Majesty’s Theatre, and the 350-seat Space
Centre. This is the place in Adelaide to see opera, ballet, drama, orchestral concerts,
the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, plays, and experimental drama.

The complex also includes an outdoor amphitheater used for jazz, rock ’n’ roll, and
country-music concerts; an art gallery; a bistro; a piano bar; and the Silver Jubilee
Organ, the world’s largest transportable concert-hall organ (built in Austria to commemorate
Queen Elizabeth II’s Silver Jubilee).

The Adelaide Repertory Festival presents 13 productions a year, ranging from
drama to comedy, at the Arts Theatre, 53 Angus St. (&08/8221 5644). For more
information visit www.theatreguide.com.au.


The popular Universal Wine Bar, 285 Rundle St. (& 08/8232 5000), is the
perfect place to start an evening, with great atmosphere and good wines by the glass.

Most pubs are open from 11am to midnight. For all-age pubs, locals will point you
toward the Austral, 205 Rundle St. (&08/8223 4660), which has good stand-up
comedy; the Exeter, 246 Rundle St. (&08/8223 2623); the Lion, at the corner
of Melbourne and Jerningham streets (&08/8367 0222), with live entertainment
every night; and the atmospheric British Hotel, 58 Finniss St. (& 08/8267
2188), in North Adelaide, where you can cook your own steak on the courtyard
barbecue. Also popular with visitors and locals alike is the Earl of Aberdeen (also
known as Coopers Alehouse), 316 Pulteney St., at Carrington Street (&08/8223
6433), a colonial-style pub popular for after-work drinks and the official home of
South Australia’s Coopers beer. The Port Dock, 10 Todd St., Port Adelaide
(&08/8240 0187), was licensed as a pub in 1864 and brews its own beers.

You’ll find most of the dance clubs on Hindley Street, and there are also a few
on Gouger Street, but the biggest club—with 10 bars across three floors—is HQ,

at 1 North Terrace (& 08/7221 1245; open Wed–Sat 9pm until late). For adult
entertainment (clubs with the word strip in the name) also head to Hindley Street.
Adelaide’s most famous gay & lesbian night spot is the Mars Bar, 120 Gouger St.
(&08/8231 9639). For information on gay and lesbian options, pick up a copy of
Blaze, South Australia’s only newspaper specifically for the gay and lesbian community
or check out the online version at http://blaze.e-p.net.au.


Right next to the Adelaide Hyatt, and dwarfed by the old railway station containing
it, is the Adelaide Casino (officially called “SkyCity”), on North Terrace (& 08/
8212 2811). The casino has two floors of gaming tables and slot machines, as well
as four bars and several dining options. The casino is open Sunday through Thursday
from 10am to 4am and Friday and Saturday from 10am to 6am.


Just a 25-minute drive from Adelaide are the tree-lined slopes and pretty valleys,
orchards, vineyards, winding roads, and historic townships of the Adelaide Hills.
You might want to walk part of the Heysen Trail (see “Enjoying the Great Outdoors”
in the Adelaide section, above), browse through the shops in Hahndorf, stop in
Melba’s Chocolate Factory in Woodside, or visit Cleland Wildlife Park. Otherwise,
it’s a nice outing just to hit the road and drive. Should you decide to stay overnight,
the area offers lots of cozy B&Bs.


GETTING THERE The Adelaide Hills are 25 minutes from Adelaide by car on
the South Eastern Freeway. Adelaide Sightseeing (&1300/769 762 in Australia;
www.adelaidesightseeing.com.au) runs outings to the quaint but somewhat
touristy town of Hahndorf (see below). An afternoon excursion to Hahndorf costs
A$59 for adults and A$30 for children. The company also offers a range of trips to
Kangaroo Island, the Flinders Ranges, the Coorong, Cleland Wildlife Park, and the
Great Ocean Road.

VISITOR INFORMATION Visitor information and bookings are available
through the Adelaide Hills Tourist Information Centre, 41 Main St., Hahndorf
(& 1800/353 323 in Australia). It’s open Monday through Friday from 9am to
5pm, weekends 10am to 4pm. Check out www.visitadelaidehills.com.au. Maps
are also available at the South Australia Travel Centre in Adelaide.

Where to Stay

Cladich Pavilions

Perfect for couples looking for a luxurious romantic
getaway. Gaze out over the surrounding bushland from your own private balcony in
these gorgeous timber, glass, and steel villas. If you’re lucky, you’ll spot wallabies
from the comfort of your deck chair or sofa. If it’s all too hard to leave when it comes
time to eat, owners Andrew and Helen McArthur can arrange to have your meal
prepared by a local chef. Or you can cook it yourself with all the goodies you’ve
bought from local farm gate stalls throughout the hills, or pop into nearby Aldgate
for a hearty pub meal. This is not the type of place you’d want to take kids.

The Adelaide


27–29 Wilpena Terrace, Aldgate, SA 5154. &08/8339 8248. Fax 08/8339 8248. www.cladichpavilions.
com. 3 units. A$180–A$220. MC, V. Free parking. Amenities: Outdoor pool; limited room service; tennis
court. In room: A/C, TV/DVD, CD and DVD player, hair dryer, kitchen, no phone.

The Manna of Hahndorf These new motel-style rooms lie in the heart of Hahndorf.
Some rooms have spas (Jacuzzis) and balconies, and guests have free use of the
heated pool at the nearby Hahndorf Inn Motor Lodge. A good choice if you want to
be within walking distance of the town’s pubs, restaurants, and shops.

25 Main St., Hahndorf, SA 5245. & 08/8388 1000. Fax 08/8388 1092. www.themanna.com.au. 50
units. A$145–A$225. Extra adult A$20; extra child 3–18 years A$5. AE, DC, MC, V. Free Parking. Amenities:
Restaurant. In room: A/C, TV, hair dryer, kitchenette, Wi-Fi (A$5 1 hr.; A$10 24 hr.).

Where to Dine

If you want a treat, head to the Bridgewater Mill, Mt. Barker Road, Bridgewater
(&08/8339 9200; www.bridgewatermill.com.au). In an impressive 1860s stone building
that was the first water-powered flour mill to operate in South Australia, this place
serves some of the best-regarded food in the country. It’s also the cellar door for Petaluma
Wines and the cellars where the company’s sparkling wines are made. A fixed-price
three-course menu, served Sunday only, is A$90, otherwise mains are A$32 to A$39. It’s
open for lunch Thursday to Monday but you’ll need to book well in advance.

For a more casual lunch, try the Organic Market (& 08/8339 7131) in Stirling,
where the cafe in front of the market store serves delicious light lunches,
organic beer and wine, and good coffee. There’s a great range of gluten and diaryfree
foods, and the antipasto plates with dolmades, goat’s curd, eggplant, capsicum
(pepper), olives, and gourmet bread make a perfect midmorning snack for two. It’s
at 5 Druids Ave., behind the State and National Banks, and is open daily 8:30am to
5pm. Mains are A$13.

What to See & Do in the Adelaide Hills


Visitors come to Woodside for Melba’s Chocolate Factory, 22 Henry St. (&08/
8389 7868), where chocoholics will find a huge range of handmade chocolates—
and you can watch them being made on historic machinery. Most likely though,
you’ll just want to gobble as much as you can. Melba’s is part of Woodside Heritage
Village, a complex that includes a fantastic cheese maker (Woodside Cheesewrights)
and the Mill Shop which sells a range of crafts and fabrics. It’s open
daily from 10am to 4pm.


At first glance, it seems a little strange that this tiny village would be home to one
of Adelaide best museums, but who says that all the top shelf attractions need to be
in the city? Even if you don’t like cars, plan to spend a couple of hours in the

National Motor Museum

(& 08/8568 4000) here. Not just for rev
heads, this museum examines the social influence of the motor car in Australia and
has some great fun interactive family exhibits, as well as one of the largest collections
of cars, motorcycles, and commercial vehicles in the world, with more than
300 vehicles dating from the turn of the century to the present day. You’ll find it on
Shannon Street and it’s open daily (except Christmas Day) 10am to 5pm. Admission
is A$9 adults, A$4 children, A$24 families.


The Adelaide Hills

Adelaide Hills

ADELAIDE The Adelaide 1
PARKElizabethSalisburySt. KildaOUTERHARBORHENLEYBEACHKersbrookBirdwoodLobethalHahndorfMountBarkerBRIGHTONMylorAdelaideWoodsideWarrawongSanctuaryLargsBayHldfastBayLittleParaReservoirKangarooCreekReservoirMount BoldReservoirLittleParaR.
OnkaparindaRiverA D E L A I D E
HighwayGreenhill Rd.
Mt. LoftyTo TheTo TheBarossa ValleyBarossa ValleyHope ValleyHope ValleyReservoirReservoirRiverTorrensCLELAND
To The
Barossa Valley
St. Kilda
Aldgate Hahndorf
Hope Valley
Mount Bold
River Torrens
LittlePara R.
Mt. Lofty
Greenhill Rd.
5 mi0
0 5 km

This historic German-style village (pop. 1,850) is one of South Australia’s most
popular tourist destinations. Lutherans fleeing religious persecution in eastern Prussia
founded the town, which is 29km (18 miles) southeast of Adelaide, in 1839.
They brought their winemaking skills, foods, and architectural inheritance, and put
it all together here. Hahndorf still resembles a small German town in appearance
and atmosphere, and is included on the State Heritage List as a Historical German
Settlement. The main street is packed with a range of craft shops, art galleries, and
specialty shops, and can become quite crowded on weekends.

Beerenberg Strawberry Farm

You probably have come across the cute little
pots of delicious Beerenberg jams (jelly) by now; they are favorites at hotel breakfast
tables across Australia. Here you can taste (and buy) some of the extensive range of
other jams, jellies, sauces, and pickles. During the strawberry season (Oct–May) you
can get a bucket from the shop and pick your own strawberries. You can’t get much
fresher than that!
Mount Barker Rd., Hahndorf. &08/8388 7272. Admission to strawberry patch A$3 adults, children 13
and under free. Daily (except Christmas Day) 9am–5pm.


The Cedars

Make time to visit the Cedars, on the outskirts of town.
Home to famous Australian landscape painter Hans Heysen, it is full of family treasures
and paintings by Heysen, including many portraits and still lifes. His studio is
just as he left it, and inside the house is the studio of his daughter, Nora, a renowned
artist in her own right. The homestead has virtually remained unchanged since the

1930s and is furnished with original artifacts. You can follow a walking trail around
the 60-hectare (148-acre) property to favorite painting sites used by the artist.
Guided tours of the house and studio daily at 11am and 1 and 3pm, from September
to May, and 11am and 2pm, from June to August.

Heysen Rd., Hahndorf. &08/8388 7277. Admission A$10 adults, children 13 and under free. Tues–Sun and
public holidays 10am–4:30pm. Guided tours at 11am, 1pm, and 3pm Sept–May and 11am and 2pm June–Aug.


Visitors make the pilgrimage to the top of 690m (2,263-ft.) Mount Lofty, 16km (10
miles) southeast of Adelaide, for the panoramic views over Adelaide, the Adelaide
plains, and the Mount Lofty Ranges. There are several nice bushwalks from the top.

Almost at the top of Mount Lofty, off Summit Road, is the Cleland Wildlife
Park (&08/8339 2444; www.parks.sa.gov.au). Here you’ll find all the usual Australian
animals, including the largest male red kangaroo I’ve ever seen. Though the
park is not as good as similar wildlife parks elsewhere in Australia, it does have a very
good wetlands aviary. One of the drawbacks of Cleland is that it has some unimaginative
enclosures, notably the one for the Tasmanian devils. The park is open daily
from 9:30am to 5pm. Visitors can meet at the Tasmanian devil enclosure at 2pm and
join the animal feed run by following a tractor around the park as it drops off food.

Admission to Cleland is A$16 for adults, A$9.50 for children 3 to 14, and
A$43.50 for families. Koala holding is allowed during photo sessions from 2 to 4pm
daily (but not on very hot summer days); on Sunday and public holidays there’s an
additional session from 11am to noon. The privilege will cost you A$15 per photo. A
kiosk and restaurant are on the premises.

Public transport to either place is a bit of a hassle, so this is one trip that is best
done with your own wheels.

Where to Dine

While you’re atop Mount Lofty, have lunch (or a special occasion dinner) at the
Summit restaurant (& 08/8339 2600; www.mtloftysummit.com). Look out for
the kangaroo filet with chili, lemon grass, and coconut sauce; and venison on rosemary
polenta. Main courses cost A$30 to A$36. It’s open for lunch daily, and for
dinner Wednesday to Sunday. The Summit Cafe here also sells good sandwiches
and cakes, fish and chips, Thai curry, and Devonshire tea.


More than a quarter of Australia’s wines, and a disproportionate number of top labels,
originate in the Barossa and Eden valleys—collectively known as the Barossa, 70km
(43 miles) northeast of Adelaide. While its reputation in the wine world may be larger
than life, in the real world the Barossa Valley is a snug collection of country towns
surrounded by vineyards that is very easy to explore on a day trip from Adelaide. Distances
between towns are small, and wineries sit next door to one another, so you can
visit a few in a very short time—just make sure you have a designated driver!


The Barossa

The Barossa

ADELAIDE The Barossa
KaiserstuhlConservationParkSandy CreekConservationPark
To AdelaideTanundaNuriootpaLyndoch
Mengler HillLookoutNorth Para
Krondorf Rd.
Bethany Rd.
Menge Rd.
Seppeltsfield Rd.
Stockwell Rd.
Light Pass Rd.Research Rd.
Samuel Rd.
Flaxmans Valley Rd.
Orlando and JacobsOrlando and JacobsCreek Visitor CentreCreek Visitor CentreSturtSturtHwyHwyYalumba
Sandy CreekConservationPark
To Adelaide
Mengler Hill
North Para
Orlando and Jacobs
Creek Visitor Centre
Krondorf Rd.
Bethany Rd.
Menge Rd.
Seppeltsfield Rd.
Stockwell Rd.Light Pass Rd.Research Rd.
Samuel Rd.
Flaxmans Valley Rd.
5 mi0
0 5 km
The Barossa has been famous for its rich, big-bodied Shiraz (Syrah) for many
years, but the region’s heritage of growing, curing, preserving, and cooking its own
unique foods is less well known. The largely Lutheran settlers who came here 160
years ago have left not only a legacy of beautiful churches but a bounty of wonderful
small meats, sausages, preserved fruits, cheeses, and delicious breads, all unique to
the valley. Most restaurants and cafes pride themselves on serving as much local
produce as possible—look for the distinctive “cork on a fork” food barossa logo.
Tasting plates with a range of local specialties are served at many cellar doors.

The focal points of the area are Angaston, farthest from Adelaide; Nuriootpa, the
center of the rural services industry; and Tanunda, the nearest town to the city. Each
has interesting architecture, crafts and antiques shops, and specialty food outlets.


WHEN TO GO The best times to visit the Barossa and other South Australian
wine regions are in the spring (Sept–Oct), when it’s not too hot and there are plenty
of flowering trees and shrubs, and in the fall (Apr–May), when the leaves turn red.


The main wine harvest is in late summer and early autumn (Feb–Apr). The least
crowded time is winter (June–Aug). Hotel prices can be more expensive on the
weekend and many insist on a minimum 2-night stay.

GETTING THERE If you have a car (by far the most flexible way to visit the
Barossa), I recommend taking the scenic route from Adelaide. (The route doesn’t
have a specific name, but it’s obvious on a map.) It takes about half an hour longer
than the Main North Road through Gawler, but the trip is well worth it. Follow signs
to Birdwood, Springton, Mount Pleasant, and Angaston.

Public buses run infrequently to the major centers from Adelaide. There are no
buses between wineries.

ORGANIZED TOURS FROM ADELAIDE Various companies run limited
sightseeing tours. Adelaide Sightseeing (& 08/8413 6199; www.adelaidesight
seeing.com.au) offers a day trip from Adelaide, stopping off at four wineries. It costs
A$124 for adults and A$60 for children (although they’ll probably be bored), including

VISITOR INFORMATION The Barossa Wine and Visitor Information Centre,
66–68 Murray St., Tanunda, SA 5352 (&08/8563 0600; www.barossa.com.),
is open Monday through Friday from 9am to 5pm, and Saturday and Sunday from
10am to 4pm.

Touring the Wineries

With some 75 wineries offering free cellar-door tastings, daily tours charting the
winemaking process, or both, you won’t be stuck for places to visit. All wineries are
well signposted and most are open every day. Below are just a few of my favorite
places, but don’t be shy about stopping whenever you come across a winery that
takes your fancy. A tip: Try a sparkling red; it’s the perfect red to drink in the hot
Australian summer.

Jacobs Creek Visitor Centre This large winery was established in 1847 and is
the home of many award-winning brands. Its big seller is the Jacobs Creek brand,
now sold worldwide. Take a vineyard tour to learn about the wine-making process.
Tours depart at 11:15am daily and cost A$13, but you’ll need to book in advance.
There’s also a restaurant and a picnic area with barbecues, open daily 10am to 5pm.

Barossa Valley Way, Rowland Flat. &08/8521 3000.

Penfolds Wine Spectator magazine named Penfolds’ iconic 1990 vintage Grange
the “Best Red Wine in the World”—not bad considering Penfolds started when Dr.
Christopher Rawson planted a few vines in 1844 to make wine for his patients. The
winery now houses the largest oak barrel maturation cellars in the Southern Hemisphere.
(Penfolds also owns other wineries all over the country.) For A$150 you can
take a tour of Penfolds (daily at 2pm) that includes a taste of the legendary Grange.
The tour includes an A$100 voucher you can use to help pay off your own bottle of
Grange if you decide to buy. Bookings are essential, 24 hours prior. Open daily,
including public holidays, 10am to 5pm; closed New Year’s Day, Christmas Day, and
Good Friday. Tanunda Rd., Nuriootpa. &08/8568 9408.


This National Trust–listed property was founded in 1857 by
Joseph Seppelt, an immigrant from Silesia. The wine tour around the gardens and
bluestone buildings is well worth doing. On a nearby slope, check out the family’s

The Barossa

Fresh from the Farm
If you’re here on a Saturday morning,
drop into the Barossa Farmers Markets
in the Vintners Sheds at
Angaston. A “food only” market, the
warehouse is packed with stalls laden
with all the fresh produce associated
with the heritage and traditions of
the region, with everything from fresh
fruit and vegetables to meats, preserves,
and breads. It’s open each Saturday
morning from 7:30 to 11:30am.
Get there early rather than later
though, as food sells out fast. It’s a
great place to breakfast, as coffee
carts sell fresh espresso, and the fresh
breads and pastries are to die for.

Romanesque mausoleum, skirted by planted roadside palms, built during the 1930s
recession to keep winery workers employed. Open daily 10:30am to 5pm. The Daily
Heritage Tour runs every day at 11:30am, 1:30 and 3:30pm and costs A$15 (including
tastings); other tours cover everything from rare wines to barrel-making but must
be scheduled in advance. Seppeltsfield. & 08/8568 6200. www.seppeltsfield.com.au.
Tastings: A$5; tours: A$8–A$79 (including tastings).

Wolf Blass This winery’s Germanic-style black-label vintages have an excellent
international reputation, while its cheaper yellow-label vintages are the toast of
many a Sydney dinner party. The Wolf Blass museum is worth a look. Open Monday
to Friday 9:15am to 5pm and Saturday to Sunday 10am to 5pm. 97 Sturt Hwy., Nuriootpa.
&08/8568 7311.

Yalumba This winery was built in 1849, making it the oldest family-owned winemaking
business in Australia. It’s also huge. The winery’s Signature Red Cabernet-

is among the best you’ll ever taste. Open daily 10am to 5pm. Eden Valley
Rd., Angaston. &08/8561 3200. www.yalumba.com.au.
Where to Stay

There are plenty of standard motels and lots of interesting B&Bs throughout the
Barossa, but weekends can often find lodgings sold out and prices higher than on
weekdays. The Barossa Wine and Visitor Information Centre (see “Visitor
Information,” above) can provide information on additional accommodations choices
and off-season deals.

Collingrove Homestead

Built in 1856, this homestead was originally
the home of John Howard Angas, one of those involved in the initial settlement of
South Australia. English oak paneling and creaky floorboards add atmosphere, and
the cedar kitchen, library, glorious dining room, and various other places burst with
antiques and knickknacks. What the quaint, individually decorated guest rooms lack
in modern amenities (phones and TVs) they make up for in charm. The modern
communal Jacuzzi is in the old stables, with flagstone floors and old horse harnesses;
there’s also a flagstone-floored tennis court.

Eden Valley Rd., Angaston, SA 5353. &08/8564 2061. Fax 08/8564 3600. www.collingrovehomestead.
com.au. 6 units, 4 with bathroom. A$220 luxury double; A$250 deluxe double. Rates include full breakfast.
AE, DC, MC, V. Amenities: Restaurant; babysitting; Jacuzzi; tennis court. In room: Hair dryer, no


The Barossa


The Louise

If you’re looking for somewhere special to stay in the Barossa,
this luxurious all-suite hotel is the place. All of the large, gorgeous rooms have great
views over the valley and surrounding vineyards, best enjoyed from your own spacious
gated courtyard and secluded rear terrace with a bottle of local wine. It’s also
home to one of Barossa’s best restaurants, Appellation (&08/8562 4144), which

is worth dining at even if you aren’t staying here, although you may have to book up
to a month in advance to get a table. It’s open for dinner daily and three courses cost

Seppeltsfield and Stonewell roads, Marananga, SA 5355. &08/8562 2722. www.thelouise.com.au. 15
units. A$395–A$765. Rates include full breakfast. AE, DC, MC, V. Amenities: Restaurant; bar; free
bicycle hire; Jacuzzi; pool; room service; sauna. In room: A/C, TV, DVD player, fridge, hair dryer, minibar,
Wi-Fi (free).

Where to Dine

The Barossa prides itself on its cuisine as well as its wine, so you’ll find plenty of
places of note to eat, many of them serving traditional German food. A hot spot for
lunch or dinner is Vintners Bar & Grill, Nuriootpa Road, Angaston (&08/8564
2488); the wine list is six pages long! Try the slow-cooked veal shank with Shiraz
glaze. Main courses cost A$28 to A$35. It’s open for lunch daily and Monday
through Saturday for dinner. Another choice is Salters, Saltram Winery, Nuriootpa
Road, Angaston (& 08/8561 0200); local produce is the specialty, with main
courses such as slow-roasted baby pork, milk-fed lamb, and crisp-based pizzas. Main
courses are A$21 to A$28. It’s open daily for lunch.

Perhaps the best German-style bakery in the valley is the Lyndoch Bakery, on
the Barossa Highway, Lyndoch (&08/8524 4422). One place to not miss is celebrity
foodie and chef Maggie Beer’s Farm Shop on Pheasant Farm Road, Tanunda
(&08/8562 4477), where you can sample some of the extensive range of Maggie
Beer Foods, Barossa Farm Produce, and both Pheasant Farm and Beer Bros wines.
It’s a great place to stock up on picnic fare, although you can eat there as well. It’s
open daily (except Good Friday, Christmas Day, Boxing Day, and New Year’s Day)
10:30am to 5pm.


The Barossa

The Riesling Trail
An hour’s drive to the north of Angaston
is the Clare Valley, another of Australia’s
great wine-producing areas. But
whereas the Barossa is famous for its
reds, the Clare is best known for its
whites, in particular, Riesling. The best
way to explore the area is along the
Riesling Trail, a 27km (16.5-mile) walking
and cycling track that follows an
unused railway line between Clare and
Auburn that passes several cellar doors
and historic attractions. There are three
loop trails along the way for those that
want to park and ride. Parking is available
at Clare, Sevenhill, Watervale, and
Auburn. Bike hire is available from
Clare Valley Cycle Hire (&08/8842
2782) and costs A$17 for 4 hours and
A$25 for all day (9am–5pm); baby
seats are available for A$6. Free trail
maps are available from tourist information
centers, or visit www.south


Practically on the outskirts of Adelaide, the Fleurieu Peninsula is one of South Australia’s
most popular holiday destinations, famous for its wine, gourmet produce,
breathtakingly scenic coastline, and wildlife—expect to see plenty of kangaroos, sea
lions, seals, dolphins, whales (whale-watching season is June–Oct), and Little Penguins,
the world’s smallest penguin species.

The heart of the wine-growing area is McLaren Vale, where olives and almond
groves are scattered amongst the 50-plus vineyards, although you’ll also find some
very good wineries in and around Currency Creek and Langhorne Creek on the
southeastern side of the peninsula. On Saturday mornings, the tiny village of Willunga,
just a few minutes’ drive from McLaren Vale, comes alive with the weekly
farmers’ markets, where local growers and producers sell whatever they’ve picked or
baked that morning. There are lots of fresh organic vegetables, boutique cheeses,
homemade preserves, freshly baked sourdough breads, and delicious pies and pastries,
as well as the olive oil and almonds that the area is also famous for. On the
second Saturday of the month, the stalls spill over into the Quarry markets across
the road, where you can browse the stalls piled high with bric-a-brac, secondhand
books, and handmade jewelry and clothes.

Pretty Stathalbyn was settled by Scottish immigrants in the 1830s, a heritage
town with 30 or so historic buildings and popular place to shop for antiques and
crafts, as is the equally quaint township of Port Elliot. Victor Harbor on the
southern ocean side is the most popular seaside resort, with lots of family attractions,
and is a great place to go bushwalking (hiking), whale watching, and surfing.
The historic river port of Goolwa is at the mouth of the Murray River, Australia’s
longest river.


GETTING THERE McLaren Vale is a 45-minute drive from Adelaide via the
one-way Southern expressway. It changes direction according to peak hour, so in the
morning it heads north to Adelaide, in the afternoons and early evening, south to
McLaren Vale. If it’s not going in the direction you want it to, you can take the Main
South Road.

Adelaide Metro operates a public bus service from Adelaide and a public train
service to Noarlunga (see www.adelaidemetro.com.au for details). Premier Stateliner
Coaches (&08/8415 5555) runs daily services to McLaren Vale for A$8.40
adults or A$4.20 children; and to Victor Harbor, Port Elliot, and Goolwa, all of which
cost A$20 for adults and A$9.75 for children.

VISITOR INFORMATION Visitor information and bookings are available
through the Victor Harbor Visitor Information Centre, The Causeway, Victor
Harbor, SA 5211 (&08/8552 5738), and the McLaren Vale and Fleurieu Visitor
Centre, Main Road, McLaren Vale, SA 5171 (&08/8323 9944). Both centers
are open daily. See also www.southaustralia.com/FleurieuPeninsula.aspx.

Peninsula Highlights

The Cockle Train

Take a ride along the oldest public railway line in Australia
between the towns of Victor Harbor, Port Elliot, and Goolwa aboard the historic,

The Fleurieu


iconic Cockle Train. Built in 1887 to ferry goods from the last navigable port on the
Murray River (Goolwa) to the seaports of Port Elliot and Victor Harbor, the 30-minute
steam-train trip quickly became a popular trip for tourists as well, earning its
rather quaint name from the large cockles that the sandy surf beaches of Goolwa are
famous for. The train only runs on Wednesdays and Sundays (daily during school

holidays), so a good alternative if you’ve got bicycles with you is the 30km (19-mile)
Encounter Bikeway, a dedicated bike path between the Bluff and Signal Point at
Goolwa Wharf. The sealed path is suitable for escorted toddlers on tricycles through
to those wanting a gentle, seaside cycle. (You can also walk a section of it.) Between
June and October, you may be able to spot southern right whales as you ride.

&1300/655 991 in Australia. Victor Harbor Station: &08/8552 2782. Goolwa Station: &08/8555
2691. Return fares cost A$26 adults, A$15 children, A$64 families. Runs most Sun and Wed but with
varying timetables; to confirm train running times on the day, call either station.

Encounter Coast Discovery Centre and Old Customs and Station Masters
House Victor Harbor is on the shores of Encounter Bay, where in 1802, Englishman
Matthew Flinders met the French explorer Nicholas Baudin, while they were
both circumnavigating Australia. England and France were at war at the time, but
despite this, the meeting between the two scientists was friendly and Flinders
named the bay after the encounter. You can learn all about the meeting between
English and French naval captains in this great museum, as well as plenty of local
history. A great rainy day activity.

2 Flinders Parade, Victor Harbor. &08/8552 5388. Admission A$4 adults, A$2 children, A$10 families.
Daily 1–4pm. Closed Dec 25 and Good Friday.

Granite Island Nature Park

Take the country’s only horse-drawn tram out to
Granite Island, once a whaling station but now a lovely park linked to the township
of Victor Harbor by a wooden causeway. It’s home to a colony of 700 or so Little
Penguins. The tramway is open daily, 10am to 4pm, and a return trip costs A$7 for
adults and A$5 for children. There is a cafe and kiosk on the island, and even if you
don’t catch the tram, it’s a nice walk out along the causeway, as you’ll often see fur
seals lazily drifting underneath the piers. If you want to see the penguins, you’ll need
to join one of the evening guided tours run by the national parks and Wildlife Service.
Just remember, penguins have right of way!
Granite Island, Victor Harbor. &08/8552 7555. www.graniteisland.com.au. Penguin tours cost A$13
adults, A$7.50 children, A$36 families. Tours run daily but departure times vary as sunset times and
daylight saving times change. Telephone or check website for details.

South Australian Whale Centre

Victor Harbor is one of the easiest places
in South Australia to see southern right whales, who swim into the sheltered waters
of Encounter Bay each winter to breed. They often come very close to shore along
the coastline of the peninsula, and there are a number of good vantage points in and
around town. The South Australian Whale Centre keeps records of whale sightings,
so call in to see where they are. They have an extensive collection of displays,
murals, and videos, with lots of hands-on fun activities for the kids.
2 Railway Terrace, Victor Harbor. &08/8551 0750. www.sawhalecentre.com. A$8 adults, A$4 children
14 and under, A$20 families. Daily 9:30am–5pm. Closed Dec 25.


The Fleurieu Peninsula

The Fleurieu Peninsula

ADELAIDE The Fleurieu Second ValleySecond ValleyRapid BayRapid BayDelamereDelamere
Hay FlatHay Flat
Torrens ValeTorrens Vale
Cape JervisCape Jervis
CreekDeep CreekConservationConservation
HeadNewland HeadConservationConservation
IslandWest IslandConservationConservationParkPark
Spring Mt.
BillyMt. BillyConservationConservation
ScrubCox ScrubConservationConservation
MagnificentMt. Magnifi
ScrubAldinga ScrubConservationConservation
BeachSellicks Beach
BeachAldinga Beach
StrathalbynStrathalbynHindmarshHindmarshIslandIslandMundooMundooIslandIslandMud IslandsMud IslandsGame ReserveGame Reserve
McLaren ValeMcLaren ValeWillungaWillungaAldingaAldingaSeafordSeafordWillow CreekWillow Creek
SilvertonSilvertonSecond ValleyRapid BayDelamere
Hay Flat
Torrens Vale
Cape JervisPenneshaw
Encounter Bay
AldingaBayGulf St. Vincent
Mud IslandsGame Reserve
McLaren ValeWillungaAldinga
SeafordWillow CreekParawa
JervisCape JervisNoarlung
Noarlung Rd.
Adeiaide GoolwaRd.
Strathalbyn Goolwa
Strathalbyn MylangRd.WellingtonRd.
Victor Harbor Rd.
10 mi00
10 km
Area of DetailArea of Detail

Where to Stay

The Boathouse at Birks Harbour

It’s almost impossible to tear yourself
away from the view at Birks Harbour, a beautifully restored boathouse and marina on
the edge of the Murray River in the historic river port of Goolwa. Inside the renovated
single-accommodation boatshed, there is, as you would expect, a maritime theme—a
wooden oar here, a couple of intricately carved beautiful wooden model boats there,
and some local paper prints of, you guessed it, wooden boats, plus a dash of red and
blue. It’s got floor-to-ceiling windows, a big pot-bellied fireplace in the corner and a
bookcase stacked with gorgeous picture books. A big claw-foot tub, a stack of luxury
bath products, and big fluffy robes greet you in the bathroom. But if you’re anything
like me, you’ll spend most of your time on the deck watching life on the river float by.

138B Liverpool Rd., Goolwa, SA 5214. &08/8555 0338. www.birksharbour.com.au. 1 unit. A$250 per
double including breakfast provisions; extra person A$45. Packages available. MC, V. In room: A/C, TV/
DVD, CD player, hair dryer, kitchen, no phone.

Dee’s Villa

This great self-contained two-bedroom cottage is a good place to
base yourself if you are planning on spending a few days exploring the peninsula. It’s
a 10-minute drive from the beaches of Myponga and Carrickalinga and some of the
most spectacular coastal scenery to be found in Australia. And the views from the
villa across rolling hills are pretty good, too. It features a fully equipped kitchen
(provisions for cooked and continental breakfast are supplied, but bring your own
dinner ingredients), open fireplace, and huge Jacuzzi in the courtyard. It can be hard
to find, so call first for directions, and there are no neighbors within earshot, so if
being in the middle of the countryside with no one else around makes you nervous,
it might not be the place for you. But if you like your privacy and plenty of peace
and quiet, I heartily recommend it.
Carrickalinga, SA 5172. &08/8558 3616 or 0409/124 324. www.dees.com.au. 1 unit. A$200 per double;
extra person A$50. MC, V. Amenities: Jacuzzi. In room: Ceiling fans, TV, CD player, kitchen, no phone.

Willunga House Bed & Breakfast

This Georgian stone residence built in
1850 originally served as the first general store and post office for the village of Willunga,
in the heart of the main wine producing area. It has now been lovingly
restored and remade into a gorgeous B&B full of beautiful period furniture, including
huge brass beds. Most rooms have their own en-suite bathrooms, but two have
private bathrooms just across the hall. There’s a big sitting room with an open fire,
a lovely garden with a pool, and it’s right in the heart of the village, great for an early
morning visit to the Saturday farmers’ market. Hosts Kingsley and Rosie Knott can
provide massages on request, and the breakfasts feature homemade jams, organic
eggs, and fruit straight from the garden. Kingsley also makes a killer cappuccino.
1 St. Peter’s Terrace, Willunga, SA 5172. &08/8556 2467. Fax 08/8556 2465. www.willungahouse.com.
au. 5 units. A$190–A$250 including breakfast. MC, V. Amenities: Outdoor pool. In room: A/C, TV, hair
dryer, Wi-Fi (free).

Where to Dine

There’s no shortage of great places to eat in the Fleurieu. For restaurants with million-
dollar views, you can’t go past the cliff-top Star of Greece Cafe

on the
Esplanade, Port Willunga (&08/8557 7420), or the Flying Fish Cafe

the water’s edge of Horseshoe Bay, Port Elliot (& 08/8554 3504). Both serve up


The Fleurieu Peninsula

Not your typical food and wine festival,
which tend to be more refined sip-and-
taste affairs, the annual Sea and Vines
Festival in McLaren Vale is a rollicking
celebration of food and wine that’s
more like a giant progressive party.
Held over 2 days in June, it has become
one of the biggest of its type in South
Australia: It attracts upwards of 40,000
people each year to the more than 26
wineries in the valley that put up mar-
quees, set out tables, bring in their
favorite bands, and serve their wines
matched up with local seafood cooked
by local restaurants. Wine and food
prices are set: A$5 for a glass of wine
and A$15 for an appetizer-size plate of
seafood, plus a variety of other dishes
should you want something other than
the signature plate. To get the best out
of the festival, get a copy of the pro-
gram before you go and plan your day,
because you’ll need to book in
advance. Tickets are available at www.
Sea & Vines Sea & Vines
fantastic fresh seafood, but quite frankly, with views this good, it’s hard to concentrate
on what’s on your plate. The Star of Greece is open Wednesday to Sunday noon
to 3pm (also open for dinner in summer on those same days), and mains cost A$25
to A$35. The Flying Fish Cafe is open daily noon to 3pm, and 6pm to 8:30pm Friday
to Sunday; mains cost A$30 to A$49. Or try the restaurants below, which have more
of an emphasis on food than view.


MEDITERRANEAN A bit more casual that the Salopian Inn (see
below), the Mediterranean-styled food here is made to share, which means the
atmosphere is more boisterous. The food is very regional: What you get depends on
what is fresh that day and in season, but it is always very, very good.
8 Hill St., Willunga. &08/8556 4488. Mains A$25–A$35. AE, MC, V. Tues–Sat for lunch; Fri–Sat 6:30–9pm.


PIZZA Almost next door to Fino is a quirky pizzeria housed in an
eclectically decorated 1800 stone cottage. Don’t expect your average pizza though:
Toppings include such delights as Turkish-style slow-cooked lamb with tomato,
yogurt, and pickled lime. It’s only open on Friday and Saturday nights, so competition
for tables can be fierce.
13 High St., Willunga. &08/8556 2571. 2 courses A$30; 3 courses A$35. MC, V. Fri–Sat nights only.

Salopian Inn

MODERN AUSTRALIAN This award-winning dining
institution is housed in an 1850s slate-floored stone building. It offers superb seasonal,
regional food in a relaxed country setting among the vines. If it’s on the menu,
try the blue swimmer crab tortellini with truffle cream sauce and Coorong cockles.

Corner of McMurtrie and McLaren Vale Main roads, McLaren Vale. &08/8323 8769. Reservations
recommended. Mains A$32. AE, MC, V. Lunch daily except Wed; dinner Fri–Sat.


110km (68 miles) S of Adelaide

Kangaroo Island is one of Australia’s best-kept secrets. While lots of people overseas
sing its praises—it was ranked the Best Island in the Asia Pacific region in the U.S.


Kangaroo Island


Kangaroo Island

Kangaroo Island
Flinders ChaseNational ParkKelly Hill CavesConservation ParkParndanaWildlife ParkLathamiConservationParkSeal BayConservation ParkParndanaStokes BayKarattaRockyRiverVivonne BayMaupertuis
Playford Hwy.
Flinders Chase
National Park
Kelly Hill Caves
Conservation Park
Wildlife Park
Seal Bay
Conservation Park
Stokes Bay
River Vivonne Bay
5 mi0
KangarooIsland MelbourneMelbourneMelbourne

Cape du
Cape duCape du



magazine National Geographic Traveler in late 2007 and was also voted Best Australian
Experience by 8,500 North American travel agents at the industry’s 2007 Opal
Awards—it’s a place that seems to have slipped under the radar of many Australians.
(When they consider an island holiday, they tend to automatically think tropical sun,
sand, and sea and head to the Northern Queensland islands.) Which is a shame,
because KI, as the locals call their island home, is the best place Down Under to see
Australian marsupials in the wild.

Close to half of the island is either natural bushland or national park; and according
to the boffins, who count these type of things, it is home to 4,000 penguins,
6,000 fur seals, 600 rare Australian sea lions, 5,000 koalas, 15,000 kangaroos, 254
species of birdlife, and somewhere between 500,000 and 1 million tammar wallabies,
thanks largely to an environment free of introduced foxes or rabbits, who prey
on the native inhabitants or their environment. While the animals are what most
people come to see, the scenery is also spectacular. Think rugged coastal cliffs with
startling rock formations, rolling pasture-clad hills, dense eucalypt forests, gorgeous
beaches, caves, lagoons, and black-water swamps.

ADELAIDE Kangaroo Island
d'Estrees Bay
Western Cove
Nepean Bay
Bay of
To Port Adelaide
Cape GantheaumeCapeHartCapeWilloughbyDUDLEYPENINSULABirchmoreRd.
Cape GantheaumeConservation ParkEmuBayKingscoteAmerican RiverPenneshawCygnetRiverCapeJervisd'Estrees Bay
Western Cove
Nepean Bay
Bay of
Cygnet River
To Port Adelaide
Cape Gantheaume
Cape Gantheaume
Conservation Park
American River
Ferry Route
d'Estrees Bay
Western Cove
Nepean Bay
Bay of
To Port Adelaide
Cape GantheaumeCapeHartCapeWilloughbyDUDLEYPENINSULABirchmoreRd.
Cape GantheaumeConservation ParkEmuBayKingscoteAmerican RiverPenneshawCygnetRiverCapeJervisd'Estrees Bay
Western Cove
Nepean Bay
Bay of
Cygnet River
To Port Adelaide
Cape Gantheaume
Cape Gantheaume
Conservation Park
American River
Ferry Route
The island’s history is a harsh one. Aborigines inhabited KI as early as 10,000 years
ago but abandoned it for unexplained reasons. In the 19th century, pirates, mutineers,
deserters from English, French, and American ships, and escaped convicts from the
eastern colonies settled here. Sealers also arrived and devastated the seal and sea lion
population: In just 1 year, from 1803 to 1804, they killed more than 20,000 animals.
Between 1802 and 1836, Aboriginal women from both the mainland and Tasmania
were kidnapped, brought to Kangaroo Island, and forced to work catching and skinning
seals, kangaroos, and wallabies, and lugging salt from the salt mines.

In 1836, Kangaroo Island became the first place in South Australia to be officially
settled. The state’s capital was Kingscote (which was abandoned a couple of years
later in favor of Adelaide). In spite of its early settlement, Kangaroo Island had very
few residents until after World War II, when returning soldiers set up farms here.
Today, more than a million sheep are raised on the island. The island also acts as an
official bee sanctuary to protect the genetic purity of the Ligurian bee, introduced
in 1881; it is believed to be the only place in the world where this strain of bee


Island Essentials

WHEN TO GO The best time to visit Kangaroo Island is between November and
March (though you’ll have difficulty finding accommodations over the Christmas
school-holiday period). July and August tend to be rainy, and winter can be cold
(though often milder than on the mainland around Adelaide). Many companies offer
1-day trips to Kangaroo Island from Adelaide, but I would advise you to tailor your
holiday to spend at least 2 days here—3 or even 5 days would be even better. There
really is a lot to see, and you won’t regret spending the extra time.

GETTING THERE Regional Express (REX; &13 17 13 in Australia, or 08/
8553 2938; www.regionalexpress.com.au) flies to Kangaroo Island from Adelaide.
The flight usually takes about 30 minutes.

If you prefer to go by sea, Kangaroo Island SeaLink (&13 13 01 in Australia,
or 08/8202 8688; www.sealink.com.au) operates two vehicle and passenger ferries
twice daily at 9am and 6pm (more frequently in peak periods) from Cape Jervis on
the tip of the Fleurieu Peninsula on the mainland to Penneshaw on Kangaroo Island.
The trip takes 40 minutes and costs A$86 round-trip for adults, A$48 for children 3
to 14, and A$168 for cars. Connecting bus service from Adelaide to Cape Jervis
costs an extra A$44 for adults, and A$22 for children round-trip. Off-peak prices
may be cheaper; check when booking. Count on 3 hours for the entire trip from
Adelaide if you take the connecting bus. Bookings are essential.

SeaLink also runs a range of island tours, including the 2-day, 1-night “KI Coast
to Coast,” which costs from A$434 per person sharing a double room. SeaLink also
offers a wide range of accommodations, day tours, and adventure activities and
offers Adelaide hotel pickups for selected tours.

VISITOR INFORMATION Tourism Kangaroo Island, Gateway Information
Centre, Howard Drive (P.O. Box 336), Penneshaw, Kangaroo Island, SA 5222
(& 08/8553 1185; fax 08/8553 1255; www.tourkangarooisland.com.au), has
plenty of maps and information and can help visitors with accommodations and tour
information. In addition, hotel and motel staff members generally can provide tourist
brochures and sightseeing advice.

ISLAND LAYOUT Kangaroo Island is Australia’s third-largest island, 156km (97
miles) long and 57km (35 miles) wide at its widest point. The distance across the
narrowest point is only 2km (11.4 miles). Approximately 3,900 people live on the
island. More than half live on the northeast coast in the three main towns: Kingscote
(pop. 1,800), Penneshaw (pop. 250), and American River (pop. 200). The island’s
major attractions are farther from the mainland: Flinders Chase National Park is in
the far west, Lathami Conservation Park is on the north coast, and Seal Bay and
Kelly’s Caves are on the south coast.

GETTING AROUND Kangaroo Island is a big place, and apart from twice-daily
SeaLink bus service, which connects Kingscote, Penneshaw, and American River,
there is no public transport on the island. While you can get a lot out of the tours, I
would heartily recommend you hire a car and spend at least 3 days here. Airport
Shuttle Service (&0427/887 575) meets all flights to Kangaroo Island and will
take passengers to Kingscote, Emu Bay, and American River. Book the return trip
from your accommodations to the airport in advance.


Kangaroo Island

I’d advise buying a national parks Kan-
garoo Island Pass if you’re going to
explore the island on your own for 3
days or more and visit the national park
and attractions more than once. It costs
A$59 for adults, A$36 for children, and
A$160 for families, and includes guided
tours of Seal Bay, Kelly Hill Caves, Cape
Borda, and Cape Willoughby. The pass
also includes access to Flinders Chase
National Park. The pass doesn’t cover
penguin tours or camping fees. It’s
available at Tourism Kangaroo Island in
Penneshaw and at the national parks
office at 37 Dauncey St. in Kingscote
(&08/8553 2381).
An Island Bargain An Island Bargain
Major roads between Penneshaw, American River, Kingscote, and Parndana are
paved, as is the road to Seal Bay and all major roads within Flinders Chase National
Park. Most other roads are made of ironstone gravel and can be very slippery if the
driver approaches corners too quickly. All roads are accessible by two-wheel-drive
vehicles; if you’re in a rental car from the mainland, make sure your policy allows
you to drive on Kangaroo Island’s roads. Avoid driving at night—animals rarely fare
best in a car collision.

Car-rental agencies on the island include Budget (& 08/8553 3133), FCBS
4WD Hire (& 08/8553 7278), and Hertz (& 13 30 39 in Australia). You can
pick up cars at the airport or ferry terminals.

ORGANIZED TOURS If you want to keep expenses down, you can’t go wrong
with one of the tours organized by Kangaroo Island Ferry Connections (&08/
8202 8688; www.sealink.com.au). The most popular includes early morning
pickup from the main bus station in Adelaide, coach and ferry to the island, and a
full day of touring, taking in most of the main attractions. That evening you return
to Adelaide. It’s a very long day. The tour costs A$238 for adults, A$152 for children.

More expensive options include Kangaroo Island Wilderness Tours (& 08/
8559 5033; www.wildernesstours.com.au), which operates from the island with
several small four-wheel-drive vehicles (maximum six people). The 1-day trips cost
A$392 to A$412 per person, including an excellent lunch with wine and park entry
fees. Two- and 3-day trips, including all meals and accommodations, start at A$970
and A$1,548 per person, respectively, but vary according to the type of accommodation
you choose. Packages are also available that include flights.

Another excellent operator on the island is Exceptional Kangaroo Island,
Playford Highway, Cygnet River, SA 5223 (& 08/8553 9119; www.exceptional
kangarooisland.com), with the knowledgeable Craig Wickham at the helm. Day trips
cost A$377 a day with a big lunch, or A$733 for a 1-day safari including flights from
and to Adelaide. A 2-day and 1-night safari including accommodations and flights
costs A$1,382, per person, twin share.

Another option is Wayward Bus (&08/8132 8230; www.waywardbus.com.au)
from Adelaide. Two-day trips depart daily between December and March, with
fewer departures at other times. They cost A$409 in a hostel bunk and A$432 per
person in a twin/double shared room.


Kangaroo Island


Exploring the Island

At seven times the size of Singapore, Kangaroo Island is bigger than you might think,
and you can spend a fair bit of time getting from one place of interest to the next.
Of the many places to see on the island, Flinders Chase National Park
is one of the most important. Your first stop should be the Flinders Chase Visitors
Centre, where you can purchase park entry, view the interpretive display, dine at the
licensed cafe, buy souvenirs, and obtain parks information. After 30 years of lobbying,
reluctant politicians finally agreed to preserve this region of the island in 1919.

Don’t feed any native animals. Kanga-
roos and wallabies might beg, but they
are lactose intolerant and can go blind
or fall ill from being fed human food.
Don’t Feed the Animals,
Today it makes up around 17% of the
island and is home to true wilderness,
some beautiful coastal scenery, two
old lighthouses, and plenty of animals.
Birders have recorded at least 243
species here. Koalas are so common
that they’re almost falling out of the
trees. Platypuses have been seen, but
you’ll probably need to make a special
effort and sit next to a stream in the

dark for a few hours for any chance of spotting one. The Platypus Waterholes walk
is a 2-hour walk that’s great for all ages. It begins at the Flinders Chase Visitors
Centre and has a shorter option that’s suitable for wheelchairs. This walk offers the
best opportunity to see the elusive platypus. Kangaroos, wallabies, and brush-tailed
possums, on the other hand, are so tame and numerous that the authorities were
forced to erect a barrier around the Rocky River Campground to stop them from
carrying away picnickers’ sandwiches!

The most impressive coastal scenery is at Cape du Couedic , at the
southern tip of the park. Millions of years of crashing ocean have created curious
structures, such as the hollowed-out limestone promontory called Admiral’s Arch
and the aptly named Remarkable Rocks, where you’ll see huge boulders balancing
on top of a massive granite dome. Admiral’s Arch is home to a colony of some 4,000
New Zealand fur seals that play in the rock pools and rest on the rocks. During rough
weather, this place can be spectacular. A paved road leads from Rocky River Park
Headquarters to Admiral’s Arch and Remarkable Rocks, where there is a parking lot
and a loop trail. There’s a road, parking lot, and trail system around the Cape du
Couedic heritage lighthouse district as well.

You shouldn’t miss out on the unforgettable experience of walking through a col

ony of Australian sea lions at Seal Bay. The Seal Bay Conservation Park

(& 08/8559 4207) was created in 1972, and some 100,000 people visit it each

year. Boardwalks through the dunes to the beach reduce the impact of so many feet.

The colony consists of about 500 animals, but at any one time you might see up to

100 basking with their pups. The rangers who supervise the area lead guided trips

throughout the day, every 15 to 30 minutes from 9am to 4:15pm. If you come here

without a coach group, you must join a tour. Beach tours that take you on to the sand

and up close to the sea lions cost A$28 for adults and A$17 for children. A cheaper

option is a boardwalk tour (A$13 for adults and A$8 for children), but you will not

get nearly as close to the animals. Do the beach tour, it’s worth it!


Kangaroo Island


Koalas are cute. They also eat an awful
lot. In the early 1920s, 18 koalas were
introduced to Kangaroo Island. Over the
years, without predators and disease,
and with an abundant supply of eucalyptus
trees, they have prospered. By
2001, there were an estimated 27,000
koalas, and their favorite trees were
looking ragged. Some of the koalas
were already suffering; some people
even claimed the animals were starving
to death.

The state government decided that
the only option was to shoot Australia’s
ambassador to the world. The
public outcry was enormous; Japan
even threatened to advise its citizens
to boycott Australia. But what could
be done? Some scientists maintained

that the koalas could not be relocated
to the mainland because there were
few places left to put them. Conservationists
blamed Kangaroo Island’s farmers
for depleting the island of more
than 50% of its vegetation. The koala
is endangered; the smaller northern
variety is threatened with extinction in
New South Wales; the larger subspecies
in Victoria, which includes the
Kangaroo Island koalas, is also under
threat. A compromise was reached:
The koalas are to be trapped and neutered,
a few thousand per year, until
their numbers stabilize. A few conscientious
farmers will plant more trees.
Other farmers will, no doubt, continue
to see the koalas as pests.


Kangaroo Island

Lathami Conservation Park, just east of Stokes Bay, is a wonderful place to
see wallabies in the wild. Just dip under the low canopy of casuarina pines and walk
silently, keeping your eyes peeled. You’re almost certain to spot them. If you’re fortunate,
you may even come across a rare glossy cockatoo—it’s big and black and
feeds mainly on casuarina nuts.

Another interesting spot, especially for birders, is Murray Lagoon, on the northern
edge of Cape Gantheaume Conservation Park. It’s the largest lagoon on the
island and a habitat for thousands of water birds. Contact the DEH for information
on a ranger-guided Wetland Wade.

If you want to see Little Penguins—tiny animals that stand just 33 centimeters
(13 in.) tall—forget the touristy show at Phillip Island near Melbourne. On Kangaroo
Island, you can see them in a natural environment at both Kingscote and Penneshaw.
Call ahead to confirm times, which are subject to change. Twice-nightly
tours depart from Kangaroo Island Penguin Centre at Kingscote Wharf (&08/
8553 3112) and cost A$16 for adults, A$6 for children. The Penneshaw Penguin
Centre (&08/8553 1103), adjacent to the beach and Lloyd Collins Reserve, has
the largest penguin colony on the island. Tours cost A$10 for adults, A$8.50 for kids,
free for children under 12. Reservations are not required, but note that there are no
tours at either Penguin Centre during most of February (Feb 1–21), when the penguins
head out to sea to feed.

Finally, Kangaroo Island is renowned for its fresh food, and across the island you’ll
see signs beckoning to you to have a taste of cheese, honey, wine, or the like. One
place worth a stop is Clifford’s Honey Farm

on Elsegood Road (& 08/8553
8295), which is open daily from 9am to 5pm. The farm is the home of the only pure

strain of Ligurian bee in the world. The honey ice cream is divine. Island Pure
Sheep Dairy on Gum Creek Road (&08/8553 9110) is another worthwhile stop.
Tours and tastings are conducted at milking time (3–5pm). It’s a great chance to
sample delicious sheep’s milk, yogurts, and mouthwatering halloumi cheese. Tours
cost A$5.50 for adults and A$4.50 for kids and include tastings of all the cheeses.

12 It’s open daily, 1 to 5pm. Ask at the tourist office for directions to both.

Where to Stay

The island has a wide variety of places to choose from, from B&Bs to campgrounds.
The most popular accommodations, however, are self-contained cottages, many of
which have spectacular coastal views. Visit the accommodation section of www.
tourkangarooisland.com.au for a wide range of options; you can also book online.

The DEH (Department for Environment and Heritage) also rents basic but comfortable
lodgings, including relatively isolated lighthouse cottages

(& 08/
8559 7235; kiparksaccom@saugov.sa.gov.au) at Cape Willoughby, Cape Borda,
Rocky River, and Cape du Couedic. The price is A$155 per night in the lighthouse
If money is no object, book a suite at Southern Ocean Lodge (& 02/9918
4355 in Sydney [the lodge does not handle reservations or inquiries]; www.southern
oceanlodge.com.au), a new superluxury wilderness lodge that sits high on the cliff
tops above Hanson Bay on the southwest coast. Facilities include the Southern Spa
Retreat, which features the Australian-made Li’Tya range of spa products. Super
luxury, of course, means super expensive, but for those that can afford it, it’s a great
way to see the best of the island’s attractions in exclusive style. Rates are A$900 to
A$1,800 per person per night and there’s a minimum 2-night stay; that includes all
meals, drinks, transfers, and a range of guided activities.

If you’re on a supertight budget, head to the Kangaroo Island YHA hostel, 33
Middle Terrace, Penneshaw, Kangaroo Island, SA 5222 (&08/8553 1344; fax 08/
8553 1278). Dorm beds are A$30 and doubles with private bathrooms are A$100. It
costs a few dollars less for YHA members.


Kangaroo Island

Camp It Up
Go bush in style at the privately owned
Flour Cask Bay Sanctuary. You can bush
camp beside the salt lake or stay in one
of the two “Eco Camps.” Each Eco
Camp annex provides Kimberley Kamper
portable camper trailers as accommodation,
which are set up with a
queen-size bed, a private en-suite
bathroom with hot-water shower and
toilet, solar-powered lights, and a fully
equipped camp kitchen that slides away
when not in use. The beach is just minutes
away, and the entire 600-hectare
(1,483-acre) nature reserve is yours to
explore by four-wheel-drive, canoe, or
bicycle. Owned by a former National
Park ranger, the remote Eco Camps
have a zero-footprint policy, and the
entire sanctuary has been set up as a
conservation and land rehabilitation
trust. A 1-night stay in the Eco Camp
costs A$139 for up to four people. The
sanctuary is off Flour Cask Bay Road,
Flour Cask Bay (&08/8553 7278;

Camping is allowed at designated sites around the island and in national parks
for a minimal fee. There are many beach, river, and bush camping spots, including
the Rocky River site in the Flinders Chase National Park. Call & 08/8559 7235
to book. Camping costs A$10 per car and A$5 per person if traveling without a car
(in addition to the park entry fee of A$8.50 per adult and A$5 per child).

Aurora Ozone Hotel

The best known of Kangaroo Island’s lodgings, the
Ozone gets its name from the aroma of the sea—which virtually laps at its door. It’s
a nice, centrally located choice offering comfortable rooms with plenty of space; the
majority of the more expensive ones have views of Nepean Bay. You can choose from
motel style rooms or the new apartments across the road.
The Foreshore (P.O. Box 171), Kingscote, SA 5223. &08/8553 2011. Fax 08/8553 2249. www.ozone
hotel.com. 63 units. A$165–A$225 double, extra person A$23; A$225–A$449 penthouse-style apartments,
extra person A$30. AE, DC, MC, V. Amenities: 2 restaurants; 3 bars; babysitting; golf course
nearby; Jacuzzi; heated outdoor pool; limited room service; sauna. In room: A/C, TV, fridge, hair dryer,
Wi-Fi (hotel rooms only; A$3 45 min., A$15 12 hr.).

Where to Dine

Most accommodations on Kangaroo Island provide meals for guests (usually at an
additional cost). In addition, most day tours around the island include lunch. You’ll
find a few cheap takeout booths scattered about the island at the most popular tourist
spots. For lunch, you can get sandwiches at Roger’s Deli on Dauncey Street,
behind the Ozone Hotel, in Kingscote. Bella Restaurant, also on Dauncey Street
(& 08/8553 0400), offers a range of tasty pizzas, grilled snacks, and salads during
the day and contemporary Mediterranean and Asian cuisine at night. The Vivonne
Bay General Store, on South Coast Road not far from Seal Bay (& 08/8559
4285), is famous for its fresh whiting burgers and does a good coffee.


Wild, beautiful, uncrowded, and undeveloped, the Eyre Peninsula—the triangle of
land jutting into the sea between Adelaide and the Great Australian Bight—seems
to be the place that tourism has overlooked, at least for now. But with one of the
country’s most dramatic coastlines, fantastic wildlife-watching opportunities and
incredibly good seafood, it won’t stay forgotten for long. In fact, it seems set to
become the new holiday hot spot, thanks to several new hotel developments. Not
the place to go if you like to cram your days full of museums and attractions, the
Eyre Peninsula is all about taking it slowly, getting out into the countryside, meeting
the wildlife (swimming with sea lions is a must-do activity while you’re here; see

p. 592), wandering along the historic jetties, and eating as much of the local seafood
as you possibly can.
First settled in the 1840s, almost every town on the peninsula has a long wooden
jetty, usually lined with people fishing—most were originally built to service the
ships that would visit the small coastal towns to load up the annual wheat crop.
Wheat is the region’s main industry, apart from fishing and aquaculture, and the
Eyre Peninsula produces more than 45% of SA’s wheat crop. You’ll see the massive
white silos long before you’ll see the townships.


The Eyre Peninsula


In the northeast, the industrial town of Whyalla is famous for its giant cuttlefish,
which arrive in the tens of thousands each year between May and August for their
annual ritual of mating and spawning. This phenomenon is the greatest mass gathering
of the animal anywhere and attracts divers from all over the world to see it.

To the south, Cowell is famous for its oysters, and for one of the oldest and larg12
est deposits of nephrite jade in the world. Farther on is a string of fabulously
deserted beaches and the pretty coastal town of Tumby Bay.

At the tip of the peninsula is the regional center of Port Lincoln, the biggest
town on the peninsula. It’s home to the largest commercial fishing fleet in the Southern
Hemisphere, so take a walk around the marina in the early morning or evening
and check out the trawlers as they come and go.

The western coast has the most must-see sights, including beautiful Coffin Bay
(also famous for its oysters), a sea-lion colony, sea caves, stunning coastal cliffs, and
the attractive towns of Streaky Bay and Ceduna. Continue west and you’ll end up
on the Nullarbor. At Head of Bight, a dip in the coastline 20km (12 miles) east
of Nullarbor Roadhouse, there is a whale-viewing platform where, during the whale
season between June and October, you can see up to 100 southern right whales and
their calves lolling in the waters at the foot of the cliffs.

Across the north of the peninsula, the Gawler Ranges are a line of volcanic rock
hills more than 1.5 billion years old (twice as old as the Flinders Ranges). Most of
the area is protected by national park and it’s a great place to see kangaroos, emus,
and other wildlife.


GETTING THERE Port Lincoln is 650km (400 miles) from Adelaide, around an
8-hour drive. A new ferry service, SeaSA ferries (& 08/8823 0777; www.seasa.
com.au), from Wallaroo on the Yorke Peninsula to Lucky Bay near Cowell will cut a
couple of driving hours off the trip and is expected to be operating by the end of
2010 with twice-daily crossings in each direction. Check the website for latest timetables
and fares.

Regional Express (REX; &13 17 13 in Australia; www.regionalexpress.com.au)
has daily flights in and out of Whyalla, Port Lincoln, and Ceduna.

Premier Stateliner Coaches (&08/8415 5555) runs daily services down the
east coast to Port Lincoln (a one-way fare from Adelaide costs A$97 adults or A$48
children), as well as to Ceduna (one-way fare from Adelaide costs A$113 adults or
A$57 children) and Streaky Bay (one-way fare from Adelaide costs A$101 adults or A$51
children) on the west coast.

GETTING AROUND Apart from the bus service along the east and west coasts,
there is no public transport available on the peninsula, so you either need to have
your own wheels (car hire is available in Port Lincoln) or join an organized tour.
Nullarbor Traveller (& 08/8687 0455; www.thetraveller.net.au) offers a 6-day
adventure tour of the peninsula that includes a camel trek, swimming with sea lions,
swimming in a tuna farm, an optional great-white-shark cage dive, surfing lessons,
sand-dune 4WD trips, and swimming with the giant cuttlefish (in season). The tour
includes a mixture of camping and farmstay accommodations and most meals. It
costs A$840, but you’ll have to pay extra if you want to swim with the sea lions or
get into the shark cage. XploreEyre (&08/8687 0455; www.xploreeyre.com.au)


The Eyre Peninsula

The Eyre Peninsula

ADELAIDE The Eyre Peninsula
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has a range of 2-, 3-, and 4-day tours in 4WD vehicles for up to six people; they cost
A$1,325 to A$2,950 per person, including meals, accommodation, and activities.

VISITOR INFORMATION Visitor information and bookings are available
through the Port Lincoln Visitor Information Centre, 3 Adelaide Place, Port
Lincoln (& 1300/788 378 in Australia or 08/8683 3544); the Whyalla Visitor
Information Centre, Lincoln Highway at the northern entrance to Whyalla
(&1800/088 589 in Australia or 08/8645 7900); and Ceduna Visitor Information
Centre, 58 Poynton St., Ceduna (&1800/639 413 in Australia or 08/8625
2780). All three centers are open daily. See also www.southaustralia.com/Eyre

Peninsula Highlights

Coffin Bay Explorer You’ll learn everything you’ve ever wanted to know about
the oyster-growing business and more than likely see dolphins as well on this 3-hour
cruise around the waters of Coffin Bay. It passes oyster beds (yes, you’ll get to try
some!) and the national park.


Departs from the Coffin Bay boat ramp. &0428/880 621. www.coffinbayexplorer.com. Reservations
essential. A$75 adults, A$40 kids. Daily at 9:30am.

Coffin Bay National Park

You’ll need a four-wheel drive to explore the best
bits, but it’s well worth spending a day or two in this gorgeous coastal park if you
have one. You’ll also need an air compressor to reinflate your tires, as most of the
tracks are sandy and require a low tire pressure to avoid getting bogged. Features of
the park include a diverse coastal landscape with several good beaches and cliff-top
lookouts. Keep an eye out for the resident mob of wild Coffin Bay brumbies (wild
horses). Highlights include four-wheel driving on the beach, beach camping, fishing
and swimming. At the very least, take the drive (fine for a two-wheel drive) out to
Point Avoid for some stunning coastal scenery.
50km (31 miles) west of Port Lincoln. &08/8688 3111. A$8 per vehicle.

Cowell Jade Cowell is home to Australia’s only commercial jade mine. You can see
and buy jade, including the rare black jade, at the Cowell Jade Motel. There’s a showroom
beside the reception area with a reasonable range of jewelry and sculptures.

Lincoln Hwy., Cowell. &08/8629 2002. Free admission. Daily 8am–6pm.

Elliston’s Great Ocean Drive

This 12km (71.2-mile) cliff-top drive just
north of Elliston is, in a word, stunning. Every 2 years (the next year is 2011), the
Sculpture on the Cliffs festival transforms the coastline into a huge outdoor sculpture
gallery between March and June. Some of the sculptures remain on permanent

Elliston. Free admission.

Gawler Ranges Wilderness Safaris

The Gawler Ranges is one of South
Australia’s best-kept secrets, one that even most Aussies don’t know about. Rough, rugged,
and remote, the weathered ranges were formed more than 1.5 billion years ago by
a massive volcanic eruption, leaving behind a dramatic landscape of rock formations. It’s
almost all protected by national park, and local bushman Geoff Scholz, who knows the
ranges and dry salt lakes like the back of his hand, will take you to all the best spots that
you just can’t get to any other way. Expect long days bouncing around the back of a fourwheel
drive, but also expect to see more kangaroos and emus than you can count and
some jaw-dropping scenery. Tours include transport to and from Port Lincoln (or from
Wudinna if you are self-driving), all meals (wine and beer included), and accommodation
in luxury safari tents, complete with en-suite bathrooms—nothing beats a hot shower
after a day in the dust. The best time to go is during the cooler months, when temperatures
are less extreme and animals are more active during the day. Summer tours include
swimming with sea lions at Baird Bay (p. 592).

P.O. Box 76, Wudinna SA 5652. &1800/243 343 in Australia or 08/8680 2045. www.gawlerranges
safaris.com. 3-day tour A$1,546 per person, twin share; 4-day tour A$1,906 per person, twin share.
Tours depart Port Lincoln every Mon.
Koppio Smithy Museum It’s worth visiting this National Trust museum just for
the Bob Dobbins barbed wire collection. The focus is on farming in the old days
(prior to the late 1940s), and the complex includes a pine-log thatched-roof shepherd’s
hut, the Koppio school house, a blacksmith’s shop, lots of old rural machinery
and tractors, and a woman pioneers room.

Koppio Rd., Koppio. &08/8684 4243. Admission A$5 adults, A$2 children. Tues–Sun 10am–5pm.


The Eyre Peninsula

Lincoln National Park

This is another national park that really needs a
4WD to explore the best of it. Highlights include the massive wind-sculpted sand
dunes, pounding surf, and limestone cliffs of Memory Cove, a pretty beach protected
by two headlands that was named by explorer Matthew Flinders as a
reminder of a tragic accident that took the lives of his eight crewmen in 1802. Take
a walk up Stamford Hill for spectacular views of Boston Bay, Port Lincoln, and the
park. A monument commemorating Matthew Flinders is at the top. There is also a
good 2-hour walk around the tip of the Donington Peninsula (one of the few places
in the park you can get to in a conventional two-wheel-drive vehicle; you can stay at
historic Donington Cottage; & 08/8683 3544), with great views of offshore
islands, granite outcrops, and sandy beaches. You can often see Australian sea lions
and New Zealand fur seals on Donington Island near the lighthouse.
15km (9 miles) south of Port Lincoln. &08/8688 3111. Admission A$8 per vehicle.

Murphy’s Haystacks The “haystacks” are actually a hilltop outcrop of large granite
boulders with walkways between them. Local legend has it that an Irish agricultural
expert advocated that to produce good hay, farmers should harrow their land. While
traveling past in a coach, he noticed the rocks (technically called inselbergs) and told
his fellow passengers that the famer had obviously harrowed his land to produce such
good haystacks. The farmer in question was Murphy. It’s a nice spot for a picnic.

40km (25 miles) SE of Streaky Bay, just off the Flinders Hwy. Admission A$2 adults, A$5 family. Open

Point Labatt Sea Lion Colony The Australian sea lion is one of the world’s
rarest seals; less than 12,000 survive in the wild today. The sea-lion colony at Point
Labatt is the only permanent breeding colony on mainland Australia (all other colonies
occur on offshore islands) and it’s one of the few places where you can watch
seal pups learning to swim and play. The cliff-top viewing platform overlooks the
colony, but you’ll need binoculars and a zoom lens for a close-up view.

40km (25 miles) south of Streaky Bay. Free admission.

Talia Sea Caves

Granite and limestone cliffs here were hollowed out by the
sea to form caves. “The Woolshed” is a large cavern carved into the cliff, and there
are steps down to the cliff base. Or check out “The Tub,” a large, craterlike hole in
the cliff around 30m (98 ft.) deep and 50m (164 ft.) wide. Look out for the treetrunk
ladder and climb down into the crater to walk into the mouth of the cave.
Don’t get too close to the edge, however; a slip into the swirling surf would be fatal.
60km (37 miles) north of Elliston. Free admission.

Triple Bay Cruises

Watch the sunset while sipping local wine and sampling
local seafood (tuna sashimi, Coffin Bay oysters, and other local delights) on a 2-hour
Twilight Cruise of Boston Bay. Skipper Peter Dennis knows just about everything
there is to know about the local seafood and fishing industries, and lots of local gossip
as well. Or, if you really want to find out about the tuna business, take the Tuna
Farm & Sightseeing Cruise to visit working tuna farms.
Departs daily from the pontoon outside the Marina Hotel, Port Lincoln. &08/8682 4119. www.triple
baycharters.net.au. Tuna Farm & Sightseeing Cruise A$55 for adults, A$35 for kids. Twilight Cruise A$75
adults. Bookings essential.


The Eyre Peninsula


SWIMMING WITH sea creatures

The Eyre Peninsula
The Eyre Peninsula offers plenty of ways
to get up close and personal to the
wildlife, but nothing beats swimming
with wild sea lions . The puppy
dogs of the sea, these endangered
marine mammals are insatiably curious,
and love to play. The sea lions are never
fed, and all interaction is initiated by the
animals. They come to you. But the
more you interact with them, the more
they like it—after all, no one likes a bor-
ing playmate who just stares! The more
you splash and duck dive, the more they
respond, often mimicking your actions,
circling when you do, diving and surfac-
ing with you. Believe me, making eye
contact with a wild animal in its own
habitat, on its own terms, is an experi-
ence you’ll not soon forget.
Ocean Eco Tours, between Streaky
Bay and Port Lincoln (&08/8626 5017;
www.bairdbay.com), offers half-day trips
swimming with sea lions at Baird Bay,
and depending on weather, swimming
with the resident pod of bottlenose dol-
phins. You must be able to swim and
parents or guardians must accompany
children under 12. The best season is
from September through to May. It costs
A$120 for adults or A$60 for kids, and
wet suits are included.
The Port Lincoln–based Adventure
Bay Charters (&0488/428 862; www.
adventurebaycharters.com.au) runs trips
to the colony at Hopkins Island, around
a 90-minute cruise from Port Lincoln;
the half-day tour includes a swim in a
tuna farm afterward. It costs A$195 for
adults, kids A$145. Wet suit hire is an
extra A$20. (A separate 2-hr. tuna-farm
tour is available for A$65 adults, A$45
Both sea lion tours are excellent, but
the Baird Bay tour is a little more per-
sonal, has a stronger conservation ethic,
and you’ll learn a lot more about the
animals than you do on the more com-
mercialized Adventure Bay trip.
Whatever you do, don’t visit the rep-
lica of the biggest white pointer shark
ever caught by rod and reel (a very
scary 5m/16 ft. long and 1,520kg/3,344
lb. heavy) before you take the plunge.
The shark, which was caught in the
waters off Streaky Bay in 1990, is on
show at the Shell Roadhouse in Streaky
Bay. If you are interested in getting a
closer look at a real, live great white
shark, you can go shark cage diving
with Calypso Star Charters (&08/
8682 3939; www.sharkcagediving.com.
au), based in Port Lincoln. It’s a full-day
trip and costs A$495, and you don’t
have to be a certified diver to do it. You
may have to be certifiably crazy how-
ever, and I must admit I haven’t quite
worked up the courage yet to do it.
Where to Stay

Port Lincoln Hotel

An unbeatable location in the heart of town opposite
Boston Bay makes this a great place to stay—as long as you pay the extra A$60 and
opt for an ocean-view room with a balcony. Don’t bother if all you can get is the
town-view room, which just looks out over the car park. Rooms are bright, modern,
and spacious, and I could spend days lounging beside the pool looking out to sea
while snacking on the local oysters.
1 Lincoln Hwy., Port Lincoln, SA 5606. &1300/766 100 in Australia or 08/8621 2000. www.portlincoln
hotel.com.au. 111 units. A$220–A$280 double; A$340–A$600 suite. Extra person A$35. MC, V. Amenities:

Restaurant; bar; gymnasium; Jacuzzi (suites only); outdoor pool. In room: A/C, TV, hair dryer, Internet
(A55. per minute; A$28 per 24 hr.), minibar, MP3 docking station.

Streaky Bay Hotel Motel This classic stone double-story pub, built in 1866,
looks very atmospheric from the outside (it has a veranda), but slightly shabby motelstyle
units are all you’ll get here. The hotel’s location, smack bang in the middle of
town opposite the bay and jetty, make up for the basic (but comfortable) rooms.

3 Alfred Terrace, Streaky Bay, SA 5680. & 08/8626 1008. www.streakybayhotel.com.au. 37 units.
A$90–A$130 double, including breakfast; A$50 budget room with shared bathroom. Extra person
A$15. MC, V. Amenities: Restaurant; bar. In room: A/C, TV, fridge, hair dryer.

Tanonga Luxury Eco-Lodges

Lots of places pretend they are ecofriendly,
but these new lodges on a 200-hectare (494-acre) property about a 35-minute
drive from Port Lincoln “walk the walk”: They use solar energy, harvested rainwater,
and a very smart architectural design to really live up to the sustainable claim. “Green”
doesn’t mean going without though—the lodges prove that you don’t have to rough it
to be kind to the environment, and they have all modern conveniences, including airconditioning,
plasma TVs, and dishwashers. The real reason to come here, however, is
for the knockout views, particularly from the ridge-top lodge, where you can stargaze
from your seriously comfy bed. I also loved the chin-deep Japanese bath. The owners
are oyster farmers, so order a cook-your-own seafood hamper and pour yourself a glass
of local wine as you watch the sun set and kangaroos nibble the grass at your doorstep.
A close to perfect retreat in a gorgeous spot.

Charlton Gully, near Port Lincoln, SA 5606. &08/8684 5066. www.tanonga.com.au. 2 units. A$320–
A$350 double, including breakfast provisions. Extra person A$50. MC, V. In room: A/C, TV/DVD, CD
player, hair dryer, kitchen, minibar, MP3 docking station.

Tumby Bay Hotel Seafront Apartments

These two-bedroom seafront
apartments each have large rooms, private balconies overlooking the water, and fully
equipped kitchens and laundry, which make them a good choice for families or those
looking to stay more than just 1 or 2 nights.
1 North Terrace, Tumby Bay, SA 5605. &08/8688 2005. www.tumbybayhotel.com.au. 4 units. A$140
double. Extra person A$30. AE, DC, MC, V. Undercover parking (free). In room: A/C, TV/DVD, hair dryer,

Where to Dine

Eating on the Eyre Peninsula is all about fresh seafood, and there is plenty of choice,
from stylish waterfront restaurants to simple takeaway fish and chips by the sea.
Look for King George whiting, usually served battered and fried with chips, and Port
Lincoln tuna, served rare or even raw as great sashimi. Of course, nothing beats
slurping a just-shucked oyster straight from the shell. Every local you meet on the
peninsula will have an opinion on which bay or inlet produces the best oysters, be it
Cowell, Streaky Bay, Smoky Bay, Coffin Bay, or Ceduna. They’re all magnificent, but
I reckon those from Coffin Bay are the best, although those on offer at the Ceduna
Oyster Bar, Eyre Highway (& 08/8626 9086), where you can snack on freshly
shucked oysters and sip white wine while sitting in the sun on the roof of the shed
overlooking the bay, are a pretty close second. You can buy direct from many of the
seafood farmers, and many also offer tours of their processing plants.


The Eyre Peninsula


Mocean Cafe

cafe-cum-restaurant is a great place to try some of the peninsula’s best seafood.
Overlooking the historic jetty at Streaky Bay, the airy eatery has a sun-soaked deck
and an extensive menu featuring local delicacies such as local greenlip abalone,
Venus Bay prawns, King George whiting, and of course, Streaky Bay oysters, done
four ways. The seafood antipasto plate (A$25) with local bush spices is a great way
to try most of it.

34b Alfred Terrace, Streaky Bay. & 08/8626 1775. www.moceancafe.com.au. Reservations recommended.
Main courses A$21–A$34. AE, MC, V. Tues–Sat 10am–late; Sun 10am–5pm.

The Oysterbeds

but the chicken is local,” was the proud boast of the owner on the day I visited this
great spot. The menu changes daily according to what’s fresh and best, but you can
expect lots of local seafood, including the delectable Coffin Bay oysters. The kangaroo
with haloumi cheese was superb. The waterfront views are pretty good too. This
one is well worth going out of your way for.

61 Esplanade, Coffin Bay. & 08/8685 4000. Main courses A$17–A$32. AE, DC, MC, V. Wed–Sat
10:30am–9pm, Sun 11am–5pm. Closed June–Aug.

Pier Hotel

BISTRO The servings are huge and the view is just as big at this
friendly bayside pub in the center of town. There’s a great choice of local seafood
(try the local kingfish or the tuna skewers) as well as traditional pub fare such as
plate-size schnitzels and steaks. There’s a playroom to keep the kids entertained
while you eat.
33 Tasman Terrace, Port Lincoln. &08/8682 1322. Main courses A$14–A$30. MC, V. Sun–Wed noon–
2pm and 6–8.30pm, Thurs–Sat noon–2pm and 6–9pm.


MODERN AUSTRALIAN/SEAFOOD Spilling out of the ground
floor of the Port Lincoln Hotel, this great restaurant has two sections: a casual bar
with alfresco dining and the smarter a la carte area. Both areas overlook the beautiful
curve of Boston Bay, but the real reason to eat here, especially in the posher
section, is the seafood, most of it local. The Port Lincoln tuna is superb, whether
you have it as an appetizer-size sashimi with wakami salad (a type of seaweed) or
crusted with sesame seeds on a crispy noodle base for mains. The local King George
whiting is pretty good too. The wine list includes most of the local wines.
1 Lincoln Hwy., Port Lincoln. &1300/766 100 in Australia. Main courses A$25–A$30. MC, V. Lunch and
dinner daily.


South Australia is the driest state in Australia. This becomes quite apparent once
you leave behind the parklands of Adelaide and head into the interior. The Outback
is as harsh as it is beautiful. Much of it consists of stony desert, salt pans, and sand
hills, roamed by kangaroos, emus, dingoes, and wild goats. After spring rains, though,
the area can burst alive with wildflowers.

It was always difficult to travel through these parts, and even today only four main
routes traverse it. One of them, the Birdsville Track, is famed in Outback history
as the trail along which stockmen once drove their herds of cattle south from
Queensland. Another, the Strzelecki Track, runs through remote sand-dune country


Outback South Australia

If you intend to drive through the Out-
back, take care. Distances between
points of interest can be vast; water,
gas, food, and accommodations are far
apart; and fuel and supply outlets in
remote areas are not often open after
hours or on weekends. Properties are
often unfenced in the Outback—watch
for cattle and wildlife on roads and
avoid driving at night. Always travel
with a good map and get local advice
on road conditions before you set out.
If you plan to travel off-road, a four-
wheel-drive vehicle is a must. If you do
get into trouble in the Outback, never,
ever leave your vehicle. Most people
who have perished in the Outback have
died while trying to walk to help. Wait
until help comes to you.
An Outback Travel Warning An Outback Travel Warning
to Innaminka and on to Coopers Creek. Both of these tracks cut through the “dog
fence”—a 5,600km-long (3,472-mile) barrier designed to keep dingoes out of the
pastoral lands to the south.

If you follow the Stuart Highway or the Oodnadatta Track, you’ll pass the
mining towns of Coober Pedy, Andamooka, and Mintabie, where people from all
over the world have been turned loose in the elusive search for opal. Out here, too,
are national parks, such as the daunting Simpson Desert Conservation Park, with its
seemingly endless blood-red sand dunes and spinifex plains; and Lake Eyre National
Park, with its dried-up salt pan that, during rare floods, is a temporary home to
thousands of water birds.

The Flinders Ranges

460km (285 miles) N of Adelaide

The dramatic craggy peaks and ridges that make up the Flinders Ranges rise out of
the South Australian desert. The ragged mountaintops are actually the eroded
stumps of a range that was once higher than the Himalayas. And, as well as being
one of the oldest landscapes on the planet, the Flinders are also some of the richest
geological areas in the country—even those who have no interest in geology soon
become fascinated by the rich, primeval colors of the ranges, which vary from deep
red to orange, blue, and purple, depending on the light, and the sedimentary lines
that are clearly visible running down the sides of cliffs.

The heart of the Flinders is Wilpena Pound, inside Flinders Ranges National Park,
a massive 83-sq.-km (32-sq.-mile) craterlike circular ridge accessible through a gorge.
There are several good lookouts giving great views of the Elder Range and the outer
ramparts of Wilpena Pound, but it’s really best seen from the air, which you can
arrange at Wilpena Pound Resort. It’s a remote and rugged place; most of the main
roads are unsealed and some of the side tracks are four-wheel-drive only. The best time
to visit is in spring, when the hills and valley floors are carpeted in wildflowers.

GETTING THERE By car, take Highway 1 out of Adelaide to Port Augusta (31.2
hr.), and then head east on Route 47 via Quorn and Hawker (45 min.). It’s another
hour to Wilpena Pound, next to the tiny settlement of Wilpena. Alternatively, take




the scenic route, which doesn’t have a specific name, through the Clare Valley
(around 5 hr.): From Adelaide, head to Gawler and then through the Clare Valley;
follow signs to Gladstone, Melrose, Wilmington, and Quorn.

Premier Stateliner (& 08/8415 5500; www.premierstateliner.com.au) runs
several buses every day from Adelaide to Port Augusta for A$49 one-way (half-price

12 for kids), but if you want to explore further (and you will, the best bits are north of
Port Augusta) you’ll need you own vehicle, or take a tour. Heading Bush Adventures
(& 08/8356 5501; www.headingbush.com) has great trips, including a
10-day tour to the Flinders Ranges, the Oodnadatta Track, Coober Pedy, the Simpson
Desert, Uluru, the Olgas, Kings Canyon, and Aboriginal communities. This
remarkable four-wheel-drive trip, which focuses on Aboriginal culture, costs
A$1,595—or A$1,540 with a student or YHA card—and includes meals and bush
camping. It departs Adelaide every Monday and alternate Thursdays and has a
maximum of 10 passengers.
Another good operator is Banksia Adventures (&08/8431 9311; www.banksiaadventures.
com.au), which has 1- to 4-day trips to the Flinders, either in hotels or
camping. The 2-day trip, including a hotel, costs A$836 for adults and A$495 for kids.
Most operators will also make up personalized tours on request if you have a small

VISITOR INFORMATION Before setting off, visit the Wadlata Outback Centre,
41 Flinders Terrace, Port Augusta, SA 5700 (&08/8641 9194), an award-winning
interactive museum and information center. The museum costs A$12 for adults and
A$8 for children and is open Monday through Friday from 9am to 5:30pm, Saturday
and Sunday from 10am to 4pm.

In Hawker, the information center is on the corner of Wilpena and Cradock roads,
Hawker (&1800/777 880 in Australia), and there is an information center at the
Wilpena Pound Resort (&08/8648 0048).

GETTING AROUND If you decide to explore on your own using a rental car, I
recommend renting one in Adelaide (see “Getting Around,” in the “Adelaide” section
earlier in this chapter, for details) but try and avoid driving at dawn, dusk, or nighttime
as wildlife is prolific and a collision with a kangaroo can be very expensive, not
to mention very dangerous. While you don’t need a 4WD, many of the roads are
unsealed, so consider renting an SUV—and check your contract, as many car-hire
companies will not allow their vehicles to be driven on dirt roads.

Arkaba Station

Arkaba Station, a 24,000-hectare (60,000-acre) working
sheep station located on the edge of Wilpena Pound, is one of the oldest properties
in the Flinders. The homestead, built in 1856, is a classic bush building, with thick
stone walls, deep shady verandas, and a corrugated iron roof. It has been transformed
into a stylish lodge with five en-suite bedrooms—four in the main homestead,
one in the coachman’s cottage. Understated and elegant, with quirky decorating
touches such as glass-topped wool bales for bedside tables, bed posts fashioned from
old Myall fence posts, and sheepskin rugs on the floor, it’s the type of place where
you feel instantly at home, rather like visiting a wealthy uncle in the country. Rates
are all inclusive, and meals prepared by a resident chef are eaten around a convivial
and relaxed shared table and accompanied by a selection of South Australian wines.
Still, it’s the range of activities on offer, such as four-wheel-drive safaris and guided


Outback South Australia

bushwalks, that make this place worth flying halfway across the country for. Overnight
walks in particular—which provide the opportunity to camp out under the
stars in a swag on a specially constructed sleeping platform—are a magical, unforgettable

Arkaba Station, via Hawker, SA 5434. &1300/790 561 in Australia. Fax 02/9571 6655. www.arkaba
station.com. 5 units. A$1,580 double including meals, transfers, beverages, and activities; 2-night stay
minimum. Extra person A$592. AE, DC, MC, V. Amenities: Dining room; bar; library; guest lounge; pool.
In room: A/C.

Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary

Arkaroola is a privately owned and
operated 610-sq.-km (235-sq.-mile) wilderness sanctuary at the far northern tip of
the Flinders. The accommodations here are in comfortable motel-style units, and
there is also a caravan park and campsites. Even more stunning visually than the
southern Flinders and Wilpena Pound, Arkaroola features rugged mountains, soaring
granite peaks, deep gorges and waterholes. It is also home to more than 160 species
of birds and the rare yellow-footed rock wallaby. The 4-hour four-wheel-drive ridgetop
tour, run by the sanctuary, that travels along the spine of the mountains to a
stunning lookout is a must (A$99 adult; A$66 children), but you can also follow one
of the many self-drive four-wheel-drive tracks. With no light pollution, it is also one
of the best places to view the night sky, and there are two observatories on the property.
A “Tour the Universe” observatory tour costs A$40 per person. Scenic flights are
also available.
Arkaroola, SA 5434. &1800/676 042 in Australia, or 08/8648 4848. Fax 08/8648 4846. www.arkaroola.
com.au. 52 units. A$65–A$175 motel double; A$130–A$175 self-contained cottages. 2-night stay minimum.
Campsite A$15; powered site A$20. AE, DC, MC, V. Amenities: Restaurant; bar; bistro. In room:
A/C, TV, fridge.

Prairie Hotel

If you are going to stay anywhere near the Flinders
Ranges, stay here. The tiny, tin-roofed, stonewalled pub offers a memorable Outback
experience. A new addition to the pub contains nice rooms, each with a queen-size
bed and a shower. The older-style rooms are smaller and quaint. The bar out front
is a great place to meet the locals and other travelers. Meals, prepared in a style the
hotel likes to call “Flinders Feral Food,” are very nearly the best of this kind I’ve had
in Australia. Among the specialties are kangaroo-tail soup to start and a mixed grill
of emu sausages, camel steak, and kangaroo as a main course. The owner’s brother
runs scenic flights over Wilpena Pound and out to the salt lakes.

Corner of High St. and West Terrace, Parachilna, SA 5730. &08/8648 4844. Fax 08/8648 4606. www.
prairiehotel.com.au. 12 units. A$160–A$225 double; A$320 double with Jacuzzi. Extra person A$35–
A$45. AE, DC, MC, V. Amenities: Restaurant; bar. In room: A/C, fridge, hair dryer, minibar.

Wilpena Pound Resort The nearest place to the Wilpena Pound, this newly
refurbished resort has a range of accommodation options from camping sites and
permanent hard-floored tents through to motel-style rooms and self contained units.
There are some excellent walks around the area. Twenty-minute scenic flights over
the Pound and ranges cost A$145 per adult, A$100 per child for a minimum of two
people. If you can afford it, it’s definitely worth doing, as the only way to really
appreciate the size and shape of the Pound is by air. The resort also offers fourwheel-
drive tours.

Wilpena Pound, SA 5434. & 08/8648 0004. Fax 08/8648 0028. www.wilpenapound.com.au. 60
units. A$195–A$240 motel double; A$220–A$275 self-contained unit. Extra adult A$25. Permanent tent




A$68 without linen; A$90 with linen. Campsite A$20; powered site A$30. AE, DC, MC, V. Amenities:
Restaurant; bar; bistro; bike hire; outdoor pool. In room: A/C, TV, fridge, hair dryer.


The Wild Lime Cafe, Mine Road, Blinman (& 08/8648 4679), does a great
quandong pie. (It’s a sweet native tree fruit and it’s delicious.) The cafe, which is
housed in an old schoolhouse and also has a small gallery attached, is open Tuesday
to Sunday 9am to 5pm and every day during school and public holidays. The best
food in the Flinders, though, is undoubtedly at the Prairie Hotel (see above).

Coober Pedy

854km (529 miles) NW of Adelaide; 689km (427 miles) S of Alice Springs

People come to this Outback town for one thing: opal. If you’re not in Coober Pedy
looking for opal, then you’re probably here to buy some. And there’s lots of it. Coober
Pedy is the largest opal-mining town in the world.

No matter how you get to Coober Pedy, it always feels as if you are in the middle
of nowhere—and you pretty much are. Hours of remote driving, much of it on dirt
tracks, are required to get anywhere else—Oodnadatta is 195km (121 miles) away,
and William Creek (pop. 12) is 166km (103 miles).

Even when you get here, on first glance, there doesn’t seem to be much here—but
that’s because most people live underground. In summer, temperatures can and often
do climb to a searing 125°F (50°C), so the locals, well used to digging underground
tunnels in their day-to-day work as opal miners, have created a subterranean town—
the biggest in Australia. Underground homes remain at a constantly pleasant 71° to
78°F (22°–26°C) and renovations are simple: Simply dig yourself a new cupboard,
bookshelf, or room—and who knows, you may even find some opal in the process!

The first opal was found here in 1915, but it wasn’t until 1917, when the Trans
Continental Railway was completed, that people began seriously digging for the
stones. The town got its name from the Aboriginal words kupa piti, commonly
thought to mean “white man’s burrow.” Remnants of the holes left by early miners
are everywhere, mostly in the form of bleached-white hills of waste called “mullock
heaps.” You can look for opals (called “noodling”) on the public noodling reserve in
the center of town—it’s free, and occasionally visitors do find good-size opals. Noodling
on the mine sites around town is discouraged, however, as visitors have been
known to come to grief after falling down the mine shafts.

GETTING THERE Regional Express (REX; & 13 17 13 in Australia; www.
regionalexpress.com.au) flies to Coober Pedy from Adelaide. Check the website for
discounted fares and specials. Greyhound Australia (&13 14 99 in Australia, or
07/4690 9950; www.greyhound.com.au) runs buses from Adelaide to Coober Pedy
for A$167 for adults and A$147 for children one-way. The trip takes about 12 hours.
The bus from Alice Springs to Coober Pedy also costs A$165 for adults and A$144
for children. Passengers bound for Uluru transfer at Erldunda.

If you drive from Adelaide, it takes 9 hours to reach Coober Pedy along the Stuart
Highway. It takes 7 hours to drive the 700km (434 miles) to Alice Springs.

VISITOR INFORMATION The Coober Pedy Tourist Information Centre,
Hutchison Street, Coober Pedy (&1800/637 076 in Australia, or 08/8672 5298),


Outback South Australia

is open Monday through Friday from 8:30am to 5pm (closed holidays). A good website,
www.opalcapitaloftheworld.com.au, gives a rundown of adventure operators
in the area.


You can visit one of the five underground churches in town, as well as dugout
cafes, bookshops, galleries, and plenty of underground opal showrooms. Most
are located along the main street, or you can find details at the visitor’s information

Worth seeing is Umoona Opal Mine and Museum, on Lot 14, Hutchison
Street, one of a couple of opal-mines-cum-museums in town. There are four tours
daily at 10am, noon, and 2 and 4pm (A$10 for adults and A$5 for kids), which each
include a good 20-minute documentary on how opal was first found in Coober Pedy
(in 1915, by 14-year-old William Hutchison while searching for water). Inside the
museum is also an Aboriginal interpretive center, a gallery, an old opal mine, and of
course the ubiquitous opal showroom and shop. Entry to the museum is free.

About 30km (18 miles) from town are the Breakaways, a series of flat-topped hills
or “jump-ups.” Head out here at sunset, when it’s not only cooler but the sandstone
pillars, pinnacles, and gully edges glow pink, red, brown, purple, yellow, and white
in the fading light. Just a bit farther down the road, you’ll find the famous dog fence
and the Moon Plains—the local nickname for the moonlike desert landscape along
the fence. The 2m-high (61.3-ft.) dog fence stretches across three states for more
than 5,300km (3,293 miles) in an effort to keep northern dingoes away from southern
sheep; it’s the longest fence in the world.

If you want to see parts of Australia that most Australians never see, join an
honest-to-goodness Mail Run

(& 1800/069 911 in Australia), with a postal
carrier, for a 12-hour journey out into the bush. Tours leave Monday and Thursday
from Coober Pedy’s Underground Books (& 08/8672 5558) and travel along
600km (372 miles) of dirt roads to Oodnadatta and the William Creek cattle station,
stopping at five stations along the route. It’s relatively comfortable inside the airconditioned
four-wheel-drive, and you’ll have the chance to see such wildlife as
eagles, emus, and the ever-present kangaroos. Bring your own lunch or buy it along
the way at Oodnadatta or William Creek. Tours cost around A$190 for adults (I
wouldn’t really recommend it for kids under 12, as they find the long trip difficult).
This up-close-and-personal look at life in the bush could easily be one of the most
memorable experiences you have in Australia.
The Backpacker’s Inn at Radeka’s Downunder Motel

The other “underground”
dwellings in Coober Pedy are built into the side of a hill, but the centrally
located hostel here is actually underground—some 6.5m (21 ft.) directly below the
topside building. (The rooms in the attached motel are dug out of the side of a hill.)
This makes for nice temperatures year-round. Odd-looking dorms have no doors and
are scooped out of the rock. Most contain just four beds; two large dorms sleep up
to 20 people. The twin rooms are simply furnished but pleasant. The motel rooms
are quite comfortable and come with TVs, coffeemakers, and attached bathrooms
with shower. Some have a kitchenette. Room no. 9 is huge, with a double and two
sets of bunk beds. Radeka’s also runs a good opal tour.



The Coorong
Coober Pedy’s golf course has to rank
as one of the world’s top-10 most
unusual golf courses. The 18-hole course
has “mod grass” (green plastic woven
“grass”), crushed-rock fairways, and no
water hazards—although the dry creek
beds make great sand traps. A special
club rule is “rock relief”: You are allowed
a little grace if your ball lands on a rock.
In summer, when it’s too hot to play
during the day, night golf is the way to
go. Using luminous balls, you simply aim
for the illuminated flag stick! Tip: Take
your oldest clubs. It’s around A$10 for a
game, and you’ll need to organize
access through the folks at the Old
Timers Mine (&08/8672 5555) on
Crowders Gully Road.
Golf Without Grass Golf Without Grass

1 Oliver St., Coober Pedy, SA 5723. &08/8672 5223. Fax 08/8672 5821. www.radekadownunder.com.
au. 150 units, 10 motel rooms. A$25 dorm bed; A$65 double with shared bathroom; A$110 motel double;
A$150 motel family suite. Extra person A$25. AE, MC, V. Free parking. Amenities: Dining room; bar.
In room: (Motel rooms only) TV, fridge.

The Desert Cave Hotel Though it’s not the only underground hotel in the world
(there’s also one in White Cliffs, New South Wales; see the Underground Motel,

p. 233), this is the only one with a pool and Jacuzzi. Nineteen units are underground.
Rooms lead off tunnels, and while each room is well ventilated and airy,
there are no windows or natural light, so think twice if you suffer from claustrophobia.
The hotel can arrange transfers from the airport (A$10). The tours from here go
off to the Painted Desert (A$210), and you can also join the Mail Run from here.
Hutchison St. (P.O. Box 223), Coober Pedy, SA 5723. &1800/088 521 in Australia, or 08/8672 5688.
Fax 08/8672 5198. www.desertcave.com.au. 50 units. A$225 double; A$260 family room. Extra person
A$35. Ask about packages. AE, DC, MC, V. Free parking. Amenities: Restaurant; bar; babysitting; golf
nearby; health club w/Jacuzzi; outdoor pool; limited room service; sauna; Wi-Fi (A$4 1 hr.; A$12 24 hr.).
In room: TV, fridge, hair dryer, minibar.


The Opal Inn (& 08/8672 5054) offers good-value counter meals of the typical
pub-grub variety. Head to Tom & Mary’s Greek Taverna on Hutchison Street
(& 08/8672 5622) for some surprisingly good Greek food. Despite being so far
from the sea, the two signature dishes are the garlic prawns and Saganaki prawns,
and they are both delicious. It’s open daily from 5pm.


Few places in the world attract as much wildfowl as the Coorong, one of Australia’s
most precious sanctuaries. The Coorong area includes the mouth of the Murray
River, huge Lake Alexandrina, smaller Lake Albert, and a long, thin sand spit called
the Younghusband Peninsula. The Coorong National Park encompasses a small
but by far the most scenic part of this area and supports large colonies of native and
visiting birds, such as the Australian pelican, black swan, royal spoonbill, greenshank,
and extremely rare hooded plover.

If it were possible to count all the birds here, you’d probably run out of steam after
some 45,000 ducks, 5,000 black swans, 2,000 Cape Barren geese, and 122,000

waders. This last figure is even more significant when you consider the total South
Australian population of waders (200,000) and the overall Australian population
(some 403,000).

Add to these figures the thousands of pelicans—with around 3,000 birds nesting
here, it’s the largest permanent breeding colony in Australia—and gulls, terns, and
cormorants, and you’ll realize why the Coorong and Lower Murray Lakes form one
of the most important water-bird habitats in Australia.

The national park, which stands out starkly against the degraded farmland surrounding
it, is also home to several species of marsupials, including wombats.

The best time to visit the Coorong is in December and January, when the lakes
are full of migratory birds from overseas. However, plenty of birds can be spotted
year-round. Note: Binoculars and patience are highly recommended.


GETTING THERE The best way to visit the Coorong is by car. I highly recommend
a guided tour of the area once you arrive at the main settlement of Goolwa,
on the western fringe of the waterways, or at Meningie, on the eastern boundary.
From Adelaide, follow the Princes Highway along the coast.

VISITOR INFORMATION The Goolwa Tourist Information Centre, BF
Lawrie Lane, Goolwa (& 08/8555 1144), has information on the area and can
book accommodations. It’s open from 9am to 5pm daily.

GETTING AROUND You can either sightsee by car, with a tour operator from
Adelaide, or by boat. Coorong Cruises (&08/8555 2203; www.coorongcruises.
com.au) offers both a half-day and a day trip exploring the waterway. The day trip
costs A$82 for adults and A$63 for children, including lunch. The half-day cruise
costs A$78 for adults and A$58 for kids and leaves at noon from the main wharf at
Goolwa. Add A$107 for return coach pick up from Adelaide. Trips do not leave every
day, so call ahead to check the schedule.

Where to Stay

Meningie, on Lake Albert, is the main town in the Coorong. You could stay at
Coorong Wilderness Lodge, at Point Hack (&08/8234 8324), a stunning site
on the sand dunes about 25km (16 miles) south of Meningie. Waterfront cabin
accommodations cost A$200 a night; bunkhouse dorm bed A$40. It’s Aboriginal
owned and you can try bush foods, or take a kayak out onto the lake.

Poltalloch On the eastern edge of the Coorong, Poltalloch is a working farm
property. The whole place is classified as a heritage building by the National Trust
of South Australia, and history is evident everywhere, from the cottages once used
by farmhands to the giant wooden shearing shed and other outbuildings crammed
with relics from the past. You have a choice of five cottages on the property. All of
the units are modern and comfortable inside and have their own kitchen facilities
and barbecues. There’s a private beach if you want to swim in the lake, and guests
have the use of a dinghy, a canoe, and a Ping-Pong table.

Poltalloch, P.M.B. 3, Narrung via Tailem Bend, SA 5260. &08/8574 0043. Fax 08/8574 0065. www.
poltalloch.com.au. 5 units. A$140–A$190 cottage. Extra person A$40. MC, V. Amenities: Tennis court;
use of watersports equipment. In room: A/C, TV, kitchen.


The Coorong




by Lee Mylne

t’s rare to find anyone who lives in Melbourne who doesn’t
adore it. I’m biased, of course, because I’ve chosen it for
my home, and here are just a few of the reasons why:
Victoria’s capital, Melbourne (pronounced Mel-bun), is a
cultural melting pot. For a start, more people of Greek
descent live here than in any other city except Athens. Chinese,
Italian, Vietnamese, and Lebanese immigrants have
all left their mark. Almost a third of Melbournians were born
overseas or have parents who were born overseas. With
such a diverse population, and with trams rattling through
the streets and stately European architecture surrounding
you, you could forget you’re in Australia.

Melbourne, which has a population of more than three million, is at the
head of the pack when it comes to shopping, restaurants, fashion, music,
nightlife, and cafe culture. It frequently beats other state capitals in bids
for major concerts, plays, exhibitions, and sporting events.

Melbourne’s roots go back to the 1850s, when gold was found in the
surrounding hills. British settlers took up residence and prided themselves
on coming freely to their city, rather than having been forced here
in convict chains. The city grew wealthy and remained a conservative
bastion until World War II, when another wave of immigration, mainly
from southern Europe, made it a more relaxed place.

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