After some pretty full on days of hiking and being up at 5.30 each day in the Kimberleys, it was refreshing to have a few days in Broome where we could chill out and recharge the batteries. We caught a few nice sunsets at Cable Beach, the main beach in Broome, which is pretty well known for operating sunset camel rides. If you’re planning a stopover in Broome, make sure you check out Matso’s brewery to do a tasting. They’ve got some pretty interesting beer flavours including a mango infused beer and a chilli beer.
Sunset at Cable Beach
Sunset at Cable Beach
Sunset at Cable Beach
One of my favourite memories from Broome was after we’d just eaten lunch by the beach, and as we were driving off I looked out the window and right beside us were two indigenous kids, one holding a spear, on which he’d literally just caught a stingray on. It was such a crazy thing to see, it just amazed me that these kids wouldn’t have even been teenagers yet, and they were walking around so casually with their freshly caught stingray.
We stopped at eighty mile beach on our way to Karijini, which I was looking forward to seeing, but it was a bit of a let down and not as nice as I had hoped. Unless you want to fish there, you could probably skip this one.
Karijini National Park
Karijini is a beautiful national park in the Pilbara, around 12 hours drive from Broome and 8 hours from Exmouth. We stopped at Pardoo station on the way there, which was a cute overnight spot to break up the drive. We stayed 3 nights in Karijini but definitely could have spent longer. If you stay near the eco retreat you’ll be right next to the restaurant and café, but there’s no WiFi. Our first hike was to Joffre Falls in Joffre gorge, which was definitely a highlight and probably my favourite pool in Karijini. The water was freezing cold, about 7 degrees, and the water almost hurt when getting in but the atmosphere and surroundings of the pool were so beautiful, as well as the walk to get there. It was a 1.5 km hike return with some slippery sections.
Joffre Falls in Joffre Gorge, Karijini National Park
We did the 4 km loop hike in Dales Gorge on our second day, where we visited Circular pool, Fortescue falls and Fern pool. Most of us swam in Fortescue falls as there’s enough sun coming in to keep you a bit warmer. This hike was a good little round trip as you got to see three different pools in a relatively short distance.
Fortescue Falls at Dale’s Gorge, Karijini National Park
My favourite hike in Karijini was a hike to the summit of Mount Bruce at sunrise, Western Australia’s second largest peak. It was a last minute decision the night before for those of us who didn’t want to do the full day canyoning tour. This hike isn’t part of every tour but Zane was flexible enough to give us the option to do it, particularly for the photos. Mount Bruce sits at 1221m, second highest to Mount Meharry which is 1249m. I can honestly say this was one of the most breathtaking panoramic views I’ve ever seen in Australia. We got lucky with the clouds as they provided an amazing backdrop on the horizon just above the rising sun. I couldn’t believe how red the sun was, it was such an incredible experience. The 3.30am wakeup call was definitely a bit of a struggle, but so worth it. We started the hike at 4.45 am and made it to the top 1.5 hours later with ten minutes to spare before the sun came up. The hike is 10km round trip with a 450 meter elevation gain. It’s a pretty tricky hike if you don’t hike regularly. I found it a little difficult but not too bad and I’ve done a fair amount of hiking in different terrains. A head torch, lots of water and warm clothing is a must. One of the things I love about sunrise hikes is the walk back; seeing what you hiked in the darkness.
Sunrise at Mount Bruce Summit, Karijini National Park
View hiking back to the Mount Bruce trailhead, Karijini National Park
We went to Handrail pool in Weano Gorge in the afternoon, which is a 3km return hike requiring some wading through waist deep water to get there. It has an especially slippery, difficult section in the final descent to the pool. In the photo below, you are essentially walking down through the waterfall, and across the wall where the railing is. It was quite a beautiful pool, and if you’re feeling particularly adventurous you can swim/walk through one of the canyons to get to the top of the next set of falls.
Handrail pool in Weano Gorge, Karijini National Park
Unfortunately the whale shark swimming tour in Exmouth was cancelled on the morning that had been planned for us to do it. The swell was too high and dangerous to go out in, so all the tours got cancelled. They had ran tours every day of the season leading up to that day so we were particularly unlucky! As an alternative we went to Turquoise Bay in Cape Range National Park for a swim and a snorkel, however the visibility in the water was terrible due to the swell in the outer reef. It’s a beautiful bay that I would definitely recommend seeing if you’re in Exmouth. You can also make a stop at the lighthouse and do some whale watching from there. May to August is whale migration season for humpback whales. We saw about 5 humpbacks swimming about 50 metres off the shore, which was pretty incredible. I managed to get a few drone photos of two of them with a calf too, but they didn’t turn out too well as I was flying pretty high.
Humpback whale with calf, Exmouth
Lighthouse at Exmouth
Half of us booked a full day snorkeling trip with Coral Bay Ecotours, where we got the opportunity to see manta rays, turtles, fish and possibly sharks. The tour costs $165 plus $50 extra if you want access to all the photos the professional photographer takes on the tour. It’s a pretty amazing day out on the water – we saw two large mantas, about four turtles and loads of fish and coral. We also parked the boat right near the turtle sanctuary where we saw loads of turtles swimming around the boat, as well as dolphins. The mantas are so majestic and it really is an incredible experience to swim within a few meters of them.
Dolphins at Coral Bay
Turtle at Coral Bay, taken on iPhone 7
Manta Ray at Coral Bay, taken on iPhone 7
If you don’t want to book a tour, you can rent some snorkel gear and head closer to the port to go for a swim and snorkel. If you are a confident swimmer, you can swim out close to the outer reef and still have a good chance of seeing some smaller rays and turtles.
Monkey Mia is probably the most touristy part of this trip. It’s got a resort kind of vibe, so it’s more designed for those looking for some luxury and relaxation. There is a dolphin feeding every morning, where the dolphins come right up to the shore and tourists are allowed to feed them while standing knee deep in the water. It’s a common stopover for a lot of people who are travelling on the coast, but in all honesty I don’t think it’s worth a stop. There were around sixty people there at the feeding, and most of us left as it was just too crowded and we felt as though we weren’t seeing the dolphins in their natural habitat. The drive there however was quite spectacular to see from the air.
Driving to Monkey Mia, Shark Bay World Heritage Area
View from the hostel, Monkey Mia
We made some quick stops at Shell beach and Hamelin Pool to see the stromatolites, which are old rocks with a lot of geological history. Like Monkey Mia, a lot of people stop at these places along the way but I didn’t think there was anything particularly special about either of them. On our final day, we stopped at Kalbarri National Park and Nambung National Park, but the weather was pretty miserable both days and we were all pretty tired from the driving by that point that we didn’t spend too long at either of these places. Kalbarri has some cool hikes which I’ll definitely go back and do.
Kalbarri National Park
If you want to fit in as much as possible into your day, I would highly recommend a tour with Adventure Tours. Although some of your time at each location is limited, this allows you to fit in so many different swimming spots and scenic views during your trip. Our guides were also quite flexible with adding in locations or changing things up here and there from the original plan to suit the group.