It was lovely to wake up just after sunrise and hear the sound of the waves crashing on the rocks right next to the Dongara Denison Big4 Caravan Park. We wandered out to the beach just after sunrise, before most people were up, and the footpath along the shore was just so calming and relaxing. It was a great way to start the day!
Dongara / Port Denison is located on either side of the Irwin River mouth, with Dongara on the south and Port Denison on the north bank. The caravan park we stayed at is south of the river, and towards the southern end of Denison.
We had no plans to see anything here as we had to return the camper van in Perth by 4pm, but as we made our way out of town, we spotted the Fishermen’s Memorial Obelisk.
This monument was first in 1869 as a navigational aid after the loss of the Brigantine Leander which was shipwrecked nearby on November 11, 1853. It also serves as a tribute to the Beagle and her crew who surveyed the coastline of Dongara. Finally, and most recently, it is now a memorial, dedicated to the fishermen of Dongara Port Denison who have lost their lives at sea.
From this monument, you get a clear view across the harbour out towards the river mouth, South Beach and West Groyne.
It actually isn’t very far from Dongara / Port Denison down to Perth, only a four-hour drive from the caravan park to the airport, but there is a remarkable amount to see, and the closer to Perth you get, the more small towns there are.
The first one we stopped at is Leeman.
This is the largest village before Green Head but still does not have much at all. There is a small beach covered in seagrass, the first one like it that we’ve seen on this road trip.
As I’m sure you can understand, it smelled awful!
Continuing on, we arrived at another small, beach town, Green Head.
Green Head is the northern-most point of the Jurien Bay Marine Park and is surrounded by reefs with just a couple of narrow passages for boats to pass through.
As a result, the water here is calm, and looking out from the beach the water is so clear you can see the dark patches of reef and seagrass everywhere.
Within the Green Head area, there are some beaches that you can stop at, including this cute little cove with an explosive name, Dynamite Bay:
I think this would be the perfect spot to have a BBQ and go for a swim when it’s a bit warmer.
There are plenty of sheltered picnic tables, toilets and a lookout, so you could really make a day of it if you wanted to.
We were on the way early, and our goal was to get to Jurien Bay for breakfast.
We made our way into the Jurien Jetty as we had been hoping to snorkel at the man-made reef here after we had breakfast and checked the area out some more. At the jetty, we found the Jurien Jetty Cafe, so we decided to have breakfast there.
This cafe has a great menu and is in an excellent location, just a few metres from the beach.
Unfortunately, the orientation of it means there are no beach views from inside, but the food is still delicious.
I got the “vegetarian big breakfast.”
Wifey got the pancakes.
And we got a couple of hot drinks to go with, hot chocolate for wifey and a cappuccino for me.
After breakfast, we checked out the area a little bit more and found the war memorial just down the road from the jetty.
So after spending a little bit of time there, we came back to the jetty and walked out to the end.
The jetty is still new and has a concrete platform, so it is very sturdy and gives you a decent view of the coastline to the north and south.
Back at the beach is Dobbyn Park, where the council has invested in some entertaining looking play equipment for kids as well as some workout equipment for adults.
Here, you can also find plenty of information about the man-made reef and the surrounding area.
We decided that it was too cold to snorkel, and we probably didn’t have time either if we wanted to see the other sights we had in mind. Even so, it was absorbing to read about the snorkel trail that runs for 120 metres, starting and finishing at the old jetty. Its depth varies from 2.5 metres to 6 metres and has apparently attracted a wide variety of marine life due to the Leeuwin Current that brings warm water and tropical fish down from the north.
The artificial reef was constructed by the local Jurien Bay Community Men’s Shed using 79 concrete ‘reef balls’, some weighing up to 750kg!
Lake Thetis is located at Cervantes, about 28 km’s South of Jurien Bay. Like most coastal towns in WA, this one also has a beach with brilliant white sand at Thirsty Point. However, due to the proximity to the Jurien Bay seagrass beds, this beach has dark seagrass poking through, making it look dirty.
Lake Thetis is unique because not only does it have lots of stromatolites like we found at Hamelin Pool, but it also has an abundance of thrombolites. These two microbial communities are related but manifest themselves in slightly different ways. The lake itself is about 2 km’s out of town, including a short stretch of dirt road (Hansen Bay Road). Once you reach the car park, it’s then a 300m walk out to the boardwalk that will take you out onto the lake to get close up views of these unusual formations.
If you are into walking, there is a 1.5km loop track around the lake, but we opted to just go out the boardwalk.
The boardwalk is actually more of a mesh-walk, but it is wheelchair friendly, even though the car park itself is dirt and full of potholes!
Our last stop before Perth, The Pinnacles. We visited Pinnacle National Park last time we were in Perth, but it’s just so unique that it’s worth going again. There are massive white sand dunes all along the coast here, but once you enter Pinnacle National Park, it all changes. Here, the white sand gives way to vibrant yellow.
With yellow rocks jutting out of the yellow earth everywhere, it’s easy to feel like you are in another world entirely.
Some of the rocks are small, some are massive, and the even cooler thing is: you don’t have to walk through it if you don’t want to!
There is a driving track, so you pay your park entry fee of $13.00 per vehicle, and then you can drive through the pinnacles. If you want to get out and take pictures, that’s not a problem as there are lots of parking spots along the track.
This is honestly the highlight of the day, even though we’ve been there before. If you get a chance to go here, take it.
Back in Perth, we arrived at the Mighty Campers depot at 3:45 pm, just in time to return the camper van. Oddly enough, we couldn’t find any service station that offered gas refills, so we had to pay for a full gas bottle refill at the depot.
From there, we got an Uber to Perth Airport where we picked up a hire car from Avis for the rest of the evening.
We had checked the van over before going to make sure we didn’t forget anything, but somehow, I still managed to miss my GoPro, so we had to race back. Fortunately, they hadn’t shut yet, and I was able to get it out! I had it behind the driver’s seat, so I could quickly grab it every time I got in and out of the van. Unfortunately, for some reason, I didn’t check there when we did the once over. So make sure you check everywhere!
As the adrenalin subsided and my blood pressure returned to normal, we headed out to iconic Cottesloe Beach.
Again, it’s not our first visit, but what trip to Perth would be complete without watching the sunset over the Indian Ocean?
We were fortunate to get a very convenient park and couldn’t help but notice this interesting sign at the yoghurt place across the road!
Dinner at Meeka Restaurant
Last time we were in Perth, we found a fantastic Turkish restaurant in Subiaco, so we decided to see if we could go there for a fancy dinner at the end of our trip. Sadly, they have closed down.
We found another one though, Meeka Restaurant.
Meeka is hidden away and could easily be missed. The food though is superb and well worth a visit. They didn’t have the angel pastry dessert we tried at the other Turkish restaurant, but nevertheless, I’d visit again!
From the menu, I decided to have the fish of the day, salmon.
Wifey got the wild goat tajine.
For dessert, we shared the fennel mousse and almond pistachio orange cake with nut purée, whipped honey, cucumber sorbet, dehydrated fennel, and honeycomb.
Yes, it tasted as incredible as it looks and sounds.
Kings Park War Memorial
After our scrumptious dinner, we decided to visit Kings Park to see it in the dark for the first time and pay our respects at the war memorial.
Perth is a beautiful city, and the Kings Park War Memorial is no exception.
Whether you are here night or day, it’s worth a visit, and don’t forget to experience the Whispering Wall.
It was a long day with an early start and a late night, but at last, we made our way back to Perth Airport for our midnight flight home, arriving into Sydney at 7:30 am.
What a trip. I can’t even begin to emphasise how inspiring, educational, fun, and jaw-dropping this entire 14-day itinerary was.
Have you made a trip like this? Let me know what you liked and what you didn’t in the comments! I’d love to hear your favourite parts.