Dusting Off an Old Post: Road Trip to Monkey Mia and Back (June 2011)

The end of last year and all overviews, ‘top 10s’ and ‘best ofs’ that come with it brought me in a nostalgic mood. This website in its present form is only a little more than six months old. Before that I had already been blogging for a year, but in my native language, which is Dutch.

Now, the thing is, the majority of my travels happened before I began writing about them in English. Therefore, there’s not a lot of interesting material to be found about my time in Australia or bopping around western Europe last winter, for example. (All those posts can be found in the archives, but, as I said, are written in Dutch and there’s a huge lack of pictures as well).

I want to change that. Every month of this year I’m going to share one of my favorite old posts, translated and fully equipped with photos! For old time’s sake and because it will give you guys a little insight in what I have done before this blog came into being.

I will kick off this new monthly series with one of my all time favorite road trips. In June 2011 we took a road trip up the beautiful remote Australian west coast, from Perth to Monkey Mia and back down. Here is how those five days went…


We left Perth early in the afternoon.

A must see along the way are the Pinnacles in Nambung National Park, a couple of hours north of the Western Australian capital. The Pinnacles are thousands of limestone pillars, spread across a desertlike landscape. It does look a little bit unearthly. We were there just before sunset, which definitely added to the atmosphere.

The Pinnacles in Nambung NP, Western Australia
The Pinnacles in Nambung NP.

We continued north towards Geraldton. Being quite confident we’d find a place to sleep, we hadn’t booked anything in advance. Obviously that was a big mistake…

We arrived in Geraldton after sunset, way later than we had planned and all receptions of hotels, hostels and motels were closed. We absolutely did not want to spend the night in my car, so I have to admit that we panicked a little bit. We decided to keep driving around, hoping to find a place that was still open. What else could we do, right? And after a while (it was past 10pm already) we did find a B&B that could offer us a room for one night. We realized how lucky we had been. Our little road trip could have had a rather bad start!

Geraldton, Western Australia
View of Geraldton from the B&B.

After a great breakfast in the B&B we excitedly left for Shark Bay.

First stop of the day was Hamelin Pool. Hamelin Pool is one of the very few places on earth where you can still see stromatolites, and by far the most accessible. Stromatolites look like they’re nothing more than just rocks in the sea. What’s so extremely special about them though is that they are made by microbes almost identical to organisms that existed 3.5 billion years ago. They’re living fossils.
The influence that these little organisms had on the evolution of all plants, animals and everything in between is incredible. For 2.9 billion years they were the only creatures living on this planet. During that time they breathed carbon dioxide and emitted oxygen. They alone are responsible for creating the present atmosphere, which allowed all other organisms to evolve. It’s a stunning fact if you think about it.

Stromatolites in Hamelin Pool, Western Australia.
Stromatolites in Hamelin Pool.

Second stop was Shell Beach. As the name suggests, this beach consists of nothing else than shells. Billions upon billions of tiny shells, at some places more than ten meters deep.

Shells on Shell Beach, Western Australia
Shells on Shell Beach.
Shell Beach, Western Australia.
Shell Beach.

We carried on towards Denham, where we spent the night. In a room we booked in advance.

Denham, Western Australia.
Welcome to Denham.
Bilby road sign in Western Australia.
Watch out for bilbies, weird, but kind of cute little marsupials.

Today we would arrive in Monkey Mia, our final destination on this road trip. Monkey Mia is world famous for its friendly and approachable dophins. We were just in time to see them being fed! Feeding the dolphins is strictly controlled and done by the national park rangers. Obviously you’re not allowed to touch them either.

Beach in Monkey Mia.
Beach in Monkey Mia.
Dolphin in Monkey Mia, Western Australia.
One of the friendly dolphins.

In the afternoon we booked a scenic flight over Shark Bay.

Road in Western Australia.
On the way to the tiny Outback airport.

The owner of the B&B we stayed in last Saturday highly recommended doing this. And he was absolutely right. It was fantastic. It’s an amazing way to get an impression of the vastness, emptiness and remoteness of the area. It was just beautiful. Perhaps the greatest thing I did during my nine months in Australia.

Big Lagoon in Shark Bay, Western Australia.
Big Lagoon.
Coastline in Shark Bay, Western Australia.
Stunning coastline.
Colors in Shark Bay, Western Australia.
Red, white and blue.
Shark Bay, Western Australia.
Calm waters in Shark Bay.
Peron Homestead.
Peron Homestead.
My car on an Australian road.
My car.

After getting back to Monkey Mia, we rented a sea kayak and paddled in the calm waters of Shark Bay.

It’s called Shark Bay for a reason, the ocean is jam packed with sharks. Great white, tiger, bull, the lot. So I must admit that this fact was on my mind when we were floating out in the bay in a little kayak. Luckily, the sharks don’t seem to pay attention to people here, there’s an abundance of other food sources around: dugongs or sea cows, another thing Shark Bay is famous for. The dolphins in Monkey Mia are said to keep the sharks away too.

Those dolphins really are friendly! Sometimes one of them would pop out of the water only a few meters from the kayak.

Sea kayak in Monkey Mia.
Sea kayak.
Sea kayaking in Monkey Mia.
This is what the hostel looks like from the ocean.
Calm water in Shark Bay.
Still water.

We ended a great day in the bar of the hostel, Monkey Bar, which, by the way, I think is an awesome name for a bar.

Drinks in Monkey Bar, Monkey Mia.
Drinks in Monkey Bar.

The hostel in Monkey Mia still is by the far the best hostel I have ever stayed in. Its location for example is the best it can get.Β It’s literally 25 seconds from the ocean. The bar is practically on the beach, you’re even allowed to take your beers out on the beach to enjoy the sunsets. You can have breakfast in the restaurant with a nice view of palm trees and the ocean… It really doesn’t get any better than that!

Palm tree and sunset in Monkey Mia.
View from the bar.
Sunset cruise in Monkey Mia.
A sunset cruise sounds like a nice activity as well.

We started the morning with a big breakfast and complementary ocean view and watched dolphins on the beach.

Breakfast with ocean view in Monkey Mia, Western Australia.
Breakfast with ocean view.
Watching dolphins in Monkey Mia.
Watching dolphins.

Our last activity in Monkey Mia was a (very touristy, I must admit) camel ride on the beach, which actually was quite nice. And I can say I rode a camel now!

Riding a camel in Monkey Mia, Western Australia.
Riding a camel!
Camel in Monkey Mia.
Noisy beast.

After lunch it was time to head back south again. We drove 400 empty kilometers to Kalbarri, with a few short stops at lookouts in Kalbarri National Park.

The main road in Western Australia.
The main road in Western Australia.
Kalbarri National Park.
Kalbarri National Park.

We enjoyed a spectacular sunset at Red Bluff Beach in Kalbarri and went to bed in our room in a resort, which was pretty affordable. It was low season after all.

Red Bluff Beach in Kalbarri.
Red Bluff Beach.
Gorgeous sunset in Kalbarri.
The sky is on fire.

Today was all about the drive back to Perth. There were a few short stops along the way though.

Cliffs and ocean views near Kalbarri.
Cliffs and ocean views near Kalbarri.
Pink Lake in Port Gregory, Western Australia.
Pink Lake in Port Gregory.
Wildflowers and green hills in Western Australia.
Autumn wildflowers and green hills.
Oakabella Homestead, Western Australia.
Oakabella Homestead, a supposedly haunted house, but totally not worth the money.
Gorgeous sunset in the outback of Western Australia.
Gorgeous outback sunset!

Those five days flew by. One of my all time favorite road trips indeed!

By the way, I’ve already written a couple of blog posts like this before:

Epic Australian Road Trip: Crossing the Nullarbor Plain
An Outback Adventure
Tasmania: A Photo Reportage

6 thoughts on “Dusting Off an Old Post: Road Trip to Monkey Mia and Back (June 2011)

  • Amazing pics…How lucky that the B&B opened their doors…I couldn’t have slept in a car all night!

    • They didn’t open their doors as such :-). We were driving to every single hotel, campground and everything in between that was in our travel guide. This B&B was literally the last option we had. So I just knocked on the door.

      The owner was pretty drunk by the way ;-), but hey, it was a Saturday night. One of their rooms was booked and paid for, but the guy wasn’t there for some reason (I forgot why). All his stuff was there though.

      We were allowed to spend the night anyway. So lucky! I’m still glad we didn’t have to sleep in a car that night…

  • Excellent spread! And that’s also an amazing idea. My very first blog was where I started as a writer when I first moved to Bulgaria, and I ran it for a couple of years before I built up Completely Writing Solutions and then Marginal Boundaries and beyond. Lot of posts from my early Bulgaria days.

    Good stuff πŸ™‚ Very inspirational on my end, and I am jealous of the Australian shots. It’s one place I haven’t been yet that I still want to go, and it’s on my list after a short jaunt back to Eastern Europe sometime in the 2015+ stage.


    • Yeah I’ve got a lot of ‘early days’ posts too. I’ve always thought it would be a pity if they got lost in the archives, I’m quite happy about some of them, even though they were so amateurish. My first blog was nothing more than a way to tell friends and family what I was doing. All those posts are kind of like public emails!

      They are still records of a part of my life though and I figured it would be nice to share them with more people πŸ™‚

  • Wonderful post – I’ve been to Oz, but didn’t explore the West Coast. Which means I’ll “have to” go back – and I’m SO looking forward to that, even more after reading about your trip and looking at all the pictures:) Great that you started translating!

    • Thank you! The west coast is brilliant. I only made it as far north as Carnarvon. I “need” to go back too, because I still want to visit Broome and Karijini NP. Among many other places πŸ™‚

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