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Just Me Travel

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Category: Oceania

HOW TO SEE HORIZONTAL FALLS AND EPIC TIDES, AUSTRALIA

Take An Amazing Scenic Flight And Awesome Sea Safari   Northern Western Australia has some of the best unique experiences you will find in Australia. Air Kimberley’s Cygnet Bay Explorer…

Take An Amazing Scenic Flight And Awesome Sea Safari

 

Northern Western Australia has some of the best unique experiences you will find in Australia. Air Kimberley’s Cygnet Bay Explorer full-day tour covers several bucket list activities in the Kimberley region. Be prepared for a scenic flight over the Horizontal Waterfalls and the stunning Buccaneer Archipelago, a visit to a hatchery managed by the Bardi-Jawi people, a pearling industry discovery tour and a fast boat cruise amongst giant whirlpools and standing tidal waves in the world’s largest tropical tides. So, where am I taking you? Read on to discover and learn more about your next Australian adventure.

 

Over the past 12 months, I have tried twice to join a tour over and through Horizontal Falls in Western Australia. However, on both occasions, the company cancelled the tour. The first cancellation in 2021 was because the seaplanes could not take off due to low cloud cover. The second cancellation (June 2022) occurred when a fast boat had an accident going through the Horizontal Waterfalls, and all fast boat tours through the falls were temporarily suspended.

When I recently found myself in Broome again, and my second-attempted pre-booked Horizontal Falls tour was cancelled, I was resigned to my disappointment. However, one day nosing around the resort lobby, I came across an Air Kimberley brochure. I discovered they did a similar full-day tour that included a flyover of the Horizontal Falls and a sea safari, not through Horizontal Falls, as I had wanted, but out to the giant tides off the Kimberley coast.

The Air Kimberley tour cost, at $985.00, was slightly less than what I was to be refunded from the cancelled tour. I figured, what did I have to lose? And I wasn’t returning to Broome for a third attempt at the Horizontal Falls tour.

Air Kimberley’s tour price covered hotel transfers, flights, morning tea and lunch, and third-party tours at Ardyaloon Trochus Hatchery and Cygnet Bay Pearl Farm.

So, what did I find in that Air Kimberley brochure? Before I answer that question, you probably wonder why seeing Horizontal Falls was so important to me.

Last year, when organising my first ever trip to the Kimberley in northern Western Australia, Horizontal Falls was on my must-see list for several reasons.

  • Sir David Attenborough has described the falls as “one of the greatest natural wonders of the world”, and I thought I needed to see this unique natural attraction that deserved such high praise.
  • The Horizontal Falls are created by a rare ocean phenomenon where powerful, fast-moving 10- to 12-metre-high tidal currents squeeze through two narrow gorges at an astonishing rate, producing waterfalls turned on their side (literally, horizontal). I love waterfalls but have only seen ones with vertical drops. So, I knew I had to see this wonder for myself.
  • Horizontal Falls is in the Buccaneer Archipelago, an untouched region of more than 1,000 islands off the coast of Western Australia. These largely uninhabited islands are known for their rugged terrain, areas of rainforest, and pristine, white sand beaches – a landscape I was keen to photograph from the air even though it would seriously test my camera skills.
  • Horizontal Falls is remote, accessible only by air or boat. I find ‘remote’ appealing – the more difficult it is to get to see or do something, the more I want to go.
  • And lastly, seeing Horizontal Falls came highly recommended by friends and Facebook groups.

Did my flight over Horizontal Falls meet all my expectations? You will have to read on to find out.

Cygnet Bay Explorer

And now, back to my question about what I found in the Air Kimberley brochure.

I found, booked, and went on Air Kimberley’s Cygnet Bay Explorer full-day tour, leaving from Broome.

“Enjoy an adventure packed day experiencing the best of the Kimberley – Overfly the Horizontal Falls, Buccaneer Archipelago, visit Ardyaloon Community and the giant tides and shimmering pearls at Cygnet Bay Pearl Farm.”

While you can check out the details of this tour for yourself by clicking on the link, there were two very different events I was eager to experience – the scenic flight over Horizontal Falls and the sea safari out to the giant whirlpools. But I am getting ahead of myself. What did the tour entail?

I was picked up from my accommodation at 6.30 am and driven to Broome International Airport, where Air Kimberley is based. Four other people (two couples) joined me on the tour. After our flight safety briefing, we boarded a small aircraft (eight-seater, including the pilot) for the 2-hour flight up the Kimberley coast for our flight over the stunning Buccaneer Archipelago and Horizontal Falls.

The Buccaneer Archipelago is a group of 1,000 small islands covering 50 square kilometres, located at the head of King Sound near the Kimberley town of Derby.

The archipelago is a magnificent raw landscape that you can only truly appreciate from the air. While boat tours around the islands offer visits to the beautiful coves and beaches, you would not get the perspective given by a scenic flight of the vastness of all those islands that seem to go on forever.

I must admit, I was underwhelmed with Horizontal Falls. I had read so much about the power of the tides running between the cliffs, causing the water to appear like a horizontal waterfall, but ‘power’ was not evident from the plane. Instead, what I saw was more like Class 1 or 2 rapids.

I suspect the wonder of Horizontal Falls and the power of the tides are best experienced from a fast boat through the waterfalls rather than a scenic flyover.

When we landed at the Ardyaloon Trochus Hatchery & Aquaculture Centre, run by the Bardi-Jawi people on One Arm Point, I asked the pilot if we were not allowed to fly lower over Horizontal Falls. I thought lower would give a better ‘feel’ for the powerful tides. Apparently, there is a height pecking order, with helicopters flying at the lowest altitude, seaplanes next level up, and light aircraft (our plane) flying the highest.

When I got home and reviewed my photos more closely, I felt the image below revealed the power of the running tide more clearly than my eyes could discern. What do you think?

Close up aerial view of a horizontal waterfall

Can you ‘feel’ the power of the Horizontal Falls in this photo?

 

I had joined a guided tour of Ardyaloon Trochus Hatchery on a previous visit to Broome in 2021. However, on this occasion, morning tea of fruit salad, cake, and juice was provided by Air Kimberley.

From Long Arm Point, it was a short, six-minute flight to Cygnet Bay Pearl Farm on the tip of the Dampier Peninsula, where the activities included the Pearl Discovery Tour and a Sea Safari. At Cygnet Bay Pearl Farm, Air Kimberley’s involvement was limited to getting us to the pearl farm, seeing we joined the Pearl Discovery Tour, paying for lunch, ensuring we were on the fast boat for the Sea Safari, and flying us back to Broome.

Air Kimberley’s Cygnet Bay Explorer tour price included the tours at Cygnet Bay Pearl Farm.

Pearl Farm Discovery Tour

My previous visit to Broome in 2021 included the Pearl Farm Discovery Tour at the family-owned Cygnet Bay Pearl Farm. However, I continue to be fascinated by the history of pearling in the Kimberley.

Reading tip: If you are interested in learning more about a significant chapter in the Kimberley’s pearling industry, I recommend reading The White Divers of Broome by John Bailey, telling the true story of a fatal experiment.

The tour commenced with an information session on the history of Cygnet Bay Pearl Farm and the pearling industry in what appropriately appeared to be an old school classroom. A live pearl harvest followed the history lesson.

A pearl in an opened oyster

I took this photo of the harvested pearl on my previous visit to Cygnet Bay Pearl Farm

 

The tour concluded with an in-depth session on how pearls are graded.

The Pearl Farm Discovery tour was followed by lunch at the onsite restaurant.

Twice I lunched at the Cygnet Bay Homestead Restaurant with a tour group when the set menu was seafood. On both occasions, Cygnet Bay Pearl Farm was advised of my seafood allergy, and, on both occasions, this information seems to have been lost in translation. The outcome was eating a meal after everyone else had finished because they had nothing prepared for me. I found the restaurant’s forgetfulness disappointing.

Sea Safari

After lunch, we climbed aboard the fast boat for our Giant Tides Sea Safari. During this cruise, we would “feel the power of the world’s largest tropical tides with giant whirlpools and standing waves” created by millions of tonnes of water squeezing between the rocky islands of the Buccaneer Archipelago.

Cygnet Bay Pearl Farm writes about their Sea Safari tour:

“Feel the power of the world’s largest tropical tides as you cruise amongst the giant whirlpools and standing tidal waves. Venture into Escape Passage, recently described by scientists as the fastest ocean currents in the world!

The tides on this section of the Kimberley Coast are particularly large due to the area’s geography. When the sun and moon align on a spring tide, the ocean is pulled towards the north-west of WA and Indonesia, gathering speed as it reaches the shallow continental shelf and bottlenecking as it passes between Australia and Indonesia, creating the exhilarating whirlpools and standing waves we see on the tour.”

My photos can’t express the sense of adventure experienced and don’t do justice to all you see. The whirlpools are probably best viewed from the air.

The Sea Safari was an experience I find difficult to describe as there just don’t seem to be the right words to express how I felt as we powered through the whirlpools and standing waves created by the forceful tides. But let me try. It was a thrilling, exhilarating, exciting, fun, and awesome adventure. To best sum up my feelings, I was disappointed when it was time to return to land. I immediately wanted to go back out again, but there was a plane waiting for me to take me back to Broome.

Beware: You will get wet. How much so will depend on where you are sitting in the boat. Two young girls sitting at the front of the boat got drenched. I was sitting at the back of the boat directly in front of the driver and experienced what I would best describe as several large, fat rain drops.

The flight along the Kimberley coast back to Broome took us over the magnificent red cliffs of James Price Point, famous for its 130-million-year-old dinosaur footprints (but that’s another trip).

Aerial view of red cliffs meeting sand and sea. Forest lies behind the red cliffs.

Scenic flight with Air Kimberley over James Price Point

 

It was a long (approximately 11 hours), enjoyable, satisfying, and exhilarating day providing several unique experiences and so worth it. I can not fault Air Kimberley’s relaxed professionalism, guiding, and communication.

The tour was an excellent itinerary, well organised, kept on time without feeling rushed, and value for money. Without hesitation, I recommend Air Kimberley to readers.

Before our transfer back to our respective hotels, Air Kimberley presented each passenger with special gifts as mementos of our Kimberley adventure – a tour photo, a souvenir Passport & Tour Map to the Kimberley, an Air Kimberley stubby cooler, and a complimentary beer voucher from Matso’s Brewery in Broome. I am not letting out any secrets here, as Air Kimberley lists the gifts on their website.

 

In this post, I have shared my experience of Air Kimberley’s full-day Cygnet Bay Explorer tour up the Kimberley coast over the Horizontal Falls and 1,000-islands Buccaneer Archipelago and onward to a fantastic sea safari adventure in the world’s largest tropical tides. It was a chance meeting with a brochure that brought me to Air Kimberley – one that was to my benefit and yours.

 

Disclaimer: This post contains no affiliate links. All views and opinions are my own and non-sponsored. All photos are my own and remain the copyright of Just Me Travel.

© Just Me Travel 2018-2022.

 

Please leave a comment below to share your thoughts. Does Horizontal Falls deserve Sir David Attenborough’s description of “one of the greatest natural wonders of the world”?

 

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The image has two photos of aerial views of a horizontal waterfall and red cliffs meeting sand and sea.

 

An image with two photos. One is an aerial view of horizontal waterfalls and the other is a whirlpool in the sea.

 

Are you looking for more ideas on destination Western Australia? Then don’t miss these posts:

23 GREAT PHOTO SPOTS ON THE ROAD FROM PERTH TO BROOME, AUSTRALIA

7 TOP DAY TRIPS AND THINGS TO DO IN AND FROM PERTH, AUSTRALIA

15 PHOTOS TO INSPIRE YOU TO VISIT BROOME, WESTERN AUSTRALIA

SEE 7 BEAUTIFUL GORGES IN THE KIMBERLEY – the ultimate guide

THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO 6 SAFE SWIMMING HOLES IN THE KIMBERLEY, AUSTRALIA

 

Author’s Note: Please check the latest travel restrictions before planning any trip, and always follow government advice.

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23 GREAT PHOTO SPOTS ON THE ROAD FROM PERTH TO BROOME, AUSTRALIA

A Western Australia Road Trip from Perth to Broome is a Journey of  Unique Photo Opportunities.   In this post, I will take you to 23 great places you should…

A Western Australia Road Trip from Perth to Broome is a Journey of  Unique Photo Opportunities.

 

In this post, I will take you to 23 great places you should photograph on the road from Perth to Broome. If you are travelling up Western Australia’s picturesque Coral Coast and visiting its amazing national parks, this list will provide you with some awesome holiday photography ideas.

 

This journey of photo spots on a road trip from Perth to Broome in Australia starts in Perth, travels up the coast, heads inland before hitting the coast again, and ends in Broome.

My post is about great photo opportunities for you on the road from Perth to Broome in Western Australia. Most are in national parks, and all are accessible by 2WD. I hesitate to say “easily” accessible because the unsealed roads through much of Karijini National Park were severely corrugated when our 4WD tour bus travelled on them. Our ‘4WD’ had the body of a bus on a truck chassis, which would best be described as a bus on steroids. I don’t know how often the roads are graded through Karijini National Park, but they gave new meaning to the saying, shaken, not stirred.

The post is not about hikes you can take through the national parks, of which there are many, nor about things you can do or places to stay. It’s not even about how to get from place to place, although the maps above show you where the photo spots are in relation to each other and their location within Western Australia. In other words, this post is not an itinerary but a guide to where you can find great photo spots between Perth and Broome.

The photos have been included on this list not because they are a tourist attraction, which they are, but because they provide 23 great photo opportunities to create special holiday memories that should not be missed.

I use two cameras for all my travel photos – a Nikon D7200 DSLR camera and an iPhone 12 Pro. whichever is handy at the time.

Many of the photo spots in this post are in national parks. As I was on an escorted tour with APT, I was not concerned with park fees, infrastructure, or other relevant information. However, Western Australia’s Parks and Wildlife Service is the official site for all the information you need on the State’s national parks.

Many paths to lookouts and photo spots, whether inside national parks or not, are unsuitable for people with mobility issues. I say that with confidence as a few people on the escorted group tour had mobility issues and missed out on seeing several of the photo spots below.

Scroll through the photo spots at your leisure or jump straight to the photo spot you want to see.

Perth

View of a city with new glass buildings and old colonial-style buildings

Perth cityscape

 

Perth is a city with many spots worth photographing – beautiful parks, attention-grabbing street sculptures, striking architecture, white sand beaches, vibrant river life, and more. Perth deserves at least spending a few days there.

I spent ten days in Perth and discovered many things to do unique to this beautiful city sitting on the Swan River. You can explore the world’s largest city park, see the happiest animal on earth, marvel at a wave-shaped rock in the middle of nowhere, photograph the largest dam mural in the world, and chime the world’s biggest musical instrument. You will find these activities, and more, in my post on 7 Top Day Trips And Things To Do In And From Perth. – all suggested from my own experience as a solo traveller.

The Pinnacles Desert, Nambung National Park

Many rock pillars standing in yellow sand

The Pinnacles, Pinnacles Desert, Nambung National Park

 

At the southern gateway to Western Australia’s Coral Coast along the Indian Ocean Drive, the Pinnacles Desert is located within Nambung National Park, approximately 200 kilometres north of Perth, near the coastal town of Cervantes.

The Pinnacles are natural limestone structures formed approximately 25,000 to 30,000 years ago after the sea receded and left deposits of seashells. Over time, coastal winds removed the surrounding sand, leaving the pillars exposed to the elements. There are thousands of pinnacles in the Pinnacles Desert, with some reaching as high as 3.5 metres.

You can view the Pinnacles from the lookout (a paved path from the car park), drive or walk the 4-kilometre Pinnacles Loop or simply meander through the Pinnacles Desert, taking all the photos you want of this fascinating, otherworldly landscape.

Z Bend Lookout, Kalbarri National Park

A photo of a river flanked by high cliffs

Murchison River Gorge view from Z Bend Lookout in Kalbarri National Park

 

Kalbarri National Park surrounds the lower reaches of the Murchison River, which has carved a magnificent 80-kilometre gorge through the red sandstone.

The Z Bend Lookout reveals dramatic views of the zig-zag section of the Murchison River Gorge. The gorge below the lookout forms the middle part of the ‘Z Bend’. Fractures within the red Tumblagooda Sandstone form this unusual shape.

Z Bend Lookout is a 1.2-kilometre return walk from the car park along a sandy path with stone steps. Walking back up is a decent cardio workout.

Kalbarri Skywalk, Kalbarri National Park

A viewing platform hangs out over a gorge

The Kalbarri Skywalk provides an excellent view over Murchison River Gorge

 

The Kalbarri Skywalk consists of two cantilevered viewing platforms that hang in mid-air 100 metres above the gorge. They provide stunning views of the Murchison River Gorge and its extraordinary surrounding landscape.

Just walking out on these platforms was a unique experience in itself. To be then confronted with the views on offer was truly breathtaking.

The Kalbarri Skywalk is about 150 metres from the car park on a flat, paved path.

Nature’s Window, Kalbarri National Park

A river is seen through a hole in the cliff

Murchison River Gorge viewed through a natural rock window

 

Forces of nature have carved through layered sandstone to create a rock formation that frames the Murchison River below.

It is a moderate, one-kilometre return walk beginning with a flight of stairs from the lookout at the parking area. Just remember, you need to walk back up those stairs!

Beware: Access to Nature’s Window is not for the faint-hearted as there is nothing, except your excellent balance, to stop you from falling over the cliff’s edge.

Ross Graham Lookout, Kalbarri National Park

A photo of a river flowing through a gorge

Murchison River Gorge viewed from Ross Graham Lookout in Kalbarri National Park

 

Ross Graham was the first headmaster of Kalbarri Primary School. He was a devoted conservationist who aided in the exploration of the Murchison River. He died in 1967, aged 31 years.

The Ross Graham Lookout offers a limited but picturesque view of the Murchison River. The lookout is 100 metres from the car park along a rocky track.

Beware: There are no safety barriers on the cliff edge at the lookout.

Abrolhos Islands, Houtman Abrolhos Islands National Park

A group of inhabited islands in the ocean

A scenic flight over Abrolhos Islands

 

Houtman Abrolhos Islands National Park is a marine archipelago of 210 islands lying 60 to 80 kilometres off Western Australia’s mid-west coast, between Geraldton and Kalbarri.

You will need to take a scenic flight to take advantage of this photo spot of the islands and the coral reefs surrounding them. Our scenic flight was with Nationwest Aviation from Kalbarri Airport.

A couple of passengers saw migrating whales. I was on the wrong side of the plane!

Eagle Bluff Lookout, Francois Peron National Park

Rugged coastline and sandy bays

View from the Eagle Bluff boardwalk

 

Eagle Bluff is approximately 20 kilometres south of Denham in the UNESCO Shark Bay World Heritage Area.

A 400-metre boardwalk along the cliff edge offers stunning views of the rugged coastline, small islands, and coastal bays fringing the Indian Ocean and provides the opportunity to spot wildlife like ospreys, dugongs, dolphins, turtles, sharks, and rays.

Monkey Mia Conservation Park

A beach with mangroves, white san and red sand dunes

Monkey Mia Conservation Park

 

Monkey Mia Conservation Park is 25 kilometres northeast of the coastal town of Denham.

Monkey Mia is, first and foremost, famous for feeding wild dolphins that visit the beach at Monkey Mia Dolphin Resort. However, for me, the area was about mangroves, red dunes, sapphire blue waters, and white sandy beaches on the Indian Ocean.

Facing the jetty from the beach at Monkey Mia Dolphin Resort, where I was staying, I walked around a couple of headlands to discover the spot pictured above. It possibly holds greater significance for me as I was seeking solitude away from the resort crowds. There was not another person as far as the eye could see.

Shell Beach, Francois Peron National Park

A photo of entirely small white shells

The cockle shells of Shell Beach

 

Shell Beach on Western Australia’s Coral Coast is 45 kilometres from Denham within the UNESCO Shark Bay World Heritage Area. The beach consists of trillions of tiny white shells up to 10 metres deep, forming a beach stretching 120 kilometres. There is no sand, only shells.

Shell Beach is one of only a handful of places on earth where shells replace sand. The shells are from the tiny Fragum Cockle, also known as Hamelin or Shark Bay Cockle. They reminded me of the pipi shells I always saw on Sydney beaches.

In the early 1900s, the shells were quarried and hard-packed, cut into blocks and used to construct buildings. There is still evidence of the historic Shell Quarry.

Coral Bay, Ningaloo Coast

A photo of different types of corals

Coral garden on Ningaloo Reef at Coral Bay

 

The UNESCO World Heritage-listed Ningaloo Reef is a 240-kilometre-long stretch of coral gardens with over 200 coral species and clear, turquoise waters that are home to whale sharks, manta rays, dugongs, sea turtles, and reef fish.

Ningaloo Reef is Australia’s second largest reef, the world’s largest fringing reef, and includes one of the longest near-shore reefs in the world. At Coral Bay, the reef is just 500 metres from the shore.

I took this photo of the coral through a glass-bottom boat.

The Vlamingh Head Lighthouse

A lighthouse on a hill with view to the ocean

Vlamingh Head Lighthouse

 

Just 17 kilometres from Exmouth, Vlamingh Head Lighthouse is inside the UNESCO Ningaloo Coast World Heritage Area and Ningaloo Marine Park.

The lighthouse is a vantage point for magnificent views of the Indian Ocean, Ningaloo Reef, and Cape Range National Park. It is also one of the few places in Australia where you can watch both sunrise and sunset over the ocean.

Yardie Creek Gorge, Cape Range National Park

A river is framed by high red cliffs and green shrubs

Yardie Creek Gorge

 

In Cape Range National Park, which, in turn, is inside the Ningaloo Coast World Heritage Area and adjacent to Ningaloo Marine Park, Yardie Creek Gorge is a day trip from Exmouth.

Yardie Creek Gorge was reminiscent of the gorges I visited in Western Australia’s Kimberley region in 2021, where I say I lost my heart. Dramatic, sheer red cliff landscapes are a drawcard for me.

If you are curious to learn where I must return to pick up my heart, read my post on 7 Gorges in the Kimberley.

A cruise on Yardie Creek through the gorge is an opportunity to see and photograph wildlife in their natural environment. I saw many threatened black-flanked wallabies, a goanna sunning itself, and an osprey nest known to be over 100 years old (but no osprey).

A small wallaby sitting in a low-ceilinged cave

The threatened Black-Flanked Wallaby

 

The black-flanked wallaby must be one of the most agile marsupials on Earth, given the crevasses and caves they get in and out of on sheer cliff faces.

Turquoise Bay, Cape Range National Park

A beach of white sand and turquoise-coloured water

Turquoise Bay

 

Inside Cape Range National Park and Ningaloo Coast World Heritage Area, Turquoise Bay, approximately 63 kilometres from Exmouth, is described as a slice of paradise, where white sand beaches give way to its famous, crystal-clear waters.

Turquoise Bay is one of Western Australia’s best beaches and is consistently voted among the top three beaches in Australia. It took out the number 1 beach in the South Pacific and third spot in the Top 25 Beaches in the World in Tripadvisor’s 2022 Traveller’s Choice Awards.

Joffre Gorge, Karijini National Park

Looking down a gorge to a curved waterfall dropping into a pool

Joffre Gorge viewed from the lookout

 

Set in the Hamersley Range in the heart of the Pilbara and offering spectacular, rugged scenery and ancient geological formations, Karijini National Park is the second largest park in Western Australia.

Joffre Gorge is spectacular with its steep red cliffs and 50-metre drop waterfall. Its remarkable curved waterfall forms a natural amphitheatre.

The Joffre Gorge Lookout, where I took this photo, is a 240-metre return walk from the car park. Rock steps take you down to the lookout.

Kalamina Gorge, Karijini National Park

A small waterfall runs over red tiered rocks

The waterfall in Kalamina Gorge

 

Kalamina Gorge is the shallowest of the gorges in Karijini National Park and is not among the largest, but it is one of the prettiest.

The lookout is 75 metres from the car park along a gravel path with a series of natural rock steps. On the morning I visited Kalamina Gorge, some of the track was eroded, and there were many loose stones.

Beware: The lookout has no safety railing.

It is a steep track with uneven stone steps to the base of the gorge, where a small waterfall drops into a permanent pool. I took the photo above from the bottom of the gorge.

Fortescue Falls (Jubula), Karijini National Park

Water cascades over red rock terraces in to a pool below and is surrounded by forest

Fortescue Falls in Karijini National Park

 

Fortescue Falls in Dales Gorge is one of Karijin National Park’s few permanent waterfalls. Spring-fed, the falls cascade more than 20 metres down a series of natural rock steps before finishing in a pool.

Fortescue Falls Lookout is 150 metres from the car park on a flat paved path. The lookout provides excellent views of the 100-metres-deep Dales Gorge and Fortescue Falls. Access to the bottom of Fortescue Falls is via 200 metal steps with railings. There are seats at regular intervals as you make your way down and back up.

Fern Pool (Jubura), Karijini National Park

A small waterfall drops into a pool and is surrounded by forest

Fern Pool

 

From Fortescue Falls, you can take the 600-metre return track to Fern Pool, a picturesque swimming hole with a waterfall.

The dirt track required some navigation of rocks and is muddy and slippery (as I discovered) after rain.

Circular Pool Lookout, Karijini National Park

A pool of water at the bottom of a deep hole surrounded by red cliffs and trees

Circular Pool viewed from the lookout

 

Still in Dales Gorge in Kirijini National Park, Circular Pool is an impressive sight viewed from the lookout.

Marble Bar

A red-coloured hill is reflected in a river with rocks in the foreground

Marble Bar Pool, Coongan River

 

Marble Bar is said to be the hottest town in Australia. So, what better way to cool off than at this pretty spot on the Coongan River?

Marble Bar is well known for its extremely hot weather, with a mean maximum temperature second only to Wyndham, also in Western Australia.

According to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation,

“Marble Bar earned the title of Australia’s hottest town when it recorded the longest heatwave – 160 days over 37.7 degrees – in 1923 and 1924.

It is still listed in the Guinness Book of Recordes. Its record for the town’s hottest Christmas was in 2018 when it reached 48 degrees.

Two days later, the Marble Bar mercury hit its record – a debilitating 49.6 degrees.

While the numbers are impressive, the Bureau of Meteorology instead crowns the Kimberley town of Wyndham as having the highest annual temperature at 36.1 degrees.”

Since my return from Western Australia, several people have commented that Marble Bar has nothing to offer; that the town is not worth visiting. I beg to differ. What do you think?

Eighty Mile Beach

A fisherman on an ocean beach

Eighty Mile Beach

 

Unspoilt Eighty Mile Beach is a beautiful pristine beach of white sand and turquoise water that goes on forever – for 220 kilometres, to be exact! It is the longest uninterrupted beach in Western Australia. I don’t know where the ‘Eighty Mile’ comes from, but it is obviously a misnomer.

In my opinion, Eighty Mile Beach beats Turquoise Bay hands down in the best beaches category. Picture perfect! What do you think?

Eco Beach Resort, Broome

Sunset over a beach

The sun sets over the beach below Eco Beach Resort

 

The first rays of the sunset at Eco Beach Resort radiate a sepia glow over the sands and ocean. The sunset just got better and better.

The next and final stop is Broome, 134 kilometres from Eco Beach Resort.

Broome

Red rocks lead to blue ocean, with a beach in the distance

Gantheaume Point, Broome, with Cable Beach in the distance

 

Gantheaume Point is at the southern end of Broome’s famous Cable Beach. With the reds and yellows of the sandstone cliffs against the backdrop of a deep blue Indian Ocean, every photo is perfect.

Gantheaume Point is a less-crowded alternative from Cable Beach Resort to watch the sun spectacularly set as it sinks below the Indian Ocean.

Are you wondering what else you can do in Broome? Check out my post on 15 Photos To Inspire You To Visit Broome.

 

Driving Western Australia’s picturesque Coral Coast and awe-inspiring national parks on the road from Perth to Broome offers many quality photo opportunities. Limiting this post to 23 photo stops was not an easy task. Don’t hesitate to stop at every scenic sight, as a memorable photo could be just moments away.

 

Disclaimer: This post contains no affiliate links. All views and opinions are my own and non-sponsored. All photos are my own and remain the copyright of Just Me Travel.

© Just Me Travel 2018-2022.

 

Please leave a comment below to share your thoughts. In your opinion, do the photo spots in this post deserve to be included? Are there other photo spots you believe are crying out to be added?

 

Like this post? Save it for later!

A photo of a map with a camera and mobile phone on it and a photo of a natural rock formation like a window with a view of a river.

A photo of a river with a hill reflected in the water and a photo of a beach at sunset

 

For more posts on Western Australia, read these:

HOW TO SEE HORIZONTAL FALLS AND EPIC TIDES, AUSTRALIA

7 TOP DAY TRIPS AND THINGS TO DO IN AND FROM PERTH, AUSTRALIA

15 PHOTOS TO INSPIRE YOU TO VISIT BROOME, WESTERN AUSTRALIA

SEE 7 BEAUTIFUL GORGES IN THE KIMBERLEY – the ultimate guide

THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO 6 SAFE SWIMMING HOLES IN THE KIMBERLEY, AUSTRALIA

 

Author’s Note: Please check the latest travel restrictions before planning any trip, and always follow government advice.

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7 TOP DAY TRIPS AND THINGS TO DO IN AND FROM PERTH, AUSTRALIA

A visit to Perth, Australia, is a Journey of Discovery of Unique Things to Do.   Perth is the most isolated capital city in the world, with Adelaide, the nearest…

A visit to Perth, Australia, is a Journey of Discovery of Unique Things to Do.

 

Perth is the most isolated capital city in the world, with Adelaide, the nearest city, 2,104 kilometres away. Perhaps its isolation is part of its appeal. It certainly hasn’t limited what Perth has to offer the visitor for things to do in Perth and day trips from Perth – all unique to this beautiful city sitting on the Swan River. Discover, explore, and enjoy the world’s largest city park, the happiest animal on earth, a massive wave-shaped rock in the middle of nowhere, the largest dam mural in the world, one of the world’s biggest musical instruments, and more.

 

Perth, the capital city of Western Australia, is Australia’s fourth largest city by population. With a population of just over two million, Perth is small enough to feel personal; visiting the city feels like visiting family. I felt I was immersing myself in a community rather than losing myself in an urban jungle. Perth’s ranking as the sixth most liveable city in the world in 2021 was well deserved.

Perth enjoys more hours of sunshine than any other Australian capital city – reason enough to visit. Other reasons why you should visit Perth are:

  • It has a laid-back, relaxed, and welcoming vibe.
  • Being mostly flat, it is easy to walk around.
  • It is a spacious city where you don’t feel hemmed in.
  • As a solo traveller, I always felt safe.
  • Swim in the sapphire blue ocean and lay on beautiful white sand beaches.

My first and lasting impression of Perth is a city of green space, public sculptures, and beautiful architecture.

I stayed ten days in Perth in May 2022. The day trip destinations and things to do suggested in this post are from my own experience as a solo traveller to Perth. Read on to discover seven top day trips and things to do in and from Perth or jump straight to a specific activity.

Take a Perth and Fremantle city tour

When I visit a city I haven’t been to, I like to take an escorted city tour. Whether by foot or bus, a city tour is an excellent way to orientate to the city and check out the places I would like to revisit in more detail.

On my first full day in Perth, I took the Half Day Morning Perth and Fremantle City Explorer with Australian Pinnacle Tours. The drive around the city took us past the famous Western Australian Cricket Ground (WACA) and Optus Stadium. I was particularly taken with the architecture of Matagarup Bridge crossing the Swan River from East Perth to Optus Stadium and knew I would be back to photograph the bridge.

The tour also took in a drive through the more affluent area of Perth known as Millionaire’s Row, past Cottesloe Beach on the Indian Ocean, and the University of Western Australia. However, the highlights for me were the 45-minute stop at Kings Park and the one hour we had to explore Fremantle.

I couldn’t get enough of the spectacular river and city views at Kings Park and knew I would be back for more.

A picture of a view of city buildings on the shore of a river and with shrubs in the foreground

View of Perth City and the Swan River from Kings Park

 

While there, I found the meeting place for free guided walks in the park, operating daily at 10 am and 1.00 pm. I gathered more information at the Visitor Information Centre in the park and put the walk on my ‘must do’ list for another day.

After leaving Kings Park, we headed to the port city of Fremantle. With an hour to explore, I couldn’t resist the historic Fremantle Markets, especially as, by now, I was hungry. The markets have been operating in this heritage-listed building for over 100 years. Focused on food, I found plenty of culturally diverse options for lunch, but I was drawn to the colourful displays rendered by the fruit and vegetable stalls.

People buying and selling fruit and vegetables laid out in stalls

Fruit and vegetable stalls in Fremantle Markets

 

I particularly liked this tour because it wasn’t just driving around Perth and Fremantle, but we left the bus for a decent amount of time at strategic points of interest.

While I saw much more of Perth throughout my ten-day stay, I didn’t do Fremantle justice, only visiting again after this tour to catch the ferry to Rottnest Island and to have lunch with friends I met on the APT Kimberley tour last year. I would have liked to explore the port city in more depth, which is only half an hour from Perth by train and take a tour of the prison. With an area known as ‘Cappuccino Street’, it would seem Fremantle has a better coffee culture than Perth – definitely worth discovering.

Photograph a massive mural on a dam wall

A painting of several people on a dam wall

The magnificent Wellington Dam mural by Guido van Helton

 

When I first saw photos of Guido van Helton’s mural on Wellington Dam on Facebook over 12 months ago, I knew that if I ever got to Perth, I would have to see it for myself, and I wasn’t disappointed. Magnificent! The artwork is one impressive mural, and Guido is one of my favourite artists. [Check out his painted silos at Brim in Victoria and Portland in New South Wales.]

The mural covering 8,000 square metres of the Wellington Dam wall is the largest dam mural in the world. The mural took Guido van Helton, an internationally renowned Australian artist, four months to complete (in February 2021), with Guido camping in the bush for the duration. As with Guido’s silo artworks, local stories, and photographs inspired the Wellington Dam mural. Titled “Reflections”, the mural features images of two migrant workers who worked on the dam build, kids playing in the sand, Aboriginal children playing in the water and a boy with a fish, a dad with two kids, and, finally, an Aboriginal couple.

Wellington Dam is in Wellington National Park, just west of the town of Collie, about two hours from Perth. Rather than hire a car, I took a day trip to Wellington Dam with Australian Pinnacle Tours. The tour included morning tea at Harvey Cheese with a cheese-making demonstration, Wellington Dam, a two-course lunch at Dardanup Tavern (which was delicious), a wine tasting at St. Aidan winery, and a stop at Gnomesville before returning to Perth.

We spent over an hour at Wellington Dam, where I could view and photograph the mural from the specifically installed lookout and walk down to the dam’s base for more photographs.

A painting of children and a man on a dam wall

A section of the Wellington Dam mural by Guido van Helton

 

A painting of children on a dam wall

A section of the Wellington Dam mural by Guido van Helton

 

About Gnomesville

A photo of hundreds of garden gnomes on the ground and in the trees

A small section of Gnomesville

 

Gnomesville has to be seen to be believed. At the roundabout where Wellington Mill Road and Ferguson Road converge (about a 15 minutes drive from Dardanup) and extending along a creek and into the bush, you will find thousands of garden gnomes – over 10,000 at the last count. Legend has it that the first gnome was placed at the site in the 1990s.

Myths surround the creation of Gnomesville – that a single garden gnome appeared at the site and others followed suit or that the workers working on the roundabout created a Gnome Cricket Game and others joined in. The latter seems more fascicle than the former. However, according to the tour bus driver, the story of the creation of Gnomesville goes something like this:

A lady phoned a Perth radio station to say she had many gnomes she wanted to give to a good home, but no one wanted them. Other people then phoned in to say they had the same problem. A farmer, hearing about this, donated land for a home for the gnomes. And people have been leaving gnomes ever since. However Gnomesville started, a tourist attraction was born.

Most of the people on the bus tour had brought a gnome to leave at Gnomesville. I hadn’t, as I knew nothing about Gnomesville and obviously didn’t read the tour itinerary information to be curious enough to learn about it beforehand.

When I told my sister about Gnomesville, she thought it was great fun. Me? I found it bizarre and a bit tacky. Let me know what you think.

Walk over Matagarup Bridge

A black and white steel arched suspension bridge with a stadium behind it

Matagarup Bridge with Optus Stadium in the background

 

On the Perth city tour, I took a liking to the architectural style of Matagarup Bridge and wanted a closer look. So, catching the Blue and then the Red CAT buses (see ‘Getting around Perth’ below for more information), I made my way to Matagarup Bridge on the East Perth side of the Swan River.

Matagarup Bridge (completed in 2018) is a suspension, pedestrian-only bridge crossing over the Swan River from East Perth to Optus Stadium on the Burswood Peninsula. The arches are said to represent a pair of flying black and white swans, with the bridge arches representing the wishbones, a swimming dolphin, or the Wagyl, a water serpent of significant importance to the local Noongar culture – symbolising a coming together of diverse cultures.

Symbolism aside, Matagarup Bridge is a beautiful piece of architecture. You be the judge.

An information panel in the middle of the bridge provides building statistics and information on the design, name, lighting, and more.

A photo of a black and white arched suspension bridge

Matagarup Bridge

 

According to the Perth and Fremantle City Tour bus driver, the bridge was built to get people across the Swan River from East Perth to Optus Stadium. Now, there’s a dedication to football for you!

While I had only set out to photograph and walk across Matagarup Bridge, you can climb the bridge to an open-air viewing platform 72 metres above the river. From the viewing platform, you can ride the 400-metre-long zipline to Burswood Peninsula, reaching speeds of 75 kilometres per hour. The zipline looked like fun. If I had been with someone to share the experience with, I would not have hesitated to do it.

People on a zipline over a metal structure

Zipline from Matagarup Bridge

 

Take a free guided walk in Kings Park and Botanic Garden

A photo of a tree-lined street

Fraser Avenue, Kings Park

 

At 400 hectares, Kings Park is the world’s largest inner-city park – larger even than New York’s Central Park, which is 370 hectares. With spectacular views of Perth City and the Swan River, botanic gardens, walking and cycling paths, a tree top walkway, memorials, cafe, picnic and bar-b-que areas, children’s play area, and more, it is easy to understand why Kings Park sees over six million visitors a year.

Curved silver metal sculpture overhanging a path and surrounded on two sides by shrubs

Sculpture and mosaic at the entrance to the Western Australia Botanic Garden in Kings Park

 

The 90-minute free guided walk in the park is run by volunteers twice daily at 10.00 am and 1.00 pm and takes you through several sections of the wonderful 17-hectare Western Australia Botanic Garden, located within Kings Park.

Western Australia is home to half of Australia’s 25,000 plant species, most of which are found nowhere else on earth. The Western Australia Botanic Garden proudly showcases over 3,000 species of Western Australia’s unique flora in stunning garden displays.

While I am a terrible gardener (I can’t keep anything alive), I get a lot of enjoyment out of walking around gardens. There are interpretive signboards throughout the Botanic Garden. But I didn’t need those as my guide was a wealth of information on the numerous gardens we walked past, each dedicated to a specific region of Western Australia, thereby increasing my knowledge of Australian plants and enhancing my enjoyment.

Red flowers and pods on a red flowering gum tree

Red flowering gum endemic to Western Australia

 

The guided walk in the park included walking the 620-metre long Lotterywest Federation Walkway within the Botanic Garden – a combination of pathways, an elevated walkway in the treetops, and a glass bridge allowing uninterrupted views of the valley floor 16 metres below. The walkway’s highest point is on the glass bridge, providing a panorama of the Swan and Canning Rivers. The elevated section of the Lotterywest Federation Walkway is open daily from 9.00 am to 5.00 pm and is accessible by wheelchair.

A man standing on a metal bridge with glass sides that winds through the treetops

Lotterywest Federation Walkway’s glass bridge in the treetops

 

Kings Park and Western Australia Botanic Garden are free to enter and open 24 hours a day. A digital visitor map is available on the Botanic Garden and Parks Authority website. Printable versions are also available on the same website but will no longer be updated.

There are several means of getting to Kings Park:

  • Kings Park is an easy 1.5 kilometres from Perth CBD.
  • There are two options here, both free. Option 1 > Transperth Bus #935 travels from St George Terrace (Perth’s CBD) into Kings Park. This service operates every 10 minutes on weekdays and 15 minutes on weekends and is free for passengers travelling from the CBD to Kings Park. Option 2 > The Blue CAT Bus travels between Perth Busport and Kings Park via Perth Station and Elizabeth Quay Bus Station. The service is free and runs every 15 minutes. See ‘Getting around Perth’ below for more information on CAT buses.
  • Free parking is available only for park visitors. You are not allowed to park your vehicle and then leave Kings Park boundaries by any other means (on foot, by bus, or in another vehicle).

View a tsunami of a rock formation

A long rock formation with a man standing at its base that looks like an ocean wave

Wave Rock

 

At 15 metres high, Wave Rock towers over you like a tsunami ready to crash on the landscape. This extraordinary natural granite rock formation shaped like an ocean wave (but not in the ocean) was formed more than 2700 million years ago but only ‘discovered’ in the 1960s.

Wave Rock is about four kilometres from the small wheatbelt town of Hyden, but first, you must get to Hyden, which is a four-hour drive from Perth. Rather than drive myself, I decided to travel to Wave Rock in a more relaxed manner and go with Australian Pinnacle Tours on their full day Wave Rock, York, Aboriginal Culture and Seasonal Wildflowers tour.

Note: September is the best month in Western Australia to see wildflowers, and I was there at the end of June and saw no wildflowers.

Our first stop on the way to Wave Rock was in the town of York, where we had enough time for a coffee and a stroll along the main street. Situated on the Avon River and established in 1831, York is the oldest inland town in Western Australia. It is a pretty town renowned for its heritage buildings and colonial architecture lining the main street, and I couldn’t resist the old-fashioned lolly shop.

Having arrived in Hyden, we stopped at Hippos Yawn for a photo stop before lunch.

Hippos Yawn is a 12.6-metre-tall rock formation said to resemble a yawning hippopotamus. You can walk to Hippos Yawn from the Wave Rock car park on a flat, easy 1.7-kilometre return path.

A large rock that looks like a hippo yawning

Hippos Yawn

 

Australian Pinnacle Tours organised lunch at the Wildflower Shoppe Cafe in Hyden. Unfortunately, the buffet chicken and rice were disappointing.

After lunch, we visited Mulka’s Cave to view Aboriginal rock art and handprints significant to the Nyoongar people. In Mulka’s Cave’s three chambers, 452 handprints and paintings have been recorded. Legend has it that the handprints are those of Mulka the Terrible (an Aboriginal evil spirit) who was known as a murderer and cannibal and lived in the Mulka Cave. The tribe eventually killed him after he killed his mother for scolding him for eating children.

Several human handprints on a cave rock face

Aboriginal rock art (handprints) in Mulka’s Cave

 

Wave Rock is a unique and beautiful rock formation with its wave-like shape caused by the water below ground before the rock was exposed by erosion. The ‘wave’ is even more accentuated by the vertical orange, brown, yellow and grey streaks that stain the surface. The colours in Wave Rock, created by water runoff reacting with the minerals in the rock, are magnificent, and even more so when the sunlight hits the rock.

A low stone wall on top of Wave Rock was built by the Water Authority in 1951 to channel water into the Hyden Reservoir. Initially used as an emergency water supply for livestock, it became the town water supply for Hyden in the early 1960s. It is still used for this purpose but is now supplemented by a larger dam out at The Humps.

We had 60 minutes at Wave Rock which was plenty of time to walk along the 110 metres rock face and the top of the rock and to grab an ice cream at the caravan park store adjacent to Wave Rock before boarding the bus for the drive back to Perth.

A long rock formation with flora in the foreground that looks like an ocean wave

Wave Rock

 

Explore Rottnest Island

Rottnest Island is a major tourist attraction with over 500,000 visitors a year and is famous for its native quokka population, said to be the happiest animal on earth. So, I thought I better see for myself what all the hype is about.

Dosed up with sea sickness tablets, I caught the train to Fremantle, from where I took the 9.00 am ferry to Rottnest Island – a 30-minute trip across the Indian Ocean.

Quokkas are native to Rottnest Island but also, less commonly, found on mainland Western Australia. They are found nowhere else on earth. They are also known as the short-tailed scrub wallaby and are about the size of a domestic cat. In my opinion, they look like a cross between a large rat and a small wallaby. I can understand why the Dutch sailors who first landed on Rottnest Island reported to their captain that the island was infested with large rats and named it Rottenest Island (“Rat’s Nest Island” in English). The ‘e’ was later dropped.

A photo of a quokka

A quokka on Rottnest Island

 

Quokkas are mainly nocturnal animals, but tourism on Rottnest Island seems to have flipped their internal clock as they were everywhere around the cafes scavenging food. And no, I did not take a selfie with a quokka – apparently, this is THE thing to do on Rottnest Island!

Rottnest Island is 11 kilometres long and 4.5 kilometres wide at its widest point. Locals describe the island as a favourite holiday destination for Western Australians because of its pristine beaches ideal for swimming, beautiful bays to explore, coral reefs and shipwrecks to snorkel around, and cycle paths (cars are not allowed on the island) and walking tracks.

A photo of a sapphire blue ocean and a beach surrounded by rocks on three sides

Fish Hook Bay, Rottnest Island

 

My visit to Rottnest Island was organised through SeaLink, taking their Rottnest Bayseeker Package. The package included the return ferry with Sealink WA and a 90-minute bus tour of the island, disembarking briefly at a couple of viewpoints around the island. With my bus tour not until 1.45 pm and arriving off the ferry at about 9.45 am, I had several hours to kill. To fill in my time between arrival and the bus tour, I checked out the shops at Thomson Bay, the island’s central hub and referred to as The Settlement, had lunch in one cafe and coffee and cake in another, went for a walk, and visited Wadjemup Museum.

Wadjemup Museum

If you want to learn about Rottnest Island’s unique and diverse history, including its dark history as a penal settlement for Aboriginal prisoners, visiting the Wadjemup Museum is a must. The museum is a delight to explore as it is laid out in easy-to-follow themes, including cultural connections, early exploration, Aboriginal incarceration, and milestones such as how the island was used as internment camps in World War l and ll and as a COVID-19 quarantine station in 2020. A theatrette, audio interactions, an interactive touchscreen for kids, and outdoor sculptures complete your museum experience.

A photo of various sculptures outside on plinths

Wadjemup Museum outdoor sculptures

 

I enjoyed looking through Wadjemup Museum, finding it thought-provoking and engaging. Should you be on Rottnest Island, I recommend visiting the museum.

The museum is in the Old Mill and Hay Store behind the Rottnest Bakery and General Store in Thomson Bay Settlement. Opening hours are 10.00 am to 3.30 pm daily. Entry to the museum is by donation.

While I liked the Wadjemup Museum experience, I was, on the whole, disappointed with my visit to Rottnest Island and, frankly, bored. At one point, I asked myself why I was there. My disappointment stemmed from too much time around Thomson Bay Settlement waiting for the bus tour and a bus tour that made too few stops around the island with minimal time at each of those stops (never a good combination for a keen photographer). In hindsight, I would have been better off taking the Rottnest Express ferry from Barrack Street Wharf over to the island and then using Rottnest Island’s Hop On / Hop Off Bus to explore the island on my own, at my pace.

Chime a massive bell in The Bell Tower

A glass tower with other buildings behind it

The iconic Bell Tower

 

The distinctive design of the towering glass spire of The Bell Tower (resulting from an architectural competition and the world’s only bell tower) has become an icon for Perth and Western Australia. The Bell Tower was custom built to house the twelve historic 18th century Bells of St Martin-in-the-Field (one of London’s most famous churches) and five specially cast bells gifted to the people of Western Australia in 1988 in commemoration of Australia’s bicentenary. The Western Australian Government commissioned a sixth new bell to mark the second millennium, making a total of 18 bells in The Bell Tower.

Eighteen cast bells with rope pull wheels

Bells of St Martin’s

 

The Bell Tower, located in Barrack Square, is one of the largest musical instruments in the world and a unique, interactive Perth tourist attraction. Open Thursday to Sunday from 10.00 am to 4.00 pm, with the last entry at 3.45 pm. Tickets can be purchased online or directly at the Bell Tower.

A General Entry ticket gives you access to the Bell Tower’s six levels on a self-guided tour, with the opportunity to see the St Martin bells ring by the professional bell ringers if you time your visit between 12.00 pm and 1.00 pm on a Thursday or Sunday. The General Entry ticket does not include chiming the bells yourself.

Level 6 is the open-air Observation Deck, where you get stunning views of the Swan River and Perth City.

I chose the 45-minute ‘Bell Tower Experience’ tour because I wanted more than just to learn about the history of The Bell Tower and the famous royal bells. I wanted to step behind the scenes with access to the Bell Tower ringing chamber to chime the historic bells, and I have the certificate to prove I chimed a bell. I learnt that chiming a bell is not just a matter of pulling the rope, but it is about how the rope is pulled. I also discovered how hard it is to pull the rope to make a sound from the bell.

Don’t be disappointed; buy your ticket ahead of your preferred visit time.

For $35.00, couples can announce their everlasting love to the world with an engraved Love Lock and attach it to the chain fence at the entrance to The Bell Tower.

Five rows of love locks attached to chains

Chain of Love Locks at the Bell Tower

 

Australian Pinnacle Tours

You will have noticed I used Australian Pinnacle Tours on serval occasions for sightseeing trips in Perth and beyond. Their tours were well organised with appropriate timing at each stop to explore, discover and take heaps of photos, and the drivers a wealth of information. My only suggestion to Australian Pinnacle Tours is to change the lunch venue on the Wave Rock tour.

Australian Pinnacle Tours’ Perth office in Barrack Square was three doors from where I was staying. When I saw a poster in their window for a tour to Wellington Dam (a place I was eager to visit for its massive dam wall mural), which fitted in with the dated I was in Perth, I immediately went in to chat with the staff. I found the staff above and beyond helpful. Perhaps it also helps to have all your tours booked with one company? The staff rearranged my booked tours to enable me to join the Wellington Dam tour, they looked up the weather to ascertain which days would be best for which tours, and they gave me suggestions as to the best spots to take photos of the mural on the dam wall.

When Australian Pinnacle Tours cancelled my Margaret River tour due to not being able to get a driver because of COVID-19 depleting driver numbers, staff explored every possible avenue available to them to get me on the tour another day. Unfortunately, it was not to be, giving me another reason to return to Perth.

I can’t thank the Australian Pinnacle Tours staff enough for their undivided help and attention, friendliness and professionalism. I highly recommend doing business with Australian Pinnacle Tours.

Getting around Perth

In moving around Perth, I walked (Perth is easy to walk around) and used CAT buses. Transperth’s CAT (Central Area Transit) buses operate in the Perth CBD, Fremantle, and Joondalup. They are free and frequent and use a colour-coding system in each area to identify the different routes. You may get off and on them as often as you like without paying a fare.

Click HERE for CAT route maps and timetables, clicking on the PDF symbol next to the relevant timetable.

On two occasions, I needed to get to Fremantle, and I used the train at those times – a 30-minute ride from Perth Railway Station, leaving from Platform 7. Good to know when purchasing a train ticket: Fremantle is in Zone 2 from Perth. A ‘one-way’ ticket is good for one hour, and if returning more than one hour later, you must purchase a Day Pass.

Where I stayed

A photo of a large spacious hotel room with floor to ceiling windows, king bed, couch, and desk

My room for 10 days in the Doubletree by Hilton Perth Waterfront

 

While in Perth, I stayed at Doubletree by Hilton Perth Waterfront at 1 Barrack Square. I had a deluxe room with a king bed and panoramic river view. Being situated on the corner of the building on the 17th floor with large windows all around, I had fabulous views of the Swan River and Perth City.

The room was light, spacious, and comfortable, and I never tired of the views. It had everything I needed for a 9-night stay, except a microwave, and a microwave would have been useful given the length of my stay. When seeking information, I found the hotel reception staff helpful and knowledgeable.

I first visited Perth in 1981 on my way back to Namibia, where I was living at the time. It has taken me 41 years to return, and I certainly will not leave my next visit for so long as Perth has much more for me to discover, explore and enjoy.

 

Disclaimer: This post contains no affiliate links. All views and opinions are my own and non-sponsored. All photos are my own and remain the copyright of Just Me Travel.

© Just Me Travel 2018-2022.

 

Please leave a comment below to share your thoughts. Is Perth on your bucket list as my return is on mine?

 

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A photo of a painting of people on a dam wall plus a photo of a city with new and colonial buildings

A photo of a beach plus a photo of a bridge

 

Are you looking for more ideas on destination Western Australia? Then don’t miss these posts:

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SEE 7 BEAUTIFUL GORGES IN THE KIMBERLEY – the ultimate guide

THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO 6 SAFE SWIMMING HOLES IN THE KIMBERLEY, AUSTRALIA

 

Author’s Note: Please check the latest travel restrictions before planning any trip, and always follow government advice.

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FOOD IS FREE LANEWAY ENGAGES AUTHENTIC COMMUNITY SPIRIT [2022 UPDATED]

  DEAR MEG, Down a laneway in Ballarat is a hidden gem that inspires a true sense of community at its best. Pip had recently seen a feature story on…

A photo of a laneway lined with tubs and boxes of plants. The signs in the laneway state food is free.

Food Is Free Laneway, Ballarat

 

DEAR MEG,

Down a laneway in Ballarat is a hidden gem that inspires a true sense of community at its best.

Pip had recently seen a feature story on the ABC’s Gardening Australia about Ballarat’s Food is Free project. So, when arriving in Ballarat on our Victorian road trip, we were keen to check out the Food Is Free Laneway.

It was not the best day for a walk as it was bitterly cold, with the wind-chill factor making it difficult to walk because we were freezing. But we persevered and eventually found the Food Is Free Laneway.

We already knew from the Gardening Australia story that Ballarat resident Lou Ridsdale founded the Ballarat Food Is Free Laneway in October 2014. The laneway is adjacent to her home – at 305 Ripon Street South, near the corner of Ripon Street South and Warrior Place.

We also had foreknowledge about the purpose of the Food Is Free Laneway; that it is, as the name implies, about sharing food for free. People drop off their excess produce, which is accessible to everyone at no cost (except perhaps a chat with a neighbour). This sharing has gone a long way to building community interconnections and engagement.

Boxes and tables of fresh fruits, vegetables, and herbs, donated by the public for people to take as they want, extended the length of the laneway. There were also drawers of seeds and excess pots and jars for the taking.

We didn’t meet Lou but chatted to the volunteer who was manning the laneway and keeping things in order. She told us that a team of volunteers help out at the site. This is important as people will want to drop off, for example eggs, but only fresh veggies, fruits, and herbs can be accepted.

The Food Is Free Laneway is a unique project for sustainably managing excess food, assisting those less advantaged, and building community through collaboration. It is a credit to Lou and the volunteers, who donate their time to this community initiative. It is also a credit to the Ballarat community who have embraced Food Is Free.

As we were leaving, a lady arrived to drop off some vegetables. We were off to find hot soup.

Cheers,

Joanna

Editor’s Note: This blog post was originally published in July 2019 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

 

Disclaimer: This post contains no affiliate links. All views and opinions are my own and non-sponsored. All photos are my own and remain the copyright of Just Me Travel.

 

Please leave a comment below to share your thoughts. What community projects have you witnessed or participated in?

 

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A picture with two photos. One photo is of a blue wheelbarrow with plants in it. The second photo is of a yellow wooden box planted with herbs. Learn more from JustMe.Travel about Food Is Free Laneway supporting community.

 

A picture with two photo. One is of a laneway lined with boxes of fresh fruit, veggies, and herbs. The second photo is of fresh fruits in baskets, sitting in wooden troughs.

 

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Author’s Note: Please check the latest travel restrictions before planning any trip, and always follow government advice.

© Just Me Travel 2018-2022. All rights reserved.

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9 BEAUTIFUL BLUE MOUNTAINS WATERFALLS + PHOTOS

“Mother Nature is the greatest artist and water is one of her favourite brushes” – Rico Besserdich   During a wet summer, I took a road trip to discover and…

“Mother Nature is the greatest artist and water is one of her favourite brushes” – Rico Besserdich

 

During a wet summer, I took a road trip to discover and photograph as many Blue Mountains waterfalls as possible in a 5-day stay. This post is about the nine waterfalls I got to, all breathtakingly unique, and how to find them. Would you visit all or any of these waterfalls in New South Wales’s Blue Mountains? I will let my photos do the talking, and you be the judge.

 

By December 2021, New South Wales had come out of covid lockdown, and I needed to stretch my travel legs by taking a road trip. Having reached this conclusion, my next step was deciding where to go. At the time, New South Wales had been experiencing significant rainfall. So, I knew the Blue Mountains waterfalls would be more than a trickle and an excellent time to visit and photograph them.

My love of waterfalls began with Iguazu Falls in Argentina and was cemented with Victoria Falls in Botswana and Blue Nile Falls in Ethiopia. I feel a connection with waterfalls and am mesmerised by their power, majesty, beauty, and carefreeness. Thus, my decision to explore the Blue Mountains waterfalls was a logical one.

I had visited the Blue Mountains many times as a child but never been to any of its (according to Wikipedia) 48 waterfalls. While I am drawn to waterfalls, I wasn’t planning to visit that many. What I could see in 5 days seemed to be a good compromise. Despite the continuing rain and a pea-souper fog on one day, I discovered and photographed nine known Blue Mountains waterfalls. I say ‘known’ because the Blue Mountains Heritage Centre staff in Blackheath told me national park Rangers were finding waterfalls where none previously existed.

The Blue Mountains are renowned for incredible landscapes, undeniable scenery, and nature’s finest. Best known for the iconic Three Sisters rock formation in Katoomba, there is much to discover – lookouts with views over stunning valleys, spectacular waterfalls, historic walking tracks, Aboriginal culture, heritage villages, mountain biking, adventure sports, and camping.

Fun Fact: The Blue Mountains in New South Wales are so-called because of the blue haze blanketing the mountains created by the forests of densely populated oil-bearing Eucalyptus trees releasing droplets of oil that mix with water vapour and sunlight.

My road trip involved driving from Albury to Katoomba in the Blue Mountains, with a stopover in Sydney to visit family. I based myself in Katoomba for my five days of discovering and photographing waterfalls

Most of the waterfalls I checked out are in Blue Mountains National Park – a vast region of more than 260,000 hectares on Sydney’s doorstep and part of the UNESCO Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area (an area covering over one million hectares). The Blue Mountains National Park is New South Wales’ most visited national park.

It rained for much of the time I was in the Blue Mountains. But with a raincoat for myself and my camera, I was well-equipped and not deterred.

Getting to some waterfalls proved challenging because all the rain had made many tracks inaccessible, and some roads were closed. With the need, on occasion, to find alternative tracks and routes, Google maps became my new best friend.

A word of caution should you visit Blue Mountains waterfalls after significant rainfalls: Many walking tracks to the waterfalls were waterlogged and slippery due to recent and ongoing rain. So, take care. And all involved lots of steps.

Fairy Falls

A photo of a wide two-tier waterfall dropping onto rocks and surrounded by trees and shrubs.

Fairy Falls on the North Lawson Waterfall Circuit was not the most spectacular waterfall I photographed on my Blue Mountains waterfalls adventure, but it was the prettiest.

To get to Fairy Falls from the township of Lawson, turn off the Great Western Highway onto San Jose Avenue. Turn left onto Badgery Crescent and then right to resume travel on San Jose Avenue. Follow San Jose Avenue to North Lawson Park, where car parking is available. From North Lawson Park, take the Dantes Glen Walking Track to Fairy Falls.

The trek to Fairy Falls is a 400-metre return walk and well signposted. At the Fairy Falls signpost, turn off Dantes Glen Walking Track, taking the path down to the falls. However, upon returning to Dantes Glen Walking Track, I recommend you turn right and continue onto Dantes Glen before returning to North Lawson Park.

A sign showing the walking tracks to waterfalls and through the Blue Mountains National Park

Signage of walking track to Fairy Falls and Dantes Glen.

 

Dantes Glen

A photo of a waterfall dropping into a rock pool surrounded by ferns and other vegetation. There is a fallen tree trunk resting on the waterfall ledge.

Dantes Glen is about 200 metres further along Dantes Glen Walking Track from the turnoff to Fairy Falls (a 750-metre return walk from North Lawson Park) and well signposted.

As I approached the waterfall, a narrow wooden bridge seemed to defy safe crossing. Nevertheless, I crossed without incident while carrying a water bottle and large camera, and a daypack on my back.

From Dantes Glen, I retraced my steps back to North Lawson Park.

A wooden direction sign painted blue with whits writing and surrounded by ferns and grasses.

Adelina Falls

A photo of a waterfall dropping into a rock pool surrounded by ferns and other vegetation.

Leaving the North Lawson Waterfall Circuit, I didn’t travel far to join the South Lawson Waterfall Circuit to view Adelina Falls (signposted as ‘Adeline’ Falls).

There are four waterfalls on the South Lawson Waterfall Circuit, but I only walked to Adelina Falls. With thunder rolling around the valley and having had enough of walking up and down hundreds of steps for one day, I was eager to get to my accommodation in Katoomba.

To get to Adelina Falls from Lawson, turn off the Great Western Highway at Orient Street and onto Honour Avenue, parking at the South Lawson Waterfall Circular Walking Track carpark. Adelina Falls is a 600-metre walk from the carpark.

Katoomba Falls

A photo of a multi-tiered waterfall plunging down a cliff face and surrounded by bushland.

View of Katoomba Falls taken from the Scenic Skyway at Scenic Falls.

 

Located between Echo Point and Scenic World, Katoomba Falls, on the Kedumba River within Blue Mountains National Park, plunges approximately 152 metres over two main levels to the Jamison Valley below.

The best view I had of Katoomba falls was the day I joined my sister at Scenic World and took a ride on the Scenic Skyway, which travels over the top of the Jamison Valley.

We also had good views from Duke & Duchess of York Lookout, but trees obscured some sections of the falls.

A photo of a signboard of several walking tracks to waterfalls in the Katoomba area of the Blue Mountains.

Signage of walking tracks to Katoomba Falls and Katoomba Cascades

 

Scenic World provides perhaps the best views of the Three Sisters, the Blue Mountains National Park’s iconic landmark.

A photo of sandstone rock formations in the shape of three pinnacles.

To read the Aboriginal dream-time legend behind the Three Sisters, including an alternative tale, click here.

Katoomba Cascades

A photo of a waterfall flowing over multiple rock ledges, getting wider as the water tumbles from top to bottom.

Starting at Katoomba Falls Park on Cliff Drive, Katoomba, it is an easy, short walk to Katoomba Cascades, located a few hundred metres before the Kedumba River plunges over the cliff to the Jamison Valley below.

You can view the Katoomba Cascades from a small bridge over the river or walk right up to the cascades. I took the photo above from the rocks between the bridge and the cascades.

A map showing road and walking tracks to waterfalls, lookouts and other tours attractions in Katoomba.

Map courtesy of Aussie Bushwalking (https://www.aussiebushwalking.com/nsw/katoomba-cascades)

 

Wentworth Falls

A photo of a waterfall plunging over multiple levels down a cliff and surrounded by bushland.

Wentworth Falls is awe-inspiring as the Jamison Creek plummets 187 metres in multiple drops to the out-of-sight valley floor below. If Fairy Falls was the prettiest waterfall I viewed and photographed on my Blue Mountains waterfalls adventure, then Wentworth Falls was the most breathtaking, and no photo does it justice.

For the best view of the falls, continue down after Wentworth Falls Lookout (disappointing view) to Princes Rock Lookout. The walk is 20 minutes return, graded ‘easy’, with some steps. Access to the bottom of the falls was closed due to maintenance work on the path.

To get to Wentworth Falls, take the Great Western Highway to the town of Wentworth Falls, turning off the highway at Falls Road. Continue to the end of Falls Road, parking at Wentworth Falls picnic area.

Gordon Falls

Photo of a multi-tiered waterfall plunging down a cliff and surrounded by bushland.

Gordon Falls Lookout is 1.6 kilometres from the main street of the Blue Mountains town of Leura. To get there, head south on Leura Mall (main street) towards Megalong Street. Continue on Leura Mall to the end of the road (T-junction) and turn left onto Olympian Parade. The track to Gordon Falls Lookout commences at the corner of Olympian Parade and Lone Pine Avenue. It is about 163 metres along the walking trail to the lookout and includes negotiating a vertical metal ladder with handrails.

Gordon Falls is to the left of the lookout. I found it tricky getting a photo of the falls due to the angle of the lookout from the waterfall. At a drop of 200-metres, I could not see the entirety of the waterfall.

While in Leura, you must visit Leura Cascades and Leura Bridal Veil Falls

Leura Cascades

A photo of a creek cascading over multiple rock ledges, creating a waterfall.

Set in Blue Mountains National Park and surrounded by rainforest, Leura Cascades is a waterfall that tumbles down multiple rock shelves on Leura Falls Creek.

The walk to Leura Cascades starts at the Leura Cascades picnic area off Cliff Drive in Leura. However, due to road works, I could not access the picnic area. I eventually found an alternative track to Leura Cascades close to Solitude Restaurant and Cafe on Cliff Drive, near Kiah Lookout. The road at this point was closed to vehicles but open to pedestrians.

The 600-metre walk to Leura Cascades took me well over the suggested 15-30 minutes required as I spent time soaking in the views over the magnificent Jamison Valley, listening to the music of rushing water, taking heaps of photos, walking on to Leura Bridal Veil Falls, and climbing back up all the steps I had taken to get down to Leura Cascades.

A map showing road and walking tracks to waterfalls, lookouts and other tourist attractions in Leura.

Credit: Google Maps

 

Leura Bridal Veil Falls

A photo of a wide waterfall plunging down a rugged cliff face to the valley floor below.

Fed by Leura Falls Creek and downstream from Leura Cascades, the picturesque Leura Bridal Veil Falls was a fantastic climax to my Blue Mountains waterfalls experience!

Bridal Veil Falls is a permanent waterfall with a drop of 35 metres. The ideal times to visit are late autumn, winter, and early spring.

The day I decided to see Govetts Leap Falls (also known as Bridal Veil Falls and not to be confused with the falls in Leura by the same name), it was pea-souper fog on the drive from my accommodation in Katoomba to Govetts Leap Lookout in Blackheath. Even though at Govetts Leap Lookout I couldn’t see two feet in front of me, I decided I would walk down to the waterfall. For some reason, I figured the fog would lift the lower I descended the mountain. Not my best thinking! The fog made the descent treacherous, especially on uneven, slippery steps. When I finally got to the waterfall where it plunges over the cliff, I couldn’t see anything except the new waterfall created by the unprecedented rains the area was experiencing. It was a whiteout! For the first time, I considered the negative aspect of no one knowing where I was.

Where I stayed

For the five days I spent seeking and photographing Blue Mountains waterfalls, I based myself at Lilianfels Blue Mountains Resort & Spa in Katoomba, in the heart of the World Heritage Listed Blue Mountains National Park. This 5-star resort, 90 minutes from Sydney, is set in two acres of gardens overlooking the Jamison Valley.

Fine dining, spa treatments, high tea, and a large, comfortable room made Lilianfels the ideal place to come ‘home’ to after a day of trekking.

A photo of a room in a luxury hotel, showing the bed, cupboard, couch, desk and chair.

My room in Lilianfels Blue Mountains Resort & Spa

 

The nine Blue Mountains waterfalls I visited in December are just the tip of the iceberg. There are many more waterfalls to explore in the Blue Mountains, and I still have 39 to discover!

My focus on this road trip was on the waterfalls located in the Blue Mountains. But there is more to the Blue Mountains than just waterfalls. It is a playground for a variety of activities and a must-visit area.

Important Note: You must check the NSW National Parks and Wildlife website for park alerts to avoid disappointment and dangerous situations. Alerts can include track and road closures, fire bans, and safety alerts.

 

Disclaimer: This post contains no affiliate links. All views and opinions are my own and non-sponsored. Unless expressly stated, all photos are my own and remain the copyright of Just Me Travel.

 

Please leave a comment below to share your thoughts. How can you not love waterfalls! Which waterfall most inspires you to visit the Blue Mountains?

 

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A picture of two waterfalls

A picture of two waterfalls

 

Are you looking for more waterfalls? Read these related posts.

Photo of a waterfall with a rainbow reflected on the rock cliff face.

SEE 3 OF THE BEST WATERFALLS IN THE SOUTHERN HIGHLANDS, NEW SOUTH WALES

 

A photo of multiple waterfalls taken from the air while in a helicopter and looking past the pilot.

THE SMOKE THAT THUNDERS FROM MY CAMERA’S PERSPECTIVE

 

Author’s Note: Please check the latest travel restrictions before planning any trip, and always follow government advice.

© Just Me Travel 2018-2022.

 

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THE ULTIMATE GREAT OCEAN ROAD PHOTO TOUR – A Fantastic 5 Day Trip

Experience One of Australia’s Most Iconic Road Trips Driving Victoria’s Great Ocean Road.   The Great Ocean Road is Australia’s most famous coastal drive and one of the best road…

Experience One of Australia’s Most Iconic Road Trips Driving Victoria’s Great Ocean Road.

 

The Great Ocean Road is Australia’s most famous coastal drive and one of the best road trips in the world. Famed for its stunning scenery, what better way to show you the natural phenomena, incredible wild views, and beauty of the Great Ocean Road than through the photographs I took on a photo tour road trip. Enjoy!

 

Victoria’s Great Ocean Road was placed on the Australian National Heritage list in April 2011 as a place of outstanding national heritage significance. The 242-kilometre Great Ocean Road follows the stunning coastline of Victoria’s southwest from Torquay to Allansford. The road winds along clifftops beside breathtaking headlands, down onto the edge of beaches, across river estuaries and through rainforests, offering ever-changing diverse landscapes and views of Bass Strait and the Southern Ocean.

The Great Ocean Road was built by returned soldiers between 1919 and 1932 and dedicated to soldiers killed during World War l. The road is the world’s largest war memorial.

To take a road trip along the Great Ocean Road is a drive I have wanted to do for many years, but something always got in the way. So, when I came across the Great Ocean Road Photo Tour with Mark Gray Photography, I could think of no better way to combine my desire to drive the Great Ocean Road and my passion for travel photography.

As a keen amateur photographer, I often seek out photography tours around the world. I firmly believe I can never stop learning and what better way to learn and master landscape photography than out of the classroom with a professional photographer by your side guiding you along the way.

Mark Gray Photography’s tours are suitable for amateur to semi-professional photographers and are limited to 6-8 participants, ensuring everyone gets plenty of individual tuition at each location from the accompanying professional and experienced photographer. The Great Ocean Road Photo Tour locations, accommodation, and meals were well researched by Mark Gray Photography, with appropriate scheduling across the five days.

Great Ocean Road Photo Tour route

A map of southern Victoria showing the Great Ocean Road route

Great Ocean Road photo tour route from Melbourne return (Google Maps)

 

The pickup point for our Great Ocean Road Photo Tour was in Melbourne outside St Paul’s Cathedral, near Flinders Street Railway Station.

Our route over the five days took us along the Great Ocean Road through the Victorian towns of Geelong, Torquay (the start of the Great Ocean Road), Anglesea, Lorne, Apollo Bay, Port Campbell, Allansford (the end of the Great Ocean Road), Warnambool, and on to Port Fairy (our final stop). The return trip to Melbourne from Port Fair on day five, after a sunrise shoot, breakfast, and photo critiquing session, was via Colac, where we stopped for lunch.

The photos below are shown in the order in which they were seen and taken, giving a visual journey along the spectacular Great Ocean Road.

Lower Kalimna Falls, Great Otway National Park

A photo of a waterfall dropping into a rock pool surrounded by ferns and other vegetation.

Leaving from Sheoak Picnic Area near Lorne in the Great Otway National Park, the six-kilometre return walking track to Lower Kalimna Falls through the creek valley follows the old trolley way used many years ago for hauling timber to Lorne.

Lorne Suspension Bridge

A picture of a foot bridge over a river and sand with the ocean in the background

The Lorne Suspension Bridge is a timber footbridge over the Erskine River near its mouth. An iconic landmark of Lorne, the bridge was completed in 1937.

Redwoods of the Otway Ranges

A photo looking up into the canopy of tall, straight trees.

Beech Forest in the Great Otway National Park is home to a thriving small, sheltered grove of Coastal Redwoods – the world’s tallest tree species. Towering on the river flat at Aire Valley Plantation, these redwoods were planted in 1936 by Victorian foresters for experimental purposes. They were never cut down, and although still in their infancy growth phase, they now stand about 60 metres high. Even though ‘babies’, their height as they reach for the sky still left me in awe of the sight.

It was very peaceful walking through the grove as I listened to the rippling of the water from the river flowing beside the grove of redwoods.

There is a picnic area across the road from the redwoods.

Hopetoun Falls, Great Otway National Park

A photo of a waterfall with trees in front of it.

Deemed by some as the most beautiful waterfall in Victoria, Hopetoun Falls in Beech Forest plummets 30 metres into the Aire River. Take in the view from the upper platform or descend around 200 stairs to the bottom of the falls.

The Twelve Apostles, Port Campbell National Park

A photo of limestone stacks along a coastline and the ocean with a pink tinge from the setting sun

The setting sun turns the ocean pink at the Twelve Apostles

 

A photo of four limestone stacks in the ocean off the coast

The rising sun is reflected on the limestone stacks of the Twelve Apostles

 

The Twelve Apostles is one of Australia’s iconic landmarks and the most photographed along the Great Ocean Road.

The Twelve Apostles is a collection of limestone stacks off the shore of Port Campbell National Park, formed by erosion over millions of years. The harsh and extreme weather conditions from the Southern Ocean along Victoria’s coast gradually erode the soft limestone to form caves in the cliffs, which become arches that eventually collapse, leaving rock stacks. Just as the winds and rough waves create the stacks, they also destroy them.

Despite the name, there were never twelve rock stacks, only ever nine. The nine became seven (according to Parks Victoria) after one collapsed in 2005 and another in 2009.

The Twelve Apostles was originally known as Sow and Pigs, with Muttonbird Island being the sow and the stacks being the pigs. The name change was solely due to marketing purposes, as the ‘Twelve Apostles’ had a better ring to it.

London Bridge, Port Campbell National Park

A photo of a limestone arch in the ocean that was a bridge to the mainland before it collapsed.

The arch of London Bridge was once connected to the mainland by a natural span that people could walk across, hence the name. The span collapsed on 15th January 1990, disconnecting the arch from the mainland forever. At the time of the collapse, two tourists were stranded on top of the arch and had to be rescued by helicopter. No one was injured in the event.

The Grotto, Port Campbell National Park

A picture of a steps leading down to a rocky coastline with the ocean in the background. One of the rock formations has an arch with a view to the ocean.

The Grotto, nine kilometres west of Port Campbell, is a cave, sinkhole, and archway all in one. The Grotto is a natural phenomenon formed over millions of years of crashing waves and high winds eroding the rocks, resulting in a caved sinkhole within the limestone cliffs.

You can reach the bottom via a wooden staircase that winds down the cliff face from the viewing platform at the top.

Sandy Cove, Bay of Islands Coastal Park

A picture of limestone stacks (rock formations) sitting in the ocean off the beach.

Characterised by offshore limestone rock stacks, Sandy Cove is a hidden gem along the Great Ocean Road.

Moyne River boat moorings, Port Fairy

A photo of boats in a river surrounded by houses.

Port Fairy is a historic fishing town located on the Moyne River.

Griffith Island Lighthouse, Port Fairy

A photo of a lighthouse on the edge of the ocean and surrounded by rocks

Sunset shoot of Griffith Island lighthouse

 

Griffith Island Lighthouse is situated at the end of a 400-metre walk along the causeway from Martin’s Point in the historic town of Port Fairy. It was built in 1859 and saw the last lighthouse keeper in the 1950s when the light, visible over 19 kilometres out to sea, was automated. The lighthouse is still fully operational, guiding ships into the Moyne River.

Port Fairy groynes

A photo taken at sunrise of timber fencing on the beach and leading into the ocean.

Sunrise shoot of the timber groynes at East Beach, Port Fairy

 

Groynes are structures (usually made of wood, concrete, or stone) built out into the sea from a beach to control erosion and drifting. Port Fairy’s groynes were placed at the southern end of the East Beach to stabilise the sand that had been eroding.

Tip: Fingerless gloves would be a good investment for sunrise shoots.

Where we stayed

I recommend the accommodation chosen by Mark Gray Photography on our Great Ocean Road Photo Tour.

On our five days / four nights trip, we stayed one night in Apollo Bay, two nights in Port Campbell, and one night in Port Fairy.

Seafarers Getaway, Apollo Bay, is situated opposite a private beach with all accommodation offering uninterrupted beach and coastal views. I had a well-equipped Beach Studio Unit with a furnished front deck and spectacular views of the breaking waves on the sand. The only downsides were six wall pegs in place of a wardrobe – okay for one night but would be annoying if staying longer – and the rug-less tile floors, which are great in summer but cold on the feet in winter.

Southern Ocean Villas, Port Campbell, is luxury accommodation on the edge of Port Campbell National Park and only a five-minute drive to the Twelve Apostles. Each villa is fully self-contained with two or three bedrooms, an open-plan kitchen and lounge/dining area, laundry, and an outdoor deck with table and chairs. While the bedrooms were dark (not an issue), the living area was light and airy.

Victoria Apartments, Port Fairy, is in the heart of the township of Port Fairy. I stayed in a one-bedroom suite, but other accommodation types are available. The suite’s living area was open planned, but the kitchenette was tiny. However, its winning features were a separate bedroom and a private courtyard. The accommodation was small and a bit cramped but adequate for a short stay for one person.

The 5-day Great Ocean Road Photo Tour with Mark Gray Photography was not a holiday but a dedicated photography workshop and is advertised as such. Our days were long and busy, often starting at sunrise, with little time to relax. But it was a unique way to visit the Great Ocean Road’s fantastic attractions and certainly met my long-term desire to ‘see’ the Great Ocean Road. Furthermore, I learned so much about my camera and landscape photography and came away with photos I am proud of.

You don’t have to be a photographer to appreciate the spectacular scenery and landscapes that the Great Ocean Road offers up at every turn. Take your time to discover and explore this most iconic Australian road trip along Victoria’s rugged southern coastline.

Disclaimer: This post contains no affiliate links. All views and opinions are my own and non-sponsored. All photos are my own and remain the copyright of Just Me Travel.

© Just Me Travel 2018-2022.

Please leave a comment below to share your thoughts. Has this post aroused your interest to take a road trip along Victoria’s Great Ocean Road?

 

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A picture with two images. One image is of rock stacks in the ocean near the coast. The second image is of timber groynes on a beach.

 

A picture with two images. One image is of an arch rock formation in the ocean near the coast. The second image is of a lighthouse.

 

Related posts

Australia lends itself to great road trips. Read and save the following posts for more road trips around Victoria.

> THE COMPLETE GUIDE TO ROAD TRIPPING VICTORIA’S SILO ART TRAIL [2021 UPDATED]

> UNIQUE SILO ART CELEBRATES LOCAL COMMUNITIES AND FAUNA [2021 UPDATED]

> 3 OF THE BEST THINGS TO SEE AND DO IN ROCHESTER, VICTORIA [2021 UPDATED]

> WYMAH FERRY BORDER CROSSING, LOCAL HISTORY, VALLEY VIEWS – the best day trip guide

Author’s Note: Please check the latest travel restrictions before planning any trip, and always follow government advice.

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ENJOY A WONDERFUL HIGH TEA ON A DEDICATED YARRA RIVER CRUISE [UPDATED 2022]

Melbourne’s Best High Tea On The River.   High tea is always a special event. Combine that with a river cruise past Melbourne’s skyline, and you have something unique and…

Melbourne’s Best High Tea On The River.

 

High tea is always a special event. Combine that with a river cruise past Melbourne’s skyline, and you have something unique and truly memorable. Read on to learn where, how, and what you can experience high tea on the Yarra River.

 

I love having high tea and have indulged in a few worldwide. It always makes me feel pampered.

I love river cruises and find them incredibly relaxing. Having been on 15 cruises, I admit I am addicted to river cruises.

Bring the two together and I have an experience made in heaven.

What is high tea?

As offered by luxury hotels worldwide, high tea is, historically and traditionally, afternoon tea.

If we are going to be correct, what we call high tea – finger sandwiches, savoury and sweet pastries, cakes, and scones with jam and cream – is afternoon tea which became a tradition among the British upper class in the mid-19th century. It was a social event of a light meal of bite-sized food and never meant to replace dinner. Whereas, historically, high tea was a working-class evening meal consisting of hearty dishes of meat and vegetables served at the end of the working day.

Why do we call it high tea? Because it sounds fancier and means luxury hotels and the like that offer high tea can attract tourists.

Whether called high tea or afternoon tea, it’s all the same to me, and I will continue to seek it out wherever I travel. It’s the socialisation and food itself I seek, not the name.

A special occasion

The second Sunday in May is Mother’s Day in Australia. What better way to celebrate Mother’s Day than to spend it with my daughter? Her choice of celebration in 2019 showed just how well she knows me. My Mother’s Day treat that year was a high tea river cruise on Melbourne’s Yarra River.

Magic Charters in Melbourne operates the high tea cruise on the Yarra River. The two-hour cruise sails from Victoria Harbour, Docklands to Williamstown, Hobson Bay (return) on selected Sundays from 2.00 pm to 4.00 pm throughout the year. Check their website for details and available dates.

Boarding was done incredibly efficiently by the crew. At the gangway, we gave our booking name, were given a table number, and off we went. Our table was upstairs, and while the boat holds up to 130 people, we were not crowded, with plenty of space between tables. I had held concerns that we might be required to share a table with strangers, and I did not want to do this as I just wanted to spend the time exclusively with my daughter. But tables were set for two, three and four people, with larger groups also accommodated.

High tea was catered for inside the boat, allowing for all weather conditions. However, floor to ceiling glass walls provided uninterrupted views as we sailed the Yarra River. There was also the option to venture outside on one of the three decks.

The tables were set with white linen tablecloths and napkins, ceramic crockery, water and glasses, silver cutlery, and finished with a red rose. It all felt very posh and added to my feeling of being pampered.

Our high tea was a relaxed experience, and the crew were efficient, friendly, and attentive. We even had the option to help the captain sail the boat – a spacious catamaran.

The serving of food was well-paced throughout the cruise. Magic Charters were not stingy over the amount of food, and all that was provided was delicious.

Leaving Victoria Harbour, you cruise under Bolte Bridge and historic West Gate Bridge, passing Melbourne’s industrial area before arriving at riverside parkland and fabulous views of Melbourne’s city skyline.

City buildings with a river in the foreground and a dark, cloudy sky

Melbourne city skyline from the Yarra River under a moody sky

 

High tea menu

As soon as we were seated, we were offered sparkling white wine, which flowed throughout the cruise. Orange juice was an available alternative.

Tiered plates of hot and cold savouries were the first foods to appear on our table, consisting of finger sandwiches, rolls, pies, tarts and arancini balls.

The savoury menu was followed by tiered plates filled with warm scones, jam, and cream (plenty of cream) on the lower tier and various deserts on the top plated level. Deserts included tubs of panna cotta with raspberries, macaroons, chocolate brownies and cupcakes.

A plate of mini tarts, pies, and arancini balls.

High tea savoury menu (May 2019)

 

A plate of cupcakes, biscuits, chocolate brownies, and tubs of pan cotta with raspberries.

High tea sweet menu (May 2019)

 

Tea and coffee were on offer continuously throughout the cruise.

Magic Charters can cater to some special dietary requirements, such as gluten-free and dairy-free. It is essential to advise them of your special dietary requirements when booking.

A note on cost

Magic Charters’ two-hour high tea cruise costs $118.00 per adult. However, booking Magic Charters’ high tea cruise, High Tea On The Sea, directly through their website reduces the price to $79.00 per adult, offering value for money.

Should you have a Sunday afternoon free in Melbourne, I recommend adding the high tea river cruise with Magic Charters to your itinerary for something different to do or plan for that special event, such as a birthday or Mother’s Day. This Melbourne high tea cruise is worth the experience.

 

Editor’s Note: This blog post was originally published in May 2019 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

 

Disclaimer: This post contains no affiliate links. All views and opinions are my own and non-sponsored. Photos by Meg Speak.

 

Please leave a comment below to share your thoughts. High tea or afternoon tea? If both were advertised on the same page at different venues, which would you be drawn to?

 

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A Pinterest pin with two images. One image shows a city skyline taken from a river with a dark, cloudy sky. The second image shows a variety of cakes on a plate, set on a table with a white linen tablecloth.

The image has two photos. One is of pies and tarts on a plate. The other image is of different cakes.

 

Author’s Note: Please check the latest travel restrictions before planning any trip, and always follow government advice.

 

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OLD BEECHWORTH GAOL GUIDED TOUR – An Authentic and Educational Step Back in Time

Old Beechworth Gaol – A Horrible History Tour.   The Old Beechworth Gaol guided tour is much more than a walk through a heritage-listed building. It is the perfect way…

Old Beechworth Gaol – A Horrible History Tour.

 

The Old Beechworth Gaol guided tour is much more than a walk through a heritage-listed building. It is the perfect way to explore the gaol and have history come alive. Beechworth Gaol is a time capsule that offers an authentic and educational look into the past. Visit the cells that housed notorious bushrangers, learn about convict life, and uncover some of the gaol’s darker history. Step inside and go back in time with an expert guide.

 

Beechworth is North East Victoria’s best-preserved gold rush town, leaving a legacy of colonial architecture that boasts 32 heritage-listed buildings. Old Beechworth Gaol is one of those buildings, and it is heritage-listed by the National Trust for its historical, architectural, and archeological significance to the state of Victoria.

Getting there

A short drive from Albury (45 kilometres), Beechworth is in my backyard.

For those living further afield, Beechworth is a 3-hour drive northeast of Melbourne (284 kilometres), 4 hours southwest of Canberra (391 kilometres), and about 6 hours southwest from Sydney (593 kilometres).

Don’t have a car? From Melbourne, Canberra, and Sydney, take a train to Wangaratta and then the bus to Beechworth on Wangaratta Coachlines.

Old Beechworth Gaol is located on the corner of Williams Street and Ford Street, Beechworth.

Tours of Old Beechworth Gaol operate daily at 11.00 am and 1.00 pm and take about one hour. You can purchase your guided tour tickets at the Old Beechworth Gaol Cafe located in the gaol wall near the main gates. Alternatively, you can book your tickets in advance online. Please check their Facebook page, The Old Beechworth Gaol, for updates on tours.

Our guided tour of old Beechworth Gaol started with a double vaccination status check. Walking through the main gates, the courtyard provided a venue for Daniel, our tour guide, to give us an overview of the history of Beechworth gaol.

  • Taking approximately six years to build, Beechworth Gaol was opened in 1864 and initially housed men and women.
  • The outer stone walls are granite.
  • The razor wire on top of the gaol’s walls replaced the original barbed wire.
  • The current iron gates replaced the original wooden gates in 1879 when there was a suspected prison outbreak.
  • Beechworth Gaol was a medium-security prison.
  • The prison has a history spanning 140 years, closing in 2004.

From the courtyard, our tour took us to the hard labour yard where male prisoners were put to work crushing granite rocks into gravel for roads and footpaths. The guards in the towers overseeing the hard labour yard worked 12-hour shifts.

A painting on a brick wall of a man in metal armour and helmet with a gun in each hand. Also painted is a man with very muscly arms and chest.

The mural in the hard labour yard painted by the inmate, Woodsie

 

Moving into the cell blocks was like entering a time capsule, where time has stood still since the prison’s closure in 2004. The feeling of being locked in time was confirmed by Daniel when he advised the cells have not been touched since 2004.

A prion cell in an old gaol with toilet, hand basin, bench, cupboard, and iron single bed.

A cell on old Beechworth Gaol – a time capsule

 

In the men’s cellblock, the gallows with the hangman’s noose was visible on death row – the top floor of the men’s cellblock. Eight men were executed in Beechworth Gaol between 1865 and 1881, and they are buried in unmarked graves in the exercise yard against the western wall.

A prison cell block with open doors to cells on the lower floor and gallows and hangman's noose on the upper floor.

The gallows and hangman’s noose on death row in the men’s cellblock

 

Daniel regaled us with stories of Ned Kelly’s misadventures (murder, assault, theft, and armed robbery) that landed him in Beechworth Gaol. Daniel was an entertaining storyteller. See below for details of who was Ned Kelly and his connection to Beechworth Gaol.

An image of four dummies wearing metal body armour and helmets

Effigies of Ned Kelly and the Kelly gang

 

In the women’s cellblock, cell 10 was the designated mother’s cell with its two doors. One door (the front door) led into the cellblock, and a guard could open the back door to allow the mother to let her children outside to play. Daniel explained that the children were not prisoners but were locked up with their mother.

A prison cell with front and back doors

Cell 10 – the mother’s cell with its double doors

 

At the end of the women’s cellblock is the solitary confinement cell where a prisoner was locked in the cell 23 hours a day. The prisoner was allowed outside in a caged area for one hour a day.

A large cage within a grassed and walled area.

The prisoner solitary confinement exercise cage

 

Our final tour stop was the exercise yard, the burial site of the executed men. An empty swimming pool dominates this lawned area.

Image of a lawned area with empty swimming pool, surrounded by stone walls with razor wire and overlooked by a watch tower.

Old Beechworth Gaol and the Ned Kelly connection

Ned Kelly was Australia’s most notorious bushranger and known for wearing a suit of iron armour during his final shootout with police. He was immortalised in the 1970 Ned Kelly movie starring Mick Jagger in the title role.

For those not familiar with Australian colonial history, escaped convicts who used the bush to hide from authorities were the original bushrangers. By the 1820s, the term had evolved to refer to those who took up armed robbery as a way of life, using the bush as their base.

Ned Kelly first became intimately acquainted with the inside of Beechworth Gaol at the age of about 13. Over the ensuing years, he became more familiar with the gaol on at least two other occasions.

Daniel was a wealth of information about Ned Kelly and his time spent in Beechworth Gaol. He held our undivided attention when telling of Ned’s imprisonment for lewd behaviour and assault when he was 16 years old. According to Daniel, Ned sent a package to a lady containing a man’s testicles and later assaulted her husband. There is great truth in the story as Ned did indeed send testicles to the lady. However, depending on your resource will determine the nature of the testicles. A man’s testicles, a calf’s testicles, two calves’ testicles – believe what you will. I suspect the story has grown legs.

For the lewd behaviour and assault crimes, Ned Kelly received 6 or 8 months (once again, depending on your resource) imprisonment in Beechworth Gaol.

Time for lunch

Whether you do the old Beechworth Gaol guided tour in the morning or afternoon, you must eat in Beechworth.

You are spoiled for choice for places to eat in Beechworth. I have eaten at several places and never had a bad meal.

On the day of my old Beechworth Goal tour, I ate at the Beechworth Pantry Gourmet Delicatessen & Coffee Shop on Ford Street. I ordered the Asparagus, Leek and Cheese Quiche with apple and Pear Salad and couldn’t resist the Hazelnut Meringue with Berries and Cream. I left the cafe very satisfied and with bars of fruit nougat in hand for later enjoyment.

My final review

If you plan to visit Beechworth, do yourself a favour and take a step back in time with a guided tour of old Beechworth Gaol. The tour provides all ages with an authentic and educational experience in which local, expert guides bring a dark history to life. It is a unique experience not to be missed and highly recommended.

A corridor with numerous open blue metal doors with heavy metal bolts on the doors. Two set of stairs are in the middle of the corridor.

The female cellblock in old Beechworth gaol

 

Disclaimer: This post contains no affiliate links. All views and opinions are my own and non-sponsored. All photos are my own and remain the copyright of Just Me Travel.

© Just Me Travel 2018-2022.

 

Please leave a comment below to share your thoughts. The only other prison tour I have taken was to Alcatraz when I was visiting San Francisco. Where have you taken a prison tour?

 

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Author’s Note: Please check the latest travel restrictions before planning any trip, and always follow government advice.

 

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WYMAH FERRY BORDER CROSSING, LOCAL HISTORY, VALLEY VIEWS – the best day trip guide

Explore Both Sides of the Border on a Day Trip from Albury.   The New South Wales-Victoria border crossing on the Wymah Ferry is a unique experience. Combined with several…

Explore Both Sides of the Border on a Day Trip from Albury.

 

The New South Wales-Victoria border crossing on the Wymah Ferry is a unique experience. Combined with several lookouts delivering magnificent valley views, learning some local history, and eating the best ice cream in town, you have the perfect day trip from Albury. Use my detailed guide for planning your day trip across the border on a ferry with things to do around Lake Hume. Or save it for future reference when looking for a special day out with friends, family, or just on your own.

A picture of two images. One is of a car on a car ferry crossing a river. The other is views of a lake surrounded by hills.

 

Albury is a major regional city situated on the mighty Murray River in southern New South Wales. The Murray River is Australia’s longest river (flowing for 2,530 kilometres) and forms the border between the states of New South Wales and Victoria before flowing into South Australia.

Albury is strategically located for some of the best day trips in New South Wales and Victoria. A massive lake and river system, historic towns, mountains, national parks are just some of the adventures waiting for you on Albury’s doorstep.

Getting There

a map of a route from Albury to Bowna to Wymah Ferry Terminal to Old Tallangatta Lookout to Mitta Valley Lookout to Tallangatta to Tallangatta Lookout to Lake Hume Village to Albury

Wymah Ferry day trip route map (Google maps)

 

The Wymah Ferry day trip is a route driven in a loop and can be travelled in either direction:

  • Albury –> Bowna –> Wymah –> Wymah Ferry Terminal –> Granya –> Old Tallangatta Lookout –> Mitta valley Lookout –> Tallangatta –> Tallangatta Lookout –> Lake Hume Village -> Albury.

OR IN REVERSE

  • Albury –> Lake Hume Village –> Tallangatta Lookout –> Tallangatta, and so forth.

The drive is approximately 2 hours 25 minutes without stopping (151 kilometres). However, this is a day trip because we make several stops at places of interest along the way, take the Wymah Ferry across the Murray River, and stop for the best ice cream in town.

Albury to Wymah Ferry, New South Wales

Albury is the start and endpoint for this day trip. Driving north on the Hume Highway, you leave the highway at the Bowna Road turnoff. With Lake Hume on your right, approximately 5 kilometres along Bowna Road, turn right onto Wymah Road, heading to Wymah Ferry Terminal.

A hidden gem on this section of the route is Wymah School Museum. Make time to visit.

Bowna – the village that was

Bowna was a small village of about 150 people, but the decision to build a dam across the Murray River would foretell its demise. Bowna village was flooded in 1933 by the rising waters of Lake Hume. By 1935, the village had disappeared entirely, with traces only seen when Lake Hume is very low.

All you will see of Bowna village today on your day trip to or from Wymah Ferry are the letterboxes on Wymah Road in the photo below.

Bowna really is a case of ‘blink-and-you-miss-it’!

A row of six large tin cans on poles used as letterboxes on the side of the road

Wymah School Museum

A brick and timber building with a red iron roof. The plaque on the building says, Wymah Public School, Est. 1873. The sign on the fence in from to the building says, Wymah Museum.

Wymah (formerly Wagra) was a pioneer settlement with a small thriving township until the early 20th century. It featured one of the earliest Murray River ferry crossings, transporting people and livestock. Nothing remains today of the original township except Wymah School (closed in 1983), now a museum, the schoolhouse, and Dora Dora Pub at Talmalmo.

The Wymah School Museum (formerly Wymah Museum) was established in 2013. It is a small, delightful museum located in the old Wymah School. When I entered the museum, the first thing I noticed was the beautifully polished original floorboards. Aesthetics aside, the museum presents the opportunity to learn about the history of the original pioneering families, Dora Dora Pub, Wymah Ferry, Wymah School, the local Wiradjuri people, and more.

Wymah School Museum hosts an uncluttered collection, engagingly arranged and focused on local history. Peter was the volunteer on duty the day I visited. He was a wealth of local information, which he willingly shared. His stories were made all the more interesting with his being a local. He was even a pupil at the one-room, single teacher Wymah School.

A picture of an old school wooden desk and chairs with books on the desk. There are photos behind the desk and a family history poster hanging on the wall near the desk.

A portion of the collection of artifacts and records in the Wymah Scool Museum

 

Wymah School Museum, at 2444 Wymah Road, Wymah, is open Sundays, 2.00 pm to 4.00 pm or by appointment. For an appointment, contact June 02 6020 2027 or Maree 02 6020 2005 or Judith 02 6020 2099.

Admission is $2.00 per person over five years.

Wymah School Museum is about a 30-minute drive from Albury. If looking for somewhere to go on a Sunday drive, you can’t go past a visit to this charming museum. Discover this hidden gem for yourself.

Wymah Ferry river crossing

A yellow car waits to drive onto a three-car cable ferry to cross a river.

Waiting to drive my car onto the Wymah Ferry at Wymah

 

The Wymah Ferry has a long history of service, beginning in the 1860s as a private ferry crossing the Murray River. According to local lore, a pub owner started the first ferry crossing to bring customers over the river to his hotel.

The first public ferry began operating in 1892. The current Wymah Ferry is the fourth public ferry, with two previous ferries sinking (one of which was re-floated) and another dismantled. The third public ferry was a two-car ferry decommissioned in 2013 to make way for the present-day, larger three-car ferry, the “Spirit of Wymah” (picture above).

The Wymah Ferry is a three-car cable ferry crossing the Murray River at Wymah in New South Wales and Granya in Victoria. Its carrying capacity is 35 tonnes – the equivalent of two fully laden fire trucks. Caravans and camper trailers are permitted if vehicle and caravan do not exceed 17 metres.

The Wymah Ferry is unique in several ways:

  • It is the only cable car ferry in the region.
  • It is an unusual and fun way to cross the Murray River between New South Wales and Victoria.
  • It is a heritage-listed cable ferry.

The only other cable ferry crossing the New South Wales-Victorian border is nearly 500 kilometres downstream at Swan Hill.

The Wymah Ferry runs seven days a week and operates 6.00 am to 9.00 pm September to April, and 7.00 am to 8.00 pm May to August, except on the first Wednesday of every month when it is closed between 9 am and 12 pm. The ferry closures for meal breaks are as follows:

  • 10.00 am to 10.20 am,
  • 12.40 pm to 1.00 pm, and
  • 6.00 pm to 6.30 pm.

The trip takes about six minutes and is toll-free.

If the ferry is not at the terminal where you want to cross the Murray River – at Wymah or Granya – there is a button on a post to press to alert the Ferrymaster and call the ferry across.

The ferry service has been suspended on several occasions over the Wymah Ferry’s 150 years of operation due to low water. The service was also stopped in 2020 when the New South Wales-Victorian border was closed due to COVID-19. For up-to-date information on the operation of the Wymah Ferry, contact T: 02 6020 2038.

I have travelled on the Wymah Ferry three times in the last four months and feel a child-like thrill each time. At under 50 kilometres from Albury, enjoy this perfect experience for yourself. Don’t forget to combine the Wymah Ferry crossing with a visit to the Wymah School Museum.

A yellow car on a three-car cable ferry crossing a river.

On the Wymah Ferry leaving Granya

 

Wymah Ferry Day Trip Through Victoria

On the Victorian section of the Wymah Ferry day trip route, you will discover several lookouts with views over Lake Hume and Mitta River and lunch options in Tallangatta.

Old Tallangatta Lookout

A picture of a body of a lake surrounded by hills. Dead trees sit in the lake and red flowers grow on the lake's foreshore.

View of Lake Hume from Old Tallangatta Lookout

 

From the Old Tallangatta Lookout, you have stunning views over Lake Hume and across the lake to the prominent ruins of the (old) Tallangatta Butter Factory. The Butter Factory is all that remains of the old Tallangatta township, which was moved in the 1950s due to the expansion of the Hume Dam. Although the old town is now under water, when Lake Hume is very low, the remains of old Tallangatta can be seen above the water.

An image of an old rusty building sitting on the shore of a lake, with hills behind the building.

Old Tallangatta Butter Factory viewed across Lake Hume from Old Tallangatta Lookout

 

Located on the Murray Valley Highway, Old Tallangatta Lookout is eight kilometres from (new) Tallangatta town centre. There is off-road parking (no shade), information boards, and two picnic tables (one under trees and one undercover). There are no toilet facilities.

You can access the walking-cycle High Country Rail Trail from the lookout should you wish to stretch your legs a bit along the banks of Lake Hume.

Mitta Valley Lookout

Mitta Valley Lookout is a scenic spot on the Mitta Mitta River, just six kilometres from Tallangatta town centre.

An image of a large body of water with green hills in the background and a barb-wire fence in the foreground

View from Mitta Valley Lookout

 

Located on the Murray Valley Highway, it is easy to miss the picnic table and signage tucked in amongst the trees on the side of the road. When driving in the direction from the Wymah Ferry towards Tallangatta, Mitta Valley Lookout is on the left at the end of the bridge across the Mitta Mitta River. Driving in the opposite direction (Tallangatta to Wymah Ferry), the lookout is on the right at the approach to the bridge.

A large tree provides good shade for your car should you decide to take a walk across the old railway bridge, now part of the High Country Rail Trail and running parallel to the road bridge.

There are no toilet facilities.

Tallangatta – the town that moved

Tallangatta is known as ‘the town that moved’ for obvious reasons – the town was forced to move 8 kilometres to its new, current location in 1956 when the old Tallangatta township was drowned with the expansion of Lake Hume. It is understandable then why Tallangatta appears stuck in the 1950s.

Tallangatta Triangles Park in the centre of town is a large green area shaded by beautiful plane trees moved to the park from old Tallangatta township. The park’s facilities include a children’s playground, barbeques and picnic tables undercover, benches, public toilets, and an information centre.

A picture of a large grassy area (park) with huge, shady trees. A toilet block, war memorial, covered area, and children's playground are located in the park.

Triangles Park

 

Tallangatta has several options for breakfast, brunch or lunch. I have eaten lunch at Tallangatta Bakery (39 Towong Street) and Tallangatta Hotel (59 Towong Street).  On my next visit to Tallangatta, I want to have brunch at the new cafe in town, Friday at Fika.

Friday at Fika, at 85 Towong Street, is open Friday 7.00 am to 1.00 pm, Saturday 8.00 am to 1.00 pm, and Sunday 8.30 am to 1.00 pm. The kitchen closes at about 12.30 pm.

Other options in Tallangatta for something to eat are Victoria Hotel (2 Banool Road), and Tallangatta Take Away (59 Towong Street). Or take a picnic and make use of the lovely park.

Tallangatta Lookout

Tallangatta Lookout is three kilometres from Tallangatta town centre and is accessed via Tallangatta Lookout Road, off the Murray Valley Highway.

You get stunning views of Lake Hume, Tallangatta township, and Sandy Creek Bridge from the lookout.

A view of a lake, hills and pasture land taken from a lookout.

View of Lake Hume from Tallangatta Lookout

A picture of a town on the shores of a lake and surrounded by hills.

View of (new) Tallangatta township from Tallangatta Lookout

 

Facilities include a lookout platform, picnic tables and an undercover area. There are no toilets.

Tallangatta Lookout Road is steep, but I managed it effortlessly in my small, automatic two-wheel drive car. The road is sealed near the top of the hill and then gravel for the short distance to the lookout parking area and facilities. I used second gear to come down the hill.

The Homeward Leg – Back in New South Wales

By now, you must be ready for an ice cream, right?

The best ice cream in town and Hume Dam

Lake Vue Cafe at 37 Murray Street, Lake Hume Village on the shores of Lake Hume, has the best ice cream in town. With 24 different flavours, you are spoilt for choice.

Two flavours of ice cream in a waffle cone in a person's hand

At only 12 kilometres (13 minutes) from Albury, an ice cream from Lake Vue Cafe puts the finishing touch on a perfect day out. The cafe is open Wednesday to Monday 9.00 am to 6.00 pm, and closed Tuesdays.

Take a walk down to Hume Dam while eating your ice cream and walk across the dam wall.

Hume Dam is a major dam across the Murray River, 13 kilometres from Albury. The reservoir behind the dam (Lake Hume) holds about six times the amount of water as Sydney Harbour and is an ideal spot for swimming, fishing, and watersports.

A photo of a dam wall with the reservoir behind the wall

Hume Dam

 

Other activities:

Granya Pioneer Museum

After disembarking the Wymah Ferry in Victoria, the first village you come to is Granya. I have not visited the Granya Pioneer Museum, but if you have time and are interested, you may want to include the museum on your day trip.

Granya Pioneer Museum has a collection of about 500 items with records dating back to 1836, including historical photographs, land records, family histories. A recent extension contains horse-drawn farming equipment, mining and blacksmith tools, and other related artifacts.

Granya Pioneer Museum, at 5 Doubleday Street, is open by appointment only. Phone Lyn on 0457 062097 or Pam on 0407 005503.

Bonegilla Migrant Experience

Leaving Tallangatta Lookout and driving back to Albury on the Murray Valley Highway, you will turn right onto Bonegilla Road at Bonegilla, Victoria. At 1.3 kilometres along Bonegilla Road, you will see the signposted entrance to Bonegilla Migrant Experience, a heritage museum.

Bonegilla became the largest and longest operating migrant reception centre in the post-war era, with more than 300,000 migrants passing through its doors between 1947 and 1971. Today, Block 19 is all that remains of the original 24-block site. Bonegilla Migrant Experience brings to life the stories and experiences of the people who went through the centre.

One in twenty Australians have links to Bonegilla. I remember taking my daughter-in-law to Bonegilla as her father was at the centre as a small child. Do you have a link to Bonegilla?

The museum is open 10.00 am to 4.00 pm Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and weekends. Take a self-guided tour (site map available at the Welcome Centre) or join a guided tour (adults $5.00).

Day trips are a great way to get out and about while exploring the local area. Crossing the New South Wales-Victoria border on a heritage cable car ferry makes this day trip unique, with an element of fun. Valley views from lookouts along the way and a charming museum ‘alive’ with local history complete your day trip experience. Don’t forget to save this guide.

 

Disclaimer: This post contains no affiliate links. All views and opinions are my own and non-sponsored. All photos are my own and remain the copyright of Just Me Travel.

© Just Me Travel 2018-2022.

 

Please leave a comment below to share your thoughts. My purpose in writing this post is to convince you to experience a Murray River crossing on the Wymah Ferry, including a drive through two states around Lake Hume. Have I succeeded? Where have you taken a car ferry across a river?

 

Like this post? PIN it for later!

 

Are you looking for day trips in New South Wales? Read my guides…

> ADELONG DAY TRIP GUIDE – the Snowy Valleys’ hidden gem in New South Wales

> LOCKHART DAY TRIP GUIDE – the Riverina’s hidden gem in New South Wales

 

Author’s Note: Please check the latest travel restrictions before planning any trip, and always follow government advice.

 

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LOCKHART DAY TRIP GUIDE – the Riverina’s hidden gem in New South Wales

Lockhart – where art, history, and metal come together for a great day trip destination from Albury.   Join me on a day trip to Lockhart from Albury, a hidden…

Lockhart – where art, history, and metal come together for a great day trip destination from Albury.

 

Join me on a day trip to Lockhart from Albury, a hidden gem in regional New South Wales. Lockhart is a town steeped in history and art. Use the day trip guide to discover Lockhart’s award-winning museum, historic architecture, rusty metal sculpture trails, unique wool art, pioneering history, and more. With many things to do in Lockhart, see why this charming town should be a ‘must-visit’ destination.

 

The Riverina is an agricultural region in south-western New South Wales and home to the Murrumbidgee River (Australia’s second-longest river). The Riverina has an abundance of natural wonders and outdoor experiences. Lockhart is a prime example of all the Riverina has to offer – heritage architecture, a history steeped in its pioneering past, outdoor sculpture galleries, unique wool art portraits, and bush trails.

Lockhart is a true hidden gem. I am amazed by the depth of history and art for visitors to explore and discover in such a small rural town (town population, 818 people; shire population, 3,119)).

I have lived in Albury for nearly 30 years and have not been to Lockhart prior to my initial day trip in October 2020. I was recently telling my daughter about all I have discovered in Lockhart. She wanted to know why we had never been there. I had no answer but promised we would take a day trip to Lockhart next time she’s in Albury.

Getting there

A map of the route to Lockhart from Albury

Albury to Lockhart route and distance. Credit: Google Maps

 

Albury is situated on the Murray River and a major regional city in New South Wales, Australia. The Murray River is Australia’s longest river and forms the border between New South Wales and Victoria.

The trip from Albury to Lockhart is a drive of 1 hour, 14 minutes (105 kilometres).

Lockhart is 43 minutes (64 kilometres) from Wagga Wagga.

The Big Kangaroo and Big Emu

Sculptures in a paddock of a kangaroo and emu made from old car parts and other scrap metal.

About two kilometres from Lockhart, you will find these two sculptures of Australian icons in a paddock beside the road. Check out the joey in the kangaroo’s pouch.

The impressive Kangaroo and Emu sculptures stand roughly seven metres high. Residents created them over two days in 2011 during a series of community farm art workshops in Lockhart.

The Kangaroo and Emu sculptures have been constructed entirely from scape metal, including old ute and car bodies, 44-gallon drums, galvanised iron, and unused farm materials donated by locals. The sculptures are excellent examples of rural recycling where nothing is thrown away in case it may have a use in the future.

Things to do in Lockhart

The Lockhart Sculpture and Heritage Trail is Lockhart township’s overarching art and history discovery theme and includes all the things to do in this post.

Lockhart Shire has published a detailed brochure on historic Lockhart to assist you on your self-guided sculpture and heritage walk. Download a copy of the two-page Lockhart Sculpture and Heritage Trail brochure – an excellent resource.

Lockhart Verandahs

A picture of a paved sidewalk shaded by verandahs

Lockhart is known as the ‘verandah town’ due to its main street lined with verandahs dating back to the Federation years (around 1890 to 1915). The wide shady verandahs and historic shop fronts were restored in the early 1990s and have earned the town’s architecture classification on the National Trust Australia (NSW) list.

Verandahs line a town's main street and a painted water tower is at the back of the shops

Historic Etched Pavers

Brick pavers etched with a house and the names of the Wright family

The Wright family paver. Jack Wright was a builder, hence the etching of a house.

 

On the footpath below the verandahs on both sides of Lockhart’s main street are over 400 pavers with images etched on them. The etchings tell the story of the progress and history of the township and represent those families, past and present, who contributed to the district’s growth.

The etchings are a unique, historical legacy of the early life and times, and the families’ businesses in the district, from the illustrious pastoral years, through Federation and the wars, to a more recent past.

Farm Art Sculpture Trail

Lockhart’s Farm Art Sculpture Trail is an easy, flat walk taking you on an artistic journey around the town centre. Be amazed at the talent as you discover over 20 incredible sculptures on permanent display. The sculptures have been created from rusted and recycled farm materials and reflect the land’s natural elements.

Many of the sculptures are award-winning National Farm Art pieces from Lockhart’s annual Spirit of the Land Festival, a celebration of the resilience of those who live and work on the land.

My initial day trip to Lockhart in October 2020 (I have returned on two more occasions) was a suggestion to friends we check out the rusty farm art sculptures of which I had heard so much. We were not disappointed. I love this type of art and the open-air, public galleries in which they exist. I am in awe of the talent to create unique animal sculptures from bits of farm materials that look like the animals they are meant to represent. As we searched for sculptures (no Sculpture and Heritage Trail brochure on this first-day trip), I found myself excited with anticipation as I wondered what we would discover next.

A rusty metal sculpture of a dragon made from recycled farm parts

Sculpture – Australian Rain Dragon by Andrew Whitehead

 

A rusty metal sculpture of a person driving a wagon pulled by horses

Sculpture – Good Old Days by Keith Simpson

 

A rusty metal sculpture of a car and people outside a dance hall

Sculpture – Going to the Dance by Stuart Spragg

 

Greens Gunyah Museum

Corrugated iron building facade with a sculpture hanging on the front and a rusty bicycle near the entrance steps. The building is a museum.

The award-winning Greens Gunyah Museum is a wander through Lockhart’s heritage past. With its impressive collection of historical, traditional, and interactive exhibits, the story of Lockhart unfolds before your eyes.

The museum’s collection of historical artefacts, photography and machinery is extensive. Highlights include a telephone exchange, World War ll memorabilia, shearing memorabilia, an original slab hut, the old blacksmith, old town business histories, and vintage town footage. There is also a room dedicated to Tim Fisher – a former Deputy Prime Minister from the Lockhart region.

You will find Greens Gunyah Museum at 39 Urana Street, at the Narrandera end of Green Street (Lockhart’s main street). Entry to the museum is $5.00.

The artwork on the museum’s façade is “Click go the Shears” by Stuart Spragg and features in Lockhart’s Farm Art Sculpture Trail.

At the time of writing, the museum is closed indefinitely due to low visitor numbers and rising COVID-19 numbers. However, you can arrange a private visit to the museum. Refer to Lockhart’s Greens Gunyah Museum Facebook page for details on arranging a personal visit.

The museum is also home to the renowned Doris Golder Wool Art Gallery.

Doris Golder Wool Art Gallery

Koalas and a lansdscape made from layered natural, undyed sheep's wool

Wool art – Koalas and Australian landscape by Doris Golder

 

Local artist Doris Golder is one very talented artist. Her layered wool art is truly unique, the only pictures of their type in the world.

By using washed, combed, and undyed sheep’s wool, Doris has been able to create remarkably life-like portraits of well-known identities as well as landscapes. Each portrait took approximately three months to complete. The exception to this was the portrait of Fred Hollows, his wife, and his small children. This portrait took 18 months to complete due to the complexity of capturing the essence of the children.

Over 14 years, Doris created over 30 portraits, 26 of which are hung in Lockhart’s Doris Golder Wool Art Gallery.

I recently returned to the Doris Golder Art Gallery in Lockhart to renew my acquaintance with the artworks. I remain in awe of Doris’ extraordinary creative ability and the patience required to complete her artworks, especially in creating wrinkles.

Do you recognise the famous Australians in these four wool art portraits by Doris Golder? Answers at the end of this post.

The combined Greens Gunyah Museum, Doris Golder Wool Art Gallery, and Visitor Information Centre is staffed by volunteers who willingly share their wealth of local knowledge.

The $5.00 entrance fee to Greens Gunyah Museum includes entry to the Doris Golder Wool Art Gallery.

Pioneers Memorial Gateway

A picture of a memorial with three pillars of replica bales of wool

Pioneers Memorial Gateway is a tribute to Lockhart’s early settlers. It is situated at the entrance to Lockhart’s Showground on Urana Road.

The 22 life-sized replica bales of wool forming the columns of the entrance gates each bear the stencilled wool brand of the original sheep stations of Lockhart district.

Pastoral Shadows of Brookong

A rusty metal sculpture of a man sitting on a wagon drawn by horse. A man on a his rides beside the wagon.

Sculpture – A Drover’s Life by Stuart Spragg

 

Pastoral Shadows of Brookong is a collection of sculptures and silhouettes created from rusty iron, scapes of metal, and other natural materials. The sculptures are designed to bring history to life, telling the story of Lockhart’s rural life in the 1880s, when Lockhart and the area to the west of the town was a vast sheep station.

Pastoral Shadows of Brookong is situated on the edge of town, on the road to Wagga Wagga, across the road from the Lockhart Motel. The unsealed path taking in the sculptures is an easy, flat 15-minute circular walk – longer, if, like me, you take lots of photos. As you stroll through the sculptures and silhouettes, you will meet settlers, stockmen, drovers, and swaggies, as well as sheep, farm dogs, and kangaroos. Accompanying each sculpture is signage detailing the sculpture’s name and artist.

Brookong was a huge sheep station in the district of 200,000 hectares. In 1888, the Shearer’s Riot at Brookong played a pivotal role in developing Australia’s political history.

 

A picture of a rusty metal sculpture of three horse pulling a plough with a man sitting on the plough

Sculpture – Stump Jump Plough by Stuart Spragg

Photos from left to right:

  • Raymond the Swaggie – designed and constructed by Craig Lally
  • Settler “Burt” Searching for Land by Myra and Tom Jenkins
  • Swaggie “Fred” Looking for Work by Myra Jenkins, Neil Jeffries, and Des O’Connell

Water Tower Mural

Not silo art, which I am partial to, but the mural on Lockhart’s water tower is a remarkable piece of public art.

The mural features a cascading waterfall surrounded by many of the unique native fauna and flora found in the local landscape. The mural was painted in 2018 by Blue Mountains artists Scott Nagy and James Birkner (Krimsone) using spray cans.

Set close to Lockhart’s historic main street (Green Street) in a pretty, small park, the water tower mural is easily accessible. You will find clean public toilets next to the water tower.

A picture of inside a cafe with table and chairs and pictures on the walls

Interior of Latte Da Cafe, Lockhart

Latte Da Coffee Bar

All this walking will make you thirsty and hungry.

You are not spoiled for choice for cafes in Lockhart. However, Latte Da Coffee Bar is an excellent choice for breakfast, brunch, lunch, or to relax with a cake and coffee in the cafe’s indoor or outdoor setting. Takeaway is also available.

Offering fresh food – gourmet sandwiches, toasted Turkish rolls, pies and sausage rolls, cakes, and slices – Latte Da is located at 133 Green Street (Lockhart’s main street through town). Don’t forget to check out the Specials Board. I recommend the wraps.

The cafe is open 8 am to 4.30 pm Monday to Friday, 8.30 am to 1 pm Saturday, and closed Sunday.

 

Other activities:

 

Galore Hill Scenic Reserve

Just 15 kilometres north of Lockhart, off the Sturt Highway between Narrandera and Wagga Wagga, the top of Galore Hill Scenic Reserve is an impressive landmark in a seemingly never-ending flat but changing landscape.

The drive to Galore Hill Scenic Reserve is well signposted, and the gravel road from the Sturt Highway to the top is well maintained. Near the top of the hill, you can continue left to the Summit and right to the Saddle. Travelling with a friend on a second visit to Lockhart, we headed to the Summit, the Lookout Tower and walking tracks.

The views from the top of Galore Hill of the surrounding countryside are stunning.

A view all the way to the horizon of agricultural paddocks

The Summit is well-appointed with toilets, picnic tables undercover and in the open, barbeques, and ample parking.

One walking track in the Reserve takes you to the caves used by the infamous bushranger, ‘Mad Dog’ Morgan, who terrorised the region in the early 1860s. We walked the Saddle Loop Trail – a 45-minute return from the Summit. The trail was a narrow, rocky gravel track through the Australian bush that hugged the side of the hill. We lost the track about halfway along the Saddle Loop Trail and had to return the way we had come.

Considering the state of the trail, I recommend a good level of fitness for the walk, and sturdy walking shoes or hiking boots are a must. A hat, water, sunscreen, and insect repellent are also essential. I got eaten alive by mosquitoes on one section of the Saddle Loop Trail.

On a day trip to Lockhart, you should make time to take a drive to Galore Hill Scenic Reserve to soak in the views. Walking one of the trails will best be left for another time if you want to get back to Albury before dusk to avoid hitting kangaroos. We plan to return to Galore Hill Scenic Reserve to walk the Morgans Caves Loop Trail from the Summit.

Download the Gore Hill Visitor Brochure.

Lockhart is a wonderful town where history, heritage, and art are forever intertwined. There is something for everyone with its Federation verandahs, historic etched pavers, pioneering history, unique wool art and rusty metal sculptures, and water tower mural. Lockhart deserves a visit. Don’t leave it for 30 years as I did! Make Lockhart your next day trip destination, and don’t forget to save this guide.

 

Disclaimer: This post contains no affiliate links. All views and opinions are my own and non-sponsored. Unless otherwise credited, all photos are my own and remain the copyright © of Just Me Travel 2020-2022.

 

Please leave a comment below to share your thoughts. My purpose in writing this post is to convince you to take a day trip to Lockhart. Have I succeeded?

 

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Are you looking for another day trip in New South Wales? Read the guide to Adelong…

> Adelong Day Trip Guide – the Snowy Valleys’ hidden gem in New South Wales

> WYMAH FERRY BORDER CROSSING, LOCAL HISTORY, VALLEY VIEWS – the best day trip guide

 

Author’s Note: Please check the latest travel restrictions before planning any trip, and always follow government advice.

 

The famous Australians in the four wool art portraits by Doris Golder are:

Left to Right:

  • Tim Fisher – former Deputy Prime Minister and from the Lockhart region
  • Paul Hogan – comedian and actor
  • John Newcombe – former No. 1 world tennis player
  • Fred Hollows – humanitarian eye surgeon

 

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