Day 10: A day of driving Coral Bay to Denham – 550kms
Today was a bit bland, we literally spend the whole day driving from Coral Bay to Denham, which took about 7 hours in total. Denham in itself doesn’t have much going on, but it’s the gateway to Francois Peron National Park, which is without doubt one of Australia’s most iconic, where the red sand dunes contrast with blinding white beaches and crystal blue ocean.
We were really not feeling like cooking when we got to the camp site after a whole day of driving, so we headed to The Old Pearler for dinner, which claims to be the only restaurant in the world made mostly of shells.
As you would expect when dining only a few metres away from the ocean, and the menu is crammed full of fresh seafood dishes. It’s a BYO, which was even better, cue no huge restaurant bills for overpriced wine.
We dinned like kings, sharing a seafood chowder to start, and then an epic seafood platter, full of fresh prawns, mussels and oysters.
Day 11: 4×4 Tour @ Francois Peron
Up early for our x4 tour, we spent today hurling around François in a 4×4. Places we ticked off were Big Lagoon, Bottle Bay, Skipjack Point and Cape Peron, the most northern part of the island. The contrasts of the red earth, bone white sandy beaches, the turquoise blue ocean and the clear blue skies are a spectacle.
Our guide (Garth) for the day was awesome, taking us to loads of hidden viewpoints and secluded beaches. He was also an excellent wildlife spotter – pointing out turtles, dolphins and sharks in the shallow waters was we walked about the cliff tops.
The park was a feast of extraordinary, vivid, contrasting colours of red, white and blue. I don’t think even the world’s best capture could come close to capturing the colours, the size or the magic of this place.
That night, we decided to do a spot of wilderness camping. We originally went to stay at Eagle Bluff, a camp site which perches on top of steep cliffs, with a truly breathtaking view of the coastline. Sadly, it was almost blowing a gale when we arrived, the campervan felt like a boat in a stormy sea as soon as we parked up. Not wanting to get seasick, or blown over the edge of the cliff, we decided to drive down the road to Fowlers, a more sheltered wilderness camp, where we parked up and watched the sunset over the bay.
Day 12: Denham to Horrocks – 380kms
Today we headed to Horrocks, via Shell Beach, Kalbarri and the Pink Lake of Port Gregory. Our plan was to go to Kalbarri and book in a kayak tour for the following day (Kalbarri is Australia’s version of the Grand Canyon and is meant to be beautiful!) but the tours were all booked up! We quickly re-planed our schedule and decided to head to Horrocks, and take in a few sites on the way.
Shell Beach was first up. As the name suggests, its a beach made of tiny shells.
Next up was Lucky Bay, which….. didn’t really turn out as planned, as we needed a 4×4 to actually get to the bay. Lucky, we didn’t get stuck on our attempt to get the camper van down the sand track.
The third and final site was the Pink Lake of Port Gregory, a solid bubble gum pink lake. It was a bit dryer than expected, but still looked awesome.
After about 5 hours of driving we arrived at Horrocks Beach. Now this beach was rated Australia’s No1 beach in 2018, so we were quite excited to get out and explore…. However, due to server winds, the white powder like beach had been replaced with mountains of smelly seaweed. We attempted to go for a loving walk, but got sandblasted, so we quickly retreated to our camper van for the night. I didn’t take any pictures as I was to deflated and very pissed off (true story!).
Day 13: Horrocks to Sandy Bay, 260kms
Today we drove from Horrocks to Dynamite Bay, named Australia’s 19th best beach. After yesterday’s experience, I was unsure as to how much I trusted this rating scale, however it didn’t disappoint.
At one point, we had the whole beach to ourselves.
For the last night of our trip (sob) we booked into one last wilderness camp at Sandy Bay, best known for its white sand, gin-clear water, great expanses of sand dunes and views that stretch forever.
We went for a stroll along the beach just before sunset in search of a hidden bay. We climbed over steep sand dunes and meandered between a steep cliff faces to find this gemstone. The only thing which was slightly disappointing, was someone else had found it before us!
Our last evening was spent watching the sunset, drinking beers, playing cards and chatting nonsense.
A truly unbelievable experience.