Windswept coastal cliffs and lookouts from geological formations like Island Rock and Natural Bridge provide the perfect platform for whale watching and watching the Indian Ocean crash against the rocks 80-100m below.
These waters teem with life and the Abrolhos Islands, an archipelago of 122 islands about 100km off the coast, are a favorite spot for swimming, snorkeling and fishing. They are a prime location for the region’s spiny lobster, as well as pink snapper, dhu fish, coral trout and red emperor.
Its treacherous reefs are also the site of many well-known shipwrecks, and from the passenger seat of a comfortable Cesna 210 operated by Kalbarri Scenic Flights I can see the site where the Batavia ran aground on the reef in 1629. Alex, the pilot, tells me the story of the infamous mutiny and ensuing mass murder, as we soared above the waves.
Fishing is still a mainstay in the region and you must eat at least one meal in Finlays.
Specializing in fresh Western Australian seafood, local cider and beers from the on-site microbrewery, it’s often described as a tin shed with dirt floors.
But this quintessentially Aussie undersale doesn’t do justice to the selection of outback antiques, surfing paraphernalia, cozy fire pits and framed Australianiana prints on the ceiling and walls that overlook the shed and to the large courtyard shaded by eucalyptus a warm atmosphere.
Aussie hits from the 1980s and 1990s blast through the speakers while we’re there, sampling fresh oysters, Shark Bay cockles in a creamy white wine and garlic sauce, and seafood linguini. sea laden with Exmouth tiger prawns, locally caught sea bream and other cockles. in a lightly spiced tomato sauce.
This Kalbarri institution, in operation since 1989, is a very popular spot, especially on Sundays when there is live music, so make a reservation in advance.
Three days in Kalbarri is just enough to scratch the surface. On our last day, the setting sun casts a pink and purple light over the moor, and it’s a deeply satisfying experience to find the journey as memorable as the destination.
Abrolhos Islands, Western Australia. (Photo: Lydia Vasko)