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Geraldton: Islands, Mountains And Beaches

A Beach on the Abrolhos Islands
A Beach on the Abrolhos Islands
450 kilometres north of Perth on the West Coast of Australia, Geraldton AKA 'The Sunshine City' is fast becoming Australia's favourite winter playground. With warm temperatures the whole year round and 8 hours of sunshine a day in the winter months, visitors are able to enjoy the stunning beauty of the region under very pleasant climes. And there is a lot for them to enjoy, as the city of 30,000 people is flanked by the azure waters of the Indian Ocean on one side and the rugged slopes of the flat-topped Moresby Ranges on another. To the north lie the Chapman and Greenough Rivers, adding even more depth to the range of things to see and do on a visit to Geraldton. Its a great spot to base your campervan hire and explore the diverse region from.

The Chapman Valley to the north of the city is a picturesque and inviting region to tour through, rich in culture and with some amazing sights. A broad-acre agricultural area, in the months between July and October the fields come alive with the colours of a dazzling array of wildflowers. There are a number of wineries around, so pop in at the various cellar doors and sample the local red or white - Ego Creek and Chapman Valley Wines are two popular spots. The coastline of the valley is a great place to spend a couple of days. Coronation Beach is especially famous, as it is renowned as one of the best places in the world for wave jumping, attracting hordes of wind and kite surfers. The whole of the Geraldton coast is good for these sports, as there are consistent and strong summer winds - Sunset Beach is where you go if youre experienced, and the beginners head to St Georges Beach.

When the Geraldton Coastline is mentioned you can be sure the Abrolhos islands will be mentioned in the same breath. 70 kilometres out to sea lies this group of 122 small islands, none of which rise above 14 metres in sea level. Spectacularly beautiful, they are home to a huge diversity of animals and birdlife, including one of the countries largest sea bird breeding colonies. The marine life is just as prolific, and the scuba diving and snorkelling is world class. The islands can only be reached by boat or plane, and there are a number of specialised tour operators that will cater to your needs. On a tour expect to see migratory whales, sea lions, loggerhead turtles and other larger members of the sea world!

The attractions of Geraldton are not combined to its coastline - it has a long and rich past to which tributes stand throughout the city. One of the most talked about events to have shaped Geraldton is the story of the Batavia shipwreck, which was the scene of the country's first significant crime. In 1629 The Batavia ran aground on a reef offshore. A rescue party which went to find help took months to return, and in that period one of the crew who remained set about murdering his comrades, killing over a hundred in total! The rescuers returned to find most of the ship dead. The wreck of the ship was only ever discovered in 1963, and now most of it is on display in the Western Australian Museum.

Another ship that sank in these waters is the HMAS Sydney, which went down without a trace after a battle with a world war 2 German gunship. 645 sailors were lost, and today a beautiful modern monument stands in their honour, consisting of a large silver dome adorned with 645 seagulls. Nearby there stands the statue of a woman gazing anxiously out to sea - a tribute to the women left on shore, waiting for their other halves to return.

But Geraldton is not just about the past. It also has its trendy, up market, chic side, spearheaded by the Batavia Coast Marina - the premier land development in the city. With a classy waterside restaurant, office developments and smart flats being built, the marina is a growing establishment that looks set to characterise Geraldton in the future. Its a future thats bright, and thats not just in terms of sunshine. With so much going for it, Geraldton is only set to gain stature as a tourist destination. It really offers something for everyone, so why dont you start planning your next motorhome holiday to this diverse Western Australian destination?

Gavin Wyatt

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