Drives: Sunset Coast

Follow the coast north from Perth, visiting its northern beaches, before reaching one of Western Australia’s oldest national parks and a string of isolated coastal fishing and holiday settlements. This is where the locals go for some peace and quiet, to catch a fish or two, swim or canoe in the river or ocean and generally do as little else as possible.

Distance: 260 km.

Journey east from the city along Cambridge Street and Oceanic Drive to City Beach, one of the most sought after beachside suburbs of the west coast with some of Perth’s most expensive, luxurious houses. Drive north up West Coast Highway past a Scarborough and Trigg, both favourites with board surfers. Where West Coast Highway sweeps inland, take West Coast Drive and follow the coastline north past North Beach, Marmion and Sorrento to Hillarys.

Hillarys Boat Harbour

Hillarys Boat Harbour is a very popular day-and-night destination in Perth’s northern beachside suburbs, as much because of its diverse range of eateries, bars and nightclubs and attractions, as it being the sole coastal point from which to catch a ferry to Rottnest. The marina is home to the Naturaliste Marine Discovery Centre, Aquarium of Western Australia and numerous fishing charter, whale watching tour operators and diving schools. Keep heading north; following the tourist drive signs, passing by Mullaloo, Burns Beach and Quinns Rocks which, only a decade or so ago, were little more than collections of fisherman’s shacks.

What remains of the wreck of Greek freighter Alkimos can be seen off the coast at Yanchep. It is quite a walk to the wreck site and there isn't much to see these days. Head north from Yanchep Beach to Two Rocks and see remnants of the glory days of the 1980’s when development was at a peak and intrepid entrepreneurs were busy building theme parks, marinas and hotels. At Two Rocks is Wild Kingdom Wildlife Park, a native animal zoo where visitors have the opportunity to feed kangaroos and handle the rare golden hairy-nosed wombat.

Yanchep Beach

A short way inland from Yanchep Beach is Yanchep National Park, one of Perth’s oldest attractions, created around one of the many coastal lakes in the region. The Park has hire boats, bird life and native animals on display including koalas. The area has many limestone caves; there are daily guided tours of Crystal Cave; Aboriginal cultural demonstrations are given on weekends.

Further north along Wanneroo Road is the small fishing community of Guilderton, near the mouth of Moore River. It is a popular holiday spot for Perth families wishing to escape the rat race and do nothing but swim, canoe, fish (bream, tailor and herring) or laze around. The town is home to the Gravity Discovery Centre which works to integrate art, science and technology while providing a cross-cultural understanding of cosmology, with theories that range from the Aboriginal Dreamtime to the Big Bang.

Mouth of the Moore River, Guilderton

Guilderton was thus named because a number of Dutch guilders were found in the sand in the vicinity in the 1950s. They came from the Vergulde Draeck (Gilt Dragon), a Dutch trading ship wrecked off the coast in 1656, which was finally found in April 1963 at Ledge Point, not far from the mouth of the Moore River.

Ledge Point

Further north are the commercial and recreational fishing settlements of Seabird, Breton Bay and Ledge Point before reaching the end of the road at the crayfishing town of Lancelin. Here you can end your day in the crayfishing town of Lancelin tackle the mighty sand dunes by 4WD or sand board. Lancelin is the gateway to Australia’s finest windsurfing and is noted on the International Windsurfing Circuit. Return to Perth via Wanneroo Road.

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