Mid West Region

May 1st, 2001 Features, Scoop Traveller

Things to do

Tour the Wildflower Agricultural area and look over fields of everlastings and leschenaultia. The best place to see them is the Coalseam Reserve, the site of the first coal dig in WA set amid beautiful gorges and the Irwin River.

If you can’t get as far as Uluru this weekend, go and see Walga Rock, which is the world’s second largest monolith. Camp under the stars there. Go and see the 20 metre meteorite crater at Dalgaranga.

For a bit of pre-European cultural history, see Aboriginal rock art at The Granites near Mount Magnet. Search out some of the eerie gold rush ghost towns all over the outback Midwest and get in touch with the giddy excitement of times past when the area swelled with prospectors.

Travel the Canning Stock Route and the Gibb River Road. They both begin in the Midwest and are a great way to see the real WA by stocking up the 4WD or jumping on a motorbike and taking off.

Fish the Batavia Coast and Abrolhos Islands. Drift in a tour boat and watch the seals swim and sunbathe on the rocks in the islands and even on Geraldton’s town beach. Get an insight into the crayfishing beginnings of the area and learn how the area now produces tens of millions of dollars of income from the industry each year.

Base yourself in Geraldton and explore the rolling farm, pastoral and mining lands of the region. Go in spring if you’re a gardening lover, because the gardens around here will make you envious. Valleys, plains and rocky ranges are covered in a patchwork of yellow, white and yellow everlastings and the well-known wreath flower.

Spend enough time to see Kalbarri National Park properly. Swim in the billabongs and gorges and trek through the bushland over outcrops and cliffs of rock. See the enormous dunes from the comfort of a 4WD tour bus, then sand board down the slopes.

Don’t miss the attractions and things to do in Geraldton, from the gorgeous swimming beaches to the mining port history.

About the region

The Midwest is one of the huge regions that encompass the gold-tinged inland deserts. Found by early Dutch explorers to be sandy, rocky and inhospitable, it wasn’t until early Perth settlers ventured north that the rich mineral properties of the ground were realised for the precious metal and farming sectors.

The arable zone gradually gives way to red sand, and after Geraldton’s settlement as a gold rush port, growth moved east and established small mining towns. Today, with the gold rush long gone, they fulfil their current purposes as storage and transport bases for the huge grain and livestock industries.

The region is warm and sub-tropical, the summers hot and the winters pleasant. The water is clean and the beaches long and private. The Midwest contains the first real outback gorge country outside Perth which typifies the outback.

The Murchison, Greenough and Irwin Rivers empty into the sea amid huge sandstone cliffs that form deep pools perfect for swimming in, and the favourite of holidaymakers from down south is Kalbarri, where the striped sandstone rises out of the plains to create a landscape of stark beauty.

Seals, crays, hundreds of species of fish and birds cluster around the coasts and archipelago off Geraldton in a delicate tapestry that enthrals visitors and helps sustain the local economy.

The most famous feature is of course the flowers. Dozens of species cluster on cliff tops and sandy plains each spring. It’s quite a sight to be driving through an ocean of colour that extends further than you can see.

Coal, gold and other metals were all mined at some time in the area, and many of the townships — even Geraldton — owe their existence to the early gold rushes in the Murchison and Meekatharra areas.

The reserves being dug up couldn’t sustain the industry and it had ridden itself out within fifteen years, leaving farmers to take over control and use of the towns — but not before leaving remnants of its own culture everywhere in the form of disused mines throughout the region.

Main page

The Mid West is WA’s flower garden. Something of a natural freak, this dry, dusty area is among the hottest parts of the state and the scenery of its vegetation rivals the lush vineyards and forests down south.

From the Batavia Coast to the outback goldfields, once a year the desert and coastal shrubs bear floral fruit, and such an explosion of colour blankets the land the traveller coming to see the red earth and dust will be astounded.

Orchids, cats paw, kangaroo paw, everlastings and desert peas are just a handful of the array of species that live in the mid west. In the midst of the sort of harsh desert that bore gold a hundred years ago they seem oddly out of place but are a beautiful sight every spring.

The rocky coast is a dramatic feature of Kalbarri National Park, a craggy land of striped rock littered with Permian-era ocean fossils and high cliffs overlooking lazy gorge rivers and greenery. Your camera will go to great use.

The coastal villages and townships are small and quiet but have some big reputations. Great fishing, diving, swimming and other tourism activities you’ll be on the lookout for are all here. Geraldton is the area’s capital and the focus of most tourism and industry, and with a population of around 25,000 it’s a good size to enjoy a break from the city and still have the power to pick and choose to plan your stay just the way you want.

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