Porthole Cruise Magazine – Steve Leland
As an intrepid traveler I’m always on the lookout for off the radar, next big thing destinations. Finding myself half the way around the world In the very midst of an essential travel related shutdown, rather than give in and beat a retreat home I made a decision to follow through with cruise plans. Prior to boarding the 36 passenger True North, possibly the only cruise vessel still sailing, I was able to experience two areas of Western Australia that should be considered in travel plans to the land down under. — Steve Leland
Meanwhile, out west in Australia…
Although Western Australia may not be a hotbed of cruising, there are a few major cruise lines that skirt the rugged western coast of the land down under. Even if your cruise doesn’t call in at these remote destinations the investment in long flights to the continent is well rewarded with a pre or post cruise visit.
Perth, Australia, 2400 miles from Sydney and virtually across the width of the entire continent, is certainly worth the effort to experience an authentic Aussie holiday. Sandy beaches, parks, botanical gardens and a potpourri of excursion diversions make it an ideal destination for an escape from garden variety cities. Rife with cultural events and galleries, the touristic appeal far exceeds normal sightseeing boundaries.
A short drive outside the central environs are the wineries of the Swan Valley and the sea provides a place where nature lovers can swim with wild dolphins as the setting sun ducks below the Indian Ocean horizon. For a dose of adrenaline laced excitement, head to Lancelin, just an hour and a half north of Perth and rent a sand board to slip and slide slide down the massive dunes, the largest in Western Australia.
Further along the coast the surreal Pinnacles expose nature’s profound effect on the region. Visitors will enjoy a drive through the virtual desert dominated by limestone spheres, domes and hundreds of cylindrical towers. If you do decide to bypass the wildlife in Yanchep National Park, highway signs accurately highlight the distinct possibility of spotting a kangaroo or emu on the roads.
Staying at the QT Perth Hotel
Back in the heart of the city, the bustle of urban lifestyle is manifested in its bars, clubs, restaurants and parks and the QT Perth Hotel absolutely drips in coolness, offering up everything you’d want in an impeccable accommodation complemented with award winning food and drink. Chic stunning public areas make an indelible fashion statement with dark jarrah timber floors and polished brass accessories. The theme is carried over to the guest rooms with dark stone bathrooms, the signature QT Dreambeds and impeccable design details.
The in-house Santini Grill serves up a menu of Western Australian authenticity tweaked with a taste of Italian tradition. For nightlife revelry, The Rooftop, Perth’s highest rooftop bar, pours on the glamour as the place to see and be seen with Instagram views of the city’s glimmering skyline lending credence to a New York Times’ description of Perth as a “hipster haven”.
A short flight north puts you in Broome, Australia, aptly described by its slogan, where the red desert meets the sea. Brushing up alongside the rugged outback desert, new life has been injected into the venerable town but its remote coastal location shelters it from being overrun by tourists. Although retaining a significant degree of its pearling heritage, rave reviews of the renowned Cable Beach, perfectly positioned on the doorstep of the Indian Ocean contribute to a growing popularity.
Lying in stark contrast to the urban feel of Perth, this gateway to The Kimberley region evokes a laid back, outpost style vibe. Its four block Chinatown area with pearl outlets, cafes and shops recalls visions of its historical past. Renting a car for a day’s drive-about is the perfect way to see the sights, with a short jaunt out to ultra scenic Gantheaume Point taking the prize as the best of the best. Sunset on Cable Beach is a daily ritual for locals and visitors alike with the bizarre image of camel caravans providing twilight rides along the coast of the Indian Ocean.
A rustic stay at the billi
To soak up the old school charm of the outpost town, a pre or post cruise stay at The Billi celebrates the marriage of bush country appeal with resort style flair. In contrast to the surrounding desert, the property is secluded away in verdant tropical foliage. More of a retreat than a bustling resort, guests can choose between 8 individual villas, a studio or 6 truly unique deluxe air conditioned safari tents, accommodations that replicate an upscale safari camp. Considering the intimate size of the property, the surprisingly large pool is an oasis of serenity positioned in the midst of flowering frangipani and towering palms.
While there is not an on site bar or restaurant, each unit comes with a furnished kitchen making it somewhat self catering, but with a full slate of restaurants in town, it’s your choice as to eating in or venturing out.
There is very little that could be considered “touristy” yet there is plenty to see and do. Whether it be to embark on a multi day cruise, whale watching, hitting the beaches, helicopter sightseeing or extensive travel expeditions into The Kimberley, the west deserves consideration for a comprehensive visit to Australia.