Photo: Daniel Wilkins

Four Days on the Coral Coast Wildflower Trail

The Coral Coast is known for its turquoise water and technicolour reefs. But it’s also one of the world’s top wildflower destinations.

On this four-day road trip, you’ll discover thousands of native wildflowers, including delicate orchid species, endless fields of everlastings, and the elusive wreath flower. While wildflowers bloom on the Coral Coast year round, the best time to take this trip is between July and October.

 

Distance: 1300 km

Highlights: Everlastings, Kalbarri spider orchid, wreath flower

Wildflowers, Coalseam Conservation Park
Photo: Coalseam Conservation Park

Day 1: Perth to Jurien Bay

Starting on the coast, drive two hours north of Perth, veering off Indian Ocean Drive before Cervantes to arrive at Nambung National Park. The lunar-like desert scape is best known for the Pinnacles – naturally formed yellow limestone spires that are a photographers dream when framed against a blue sky. But the region also comes alive with wildflowers, including orange, red and gold catspaw (little sister to the kangaroo paw) and the star-like blue tinsel lily.

Further north, roll into Lesueur National Park where the bushland scrub pops with some 900 species of native blooms – a whopping 10 per cent of the state’s known flora. Trace the 18.5km scenic drive, or stroll along a walking trail for close-up photo opportunities. Rare orchids abound – including the glossy pink and purple enamel varieties, and the distinctive white spider that’s endemic to WA’s south-west.

Around half an hour away is Jurien Bay. With great accommodation options and a marine park with water sports (and sea lions!), it’s perfect for an overnight stay.

1.Coalseam Wildflowers - Daniel Wilkins
Photo: Coalseam National Park, Daniel Wilkins

Day 2: Jurien Bay to Kalbarri

After a morning of snorkelling or fishing, drive northbound until you reach Chapman River Regional Park. Free guided tours on weekends take you through golden wheatfields painted with wildflowers that don’t appear anywhere else on earth.

Next is Kalbarri National Park, where native flora peek through ancient red gorges and dot windswept cliff tops. Highlights include the coveted red-striped Kalbarri spider orchid, graceful river gums, and banksias the colour of the setting sun. Speaking of, Kalbarri sunsets are famous – stick around until dusk before bunking down in nearby accommodation.

Day 3: Kalbarri to Dongara

Turn around and head south for Mullewa, blanketed with endless swathes of pink, white and yellow everlastings. Hit one of the Everlasting Cultural Trails to combine wildflower spotting with sightseeing and history: you can pick up free maps and brochures from the Mullewa Community Resource Centre. Keep an eye out for the exquisite garland-like wreath flower, usually found on gravel roads.

Just 40 minutes south is Coalseam Conservation Park, the site of the first mined coal deposit in WA (two coal mineshafts remain). In wildflower season, the usually barren plains transform into a kaleidoscope of colour, with flashy banksias and fields of everlastings. Discover marine fossils embedded in the banks of the Irwin River – a relic from when it was covered by an ancient Permian sea – and enjoy a picnic with a view from the lofty Irwin Lookout.

Weave through Mingenew and arrive in laid-back Dongara for an overnight stay – and to explore the walking trails and eateries if time permits.

Coalseam Wildflowers
Photo: Daniel Wilkins

Day 4:  Dongara to Perth

In the morning, continue south to the Western Flora Caravan Park, where yellow myrtle and native buttercups shine.

The final stop on your floral odyssey is the Iain Wilson Nature Trail, part of Badgingarra National Park. You’ll see emus and kangaroos dart across the 1.5km stretch, as well as black kangaroo paw (the park’s emblem), vivid purple starflowers, and smokebush, which looks like plumes of smoke in the breeze. Bonus points for spotting the super-rare Badgingarra mallee. Pack binoculars to catch sight of bustards and wedge-tailed eagles.

Then it’s a leisurely three-hour drive back to Perth, keeping an eye out for roadside blooms along the way.

Leseur National Park near Eneabba
Photo: Leseur National Park near Eneabba

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