Nestled on the Batavia Coast in Western Australia is the interesting town of Geraldton.
A large place, with a population around 40 000, it was cooler than the Coral Coast, 200km to the north and warmer than Perth, 400 km south. There are many attractions, which was fortunate for us, as we had developed some minor car trouble requiring a longer stay than we had planned.
Fear not, there is plenty to do and a great variety of scenery.
Our first stop was the visitor centre, located in the Bill Sewell Complex. A beautiful Victorian structure, it began in the mid 1850’s as the local Victoria Hospital and grew in proportion to the development of the local and neighbouring areas. Now, in colonial times, neighboring areas meant anywhere on the mid-west coast so they serviced a huge area.
Across the capark is the Old Geraldton Gaol and Craft Centre. Originally built as the centre for hiring convict labour, it continued as a gaol until the 1990’s, making it the second oldest gaol in WA (outstripped by Fremantle Prison). Unremarkable from the outside, it is a lofty historical tour on the inside, oddly juxtaposed with local goods for sale in cells that are hired by the crafty.
The Batavia Coast is named after the wreck of the BATAVIA in the early 1600’s, off the featured coast. It is the second oldest wreck in Australian waters and fascinates me, given that we were not colonised until the 1800’s. Clearly the Dutch didn’t see any potential in our rugged shorelines. I believe part of the Batavia is reconstructed in the Geralton museum but we didn’t visit there.
For an unforgettable experience, you have to visit the HMAS Sydney II memorial. I have written about it in another blog, so perhaps go there for more information, but I promise you it will be worth the visit and the view isn’t bad, either.
A visit to Point Moore Lighthouse will also take you to the beach and a refreshing swim if it is hot. The tower itself was unremarkable, save for the stripes.
Geraldton is a coastal town, so there are views to be had and water activities but if, like us, you are there when it is a bit cool, you can enjoy a coffee at one of the many DOME restaurants, that recreate a 1920’s feel. In fact, their not being present in SA, my husband and I asked if the original building was a train station, having been renovated so beautifully. The waiter was a bit confused at first and then informed us that all DOME cafes have the same look.
St Francis Xavier’s Cathedral is quite surprising. An impressive building on the outer, the paintwork has to be seen to be believed. Apparently the builder of the cathedral is responsible for several other unusual structures.
The Iris Sundial, across the park from the cathedral, was built by Bill Newbold and named after his wife. It is very interesting and I spent some time using the directions to check its accuracy – was that the teacher or the maths teacher in me? I couldn’t get over how complicated something like that would be to build. It is quite attractive, though, despite my poor photograph of it.
We walked extensively (yes, partly due to the car being repaired), the gentle hills of the town not overtaxing us and saw a great deal. The main street is neat and long, with everything you need.
The above photo was of an old cinema, so 1920’s I couldn’t resist, but there are a great many styles and eras represented in the architecture.
Safe travels. Don’t forget the hat and water.