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Published July 20th 2016
An interesting country town with a rich maritime history
Geraldton is the usually the first port of call on a cruise heading north from Fremantle. You may be going to Asia or to northern Australia. This first night aboard the cruise ship can be quite rocky as this is a treacherous piece of coastline between Fremantle and Geraldton, due to offshore currents. In the olden days, many ships were wrecked along this stretch of water. Perhaps eat a light dinner on your first night aboard. Going ashore may be just what you need the next day, with a good brisk walk around in the fresh air, to visit this neat clean and very friendly town.
Follow the boardwalk along the water side to the town. Image by Out and About.
Firstly, considering the dates the cruises go along the coast, your visit to Geraldton will most likely be during very warm weather, more so later in the afternoon. You will need to wear cool clothes and have a good hat. For your do it yourself shore excursion you will need to do your own walking, so enclosed walking shoes or sturdy sandals would be a good idea. There are no buses from the wharf. For those with limited mobility, you can enjoy the market on the wharf and a stroll along the boardwalk.
There is a safe netted small beach right near the park at the edge of the shopping area. The beach is sheltered from big waves by the breakwater rocks and looks refreshing for a dip or paddle after a long walk around town. If you have children pack their swimgear for a refreshing dip at the end of your sightseeing. You may also like to take some snacks and drinks with you. I visited on a Sunday and almost everything was closed, even the supermarket, but on other days there will be cafes and many shops open.
Here you will find a safe inviting beach with gentle waves for children. Image by Out and About.
A kid's water play area is also on the foreshore for a splash on a hot day. Image by Out and About.
The cruise ship will need to be anchored off shore so you will need to get the tender boat to the public marina. Free tender tickets will be provided in the morning on the ship. At the marina pier, which is north of the town shops, you will be greeted by some tourism representatives. Grab one of the maps they will be handing out and check anything you may want to know before heading off.
The magnificent Cathedral in Geraldton will welcome you, and it is worth it to take a look inside. Image by Out and About.
I suggest to do the walking and outdoor attractions first before it gets too hot later in the day. Walk along the boardwalk edging the marina and past the museum. There are two interesting churches in town. On Cathedral Avenue you will find a unique church. Francis Xavier Catholic Cathedral will always open if a cruise ship is in town.
They have people there to welcome you and explain some of the history of the church. It is a magnificent building and worth a look. Be sure to go downstairs to the crypt. This is where bodies were kept in the old days prior to a funeral. Now there are some historical collections kept here and a small shop selling medals of saints, books and postcards at very cheap prices. The church website asks for a donation of $5 for a guided tour, however I just strolled around for free. Another church to visit is the Anglican Cathedral. You may need to check with the tourism reps if this one is open.
The HMAS Sydney Memorial is a must see when visiting Geraldton. Image by Out and About.
Every part of the memorial has significance and is a very moving experience to visit here. Image by Out and About.
Another outdoor attraction, is the HMAS Sydney Memorial. It is located on the lookout, so cut through some side streets from the church and make your way to the town lookout via George Road and then a short way up Brede Street. You will see other cruisers wandering about so ask them where to go. It is an easy walk, only mere metres to the top on a newly constructed path. Here you will find a happy team of volunteers who are always there on ship visits. Every few minutes they will do a free guided tour of this fascinating and moving memorial. This is a must do when visiting Geraldton. There are great views from the lookout.
You can see your ship from the panorama at the lookout. Image by Out and About.
A big thankyou to the informative and friendly guides and residents of Geraldton. Image by Out and About.
By this time the morning will be well over, and the heat will be getting too much, so head to the park and beach along Foreshore Drive. There are some coffee shops here. You could also try some shopping along Chapman Road and Marine Terrace. There is a chemist open 7 days near the post office. On a Sunday I only found one other shop open which was a gift and clothing shop. The chemist does a roaring trade on cruise days, for no matter how much we pack in out bags for a holiday, there is always something you need.
Shopping at the gifts and clothing stores are fun. Image by Out and About.
Next you can head to the Geraldton Museum that you walked past in the morning. Now you will understand why I recommend going here later in the day as you will be relieved to go indoors to the air conditioning. Here you will find some interesting information on the shipwrecks of the region and the famous Dutch ships such as the Batavia that first visited Australia long before Captain Cook. They were not impressed with this wasteland of the WA coast with no fresh water to be found, so promptly left. You will need at least an hour for the museum.
There is a lot of information on this shipwreck coast at the museum. Image by Out and About.
Directly behind the museum on Chapman St is the Old Gaol and Craft Centre which is open Monday to Saturday from 10am to 3pm and every second Sunday from 8am to 12pm. You may want to check with the tourism ambassadors on the wharf if it is open and pop in there before going up the hill to the lookout.
Leave some time to look at the market stalls set up around the marina where you get your tender boat back to the ship. Alternatively, if you spend some time here in the morning and you will still have time to look at the town. These people are local artists and crafters and rely on a little income from the cruise ship passengers. They will be selling unique locally made items that make great gifts for going home to family and friends.
Before you know it it will be time to say farewell to beautiful Geraldton and head back to the ship, Image by Out and About.
If you have been to Geraldton before and it is wildflower season from August you may want to hire a taxi and go a little out of town to see some native wildflowers. Ask the tourism people where there are any top spots close to town.
Thanks for a lovely day Geraldton. An easy place to do your own shore excursion. Image by Out and About.
Geraldton is a lovely little town and the residents here are very helpful and friendly. The beach is blue and clean and how I wish I had taken my bathers ashore for a swim. There is more than enough to see and do for a day by just walking around and all the attractions mentioned here are free entry.