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The 'sunshine City' Of Geraldton
abrolhos islandsFew cities in the world can boast a majestic mountain range on one side, meeting with a pristine, untouched coastline on the other. However, Western Australia's city of Geraldton offers exactly this, as well as a gorgeous summer climate all year round. This essentially makes it the perfect holiday destination for anyone looking for some outdoor fun and adventure. Highly regarded as the 'Sunshine City', visitors flock to Geraldton for its perfect contrasts of location and climate. Another added bonus are the friendly locals and the 'country town' feel of the city, which ultimately make it a warm and welcoming destination.

The very mention of Geraldton is sure to be accompanied with talk of the Abrolhos Islands. This stunning collection of 122 small islands are scattered about 70 kilometres out to sea from the Geraldton coast, and can be reached via boat or plane tours. It is an ideal destination for scuba divers and snorkelers, because the diversity in marine life out here is sure to please anyone and everyone. As you would expect of a place with such an abundance of life under the surface, the fishing here is second to none.

There are many tour options available, that will cater to all your fishing needs and wants. They also offer plenty of opportunities to spot marine mammals such as sea lions, dolphins and migratory whales. One of the country's best sea bird breeding colonies is here on the Abrolhos Islands, and many visitors take a tour out primarily to see the birdlife. The beauty of the islands is the perfect backdrop to whatever pursuit of nature and adventure you wish to undertake here.

Take a twenty minute drive north of Geraldton and you will come across the green broad acres of the Chapman Valley. This beautiful seventeen kilometres of coast, stretches inland eastwards and is recognisable by its rolling green farmlands and the rugged Moresby Ranges which lie close to Geraldton. The best way to make your way round his area is to hire a car, as this will permit you to explore the very far reaches of this beautiful countryside. Flowing rivers run through these beautiful valleys, and lovely wineries, farms and meadows appear around every corner. This are is an ideal place to escape the hustle and bustle of the city, as it gives people the alternative for a relaxed, laid back lifestyle.

From July through to October many visitors come here to experience the colourful wildflowers that bloom in those months. The whole Geraldton region is renowned for these, as the countryside literally explodes into a carpet of colour. Coalseam Conservation Park is especially renowned for its pink, white and yellow everlastings and is a must if you want to experience a unique vibrancy that can be found nowhere else.

Geraldton is also an ideal place for any lover of water activities, with Coronation Beach just down the road. This beautiful beach is a world renowned wind surfing location and is also ideal for a family day out. Just twenty five kilometres from the centre of Geraldton, there is a basic camping ground here if you want that really early start on the water, or you could just head back into town. Surfing is also popular in the actual town of Geraldton, and there are a variety of surf breaks up its coast that cater to all experience levels.

Heritage and architecture are also prominent within Geraldton, giving visitors a break for the surfing lifestyle. The most prominent building here would have to be the St Francis Xavier cathedral, whihc was designed by famed architect Monsignor Hawes. Construction began in 1915 and it wasn't completed until 1938. These long years were definitely worth the wait, as it is now regarded as one of his finest works. There are guided tours running throughout the day that give you the opportunity to marvel at the pillars, arches and stained glass of this special building.

Another monument popular amongst visitors is the HMAS Sydney memorial. This unique monument honours 645 Australian sailors that were lost during a World War 2 battle in 1941. The good ship Sydney and her men was lost without a trace after a fight with a German gunship. The monument is beautiful and surprisingly modern, consisting of a silver dome with 645 seagulls on it. Nearby a statue of an anxious women stares questioningly out to sea. This is a great place to visit for an insight into Australia's extensive war history.

Geraldton also offers a touch of class and sophistication, which is most evident by the recently built Batavia Marina. The artistic boardwalk winds along the water's edge, taking you past the boat docks, the classy townhouses and the Western Australia Museum. It runs to the door of a swanky new restaurant that is fast gaining a solid reputation for its fine cuisine and unique cultural atmosphere.

There is a very designer-esque feel to the marina, with modern and old artworks positioned to give you can idea of the local arts scene. While you are here be sure to check out the Batavia longboat, which is a replica of one that came to shore from a ship that ran aground in the Abrolhos Islands in 1629. Whilst they were on shore a mutiny occurred on the damaged ship that resulted in 125 people being killed, and this longboat on display is a reminder of that tragedy.

There really is something to see and do for everyone here, so it is no wonder that Geraldton is becoming more and more prominent on the Australian tourism map. Adults and kids, thrill seekers and those keen for a bit of relaxation - everyone can have their perfect holiday in this sunny part of Western Australia. So what are you waiting for? It's time to start planning your next break and there is no better place to spend it then in Geraldton!

Christine Barton

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