Named after a shipwreck off the west coast of Australia, which was itself named after the author of Don Quixote, the tiny town (population: 467) of [tweet_dis]Cervantes offers a laidback and quirky destination for those looking for a relaxing, unique holiday unlike anywhere else in Australia.[/tweet_dis] But there’s nothing Quixotic about taking a trip to Cervantes: just a simple 2-hour drive up the Indian Ocean coastline from Perth.
What Cervantes lacks in population, it more than makes up for in natural beauty. The nearby Jurien Bay Marine Park is a wildlife sanctuary where you can find all sorts of exotic flora and fauna, including brilliantly coloured coral reefs. Go snorkelling or scuba diving to visit the seals, seas lions and dolphins who take residence in these warm waters.
The Marine Park is great, but it doesn’t offer anything exclusive to Cervantes. What sets this little town apart from others are the nearby stromatolites. These strange and beautiful rock formations found at Lake Thetis are some of the oldest living fossils, or the earliest record of life on earth. Living stromatolites are rare enough, and ones that grow in parallel columns like the ones at Lake Thetis are found nowhere else.
If the stromatolites stimulate an appetite for more strange rock formations, head over to the Nambung National Park to see the Pinnacles. This limestone formation resembles something out of an old John Ford film: reddish-brown gravestone-like slabs jutting abruptly out of a flat desert plain. There’s nothing else quite like it.
Cervantes Art Festival
Art-lovers, be sure to book your trip to Cervantes in the last weekend of October, for this is when the annual Cervantes Art Festival takes place. Pieces of all mediums are displayed, along with readings of bush poetry. There are some small beach town quirks to this event as well, notably a carrot cake competition and a painted deck chair auction. This is a great way to experience art. Much better than the stuffy, pretentious atmosphere of big city galleries.
Fishing is the biggest industry in this small community. Take advantage of this by eating at local restaurants that serve up delicious fresh fish. The Lobster Shack on Madrid Street is perhaps the most renowned of these joints, known for its specialty rock lobster lunches. If you want to fish yourself, try your luck at Hangover Bay or Kangaroo Point.