Like much of Western Australia, Geraldton is probably best known for its wildflower season which runs from late July to early October. However, even when the wildflowers are not in bloom, there are plenty of things to do in Geraldton.
For us, it was a cruise port and we spent our day discovering the hidden charms of this Western Australia town. It’s filled with fascinating history, and when ships are in town, there are plenty of docents happy to share their stories.
A port we were sceptical of before arriving turned out to be a wonderful day.
And, to make it better, with only a few major sites to visit, it was easy to tick off everything from our must-see things to do in Geraldton list.
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Top 3 things to do in Geraldton
- Discover the history and visit the HMAS Sydney II Memorial
- Wander into the St. Francis Xavier Cathedral
- Fly over Pink Lake or Abrolhos Island
HMAS Sydney II Memorial
HMAS Sydney II was the only Australian ship that lost its entire crew in an attack during WWII. The memorial is up on a hill and seen from much of the town. Its most prominent feature is the Dome of Souls with 645 birds, one for each crew member who died. The design has each bird touching two others for friendship.
- Volunteers are available daily at the memorial and offer fascinating free tours.
- The Wall of Remembrance list the names of those who perished in alphabetical order, rather than rank order, as there is no rank in death
- The “Waiting Women” was added in 2001, seven years before they found the ship’s remains in 2008. Oddly, the statue looks out in a direction off by only 0.25 degrees from where the ship’s remains were discovered.
- It’s about a 20-minute walk from the dock to the memorial at the top of a hill. However, Royal Caribbean offered a shuttle bus for a small fee that stopped at the memorial, at the cathedral, in town, and back at the port. While we opted to take the shuttle, I am not sure it was a good use of our money.
- If you are a history buff wanting more on the story of how the Germans sunk the Sydney II, you might want this book: False Flags: Disguised German Raiders of World War II.
St. Francis Xavier Cathedral
More commonly referred to as the Geraldton Cathedral, the St. Francic Xavier Cathedral is the primary place of Catholic worship in Geraldton. Inside took us by surprise, a bit of deja vu. The church offers tours on Monday and Friday mornings (10 am) and Friday afternoons (4 pm). Photos include:
- St. Francis Xavier Cathedral from the street
- St. Francis Xavier Cathedral crypt contains bones of Saint George II and Sebastiani, plus relics of Joannis and Pauli.
- As soon as we walked into the Cathedral we recognised that it was modelled after La Mezquita in Cordoba, Spain (Mosque-cathedral of Córdoba).
Fly over Pink Lake or Abrolhos Island
Nearby Geraldton is two amazing sights, each in the opposite direction from the other, therefore requiring you to choose between two stunning flyover options. The Abrolhos Islands are located about 100km west-northwest, while Pink Lake is about 80km due north.
Choose the Abrolhos Islands and you will be captivated by pristine turquoise waters that are home to an abundance of unique marine life. The archipelago itself is made up of 122 islands and covers about 100 km It is a stunning site to fly over, and will most likely be one of the highlights of your time in Western Australia. ⇒ Check availability for a 90-minute scenic flight over the Abrolhos Islands from Geraldton
Of course, if you choose Pink Lake, you will see a Pink Lake. There are a few in Australia, but if none are in your plans, this might be your only opportunity. It’s a difficult choice, but whichever you choose, you will most likely walk away impressed. ⇒ Check availability for a 70-minute Pink Lake and Port Gregory scenic flight from Geraldton
Things to do in Geraldton: museums
There are a few museums in Geraldton, and if they made it onto your things to do in Geraldton list, be sure to plan around the fact that some of the closes quite early.
- Aboriginal Yamaji Art Centre
A display of indigenous artwork, it is 100% Aboriginal owned and operated.
- Western Australian Museum
The Western Australian Museum is often referred to as the Geraldton Museum. Here we found learned more about the region’s history, culture, landscape and maritime history. Note that it closes at 3 pm daily.
- Old gaol (jail) and old police station
The old Gaol (jail) closes at 3.30
More things to do in Geraldton
- Relax or play at a beach and enjoy the floating pontoons offer swimmers a place to rest or jump.
- Walk along the esplanade and keep your eyes open for sea lions on the rocks (and sometimes swimming in the water).
- If you have kids, check out the children’s playground and Geraldton water park.
- Don’t miss the Rubik’s cube public toilets! (Of course, I had to enter one of these Rubik’s Cube public toilets along the beach. The inside is just a bathroom, but the exterior is still fun to look at.
- Check out the public street art and sculptures
Final thoughts on Geraldton
Geraldton port is not big enough for the mid-sized cruise ship that we arrived on. Therefore, the ship drops an anchor and shuttles passengers to shore.
Just a warning, there are lots of flies in Geraldton in late spring.
Geraldton was one of six ports as we sailed around the top of Australia on Royal Caribbean’s Radiance of the Seas. The prior stop was Port Hedlands, and we will disembark at the next port which is Perth, Australia.
⇒ Don’t Miss: 25 Tips for Cruising Everyone Should Know
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Which of these things to do in Geraldton will you do first?
Disclaimer: In addition to VIP treatment onboard the Radiance of the Seas we were provided with many complimentary extras. The opinions expressed here are strictly my own.
I wanted to go there myself!
I hope you do someday.
What a nice city! I must confess, even though I lived in Sydney for a couple of years, I never heard of Geraldton. It’s definitely a place I would have enjoyed visiting.
It’s north of Perth and the upper border of the Nyoongar lands.
I’ve never heard of Geraldton before, but it looks like a great place to explore. I love learning about new towns.
Maybe you’ve found a new travel destination, Mags? 🙂
It’s fascinating to see places on the other side of the globe from my home. I may never visit there but I can get a flavour of it from your articles.
Maybe you will visit one day, Bill!
Taken For Granted
Thank you for the interesting tour. Did not know about Geraldton before.
That’s one of the cool things about cruising, it often takes us to lesser known spots.
Wonderful journey through Geraldton. I love towns and cities on the sea, and this one seems quaint and charming.
Yes, it is quaint and charming.
Great tips on the free museum tours- that’s awesome! Great to hear that they stop in ports that aren’t as popular as well.
I was pretty impressed with the ports, as they did bring me to places I might not have visited otherwise.
Sarah @ 2paws Designs
How interesting! The HMAS Sydney II Memorial is simply beautiful – especially the dome sculpture. I also love the fun bits of public art. Even if they were “normal” bathrooms, turning the exterior into a giant rubik cube is way more interesting.
I agree on both. I love the giant rubik cubes and actually expected them to be normal inside.
Thanks for the tips Rhonda! Its always great to find a city with free tours. They are such a wonderful way to meet a local and learn about the area.
Our first google search once we decide to visit a city is alway free tours – usually, we are looking for walking tours, and most of them we tip at the end, so they are not really free, but always excellent. (we don’t tip when the guide tells us not too.)
Viajar pela história - Catarina Leonardo
This seems like a great place to visit. I really want to go to Australia and in this post there is one more reason to go….
We enjoyed everywhere we visited in Australia.
Kim Marie Ostrowski
OMG Love the Rubiks bathrooms!! I really wish people would make buildings more interesting like that. Like Dentist offices to look like a tooth (at least in some way…a molar maybe?)
Those stones (the art) are cool too! I thought they were giant geodes at first.
That’s what I was thinking. I had to see them, and was glad they were actually on the walking path we planned out, although I would have walked quite a bit out of the way to find them.
What a fun day. I would have found some seafood at the marina. I love marinas. They are my second home.
Have a fabulous day. ☺
We thought about it, but then opted to eat for free back on the ship. We did have coffee in town.
Lyn @ A Hole in my Shoe
Rhonda, HMAS Sydney is Australia’s greatest naval tragedy and means a lot to our family. My Uncle (Mum’s brother) was one of the 645 who lost his life in battle 75 years ago. I’ll never forget the relief to my Mum when finally 66 years later the remains of the ship were located. I like Geraldton and enjoyed your post on your time there.
Lyn, reading your comment gave me goosebumps. I am glad that I was able to visit and help to honor the men who served for our freedom.
Ticker Eats The World
It’s always pleasant when a cruise ships stops are lesser known ports. I think that is one of the charms of cruising as it takes you to places which might not be easily accessible or for that matter be worth visiting for more than a day. Glad you enjoyed the place and it looks really artistic. Cheers
We generally enjoy where ever we are. There is always something new and interesting to discover and explore.
Geraldton looks like an an artistic port that is easy on the eye. It would be lovely to see the wildflowers. I’ve heard a lot about Geraldton but have not had the chance to visit.
I hadn’t really heard anything about Geraldton before we agreed on this cruise. This was our first exploration of Western Australia
Wow…what a place. Very nice architecture. The rubiks cube toilets look great.
I thought the toilets were really cool.
Rhonda, we stayed just north of Geraldton at a place called Coronation Beach when we were on our trip around Australia in our caravan. We found Geraldton to be an interesting place. It was in autumn so no wildflowers but there had been recent heavy rainfall so everything was lovely and green. We did a tour of the crayfish processing factory which was fascinating.
This is the downside of a cruise, we don’t get to explore the surrounding areas – but we do get to make a list of places to return to.
Hi Rhonda – just lost my comment … but what a beautiful little town, with lots to see and then those quiet spaces where one can remember … lovely – cheers Hilary
Good news, it’s not gone.
Hi Rhonda … what an interesting town … and the Remembrance places look so peaceful and thoughtful about the situation … love the Dome of Souls … and your photos show us what is going on … thanks – Hilary
They were quite peaceful and interesting.
What a historic place to visit, I never knew any of this information! I have a friend who lives there so think I will have to make the effort visit them! Great article 😊
Air New Zealand flies non-stop, so it’s not so bad to get to Perth. I would love to do the entire coast, but earlier in the year when the wildflowers are about.