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A year-round holiday climate just 423 km -five hours' drive north of Perth, makes Geraldton (population 31,000) one of the most popular places in the State, especially in winter. Good beaches, offshore islands and reefs, an inland ablaze with wildflowers in spring, and an interesting history that dates back to the first European contact with Australia, 370 years ago, along with good facilities in and around the town, make the town a great destination.

The islands of the Abrolhos, which lie 100 km offshore, were the scene in 1629 of one of the greatest shipwrecks and mutinies in Australian history. Here the Dutch ship Batavia was wrecked, and in the months that followed, a drama of mutiny, murder, survival and rescue were played out on the islands and nearby mainland.

George Grey, on his walk back to Perth after being wrecked at the mouth of the Murchison River in 1839, was the
first to bring back good reports of the area. The first British ship anchored here in 1841, naming it Champion Bay after the ship; the name was changed to Geraldton when the town was surveyed 10 years later. Miners and pioneer pastoralists opened up this region, and today the area is rich farming land, with market gardens along the river being fed from an all-year underground stream, and with the port as the major base for the crayfishing fleet which operates from Geraldton.

There are plenty of fishing opportunities in and around Geraldton. The harbour is home to tommy ruff and garfish, while further offshore the reefs produce pink snapper, baldchin tuskfish, Westralian jewfish, sweetlip and mackerel; off the beaches you can catch tailor, mulloway and whiting. Diving and surfing are popular, and fishing and diving trips to the Abrolhos Islands are available.

Annual events and festivities include the Geraldton Windsurfing Classic in January, the Batavia Seafood Festival in February, the Batavia Coast Fishing Classic in April and the Festival of Geraldton held in October.

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