Okay, a small disclaimer to this article: I am a little bit naive upon writing this, I haven’t been everywhere in the world just yet – although I intend on getting close. However, Gnaraloo is (so far) my favourite place I have encountered. That, and after a conversation with Billabong pro-surfers Andy Irons and Joel Parkinson, it is theirs too.
To give you an idea of just how beautiful it is, when I stayed on the former sheep station-turned mud brick villa resort, I met a number of backpackers from the UK, Sweden, the Middle East and the U.S. All of which had intended to stay for a week at most, and were well into their seventh month, or for others their fourth year.
Gnaraloo is north of Carnarvon and takes a good four to five hour drive to get there, most of which is on an unsealed road. It is based in the middle of a sheep station and is north of another local haven called Quobba Station where people have ‘squatted’ on the land in shacks and demountables to spend their holidays, or for some, the rest of their lives.
The homestead resort backs onto the UNESCO World Heritage listed Ningaloo Reef and is kept to a very limited audience, so there’s never a crowd at any time of the year. The amazing thing about this place isn’t just the nostalgic presence of old shearing sheds and merino sheep, but the beautiful untouched beaches with not another person to see for miles.
My visit to Gnaraloo coincided with a snap decision by the surfers to fly over to Perth from Hawaii and make their way up to Gnaraloo to surf the annual swell and break, aptly titled the ‘Graveyard’ and ‘Tombstones’. Billabong frequents the area at various times throughout the year to shoot the amazing waves that break over a shallow reef.
In the middle-point between Gnaraloo and Quobba Station are the blowhole sites which gets a lot of visitors and is not far from the main western highway. The blowholes are caused by crushing waves and pressured water filling the rocky shoreline blowing huge streams of water into the air. This is definitely a far more popular spot, a reminder that tourists shy away from the rocky road to Gnaraloo.