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Point Moore, Geraldton. Picture: Tourism WA

We burst out of the top of the metro area's suburbs, heading north, bearing west, keeping the azure ocean on our left shoulder, following the blonde beach.

We ignore the more inland route and follow the Indian Ocean Drive, past Lancelin, Wedge Island and Grey to Jurien Bay. And here, just a couple of hours later, I really feel I am somewhere different. It has the bleached, beachy feel of the old, family holiday WA. It feels like the essence of the place.

It's the start of what I am calling here "The Accessible Coast". Jurien Bay, Cervantes, Port Denison and Dongara, Geraldton (and, yes, Geraldton, has long, remote-feeling beaches on its doorstep and some interesting stuff to see).

The Accessible Coast is about fishing and families. It's about a real sense of being out in the real environment of WA - feeling the depth of the ocean, the broadness of the horizon, hot-and-cold winds. It's about not being isolated from the outside, or about living in hard-surface areas or waiting in airports.

It's about history, from shipwrecks to the old crayfishing types, but it is also about the contemporary people who live along this salty, exposed, raw piece of coastline.

For serious planetary history, Cervantes has, of course, the Pinnacles on its doorstep - the exposed limestone pillars set against yellow sand in Nambung National Park. There's a good interpretive centre and, perhaps better still, I like a walk around Lake Thetis. It became isolated perhaps not much less than 5000 years ago when the sea level here dropped, and is one of the few places in the world where stromatolites live. The earliest complex life forms on Earth, those at Lake Thetis are thought to be more than 3370 years old.

There's good signage and explanation and it's worth doing the whole 1.2km loop around the lake.

But, by the same token, the modern life of Cervantes is seen at Lobster Shack, where rock-lobster fishing is shown and explained from boat to pot and export.

And while Jurien Bay may have been named back in 1801 by French explorer Nicolas Baudin for one Charles Jurien, a French navy admin chap, and may have dug its root firmly into the sand as the crayfishing industry developed in the 1950s and 60s, today there's skydiving and sea lion tours (the females hang out up here and the males come visiting).

It's all good, go-ahead tourism.

And from here, it's worth dipping into Drovers Cave and Lesueur national parks. The former reflects the fact that this was once part of the great droving routes south, and Stockyard Gully is where cattle were held and watered. Lesueur is famous for its high number of plant species.

From Jurien Bay, I drive on past Green Head, Leeman, Illawong ("altitude 12m") and then out and on to the Brand Highway.

Not much further on, I swing left into Port Denison.

I'm now 360km north of the centre of Perth and Port Denison (3km south of Dongara) surely has one of the prettiest harbours in WA. In Australia, come to that. With ramps and service jetties, Port Denison Marina is not only home of one of WA's biggest rock lobster fleets, but popular for boat fishing, and its east and west breakwaters give the non-boating the chance to cast into salt water. The three jetties are good for tailor, silver bream, whiting and mulloway.

And such a pretty spot to sit and simply enjoy life.

And then a bit of exercise? There's a 4.6km loop walk (anything from one to three hours is recommended) between Port Denison and Dongara - one of many trails on which to explore the area (trailswa.com.au). Look out, particularly, when there, for the Shipwreck Walk for a glimpse at the raw nautical history here.

Dongara itself is where the Irwin River snakes in a final loop at the ocean. It's full of exciting river, sea and landscapes.

The town's landmarks are not only the stone and brick Royal Steam Roller Flour Mill, but the Moreton Bay fig trees which line the main street, planted in 1906 and which give it distinctive character.

Dongara Markets are on the first Saturday of the month, in the town park from 9am to 3pm.

And then on through the heritage village of Greenough, where solid prevailing winds have trained the trees to lean. It's worth turning off the Brand Highway to stooge around and visit the Pioneer Museum and Gardens.

And then on to Geraldton.

If you haven't gathered it by now, although I am not much more than 420km from the centre of Perth, I really feel I am exploring The Accessible Coast and am a good step away from everyday life.

Now, Geraldton. To speak frankly, it's only a joke to people who have never really bothered to spend some time there and come to appreciate it.

It's easy to write a list of things to do: the HMAS Sydney II Memorial perched up on the hill, with its poignant artworks; the Western Australian Museum Geraldton, particularly for telling the Batavia shipwreck story; galleries and craft centres, cafes and Geraldton Visitor Centre for all you need to know.

And 30km northwards there's an insight into traditional rural life at Oakabella Homestead before stretching on to Northampton and perhaps beyond. Or perhaps north-east up the Geraldton Mt Magnet Road to Mullewa, particularly as wildflowers begin to show around August.

Perhaps (as I have done before) turning inland off the Brand Highway at Dongara, heading into Mingenew and then working my way south down the gravel "backroads" to Yarra Yarra Lakes, and then south through Coorow on the Midlands Road.

All that is fine and may have its moment - but being on the road along The Accessible Coast is the point here. It's perfect for a holiday - perfect for exploring.

Ideal for about simply being out and about. And about being out and about, simply.

FACT FILE

There's much more about this coastline on Australia's Coral Coast's website: australiascoralcoast.com.au.

Pinnacles Visitor Information Centre (also for Cervantes and Jurien Bay information): visitpinnaclescountry.com.au and 9652 7700.

Dongara and Port Denison Visitor Centre: irwin.wa.gov.au and 9927 1404.

Geraldton Visitor Centre: geraldtonvisitorcentre.com.au and 9921 3999.

Northampton Visitor Centre: northampton.com.au and 9934 1488.