Lost treasures, bendy trees and an historical first for Australia. It's all found in this part of Western Australia.
The first recorded site of a European visitor to the continent is within the vicinity. Too far for a day trip, but worth knowing about, it was 400 years ago that explorer Dirk Hartog nailed his inscribed pewter plate to a pole on an island a few hundred kilometres north of Geraldton.
Closer and more recent events include the mystery surrounding the wreck of a Dutch ship carrying wealth for the Spice Islands in the 18th century, as well as the sinking of HMAS Sydney II with immense loss of life in 1941.
Today's Geraldton is a thriving coastal city with a population of about 36,000 and the commercial centre for the local farming community. Its port welcomes cruise ships as well as fishing trawlers bringing in some of the world's best seafood for processing and packing.
With its rich indigenous and maritime history, Geraldton is an ideal hub for visitors. Here you can relax on creamy sand and enjoy a range of water sports, visit the treasure islands of the Abrolhos, be astounded by carpets of wildflowers in springtime, or trees that seem to grow sideways in Greenough.
Cruise ships anchor in Southern Champion Bay not far from the city centre, and passengers are tendered into Batavia Coast Marina. Cruise ship 'meet and greet' volunteers are on hand to direct and assist visitors in exploring the city's attractions and directing them to ATMs and markets.
Have fun noticing local numberplates on cars. Every council area in Western Australia has its own prefix for cars registered in that region. In Geraldton it is GN.
Be careful collecting shells in shallow water or on the beach as they might contain live 'occupants'. The blue-ringed octopus is very dangerous. Not all beaches are patrolled or have flags so do watch out for 'rips' (strong currents) when there is a big swell.
Picking wildflowers is prohibited throughout the State. If bushwalking, be alert for snakes.
ATMs and currency exchanges may be found throughout the town at banks and also in shopping centres as well as many hotels. Withdrawals will be in Australian currency, usually in $50 and $20 notes. For current currency conversion figures visit www.oanda.com or www.xe.com. US dollars are not acceptable when shopping, but major credit cards are generally welcome.
Geraldton's Western Australian Museum is located right at the waterfront. Its souvenir selection is one of the best with everything from replica Dirk Hartog plates to Aboriginal art and jewellery featuring local gems such as sparkling black iron ore.