Welcome to Western Australia

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Western Australia is all about fun and adventure...so what are you waiting for? Photo: Tourism WA
 
Western Australia is Australia’s largest and most diverse state. It combines a vibrant city life, indigenous culture, wineries, stunning marine life, and outback adventures. There are so many places to visit in Western Australia, so your biggest problem is deciding what's at the top of your bucket list.
 
A quick word of advice. This state is huge so don’t expect to see everything in a couple of days. Plan the Western Australia attractions and experiences you want to do most and book them in. This is going to be a holiday to remember. And finally, when you visit Western Australia, I recommend you fly there, otherwise it’s a very long drive.

 
Directions and distance

Western Australia (WA) is a very large state so you need to plan your travel itinerary. You could fit 10 United Kingdoms into Western Australia and still have a bit of room left over. It’s not a short bus or train ride down the road to get from town to town. It takes 23 hours to drive from Perth (in the bottom of Western Australia) to Broome (in the top).

To help you plan your itinerary of places to visit, I’ve used Perth as the starting point. There’s other cities to fly into but Perth is always a popular Western Australia holiday destination.


Visit Perth - WA's capital

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Take a selfie with a Quokka on Rottnest Island. Photo: Tourism WA


Getting there: Fly or drive to Perth. (Flights from Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane take around 5 hours). If you're driving, allow around 4 days for this trip.

Perth is a fun and funky city with great beaches, bars, parks, and nightlife. There’s also a string of world-class wineries down the road at Swan Valley. 30 minutes away is Fremantle (the port city of Perth) where you’ll find more stunning beaches, eclectic bars, breweries, entertainment and eateries. Other nearby hot spots are Rottnest island and Rockingham (where you’ll see little penguins, dolphins, sea lions.)

Perth and Fremantle have the best of everything which is probably why these cities don’t take themselves too seriously. They’re kind of like the Italian Amalfi Coast – cool and understated. 
 

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Visit Esperance

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Swim and, play in the turquoise waters at Esperance. Photo: Tourism WA


Getting there:  Esperance is an 8-hour drive East of Perth (or a 1.5-hour flight from Perth).

Esperance is a beach lover's dream with its white sand and turquoise waters. Swim, snorkel, surf, canoe and fish. A not-to-be-missed beach is Lucky Bay (45 minutes drive from Esperance), and is Australia's whitest beach. Welcome to paradise, now you just need to choose which stretch of beach you want. Why not sleep under the stars beside the beach at Lucky Bay.

Land-lovers will fall in love with the outback coast's national parks such as Cape Le Grand National Park. Take an Indigenous cultural tour, go off-road on a four-wheel-drive adventure, or take one of the many coastal walking trails for stunning views over white sandy beaches, rust-stained granite headlands and rugged islands.

Did I mention the 110 islands that are clustered together just off the coast? These islands are known as the Recherche Archipelago, or the ‘Bay of Isles’. Take a cruise around the islands, or go bushwalking or snorkelling at Woody Island.

 

Visit Margaret River

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Sample the stunning wines of the Margaret River.
Photo: Tourism WA

Getting there: Margaret River is 3-hours south of Perth and has magnificent wineries, underground caves, and great surfing beaches. 
 

This is one of Australia’s largest wine regions and specialises in cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay, Semillon and sauvignon blanc. If you fancy a craft beer or a cider, you’re in the right place. Each Margaret River brewery has its own distinct flavour, so why not confuse your tastebuds with a chocolate beer or a ginger and chilli beer. 

You can do a day trip to the Margaret River but I definitely recommend staying at least overnight. Let’s face it, you have 95 wineries waiting for you and you can’t get to them all in a day. My advice is to map out your wine tasting visits to the Margaret River cellar doors.

While you’re in town, visit Jewel Cave, which is one of the world’s largest yet youngest show caves, and south of Margaret River.

Pack some swimmers – the Margaret River has more than 130 beautiful beaches that are known for crystal clear waters, white sands, and amazing surf. If you love your waves, head to Redgate beach, Contos beach, Surfers Point beach, or Main Break beach.

Side trip: If tall trees are your thing, keep driving south for another 3 hours and visit the Walpole-Nornalup National Park. This has some of the world’s tallest trees – which are whopping 40 metres high. Do the Giants Treetop Walk for a bird's eye view of towering veteran tingle trees and giant eucalypts that have been standing for more than 400 years. (3 hours drive from Margaret River).

 

Visit The Pinnacles

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Run, play and be part of the incredible Pinnacles in Namburg National Park.
Photo: Tourism WA

Getting there: The Pinnacles is 2.5 hour drive North of Perth.
 

Head to the Nambung National Park where you’ll find ‘the Pinnacles’. The Pinnacles are thousands of ancient rock formations in all shapes and sizes, and some are up to 5 metres tall.

These tall limestone pillars are a fascinating combination of water, wind and seashells that have mixed and hardened and taken millions of years to form.  Wander around the Pinnacles which are nicknamed ‘the Rock Stars of the Outback’. Be sure to do the 4.5 km walk to the Pinnacles Lookout (which takes about an hour).

Other local highlights:

  • Say hi to the koalas, western grey kangaroos, emus and white-tailed black-cockatoos at Yanchep National Park

  • Head to the nearby town of Cervantes and tour the famous Lobster Shack factory followed by a delicious lunch 

  • Go sand-boarding at Lancelin’s amazing dunes. 

Tip: The Pinnacles are amazing at any time but truly spectacular early in the morning. 

 

Visit Kalbarri

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Enjoy an aerial view of Nature's Window in Kalbarri National Park.
Photo: Tourism WA

 

Getting there: Kalbarri is a 6.5 hours drive north of Perth.

Kalbarri National Park is the star of this town with its spectacular river gorges and 800 different species of wildflowers. Go bushwalking, gorge hiking, swimming, canoeing, abseiling, and maybe even pitch a tent and camp overnight. 

On your visit to Kalbarri National Park why not:

  • Take a short walk to the Z-Bend Lookout, Ross Graham Lookout and Hawk’s Head lookout for breathtaking views of the Murchison River.

  • Hike the Four Ways Trail (Idinggada Yina) or the Z-Bend River Trail (6km walk). There are some steep descents and ladders to climb to get to the Murchison river, but it’s well worth it.

  • Look out for kangaroos, emus, echidnas, thorny devil lizards and wedge-tailed eagles.

  • Enjoy the thousands of wildflowers in bloom from July to October.

  • Nature's Window is a natural rock arch that gives you a picture-framed view the Murchison River. It’s an 800 metre walk from the carpark, or you can hike the 8.9 km Nature's Window Loop trail. 

  • Take the Kalbarri Skywalk where you’re 100 metres above the Murchison River Gorge's, rusty-red cliffs and bushland.


See the amazing Pink Lake (also known as Lake Hillier) from the air.
Photo: Tourism WA

Don’t miss seeing Pink Lake while you’re in the area. (Pink Lake’s real name is Lake Hillier but hey – Pink Lake is Pink Lake). A particular type of algae found in the sea salt is the reason this lake is pink, which also means you can admire it but not swim in it.  Why not book an air tour and see Pink Lake from above, or take a boat out on the lake. Otherwise – stop the car and take some selfies.

 

Monkey Mia & Shark Bay

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Hand feed the dolphins at Monkey Mia.
Photo: Tourism WA


Getting there: Monkey Mia is a 9 hour drive north of Perth or a 2-hour flight from Perth.

Shark Bay and Monkey Mia are a dream come true for marine lovers. Monkey Mia is part of the World Heritage-listed Shark Bay and is famous for its wild but friendly dolphins that swim into shore each morning to be hand-fed. This pod of Bottle Nosed dolphins have been coming in for a free feed of fresh fish for over 30 years. But they only get a small amount so they don’t become dependant on handouts. 

On any visit, you're likely to spot turtles, dolphins, manta rays, whales and dugongs, be it on a boat or from the shore and at the end of it all, just relax amongst the stunning white beaches, crystal clear waters and rust-red sand dunes. 

Other amazing things to do in Shark Bay are:

  • Booking a cruise around the Bay and get a closer look at the turtles, dolphins, manta rays, whales and dugongs.

  • Swimming, kayaking, snorkelling, or fishing in the bays or off the beach. There’s a few different places to hire gear.
     


Go canoeing as part of your Wula Gura Nyinda Eco Adventure in Shark Bay.
Photo: Tourism WA

  • Taking a glass-bottom boat cruise to a nearby working pearl farm and see pearls being cultured.

  • Seeing the ancient Hamelin Pool stromatolites. These are the oldest living fossils on earth and are about 3.5 billion years old! Walk across the jetty and look down on these all-important fossils that help explain early life on earth. 

  • Check out Shell Beach that’s made up of white cockle shells.

  • 4-wheel driving at Francois Peron National Park.

 

 

Coral Bay & Ningaloo Reef

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Go snorkelling or diving at Ningaloo Reef.
Photo: Tourism WA

 
 

Getting there: Coral Bay and Ningaloo Reef are 12 hours drive north of Perth or a 1.5 hour flight from Perth followed by a 90-minute drive.

Coral Bay is a tiny seaside town with the world's largest fringing reef – Ningaloo Reef and marine park. Ningaloo Reef is so spectacular, it’s on the world heritage list.

And if you’re wondering what a fringing reef is, it means that the coral gardens are close to the shore so you can walk from the beach and a few meters later are swimming in the reef.

Ningaloo Reef is 300 km long, stretching between the towns of Coral Bay and Exmouth. Ningaloo Reef and marine park are among the world’s best snorkelling and diving sites, with over 200 species of coral and over 500 tropical fish. You’ll also see manta rays, dugongs, dolphins, turtles and whale sharks. 

While whale sharks sound scary, they are anything but. These huge and harmless creatures hang out in Ningaloo Reef between April and July.  So grab your goggles and snorkel and see these gentle giants for yourself – some are 12 metres long!

If you prefer to be above water, see the marine life and coral gardens onboard a glass-bottom boat take a scenic flight over the reef. 

Another popular activity is game fishing where you can try your hand at catching emperor, cod, Spanish mackerel and bream. If you’re up for the challenge, try to hook a tuna, marlin or mahi-mahi. 
 
Between July and October, thousands of humpback whales head north to warmer water so I highly recommend booking a whale-watching cruise. There’s also the opportunity to jump in the water and see them sail past. 

 

 

Cape Range & Turquoise Bay

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Try a fresh oyster straight off the rock at Francois Peron National Park.
Photo: Tourism WA

 

Getting there:  Cape Range National Park and Turquoise Bay are 14 hours drive north of Perth or a 90-minute flight from Perth.

If you go to the top end of Ningaloo Reef and Ningaloo Marine Park, you’ll find Cape Range National Park, Turquoise Bay and the town of Exmouth.

Cape Range National Park has deep canyons, wildlife including emus, echidnas, wallabies, kangaroos, and birds, plus over 600 species of wildflowers. Head to Cape Range National Park at sunset to see the kangaroos and emus running through the park.

Another feature of Cape Range National Park is its 50 km of beaches including the award-winning Turquoise Bay. Turquoise Bay is known for its gorgeous white sands, crystal clear waters and stunning coral gardens. You can walk straight from the beach and snorkel around the reef – it’s that close.
 


Cook your own fish when you book a Wula Gura Nyinda Eco Adventure 
in Shark Bay. Photo: Tourism WA

 

Broome & the Kimberleys

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Watch the camel train go past you on Cable Beach in Broome.
Photo: Tourism WA

 

Getting there: Broome is 23 hours drive north of Perth or a 2.5 hour flight from Perth.

Broome is in the very north of Western Australia and is the gateway to the Kimberley wilderness. (More about the Kimberleys in a moment). 

  • Broome is home to world-famous Cable Beach – which is 22 km of pure white sand, turquoise water, and red ochre cliffs in the background. Stick around until evening and you’ll see why everyone raves about the Cable Beach sunset. Watch the sun sink into the Indian ocean and the sky change colours from blues, purples, golds and fiery reds. Other ways to experience the sun setting behind you is on the back of a camel or a boat.

  • Broome is also the pearling capital of Australia. Take a cruise and see how the South Sea pearls are cultured.

  • Add a Horizontal Falls guided tour to your itinerary. Unlike a typical waterfall with water rushing downwards, here it falls sideways. This is due to the fast-moving tide being pushed through two narrow cliff passages, creating a sideways waterfall. 

You can’t drive to Horizontal Falls yourself but you can book a seaplane, cruise or helicopter tour. If you want to add some adrenaline to the mix, book a floatplane tour that lands at the falls followed by a boat ride through the water rapids.
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Witness 'The Staircase to the Moon' phenomenon, at Roebuck Bay.
Photo: Tourism WA

 

  • ‘Staircase to the Moon’ is another magical experience in Broome. What is ‘Staircase to the Moon’? It’s an optical illusion of a stairway reaching the moon. It’s caused by the full moon rising and reflecting off Roebuck Bay mudflats at low tide, and can only be seen three nights each month between March and October. See dates so you can plan to be in town to witness this incredible sight:

  • Broome has many galleries exhibiting works by some of the Kimberleys most celebrated contemporary and Aboriginal artists.

  • Another must-do activity while you're in Broome is visiting Sun Pictures which is the oldest operating outdoor cinema in the world.
     

Karijini National Park (in the Pilbara)

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Float around in the Hamersley Gorge swimming hole in Karijini National Park.
Photo: Tourism WA


Getting there: Karijini National Park is a 9-hour drive East of Cape Range National Park. Karijini National Park is in the Pilbara region. If you’re driving from Perth, it’s 15 hours north of Perth.

If you’re already in the Coral Bay / Cape Range area and still thirsty for more adventure, include Karijini National Park to the itinerary. Let’s face it, you’re already in the area (9 hours drive away.)

I recommend getting to Karijini National Park by joining a four-wheel-drive guided tour from one of the surrounding areas. Otherwise, make your own way there but definitely in a four-wheel drive vehicle.

 


Sit under the waterfall at Jubura (Fern Pool) in Karijini National Park.
Photo: Tourism WA


And if you’re wondering why you should make the trip - Karijini National Park is two billion years old. It has spectacular lookouts and walking trails through ancient gorges. Go caving in some of the oldest gorges and rocks on the planet. Take a refreshing dip in the rock pools. The water is crystal clear and you're surrounded by waterfalls, cliffs and ancient gorges. 

Could your visit to Western Australia get any better? You'll have so much fun, you won't want to leave. Lucky for you, there's campsites in case you want to stay a few days. For a truly unique experience, stay at an Aboriginal-owned eco-retreat.
 


See the field of wildflowers - Batchelors Buttons (Gomphrena canescens) - Karijini National Park. Photo: Tourism WA


Side trip: If you fancy driving another 7 hours down the road, you’ll see Mount Augustus which is the world’s largest rock. It's actually double the size of Uluru. 

 

Bungle Bungle Range

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Take in the awe-inspiring Bungle Bungle Range at Purnululu National Park.
Photo: Tourism WA
 

 

Getting there: Bungle Bungle Range is a 9.5 hour drive from Broome, or 23 hours drive north of Perth.

The Bungle Bungles are in the Purnululu National Park, and are part of Kimberley region.

The Bungle Bungles are huge orange and black striped sandstone domes. And I do mean huge – many are 300 metres tall. There are thousands of these bell-shaped sandstone rocks standing side-by-side, and curiously, they’ve been standing for over 350 million years. Because they are one of the world’s most fascinating rock formations, they’ve earned themselves a place on the world heritage list.
 

Take a walk around the Bungle Bungle Range with a local guide.
Photo: Tourism WA
 
 

Explore the Bungle Bungle Range and Purnululu National Park by:

  • Doing a walking tour with one of the local Aboriginal guides. (The Jaru and Gija Aboriginal people have lived here for over 20,000 years and are the custodians of Purnululu National Park).

  • Booking a four wheel drive safari

  • Hiking to Cathedral Gorge. If you can sing, Catherine Gorge is the place to belt out a tune. The acoustics are amazing and equal to the world’s best opera houses. (This was proven when the Sydney Symphony Orchestra performed in Cathedral Gorge a few years ago.

 
Take a walk through Cathedral Gorge at Purnululu National Park.
Photo: Tourism WA
 
  • Hiking to Echidna Chasm. If you’re here at midday, look up at the bright blue sky to see it contrasting with the bright orange rock walls (which are only 2 shoulder widths wide.) 

  • Camp-out under the stars. The Bungle Bungles are one of the best places in the world to stargaze, and you will feel the incredible spiritual connection to the land.

  • Flying over the Bungle Bungle Range in an open-door helicopter or a scenic flight. 

  • Do your own birdwatching or join a tour. There’s 130 different bird species found here.

 

Side trip to Wolfe Creek crater

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Check out Wolfe Creek Meteorite Crater, south of Halls Creek.
Photo: Tourism WA 


Side trip from the Bungle Bungles: 5 hours south from Purnululu is the Wolfe Creek crater. This is the second-largest crater in the world, and is 880 metres across and 60 metres deep.

This crater is around 300,000 years old and the result of a 50,000 ton meteorite hitting Earth at lightning speed. It’s yet another incredible piece of nature to see in Western Australia’s outback.

Walk up 100 metres to see the crater rim. It’s a steep and rocky climb but well worth doing to get that perfect photo. 
 

Explore the Echidna Chasm Purnululu National Park.
Photo: Tourism WA

 


Expect the unexpected in WA, including an orchestra in the Bungle Bungles.
Photo: Australian Pacific Touring

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