Bordered to the west by the Indian Ocean, Western Australia covers an area of about one million square miles – about the same size as the whole of Western Europe. The landscape is inspiring in its beauty and grandeur and includes pristine beaches, rugged gorges, golden outback, towering forests, and secluded waterfalls.
POINTS OF INTEREST
Perth offers a vibrant, relaxed lifestyle with beautiful natural highlights including the Swan River, Kings Park and Botanic Garden, and the Indian Ocean. The city has 19 metropolitan beaches, including famous Cottlesloe Beach, where guests can relax and enjoy one of Western Australia’s famous sunset over the Indian Ocean. One of the largest inner-city parks in the world – at almost 1,000 acres, it is larger than New York’s Central Park. Kings Park is just a short walk or free bus ride from the Perth city center. It offers impressive views of the Swan River and the city skyline, and is great for picnics, seeing an outdoor movie or live performances in summer, or learning more about the area on an Indigenous walking tour. The city of Perth has transformed remarkably in recent years. Incredible new public venues such as the waterfront Elizabeth Quay, the 60,000-seat Optus Stadium, and the cultural hub of Yagan Square, now offer many options for visitors.
Fremantle is a beautifully preserved 19th-century port town just 30 minutes southwest of Perth city. Visitors ca learn about the city’s maritime and convict history on a walking tour or at the World Heritage-listed Fremantle Prison and WA Maritime Museum; browse the shops, galleries, and weekend markets; hit the beach; or dine at one of the many cafés, bars, restaurants, or microbreweries.
home to the little marsupial, the quokka, this island is only 11 miles from the mainland – a short ferry ride from Fremantle, Perth, or Hillary’s Boat Harbour. Seaplane or helicopter tours to the island are also available. The island is car-free, but guests can hire a bike or take a segway or bus tour. Rottnest Island boasts 63 secluded bays and 20 beaches, and its diversity of fish, coral, and shipwrecks make for some fascinating snorkeling and diving sites. Visitors to Rottnest Island can enjoy dining at the waterside cafés and restaurants, finding a beach all to themselves, or taking an eco-cruise to discover the local wildlife, including whales in season and seals year-round.
Western Australia’s oldest wine region, the Swan Valley, is an easy 30-minute drive from Perth with numerous day tour options and also accessed on a river cruise. Visitors can meet the maker at small family wineries or sample wines from internationally-renowned vineyards – usually at no charge. The Swan Valley Food and Wine Trail promises fresh produce, microbreweries, cideries, distilleries, and galleries to explore.
The suburb of Northbridge is abuzz with laneways, rooftops, and public spaces brimming with entertainment options. It is also home to the Perth Cultural Centre, which includes the Art Gallery of Western Australia, Western Australian Museum, Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts, and State Theatre Centre of Western Australia, which includes the Heath Ledger Theatre. The Perth Mint and The Bell Tower are two other spectacular buildings home to attractions that tell unique stories of Western Australia.
Margaret River is renowned for chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon. This area is a foodie paradise but also visitors a dramatic coastline and peaceful forests. Spectacular beaches include Bunker Bay, Smiths Beach, Injidup Beach, and Gnarabup Beach. Other iconic activities include climbing Cape Leeuwin or visiting the Busselton Jetty.
VALLEY OF THE GIANTS TREE TOP WALK
This walkway, suspended more than 130 feet above the forest floor, winds through the towering karri forest between Denmark and Walpole, among some of the tallest trees on the planet. Visitors should look out for majestic red tingle (eucalypt) trees, western gray kangarous, bandicoots, woylies, quokkas, and possums.
GREENS POOL AND ELEPHANT ROCKS
The granit outcrops of Greens Pool and Elephant Rocks are typical of the beaches across the southwest region. Located 7 miles from Denmark, visitors flock here to admire the crystal-clear, calm water sheltered by a series of rocks, protecting swimmers from the Southern Ocean swell.
Kalgoorlie, the heart of Western Australia’s gold country, features charming colonial buildings, the Royal Flying Doctor’s Visitor’s Centre, historical gold rush-era buildings, and the world’s largest working open-cut goldmine – the Super Pit. At 2 miles long and 1 mile wide, it’s quite a tour experience. Travelers can also drive along the Golden Quest Discovery Trail, stopping at the historic ghost towns of Gwalia, Ora Banda, Broad Arrow, and Kokynie, to catch a glimpse of life during the gold rush years. Outside Menzies, art enthusiasts can admire an outdoor gallery, where 51 life-sized sculptures created by the celebrated artist Sir Anthony Gormley are scattered across the salt flats of Lake Ballard.
An ideal destination for beach lovers, Esperance has clear turqoise waters, unspoiled islands and colorful fields of wildflowers. With its sweeping stretches of white sand and ice blue water, Cape le Grand national Park in Esperance is also a popular place for local kangaroos to visit. Australia’s whitest beach, Lucky Bay, is set against a seascape of the 110 islands of the Recherche Archipelago, a 90-minute flight or eight-hour drive southeast of Perth.
One of Western Austrialia’s famed pink lakes, Lake Hillier is accessed via a scenic flight from Esperance. The bubblegum pink color of the lake contrasts spectacularly along the vivid bright blue of the Southern Ocean, typical of the coastline along the southern coast of Western Australia.
Just over two hours north of Perth, along the Indian Ocean Drive, is the seaside town of Cervantes and extraordinary ancient rock formations of the Pinnacles, thousands of tall limestone spires that rise from the yellow sands of Nambung National Park. The Lobster Shack, sand dunes (Lancelin), and sea lion swims (Jurien Bay), are other iconic activities in the area.
HUTT LAGOON AND KALBARRI NATIONAL PARK
Western Australia’s other famous pink lake, Hutt Lagoon, is an hour north of Geraldton – where scenic flights depart from, also taking in the Abrolhos Islands and spectacular coastal cliffs of Kalbarri. Nature’s Window and the red gorges of Kalbarri National Park add a uniquely outback element to the Coral Coast Highway.
Monkey Mia is famous as one of the best places to encounter dolphins in the wild. For more than 40 years, friendly wild bottlenose dolphins have been swimming to these shores to inteact with humans. It’s also a good place to spot turtles and dugongs or walk along one of only two beaches in the world formed entirely of tiny white shells. Visitors can also admire the striking red and blue colors of Francois Peron National Park and the Hamelin Pool Stromatolites, one of the oldes and largest living fossils in the world.
Swimming with the world’s largest fish is an experience not to be missed. The best time to visit is from mid-March to the end of July when the whale sharks are here too. Tours and wildlife encountrers leave from Exmouth or Coral Bay. Humpback whale swim tours are also avilable from August to October and manta ray swim tours operate year-round. Exmouth is a 2-hour flight from Perth.
Ningaloo Reef is easily accessible from the beach, so there’s no need to travel by boat to snorkel this World Heritage-listed underwater paradise. One of the world’s largest fringing reefs, Ningaloo offers divers and snorkelers the chance to see many marine species, including 800 species of brightly colored coral and tropical fish, sea turtles, manta rays, and dugongs. The ancient rust colors and rock formations of Cape Range National Park provide an incredible contrast against the turquoise blues that hug the Ningaloo coastline. Emus and black-footed wallabies are sighted regularly, with cruises operating on Yardie Creek, winding through the gorge.
For those short on time, the Kimberley Aerial Highway links many of the Kimberley’s outstanding natural features by air – including Lake Argyle and the Bungle Bungle Range, the Horizontal Falls at Talbot Bay, and outback stations such as El Questro Wilderness Park and Home Valley. Those wishing to get closer to these attractions, ca take a self-drive or 4WD tour of the Kimberley, or relax on an expedition cruise along the coast.
BUNGLE BUNGLE RANGE
These beehive-shaped domes, hundres of feet high, are found in World Heritage-listed Purnululu National Park in the East Kimberley Region – accessed from Kununurra. Visitors can explore the range on foot with various hikes or take an exhilariting helicopter flight for a view from the air. The park also offers several wilderness camps for those wishing to stay overnight.
At the world’s only horizontal waterfall, turqoise water rushes between rugged red rock formations. This unique sight is best viewed from the air or boat and is one of the most popular day tours from Broome.
Broome is the western gateway to the Kimberley wilderness and home to the world-famous Cable Beach sunsets. Located just a 2.5-hour flight from perth, Broome is the pearl capital of Australia, and the home of South Sea Pearls. Their discovery in the 1800s launched a mass migration on almost the same scale as the gold rush. Japanese, Filipino, and Malaysian pearl divers arrived in Broome to seek their fortunes, creating a rich blend of cultures that makes the town so interesting today. The town also has an impressive 13 miles of beautiful white sand and turqoise water at Cable Beach, with striking red cliffs and ancient dinosaur footprints at Gantheaume Point. On certain dates from March to October when the full moon coincides with the low tide at Roebuck Bay, visitors are treated to a brilliant display of nature known as the Staircase to the Moon.
KARIJINI NATIONAL PARK
This Pilbara-region landscape is millions of years old. Visitors often journey here to discover massive gorges, crystal-clear rock pools and waterfalls, as well as rock wallabies, red kangaroos, echidnas, and huge termite mounds.