So you’ve heard of Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and the magical backpacker haven of Byron Bay, all spread out along Australia’s East coast, but have you considered the equally majestic Western Australia? Look beyond the typical foreigner’s haunt of Byron to the other side of the country and you will see the modern metropolis that is Perth. Why not explore the diverse pockets of WA’s natural wonders and create a memorable Aussie adventure?
As the world’s most isolated capital city and biggest exporter of iron ore, gold and gas, these descriptors paint what sounds to be a rather desolate small town, yet Perth stands out as one of the country’s most up-and-coming cultural hubs with a spate of new hotel openings (Aloft Perth, Tribe Perth and The Alex Hotel), a progressive culinary scene (Arthouse Dine) and rich urban development (Elizabeth Quay). Not to mention, the land that abounds in nature’s gift (to take a page out of the national anthem).
When there are 19 beaches within driving distance of the CBD, a dreamy island paradise in the form of Rottnest Island, just a short ferry ride (and another 63 beaches) away, and the world-class wine region of Margaret River 3-hours drive south, it’s wild to think that for locals this all adds up to ‘Just another day in WA’, the state’s rather appropriate moniker.
Read on to discover the must-not-miss highlights of any West Australian adventure.
Rottnest Island sits 20 kilometres off the coast and was named ‘Rat’s Nest’ for the native quokkas that Dutch explorer Willem de Vlamingh mistakenly thought were giant rats. They are actually cute marsupials who like posing for selfies. A day trip to “Rotto” and its crystal clear waters is a must on any trip to Perth.
2. Penguin Island
For a day trip out of Perth that’s full of wildlife and water sports, you can’t go past Penguin Island. Here, you can get to know the oh-so-cute little penguins (also known as fairy penguins), the smallest penguin species in the world. You’ll find lots of other fun fauna here, too. Plus, active pursuits abound, with swimming, snorkelling, kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding, kite surfing, hiking and more.
3. Karijini National Park
One of Australia’s best-kept secrets, conspicuously absent on the itineraries of many international backpackers. Karijini National Park is where you will really feel the pulse of the Aussie outback in the geological kaleidoscope of Hancock gorge that requires hikers to wade, swim and spider-walk between its narrow walls.
4. Exmouth, Ningaloo Reef
One of the big ticket bucket list activities to do off the coast of WA, and one of the few places in the world you can experience it, is to swim with whale sharks and giant manta rays at Ningaloo Reef within Coral Bay.
5. The Kimberley
If you’re looking for a soul searching road trip along Western Australia’s coastline en route to a dramatic remote outback destination, then the Kimberley region is what you’re looking for. However if you’re short on time or just don’t want to drive so far, there are flights from Perth to Broome (which sits near the western edge) year-round.
The Kimberly is an ancient landscape home to some incredible natural wonders such as The Bungle Bungles, The Mitchell Plateau and The Horizontal Falls.
6. Cable Beach, Broome
If you have ever seen a photo of camels being led along a beach at sunset in Australia, there’s a 100 percent chance it was taken at Cable Beach. The shimmering turquoise water in the background are just as breathtaking in real life.
7. Margaret River
Where else in the world can you drive 2.5 hours outside of the capital city and be met not only with one of the best wine regions in the world, but also a world-class surfers’ mecca?
The Canadians may have après-ski down but welcome, friends, to ‘après-surf’, where after a picture-perfect morning of surfing the Indian Ocean you can head straight for an afternoon of wineries and craft breweries.
One of the state’s most recognizable landmarks, Wave Rock is found in Hyden Wildlife Park, 296 kilometres south-east of Perth or just under 4-hours by car. The natural rock formation is an especially poignant bucket list destination for those after the perfect Instagram shot, surfing along the granite wave.
9. Pink Lake Australia
Lake Hillier, otherwise known worldwide as ‘Pink Lake’, is in fact just one of a number of pink lakes in WA which tends to confuse many a tourist. Lake Hillier is however the glorious bubblegum pink lake located near Esperance (on Middle Island), not to be confused with the now no longer pink, Spencer Lake.