9 Things to Do in Western Australia
Featured destinations: Australia
Published 23 August 2016
Western Australia is huge. If it was a country, it would be the 10th largest on earth. Its capital, Perth, over 1,300 miles from nearest neighbour Adelaide, is the most isolated city in the world. And while Western Australia’s coastline holds the majority of attractions, it’s inland that you can find the state’s true beauty: vast blue skies, rugged desert and impossibly photogenic landscapes that might have been plucked from another planet. Go on; get lost in the wilderness.
Here are nine of our favourite things to do in Western Australia:
Dive Australia’s ‘other reef’ at Ningaloo
Australia boasts one of the world’s most pristine reefs, home to half of all Indian Ocean coral species, 738 types of fish and over 600 different crustaceans. No, not the Great Barrier Reef, but Ningaloo Reef, its Western Australian cousin. Lacking the crowds and commercialism of the Great Barrier Reef, Ningaloo offers a far more relaxing underwater experience. Here you can dive or snorkel right off the beach (no need for a boat) and, if you visit between mid-March and July, you can swim with 12-metre-long whale sharks, the world’s largest fish.
Meet the dolphins of Monkey Mia
Legend has it that sometime in the 1960s, a fisherman returned to the shores of Monkey Mia at the end of a hard day at sea. When approached by a pod of dolphins, coming in unusually close to shore, he and his wife fed them some of the day’s catch. The dolphins cottoned on fast, and soon began to come back daily for their meal. News spread, and today seeing the friendly cetaceans up-close and having the chance to feed them is the highlight of Monkey Mia’s beaches.
Watch the sunset over the Pinnacles
In Nambung National Park, just minutes from the town of Cervantes, the jagged limestone Pinnacles protrude dramatically from the desert landscape. After an explosion in popularity in the 1960s, over 150,000 people per year come to view these unique rocks, which look their best between August and October when the wildflowers are in bloom. Come in the morning or evening when the golden light casts long shadows and creates an eerie atmosphere among the sands.
Pose for a selfie with Rottnest Island’s quokkas
Just 90 minutes by ferry from Perth stands Rottnest Island, a wild, beautiful and peaceful place with some fabulous beaches and a long history of viniculture. The island makes a lovely spot for a relaxing day or two away from the city and, better yet, its diverse (and protected) wildlife includes the delightful quokka, a cute and furry, happy-go-lucky creature who just loves to flash his cheeky grin for many a Facebook profile photo.
Sip fine wine in Margaret River
Margaret River is blessed with a warm Mediterranean climate, its sunny days and blue skies making it the ideal spot for grape growing. It’s no surprise then that the region produces some of the best wines in Australia, as well as offering mouth-watering local produce and top-notch coffee. You’ve got 215 cellar doors to choose from, so make a day of it and try the local Cabernet Sauvignons and Chenin Blancs, perhaps accompanied by some deliciously creamy cheese.
Hike the trails in Kalbarri National Park
About 300 miles north of Perth, Kalbarri National Park is all about the scenery. The whole park abounds with gorges, lookout points and cliffs, while a number of significant rock formations dot the landscape, including Nature’s Window (pictured) a striking natural rock arch. Kalbarri’s boundaries extend towards the ocean, so follow the coastal hiking trails to spot one of the 22,000 migrating humpbacks and, when it’s hot, cool off in one of the many swimming holes. If you visit between July and November, not only might you spot passing whales, but the park will be covered in a patchwork of colourful wildflowers.
Admire the colours of the Bungle Bungles
In Western Australia’s far north lies the Purnululu National Park, home to the Bungle Bungle Range, a rather unsual cluster of stripey red sandstone domes that look like they’ve been beamed in from another planet. With colours ranging from orange to grey depending on their mineral content, the Bungle Bungles provide some wonderful photo opportunities as well as some intriguing geology lessons. So what are you waiting for? Don your hiking boots (and plenty of sunscreen) and get out there – as well as the rocks, you might spot budgies, wallabies and dingoes among the rockpools and palm trees.
‘Surf’ on Wave Rock
A long way from anywhere, and 211 miles from Perth, stands Wave Rock, so-called because it’s a rock that looks like a breaking wave. It helps that the landscape all around is completely flat, making the 14m high structure even more striking. There’s a two-mile walking track over the rock if you want a different perspective, but really the best thing to do is what everyone else does – grab a surfboard, stand upon it, and ‘ride’ the wave.
Marvel at Lake Ballard’s Inside Australia exhibition
Right in the middle of nowhere, Lake Ballard is an ephemeral salt lake whose crusty surface is dotted with 51 abstract steel sculptures representing the human form, part of the Inside Australia exhibition by artist Antony Gormley. As they’re set about 750m apart from each other, at least one figure is visible from anywhere on the lake’s rim and, if you look towards the horizon, the black life-sized figures are the only thing you’ll see protruding from the flat white landscape. Come in the morning or evening when the figures cast long shadows across the salt.
Explore Western Australia in more detail with Round the World Experts’ South West Highlights Journey, taking in Perth, Margaret River and a day in Fremantle.