Western Australia, bounded by the Indian and Southern Oceans, blessed with an ancient landscape and more than 20,000 kilometres of pristine coastline, offers plenty of untouched jewels to tempt its visitors. Venture beyond Perth and you’ll find vast coral reefs and improbably-hued lakes, natural swimming pools and snow-white beaches. We’ve put together an overview of just some of the highlights you can expect to find in the Golden State.
Stretching for 300 kilometres along the shore of Western Australia’s North West Cape, the Ningaloo Reef is one of the longest fringing coral reefs in the world. In many places the lagoon is only two to four metres deep and its colourful coral gardens are just steps from the waters’ edge: as one of the most biologically-diverse marine environments anywhere on the planet, the snorkelling is incredible. The waters are home to six species of marine turtle, a playful population of manta rays and, from March to September one of the most accessible populations of whale shark. Further south, UNESCO World Heritage-listed Shark Bay is another region of unique wildlife, from the world’s largest population of dugongs to the wild dolphins of Monkey Mia.
Set on a curve of the Great Australian Bight, the town of Esperance is gateway to Cape Le Grand National Park, whose stunning beaches such as Hellfire Bay and Lucky Bay are among the loveliest you’ll find anywhere in Australia. A scenic flight is a great way to view the beautiful Recherche Islands, including the rose-coloured Lake Hillier, although nature-lovers may prefer to spend a day ashore, amidst the populations of sea eagles, sea lions, fur seals, bandicoots and wallabies. Venture inland from Esperance to the towns of Gwalia or Kalgoorlie if you’re interested in the region’s gold-mining heritage, or to Hyden to marvel at incredible rock formations such as Wave Rock, Hippo’s Yawn and Mulka’s Cave.
View the dramatic beehive formations of the eastern Kimberly’s Bungle Bungle Range, take a canoeing trip on the vast man-made Lake Kununurra or view the world-famous sunset at Cable Beach from the back of a camel: this region is filled with unforgettable experiences. In Australia’s pearling capital, Broome, you can take a tour of a pearl farm and choose a locally-grown souvenir to take home, or look for ancient, fossilised dinosaur footprints at low tide at nearby Gantheaume Point. For a glimpse into Australia’s geological past, head for Karijini National Park, where you can learn about the park’s plants, animals, landscapes and Aboriginal culture, explore the hidden depths of Hancock Gorge and finish with a refreshing dip in one of the park’s natural swimming holes.
Just a few hours drive south from Perth, the sunny climate, top-notch wineries, stunning beaches and surf breaks, and ancient forests of the Margaret River region make it an ideal destination for those who are looking for a quick break away from Perth. Go whale-watching on Geographe Bay, walk the world’s second-longest jetty at Busselton and explore the underwater wonders the Underwater Observatory. The Margaret River region is best known, however, for its internationally renowned wine. Combine your day’s outdoor activities with a few winery stops to sample the best of the region’s produce.
Whether you’re looking for an outback adventure or beach relaxation; whether you prefer to appreciate food and wine or flowers and forests, Western Australia has something for everyone.