When mentioning Australia, most people are quick to think of Sydney’s iconic cityscape, Melbourne’s renowned cafés and nightlife or even Queensland’s many gateway spots to the Great Barrier Reef. But what about the ‘remote’, less populous West?
Although the East has arguably more infrastructure for backpacking and travelling around, after a year living in Perth and getting to travel up and down this side of the land down under, I’m suspicious that West is in fact, best! Where cloudless skies meets crystal clear turquoise waters and where the red deserted outback follows you for thousands of kilometers, there is no doubt that the West boasts the most authentic Aussie experience. Like travel writer and explorist Iyer Pico rightfully says “to come to Western Australia is to see Australia’s Australia”. So, check out below a guide to the many things you can do if you choose to trek off the beaten path and road trip the north and south of Australia’s largest state:
Although Perth is well-known for being the world’s most isolated capital city it nevertheless boasts many activities, stunning landscapes and one of it’s biggest appeal is that it tops the Aussie sunshine chart with an average of 300 days of sun a year! Here’s a few things you can get up to in Australia’s fourth largest city:
- Lose yourself amongst charming skyscrapers and array of shops, bars and restaurants in the heart of the city, Perth’s CBD. Highlights include enjoying waterfront dining at Perth’s newest leisure precinct Elizabeth Quay, shopping at Hay Street, Market Street and the London Court Shopping Arcade (where the architecture resembles tudor-era England). Visit the Swan bells belltower or take a ferry, boat or even gondola to explore the Swan river up closer!
- Brunch and cafe crawl through many of Perth’s lovely suburbs such as Subiaco, Leederville, Mt Lawley, West Perth, Mosman Park & Claremont.
- Take the metro to Perth’s port city Fremantle aka Freo. Catch live music, food markets or even take a tour around Fremantle prison to get a taste of WA’s unique cultural identity.
- Have a night out in one of Northbridge’s many bars or clubs. (Mustang’s was always my favourite!).
- See a variety of animals at Perth’s Zoo or Caversham Wildlife Park. Alternatively, if you want to see them more naturally in the wild, kangaroos are hopping around freely at Heirisson Island located between the shores of the Swan River in the CBD.
- Cliff jump into the Swan River from Blackwall Reach in the suburb of Bicton.
- Take a stroll and have a picnic at King’s Park, the largest inner city park in the southern hemisphere. This 400 acre urban haven is home to many memorials, botanical gardens and a beautiful lookout overlooking Perth’s cityscape.
- Tan and surf at Perth’s many beaches where you will find crystal clear blue waters. The most popular ones being Cottesloe beach, City beach, Leighton beach, Scarborough Beach, Mettam’s Pool, Trigg Beach and Mulalloo beach.
- Rent a bike to explore the car-free Rottnest Island aka Rotto (30mins by ferry boat from Fremantle). Beach hop, swim with seals and take pictures with the adorable smiling furry Quokkas.
- Venture out into the ‘hills’ of Perth, the Swan Valley for a wine tour.
- Take a stroll in boardwalks and explore the boutiques of the lively Hillary’s Boat Harbour located north of Perth’s coastline.
From Perth, you can rent a campervan or car and roadtrip the North Western coral coast. Driving up the coast through thousands of kilometres of red, remote dusty roads, mean you’ll need at least 10 days to cover enough ground and careful preparation is crucial. Here are some of the most popular stops and activities:
- Sandboard the sand dunes of Lancelin
- See the limestone pinnacle rocks at Nambung National Park near Cervantes
- Go skydiving in Jurien Bay
- Soak your feet in the pink and salty Hutt Lagoon located in the town of Gregory
- Visit the famous Nature’s Window lookout and canoe at Kalbarri National Park
- Quad bike or scuba dive at Coral Bay and discover some amazing marine life
- Hand-feed the bottlenose wild dolphins at Monkey Mia
- Swim with whale sharks and manta rays at Ningaloo Reef
- Drift snorkel over the shallow, World Heritage listed reef of Turquoise Bay, where the ocean’s current runs parallel to the beach.
- Cross the Tropic of Capricorn in the NW Coastal Highway
- Feel your toes crunch at a beach made up entirely of snow-white tiny shells at Shell Beach in Shark Bay UNESCO World Heritage Area
- Take a boat tour around Yardie Creek Gorge in Cape Range National Park
- Bush walk, gorge hike and swim in the waterfalls of Karinjini National Park
- Watch the sunrise over Vlaming Head Lighthouse, Exmouth
- Discover the contemporary street art in the laneways and buildings of Port Hedland
- Go ‘over the road’ on the Gibb River Road in the Kimberley region, a unique 4WD track through the untouched wilderness
- Ride camels during sunset at Broome’s Cable Beach
Leaving from Perth, you can also choose to explore the Southwestern coast, which would require less days and supplies for the road. Unlike travelling North, going ‘douth’ (what Western Australians call going down South) the towns you will pass by are more populous. Instead of the contrasting red deserted outback, you’ll instead encounter breathtaking green forest scenery and beautiful vineyards for gourmet experiences. Below are my top picks:
- Take a boat tour around the canals and waterways of Mandurah
- ‘Surf’ one of Australia’s biggest wave, which is in fact a granite cliff at Wave rock in the town of Hyden
- Visit the Dolphin discovery centre in Bunbury
- Walk along the 1.8km Busselton Jetty, the longest wooden jetty in the world
- Climb to the top of Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse in Dunsborough for a breathtaking panoramic view of the Indian Ocean
- Meet the friendly manta rays in Hamelin Bay
- Take a dip in Indijup Natural Spa in Yallingup and see the rock formations of Canal Rocks
- Surf and stay in a beachshack in the small surfing town of Gracetown
- Go wine tasting in the many vineyards of Margaret River – WA’s most famous food and wine region. If you’re a foodie, don’t miss out a visit to the Margaret River Chocolate Company
- Go swimming in the clear waters of Greens Pool and Elephant Rocks in Denmark
- Play with kangaroos at the astonishing Lucky Bay beach in Esperance
- See where the Indian Ocean meet the southern ocean in Cape Leeuwin
- Visit the famous Little Beach in Albany or stand atop The Gap and Natural bridge lookout
- Walk amongst the treetops at the Valley of the Giants treetop walk in Walpole
So, whether your a beach, wildlife, nature or foodie fanatic, WA has it all. Next time you think about travelling Australia, why not ditch the East and venture ‘into the wild’ instead, for a truly unforgettable Aussie experience.