West Australia – A Must Do!
Western Australia is something that so many tourists to Australia miss. We are a HUGE country and I understand the need to try and keep things condensed, however WA is by far our most incredible hidden gem.
From Dunsborough, to Kalbari, to The Pilbara, to Broome the coastline is stunning, the people are real the landscape changes dramatically and its one of the few places in the country where you can be on the coast at a beautiful beach and be on your own.
Read on, learn where to go and what to see and start planning your assault on West Australia now.
What To See In Western Australia
Western Australia is one of our states that a lot of visitors don't get to. Australia is a big country and a lot of our main tourism locations are on the east coast. That doesn't mean you should ignore WA. It has everything from massive Kauri forests to remove deserts and everything in between.
A visit to Western Australia is in my opinion a must do for all visitors to Australia. Even if it means a return trip, West Australia has many many bucket list items you can check off.
1. South West Coast
A road trip from Perth down to Augusta down the coastal highway and then back in via Bridgetown to Bunbury. Allow at least a week but 10 days will give you time.
- Bussleton and its heritage feel
- Dunsborough & Yallingup
- Cowaramup the dairy area of WA
- Margaret River and its wineries
- Mammoth and Giants Caves near Boranup.
- Caves Road – a wonderful drive through Kauri forests
- Hamelin Bay – stop for a few nights at the camp ground for some RnR
- Deepdene Beach – white sand and azure water for miles.
- Augusta and Cape Leeuwin.
2. The Nullarbor Plain
The Nullabor Plain is Australia's main highway that goes from the eastern states to Western Australia. It is around 1100 kilometres long between the South Australian Border an the WA border, however you can add a few hundred kilometres on to that on each end if you consider it a drive between populated areas.
The Nullabor Plain follows the Great Australian Bite and is remote and red for most of the trip. The coastal towns have amazing looking beaches, however be very careful as the water can be extremely rough and big nasty sharks are plentiful.
This is not something you would attempt in a less than great car. If you are driving a combi van or an older camper, please ensure you get your car checked thoroughly before you leave. Temperatures can be over 50 degrees Celsius in the summer months so you need to have a good reliable car.
Ensure you have heaps of extra water just in case you do breakdown. I've done this drive multiple times and I don't mind it, but others say its a once in a lifetime thing. You drive it, you've done it and you fly back!
If you are crossing the Nullabor to get to WA, turn left at Norseman and head down to Esperance first. You can then make your way through to Albany and on up through Margaret River to Perth. Alternatively you can turn off onto the highway 40 at Ravensthorp and head up to Perth that way.
Just check for cyclones coming down the WA coast and the government doing roadworks on the Nullabor so you don't get stuck for days like we did in 1994.
3. The Coastline Between Perth and Geraldton
The coastline between Perth and Geraldton is some of the most local small towns and beaches along the Western Australian Coast.
Yanchep, Lancelin, Ledge Point and Cervantes are reasonably well known in WA. However, it's only been the last 10 years that you can continue on the coastal highway up past Jurien Bay through the old fishing camps of Green Head & Leeman to Geraldton.
The Pinnacles at Cervantes are worth seeing and while the water is usually cool, head down to any boat ramp mid morning or early if you are up to catch a local coming in from pulling their pots or going out and you never know you might get to buy some fresh crayfish.
Once you get to Geraldton, consider visiting the Abrolhos Islands. Scenic flights that land on one of the islands are a great option for just the day. If you would like to fish or do a 5 day cruise of the area, that is also possible.
If you have time visit The Pinnacles at Nambung National Park which are a collection of limestone structures dating back thousands of years.
If you are visiting Perth with no time to do the drive yourself, consider a day trip from Perth to see The Pinnacles.
4. Ningaloo Reef
We spent months heading up the remote WA coastline about 25 years ago and one memory that never fades is being followed by a Dugong (Manatee) for about an hour while I was snorkeling on Ningaloo Reef. It was one of the most incredible experiences I've ever had, and I'm smiling like a fool thinking about it now.
Ningaloo isn't super colorful coral like The Great Barrier Reef, but the fish life is amazing. It is protected and should be for all time!
It is easy to spend days that blend into weeks in this stunning remote slice of WA. We spent about 6 weeks in this area when we travelled around Australia in the 90's. It was so hard to leave.
5. Coral Bay
If you do decide to do the northern coast, make sure you book yourself a few days in Coral Bay. It is a great place to relax and rejuvenate for the next leg. Bookings will be essential though and don't even think about Easter!
The caravan parks fill up quickly so its best to consider a time that isn't in Australian school holidays. Apart from just getting in some RnR, Coral Bay is the best place to go swimming with the whale sharks or humpback whales that migrate past every year. Between March and June is the best time to experience this once in a lifetime bucket list adventure.
Tours for Swimming With The Whale Sharks In Coral Bay
6. The Pilbara
Head inland through Parabadoo, Tom Price and Newman. Ask the locals for their best spots and you will find some incredible watering holes and desert landscapes. Karijini National Park is a must do and Karijini is the local Banyjima name for the Hamersley Range. They do have a two night camp restriction from June to September, however if you get in there early there is an overflow area where you could leave your van and spend the day exploring giving you at least two more days.
There is also the Karijini Eco Resort a privately owned retreat. They offer glamping tents and have a bar and restaurant on site.
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to be honest I'm not a huge fan of Broome. We used to go up sometimes when we were living in Karratha but Broome doesn't have heaps to see or do.
Cable Beach however is beautiful. If you are heading up the coast and planning to head inland, Broome is the perfect place for a few days rest before you hit up the inland highways heading toward Kunanurra.
It is worth knowing that Broome has massive tides so don't expect to be able to swim at Cable Beach at any time. If the tides out it just isn't possible to swim.
8. The Bungle Bungles
Almost as good as Uluru and Kata Tjuta, the Bungle Bungles are some incredible rock formations close to the Ord River. There are camp sites and an eco lodge on site and you should have at least one full day exploring it.
Around 185km north east of Halls Creek, the beehives at the Bungle Bungles shouldn't be missed. It is millions of years old and you feel like you are on Mars. It's pretty amazing.
9. The Kimberly
From Lake Argyle to Kununurra, the Kimberlies covers a large expanse of the northern most WA zone before you hit the NT border.
The Kimberley is very sparsely settled and is known for large area of wilderness that has deep gorges, dramatic colours and in season thundering waterfalls. Drive the Gibb River Road through the middle of the Kimberly and make sure you spend time at Windjana Gorge National Park.
The locals will tell you it's OK to swim where the “freshies” are but you can make your own mind up about swimming with the crocs. After living in area's with those nasty salties, I just can't bring myself to do it but plenty do!
Learn where to go and what to do via the Australia website section on the Kimberly.
10. Perth City and Rottnest Island
Perth is a very pretty city and has embraced the cafe culture whole heatedly. Split into “north of the river” and “south of the river” the competition between the locals is fierce! North of the river is represented by beaches for miles, ocean side restaurants and easy access to the city center.
South of the river is traditionally a much older area of Perth, however south of Fremantle the building boom has taken over and new subdivisions are almost completely to Mandurah without a break now. Perth was always beautiful with the Swan River running through its heart, however there was always a grungy side to the inner suburbs that gentrification has squashed. I miss it I must admit but you can still get what I consider to be the best souvelaki in Australia in Fremantle.
Rottnest Island (Rotto) is an island just off Perth which is home to what might be the cutest marsupial ever. The Quokka has gathered a cult like following in recent years and finds itself front and centre of many instagram posts. I lived in Perth in the 80's and Rotto was the Australia Day long weekend destination of choice most years.
I remember riding home from the pub (there are no cars on the island) and having to play “dodge a quokka” to make it home safely. I'm not saying I did crash avoiding Quokka's but I do have some scars that might be from road rash after a push bike fall.
Best Adventures To Have In Western Australia
There is of course heaps more to see in Western Australia. No matter what you do in WA, it is well worth planning at least a month in our largest state. Try not to spread yourself too thin and plan on visiting multiple times to see more than a tiny portion.
Check out my Australia Destination Page for all the info, posts & places to visit in Australia.