Western Australia – you might think, “where?” When people think about visiting Australia, the first thought is usually Sydney, maybe Melbourne, or the Gold Coast – all cities on the east coast to where tourists flock like rabid seagulls honing in on the stray french fry you accidentally dropped on the beach. They’re wonderful destinations, no doubt, but if you’re in Australia looking for unspoiled natural beauty and the laid-back lifestyle that Australia is famous (or infamous) for, you might actually be better served looking 2000 miles west.
Western Australia is not necessarily Australia’s most popular tourist destination (particularly for international travellers), mostly because of its isolation from the other big cities like Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane. But it’s undoubtedly Australia’s hidden gem – with miles of coastline full of picture-perfect beaches, hills of vineyards and wineries, a stunning coral reef to rival the Great Barrier Reef, and even camels. (You can ride them in Broome!)
Here’s our guide to planning your ultimate Western Australia holiday.
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Getting around in Western Australia
There’s no two ways about it: you need a car or campervan. You could theoretically do without a car in Perth or Broome, but it would be annoying in my opinion. But if you’re a little more adventurous and don’t mind planning a road trip around Western Australia, you could be in for a real treat.
For car hire, we like Europcar for their great rates, availability, and convenience of pick up and drop off locations. Europcar have offices at Perth airport and in the city.
Camplify have some great options in Perth – pick up location will depend on the vehicle.
Perth is Western Australia’s capital city. Lively and unique, Perth boasts a number of picturesque beaches and snorkel spots, trendy food places to grab coffee or brunch (or both), and even a local wine region about 30 minutes away in Swan Valley.
And just off the coast of Perth, a 30 minute ferry ride away, is Rottnest Island, where you can swim in crystal clear, blue water, bike around the island for great views, and see quokkas! (Please look them up, they’re so cute.)
As you’ll most likely fly into Perth, it’s the perfect place to start your trip. We love this Perth to Albany road trip as an example.
Western Australia’s South West region is a beautiful surprise. Just south of Perth, here you’ll find everything from beaches to forests to wineries.
Busselton is a favourite with WA holiday makers, and for good region. This stunning beach town has incredible beaches, friendly people, and excellent places to eat and drink. Busselton is famous for having the world’s longest wooden jetty – at over two kilometres, it makes for an excellent afternoon walk!
If you’re in the mood for something different, you can visit a world-class wine region, Margaret River, about 3 hours away from Perth. With sprawling vineyards, yet more miles of coastline and beach, as well as beautiful karri forests, Margaret River is a perfect balance of food, wine, and natural beauty.
For South Australians like me, Margaret River is akin to the Barossa Valley – except with beautiful beaches added to the mix.
At the southernmost points of WA, and heading east towards South Australia, you’ll find some absolutely exquisite spots.
As you round the head at the bottom of WA, you’ll find Elephant Rocks, just before you get to Denmark. Ever wanted to go to the Seychelles? Elephant Rocks could be mistaken for Mahe! Make sure you read this Elephant Rocks guide to understand exactly what I’m talking about.
Further east is Esperance, known for its perfect, white sand beaches. Just west of Esperance town is Cape Le Grand National Park, which is an absolute must-do. Interact with sunbathing kangaroos at Lucky Bay or float in the crystal clear water of Hellfire Bay.
The Coral Coast
Ningaloo Reef, a 14 hour drive north of Perth, is a UNESCO World Heritage-listed coral reef where you can literally swim with whale sharks, awe-inspiring gentle giants and literally the largest species of shark alive today.
On the way to Ningaloo, there are a number of fun places to stop: Coral Bay with calm water perfect to snorkel in, Shark Bay to see prehistoric stromatolites, or Monkey Mia to see bottlenose dolphins swim right up you. We recommend staying in Denham or the RAC Monkey Mia Resort for a couple of nights.
Have a read of this Perth to Exmouth road trip itinerary for more information!
If you keep heading north from the Coral Coast, you’ll get to The Kimberley region – one of Australia’s final frontiers. And I’m telling you, the effort to get here is worth it.
Broome will be your main port of call in the Kimberley. This cool outback town has some beautiful beach resorts, such as the famous Cable Beach Club or the Billi Resort. However, whether you opt for something luxurious or a bit more casual, Broome will likely be your base. Make sure you take the time to explore Broome by camel!
However, there’s much more to the Kimberley than Broome. The big drawcards are the incredible geological formations, such as the Bungle Bungles, Mitchell Falls, and Horizontal Falls. There’s also the opportunity to learn about remote Indigenous communities and their connection to country. These are the parts of Western Australia you truly don’t want to miss!
So where in Western Australia are you going to head first? I can’t wait to hear about your plans!
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