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The best of the West touring Western Australia

Australia’s largest state covers about a third of the continent and stretches from the tropical far north to the temperate south.


This vast area allows for an incredible diversity of landscapes and also means there’s plenty of room for big things. Mt Augustus, in WA’s outback, is the largest exposed rock (well, monocline) on earth and is more than twice the size of Uluru.  Ningaloo Reef off the Coral Coast is the most extensive fringing reef in the world. In the forests of the south west you’ll find 80m tall karris, which are among the world’s tallest trees.  So not only is Western Australia packed with amazing attractions, it also manages to do things on an impressive scale. Here are a few ideas to help you plan your next WA adventure.


The South West 

Near the town of Pemberton there’s a ‘staircase’ made of metal pegs that spirals around the Dave Evans Bicentennial Tree, en route to a 65m-high viewing platform. Climb to this giddy height and you can see across the canopies of an extensive karri forest. Alternatively, you could settle in at a Margaret River cellar door with a glass of wine and a tasting platter. The south west of WA is a great blend of dramatic coastal and forest scenery, high adventure and the gentle pleasures to be found among the region’s extensive vineyards. The area is also home to several impressive limestone caves, including the three-chambered Jewel Cave; a showcase of glistening calcite formations, including hundreds of extremely delicate straw stalactites. Whale watchers can head for Bremer Bay, about two hours from Albany. Between January and April, sperm whales, pilot whales and even orcas gather to nosh down on squid and fish. From July to October, southern right whales turn up in the sheltered waters of the bay to calve. In a region of excellent beaches, Lucky Bay in Cape Le Grand National Park is renowned for its dazzling white sand, ultra-blue water and resident kangaroos, who seem to enjoy beach life as much as the visitors do.

The Kimberley

Whenever travellers speak of the Kimberley you can detect a sense of awe – and that’s because it’s awesome. Massive escarpments rise up from the savannah, deep gorges cut through ancient hills and weird, plump boab trees dot the countryside. There are two main roads through the region; the sealed Great Northern Highway to the south and the largely unsealed Gibb River Road (GRR), which cuts a path through Kimberley central. The best time of year to visit is from April to October.

The GRR is only trafficable in the dry season. You’ll need a high-clearance 4WD to make side trips to the waterfalls and gorges, and to reach places further afield, like the thundering cascades of Mitchell Falls – easily one of the most spectacular sights in the country. About 30km from the GRR, the rock pool at stunning Bell Gorge is a great place for a refreshing dip after the walk and rocky scramble to reach it. When you’re strolling between the sheer limestone cliffs at Windjana Gorge, don’t be alarmed to see plenty of freshwater crocs basking on the sandy beach beside the waterhole.

The Bungle Bungles in Purnululu National Park can be accessed via a 53km-long, 4WD road leading from the Great Northern Highway.

This unique range of striped sandstone domes is truly a wonder of nature. The massive natural amphitheatre of Cathedral Gorge is a must-see, while the narrow crevice of Echidna Chasm is definitely not for the claustrophobic. Catch it around noon to experience the sunlit orange glow from the canyon walls. No trip to the Kimberley would be complete without a visit to Broome. Here, the Indian Ocean is at its most turquoise, and provides a stunning contrast against the white sands of Cable Beach – a sunset camel ride along the beach is great fun.

Beer-lovers who are keen to try a brew flavoured with mango or chilli should visit the very laid-back Matso’s Brewery. For a unique night out at the flicks, head for the historic, outdoor Sun Pictures cinema.


Perth was once considered to be among the world’s most remote cities. And given that the sealing of the Eyre Highway – the main road to the west – was only completed in 1976, it certainly seemed like the end of the earth to road trippers of the day. So, it’s a true testament to the ingenuity of the locals that their far-flung capital has become one of the most modern and attractive cities in the country.

For great views of the CBD and the glorious Swan River, head to Kings Park, only 10 minutes from downtown. You could easily spend a day here exploring the fascinating botanic garden and extensive bushland, or just relaxing on the expansive areas of fastidiously manicured lawn. For those who can’t make it to the Kimberley, Kings Park features an ancient boab tree that was relocated from the north-west to make way for a new bridge.

Perth sits on the shores of the Indian Ocean and beachgoers have plenty of spots to choose from. Scarborough is the city’s most famous stretch of sand, but other options include Cottesloe Beach, Trigg Beach for surfers, and Fremantle’s delightful Bathers Beach.

The portside suburb of Fremantle is rich with historical buildings, and is a well-known café, bar, and restaurant district. From here, you can catch a ferry to Rottnest Island, home to more great beaches, spectacular coastal scenery and the adorable midget marsupial, the quokka. The island is small and one of the most popular ways to get around is by bicycle – these can be hired locally. For non-cyclists, there’s a hop-on hop-off bus service.

Of course, this is simply scratching the surface of a state that would take a lifetime to explore. There are the rugged gorges and rusty red landscapes of the Pilbara region, the beaches and colourful reefs of the Coral Coast, as well as remote 4WD treks in the Gibson and Great Sandy Deserts… and so much more. NT

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