Someone mentioned to me today that they had heard Western Australia referred to as ‘Perth and desert,’ which made me want to highlight all the amazing parts of WA that perhaps the world is less aware of.
Western Australia is the largest of the Australian states and covers over a third of the Australian continent’s footprint. WA boasts a north, west and a south coast and is bordered by the Indian Ocean and the Great Southern Ocean. Yes, there is also a lot of desert, but also some of the most spectacular natural scenery you will ever see. Here are what I consider to be the top five places to visit in WA (notice none of them are Perth).
You will never see sand whiter than on the beaches around Esperance on the south coast. The water is also incredibly clear and the colours are amazing. Esperance also has several National Parks within easy reach. Cape Arid, Cape Le Grand and Fitzgerald River National Parks all offer beautiful camping spots and stunning scenery. Esperance was also home to WA’s first wind farm and the windmills of today’s wind farm can be seen out at Ten Mile Lagoon. Take a wildlife cruise around the Recherche Archipelago, make friends with Sammy the sealion on the foreshore, explore the bush, four-wheel-drive on the beach, go fishing, take a look at Esperance Stonehenge or marvel at some of the locally made products.
|Try on some pearls in Broome, Australia.|
The pearl capital of Australia, and at one point the world, Broome is a fascinating mixture of history and culture. Various tourist activities explain the brutal and sometimes upsetting history of the town and the pearling industry, and there are more pearl jewellers than you can imagine. The town was also attacked several times during World War Two. Gantheaume’s Point is home to some 130 million year-old dinosaur footprints and it is possible to take a camel ride along the immaculate stretch of sand that is Cable Beach, so-named after the Java to Australia telegraph cable that reaches Australia here.
Alternatively, if it is just too hot for all that, the sunset cocktails and a bucket of prawns as the sun dips into the Indian Ocean, are a great way to spend the balmy and tropical evenings.
|Swim with whale sharks on Ningaloo Reef, Australia|
Ningaloo Reef is well known as Australia’s seasonal home of whale sharks and is one of the most reliable places in the world to plan an encounter with these gentle giants. Ningaloo Reef is offshore from the town of Exmouth on the west coast, which has several dive centres and whale shark tour operators, all ready to take you snorkeling with whale sharks, manta rays and whoever else is out on the reef that day. Even ashore Exmouth boasts some amazing exploring. The Cape Range National Park drops away to the sea here and is full of spectacular gorges. The lighthouse to the north of town is a great place to spend an afternoon whale watching or enjoying the sunset over the ocean.
|Dog Rock, Albany, Australia|
The oldest permanently settled town in WA, before Perth and Fremantle, Albany is a characterful and historic town on the south coast. It was the first deep-water port on the south coast and was the departure point for many ANZACs who went to Europe to fight in World War One. The city boasts some beautiful old architecture, a dog-shaped rock, spectacular Middleton Beach and even an old whaling station, now a museum. It is also the home of the HMAS Perth wreck that was deliberately sunk as a recreational dive site in King George Sound.
|Margaret River Winery, Australia|
Only a few hours by road south of Perth, Margaret River, with over 138 wineries, is the winemaking capital of WA. No visit would be complete without touring a vineyard or two and sampling the local produce. Margaret River is also blessed with some fantastic surf beaches and is very popular as a beach destination. For those seeking adventure, nearby Leuwin-Naturaliste National Park boasts hundreds of caves worth exploring.