Western Australia is a hidden treasure of Australian sightseeing; many international tourists only visit the Eastern states, and aren’t aware of the gorgeous natural beauty that WA has to offer.
From the stunning Jewel Cave to a bright pink lake, and the friendliest dolphins you’ll ever meet, WA is a great spot for ecotourism, as well as boasting some exciting urban centres you won’t want to miss!
Lets have a look at the best places to visit in Western Australia:
1. The Pinnacles
The Pinnacles are probably the first thing that comes to mind when most people think of Western Australia (well, other than the quokka selfies phenomenon!) It’s a vast expanse of limestone formations in the middle of the desert; you can walk for hours in what really does feel like another planet!
Scientists aren’t entirely sure how the Pinnacles were formed, but one thing is for sure: they’re incredible.
They’re one of Australia’s most popular regional destinations for tourists, with approximately 150,000 visitors per year.
The best season to visit the Pinnacles is Spring, before the WA summer gets too hot, and when you can enjoy stunning wildflowers on your drive through the desert.
The best time of day is early morning or late afternoon, when you can enjoy the effect of the silhouettes of the limestone formations; if you’re lucky, you might even see a kangaroo or emu!
2. Monkey Mia
Monkey Mia is a childhood favorite of many “sandgropers” (the nickname for Western Australians); bottlenose dolphins have been swimming up to the shore for over half a century, to play and interact with human visitors (and to get a good feed!) It used to be possible for anyone to swim with and feed the dolphins, but as the site became more popular, the dolphins were spending too much time at shore and getting a bit too much to eat, so the site is now regulated by the Department of Parks and Wildlife and the number of people who can swim with the dolphins is limited, but you still get a very up-close-and-personal view even if you don’t have the chance to swim, so it’s well worth doing!
The dolphins are very used to people, and very interactive; it’s also one of the only sites in the world where dolphins are actively coming to shore to play with humans.
The Department also provides a fascinating educational commentary about dolphin society and about the site itself.
While you’re in Monkey Mia, you can also take an Aboriginal cultural walk, ride a camel, or visit a working pearl farm.
Monkey Mia is part of the Shark Bay Marine Park, which is a UNESCO World Heritage listed site, so there’s plenty of other exciting places to explore while you’re around this part of WA.
3. Mount Augustus
Mount Augustus is the world’s largest rock; Western Australians like to joke that they’ve got no need to see “that other rock” (Uluru, aka Ayers Rock), because despite Uluru’s fame, WA has got a rock twice as big at 860 metres! It also appears to be different colors depending on the time of day (from a deep indigo to a bright pink), and it’s heavily vegetated, making it particularly eye-catching during wildflower season.
There’s also ancient Aboriginal rock art, and stunning native flora and fauna in the area.
4. Jewel Cave
Jewel Cave is WA’s largest tourist cave, and as you can see from the photo, it is very aptly named! Its scenery is extraordinarily ethereal, and it is truly a sight to see in person.
The spectacular array of stalactites and helictites are awe-inspiring, and you will be amazed by this beautiful work of nature thousands of years in the making.
The cave also boasts one of the world’s largest straw stalactites! Guided tours are available, and they’re very informative.
If you’d like to see more, there’s quite a few other beautiful tourist caves in the region: ask at the Margaret River tourist information centre for more information.
5. Horizontal Waterfalls
Nicknamed the “Horries”, these waterfalls are exactly what the name suggests: waterfalls that are horizontal, rather than vertical! This extremely unusual site was described by David Attenborough as “one of the greatest natural wonders of the world”, and it’s an intriguing and unique sight that you’ll never forget.
Esperance is a favorite holiday spot for locals and tourists alike.
The beaches are stunning, with Twilight Beach voted the best in Australia! The atmosphere of the town is great, and there’s plenty of natural and cultural attractions to keep you occupied.
The Historical Museum Village is a lot of fun, and gives you an insight into life in the early days of the town, as well as some fascinating architecture.
It’s also a very child-friendly destination: there’s a bird and animal park, Adventureland Park, and a very authentic mini steam train.
There are three national parks in the Shire of Esperance, boasting stunning natural beauty, and it’s a favorite spot on the WA wildflower trail as well.
7. Kings Park
Smack-dab in the middle of Perth city centre, you’ll find a massive park that’s a favorite respite from the rat race for local city-dwellers, and a must-see for tourists as well.
The botanic gardens are a great introduction to native flora, much of which is unique to WA! 80 bird species also reside in this park, so it’s a treat for birdwatchers.
Two-thirds of this 4 km2 park is bushland, made accessible by walking trails, and giving you a taste of what the land was like before the city was built.
As the park is high upon a hill, you’ll also get a picture-perfect view of the city and the Swan River from the Fraser Avenue Precinct area, and it’s worth coming back again at sunset to enjoy the panorama of city lights.
8. Margaret River
Margaret River is a quaint little tourist town that’s famous for wineries and surfing, but has much more to offer: the town boasts many local artisan crafts and gourmet delights, such as the Margaret River Fudge Factory, and 9 local breweries (and a thriving bar scene, of course!) You’ll also find delicious heirloom fruits and vegetables at the farmers’ market.
Margaret River is a great place to base yourself while exploring the attractions of the wider region: Jewel Cave, Busselton Jetty, and the Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse are all a short drive away.
There’s often interesting events going on in the town or nearby; check at the tourist information centre or online to see what’s happening during your trip.
9. Scarborough Beach
This is one of Perth’s most popular beaches, and it’s great fun for a swim in summer or to enjoy the Perth tradition of beachside fish and chips.
It’s a popular spot for people in their teens and early 20s to catch up, relax and sunbathe; it can get a little busy, so if you’re traveling with little ones in tow, you might want to check out Mullaloo Beach a bit further north up the coast.
Broome is a beach resort town that’s a popular base for exploring the Kimberley region, but the town has a lot to offer too! The town is a great spot to learn about Aboriginal Australian culture, and it’s also known internationally for its high-quality pearls, whale-watching and kayaking.
You can even ride a camel here! Nearby Cable Beach and the Dampier Peninsula are gorgeous, and the Malcolm Douglas Crocodile Park and Animal Refuge are a great way to see some Aussie animals; watching the crocodiles get fed is a lot of fun!
Just over 400km south of Perth, this little town is a beloved getaway for locals, and a popular wedding spot.
There’s lots to see and do in Denmark: Bartholomews Meadery boasts a great range of mead and other honey products (the chocolate honey is particularly delicious!), and Dinosaur World has a collection of skeletons that includes the only T-Rex in Australia.
The nearby Valley of the Giants treetop walk boasts some stunning scenery as you walk through the forest canopy at 40m high.
There’s also lots of delicious local produce and wines to enjoy, and at the Wine and Truffle Company you can even go on a guided truffle hunt!
Fremantle is a funky cultural centre just south of Perth city centre, with beautifully preserved heritage buildings, a vibrant bar scene, and great boutique shopping and restaurants.
There’s plenty of tourist spots to enjoy: Fremantle Prison does spooky guided night tours, the award-winning Little Creatures Brewery is a hipster hangout with delicious food and beer, and at the Fremantle Markets there’s an eclectic range of stalls, from stylish vintage clothes to cronuts.
Bridgetown is a gorgeous, little-known town about 3 hours south of Perth, with a very arty culture and very Aussie architecture! Have a wander around the town centre and enjoy the atmosphere, and then check out the Brierley Jigsaw Gallery (home of the world’s smallest wooden jigsaw!). There’s a Christmas shop that’s open all year round, and an adorably old-world candy store called Ooh la Lollipop that’s a feast for the eyes and tummy alike.
Wag Walters Emporium is another adorable vintage goods store that is a fun place to find some souvenirs for your friends back home.
14. Wolfe Creek
This national park was relatively unknown until the very creepy horror movie, Wolf Creek, gave it perhaps more publicity than any other national park in the country.
The movie was inspired by an actual murder in the area, and while it was mostly filmed in South Australia, the Wolfe Creek crater does feature in the movie and its sequel.
The crater itself is a truly eerie sight: it is almost 900 metres in diameter, and was created by the impact of a meteorite around 300,000 years ago.
It’s considered the second most ‘obvious’ (un-deformed by erosion) meteorite impact crater on Earth, and is well worth a visit.
It’s particularly beautiful to see during sunrise or sunset.
The site doesn’t have much in the way of tourist facilities, and no water is available, so stock up before you go on the barren desert drive, especially in summer!
Kalbarri is located at the mouth of the Murchinson river, and boasts a wide variety of gorgeous natural scenery, from seaside cliffs to inland gorges and stunning beaches.
The local pelican colony is adorable, and well-fed by tourists, and you can also find the largest free-flight parrot aviary in the country here! There’s also a thriving art scene for you to pick up some knick-knacks.
In Spring, this is a great spot for wildflowers and whale and dolphin-watching, and in Summer the town is a great place to relax on the beach with your family.
Visit the tourist information centre for information on walking tours and nature trails, and don’t forget to visit the Pink Lake, an amazing natural phenomenon (exactly what it sounds like – a bright-pink lake!) that’s a perfect backdrop to make your friends on Instagram and Snapchat wish they’d come along for the trip!