Western Australia is Australia’s largest state and a place where you can experience cosmopolitan highlights, venture across the rugged Outback, relax along a lineup of pristine beaches that beggar belief, and enjoy cultural experiences in remote cities. The best part is that you don’t have to worry that other travellers are crowding your view.
Western Australia’s capital city, Perth, sits in the southwestern corner of the continent – on the opposite coast of Sydney. Perth effortlessly blends style and sophistication with a naturally laidback charm, goring through a remarkable transformation in recent years, boasting countless new hotels, restaurants, bars, and urban developments.
You may not know the highlights of Western Australia just yet or the best ways to take advantage of the state’s many regions, but luckily, we’re here to inform you about some of the top things to do when discovering Australia’s stunning western gateway. Seeing as it’s a massive stretch of land, we couldn’t fit everything that’s great about Western Australia on this list, but we’ve included some of the key highlights and suggested ways to explore them.
What are some famous landmarks in Western Australia?
Cruise Perth’s Swan River, visit Rottnest Island, and explore Kings Park
A trip to Perth is the obvious starting point on a journey through Western Australia. In addition to its manicured gardens, sunny environment, and enviable location along the coastline, Perth is also a great place for a river cruise. Journey along the Swan River to historic Fremantle or the Swan Valley Wine Region, enjoying city views from the water. Then take an excursion to Rottnest Island to see Wadjemup Lighthouse, stroll along the boardwalk for great views along the rugged West End, and, perhaps most importantly, spot the lovable quokkas, the furry marsupial that looks like the happiest animal in the world. Add all this to the white-sand beaches and secluded coves of the island, and you’ve got a recipe for a delightful holiday spot. Perth is also home to one of the world’s largest inner city parks. Kings Park is larger than Central Park and is perched along the top of a ridge that overlooks the city skyline and Swan River, boasting sweeping views, perfectly-manicured gardens, and a myriad of walking trails.
4-Day Sunny Perth
Suggested Day Tour:
Perth: Rottnest Express Full Day Tour
Relax on the stunning beaches around Perth
Another boon of a trip to Perth is access to the stunning beaches that lie within 20 minutes of downtown with endless stretches of sand as far as the eye can see. Perth is the sunniest city in Australia and has a typically-Mediterranean climate with very low humidity, making it ideal for swimming. Perhaps the most famous beach is Cottesloe, one of Perth’s most enviable addresses. The iconic sandstone surf lifesaving club makes this a classic sunset location – with fish and chips a location tradition. Nearby City Beach is a haven with its abundance of grassy banks and barbeque, while Scarborough Beach is a popular spot for surfing. Leighton Beach in Fremantle boasts a long strip of white sand that’s perfect for casual swimming. Sorrento Beach and Hillarys Boat Harbour in the northern suburbs are both good options for families. Not only are Perth’s beaches must-do places to find your own patch of sand, but beachside cafes, restaurants, and bars are something they do incredibly well.
See the dolphins of Monkey Mia
Despite the name, Monkey Mia is not about primates but dolphins, the intelligent, friendly aquatic mammals that come up to the shoreline to be fed by people each day. Monkey Mia’s visiting dolphins and spectacular surrounds form part of Shark Bay’s listing as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In addition to the chance to meet dolphins up close, you can explore 52,000ha of parkland and journey along the red cliffs and white-sand beaches of Francis Peron National Park. Go bushwhacking to spot Australian wildlife, keep track of the colourful birds you see along the shoreline, including the many resident emus, Australia’s largest bird. Be sure to savour every second you get with the friendly dolphins of the Indian Ocean. Speaking of dolphins, you can also swim with dolphins in the wild in both Rockingham and Bunbury, 50 minutes and two hours south of Perth, respectively.
Visit the wine country of the Margaret River
Australia is famous for its wines. You don’t need to know much about wine vintages to know that Australian Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc are among the most popular wines in the world. There are many wine regions across the nation, but Margaret River is particularly appealing, and not just for wine. Centred on the small town of Margaret River, this wine region only 270km southwest of Perth has more than 100 cellar doors to visit, and is known for its Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc. Leeuwin Estate, Vasse Felix, and Voyager Estate are just some of the more extravagant wineries in the region, each with their own unique fine dining experience. The town itself has quaint shops and stylish restaurants, but what really sets Margaret River apart from other wine regions in the world is the blend of exquisite beaches, ancient caves, towering native eucalypt forests, and outstanding local producers. The region also has a burgeoning brewery scene, set in spectacular locations.
6-Day South West and Wine
Swim with the whale sharks of the Ningaloo Reef
Ningaloo Reef is the world’s largest fringing coral reef. It’s also home to Australia’s only migrating whale shark population that travels through the waters between March and August each year. Excursions to the reef to snorkel alongside these giant gentles depart from both Exmouth and Coral Bay. A whale shark swim experience also includes snorkelling on the inner reef, with up to 300 tropical fish, turtles, and manta rays – all resident locals that you might spot. It really is an unforgettable bucket list experience to swim alongside the largest fish in the sea. The rock wallabies that live among the deep red, winding gorges of Exmouth’s Cape Range National Park make for a uniquely-contrasting Australian experience, where rugged Outback meets aquatic paradise.
Head on an expedition cruise through the Kimberley
The Kimberley is the rugged stretch of Outback between Broome in the west and Kununurra in the east. It’s sparsely populated, but home to some of the most remarkable natural formations in Australia, including the Horizontal Falls, which David Attenborough has called “one of the greatest natural wonders in the world.” An 11-day cruise through the Kimberley from Broome to Darwin is the best way to see these remote Outback sites and enjoy pampering comforts during your journey. You’ll cruise along the King George River, see the sunken US Air Force wreckage of WWII, swim in secluded waterholes, admire ancient Indigenous art, and gaze upon the famous Horizontal Falls. It’s as unforgettable an adventure as they come.
11-Day Australia’s Kimberley Expedition Cruise from Broome
See the seasonal wildflowers in the Southwest
Beginning in July each year, Western Australia experiences a six-month bloom that brings to life the largest wildflower collection in the world. From city gardens to remote coastlines, flowers dominate the region, 60 percent of which aren’t found anywhere else on the planet. The best spots to see the flowers are Perth’s Kings Park (during Kings Park Festival in the month of September), the Coral Coast, southern parts of the Golden Outback, and the Margaret River region. Just be sure not to pick the flowers and respect the properties where you see them; the beauty of these wildflowers belongs to everyone.
Visit the Outback town of Broome
Broome is the tropical heart of the Outback in Western Australia and a great cultural hub, with Indigenous, European, and Asian cultural influences. It’s a small centre, but perfectly situated on the coastline. Broome is the western gateway to the Kimberley and offers easy access to the famed Gibb River Road, with its rain-carved gorges, cascading waterfalls, and landscape peppered with boab trees. Beautiful beaches abound in Broome and surrounds, such as Cable Beach, where you can ride a camel across the sands at sunset. Other key attractions include the fascinating pearling history, dinosaur footprints at Gantheaume Point, and the natural phenomenon, Staircase to the Moon. The stories of this part of Western Australia are beautifully enriched through Indigenous experiences among the unique environment. Broome is the place to be.
Ride the Indian Pacific from Adelaide to Perth
At the beginning of this article, we mentioned that Perth is on the opposite coast to Sydney. Roughly two-thirds of the way is Adelaide, some 2,700km away. The best way to experience that distance is on a train ride from Adelaide to Perth aboard the Indian Pacific. This unforgettable train journey itinerary takes you from Adelaide to Perth aboard Australia’s most luxurious train. It also includes a stopover in Sydney on route, as well as visits to Kangaroo Island, known as Australia’s own Galapagos with its remarkable biodiversity, the wine region of the Barossa Valley, and Flinders Ranges National Park before embarking on the epic train journey to Perth. If you want to experience the golden age of travel in Australia’s last frontier, this is the way to do it.
13-Day Trans Continental Classic
See kangaroos on the beach of Lucky Bay
Seeing kangaroos on the beach sounds like an Australian holiday dream and the fact that the kangaroos of Lucky Bay call this particular beach home makes it even more idyllic. Lucky Bay is lauded as one of the world’s whitest beaches. It is adorned with ice blue water, dramatic granite outcrops, and a sense of natural beauty rarely seen. With beach after beach delivering postcard-perfect shots, Cape Le Grand National Park, less than an hour from Esperance, is a nature and wildlife lover’s dream come true.
Marvel at Western Australia’s rocks
Western Australia has rock formations like nowhere else. From a lunar-like landscape near the beach to a giant wave made out of granite and massive domes stretching for kilometres, the landmarks here are nothing short of extraordinary. Located in the World Heritage-listed Purnululu National Park, the Bungle Bungle Range went undiscovered by Europeans until the 1900s, and its resemblance with hundreds of giant beehives makes for one of the most fascinating landmarks on the planet. Tours and scenic flights are available from Kununurra and Broome. The Pinnacles in Nambung National Park is two hours north of Perth along the Indian Ocean Drive. The thousands of limestone spires randomly jutting out of the grand have made this the most popular day tour from Perth. Wave Rock on the other hand is a singular formation that spans approximately 110m in width and 15m in height. This is also a popular day tour from Perth, particularly during the local wildflower season (September to October).