When thinking of Australia, you may imagine some of the East Coast’s popular highlights: Sydney’s surfing beaches, Queensland’s jungles, the Great Barrier Reef or Melbourne’s trendy clubs. Even Uluru, the most popular Australian landmark, is conveniently reachable with three-day tours from Sydney.
On the other hand, Western Australia is still relatively unspoiled. Both international and local travelers usually skip the region, considering it too far. That’s why the adventurers who make it to the wild West will be rewarded by many untouched wonders. So here are ten reasons why venturing out to Western Australia is definitely worth it.
1) Some of the best beaches of Australia are here
Just across the Nullarbor Plain, the vast stretch of desert that divides South Australia from Western Australia, you will find Cape Le Grand National Park. Here and around nearby Esperance are some of the whitest and silkiest beaches in the country. Both Twilight Beach and Lucky Bay often win the Best Australian Beach Award.
photo: Phil Whitehouse
2) You can hike through the leafy branches of ancient forests
Following the coast, you enter the heart of the southern forests. Up to 90m high and even older than 400 years, the Karri trees were used in the thirties and forties as control towers for fires. Today, the forests are protected by a network of national parks and are a popular eco-tourism destination. In Walpole National Park you can take a walk up high on the Tree Top Walk. Or you can drive for 80 km on the Karri Tree Explorer, a scenic route that criss-crosses through forests, fairy pastures and windmills.
3) Climbing the Gloucester Tree
If you like adrenaline, you can climb two gigantic Karri trees, formerly used as control towers for bush fires. Take the Gloucester Tree: 72 m of vertical panic to be gained peg after peg, without any protective net. Only for the bravest.
photo: Anthony Georgeff
4) Taste local wine wandering through Margaret River wine cellars
Proceeding north from the forests, you’ll end up in Margaret River wine region. Once in town, you can book one of the many food and wine tours. Or you can DIY just driving through the cellars, tasting a glass here and there.
5) Road tripping on Highway 1 through deserts, cattle properties and banana plantations
The North West Coastal Highway is a one-lane road that stretches all along Western Australia, through 1,320 km of desert and unfenced cattle stations. This is real bush driving, no jokes. The smartphone GPS won’t always work, so it’s better to have a good old paper map in hand. Make sure to memorize gas stations on the map and to bring a full fuel tank and a big water supply, just in case. On the road you will spot kangaroos and eagles by day and camp under the stars at night.
6) Dune hopping in the Pinnacles Desert
The first “popular” spot on the way up north from Perth is the Pinnacle desert. It’s a Mars-like National Park where dunes of sand are dotted by limestone pinnacles of mysterious origins. In nearby Lancelin you can also go completely nuts sand boarding on dunes.
photo: Jared Yeh
7) Dance with dolphins in Shark Bay
Listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List, Shark Bay is a marine National Park known for its red cliffs, white beaches and cute local mammals such as dugongs and bottlenose dolphins. You can take in all the scenery and stop for a swim while driving on the World Heritage Drive. Make sure not to miss Shell Beach, a white beach made entirely of tiny sea shells.
The bay is also home to the Monkey Mia dolphin show, where the rangers feed the animals to show them to tourists. Feeding wild dolphins is unnecessary and unethical so it shouldn’t be encouraged in any way – least of all for a cheap touristy attraction.
photo: Matthew Fuentes
8) Snorkel on the Ningaloo Reef
Did you know that the West Coast also has its own Barrier Reef? It’s called the Ningaloo Reef and it’s actually healthier that its more popular eastern sister. You can snorkel and dive on it out of Coral Bay, a secluded desert oasis of white beaches and colorful fishes. The reef is very close to the beach there, so if you’re too lazy to book a boat trip (where you can spot dugongs, turtles and whale sharks) you can just swim off the beach and admire the colorful fishes, corals and even the odd manta ray.
9) Camp on a deserted beach under a million stars
Close to Exmouth, Cape Range National Park is also a not-to-miss destination for beach and coral lovers. Its deserted paradises of Turquoise Bay and Sandy Beach have also won several beach awards. Moreover, you can camp in the park under the shade of eucalyptus trees.
10) Hike through wonderful rocky national parks
Western Australia is not just about white beaches and colorful corals. All along its territory there are National Parks and hiking trails. Some of the most impressive are the Kalbarry National Park, with its red canyons in the desert; the Karijini National Park with rocky hiking trails and dreamy water pools and the Purnululu (Bungle Bungle) National Park, one of the most striking geological landmarks in Western Australia, famous for its mound-like mountain ranges.
The list of natural wonders in Western Australia can go on forever, and most of them are barely known and pretty unspoiled. The idea is to buy or rent a van or a car and explore. Just make sure you have plenty of water and that you don’t drive at night – wildlife is bold here!
Have you guys been to Australia yet? And if yes, have you ventured west?
This is a guest post by Sabrina Trevisan.
Sabrina Trevisan is a freelance web editor and copywriter based, for now, in Milan. After studying in Paris, she decided to move to the southern hemisphere to work and travel extensively through Australia, South East Asia and India. Now back in Milan, she plans to go fully nomad again soon. Her personal career goal is to be able to work with Italian customers from the Pacific Ocean shores.