Things to Do in Western Australia
The liquid heart of Perth, the Swan River touches many of the city’s neighborhoods on its way to the Indian Ocean. The river passes through the Swan Valley wine region, Perth’s Central Business District and affluent suburbs, and the port city of Fremantle, and there are lots of recreational opportunities on the banks and in the water.
Devoted to telling the story of the more than 40,000 ANZAC (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) soldiers that fought in the First World War, the National Anzac Centre is one of Australia’s most important military museums. It’s housed in a purpose-built building in Albany Heritage Park.
With a history dating back to 1897 and a far-reaching reputation, the Fremantle Markets are among the most famous of their kind in Western Australia, and the lively weekend markets are equally popular with locals and tourists. Housed in a striking Victorian market hall, restored in the 1970s, the legendary markets feature more than 150 stalls split between two sections – The Yard and The Hall.
Visiting the Fremantle Markets is an experience in itself, with huge crowds turning out each weekend, and an array of street entertainers, artists and musicians providing entertainment. This is the place to buy fresh farmer’s produce, organic delicacies and artisan foods, or feast on tasty street food. It’s not just food on sale either – the eclectic stalls include clothing and accessories by local and upcoming designers; unique art and handicrafts; great value cosmetics and toiletries; and a myriad of souvenirs.
At more than a mile (1.8 kilometers) in length, the Busselton Jetty is the longest timber-piled jetty found anywhere in the Southern Hemisphere. Ships no longer dock here, and instead the historic jetty draws visitors to the Western Australia coast to stroll its length and take in the views both above and below the water.
With 122 almost entirely uninhabited islands and a vast expanse of coral reef stretching along the Coral Coast, the Abrolhos Islands are Western Australia’s answer to the Great Barrier Reef. Visit for world-class snorkeling, wreck dives, marine life, and bird sightings.
With its sandy cove, crystalline waters and close proximity to the Ningaloo Reef, it’s easy to see why Turquoise Bay is renowned as one of Australia’s most idyllic beaches. Running around 600-meters along the west coast of the North West Cape, the Turquoise Bay Beach is one of the many natural highlights of the Cape Range National Park and a hotspot for sunseekers.
The most popular activities at Turquoise Bay are swimming and snorkeling, and the warm, shallow waters are teeming with colorful corals, tropical fish and starfish. For avid snorkelers and scuba divers, there are also plenty of opportunities for spotting reef sharks, sea turtles, manta rays and dolphins in the surrounding waters.
In the northeastern corner of Western Australia, the Bungle Bungle Range is a top natural feature in Purnululu National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The beehive-shaped striped sandstone domes for which the area is now famous were known only to the local Aboriginal people until they were “discovered” by a film crew in the 1980s.
The Horizontal Falls were once described by David Attenborough as one of the “greatest wonders of the natural world.” Located in Talbot Bay in the Buccaneer Archipelago, the waterfalls are caused by the shifting of ocean tides through the rocks, and are one of Western Australia’s most spectacular sights.
One of the most popular visitor attractions of Geographe Bay and part of the Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park, Ngilgi Cave is an expansive natural wonder. The series of underground caves and tunnels are filled with dramatic stalactites, helictites, shawls, and shimmering deposits of calcite crystal.
With its multi-hued, sandstone hiking trails and rugged, coastal sea cliffs, Kalbarri National Park is one of Australia’s most awe inspiring corners. From the lookout atop the Z Bend trail, your gaze will fall 500 feet (152 m) to the Murchison River below, which has slowly carved a colorful gorge through millions of years of erosion. Down south along the coast, you’ll find Red Bluff Beach, where dusty red sandstone and turquoise waters add color and flare to the cove. Keep an eye out for echidna, wallabies, and 150 species of birds, as well as the whales, dolphins, and seabirds that soar and splash within eyesight from the park's six miles (9.5 km) of coastal cliff trails.
Given the park's location seven-hours from the major city of Perth, many visitors choose to experience Kalbarri as part of a multi-day, guided tour with transportation included. Tours range from three days to 19 days of exploring the Western Australian coastline with stops for outdoor activities and visits to other natural attractions, like Pinnacles Desert and Monkey Mia.
More Things to Do in Western Australia
Western Australia’s Pink Lake, or the “Hutt Lagoon,” makes for some spectacular photo opportunities—a bright bubble gum-pink pool that stands in stark contrast to the azure ocean just to the west. The inland sea is a natural phenomenon, caused by its resident algae, and it’s one of just a handful of its kind in the world.
Although otherworldly in appearance, the Pinnacles Desert is 100 percent on planet earth, located along the Indian Ocean's Coral Coast in Nambung National Park in Western Australia (WA). This vast sandy expanse is filled with towering limestone pillars, and at only a few hours' drive from the city of Perth, the site makes for a popular and totally doable day trip.
One Arm Point (also known as Ardyaloon or Bardi) is an Aboriginal community on the Dampier Peninsula, close to Cape Leveque. Like much of the surrounding area, it stands as a natural wilderness, virtually untouched by modern civilization.
The traditional Aboriginal community that calls One Arm Point home embraces tourism, and visitors to the point come to be immersed in the local culture as much as to marvel at the sweeping views of the Buccaneer Archipelago. The community on One Arm Point is the Bardi Aboriginal Community. Community members teach visitors traditional hunting and fishing techniques, demonstrate how to find and use bush foods and medicines, show how to catch mud crabs, and aims to share with visitors the relationship between the people and the land that exists in many Aboriginal communities. The Bardi also sell local art and jewelry, including jewelry hand carved from trochus shells.
Hidden away in an ancient marri forest and dripping with stalactites and stalagmites, Mammoth Cave is a mesmerizing sight. The limestone cave is one of the largest in the Margaret River region, located in Western Australia’s Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park.
The Round House, a historic 12-sided building, was built in 1831 and is the oldest public building in Western Australia. Travelers can tour this unique architectural destination and learn about the original settlement, as well as how this iconic building was once used to house local lawbreakers.
Visitors can learn about the Fremantle Round House's colorful past and also get an up close look at the famous Whaler’s Tunnel—the oldest underground tunnel in Western Australia. Completed in 1838, the original tunnel spanned some 64 meters, but today measures just 46. And while the 1 p.m. sound call that once rang out daily to alert ships on sea to the official time no longer occurs, travelers can sometimes catch a reenactment ceremony put on by some of the Fremantle Volunteer Heritage Guides.
Fringed with rocky coves, white sandy beaches, and sun-soaked shores, Rottnest Island’s natural pleasures are numerous—whale-watching, snorkeling, hiking and wildlife spotting along the coast, and taking in the ocean sunsets. At less than an hour from Perth, Rottnest Island, or “Rotto,” makes for an idyllic retreat from the city.
One of Australia's most stunning stretches of coastline, Cape Leveque, located on the tip of the Dampier Peninsula, has been home to Aboriginal communities for some 7,000 years. Visit to see the area’s brick-red cliffs, pearl-white sand, and clear blue water, explore the remote landscape, and learn about the local Aboriginal communities.
Usually places in the middle of the desert are quiet, dry, and remote. In the case of Australia’s Bell Gorge, however, crowds of people flock to the Kimberley to witness a gorgeous, multi-tiered waterfall go splashing down into a pool. Perfectly placed amidst amber-hued sandstone, the Bell Gorge waterfall is fed by rains that fall in the Kimberley’s wet season, and offers a picturesque place to cool off and go for for a swim when it’s dry.
Take a moment to sprawl on the rocks surrounding the crystal cascade, and close your eyes as you soak up the sun and enjoy the rush of the falls. When you’ve worked up a sweat from sun tanning or hiking, a large, refreshing pool of fresh water sits right at the base of the falls—which when viewed against the rugged, dry landscape are an unforgettable sight. It’s little wonder why Bell Gorge is immensely popular with photographers, who camp at nearby Silent Grove Campground, sleeping out under the stars, before waking up early to hike through the gorge and enjoy the spectacular show.
Cable Beach encompasses 14 miles (22 kilometers) of unspoiled white sand and turquoise waters. The beach is almost perfectly flat and therefore its calm waters are ideal for swimming. From the shore, you can see the occasional pearling boat—an industry that supported Broome before it was discovered by travelers.
Right on Perth’s doorstep, Swan Valley offers an idyllic retreat from city life. Renowned as one of Western Australia’s oldest wine regions, its expanse of vineyards and scenic waterways are home to numerous wineries, breweries, and distilleries, and an excellent selection of artisan shops and gourmet restaurants.
Telling the story of Australia’s whaling industry and the Cheynes Beach Whaling Company—the last of the country’s whaling stations to close its doors, back in 1978— Albany's Historic Whaling Station offers insight into whale hunting, as well as the chance to explore onboard a real whale-chaser ship.
A large granite rock formation shaped like an ocean wave, Wave Rock is located in Western Australia’s Golden Outback region and situated in a bushland environment. Standing nearly 50 feet (15 meters) tall and 360 feet (110 meters) long, the formation is part of a geological area dating back more than 2.5 billion years.
Tunnel Creek National Park is one of the Kimberly region’s most famous attractions. Though small in size compared to the other national parks that cover the Kimberly region, at just 91 hectares, Tunnel Creek has a huge attraction – being home to Australia’s oldest cave system.
Tunnel Creek is located in the Napier Range, the same range as the nearby Geikie Gorge. The remains of an ancient reef system formed 350 million years ago, the limestone that forms Tunnel Creek is what makes this region so ancient. The tunnel of tunnel creek runs for 750 meters. It reaches a maximum height of 12 meters, and a maximum width of 15 meters. There are a number of animals making their home in the caverns, including at least five species of bat, which led to the cave’s nickname of The Cave of Bats. Freshwater crocodiles occasionally take up residence in the large pools of water that dot the floor of the cave.
Tunnel Creek became famous in the late 1800s as the hideout of the Aboriginal outlaw and leader Jandamarra. The cave has been used by the Aboriginal people for hundreds of years, and the walls are covered in their artworks.
Standing watch over the southwestern tip of Australia and marking the meeting point of the Indian and Southern Oceans, the Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse boasts a dramatic location. The 39-meter-high tower also makes a striking photo opportunity, with its stark white brick set against a backdrop of deep blue ocean and crashing waves. As well as being located within the Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park, the famous lighthouse serves as the starting point of the renowned Cape-to-Cape hiking trail, which runs for 135km along the coast.
Built in 1895, the historic lighthouse remains in use, but is now equally significant as a tourist attraction. Tours allow visitors to peek behind-the-scenes of the lighthouse, see the old waterwheel and climb the 186 steps to the top-floor viewing deck. A visitor center, shop and café are also located on-site.
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