With the world’s most isolated capital city and cattle stations bigger than most European countries, the West Coast of Australia definitely has that ‘Final Frontier’ vibe down pat.  

So where do you start? Up north, with the waterfalls and red rock gorges of Karijini? A lazy sunset camel ride on Cable Beach? Maybe whale watching off the coast of Albany or a vineyard tour through the Margaret River. (Actually, all of those sound pretty awesome.) One thing’s for sure– when you’re tackling the world’s second biggest state, it pays to call in the experts.

 

Things to see & do on the West Coast of Australia

Diving with whale sharks at the Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia

Ningaloo Reef

Stretching from Bundegi Reef in the north, all the way down to Red Bluff on Qubboa Station, Ningaloo is officially the world’s biggest fringing reef. For some reason it never gets the headlines of its Queensland cousin, but that’s okay. We like it without the crowds. The beauty of Ningaloo tours isn’t just the array of wildlife ­– you’ll find sharks, manta rays, turtles, humpbacks, dugongs, dolphins and more than 500 fish species just off shore – but the fact that the reef creeps almost all the way up to the beach. You can tackle it with a snorkel and speedos if you want to. Great Barrier who?

Take a swim in Karijini National Park, Western Australia

Karijini National Park

When it comes to Western Australia’s most famous natural attraction, it’s a constant battle between Karijini and the Kimberley. We can’t pick favourites, but there’s always going to be a soft spot in our hearts for Karijini’s grey-green spinifex trees, the flat plains dotted with kangaroos and wildflowers, the narrow gorges and thundering waterfalls. Karijini tours are definitely the way to go if you want to check out this wilderness for the first time. You need a high-clearance 4WD to see most of the park (although the eastern bit of Banyjima Dr is now sealed).

Camel riding on Cable Beach, Western Australia

Broome

Driving from Perth to Broome (or Broome to Perth) is a mighty effort: a good 23 hours on the National Highway if you go inland, more if you hug the coast. But it really is the best way to see Western Australia. And the adventure doesn’t end when you pull into Broome covered in red pindan dust. There’s sunset camel rides on Cable Beach (touristy, but spectacular), dinosaur prints at the beautiful Gantheaume Point lookout, Short Street’s indigenous art galleries or day trips out to Windjana Gorge and Tunnel Creek. And of course, The Kimberley is right next door if you’d like to extend your adventure a bit further…

Wave Rock, Western Australia

Southern Loop (Wave Rock, Albany & Esperance)

Esperance is last big stop before you tackle the Nullarbor: an almost painfully pretty town framed by squeaky white sands and the aquamarine waters of the Bay of Isles. It’s a fair way from Perth to Esperance, but that doesn’t stop the Perth locals driving for hours to see the pristine island of the Recherche Archipelago, just offshore, with their resident colonies of fur seals, penguins and sea birds. To the west you’ll find Albany, a whale-watching hotspot and the oldest European settlement in the state. Last but not least along the Southern Loop there’s Wave Rock, which does pretty much what it says on the tin: it’s a 60 million year-old rock formation in the shape of a giant curling wave. Makes for one hell of a bushwalk.

Redgate Beach in Margaret River, Western Australia

Margaret River

A glass of Riesling in one hand, some antique knick-knack in the other, you could be forgiven for thinking you’re in country Victoria, or the Barossa Valley in South Australia. Well, a Margaret River tour is WA’s equivalent – a picturesque riverside wine region full of boutique chocolate shops, organic cafes and cellar doors. It’s got an edge over its easterly competitors too: the advantage of great surf at the River Mouth and beautiful beaches like Prevelly and Gracetown. On weekends the little town swells with tourists and daytrippers from Perth (a 3-hour drive), but stop by in a shoulder season, or mid-week, and it still feels like a sleepy country town.

Dolphins at Monkey Mia, Western Australia

Monkey Mia

Western Australia’s classic dolphin-watching experience (if you were expecting monkeys, you might be disappointed). Don’t be put off by the Monkey Mia’s slightly resort-y feel – the dolphin watching is what you’re here for. We’ll set up the Monkey Mia tour as part of your WA adventure, so you don’t have to worry about bookings or anything like that. Just get the camera ready. Feeding times start early, usually around 7:45am, but head up onto the pier after the first session – the dolphins usually stick around, herding fish in the shallows or swimming in pods just offshore.

Stories from the West Coast of Australia