Western Australia is Australia’s largest state, and until recent years it was also arguably Australia’s best-kept secret!
Often skipped over back in the day in favour of its more accessible Eastern States neighbours, with its spectacularly diverse scenery ranging from arid desert to lush rainforest and glittering coastline, to some of Australia’s most beloved wine regions, and attractions galore, it’s now well-placed on the bucket list of many domestic and international tourists alike. In this post, we’ll focus on some of WA’s lesser-known incredible places; buckle up virtually and prepare your travel bug for serious excitement.
For great travel tips head to www.westernaustralia.com or for expert advice, get in touch with an ATAS-accredited travel agent!
Want more Aussie travel tips? This is the fifth of our destination-focused posts on exploring the best of our Great Southern Land – check out our recent spotlights on the NT, Perth, Hobart and SA for more!
One of the world’s great long distance walk trails, the Bibbulmun Track stretches 1000km from the lush Perth Hills to Albany, winding through the stunning natural beauty of the South West of WA as it passes through seven rural communities and popular tourist destinations. You’ll see beautiful jarrah and marri forests and historic towns, and you can climb to the summit of Mount Cooke, the highest point of the Darling Range.
The Track is easily accessible with many entry and exit points; so whether you’re in for a gentle stroll for an hour or two or an eight week adventure, the Bibbulmun Track is well worth exploring.
Bibbulmun Track near Albany . Photo Credit: Tourism Western Australia.
Ever wondered where Perthites go to get away from the winter? (Although compared to some of the colder days over East, it’s not much of a winter!) Broome might be the first place that comes to mind, but being that it’s a 22-hour drive from the big smoke, it’s not exactly an easy spot for a family weekender. On the other hand, the lovely tourist town of Kalbarri is only 6 hours away (and conveniently located near the smallish coastal city of Geraldton, for when you’re finishing sunbathing and looking for a spot of shopping or maybe a seaside jaffle).
Kalbarri is situated where the Murchison River meets the Indian Ocean; you’ll find soaring river and coastal gorges, family-friendly protected swimming bays, out-of-this-world walking trails, and wildflowers galore. Check out Kalbarri National Park with the iconic Natures Window and new Kalbarri Skywalk, snorkel at the gorgeous Blue Holes, Port Gregory’s Pink Lake, and hang out with some seriously chill pelicans at the beach in the morning. It’s a slice of West Aussie paradise!
Kalbarri Skywalk, Kalbarri National Park . Photo Credit: Tourism Western Australia.
Bungle Bungle Range
Deep within the isolated east Kimberley Region, the iconic World Heritage-listed Bungle Bungles are a truly extraordinary sight: distinctive, enormous beehive-shaped domes that go on for hundreds of kilometres.
The area has long been used by local Indigenous people during the wet season, when it becomes rich in plant and animal life. Yet the Bungle Bungle Range remained hidden from the outside world until the 80s, making it one of the best kept secrets in history. These landforms are the most outstanding examples of cone karst in sandstone anywhere in the world, and are unrivalled in their scale, extent, grandeur, and diversity of forms, making for a truly magical experience.
The Bungle Bungle Range is part of Purnululu National Park, which is generally open from April until December (conditions permitting). You’ll find various accommodation options and activities here: from 4WD safaris to indigenous experiences and much more.
Cathedral Gorge, Purnululu National Park. Photo Credit: Tourism Western Australia.
Karijini National Park
An extraordinarily lush outback oasis in the heart of WA’s Pilbara region, Karijini boasts extraordinary scenery, with cavernous gorges and rocky tunnels, crystal-clear swimming holes and waterfalls. It’s the perfect place to camp under a starry outback sky, or enjoy nature in luxury in an Aboriginal-owned eco-retreat.
You’ll find an amazing network of walking trails here, ranging from easy to challenging, and winding through some of Australia’s most awesome scenery. It’s a 17-hour drive from Perth, but well worth it, and a definite must-do for nature lovers’ WA itineraries. With waterfalls, emerald pools and plunging gorges beginning just beyond the car park, you’ll be snap-happy in minutes of arriving.
The best time for a visit is during late autumn, winter and early spring, when the days are warm but the nights are cold. Between April and September, the water in the gorge pools can be very cold, and it’d be a shame to miss out on those gorgeous swimming holes!
Karijini National Park . Photo Credit: Tourism Western Australia.
The story of Lake Ballard, Australia’s largest outdoor gallery, begins with a tiny town called Menzies located about 130km north of Kalgoorlie. Down from its gold-rush heyday population of over 10,000 residents, Menzies is now home to about 100 residents. Back in 2003, an internationally acclaimed British sculptor Sir Antony Gormley travelled to Menzies and persuaded 51 people to strip naked, upon which he digitally scanned their bodies, made life-sized moulds and cast these in stainless steel alloy.
By this point, you may be wondering where the lake fits in. Well, the salt lake of Lake Ballard is now home to the Salt People: 51 metal statues dotted across the surface of a saltpan that stretches on far into the horizon. Gormley describes the lake as having “a feeling of being at the edge of endlessness. It’s like being on the lip of the edge of the world”; The statues have a striking otherworldly presence in this backdrop of shimmering whiteness, for a mystical, beautiful experience that’s well worth the trip.
Antony Gormley Sculptures at Lake Ballard . Photo Credit: Tourism Western Australia.
A comfortable drive from Perth, the Avon Valley is WA’s first inland settlement. It’s a true taste of countryside WA right on Perth’s doorstep, with , offers patchwork of green rolling hills, babbling brooks and historic country towns like Northam, Toodyay, York, New Norcia, Goomalling, Beverley and Brookton; even better, these towns are all an easy half-hour drive from each other.
Whether you’re exploring craft shops for knick-knacks, having a riverside picnic with a basket filled with delicious local produce, stopping at a country pub for a drink and a wholesome feed, meandering through fascinating museums and galleries, the Avon Valley is a wonderful place to experience WA regional hospitality.
Stirling Terrace streetscape, Toodyay . Photo Credit: Tourism Western Australia.
Want to know more? You’ll find exciting ideas and sample itineraries at the Tourism WA website, and plenty of travel inspo on their Virtual Western Australia tour, as well as their Instagram @westernaustralia. Get in touch with an ATAS-accredited travel agent for your dream WA getaway!