Our Western Australia Travel Guide gives you the 101 on planning a visit to the “wildflower state”, home of four UNESCO World Heritage areas, some of the countries most beautiful beaches, a fabulous wine region and lots and lots of red desert.
Why not visit the less explored Australian State
At half the size of the USA and almost as big as India, Western Australia is the largest state in Australia. It’s an excellent destination for those who like to travel off the beaten track. It provides a whole range of holiday experiences from beautiful beaches and forests to deserts and even its own reef system.
Western Australia covers one-third of the Australian continent!
The biggest drawcards:
- Shark Bay and the Ningaloo Coast
- Purnululu National Park – home of the Bungle Bungles
- Margaret River and the South West – home of surf and wine
- Broome – Pearls and the famous stairway to the moon
WA is worth the effort! If you are coming from Europe, you can fly directly from London to Perth and then continue on to the east coast after your stopover.
Consider this page your Cliffs Study Notes on planning a trip to Western Australia. You will find a list of the main attractions, a list of important dates and basic weather information to help you plan a fantastic holiday down-under.
The Regions of Western Australia (WA)
Where are the main places to visit
Firstly because Western Australia is so large, it’s probably a good idea to get your head around the regions.
Western Australia, or WA, as we call it here, can be divided into five main areas:
- Perth – the state Capital, the Port of Freemantle and Rottnest Island
- The Coral Coast – UNESCO listed Ningaloo Reef, The Pinnacles and Monkey Mia
- The Outback – Wave Rock, Aboriginal Culture, Kalgoorlie
- The North West – Kimberley, Broome and the Bungle Bungles
- The South West – Margaret River Wineries, Great surfing and Valley of the Giants Forests
Don’t expect to cover this state on a flying visit. Western Australia is best explored in at least two trips as the “best” time of year weather-wise is quite different north to south.
So let’s take a look at the highlights of each region – the places we think you might like.
Australia’s sunniest capital city.
With over 3000 hours of sunshine a year, there is hardly a bad time to visit Perth. The city is small by all standards, but it’s got plenty to offer visitors.
Top 5 things to do in Perth:
- Visit Fremantle – The port town of Perth and a great place to hang out
- Swim at Scarborough Beach – about 10 mins from town
- Take a day trip to the Swan Valley – make your way around the food and wine trails to explore
- Explore the CBD and inner suburbs for some really great street art
- Take the ferry to Rottnest Island – stay overnight if you have time
Ningaloo Reef and the Coral Coast
The only place in the world you can swim with the whale sharks.
If you are a diver who likes to get away from the crowds to the less well-known spots, then you might just love Ningaloo Reef. The diving here is said to be every bit as good as the Great Barrier Reef. The Coral Coast is also home to World Heritage-listed, Shark Bay Marine Park.
You can dive straight off the beach along parts of the coast, other highlights of the region include:
- Kalbarri National Park – take a peek through Nature’s Window and see Z Bend Lookout
- Monkey Mia – feed the resident Bottlenose dolphins
- The Pinnacles – view the “Rock Stars Of The Desert”
- Hutt Lagoon – photograph the stunning Pink Lake
- Lesueur National Park – especially beautiful when wildflowers are blooming
Ningaloo Reef is a 2-day drive from Perth or a 1.5-hour flight. Many travellers don’t realise you can’t just pop up to Ningaloo Reef on your short trip to Perth.
Oh, and did we mention the beaches are crystal clear with beautiful white sand. Highly recommend you visit if you get the opportunity.
The Kimberley and Pilbara
The landscape of the film Australia, by Baz Lurhman
The landscapes of the Kimberley and the Pilbara are every bit as dramatic as the film Australia. With the intense reds of the dirt and cliffs accompanied with brilliant blue skies, this place is quite simply breathtaking.
The region is vast. It covers the top half of the state, almost the size of California but with a population a little greater than Monaco, one of the lowest population densities in the world.
It’s an outback holiday with one of the world’s most beautiful beaches.
Highlights of the Kimberly include:
- Broome – ride a camel at sunset and try to time your visit for the famous Staircase to the moon events
- Purnululu National Park – home of the Bungle Bungle ranges
- Talbot Bay – don’t miss the horizontal waterfalls – the perfect spot for a scenic flight
- Karijini National Park – explore the remote Hamersley Ranges and swim in the hidden gorges
- Kimberley River – a luxury cruising destination for small boats that rivals the best experiences in the world
Local tip: If you have the budget for it, El Questro Homestead should be on your list of places to stay while you are in this part of the world. It’s a fantastic honeymoon location.
South Western Australia
Wine, surf and giant trees!
The South West starts just a couple of hours from Perth and provides everything you could want from a holiday, great food and wine, stunning beaches and beautiful forests.
On our last trip, we stayed three nights in Margaret River before driving on to explore the rest of the coast down to Albany, spending ten days in the area.
A week or ten days is the ideal amount of time to explore the South West, but if time is short a few days based in Margaret River will give you a good taste.
Our favourite spots include:
- Margaret River – visit a few of the cellar doors for some tastings
- Hamelin Bay – meet a manta ray or two
- William Bay National Park – see the magical Greens Pools & Elephant Rocks, they are etched in our memories
- Denmark – stop into the Valley of the Giants, this ancient forest gives you a new perspective.
- Albany – visit the National Anzac Centre for an interesting and interactive view of Australia’s war history
- Esperance – Thistle Cove is especially lovely but any beach in Esperance will do!
With 24 National Parks and 1000km of coast, you will easily find your own patch of paradise in WA’s South West.
Advice to help you plan your visit
When is the best time to visit Western Australia?
Western Australia School Holidays
School holidays see prices go up and availability reduce. If you don’t need to be travelling at this time, you can save quite a bit by avoiding it.
Western Australia Public Holidays
Public holidays may see some attractions closed or with reduced hours
Western Australia Events Calendar
We think October is the best time to visit WA with stunning wildflower displays and pleasant temperatures for exploring.
Some of the states most significant events include:
- Hopman Cup (Tennis) – January
- Perth International Arts Festival – February
- Margaret River Masters (Surfing) – March
- Fremantle Festival (arts) – October
- Perth Show (Agriculture/Food) – October
- Wildflower festivals (Perth, Busselton, and the North) – October
Western Australia has 3 main weather zones, and regardless of the time of year, one of these is just perfect.
- Mediterranean – The South West, Perth and the Coral Coast
- Tropical – Broome and North West – wet and dry seasons
- Desert – The east of the state offers temps of 15-37 degrees
International Airports in Western Australia
- Perth – direct flights from Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Tokyo, the Middle East, Johannesburg, Auckland or London
- Broome – direct flights from Perth and Darwin – some international flights in peak season.
Domestic Airports in Western Australia
With a state this big, it can be handy to cut some travel time by flying. Flying to one of these regional airports and renting a vehicle on arrival will help you see more of the state on a short visit.
- Albany – Flight from Perth
- Broome – Flight from Perth and seasonally from other states – eg Darwin and Sydney
- Geraldton – Flights from Perth