For an adventure that lifts the spirits, opens your mind and your heart, consider these 10 one-of-a-kind experiences in Western Australia.
Western Australia is the land wide-open, with big skies and vast landscapes topped with geological fascinations and tangles of green from lush coastal vegetation to centuries-old trees. Add azure seas and wildlife experiences that will leave you lost for words, and you have the foundations for the adventure of your dreams. Here are 10 experiences to whet your travel appetite.
1. Swimming with whale sharks
For a wondrous aquatic dalliance of the larger kind, Ningaloo Reef offers visitors a profound experience to swim with majestic whale sharks in clear, turquoise waters of the Coral Coast between March and August. Encounter these gentle giants in their otherworldly ocean habitat on a snorkelling tour out of Exmouth, along with a passing parade of other reef inhabitants. Between August and October, head out on the water for humpback whale tours, as they cruise down the coast, with the occasional tail slap or energetic breaches, on their long way home.
2. Tidal flow in the Kimberley
The awe-inspiring natural phenomenon of the Horizontal Falls is found in Talbot Bay, part of the Buccaneer Archipelago north-west of Derby. Described by David Attenborough as “one of the greatest natural wonders of the world”, the horizontal waterfall effect is caused by huge tidal surges forcing enormous volumes of water through narrow channels in the cliffs. Best witnessed by an adrenaline-inducing boat ride or on a low-flying scenic flight, this geological marvel is an unforgettable experience.
3. Quokka shots on Rottnest
Rottnest Island is best known for its quokkas, with every single visitor falling for these cute-as-a-button furry mammals that can be found hopping everywhere on this magical island. They can sit on their haunches and use their paws to pick up food and have been recently dubbed the ‘world’s happiest animal’. Catch the ferry to Rottnest and stay a day, a weekend, or a week, as you fall under the spell of this special place, with beaches blessed with turquoise seas on white sand beaches.
4. Koomal Dreaming
Experience Wadandi and Bibbulmun country through the eyes of traditional custodian, Josh “Koomal” Whiteland, who will introduce you to the world’s oldest living culture. Through authentic and personal interpretation, Koomal Dreaming Cultural Experiences, based in Dunsborough, include full-day cultural connections where you can taste native foods, discover bush medicine and meet the animals, plants and Dreaming spirits of this land. On the twilight tour of Ngilgi Cave, be moved by the ethereal sounds of the didgeridoo played deep inside the Earth … it is spine tingling.
5. Island time on the Houtman Abrolhos
The Houtman Abrolhos Islands are a hidden gem, with 122 islands spread over 100 kilometres of searingly blue ocean 60 kilometres off the coast of Geraldton. These sandy jewels, spread in three island clusters, the Wallabi Group, Easter Group and the Pelsaert Group, are home to a Noah’s Ark of bird and marine life. The Abrolhos is also rich in history, with a story worthy of a Hollywood blockbuster unfolding here in 1629.
6. Camels at dusk
Witnessing an other-worldly sunset from the saddle of an unhurried camel in Broome is indescribably beautiful, and a quintessential experience in this quirky town built on a history of pearls. Cable Beach is front and centre of any visit, its wide boulevard of sand the stage for what is the daily show, when the sun sinks low over the Indian Ocean in a blaze of gold that lights this northwestern hub in ethereal light, a conga line of camels an artistic and beautiful silhouette.
7. Caped crusader
Threading from top to bottom of the Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park in the Margaret River Region, the Cape to Cape Track is one of the world’s great walks, covering 135 kilometres between the lighthouses at Cape Naturaliste and Cape Leeuwin. Wander windswept, shell-strewn and dazzling white sand beaches, meander through the enchanting karri trees in the Boranup Forest and tune into the ancient coastal geology of enduring granite and limestone forged by wind and waves. Do the whole track, with Cape to Cape Explorers, or just the highlights, mixed with five-star accommodation and gourmet fare, with Walk Into Luxury.
8. Sculptures in the desert
Western Australia’s Golden West unearths a place that is so different, so unique, it is hard to fathom. The white salt plain of Lake Ballard is home to the largest outdoor art gallery on Earth. World-renowned artist Antony Gormley carefully placed a collection of 51 individually cast black chromium steel sculptures 500 metres apart and stretching across 10 square kilometres of this extraordinary natural landscape. Walk it early or late in the day and take plenty of water.
9. Snuffle into truffle season
Down in the Southern Forests and Valleys region, in Manjimup and Pemberton, the soil produces hidden gems beneath the surface – black truffles. This region is now the preeminent producer of black truffle in the Southern Hemisphere, with the season running, conditions dependent, from June to August. Truffle lovers should head to Manjimup in June 2023 for the annual Truffle Kerfuffle, to watch highly trained dogs sniffing out the “black gold” around Fonty’s Pool and learn some of the secrets of the growers, like Australian Truffle Traders.
10. Swan Valley
Wine has been produced in the green, leafy Swan Valley, just 25 minutes from Perth, since 1829. Olive Farm Wines is a four-generation winery, having produced wine from the very beginning. Their vino to bottle tour is an informative look at their colourful and impressive history. Sandalford is another heritage winery, dating back to 1840, with its then owner, J.S. Roe, granted the land by Queen Victoria as a thank you for his work as Surveyor General in the fledgling colony. He certainly deserved it, as the person responsible for setting aside the land for Kings Park and laying out the towns of Perth and Fremantle.