From the kangaroo-strewn beaches of Esperance to the vineyards of Margaret River, here are the best places to visit in Western Australia!
‘West coast is the best coast’; you’ll hear that a lot as you explore Western Australia. But covering one-third of Australia’s total landmass (that’s some 2.5 million square kilometres!), you might be regretting your decision to visit west over east when you’ve driven hundreds of miles into the Outback and still have two days to go until you reach Broome!
But the West Coast is the best coast for a reason. Not only does WA see just a fraction of the visitors that make their way to Queensland, New South Wales or Victoria, but Western Australia is the place to get really off the beaten track in Australia.
Start your journey in Perth, the most remote ‘capital’ city in the world (it’s a four flight just to Sydney), then head south to taste wine in Margaret River, find beach-loving kangaroos in Esperance and vast gold mines in Kalgoorlie. The temperate climes of the south give way to a semi-arid desert as you head north, where you can venture deep into the hinterland in search of rocks to rival Uluru (Mount Augustus) or head offshore to snorkel an unknown barrier reef (Ningaloo) before things get tropical in the Kimberley.
If you’re looking for an adventure, then here are the best places to visit in Western Australia.
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The best places to visit in Western Australia
Like many travellers before and many more to come, I woefully underestimated the size and scale of Australia when I first landed in Perth, my savings dwindling, but a working holiday visa in my passport.
I’d chosen Western Australia for two reasons. First, I had some vague notion that the west coast was less visited than the east coast. I knew plenty of people who’d been to Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne, but few people who’d been to Perth, let alone the empty tracts of space surrounding the state capital that loomed endlessly large on the map.
The second reason was practical. I was in Indonesia at the time, and it’s closer (and cheaper) to fly from Bali to Perth than it is to fly anywhere else in Australia. I booked my ticket, found a job on a strawberry farm four hours south of Perth (little did I know, this was considered a short drive in WA) and settled in for two years of west coast action.
Originally, I’d planned to spend a few months in WA before moving east, but things didn’t work out that way. With so many incredible places to see in Western Australia, I spent my whole working holiday visa (12 months) on the west coast, and I still didn’t have time to visit everywhere.
The following guide is based on my mammoth working trip around Western Australia. I’ve divided the best Western Australia tourist attractions up into regions, with there being 9 regions across the state, plus the Perth Metropolitan Area.
Western Australia’s regions are:
- South West
- Great Southern
Starting with Perth, and ending in the Kimberley, here are the best places to visit in Western Australia.
Perth and Peel
Perth, the world’s most remote ‘capital’ city (admittedly a state capital, rather than a truly national capital!) is where most journeys begin, at least if you’re flying in. Many travellers don’t leave the metropolitan area, and that’s just fine for some because there are some great places to see here, and it’s a long way to anywhere else!
Perth, the sun-drenched capital of Western Australia, was founded on June 12, 1829, by Captain James Stirling. Situated along the Swan River, it became a vital port and service hub during the gold rush of the late 19th century and is today a sprawling, cosmopolitan city.
Kings Park, one of the largest inner-city green spaces in the world, offers sweeping views of the Swan River and the Perth skyline (you’ll even see a few kangaroos hopping around).
The Perth Cultural Centre, with the Art Gallery of Western Australia and the State Theatre Centre, forms the city’s creative hub, while a brief ferry trip takes you to South Perth for stunning city vistas.
Food lovers will delight in Perth’s culinary scene, where countless restaurants celebrate local produce and the Swan Valley’s acclaimed wines. For those drawn to the seaside, Cottesloe Beach is a must-visit for sunbathing, surfing, or simply witnessing the sun sinking into the Indian Ocean.
Despite being one of the most isolated cities worldwide, or perhaps because of this, Perth offers a uniquely engaging start to any Western Australia adventure.
Hop on the train from Perth, and within 30 minutes, you’ll be in Fremantle, a port city with a rich history. Fremantle’s heritage is evident in the well-preserved Victorian architecture and the UNESCO-listed Fremantle Prison, which offers a fascinating insight into Australia’s penal history (take a tour, or spend a spooky night in the YHA Fremantle Prison as I did!).
You can stroll through the lively Fremantle Markets, where you’ll find an assortment of local produce, artisan crafts, and street food. Don’t miss the vibrant Cappuccino Strip, boasting a variety of cafes and eateries that spill onto the pavement.
Fremantle is also home to the Western Australian Maritime Museum, where you can learn about the state’s nautical past. If you’re into beer, tour the iconic Little Creatures Brewery to sample their craft brews. To unwind, head to the serene shores of Bathers Beach for a peaceful sunset.
3. Rottnest Island
Located a 25 minutes ferry ride off the coast of Fremantle, Rottnest Island is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Western Australia.
The small island is perhaps most famous for being home to the quokka, a friendly marsupial that tourists queue up to take selfies with. The quokka evolved with no predators on the island, so they’re not scared of getting close to humans.
You can explore Rottnest Island by hiring a bicycle when you arrive, or by snorkelling or diving off the coast. Rottnest Island has an unusual and at times dark history to explore too.
The colonial architecture and seaside atmosphere hide the fact that for decades, Rottnest Island was effectively a prison colony; not for European convicts, but for Aboriginals sent here from the mainland during the colonisation of Western Australia by the British.
Read more: The Dark History of Perth’s Rottnest Island
Rockingham is a coastal city just south of Perth, and it’s a haven for marine wildlife. The main highlight is the chance to swim with wild dolphins, while a trip to the Shoalwater Islands Marine Park, is an opportunity to kayak around limestone islands, spot sea lions or visit Penguin Island to watch the smallest species of penguin in the world.
For beach lovers, Rockingham Beach and Point Peron are perfect for a relaxing day by the sea, with crystal-clear waters ideal for swimming and snorkelling. Walking trails around Lake Richmond or Point Peron offer scenic views and a chance to appreciate local flora and fauna.
Read more: Western Australia Off The Beaten Track
The Wheatbelt is a sprawling agricultural region encompassing over 150,000 square kilometres to the north and west of Perth. Known for its vast golden fields of wheat, it’s a major contributor to the nation’s grain production. The area also boasts unique wildflower displays, charming country towns and a rich farming heritage that you can explore along the Wheatbelt Way.
York, located in Western Australia’s Wheatbelt region, is the oldest inland town in the state, with a rich history dating back to its establishment in 1835. It’s a town that has retained its 19th-century architecture, providing a glimpse into the colonial era.
In the early days, York was a significant hub for the growing agricultural industry, particularly for wool and wheat. Its importance grew with the construction of the railway line to Perth in 1885, which made the transportation of goods more efficient.
Today, York is renowned for its well-preserved Victorian and Federation buildings, many of which are classified by the National Trust. Visitors can explore historical sites such as the York Town Hall, the Old York Hospital and York Courthouse Complex.
With its scenic landscapes, including the Avon Valley, and hosting popular events like the York Festival, this town is not just a historical treasure but a vibrant cultural destination. Its blend of history, arts, and outdoor activities makes York a delightful place to explore.
Lancelin, a small fishing town north of Perth, is known for its extensive sand dune system. The largest such system in the state, Lancelin’s dunes are a hub for adrenaline-filled activities like sandboarding and 4WD dune driving.
For water sports enthusiasts, Lancelin’s coast provides fantastic conditions for windsurfing, surfing, and fishing. The town’s picturesque jetty is a favourite spot among locals and tourists for fishing or just taking a leisurely stroll.
For those seeking marine wildlife encounters, Lancelin Island offers a chance to snorkel with sea lions and explore stunning coral formations.
Off the water, the town itself is a relaxed destination with friendly locals, eateries offering fresh seafood and delightful stores. The annual Lancelin Ocean Classic in January, a renowned windsurfing event, attracts international competitors and adds to the town’s vibrant atmosphere.
7. Jurien Bay
Jurien Bay, situated on the coast north of Perth, is a coastal town in the Wheatbelt famed for its beaches and clear turquoise waters. Indeed, the town’s coastline is part of the larger Turquoise Coast, aptly named for its vivid hues.
These waters provide excellent opportunities for snorkelling, diving, fishing, and boating. One of Jurien Bay’s best experiences is swimming with the friendly sea lions that inhabit the nearby islands.
The town is also a gateway to the extraordinary Pinnacles Desert, a landscape filled with ancient limestone formations. Just north of the town, Sandy Cape Recreation Park offers pristine beaches and sand dunes for camping and sandboarding.
The town itself is relaxed and inviting, featuring local eateries serving fresh seafood. With the annual Indian Ocean Festival adding a dash of vibrancy, Jurien Bay promises a diverse range of experiences, making it a worthwhile stopover on any Western Australian itinerary.
Cervantes is another gateway to the Pinnacles Desert, a mesmerising landscape filled with ancient limestone formations. A visit to the Pinnacles offers an extraordinary experience, with the opportunity to wander among these unique structures, particularly magical at sunrise or sunset.
Adjacent to the desert, the pristine beaches of Cervantes offer a refreshing contrast, with opportunities for fishing, swimming, or simply soaking in the breathtaking ocean views. The town is also famous for its fresh Western Rock Lobster, with local restaurants serving up this delicacy straight from the boat (try the Lobster Shack!).
Nearby, Lake Thetis allows visitors to observe stromatolites, one of the longest-living life forms on Earth. For wildlife lovers, the surrounding Nambung National Park is home to a variety of bird and animal species. Cervantes’ unique natural attractions and relaxed coastal lifestyle make it a must-visit destination in Western Australia.
10. Wave Rock
Wave Rock, situated in the outback near the town of Hyden, is the Wheatbelt’s most iconic landmark. Standing at 15 metres high and 110 metres long, this granite cliff resembles a massive ocean wave about to crash, and it’s known for its unique shape and colourful striations caused by weathering and water erosion.
Visit Wave Rock and you can follow the walking trails around the rock and the nearby Hippo’s Yawn, a rock formation that resembles a yawning hippopotamus. There’s also an Aboriginal art gallery and a wildlife park that showcases native Australian animals. Nearby, you can discover ancient indigenous rock art at Mulka’s Cave.
Read more: Is It a Wave? Or is it a Rock?
Goldfields-Esperance, known for its rich gold mining heritage and beaches, is the largest region in Western Australia. The area was the heart of the gold rush in the late 19th century, with towns like Kalgoorlie and Coolgardie thriving as a result.
Today, the region continues to be a major hub for mining, especially gold and nickel. Goldfields-Esperance is also known for its natural landscapes, including the vast deserts, the striking pink Lake Hillier and the rugged coastal scenery along the Great Australian Bight.
Read more: How to Travel from Perth to Esperance
Kalgoorlie, located in the heart of Western Australia’s Goldfields, has an unusual legacy of gold rush history and grand colonial architecture to uncover.
The city’s lifeblood is the Super Pit, the largest open-cut gold mine in Australia, where visitors can witness mining operations from a public lookout.
A guided tour of the underground mines at Hannan’s North Tourist Mine is an educational treat, providing an understanding of the mining life and the town’s gold rush history.
Visit the Kalgoorlie-Boulder WA Museum to explore the region’s history and natural heritage. The vibrant Hannan Street, named after Paddy Hannan who discovered gold here, boasts historic buildings and an array of shops, restaurants and pubs (including those famous Skimpy Bars).
Coolgardie, often referred to as the mother of the Western Australian Goldfields, offers an intriguing journey into the 19th century.
Once the third largest town in Western Australia during the gold rush, today it retains an atmosphere of its heady past, even if it’s much reduced in size.
The Goldfields Exhibition Museum, housed in the former Wardens Court House, tells the story of the gold rush era with fascinating exhibits. Walk down the wide streets to admire the beautifully restored historic buildings, providing a snapshot of life in a bygone era.
The Coolgardie Cemetery, with its ornate headstones, paints a poignant picture of the hardships faced by pioneers. Don’t miss Ben Prior’s Open Air Museum, where you’ll find an intriguing collection of mining memorabilia and artefacts.
Norseman is the gateway to the Nullarbor Plain, and it’s steeped in gold mining history. Its name originates from a horse, ‘Norseman’, who unearthed a gold nugget, sparking the establishment of the town.
The Norseman Heritage Centre provides a comprehensive overview of the area’s past, from Aboriginal culture to its mining history. Visitors can explore several walk trails in town, each offering a unique perspective of its heritage and natural beauty.
The Ngadju Dancers’ walking tour is an insightful way to understand the local Aboriginal culture and history. The unique Tin Camels, constructed from 44-gallon drums, are a quirky tribute to the camels that once transported goods in the region. Be sure to visit the Beacon Hill Lookout, providing panoramic views of the town and the vast, flat plains of the Nullarbor.
If you’re crossing the Nullarbor Plain east towards Adelaide, then you’ll want to stop here to pick up your Nullarbor Links Score Card. This gives you access to the world’s longest gold course, with a hole in Norseman to kick things off!
Read more: Norseman: The Decline of a Gold Rush Town
Esperance, located on the shores of the Southern Ocean, is a destination of striking coastal beauty that makes a real change from the deserts of Kalgoorlie further north.
It boasts some of the country’s most spectacular coastlines, renowned for its white sands and crystal-clear waters. Beaches such as Lucky Bay and Twilight Cove offer stunning, often uncrowded, landscapes for visitors to explore, and famous beach-loving kangaroos, too!
One of the unique attractions in the area is the Pink Lake, named for its distinctive rosy hue. This natural phenomenon is due to specific algae and is a sight to behold, even though its colour intensity can vary.
The area is home to Cape Le Grand National Park, a real Aussie paradise for nature lovers. From rugged peaks and sweeping heathlands to untouched beaches, this really is one of the best destinations in WA. Lucky Bay, a part of this park, is particularly famous for its friendly kangaroos, which are always seen lazing on the beach.
Another way to appreciate the scenic beauty of Esperance is by taking the Great Ocean Drive, a 40-kilometre loop that provides panoramic views of the area’s best beaches, coves, and wind farms.
To top it all, you can even hop between islands in the Recherche Archipelago, also known as the Bay of Isles. This group of over 100 islands and 1,500 islets offers excellent snorkelling and diving opportunities.
Read more: Things to do in Esperance
The Great Southern
The Great Southern region offers coastal beauty and towering forests. Known for its diverse landscapes, it’s home to attractions like the ancient karri trees of Walpole and the rugged coastal cliffs of Albany.
The region’s Mediterranean climate has fostered a thriving wine industry, particularly around Mount Barker and Denmark. The Great Southern also harbours significant indigenous history and offers opportunities for whale-watching during migration seasons.
Albany, the oldest British colonial settlement in Western Australia, is an engaging mix of history and spectacular scenery. The city offers a poignant glimpse into Australia’s past at the National Anzac Centre, which honours the ANZAC legend and presents the experiences of those who served in World War I, and later conflicts.
Albany’s natural beauty is undeniable – the rugged coastline of Torndirrup National Park features dramatic formations like the Gap and the Natural Bridge. Whale watching is a significant attraction, with Southern Right and Humpback whales often spotted from shore or on boat tours.
The Albany Wind Farm is another must-see, both for its contribution to sustainable energy and the breathtaking ocean views it offers. For a peaceful escape, visit the beautiful Lake Seppings, a haven for bird watchers, or make the tough hike to Bald Head.
16. The Stirling Range (and Bluff Knoll)
The Stirling Range is home to over 1500 species of flora, including numerous orchids and wildflowers, making this one of Western Australia’s most biodiverse regions.
The range’s rugged peaks offer challenging hikes, the most notable being Bluff Knoll, the highest peak in the southwest of Western Australia, where it might even snow in the winter. Ascending the peak rewards hikers with panoramic views of the surrounding landscapes, after a long slog from the car park far below.
Bird watchers will be delighted here as the park houses more than 100 bird species. The Stirling Range also has a rich cultural significance, with Aboriginal people considering it a sacred place. Camping under its starry skies offers a unique chance to connect with nature. Whether you’re a nature lover, hiking enthusiast, or wildlife photographer, the Stirling Range offers an extraordinary Western Australian experience.
Read more: The Bluff Knoll Hike in Western Australia
17. The Porongurups
The Porongurups are an ancient and unusually rocky range, formed over a billion years ago, and home to the Granite Skywalk, a suspended walkway atop Castle Rock that offers stunning panoramic views of the landscape.
The climb up to the Skywalk is challenging but incredibly rewarding, but The Porongurups are also renowned for their rich birdlife, making it a haven for bird watchers.
The region is not only about natural allure; it also boasts excellent vineyards, known for producing high-quality wines due to the area’s unique climatic conditions.
Walpole, surrounded by the Walpole-Nornalup National Park, offers access to ancient forests, serene inlets and rugged coastlines. One of the main attractions is the Valley of the Giants Tree Top Walk, where visitors can walk among towering tingle trees, some over 400 years old.
At ground level, the Ancient Empire walk allows close encounters with these ancient giants. The region is also a part of the internationally recognised Bibbulmun Track, a world-class long-distance walking trail.
For water enthusiasts, the tranquil Walpole and Nornalup Inlets Marine Park are perfect for fishing, boating, and birdwatching.
No, not the country, but a small community located on the banks of the Denmark River just west of Albany. Its coastal location offers pristine, often secluded, beaches like Greens Pool and Elephant Rocks, which are known for their calm turquoise waters and unique rock formations.
Inland, towering karri forests are home to numerous walking trails, including a portion of the renowned Bibbulmun Track, providing opportunities to soak in the serenity of the natural surroundings.
Denmark is also part of the Great Southern Wine Region, with wineries dotted around the town offering local wines for tasting. Moreover, the Valley of the Giants Treetop Walk in nearby Walpole, a short drive from the town, allows you to stroll among towering ancient karri trees.
Read more: Things to Do in Denmark, WA
The South West
The South West of Western Australia (that’s a mouth full!) offers a mix of coastal landscapes, towering karri forests and wine; lots of wine.
Margaret River is home to world-class vineyards producing exceptional wines, as well as surfing opportunities on its rugged coastline. The towering karri trees of Pemberton are part of ancient forests that beckon exploration.
The region is rich in biodiversity, including unique flora and fauna, such as wildflowers that bloom in spring. With its blend of outdoor adventures, gourmet experiences, and natural beauty, the South West region is a beloved destination for Western Australians, and tourists too.
Pemberton is enveloped by magnificent karri forests, which offer a picturesque backdrop for a range of outdoor activities. The climbing of the Gloucester Tree, a 53-metre-tall karri tree repurposed as a fire lookout, is a thrilling experience for adventurous visitors.
The nearby Warren National Park offers stunning forest views, with numerous walking trails leading past serene rivers and cascading waterfalls. Pemberton is also surrounded by wineries that form part of the Southern Forests Wine Region, offering exquisite cool-climate wines.
The quaint town itself houses historic timber mill buildings and a charming arts and craft scene. Pemberton’s verdant beauty and calming atmosphere make it a unique escape in Western Australia.
21. Margaret River
Margaret River is best known for its wineries and food scene. Over 120 wineries are scattered throughout the region, producing internationally acclaimed wines, particularly Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay.
Food enthusiasts will appreciate the local produce, gourmet foods, and the famed Margaret River Farmers Market. The nearby coastline is home to world-class surf breaks, pristine beaches, and the striking formations of Mammoth Cave and Lake Cave.
The Cape to Cape Track, offering views of the Indian Ocean, invites walkers to explore the area’s flora, fauna, and scenic beauty. If that wasn’t enough, the vibrant arts scene, with several galleries showcasing local artists, enhances the town’s cultural allure.
Augusta is the gateway to the Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse, where the Indian and Southern Oceans meet spectacularly. Visitors can tour the lighthouse for panoramic ocean views and a glimpse into maritime history.
The region’s waters are a haven for marine life, with whale watching tours offering an opportunity to spot Southern Right and Humpback whales from June to August. Inland, the Jewel Cave, adorned with stunning stalactite formations, provides a unique subterranean experience.
Augusta’s location on the Blackwood River also makes it a prime spot for kayaking, sailing, and fishing. For nature lovers, the Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park hosts a diverse range of flora and fauna and forms a part of the internationally recognised biodiversity hotspot.
Overlooking Geographe Bay in Western Australia, Busselton’s most iconic landmark is the Busselton Jetty, the longest timber-piled jetty in the southern hemisphere.
A leisurely walk or a ride on the jetty train leads to the Underwater Observatory, where the colourful marine life of the Indian Ocean can be observed in its natural habitat. Busselton’s calm, sheltered beaches are perfect for swimming and family picnics.
The town is also close to the renowned Margaret River wine region, allowing visitors to enjoy local wine and gourmet food. Natural beauty surrounds Busselton, with the Tuart Forest National Park nearby, home to the world’s largest remaining tuart trees. For history enthusiasts, the Busselton Museum offers intriguing insights into the town’s past.
Bunbury, the third-largest city in Western Australia, offers a unique mix of urban living and natural attractions. It’s particularly well-known for its impressive wildlife encounters. Dolphin Discovery Centre in Koombana Bay allows visitors to interact with wild bottlenose dolphins, either from the beach or while swimming in the bay.
For more water-based adventures, the calm waters of Back Beach and Koombana Bay are ideal for swimming and water sports. Bunbury’s urban centre is culturally rich, featuring public street artworks and the Bunbury Regional Art Gallery, which hosts contemporary and Aboriginal art exhibitions.
History buffs will appreciate the historic buildings and Bunbury Museum and Heritage Centre. Inland, the stunning Leschenault Peninsula and estuary offer excellent spots for birdwatching, while the Wellington National Park is great for hiking.
The Mid West is an expansive area north of the Wheatbelt that’s home to incredible natural attractions like the Kalbarri National Park and quirky destinations like the Hutt River (which once declared independence from Australia!).
The historic town of Geraldton serves as a cultural hub, boasting museums, art galleries, and maritime history. Diverse and rich in resources, the Mid West embodies the essence of Western Australia’s inland and coastal charm.
Located on the Batavia Coast of Western Australia, Geraldton is a coastal city blending history with a lively arts scene and exciting outdoor adventures.
The city is home to beautiful beaches, excellent for surfing, fishing, or simply relaxing under the WA sun. Geraldton is also the jumping-off point to the lesser-visited Abrolhos Islands, a chain of 122 islands offering excellent snorkelling and diving opportunities in its crystal-clear waters.
In the city, the HMAS Sydney II Memorial pays poignant tribute to the lives lost in the World War II naval battle. The city’s cultural offerings include the Geraldton Regional Art Gallery and the Yamaji Art Centre, showcasing Indigenous art.
Read more: Things to Do in Geraldton, Western Australia
Kalbarri, located on the Coral Coast in Western Australia, is a coastal town surrounded by remarkable natural beauty. The town is bordered by the Kalbarri National Park, renowned for its stunning river gorges and dramatic coastal cliffs.
The park’s newest attraction, the Skywalk, offers panoramic views of the Murchison River gorges from a stunning cantilevered platform. Other attractions in the park include the iconic Nature’s Window, a wind-eroded opening in the layered sandstone that frames the river view below.
For water sports enthusiasts, the Murchison River mouth provides perfect conditions for swimming, fishing, and boating. I found the town itself has a laid-back charm, with local seafood eateries and boutique shops.
27. The Hutt River
The Hutt River is best known for the quirky, self-proclaimed micro-nation, the Principality of Hutt River. Although it returned to Australian governance in 2020, it remains a symbol of eccentricity and independent spirit, attracting visitors with its unique history.
Besides its unusual political past, the Hutt River area also offers natural sights. The river itself, which gave the principality its name, carves a pathway through rolling farmland and wildflower-strewn landscapes.
Nearby, Hutt Lagoon showcases a remarkable pink hue due to its unique algae, providing fantastic photo opportunities, particularly at sunset. The surrounding region is home to a rich variety of wildlife, making it a great location for bird watching and nature walks.
The Gascoyne region in the northwest of WA is known for its contrasting landscapes, from the arid desert interior to the coastal areas. The region is home to the famous Ningaloo Reef, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, where visitors can snorkel with whale sharks and explore vibrant coral reefs.
The Carnarvon Basin produces much of Western Australia’s fruit and vegetables, thanks to the Gascoyne River. The region’s rich indigenous culture and history are showcased through art and guided tours. From the adventurous exploration of the Kennedy Range National Park to relaxed coastal towns, Gascoyne offers a remarkable blend of natural sights and cultural experiences.
28. Hamelin Pool
Hamelin Pool is an intriguing and historically significant destination next to the Shark Bay World Heritage site. The highlight is the Hamelin Pool Stromatolites, one of the most diverse and abundant collections of these unique structures in the world.
These formations, often referred to as ‘living fossils’, are built by microscopic organisms and provide a fascinating glimpse into the Earth’s ecological past, stretching back billions of years. A boardwalk allows visitors to observe these ancient life forms without disturbing them.
Nearby, the Hamelin Pool Telegraph Station, a historical museum, offers insights into the region’s communication history. The surrounding Shark Bay area is abundant with wildlife, including dugongs, dolphins, sharks (of course) and a variety of bird species.
29. Shark Bay
Shark Bay, a UNESCO World Heritage site located on the westernmost point of Australia, is a marvel of biological diversity and geological phenomena.
The region is known for its stunning landscapes, featuring vast seagrass beds, crystal-clear waters, striking coastal cliffs and reddish sand dunes. Home to the world’s most diverse seagrass meadows, Shark Bay supports a thriving marine ecosystem including dolphins, dugongs, sharks and turtles.
Monkey Mia, within Shark Bay, is famous for its friendly wild bottlenose dolphins that regularly come to shore. At Shell Beach, millions of tiny white shells stretch as far as the eye can see, creating a unique coastal spectacle. Hamelin Pool is another highlight, housing one of the world’s best-known colonies of stromatolites, ancient structures built by microorganisms.
You’ll find Carnarvon where the desert meets the sea on Western Australia’s Coral Coast. The small town (population 5000) is surrounded by plantations growing a bounty of tropical fruits, vegetables, and the region’s famed bananas, which can be tasted at local farmers’ markets and eateries.
Carnarvon’s fascinating history can be found in the Carnarvon Space and Technology Museum, which highlights the town’s surprising role in the global space race.
For outdoor enthusiasts, the rugged Kennedy Range National Park offers dramatic cliffs and deep canyons perfect for hiking and camping, while the nearby Coral Bay and Ningaloo Reef present excellent snorkelling and marine life encounters. The tranquil fascine waterway and Carnarvon’s historic One Mile Jetty are perfect spots for fishing.
31. The Kennedy Range
The Kennedy Range National Park, located in the Gascoyne region of Western Australia, is a rugged expanse of outback wilderness. The park’s centrepiece is the Kennedy Range plateau, a 75-kilometre-long sandstone escarpment rising dramatically from the flat plains.
The range is dissected by deep canyons and gorges, offering awe-inspiring vistas of rugged cliffs and unique rock formations. Honeycomb Gorge and Temple Gorge are among the most striking, providing superb trails for hiking and opportunities for photography.
The park’s flora and fauna are equally impressive, with wildflowers carpeting the ground in vibrant hues during the cooler months and a variety of bird species and native animals like kangaroos inhabiting the area. At night, the clear outback sky presents a magnificent display of stars, adding to the area’s mystical allure.
32. Mount Augustus
Mount Augustus, located deep in the Outback of Western Australia, is an impressive natural spectacle that’s a challenge to reach. Known as Burringurrah to the local Wadjari Aboriginal people, it is the world’s largest monolith and approximately twice the size of Uluru.
This massive inselberg dominates the surrounding alluvial plain and exhibits a variety of colours that change with the time of day and the seasons. Around its base, a network of walking trails leads visitors through diverse environments, from arid plains to groves of ancient white-barked river gums.
Petroglyphs, or rock carvings, created by Aboriginal people can be found in several locations, testifying to a human history extending back thousands of years. The summit hike offers a challenging but rewarding climb, with sweeping views of the surrounding landscape.
An abundance of wildlife, including kangaroos and emus, adds to the allure of this remarkable destination. Visiting Mount Augustus provides a truly unique outback experience and a connection with Australia’s deep geological and cultural history, but it’s a good two-day drive over roads from Carnarvon.
33. Coral Bay
Coral Bay, a small town on the coast north of Carnarvon, is a haven for marine life enthusiasts. The town’s main draw is its direct access to the Ningaloo Reef, one of the world’s largest fringing reefs, which lies just metres away from the white sandy beach.
This closeness allows visitors to simply swim out from the shore to experience the reef’s diverse marine life, including hundreds of species of tropical fish, coral formations, and even manta rays and turtles. For a more immersive experience, diving and snorkelling tours are available, some offering the chance to swim with the gentle whale sharks that frequent these waters between March and July.
Exmouth, a small town on the tip of Western Australia’s North West Cape, is one of the best places to visit if you want to see the Ningaloo Reef, the world’s largest fringing reef.
This makes Exmouth a prime location for extraordinary marine encounters, including snorkelling amongst the reef’s corals and fish species, swimming with whale sharks, or spotting humpback whales on their annual migration.
The Cape Range National Park, adjacent to the town, boasts rugged limestone ranges, deep canyons, and pristine beaches. The park’s Yardie Creek Gorge, with its resident rock wallabies and birdlife, can be explored on foot or by boat tour.
In the town itself, the Vlamingh Head Lighthouse offers panoramic views of the cape and the chance to spot migrating whales. With its unparalleled access to marine and terrestrial wilderness, Exmouth presents an extraordinary destination for lovers of nature and adventure in Western Australia.
Read more: Things to Do in Exmouth WA
The Pilbara is home to vast, red landscapes, rich mineral resources and ancient indigenous heritage. Home to some of the world’s largest iron ore mines, it’s a vital part of Australia’s economy.
Alongside its industrial significance, the Pilbara offers remote natural beauty, including the striking gorges of Karijini National Park and the remarkable coastal area of the Dampier Archipelago.
The region also holds deep indigenous history, evident in the ancient rock art found in places like Burrup Peninsula. Whether exploring its natural wonders or understanding its industrial importance, the Pilbara presents a multifaceted and unforgettable experience.
Karratha, on the Pilbara’s northwest coast, is a compelling mix of ancient landscapes and modern infrastructure. The town is a gateway to the Millstream-Chichester National Park, known for its oasis-like waterholes, ancient rock formations and desert wildlife.
Close by, the Burrup Peninsula is a significant cultural site, home to one of the world’s largest collections of Indigenous rock art, some dating back over 30,000 years. Within Karratha itself, the Red Earth Arts Precinct is a cultural hub for the local community, featuring a theatre, library, and outdoor amphitheatre.
Karratha’s coastal location also means that boating, fishing, and other water-based activities are popular pastimes. The town’s modern amenities, including a variety of restaurants and shopping centres, make it a comfortable stopover on road trips north.
Read more: Karratha Western Australia Travel Guide
36. Port Hedland
Port Hedland is a dynamic town that blends industry and nature. As one of the world’s largest iron ore shipping ports, it plays a significant role in Australia’s mining economy.
Visitors can witness the impressive scale of the port operations with guided tours, providing insights into the town’s industrial backbone. Yet, beyond the dust and industry, Port Hedland also surprises with its rich natural environment.
Between July and October, the town becomes a vantage point for spotting humpback whales as they migrate along the coast. The nearby Eighty Mile Beach is a key nesting site for flatback turtles, and bird watchers can enjoy the area’s diverse birdlife, including migratory shorebirds.
The Spinifex Hill Studios, the town’s Aboriginal art centre, is a cultural highlight, showcasing the work of local Indigenous artists. In Port Hedland, the industrial and natural worlds coexist, creating a truly unique Western Australian experience.
37. Tom Price
Tom Price is an Outback mining town located next to Mount Nameless, in the semi-arid desert of the Pilbara.
Tom Price itself was established in the 1960s to accommodate workers of the nearby iron ore mine, one of the world’s largest open-cut iron ore mines. Visitors can gain a unique perspective on this industry through guided mine tours.
Just a short drive away, the awe-inspiring landscapes of Karijini National Park await, with its astounding gorges, waterfalls and swimming holes. In the town, a well-equipped caravan park and local pubs cater to travellers. Whether you’re drawn by the call of nature or the allure of industry, Tom Price offers a distinctive Pilbara experience.
38. Karijini National Park
Karijini National Park offers an exceptional exploration of the state’s rich natural and cultural heritage. The park is known for its spectacular landscapes of rugged escarpments, plunging gorges, and serene waterholes.
Walking trails guide visitors through narrow chasms to hidden pools, including Hancock Gorge’s emerald green ‘Kermits Pool’, and Fortescue Falls in Dales Gorge, the park’s only permanent waterfall.
For those seeking a touch of luxury, Karijini Eco Retreat (I worked here for three months during my tour of Western Australia!) offers glamping options and a restaurant serving Australian cuisine (including crocodile and kangaroo).
Equally important is the park’s cultural heritage; the area is the traditional land of the Banyjima, Kurrama and Innawonga Aboriginal people, who have a deep spiritual connection to the land. Their stories, along with geological displays, are showcased at the Karijini Visitor Centre.
39. Wittenoom Gorge
Wittenoom, located to the north of Karijini National Park, has a complex and tragic history. Once a bustling mining town, it is now largely abandoned due to the health risks posed by the blue asbestos mined there from the 1930s to 1960s.
The health impacts of asbestos exposure were not widely known during Wittenoom’s peak, and many former residents and workers developed severe health problems, including mesothelioma. In the years following the mine’s closure, the town was gradually depopulated and its status as a town was officially removed in 2007.
Today, the government actively discourages visitation due to the lingering presence of asbestos fibres, but the dramatic gorge and rugged landscapes that surround Wittenoom hold a stark beauty.
They also serve as a poignant reminder of the human and environmental cost of asbestos mining. Wittenoom’s story is a critical chapter in the broader narrative of Western Australia’s mining history.
40. Marble Bar
Marble Bar, known as the hottest town in Australia for its soaring summer temperatures, is located in the dry Pilbara region of Western Australia.
Its unusual name is derived from a nearby deposit of jasper, initially mistaken for marble, which forms a ‘bar’ across the Coongan River. This formation is a significant local landmark and an impressive sight with its swirling patterns of colour.
Despite the challenging climate, Marble Bar is a town with Outback spirit. The Iron Clad Hotel, one of Australia’s most iconic outback pubs, serves as a local social hub. The town’s history, particularly the late 19th-century gold rush, is preserved in the Comet Gold Mine and Tourist Centre, where visitors can tour a historic open-cut mine.
Nearby, the striking landscapes of the Pilbara, with its dramatic gorges and waterholes, offer opportunities for exploration and photography. Marble Bar provides a unique experience, offering a peek into life in one of Australia’s most extreme environments.
Newman, located in the semi-arid deserts to the southwest of Karijini National Park, offers a window into the country’s iron ore industry and the Pilbara’s ancient cultural heritage.
The town itself was established in the 1960s by the Mount Newman Mining Company and is named after the nearby Mount Newman. One of Newman’s key attractions is the tour of Mount Whaleback Mine, the biggest open-cut iron ore mine in the world, offering visitors a unique perspective on the scale and operation of this industry.
The town is also a gateway to the stunning desert landscapes of the Karijini and Karlamilyi National Parks. Newman’s local community is invested in preserving and promoting Indigenous culture and art, with the Martumili Artists’ Cooperative a significant cultural hub.
For such a remote location, Newman offers a surprising array of amenities, including restaurants, sporting facilities, and shopping centres. Newman provides a fascinating blend of industry, ancient culture, and rugged natural beauty.
42. Karlamilyi National Park
Karlamilyi National Park is Western Australia’s largest and most remote national park. Its expansive territory encompasses a diverse range of landscapes, from desert sand dunes and vast plains to rugged ranges and salt pans.
The park is home to an abundance of wildlife, including red kangaroos, bilbies, and numerous bird species, offering ample opportunities for wildlife spotting. Karlamilyi is also rich in Aboriginal cultural heritage, being home to the Martu people, who have a deep spiritual connection to this land.
While there are no formal visitor facilities in the park, its untouched wilderness offers a true outback adventure for self-sufficient travellers. Notably, the park was the site of the historic 1997 native title determination in favour of the Martu people, adding an important layer of historical significance.
The Kimberley region is one of the most remote and unspoiled places on Earth. Characterised by its dramatic landscapes, deep gorges and cascading waterfalls, its coastline features stunning islands and coral reefs.
The region’s rich indigenous culture can be explored through ancient rock art sites and guided tours by local Aboriginal guides, while Broome is one of the most exciting towns in Western Australia.
The famous Bungle Bungle Range in Purnululu National Park, with its beehive-shaped domes, is a must-see. The Kimberley’s wild beauty and cultural depth make it a destination for those seeking adventure and connection with ancient landscapes.
Broome, home to the famous Matso Brewery (try the mango beer!) is a town steeped in history and multicultural influences. One of the town’s iconic landmarks is the 22-kilometre Cable Beach, renowned for its pristine white sand, camels and spectacular sunsets (watch out for crocodiles though).
The town’s pearling heritage can be explored at Pearl Luggers Museum or through a tour of a working pearl farm. The natural phenomenon known as the Staircase to the Moon, visible between March and October, transforms the landscape into an ethereal scene as the full moon rises over the exposed tidal flats of Roebuck Bay.
In the town centre, visitors can enjoy multicultural cuisine, local art galleries, the Broome Courthouse Market, the oldest outdoor cinema in the world and countless pubs!
Kununurra, located in the far north-eastern corner of Western Australia, serves as a gateway to some of Australia’s most remote natural attractions.
This tropical town is surrounded by fertile lands fed by the waters of Lake Kununurra and the Ord River, making the region a significant agricultural hub. Visitors can tour local farms to see the cultivation of unique crops like sandalwood and Ord River sweetcorn.
Just outside the town, the Mirima National Park, often referred to as a mini Bungle Bungle, impresses with its stunning rock formations and ancient Indigenous rock art. The nearby Lake Argyle, Australia’s largest man-made reservoir, offers opportunities for freshwater swimming, fishing and sunset cruises.
Kununurra serves as a base for visiting the World Heritage-listed Purnululu National Park and its extraordinary Bungle Bungle Range, making this one of the best places to visit in Western Australia.
45. Purnululu National Park
Purnululu National Park, located in the Kimberley region of Western Australia, is a UNESCO World Heritage site renowned for its awe-inspiring geological formations.
The park’s standout feature is the Bungle Bungle Range, a series of striking sandstone domes striped with alternating bands of orange and grey. These formations, shaped by erosion over millions of years, are a testament to the incredible forces of nature.
Visitors can traverse hiking trails that lead through narrow, winding gorges to hidden waterholes, or embark on a helicopter ride for a stunning aerial view of the domes.
The park is also rich in Indigenous culture; local Aboriginal people have lived in the area for over 20,000 years, and their rock art and stories add a profound layer of significance to the landscape.
Derby is known for having the highest tides in Australia, and this tidal phenomenon significantly influences the town’s lifestyle and natural features.
The town’s Wharfinger’s House Museum provides insight into Derby’s pioneering and pearling history, while the Norval Gallery showcases Indigenous artwork from the region.
Just outside town, the Boab Prison Tree, a large hollow boab tree, is a significant historical site due to its past use as a lockup by police in the 1890s. Derby serves as the launchpad for the iconic Gibb River Road, a 660-kilometre outback track through the rugged Kimberley landscape.
The nearby Horizontal Waterfalls, where seawater creates horizontal falls on the tides, is an unusual natural wonder accessible by seaplane or boat from Derby.
The best time to visit Western Australia
The best time to visit Western Australia depends on the regions you plan to explore, as this vast state has diverse climates.
If your itinerary includes Perth and the southwest region, spring (September to November) is ideal as you can enjoy the wildflower season, with the landscape coming alive with colour. Autumn (March to May) is also pleasant, offering mild, sunny days and cooler nights.
For a trip to the northern regions like Broome and the Kimberley, consider visiting during the dry season (May to October). The weather during this period is warm and you can avoid the heavy rains and high humidity of the wet season. However, the wet season also brings with it the natural spectacle of thunderstorms and gushing waterfalls, although it can be difficult and sometimes dangerous to travel this time of year.
If you plan to venture into the outback or the Goldfields, avoid the peak of summer (December to February) as temperatures can soar to uncomfortable levels. The cooler months of winter and spring are preferable for these regions.
How to travel around Western Australia
Travelling around Western Australia, which spans over 2.5 million square kilometres, can be a long but adventurous journey. The best method of travel depends on your personal preferences, the amount of time you have, and the specific regions you want to visit.
- Driving: If you enjoy freedom and flexibility, driving is an excellent way to explore Western Australia at your own pace. Both the coastal routes and the inland routes offer breathtaking views and unique attractions. Car rentals are available, and there are plenty of campsites if you prefer to rent a campervan. Remember that distances can be vast, so always ensure your vehicle is in good condition and carry plenty of water, especially in remote areas.
- Guided Tours: There are many guided tour companies that offer trips to various parts of Western Australia, including companies like Intrepid Travel. These tours can be a great way to learn about the area, as they often provide knowledgeable guides. They can also be a stress-free way to travel as transportation, accommodation, and often some meals are taken care of.
- Public Transport: In urban areas like Perth, public transportation, including buses, trains, and ferries, are efficient and reliable. Outside of Perth, it’s difficult to travel by public transport, as it’s almost non-existent!
- Flying: For those short on time, flying can be a practical way to reach distant towns like Broome or Esperance. Several regional airlines operate flights from Perth to various parts of Western Australia.
- Cycling and Walking: In certain areas, particularly around Perth and the southwest, cycling and walking are great ways to take in the local scenery.
Always remember, Western Australia’s remote regions require careful planning to ensure safety, and it’s crucial to respect Aboriginal lands and communities you may encounter in your travels.
Map of the best places to visit in Western Australia
Here’s a map of the best places to visit in Western Australia:
FAQ on the best places to visit in Western Australia
Here are Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the best places to visit in Western Australia:
Q1: What are some must-visit cities in Western Australia?
A1: Perth, the capital city, is renowned for its vibrant arts scene, beaches and culinary delights. Fremantle is famous for its maritime history, arts and cafe culture. Broome, known for its pearl industry, offers stunning sunsets and unique landscapes like Cable Beach.
Q2: Can I visit the famous Margaret River region?
A2: Absolutely! The Margaret River region is famous for its wine production, gourmet food, and stunning coastal scenery. It’s a great place for wine tasting, surfing, and exploring beautiful caves.
Q3: What are some notable natural landmarks?
A3: Some of Western Australia’s iconic natural landmarks include:
- The Pinnacles: Mysterious limestone formations in Nambung National Park.
- Karijini National Park: Offers breathtaking gorges and hiking experiences.
- Ningaloo Reef: A World Heritage-listed site, perfect for snorkeling and diving.
- Monkey Mia: Famous for its wild dolphin interactions.
Q4: Is Western Australia suitable for beach lovers?
A4: Absolutely! Western Australia is home to some of the world’s most beautiful beaches, such as Lucky Bay, Cottesloe Beach, Scarborough Beach and Turquoise Bay.
Q5: What about exploring indigenous culture?
A5: Western Australia offers fascinating indigenous experiences. You can visit places like the Kimberley region to explore ancient rock art or participate in guided cultural tours led by local Aboriginal guides.
Q6: Can I find unique wildlife in Western Australia?
A6: Yes, Western Australia is home to unique wildlife like quokkas on Rottnest Island, whale sharks in Ningaloo Reef and dolphins in Monkey Mia.
Q7: What are some top outdoor adventure activities?
A7: From surfing in Margaret River to hiking in the Bungle Bungle Range or diving with whale sharks in Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia offers endless outdoor adventures.
Q8: Is there something unique to Western Australia’s history I can explore?
A8: Fremantle Prison, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, offers insight into Australia’s convict history. The Goldfields region offers a glimpse into the gold rush era.
Q9: When is the best time to visit Western Australia?
A9: Western Australia is vast, so the best time to visit can vary by region. Generally, the months from September to April are ideal for coastal areas, while May to October is perfect for the north, including the Kimberley region.
Q10: Are there any safety concerns while travelling in Western Australia?
A10: While Western Australia is generally safe for travellers, be mindful of natural risks such as strong currents at beaches, wildlife and the remote nature of some areas. Adequate planning, adhering to local guidance, and understanding the unique conditions of specific locations can enhance your safety.