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Western Australia: Australia’s Largest State

Western Australia’s landscape ranges from giant karri forests and meadows of wildflowers to ancient gorges and rock formations. The coastline has an abundance of beaches and some stunning offshore reefs.

Western Australia is huge; it’s bigger than the Congo and more than three and a half times the size of Texas. It’s also largely empty, with only 2.2 million people in its 2.5 million sq km (1 million sq miles) – almost 75% (1.6 million) of whom live in Perth. And Perth is the most remote large city on earth – with Adelaide 2,700 km (1,700 miles) away to the east. One advantage is that if you want a glorious golden beach to yourself, a spectacular gorge, or a carpet of wildflowers, then you’ve got a great chance here. Solitude, peace, and far horizons are freely available.

Western Australia is also a stunningly diverse place, with rugged interior deserts, endless, untrammelled white-sand beaches, a northern tropical wilderness, and a temperate forested south. The scenery here is magnificent; where you travel through the rugged gorges and rock formations of the north; the green pastures, vineyards, and tall-tree forests of the south; or the coastline’s vast, pristine beaches, you’ll be struck by how much space there is here. If the crowds and crush of big-city life aren’t your thing, this is the Australia you may never want to leave.

Western Australia is worth the trip for great wine regions, some of Australia’s best snorkelling and diving, historic towns, magnificent if scattered natural scenery, untouched wilderness, and a chance to really go “Outback”.

Perth and neighbouring Fremantle are cosmopolitan cities, yet both retain a languorously laid-back feel. The Southwest corner of the state, below Perth, is the prettiest part. Vineyards and pastures sit between stands of hardwood forest, the surf is world-class, and there are sparkling limestone caverns. The Margaret River region has some of Australia’s most acclaimed wines, and many top-notch eateries. Going north from Perth you reach the Outback. Red sand, scrubby trees, and Spinifex grass are all you’ll see for hundreds of miles. About 855km (534 miles) north of Perth, wild dolphins make daily visits to the shores of Monkey Mia. Even further north is Exmouth, entry point to one of Australia’s best-kept secrets, the 300km (187 miles) fringing Ningaloo coral reef, where you can swim with enormous whale sharks. The rugged northern portion of Western Australia is known as The Kimberley. It’s Australia’s last frontier, a vast area of cattle ranches, Aboriginal settlements, and the exotic coastal town of Broome.

Top Reasons to Visit Western Australia

THE GREAT OUTDOORS

From national parks to white sandy beaches, Western Australia is the epitome of the great outdoors in Australia.

If you love exploring the great outdoors you’ve come to the right place. Western Australia’s extensive coast and immense interior make it a perfect playground for outdoor enthusiasts, with countless tracks to follow, mountains to climb, waves to surf and reefs to explore.

Some of Australia’s finest beaches are in Western Australia. Hundreds of kilometres of virtually deserted sandy stretches and bays invite you to swim, surf, snorkel, or laze about. Western Australia also abounds with national parks which are scattered across the vast state and tell the story of Australia’s age-old landforms especially across the gorge-pocket of the Kimberley region.

Must-visit outdoor destinations:

  • Fitzgerald River National Park – wildflowers and whales
  • Karijini National Park – gorgeous gorges galore
  • Ningaloo Marine Park – superlative snorkelling and surfing
  • Shoalwater Islands Marine Park – wild dolphin wonderland
  • Windjana Gorge National Park – cruising through crocodile country
  • Kalbarri National Park – gorges and rock formations
  • The Pinnacles, Nambung National Park – moon-like landscape

FINE WINE TRAILS

Follow the beautiful wine trails from Perth to the south coast to enjoy free tastings of internationally renowned drops at the cellar doors.

Western Australia is a leading force when it comes to Australian wine production and, today, the state is recognised as a world-class producer of a wide variety of red and white wines. Margaret River is the poster girl of the West Australian wine industry and has some of Australia’s most acclaimed wines – Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon are the standout varieties. In addition, the South West wine region has wineries from well north of Bunbury to the south coast where both big- and small-name vineyards produce world-class vintages.

Western Australia’s wine growing regions:

  • Margaret River
  • Swan Valley
  • Peel & Geographe Regions
  • Great Southern
  • Pemberton & Manjimup

BEAUTIFUL WILDFLOWERS

Australia’s plants can be irresistibly fascinating, especially the carpets of wildflowers that cover the Western Australian landscape in spring.

When spring has sprung in southern Western Australia, wildflowers abound. From about August to about October the bush is ablaze with colour produced by the kangaroo paws, banksias and other native plants. It’s a great time to bushwalk sections of the Bibbulmun Track or to drive through inland national parks such as Stirling Range or Mt Lesueur near Cervantes. If you happen to be in the Perth area in spring, it’s well worth taking a wildflower tour.

Top wildflower spots:

  • Kings Park, Perth
  • Fitzgerald River National Park
  • Porongurup National Park
  • Stirling Range National Park
  • Mullewa
  • Dryanda Woodland
  • Kalbarri National Park

FABULOUS CUISINE

From ‘Mod Oz’ cuisine to a huge range of seafood delights, visitors to Western Australia will be spoilt for choice when it comes to dining out.

Western Australia has fantastic range of fresh produce and an eclectic mix of culinary influences that often merge to create a wonderful dining experience. Visitors will be surprised by the wide range of food available in restaurants, markets, delis and cafes – especially in Perth, Fremantle and Broome, as well as southern towns such as Margaret River and Albany. Perth’s modern food revolution has made way for a smorgasbord of small bars and edgy restaurants excelling at local, seasonal fare.

Best places for great dining experiences:

  • Perth
  • Broome
  • Fremantle
  • Albany
  • Margaret River

ABORIGINAL CULTURE

The remote areas of the Pilbara and Kimberley regions are the best places to experience Aboriginal culture in Western Australia.

With around 72,000 people, Western Australia has one of the largest Indigenous communities in Australia today, particularly around the Pilbara and Kimberley regions where in many towns they form the majority. Remarkable evidence of Australia’s ancient Indigenous culture can be found at the outdoor rock-art sites scattered across these Outback areas. The pearling town of Broome is the starting point for many adventure tours into the remote Outback, and visiting Aboriginal communities.

Best places to explore Aboriginal culture:

  • Kimberley region
  • Broome
  • Purnululu National Park (the Bungle Bungles)

History of Western Australia

It took more than 20 years after Dutch seafarer Dirk Hartog first landed on the coast of “New Holland” in 1616 in today’s Shark Bay before British colonists arrived to establish the Swan River Colony (now Perth) in 1829. Progress was slow for half a century, but the discovery of gold around Kalgoorlie and Coolgardie in 1890s brought people and wealth, especially to the fledgling city of Perth. Much later, in the 1970s, the discovery of massive mineral deposits throughout the state began an economic upswing that still continues today.

Western Australia Weather

You can visit Western Australia year-round, thought the weather will influence your activities and sightseeing. Perth enjoys more sunny days than any other Australian capital city. Summer (December-February) in Perth is hot and temperatures can rise to 40°C (100°F), but the locals love it and flock to the beaches. Be aware major school and university holidays occur at this time. The Perth International Arts Festival in February is an excellent reason to visit. Weather-wise, March, April, November and December are more pleasant, with sunny days and warm, comfortable temperatures. July and August are traditionally cool and wet.

Map of Western Australia

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