Jun 01, 2017
Brought to you by Tourism WA
The only thing better than a short stay in Perth is a long one, especially if it means time to explore more of Western Australia.
Blessed with world-class wine, surf and food – and did we mention the ancient forests, wondrous caves and isolated beaches? – the Margaret River region is a popular year-round destination that handsomely repays the three-hour drive from Perth. Stretching from Dunsborough and Yallingup in the north to Augusta in the south, it’s also vast so a car is a must.
The region enjoys an international reputation for its wines yet its dining is fast gaining ground. Seth James, the young head chef at Wills Domain, is one of the locals driving the revolution, as is Baxter Newstead at Knee Deep. Beer is another emerging regional strength. Take a break from the grape juice with a cleansing ale and pizza at Eagle Bay Brewing.
If you’re on a tighter schedule, book a day trip with Swan River Seaplanes. Flights leave in the morning during spring and summer and, after five hours in the region touring three wineries and enjoying guided tastings and lunch, will deliver you back to the city in time for pre-dinner drinks.
Red sand. Azure waters. Camels on Cable Beach – Broome has all that and more. Broadly speaking, two kinds of travellers make their way to Broome at the top end of Western Australia (and considering Broome is some 2300 kilometres north of Perth, the town is definitely somewhere that visitors would want to fly to rather than drive). The first are those who come here to do as little as possible; to lounge by the pool at Cable Beach Club Resort & Spa and soak up the region’s tropical sunshine.
At the other end of the spectrum are the adventure-seekers drawn to Broome, which is the gateway to the Kimberley, one of the last great untamed wildernesses in the world. They book tours that take them to the Horizontal Falls, where jet boats bounce like skipping stones over epic Jules Verne-style whirlpools; to Cape Leveque, where they can swim in the turquoise water and stay overnight at Kooljaman, a remote wilderness camp owned by the area’s Indigenous Bardi Jawi communities; and to ancient rock-art sites, open-air galleries that are home to some of the oldest art on the planet.
The Coral Coast region – you’ll need to fly from Perth to Exmouth – takes in various destinations but Ningaloo Reef is the biggest attraction. Within the marine park’s emerald and turquoise lagoons lives a diverse array of marine life, including rare species of turtle, manta rays and dugongs. Between March and July, Ningaloo Reef is also one of the best spots to swim alongside whale sharks – the largest fish in the ocean – and humpback whales. This is bucket-list stuff.
Sal Salis Ningaloo Reef, an ecologically minded bush camp among the dunes in Cape Range National Park, is an all-inclusive glamping experience that combines a supreme waterfront location with high-end trappings such as a chef and help-yourself bar.
Australia’s Golden Outback
The Golden Outback begins on the state’s southern coast and finishes at Mount Augustus in the north-west. Kalgoorlie, a name synonymous with the 1890s gold rush, chimes the loudest in terms of outback beauty and grit. It’s also the gateway to Inside Australia, the surreal outdoor gallery by British sculptor Antony Gormley.
A charter flight over pink Lake Hillier salt lake, on an island off the coast near Esperance, offers photo ops aplenty, as does whale watching in Fitzgerald River National Park (June to October). Hyden, a four-hour drive from Perth, is home to Wave Rock, a natural formation shaped like a breaking wave.
Sightseeing is thirsty work. At Esperance is Lucky Bay Brewing, which sources its barley direct from local farmers. Be sure to stop in and say cheers.
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