Western Australia is big, every way you look at it. It covers one third of Australia – a massive 2.5 million square kilometres – and it is big when it comes to natural beauty and diversity of attractions. In one part you can go four-wheel driving on rich red dirt in the Kimberley, while in another, you can ride some of the best surf in the country on idyllic beaches. You can visit Australia’s hottest town, Marble Bar, or stroll along a tree-top walk in the cool shade of towering trees.
About Western Australia
Images © Western Australia Tourism
Western Australia facts
In Perth, Australia’s sunniest capital city, there are many fantastic family experiences to enjoy. Visit Adventure World, Western Australia’s biggest water-based fun park. It incorporates lakes, gardens, an island castle and around 30 different rides and attractions for young and old. Spend a day at the amazing Whiteman Park, which is perhaps Australia’s best park with beautiful bushland, vintage tram and train rides, camel rides, sheep shearing, a motor museum and extensive cycleways or walking tracks.
The Kimberley is remote and rugged, and although it’s three times bigger than England, has a population of only 25,000. That’s a lot of space for the kids to play in! The must-dos are to head into Purnululu National Park where you will be awestruck by the Bungle Bungles, visit the Malcom Douglas Crocodile Park, go for a cruise on the Fitzroy River, watch a movie under the stars at Sun Pictures, or swim at magnificent Cable Beach and look for pearls!
Broome is a place so magical that countless holidaymakers return year after year to enjoy its great outdoors. Visiting iconic and much-loved Cable Beach is a must and the beach is patrolled to ensure safe family swimming during the day. The stunning sunsets over low tide and easy beach access for 4WDs make it an ideal family picnic dinner spot. Cap off your visit with a ride on the beach-going camel train and take a camel selfie. Fossil discoveries are being made in the area with dinosaur footprints even being found in Broome. Imagining the prehistoric battles is easy visiting sauropod and T-Rex-style predator footprints, perfectly preserved in the rock and visible at low tide.
Fremantle and beyond
Not far away in Fremantle the whole family will love the Western Australian Maritime Museum, which is home to Australia II, some of our earliest shipwrecks and a real submarine, with kids welcome on the guided tours. ‘Freo’, as the locals call it, is also the departure point for the ferries to Rottnest Island. It’s a sensational day trip, with the kids sure to love searching for the cute little quokkas. The thing to do here is hire a bike (there are all sorts – some with child seats) and ride around the island.
Perhaps WA’s best-known attraction is Monkey Mia, situated in the beautiful Shark Bay World Heritage Area. Visitors still come here from all over the world to hand-feed the local wild dolphins. That would certainly be something special for ‘Show and Tell’! Make sure you visit Shell Beach and show the kids the oldest and largest living fossils in the world, the Hamelin Bay stromatolites.
Further north is the Pilbara, an ancient land over 2.5 billion years old. There are two absolutely beautiful national parks that will knock your socks off: the Karijini National Park with its deep gorges, waterfalls and welcoming pools, and Millstream Chichester National Park, as well as more than 10,000 Aboriginal rock carvings along the Burrup Peninsula near Dampier.
Located a short boat ride off the coast of Onslow in the Pilbara region, Thevenard Island is part of the Mackerel Islands and an unsung treasure that was once a secret hotspot for hardcore recreational fisherman. The island is now beautifully established with new self-contained cabins dotted throughout the dunes. Setting off from Onslow across the glassy, warm water, there is action everywhere with whales, dolphins, giant billfish and tuna shattering the calm of the mirrored ocean surface. Buggies are waiting to deliver bags to the cabins and families need to bring little more than bathers to this wonderfully thought-out holiday spot. This eco paradise is completely powered by an emission-free solar farm and, if you’re lucky, you can find turtles nesting steps from the chalets and baby turtle hatchlings making their mad scramble for the ocean.
The Coral Coast
Western Australia’s Coral Coast has somehow managed to fly under the radar of major tourism over the years, but now the secret is out. Starting just under two hours north of Perth and running for 1,200 kilometres north to Exmouth, the Coral Coast is attracting more visitors than ever – from both home and abroad – due to its uninterrupted stretches of white sandy beaches, pristine private islands and coral reefs, carpets of Australian wildflowers and incredibly diverse marine life.
Perth’s own holiday island is Rottnest. Perfectly set up for bike-riding and exploring its 63 beaches and bays, ferries leave daily from Fremantle to take daytrippers and holidaymakers to the relaxed island named after its population of adorable native quokkas, which are Insta-famous. Accommodation varies from camping to luxury apartments with boating, fishing and snorkelling all popular activities. Segway tours are popular for those aged 12 and above and free guided walks take visitors into the natural quokka habitat, with joeys often seen peeking out of pouches from March to August.
A small town in the WA’s Southwest, but with a big reputation, Margaret River pulls large numbers of tourists from around the world to experience the best in WA fresh produce, some of the world’s greatest wines and surf that attracts world champions. Margaret River is a beautiful spot any time of year and the surrounding areas feature some of the state’s finest restaurants, farm experiences, forest walks, fishing and surfing.
Best time to go to Western Australia
Western Australia is divided into two regions with differing climates. In the southern half of the state there are four seasons – summer, autumn, winter and spring, while in the north there are just two – the ‘wet’ and the ‘dry’.
Perth boasts more sunny days per year than any other Australian capital city so sunshine is usually the standard order. The southern coastal areas of the South West region average a maximum of around 32 degrees in Summer, and 14 degrees in Winter.
The northern dry season (April-September) has long days of sunshine and blue skies and is the ideal time to visit the northern tropics. Temperatures range from 24°C overnight to around 34°C during the day.
The wet season (October-March) has temperatures in the mid to high 30s, high humidity and the occasional tropical storm.
Perth International Airport is the major tourist gateway into Western Australia and Australia’s fourth busiest airport. Facilities at Perth Airport include a restaurant, bar and coffee shop, gift shop, ATMs, car rental, children’s playground, baby change rooms and internet and post services.
Commercial airports in Western Australia are located in Perth, Albany, Esperance, Exmouth, Kalgoorlie, Geraldton, Karratha, Broome and Kununurra.
Taxis and buses
Perth Airport is about a half an hour’s drive from the centre of Perth. Taxis are available outside the domestic and international terminals 24 hours a day. An Airport-City shuttle operates with convenient pick up points located near accommodation throughout Perth. A shuttle bus also runs between the airport and Fremantle.
In Broome, the Broome Town Bus Service goes to all the city’s hot spots – plus kids ride free.
Driving is the best way to get around Western Australia if you want to visit the state’s more remote regions. However, there are usually long distances involved in getting between major towns and attractions so good preparation and a roadworthy, reliable vehicle are vital.
Because Western Australia is such a vast state, flying is usually the least time-consuming way of getting between major cities and also offers the chance to enjoy aerial views over the landscape.
Perth and Fremantle share a reliable and efficient public transport system and getting around is easy and convenient. The Perth metro area has a free shuttle service known as the Central Area Transit (CAT). There are also four train lines covering much of the Perth metropolitan area.
Ferry services traverse some sections of the Swan River, and regular high-speed ferries travel from Perth, Fremantle and Hillarys to Rottnest Island.
Food and drinks that kids will love
Western Australia is a gourmet paradise with a myriad of dining choices and locally-produced food and wine of the highest calibre. Sunny Perth is a wonderful location for al fresco dining and drinking, with more cafes per head than any other city in the world.
There are restaurants to suit all tastes and budgets, so head to the bustling centres of Perth city, Northbridge, Fremantle and Subiaco for a rich blend of cultural flavours. Local produce ranges from wonderful seafood like the famous WA rock lobsters to deliciously sweet tropical fruit from the state’s north.
The Swan Valley area and the South West are among Australia’s top wine-making regions. In between tasting some of the country’s best reds and whites you can sample locally made beers, breads, cheese and chocolates.
Where to shop
All major shopping centres offer the most on-trend, well-known brands that supply a mix of fashion and homewards. The most popular shopping centres include: Garden City, Booragoon; Westfield Carousel, Cannington; Centro Galleria, Morley; and Claremont Quater, Claremont.
Smaller department stores will have shops with unique items, perfect for buying souvenirs and keepsakes.
Tipping is not customary nor expected in Australia, though appreciated by service staff.
What to wear
Casual, lightweight clothing is fine for much of the year in Western Australia. Hats and sunscreen are absolutely essential for any season. Bring an umbrella. You’ll definitely need good raingear if you’re visiting the north during the wet season.
In the south of the state, a lightweight overcoat or jacket may be needed for winter. Remember that in the desert there may be blistering heat during the day, but night-time temperatures can drop to below zero. Warm, comfortable, layered clothing is a must when visiting outback Western Australia.
Electricity mainly operates on 240 volts at 50 Hz in Australia. If you have a device that does not accept these, you will need a voltage converter.
When driving on stretches of highway in outback Australia, be aware of the huge Road Trains which transport livestock and other goods to remote areas of Australia. The general advice to motorists if you see a road train coming is to pull off the road at a distance and wait for the road train to pass.
Depending on the wind direction, the cloud of dust will prevent vision and hide rocks and other debris bouncing along in the truck’s wake.
Road trains can be longer than 10 cars and take longer to stop completely if you cut in front of one, so allow plenty of room before you attempt to overtake one.
The Karijini National Park
The Karijini National Park is a definite place to go to in Perth. The park offers activities like swimming holes and bushwalking with an accompanying view for the whole family to enjoy – leaving your insta-followers breathless. With every aspect of the park as a backdrop and the long list of things to do while you’re there, makes it the perfect destination.
Take a step back in time with a visit to the Pinnacles of Nambung National Park, where incredible natural limestone structures harking back 25,000 to 30,000 years jut out of deep red earth. Formed from sea shell deposits and shaped by coastal winds, the Pinnacles are Western Australia’s most visited attraction with some standing as tall as five metres. Be sure to bring some bottled water and a hat with you on this aesthetic escapade as no drinking water is available inside the national park.