It’s often overlooked by backpackers in favour of Queensland or New South Wales, but I reckon that Western Australia is the cherry on Australia’s metaphorical sundae.
Its home to some of the world’s most acclaimed beaches, national parks and incredibly cool wildlife – think whale sharks, crocodiles and red kangaroos. Its buzzing capital, Perth, get more hours of sunshine than any other capital city in Australia. Convenient, then, that it’s nestled right on the coast, boasting gorgeous beaches to enjoy all that sunshine on.
Ten times the size of the UK, Western Australia claims the heady title of the largest state in the world. But its population stands at just over 2 million, which means a vast Outback just waiting to be explored.
It seems like Australia’s wild wild west ticks even the most discerning of backpacker’s boxes. So I’m slapping the state with a big High Five, and counting down five amazing experiences to be had there.
Five things you’ve just got to do in Western Australia
1. Monkey around with dolphins
Remember that dolphin you adopted when you were a kid? And it was so disappointing that you never actually got to meet the dolphin, and had to make do with a glossy picture and an update on his well-being a couple of times a year. Well, you need repress that childhood memory no more! Instead, head to Monkey Mia (deceptive name) and swim with dolphins! The bottlenose variety visit the beach three times a day to feed, and if you’re in the water at the time, you’ll get to have a swim with them. Amazing! Even better, these are wild dolphins, so the experience is totally free.
If that’s given you a taste for swimming with sea creatures, then don’t miss snorkelling with whale sharks at Ningaloo Reef. Being up close to the world’s largest fish is an experience like no other.
Get up close with with him at Monkey Mia
2. The Only Way Is North
If you want to experience the Aussie wilderness, then heading up to Broome for a four wheel drive safari of the Kimberley is the only way to go. Explore vast gorges, spot crocs, swim in waterholes, take a sunset cruise on Lake Argyle, and generally soak up rural Australia. Don’t miss the Bungle Bungles, famous for its striking sandstone domes which, amazingly, only the locals new existed until the 1980s. A chance to experience a secret side to Australia.
3. Get stranded on a desert island
Who said you had to go to Fiji for an island escape in the southern hemisphere? Western Australia’s very own Rottnest Island does the job quite nicely, thank you very much. A short ferry ride from Perth, Rottnest boasts over 80 secluded beaches and bays – not bad for somewhere that’s only 6.8 miles long.
Rottnest Island: bit of a paradise
4. Forget donkey rides…
…on Cable Beach up near Broome, it’s all about the camel rides. You may feel like you’re in the Middle East rather than Western Australia, but camels are also found in the Aussie Outback, don’tcha know. Hitch a camel ride along the beach at sunset for a perfect, if slightly surreal, end to the day. Don’t just come for the camels, though. Any decent western Australian will tell you that the west side is where it’s at when it comes to beaches. And, looking at Cable Beach, I think they may have a point.
Don't get at the hump at Cable Beach | Image by piesgardiner
5. Walk among the giants
Get a birds’ eye perspective of the Valley of the Giants on a treetop walk. A bridge will take you 125 meters above the ground for a stroll amongst the ancient trees that make up this forest. If you thought all trees looked the same, think again. This walk will change your perspective and provide a truly serene experience. You may want to stay amongst the trees forever, but, sadly, tree houses are not allowed.