The raw beauty of Western Australia (WA) grips you even before the plane touches down at the fully automated Perth airport. As the soft wooly clouds give way to reveal the turquoise ocean and you stare mouth agape at a passing green island below, the appetite gets whetted for more, but one is not quite prepared for the totally immersive experience that awaits.
Baby blue skies, pink lakes, sparkling waters, soft white beaches, gorgeous sunsets, and glorious night skies across vast expansive deserts — the state has them all — and most within driving distances.
Add to that hundreds of species of mammals, flora and reptiles, coral reefs, limestone caves, the awe-inspiring Pinnacles deserts and Aboriginal history going back 50,000 years, and you have the recipe for an unforgettable time.
“WA is Australia’s largest state, boasting the nation’s longest coastline and sunniest capital city of Perth / Boorloo (Aboriginal name). It is a place to recharge your spirit — outdoors in the fresh air and wide-open spaces,” points out Carolyn Turnbull, Managing Director, Tourism WA.
For first-timers, soaking in Perth’s sunshine, relaxed mood and vibrant cultural atmosphere, tasting its lively culinary offers, and admiring the beautiful skyline while taking a late evening stroll at the popular King’s Park, one of the biggest inner-city parks in the world, can be an excellent starting point of the visit. But one is spoiled for choice while deciding on what to do next.
One good option is a visit to the iconic Rottnest Island, or Wadjemup as the Aboriginals named it, surrounded by the mighty Indian Ocean, just 19 km from the coast of Perth. Connected by ferry from the colourful city of Fremantle, the island boasts of 63 beaches, 20 bays and the super cute marsupial quokka, which may allow you a selfie if it is your lucky day.
The island provides a great outing opportunity with family and friends, with its 45 kms of walking trails, zero traffic, a wide variety of native wildlife, and options to swim, snorkel, hike, bike, roam on segways, or just sunbathe on the soft sand.
“Most importantly, the Rottnest Island Authority is committed to its reconciliation journey, with a Reconciliation Action Plan designed to increase the voice and participation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in the management of Wadjemup,” according to a Rottnest Island spokesperson.
Another must for visitors, is a drive down from Perth to the Margaret River, where rugged pristine beaches, gushing inland rivers, tall-timber forests, ancient underground caves and fine wine tasting await. The roughly three-and-a half hours scenic route, along the breathtaking coast and through beautiful forests and sprawling vinyards, is, of course, a treat in itself.
For those interested in environment conservation and wouldn’t mind a dolphin encounter, a mid-way stop at the Dolphin Discovery Centre in Bunbury, on Koombana Bay, is recommended. “We believe in conservation, education and research. Our new Interpretive Centre showcases themed fish and coral aquariums, a 360-degree Digital Dolphinarium, as well as interpretation of the Koombana Bay environment and its history – geological, indigenous, marine and contemporary,” said David Kerr, CEO, Dolphin Discovery Centre. One can take eco-cruises to watch dolphins in the wild or even swim with them!
Next, just a little distance away, hop onto the open electric train, that will take you on a 2 km ride into the ocean along the Busselton Jetty, where you can visit the Underwater Observatory to view one of Australia’s greatest artificial reefs–an exhilarating experience!
Back in Perth there are scores of other things to try such as taking a tour of the Swan valley and tasting the wide varieties of wine and fresh food from the region, eating hand crafted chocolates and flavoured nuts, including the famed macademia, at boutique factory shops and taking pictures with the cuddly Koala, kangaroos and scores of other marsupials at the Caversham Wildlife Park. The list of amazing things to do in Western Australia can go on and on. But sadly, holidays have to come to an end.
(The writer visited Western Australia at the invitation of Tourism Western Australia.)