A beginner’s guide to Western Australia

The biggest of Australia’s six states, Western Australia is home to everything that makes Oz great.

It boasts a cosmopolitan capital city, stunning coral reef, an adventurous outback and great surf. But being on the other side of the country from the iconic Sydney or bustling Melbourne, it has a smaller tourist crowd and everything is a lot cheaper. Some travellers argue that Western Australia is the ‘real’ Australia.

Ready to explore this goldmine of adventure and exploration? Here’s some key information to get you started.

Where to Go

Western Australia boasts a massive and diverse landscape, and we can’t possibly list everything (that’s a blog for another day!). But below we have rounded up five key places of interest that you should definitely consider.

Perth

The capital city of Western Australia and your first port of call if you’re flying in from international shores. It has everything you would expect from a large capital city, but still has a low-key atmosphere about it. Start your day slowly with a stroll through King’s Park – one of the largest inner city parks in the world (even NYC’s Central Park doesn’t beat it).  Then finish your day by hopping on the ferry to South Perth and watching the sunset over the spectacular skyline.

Margaret River

Australia is recognised internationally for its delicious wines and surfing waves. Margaret River is the perfect place for both. With 100 wineries it’s no surprise that it produces 15% of the country’s premium wines. Then along the coast you’ll find 40 surf sports, ranging from powerful reef breaks to fun beach waves.

Monkey Mia

Part of the Shark Bay World Heritage Site, this little bay is so lovely even dolphins like to swim into shore to check it out. Every day specially trained rangers are on hand to provide insight into the dolphins who have made this bay their home. The perfect chance to learn more about these playful creatures in their natural habitat.

Ningaloo Reef

The Great Barrier Reef might receive most of the attention, but the Ningaloo Reef is the world’s largest fringing coral reef. If you’re wondering what fringing coral means – it’s a coral reef that is only moments from the shore. Yep, you don’t need a boat trip to see this reef; a few strokes and you’ll be snorkelling over it.

The North West

The places we’ve mentioned already are tucked into the South West corner of Australia. But if you want adventure we recommend heading north to Broom and Kimberley. Here you’ll experience the Australian outback. Wander through the ancient gorges of Karijini National Park, witness Australia’s highest waterfall (King George Waterfalls) and admire some of the oldest aboriginal artworks on earth.

How to Get There

Perth is the transport hub for the region. Here you’ll be able to catch an international flight or a plane to another beautiful area of Australia. Like any other trip Down Under, it is the perfect opportunity to stop over somewhere exotic on the way. Abu Dhabi and Dubai are both popular options.

Getting around

Western Australia is vast and if you want to explore corner to corner, we’d recommend a hire car. Word of warning though: fill up your tank as these roads are remote! Also remember to hire a 4×4 as the roads can get very rocky.

If however, you’re planning on staying in the populated Perth and South West region, you can get by on train and coach. There are plenty of hop on and hop off tickets available.

Weather and Climate

The weather is always diverse when we’re talking about somewhere the size of Western Australia. But as a general rule, the south is similar to the Mediterranean, the east is desert and north is tropical. If you’re planning to travel across the state, make sure you take a variety of clothing options (and take plenty of sunscreens).

Final tips and recommendations:

  • The currency here is Australian Dollars
  • Perth is cheaper than Sydney and Melbourne
  • The time zone is Western Standard Time (AWST) is GMT + 8:00.
  • The legal drinking age is 18
  • The school holidays work differently in Western Australia and the children have their long summer break during December and January.

Morag Lee

Morag is the resident blog writer at Barrhead Travel. Can usually be found exploring a cruise ship or on a city break.