Guest Author - Michelle R. Mangio
Western Australia is by far the largest state in Australia, covering nearly one-third of the contintent. It is also, sadly, the least visited by US Tourists visiting the country, though one might argue it has the most to offer tourists: the rugged Outback, forests, plentiful wildlife, coral reefs and stunning beaches.
Although it is a huge state, a combination of air, coach, road and rail links allows for easy access to all the major tourist attractions, cities, and destinations. Warm and temperate, the summer (Nov-March) is the best time to visit the south west. The winter (April-October) is best for visiting the northern tropical parts of the state.
Off the coast of Western Australia is the Ningaloo Reef ("Australia's Other Reef"), a world heritage site, famous for the largest collection of whale sharks in the world. Ningaloo Reef is great for scuba diving and is easily accessible by boat and on foot.
The capital of Western Australia is the city of Perth, located on the Swan River, just a short ways inland from the Indian Ocean. A historic city, it is also very tranquil, free from the congestion that plagues most cities. Kings Park, for example, is a popular picnic area, resplendent with walking trails and a botanic garden famous for its wildflowers. And just eight miles from the capital are numerous surfing beaches, most accessible by public transporation.
Just twelve miles south of Perth is the busy port town of Freemantle, a popular stop with tourists largely due to the ferry service offered to Rottnest Island. Rottnest was used as an Aboriginal Prison and an Internment Camp in both World Wars. But it is most famous for its current status, that of a wildlife preserve. It is one of the few places in the world where the quokka can be found. It is also very popular with divers (due to numerous reefs and shipwrecks), surfers, and recreational fishers. There are a few accommodations on the island as well, for those seeking a longer holiday.
Among some other popular destinations in Western Australia are Albany, a resort town 253 miles south east of Perth, reachable by daily flights, buses, and coaches from Perth. Amongst other attractions, it features beautiful coastal scenery in the Torndirrup National Park and whale watching from July to October. The Avon Valley, just 62 miles east of Perth, is famouse for its spring wildflowers.
Yanchep National Park, just 32 miles north of Perth, offers spectacular caves and the chance to hand feed the kangaroos which roam free in the park.
Continuing on to York, one of Western Australia's most historic towns, visitors can then take in Wave Rock. One of Australia’s best known landmarks, Wave Rock is a spectacular wave-like rock formation carved by wind, rain and time.
Situated south of Perth, the Karri Forest features lush forest, rugged coastal scenery, limestone caves and vineyards. The Margaret River valley offers some of the best wine of Western Australia.
Another not-to-be-missed natural wonder are the Pinnacles, fossilised remains of an ancient forest 161 miles north east of Perth. Be sure to allow a full day to really take in the sight.
Also worth visiting are Wildflower Country, Monkey Mia, the Pilbara, Broome, the Kimberley Region and the Goldfields.
The Kimberly was most recently made famous in Baz Luhrman's "Australia" movie; most of the sweeping panoramic views of the Australian countryside featured in the movie were of the Kimberly region of Western Australia, and Faraway Downs was set in Carlton Hill, Kununurra, Western Australia, Australia.
As you can see, Western Australia has much to offer the visitor, including sweeping landscapes, authentic experiences, and a freedom from the tourist traps. It is well worth taking the extra time to make your way out here.