Western Australia (Perth, Margaret River, Fremantle, Swan Valley, Rottnest Island...)

The City of Perth, Western Australia
The City of Perth, Western Australia

Western Australia is the largest of the Australian states and as the name suggests it is located in the western region of Australia. In fact it is pretty much the whole western region of Australia occupying one million square miles. Tourism has increased in recent years, in particular for those who are looking for isolated wilderness. Western Australia offers a diverse assortment of attractions from the city life of Perth, playing with the wild dolphins in Monkey Mia, the Outback and the rapidly growing wine region in the Margaret River area.

There are also beautiful beaches along the Indian Ocean coastline, huge wheat fields inland and forests south of Perth.

Much of the area inland is Outback desert and unless you are looking for this type of environment, you may want to visit the coastal areas.

Because Western Australia is a huge state the weather varies greatly. The weather can be very hot in the summer and the winters are milder. The further north you go, the hotter is gets. Obviously this is because you are getting closer to the Equator.
The Outback - Western Australia
The Outback - Western Australia

To get to Perth and the rest of Western Australia, you really ought to think about flying. The main domestic carrier is Qantas. The drive from other cities such as Melbourne or Sydney is a very long one. Melbourne to Perth is over 2,500 miles.

Some Key Attractions:

Perth is the capital city of Western Australia and it is probably one of the most isolated cities in the world. Perth is closer to Singapore than it is to Sydney. Eighty percent of the 1.8 million population of Western Australia lives in Perth which gives you an idea of how sparsely populated the rest of Western Australia is. Perth is situated on the Swan River about 6 miles from the Indian Ocean.

Perth was originally settled by Captain James Stirling in 1826. Later, convicts arrived in 1850 to help build the city and its infrastructure. The city was given a huge boost in the 1890's when gold was discovered in the Western Australian towns of Kalgoorlie and Coolgardie. Today, Perth is a cosmopolitan city with wonderful restaurants, hotels, sports and a perfect climate which is not unlike San Diego in California or the Southern Mediterranean area. Locals boast that Perth has one of the best lifestyles in the world and it easy to see why.

Western Australian Museum (Perth): The Western Australian Museum will give you a feel for the history of this area all the way back to the original inhabitants, the aborigines. The aborigines are reported to have lived in this area for 30,000 years.

Kings Park (Perth): Kings Park is 1,000 acres of bushland in Perth. Most of it is untouched but there are some areas that are landscaped. Either way this is a great get away for a walk, picnic or to just sit and read a book without leaving Perth.

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Perth Cultural Center (Perth): The Perth Cultural Center is located north of the city center. It is the home of the Art Gallery of Western Australia which houses Australian art, including aboriginal works of art.

Perth Mint (Perth): The Perth Mint contains a museum of coins and other precious metal objects. The mint was opened in 1899 during the gold rush days and it was used to manufacture sovereign coins from the gold. Coins are no longer manufactured here but visitors can see a "Gold Pour" that illustrates how molten gold is made into an ingot.

Perth Area Beaches: The area around Perth is known for the beautiful pristine beaches. The coastal area, known as the Sunset Coast, is made up of 50 miles of white sandy beaches overlooking the blue Indian Ocean. Many of the towns have restaurants and cafes which makes this area enticing for a day trip from Perth.

Fremantle is a seaside town with a population of approximately 25,000 that is located 13 miles south of Perth. Fremantle is a port city with a history that has been nicely preserved. Fremantle is probably best known for hosting the America's Cup Yacht Races in 1987. Many of the historic buildings have been restored which gives this town its historic feeling. Today, many of these buildings are galleries, shops and museums. Fremantle has many attractions such as the Western Australian Maritime Museum, The Round House (Fremantle's first jail), Fremantle Museum and Arts Center and the Fremantle Markets. Whether you are interested in history or just like to be by the water, Fremantle is a great place to stop for a day or two.

The Swan Valley is very close to Perth and is the oldest wine growing region in Western Australia. There are bed and breakfasts, cellar door tastings at the vineyards and all of the good restaurants that accompanies a wine region.

Rottnest Island lies 11 miles to the west of Perth and therefore it is a short ferry ride from Perth. You can reach Rottnest Island by ferry from Fremantle and Perth. No cars are allowed and you can bicycle around the island to visit the magnificent beaches. The island is popular for water sports such as swimming, scuba diving and surfing. Rottnest Island is also famous for its native marsupial called the Quokka. The Quokka is a small type of wallaby and earlier navigators thought they were a type of rat. Hence the island was named "rats nest". Please do not feed the Quokkas as they are wild creatures.

Rockingham is located 30 miles south of Perth and is a haven for water lovers. Activities include fishing, swimming, snorkeling or you can take a cruise and swim in the water with dolphins in the wild. From Rockingham, you can take a ferry to Penguin Island and see the local Fairy Penguins.

South Coast: The southern coast of Western Australia is the meeting place of two huge oceans. This is where the Indian Ocean and the Southern Ocean meet which can cause weather that fluctuates and it is normally cooler than the west coast regions. The meeting of the oceans make this part of Australia popular with the local surfers.

This area is a scenic area with many wonderful panoramas and there are several national parks located here. Some of the national parks are D'Entrecasteaux National Park and Walpole Nornalup National Park. The best way to see this rugged coastline is to drive. Along the way, you will find accommodation in some of the towns such as Denmark and Augusta.

Some of the best wines are made in this area in Margaret River. Years ago Margaret River was an agricultural and timber region but wine has taken over. Some of the more popular newer wines in Australia now originate from here. We have tried them and they are quite good.

Shark Bay World Heritage and Marine Park: About a third of the way up the Western Australian coast, you will find the Shark Bay World Heritage and Marine Park. This Park was designated a World Heritage area in 1991 and it is home to many endangered species. There are many wonderful areas in the Park. Two highlights are Monkey Mia and Shell Beach. Monkey Mia is a small beach where people can visit with wild dolphins as they often come into the shore to be fed. They are friendly and you are able to wade in the water and get up and close to these beautiful marine creatures. Shell Beach is a 40 mile beach made of deep layers of cockle shells.

Broome: The town of Broome is further north from the Shark Bay area and is famous for the pearling activity. Just outside of Broome is Cable Beach where you can take a camel ride along the beach. In Broome there is also a crocodile park for anyone interested in learning more about these ferocious reptiles.

Wildflower Season: Between July and November, vast areas of the State - from the southern regions to the Pilbara and Kimberley in the north and the Goldfields to the east - are a blaze of colour as the annual display of wildflowers burst into bloom. And visitors do not have to travel far to see them. They're even on the doorstep of the capital, Perth - just a short walk from the city centre. This is a big surpise to many visitors who largely think of Western Australia as being the dry, arrid Outback.

Western Australia's Diving and Marine Life: Giant Whale Sharks visit Western Australia every year between mid-March and mid-June and something special happens at Ningaloo Reef. It's so special it lures people from all over the world. They come to dive and swim with whale sharks - the world's largest fish, more than 12-metres long and weighing more than 11 tonnes.

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