Welcome to Western Australia
Western Australia (WA) covers the entire western third of the country, with much of its population concentrated in its southwest corner near Perth. Australia’s largest state is a land of rugged, diverse landscapes boasting immense natural beauty. Come along as we tour WA through photos.
Perth, the capital of WA
Perth, the capital of Western Australia, is ranked as the most isolated city in the world. The closest city is Adelaide, some 1,367 miles away. It’s also the sunniest state capital in the country, with an average of 3,000 hours of sunshine each year (and 19 beaches where that can be enjoyed).
The Pinnacles in Nambung National Park
Among the many spectacular landscapes of Western Australia, the moon-like Pinnacles stand out as one of the most unique. These limestone spires rise from the sands of Nambung National Park. The natural wonders were formed by water and wind erosion over millions of years.
The world’s biggest rock
Did you know that Western Australia is home to the world’s largest rock? Mount Augustus is around 2,350 feet tall and nearly five miles long – twice the size of Uluru. It takes about 45 minutes to drive around the rock’s base, though the scenic loop is well worth the time.
If you’re in the mood for some majestic coastal scenery, head to Cape Leveque in the Kimberley. This area at the tip of the Dampier Peninsula is known for its white sands, stunning red pindan cliffs and pristine turquoise waters. From June to October, one of the world’s largest populations of humpback whales visits the waters just offshore.
WA’s Nullarbor Plain represents the biggest limestone karst landscape on the planet. This region of superlatives is also home to the world’s longest unbroken cliff line and the world’s longest golf course.
Also of interest are the white dunes near the town of Eucla. Much of the original town of Eucla is now buried beneath the sand after rabbits ate much of the dune vegetation.
World’s second tallest fire lookout tree
WA isn’t all stark desert landscapes. It’s also a place where you can climb the world’s second tallest fire lookout tree – the Gloucester Tree standing nearly 200 feet tall. The Karri Forest in the southwest corner of the state features the third tallest tree species in the world. You’ll find many of them within Gloucester National Park.
Western Australia attracts surfers from around the globe to its reef, beach and point breaks, particularly those near Margaret River. Each year, some of the best surfers in the world compete in the annual Margaret River Pro at Surfers Point – one of the best ‘big wave’ locations on the planet.
‘Rising from the Ashes’
The community of Northcliffe serves as a gateway to the tall timber forests of WA. After a 2015 bushfire, artists in the community created an installation known as “Rising from the Ashes.” Along the Understory Art and Nature Trail, you’ll see full-figure casts of local community members embedded into the burnt trees.
Some of the world’s most diverse marine habitats lie just off the shores of WA’s Coral Coast, including the largest fringing reef on the planet. This makes for excellent diving and snorkeling opportunities. The UNESCO World Heritage-listed Ningaloo Reef provides a habitat for dolphins, manta rays, sea turtles, humpback whales and whale sharks.
Another hot spot for marine life is Big Lagoon, a series of lagoons just outside Denham. Sit on shore or explore by canoe for the chance to spot dolphins, sting rays and sharks in the shallow waters.
It’s not everyday you get to see the phenomenon known as horizontal waterfalls, but there are two places where they exist in the Kimberley. Take a boat tour of Talbot Bay in the Buccaneer Archipelago to ride the white waters. The large tidal movements here push a huge volume of water through two narrow cliff passages.
At times, the water level changes some 13 feet from one side of the falls to the other.
The only ways to reach Mount Trafalgar, one of the most remote regions in already remote WA, is by boat or by air. The majestic formation rises from the rainforests of Prince Regent Nature Reserve, home to more than half the bird and mammal species in the state.
It’s also one of the few places in Australia that’s remained unchanged since the arrival of Europeans in 1606.
Tidal spectacle at Montgomery Reef
Montgomery Reef, the world’s largest inshore reef, sits between Camden Sound and Collier Bay. When the tides fall (by as much as 26 feet), water rushes from the reef, taking with it an abundance of marine life – dolphins, dugongs, manta rays, reef sharks, octopuses and turtles among them.
The camels of Cable Beach
Western Australia has no shortage of postcard-worthy beaches, but none is quite so famous as Cable Beach. This 14-mile stretch of white sand and turquoise water on the Indian Ocean is best known for its sunsets, often enjoyed on the back of a camel.
Speaking of camels, WA is home to the largest herd of feral camels in the world – they outnumber red kangaroos by as much as 100 to one.
Karijini National Park
Some of the state’s most majestic and diverse scenery sits on display within Karijini National Park. Visitors to the park can hike through massive, ancient gorges, cool off in clear rock pools at the base of cascading waterfalls, or explore tunnels of marbled rock.
Monkey Mia dolphins
Humans aren’t the only ones who visit Western Australia. For more than 40 years, the waters of the Shark Bay World Heritage Area, just off the coast of Monkey Mia, have attracted wild bottlenose dolphins. While swimming with and touching the dolphins is prohibited, visitors can participate in ranger-led interactions to see the mammals up close.
Land of pink lakes
Western Australia features one of the world’s most unbelievable natural wonders, a series of pink lakes that look too vivid to be real. These lakes, including the pictured Hutt Lagoon, get their striking color from algae living in the water. When exposed to sunlight, the algae produces a red pigment that we commonly know as beta carotene (the stuff found in carrots).
Less than half an hour from Perth, the harbor town of Fremantle makes for a favorite seaside escape. The city features one of the best preserved 19th-century port streetscapes in the world, alongside lively markets, craft beer bars, seafood shacks and boutique hotels.
Lucky Bay is considered by many to be Australia’s whitest and most idyllic beach. It’s so appealing that even the kangaroos come to laze in the sand. It’s one of many spectacular beaches along Cape Le Grand National Park and Esperance. Look for migrating whales between July and October.
Rottnest Island, a few miles offshore from Perth, is a favorite getaway among locals who come to swim, snorkel, surf and relax in the sun. On land, the island is home to the cute marsupials known as quokkas. The waters offshore feature a string of coral reefs and shipwrecks for exploring.
Stirling Range National Park
Stirling Range National Park, an area known for its bushwalking and camping, is also home to Bluff Knoll, one of the highest peaks in WA. During the Australian spring and summer, the park also displays some 1,500 different species of wildflowers, many of which are found nowhere else on Earth.
You don’t have to go to the coast to find big waves in WA. One of the biggest waves in the country, Wave Rock, measures nearly 50 feet tall. This colorful granite cliff, formed over 2,700 million years, resembles a wave ready to crash.
The Bungle Bungle Range
The UNESCO-listed Purnululu National Park is home to a series of eroded sandstone beehive domes known as the Bungle Bungles. The spectacle is best enjoyed on a scenic flight tour from Broome.
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