Welcome to this Guide to Western Australia for backpackers. Western Australia is absolutely beautiful and you should make sure to explore at least some of the coast instead of just staying in and around Perth. Included in this guide are the must see Western Australia attractions up the coast as well as a few quick facts, when to visit and how to get around.
Western Australia Facts
- Australia is the 6th largest country in the world and WA is the largest state in Australia at 2.527 million square metres
- The Timezone in WA is GMT+8
- Population – It’s thought that Western Australia’s total population will reach 2.72 million by the end of 2019 (and the whole of Australia 25.415 million) – source. To put that in perspective the UK’s total population in 2017 was 66.02 million.
Western Australia Cities & Population Size
Perth is the largest city in WA at 1,907,833 people according to the 2016 census. The second largest town is Bunbury with 71,090 people. There are only 10 towns with more than 10,000 people in the whole of WA.
Being so large Western Australia has several types of climate. South West – temperate with winter rainfall and 4 seasons. North – tropical with a wet and a dry season. The rest is arid or semi-arid.
When is the best time to visit Western Australia?
Best times to visit WA: Visit the South of WA (below the Topic of Capricorn) between November to March (summer) when it doesn’t rain as much and the temperatures are high. Above the Tropic of Capricorn visit Between May and October (during the dry season) when the temperatures are milder.
How to Travel the West Coast of Australia
Personally I would get yourself on a hop on hop off bus tour. WA is massive, the roads are really long and you can go a long time without seeing people; so unless you have several people in the car who can all help with the driving (and possibly a car mechanic in case you break down) don’t even consider buying a cheap second hand car.
Western Australia Attractions
Although way fewer people visit WA compared to those that travel the East Coast, there are some Western Australia attractions that are absolute must sees. So if you get the chance to visit the stunning West Coast here’s where you should head to:
Must See’s West Coast Australia
Perth to The Kimberleys
Perth & Fremantle
Spend a few days exploring one of the remotest capital cities in the world. There are beautiful gardens to enjoy and a trip to Fremantle should absolutely be on the cards. If you want to sunbathe go to Cottesloe Beach.
- Read this Pocket Travel Guide to Perth
Rottnest Island & The Quokka’s
No trip to Perth is complete without a day trip to Rottnest Island. Hire a bike and spend the day swimming at remote beaches and taking selfies with the cutest of all Australian animals (and most probably the cutest animal on this planet!) – the Quokka.
- Learn more about Rottnest Island
The Pinnacles Desert
The Pinnacles Desert is located within Nambung National Park around 17 km south of Cervantes (and 200km north west of Perth). It’s a bizarre place filled with limestone formations jutting out of the sand. It’s a great place for photographers, and an eerie place to walk around.
Quite some distance from the Pinnacles you’ll find the stromatolites. (Stop at Geraldton on the way up if you need a break from driving). “Stromatolites or stromatoliths are layered mounds, columns, and sheet-like sedimentary rocks that were originally formed by the growth of layer upon layer of cyanobacteria, a single-celled photosynthesizing microbe. Fossilized stromatolites provide records of ancient life on Earth.” – wikipedia
Shell Beach is only a short drive from Monkey Mia and is one of only 2 beaches in the whole world where instead of sand you’ll see shells. It’s a bit crunchy on the feet so I recommend wearing thongs! It’s an absolutely massive beach (around 62 miles long) and the water is crystal clear, so it’s well worth stopping off here on your way to Monkey Mia from Perth.
Monkey Mia Dolphins
Monkey Mia is located within the Shark Bay World Heritage Area. Bottlenose dolphins visit Monkey Mia up to 3 times a day to be hand fed. They’ve done this for over 40 years now, but please be aware that the feeding is supervised and although you can’t swim with the dolphins here you can get knee deep in the water and see them up close.
Coral Bay is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever visited. It’s quite a few years since I’ve been there but I would hope it’s not changed too much. I recommend staying here and relaxing for a few days before continuing your journey. Make sure you explore the coastal walks and go for a swim with the manta rays.
Ningaloo Reef is most well known for one of the best places in the world to go swimming with whale sharks and if you get the chance to do that I say go for it! The Ningaloo Reef marine park is about 260km long so you have a few chances on your way up the coast to get out there to dive and snorkel. It really is paradise so you can’t do the West Coast and not visit Ningaloo Reef.
Karijini National Park
On a map of Australia Karijini National Park looks quite small but don’t be fooled it actually covers 627,422 hectares. It’s located just north of the Tropic of Capricorn so try to get here between May and October when the weather is bit milder. It really is a beautiful place with rugged scenery and stunning gorges. Gorges to visit include Fortescue Falls, Weano Gorge, Dales Gorge and Oxers Lookout.
Broome is a great place to stop for a week, if you have the time. Not only is Cable Beach beautiful it’s also really long and at one end, at Gantheaume Point, you can even see dinosaur footprints at low tide. Broome is also famous for seeing the staircase to the moon. The staircase to the moon can be seen at full moon (choose your spot to take photo’s early, lot’s of people go to see this natural phenomenon). The awesome Broome markets are held every Saturday morning with additional markets on Sundays and Thursdays nights at different times of the year. One of the other most popular things to do in Broome is camel ride at sunset.
The Kimberley region is one of the most spectacular places I’ve visited. Broome is within the Kimberley region but it’s a vast area which also encompasses coastline and outback. Take a swim in a freshwater waterhole in the outback, visit the amazing Mitchell Falls or take a scenic flight over the Bungle Bungles (which is well worth the money by the way). You can find ancient rock art, loads of wildlife, white sandy beaches and a stunning coastline in The Kimberleys.
Perth and South West of WA
Margaret River is a region you absolutely should visit if you’re a lover of wine. However there’s so much more… check out the beaches, the caves, walk the Cape to Cape track, do some chocolate tasting, and of course make sure you do a winery tour as well.
- Read all about Margaret River
Albany is where the first European settlers arrived in WA, so if you want to learn about a bit of Australian history it’s a good place to visit. One of the big things to do here is go on a whale watching tour or learn about the areas history of whaling, which is thankfully now over.
You’ve probably seen plenty of pictures of Esperance without realising it. This is the place where kangaroos hang out on the beach, and it’s also where a pink lake – Lake Hillier – is found. The beaches are really beautiful with or without kangaroos sunbathing on them.
Named because, well, it’s a rock that looks like a wave. It’s located a bit far from most places for a trip specifically to see it, but it certainly has potential for some instagram worthy photos.
A fascinating place with a rich (excuse the pun) gold mining history. There are some beautiful old buildings here and lots of history to learn. Kalgoorlie is known as the ‘the richest goldfield in the world’, although I’m not sure you’ll be able to find some for yourself.