One of the biggest draws in Western Australia is the wildlife. During just one holiday, you can swim with whale sharks, sand board, meet penguins and watch an amazing sunset over the Kimberley. Here are some of the best ways to experience nature in Western Australia!
In partnership with Tourism Western Australia.
1. Swim with whale sharks and humpback whales
Nothing really compares to swimming next to a whale shark, which grow to 5 – 10 metres in length. You can find these gentle giants in the water from March until July each year and tours operate out of both Exmouth and Coral Bay. Attracting visitors from all over the world, this is certainly an unforgettable experience. In addition, humpback whales can be seen all along the WA coast from May to December. The swimming tours are available between August and October, departing from Exmouth. The opportunity to swim with humpback whales has been offered in Western Australia since 2016 with selected tour operators.
Dunsborough, Tash Press
2. Get a quokka selfie on Rottnest Island
The ultimate souvenir from Western Australia is a selfie with a quokka! Hop on a ferry to Rottnest Island to hang with these cute little critters. They’re about the size of a house cat, and whilst they might be cute, don’t get too close – this is a protected species and visitors are not allowed to touch or feed them. The best time to see them is mid afternoon on a bushwalk around the island.
Rottnest Island, Tourism Western Australia
3. Dive at Ningaloo Reef
The Heritage-Listed Ningaloo Reef is one of the best dive sites in Australia, particularly if you’re interested in diving with turtles, manta rays or seeing the world’s largest fringing reef at 260 kilometres! The best part: In just a few footsteps you can walk straight from the beach to the reef. Exmouth is the closest city to the Ningaloo Reef, with flights from its airport Learmonth departing to and from Perth daily. You could also make it into a road trip – it’s a total of 11 hours driving time north of Perth, with plenty of beaches along the way!
Exmouth, Tourism Western Australia
4. Swim with dolphins at Rockingham
Just 45 minutes south of Perth, you can slip into Rockingham Bay to swim and snorkel alongside a colony of 200 bottlenose dolphins! Rockingham Wild Encounters will kit you out with mask and flippers and make sure you get to know the locals – they have a 99% success rate of meeting dolphins on their trips. If you’re not confident in the water, enjoy the sight of these beautiful creatures frolicking in the water from the boat!
Rockingham, Tourism Western Australia
5. Visit the penguins on Penguin Island
One great way to get to know Western Australia’s amazing wildlife is a visit to Penguin Island, 45 minutes south of Perth. Hop on the ferry at Shoalwater Bay to meet this charming waddle of little penguins (the world’s smallest!), sea lions, dolphins and pelicans. The water is crystal clear and the beaches are perfect for throwing down a towel, but if you’d like to get to know them better, you can feed the penguins and learn about the species in the Discovery Centre.
Rockingham, Tourism Western Australia
6. Go Glamping at Sal Salis
If you’re visiting Ningaloo Reef, the safari-camp at Sal Salis is possibly one of the best things to come home to after a day of diving. The restaurant serves locally sourced food and wine from the region, overlooking the Indian Ocean. The wilderness tents are nestled in the dunes facing the Coral Coast, designed with the environment in mind – imagine eco-luxe principles, neutral colours and the odd ‘roo hopping by your tent in the morning.
Exmouth, Tourism Western Australia
7. Do a treetop walk in the Valley of the Giants
You’ll be dancing amongst the treetops in the Valley of the Giants, with a high line walk 40 metres above ground level. The walk takes around 20 minutes, depending on how much you stop to appreciate the views! Whilst you’re discovering Walpole’s nature, check out the oldest eucalyptus tree (playfully named the Giant Tingle Tree), or check out Mandalay Beach to see the Norwegian shipwreck of Mandalay – which first landed here in 1929!
Walpole-Nornalup National Park, Jean Leggat
8. Go whale watching in Albany
Albany’s old whaling station is one of the best places to see humpback whales in Australia. The station closed in 1978, but fortunately the humpback highway is still in motion in Albany, particularly between May and December. For a more personal experience with the whales, check out any of the tours that leave from Albany Pier – King George Sound is a deep, natural harbour that leads to the Great Southern Ocean, and the ideal place to see these creatures in their natural habitat.
Albany, Amazing Albany
9. Feed the dolphins at Monkey Mia
Monkey Mia is a nature reserve 900km north of Perth, and it’s well worth the journey. Whilst you’ll pay a small fee to use the reserve, dolphin interaction on the beaches here is free, and the ranger on duty will hand you fish pieces to feed them during the appropriate hours too! Alternatively, you could sail this beautiful piece of the Coral Coast and have the dolphins play alongside the catamaran.
Monkey Mia, Tourism Western Australia
10. Explore The Kimberley
The Kimberley is one of the last real wildernesses in Western Australia – sparsely populated and outstandingly beautiful. It is bordered by the Indian Ocean and Timor Sea. The town Broome is the gateway to this region, known for the blue waters of Cable Beach, camel rides and a relaxed population of 40,000. If you’d like to get further into the outback, stay in El Questro wilderness park, cruise the coast or visit the Bungle Bungle Range – sculptured rocks only found in 1983.
Gibb River Road, Tourism Western Australia
11. Visit Nature’s Window in the Kalbarri National Park
The Kalbarri National Park is another landscape that looks like it’s been taken from a movie set, with red rocks, wildflowers and river gorges everywhere. Nature’s Window is deep in the park, but you can drive to it with a short walk before you reach the viewpoint. If you’d like to see more of the Kalbarri Park, it’s worth stopping over to see the Eagle Gorge lookout or the pelican feeding near the coast!
Kalbarri, Tourism Western Australia
12. Walk the Cape to Cape Track
If you are a walking enthusiast make sure you put the Cape to Cape track at the top of your list! This hike is full of amazing inland and coastal views, wildflowers, beaches and vantage points. The entire track is 135 metres, and hikers are advised to seek further information if planning a long trip. If you’d like to hop on the track in an afternoon or so, the path is broken into sections, and there’s a 3.7 km section between the Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse and Sugarloaf Rock car park that’s fairly easy and accessible to everyone.
Cape to Cape Track, Tourism Western Australia
13. See the West Australian wildflowers
Western Australia is home to more than 12,000 species of wildflowers, with 60% found nowhere else in the world. Drive from Perth to Jurien Bay August to October to see carpets of brightly coloured everlastings or a myriad of orchids in the Southern Forests. You don’t even have to leave Perth – Kings Park has green and red kangaroo paw in the Botanic Garden as well as banksia species.
Mingenew, Australia’s Coral Coast
14. Visit The Pinnacles
Nambung National Park rightly owns the reputation of being ‘other-worldly’. The Pinnacles are formed from coral sand swept in land, gradually having moved into sand dunes, and being further eroded into the outcrops you’ll see today. You can walk or drive through the Pinnacles Desert, stopping occasionally to take pictures of this Mars-like landscape. On your way hope, make sure to stop in Cervantes – it’s known for being the rock lobster capital.
Pinnacles Desert, Tourism Western Australia
15. Ride Wave Rock
This is the oldest and driest wave in Australia, thought to have started 2,700 million years ago. The drive here is part of the adventure – it’s a 3.5 hour drive from Perth through canola and wildflower fields. When you get there, you’ve got to get the obligatory surfing pic under the granite wave!
Hyden, Phil Davison