My home state has some of the best undiscovered and undeveloped land in the country. I’m a little biased, sure – but I think you can all appreciate the following FREE things to check out over here in the West.
BIBBULMAN TRACK: The Bibb (as it’s known) is one of the world’s great long distance walks, stretching over 1000kms from the suburbs of Kalamunda in Perth’s hills all the way to historic Albany in the great south of the state. The track takes you through towering karri and tingle forest, over giant granite boulders and across breathtaking coastal scenes. There are a wide range of experiences on offer, from an eight week epic adventure staying in 49 campsites along the way, to day walks staying in comfort in quaint country towns. The track passes through beautiful spots, like Dwellingup, coal mining Collie, Walpole and Denmark. The campsites are well appointed, with sleeping shelters, pit toilets and rainwater tanks. The track is well marked with yellow triangular markers symbolising the rainbow serpent of the Aboriginal Dreamtime.
WHALE WATCHING: To get this for free, you’ll need to do it from land. You can go on the charter services out on the water, but these are expensive – although the view is much better! The fact remains that good ol’ WA has the world’s longest whale watching season, and lands in the path of the annual migration of humpback, southern right and the rare blue whales. The season begins in May and ends in December, and the whales will travel up the coast of WA hugging the continental shelf. In some areas, whales play close to the shore, and you can clearly see them from set vantage points. The best time to view is at midday, when the sun is directly overhead. Best places to spot whales are Flinders Bay, Augusta, and King George Sound (Albany), where they ironically get spotted just meters from the old whaling station. In the north of the state, best spots are Exmouth and Kalbarri. During September and December, humpbacks take a rest in the coastal waters off the capital – Perth.
DIAMOND TREE LOOKOUT: Not for the faint hearted, the gruelling 51 meter climb to the top of the world’s only wooden tree top tower rewards you with panoramic views of the beautiful Karri forests of the state’s south near Manjimup. Explore the forest and the surrounding area, perhaps have a picnic at one of the many spots dotted through the area. There are plenty of easy walk trails in the area, and if you manage to time your visit for the wildflower display (September – November), you’ll be rewarded with a fantastic display of colour.
HIT THE BEACH: I’ve said it before, but WA really has the most beautiful beaches in the country – maybe even the world. Suburban beaches are vast expanses of white sand, protrolled and protected by the Surf Lifesavers in their yellow and red outfits. Lucky Bay is officially Australia’s whitest beach, the sand is so clean it squeaks when you walk on it. World Heritage listed Ningaloo Reef lies at the shoreline of the Coral Coast, surrounded by qwhite beaches. My favourite – Turquoise Bay. Suburban Perth surfer seekers should head to Scarborough Beach and Trigg, in the northern suburbs of the city. The gnarliest waves in the south can be found at Surfers Point, near Margaret River. If you’re chasing wind, head north of the city by about an hour and a half to Lancelin, where you will find Windsurfers Beach. Remember though – the Aussie sun is HOT, so slip, slop, slap.
WANDER THE WILDFLOWERS: Certain parts of the state are renowned all over the world for the display of wildflowers, and come spring the roads are chock full of people escaping the city to go see them. From Perth, get in the car and head north for a picnic with the white, pink and yellow everlastings. Seek the Wreath Flower on the Coral Coast, or go hunting for orchids in the south west. If time is not on your side though, you can take a wander through Perth’s King’s Park Botanic Gardens, and see the entire state on display in one place.
WINE TASTING: WA wine is renowned all over the world for its distinctive notes, and premium quality. There are nine sensational regions to discover, including internationally acclaimed Margaret River and the Great Southern. Venture off the well known trails and you’ll discover there are many more bottled treasures to taste. The majority of the regions can be found in the state’s south west – with it’s Mediterranean climate and rich fertile soils it has the perfect environment for growing premium grape vines. Margaret River produces outstanding chardonnay, sauvignon blanc and semillon white varieties, and wonderfully full bodied cabernet sauvignon reds. Located approximately three hours south of Perth, it’s a pretty wonderful weekend getaway. The cooler climate Great Southern region produces light rieslings and rich cabernets. The oldest wine region in WA is located just a short 45 min drive from the city of Perth, in the pretty Swan Valley. On the banks of the Swan River, you can indulge all your senses, with family run fresh produce and cheesemakers sitting between various vineyards and cellar doors. The Swan Valley is also home to award winning restaurants, boutique breweries and chocolate makers. If wine is your thing (and it’s definitely mine!) I suggest you check out the Wines of Western Australia.
WILDLIFE SPOTTING: Our cousins from England get inexplicable joy in the sighting of kangaroo. I’ll never understand it. They’re literally everywhere, except in densely built up areas. Best spots for wildlife spotting are Whiteman Park, Apex Park, Avon Valley and Prevally Park in the south. Alternatively, Perth Zoo has a wonderful Australian animal set up, complete with koala, echidna, wombat and of course – the kangaroo.
LOCAL GALLERIES: WA’s art scene is far from emerging – it’s emerged. So much so that there is actually a coastal art trail, if you’re keen you can wind your way down south toward Margaret River, and stop in at Busselton, Bunbury, Dunsborough and Yallingup. Between the breweries and wineries there are some truly spectacular local artists showcasing their work in small local galleries. Keep your eyes out for the signs.