How Best to Tour the West Coast of Australia

Western Australia is a huge state comprising over 2,529,875 square kilometres. Its coastline stretches for over 10,000 kilometres, not including islands and its climate ranges from subtropical in the north to cool temperates on the south-west corner.

With so much area to explore, long travel distances and varied climatic zones, it’s wise to do some planning beforehand to ensure that you get to see as much as possible, and in the best season.

Perth and surrounds

Overseas travellers will arrive at Perth airport. There is a range of options for travel to and from the airport with public transport (bus) being the cheapest choice, followed by rideshare. Private taxi services are also available, or you can opt to hire a vehicle which can be prebooked online for you to collect at the airport.

One of the cheapest and best alternatives for getting around in Western Australia is to purchase a car, use it for the duration of your stay, and sell it prior to departure. Other alternatives include car or campervan hire or using the available transport network of flights, road coaches in rural areas, and TransWA services including bus, train and ferry in the metropolitan areas.

Perth has several popular and picturesque beaches including Cottesloe, Scarborough and City Beach. Fremantle, the harbour town, is vibrant with cafes, seafood restaurants, the long-running Fremantle market and backpacker accommodation. King’s Park, on the edge of Perth CBD, is a 400-hectare park with botanical gardens, lawned areas and views over the Swan River. Perth’s cultural precinct contains the museum and art gallery.

Perth to the Kimberley

Broome, the gateway to the Kimberley is over 2,000 kilometres from Perth. It can be reached by plane, or by road. If travelling by road, here are a few unforgettable stops along the way.

The Indian Ocean Drive takes you along the coast from Perth out of the way to Dongara. There are small coastal towns scattered along the route with accommodation, meals, fuel and beach access. North of Dongara and Geraldton is Kalbarri National Park with stunning views of the coastline, gorges, hiking trails and sheltered lagoons for swimming. Monkey Mia at Shark Bay is famed for its bottlenose dolphins which swim close to shore, interacting with their human visitors.

Further north, Ningaloo Marine Park is a UNESCO World Heritage area where you can see humpback whales and whale sharks during the period from August to October. The 300-kilometre long reef is close to shore which makes it ideal for snorkelling and exploring the diverse marine life of the area.

Broome was established as a pearl diving port in the 1880s and still produces fine pearls. It has a multicultural population with significant Chinese influence due to its pearl diving history. It is probably best known for Cable Beach, which is a 22-kilometre long white sandy beach where you can ride on a camel and swim during the months from April to November.

Tunnel Creek and Windjana Gorge are a must-see if you are visiting the Kimberley. Windjana Gorge has been carved out of the rock by the Napier River. It is over 100 metres wide and 3.5 kilometres long with rock walls up to 100 metres high. Tunnel Creek has also been formed by the action of water on rock – the creek has created a tunnel and cave system which you can walk through, almost a kilometre long.

The South West and South Coast

Distances to southern parts of the state are considerably shorter than those in the north. Busselton is only 220 kilometres from Perth and can be reached by car in less than 3 hours. It is also possible to travel by train from Perth to Bunbury and then by bus to Busselton and further south. Both Bunbury and Busselton are well-serviced towns with supermarkets, accommodation and a range of smaller shops.

Travelling further south from Busselton you’ll find the wine-growing regions of Yallingup and Margaret River. These areas are popular for backpackers seeking seasonal work on the vineyards. Artists and artisans have also been drawn to these areas so there are interesting and quirky shops as well as farmers’ markets with organic and biodynamic produce. Margaret River and Yallingup are also both renowned for their surf, with the Margaret River Pro being part of the World Surf League Championship.

Inland are the states Jarrah and Karri forests with campgrounds scattered throughout, along with swimming and kayaking spots in the rivers. The forests continue through to Walpole and Denmark and can be viewed from a height at the Tree Top Walk close to Denmark.

The southern coastline boasts numerous stunning beaches with white sandy shores and crystal clear water. In the months from April through to October, humpback and southern right whales migrate along this coastline and can often be seen from the shore. Albany is a large regional centre on the south coast with good services and backpacker hostels. To the east lies the town of Esperance from where it is possible to access Cape Le Grande National Park, yet another area of natural beauty.