Things to Do in Western Australia - page 2
Located just outside of Broome, Gantheaume Point is one of the region’s most impressive natural landmarks and serves as an important paleontological site. The red-rock cliffs contrast with the waters of the Indian Ocean below and offer spectacular photo opportunities.
A visit to Western Australia wouldn’t be complete without an adrenaline-infused ride across the Lancelin Sand Dunes. Rolling hills of textured, white sand provide the landscape for your next sand surfing adventure. Thrill seekers rejoice, these dunes span more than a mile (2 kilometers) — the largest in Western Australia! Navigate the steep sand bumps and curves in a dirt bike, off-road vehicle or sandboard. Once you make it to the peaks you’ll bask in panoramic views of Lancelin, including vast farmland, sweeping sand dunes and refreshing coastline. Visit during dawn or dusk for killer scenery.
When it opened in 1899, the Perth Mint was the third branch of Britain’s Royal Mint in Australia. Today it produces gold, silver, and platinum bullion coins and bars. Visit to see exhibitions about Western Australia’s gold rush history and collections of rare gold nuggets and coins.
Explore the rugged, wind-swept vistas and expansive beach views at one of Western Australia’s most renowned spots for exploration, Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park. Situated west of Busselton, visitors flock to this natural playground for its raw beauty and accessibility for activities in nature. Moss-covered waterfalls, stalagmite-filled caves and curving sands create a welcome environment for every kind of traveler.
Get your paddle on at infamous surf breaks like Smith Beach, or drop a line at the fishing hole, Moses Rock South. Epic views and panoramic scenery make the park an ideal place for bushwalking, trail hiking and cycling; afterwards, take a rest and stay awhile at the Boranup Campground. Travelers can snorkel above white sand at Cosy Corner or even try abseiling in the Calgardup Cave. For the more laid-back traveler, simply get lost wandering among the limestone and granite headlands.
Usually places in the middle of the desert are quiet, dry, and remote. In the case of Australia’s Bell Gorge, however, crowds of people flock to the Kimberley to witness a gorgeous, multi-tiered waterfall go splashing down into a pool. Perfectly placed amidst amber-hued sandstone, the Bell Gorge waterfall is fed by rains that fall in the Kimberley’s wet season, and offers a picturesque place to cool off and go for for a swim when it’s dry.
Take a moment to sprawl on the rocks surrounding the crystal cascade, and close your eyes as you soak up the sun and enjoy the rush of the falls. When you’ve worked up a sweat from sun tanning or hiking, a large, refreshing pool of fresh water sits right at the base of the falls—which when viewed against the rugged, dry landscape are an unforgettable sight. It’s little wonder why Bell Gorge is immensely popular with photographers, who camp at nearby Silent Grove Campground, sleeping out under the stars, before waking up early to hike through the gorge and enjoy the spectacular show.
Town Beach is one of many sandy spots in Broome, and its main attraction is its water playground that dominates the foreshore. Built for kids of all ages, the playground is designed to be all-inclusive, enabling children of all abilities to play. A range of sprayers including a whale tail sprayer, mistry twisty, sneaky soakers and froggy-o-sprayer are set up to provide a fun play environment. The playground operates on a cycle that randomly repeats and is activated when a start button is pressed.
Safety is paramount here. Soft-fall ground covering ensures a non-slip environment, and the water is UV filtered and chlorinated. A designated area for disabled children includes a self-propelling, custom built, water submersible wheelchair that is available for free hire.
While the playground is a huge part of the attractions of Town Beach, the beach itself is also popular. Besides the bay being a calm swimming spot, the grassy foreshore also offers a great place for picnics. Just beside the playground sits the Town Beach Café, serving coffee, pastries and more.
With its rugged peaks, forested plains and lush valleys carpeted with wildflowers, the Stirling Range National Park has no shortage of impressive scenery. A popular choice for hikers and climbers, the park is home to some of Western Australia’s highest peaks, with the Stirling Range stretching for some 65km and harboring a vast network of marked walking trails.
The ultimate challenge for hikers is scaling the 1,095-meter peak of Bluff Knoll, the park’s highest point, while the 26km Ridge Walk runs all the way from Ellen Peak to Bluff Knoll. For visitors who don’t fancy hiking, there’s also the Stirling Range Drive, a dramatic 42km route winding through the heart of the park and passing lookout points and landmarks like Red
Gum Spring, Bluff Knoll and White Gum Flat.
Wildlife enthusiasts will also find plenty to get excited about, with opportunities to spot kangaroos, wallabies and emus, plus an incredible variety of birds, including rare sightings like short-billed black cockatoos, western whipbirds and purple-gaped honeyeaters. During the summer months (October-December), the mountain valleys are also renowned for their magnificent array of wildflowers. Over 1,000 varieties of banksias, mountain bells and orchids bloom throughout the park, many of which can’t be found anywhere else in the world.
Monkey Mia Reserve—on the western coast of Australia in Shark Bay, a UNESCO World Heritage Site—is one of the world’s most reliable places to see dolphins in the wild. For decades, bottlenose dolphins have been paying regular visits to the clear, shallow waters right off the beach, much to the delight of visitors who make the trip from Perth.
The oldest inland town in Western Australia, York was settled in 1831 and is known for its heritage architecture. With a location on the Avon River in Avon Valley, York is an easy day trip destination from Perth, one that offers history, culture, countryside scenery, and adventure activities.
Tunnel Creek National Park is one of the Kimberly region’s most famous attractions. Though small in size compared to the other national parks that cover the Kimberly region, at just 91 hectares, Tunnel Creek has a huge attraction – being home to Australia’s oldest cave system.
Tunnel Creek is located in the Napier Range, the same range as the nearby Geikie Gorge. The remains of an ancient reef system formed 350 million years ago, the limestone that forms Tunnel Creek is what makes this region so ancient. The tunnel of tunnel creek runs for 750 meters. It reaches a maximum height of 12 meters, and a maximum width of 15 meters. There are a number of animals making their home in the caverns, including at least five species of bat, which led to the cave’s nickname of The Cave of Bats. Freshwater crocodiles occasionally take up residence in the large pools of water that dot the floor of the cave.
Tunnel Creek became famous in the late 1800s as the hideout of the Aboriginal outlaw and leader Jandamarra. The cave has been used by the Aboriginal people for hundreds of years, and the walls are covered in their artworks.
More Things to Do in Western Australia
The largest cemetery in Australia, Broome Japanese Cemetery was established at the beginning of Broome’s pearling industry.
In the early days of the pearling industry at Broome, many Japanese men worked as divers. Most of the headstones in the Japanese Cemetery pay tribute to the hundreds of individual divers who died whilst pearling – either from drowning or from the bends (decompression sickness). There are also monuments to catastrophic events, such as a large stone obelisk for those who drowned at sea during a cyclone in 1908. Such cyclones were relatively common in the area, and cyclones in 1887 and 1935 claimed the lives of around 250 Japanese divers between them.
There are 919 Japanese are buried in the cemetery. Many of the headstones are simply marked by colored rocks carried from Broome’s beaches. Before the Japanese became divers, the industry survived by kidnapping local Aboriginal people and training them to dive for pearls. Only 50 metres south of the main Japanese Cemetery lies the Aboriginal section of the cemetery. Unlike the Japanese section, the Aboriginal graves are largely unmarked and unattributed.
Home to the historic Swan Bells, Perth's Bell Tower dominates the city skyline and makes for a fun Perth activity. Housed in a 271-foot (83-meter) tower, 12 of the existing 18 bells originally hung in London's St Martin-in-the-Fields church, where they announced events for centuries.
Now that the bells have found their way to Perth, visitors can learn the art of bell-ringing on guided tours, or simply stop in to hear the bellringers practice their art of chiming on Monday, Thursday or Sunday from noon to 1pm. For the opportunity to chime a bell yourself, book an interactive bell-chiming demonstration and receive an official certificate as proof of your new skill.
Travelers can also head up the towering glass-and-copper spire to its three observation decks and look out over much of downtown Perth and the Swan River (the sixth-floor deck offers 360-degree views). The famous tower can also be admired from afar, perhaps as part of a photography tour that wanders the streets of Perth.
Windjana Gorge sits within the Windjana Gorge National Park in the Kimberly region of Western Australia. Formed by the Lennard River, Windjana Gorge runs for 3.5 kilometres through the Napier Range – of which Tunnel Creek is also a part. Windjana Gorge is over 100m wide in parts, and the walls range between 10 and 30 metres high.
The Lennard River runs through Windjana Gorge during the wet season, and forms into pools in the dry season. Like much of the Kimberly, Windjana Gorge is home to many species of Australian wildlife – including some which aren’t found anywhere else – and is steeped in Aboriginal culture. Windjana Gorge is a significant spiritual site for the Bunuba people, who believe that there are powerful creation spirits that reside in the Gorge.
A path runs the length of the gorge (3.5km), following the path of monsoonal vegetation alongside the permanent pools of water in the dry season. A ruined homestead, Lillimooloora, was built in 1884 from local limestone, and sits within the park.
The Windjana Gorge Campground is the only place to stay in the park, and is well maintained. Bathrooms with showers are situated on site, and the campground is suitable for caravans – though there are no powered sites. Camping does incur a fee, and park rangers collect it in the evenings.
Located directly on Perth’s Turquoise Coast, the Aquarium of Western Australia (AQWA) is home to marine animals from all along the 7,500-mile (12,000-km) coastline of Australia’s largest state. The family-friendly attraction boasts a wide array of species from this diverse area, ranging from tiny fish to large rays.
With its lush wetlands, limestone caves, and wildflower-filled plains, Yanchep National Park makes an attractive retreat from nearby Perth, and at less than an hour’s drive from the city, it’s a popular choice for a day trip. Established in 1957, Yanchep is also one of Australia’s oldest national parks.
Just 45 minutes from Perth, Penguin Island is an engaging ecotourism destination. Home to over 1,000 of the world’s smallest penguins, the island is teeming with animal activity. Attend a penguin feeding presentation, look to the skies for signs of seabirds, or search the seas for a glimpse of dolphins or a rare Australian sea lion.
Near the Western Australian city of Perth, Hillarys Boat Harbour is a seaside destination popular with locals and travelers alike. Not only a boat transport hub for trips off the coast, it’s also home to Hillarys Yacht Club, the Aquarium of Western Australia, the Sorrento Quay Boardwalk, and a calm, safe cove for ocean swimmers.
Set on the Swan River’s north shore, Elizabeth Quay is a waterfront entertainment hub filled with green spaces and esplanades, eateries, and public artwork. The quay is located in Perth’s central business district, and is a great starting point for exploring the rest of the city.
Covering more than 17,000 hectares, the massive Nambung National Park is one of Western Australia’s most popular attractions. In addition to the protruding limestone pillars of its Pinnacles Desert, the park boasts white sand beaches, rich plant life, and trails to please every type of adventurer.
After admiring the intriguing 13-feet-high Pinnacles in the desert, go for snorkel, swim or surf at Hangover Bay beach. History buffs will love exploring the thrombolites built by tiny micro-organisms at Lake Thetis, and finish with the mild loop trail bushwalk. The best time to visit the park between September and October, when the native vegetation is in full bloom.
While the Western Australian Museum is spread over six sites and houses a collection of over 4.7 million items, the Perth location is the main site. With an aim to reflect upon and document the rich cultural and natural heritage of Western Australia, the museum houses exhibits in the fields of zoology, earth and planetary sciences, anthropology, archaeology, and history.
Along with a diverse array of permanent and temporary exhibitions, the Western Australian Museum prides itself on its research. Permanent exhibitions include WA Land and People, documenting Western Australia from dinosaurs to now; Katta Djinoong, depicting the culture and history of the Aboriginal people of Western Australia; and an exhibition investigating the biodiversity of life in the waters off the state’s coast.
Three of the museum’s six sites are located in Perth. The Perth branch is located in the cultural centre, and the Maritime Museum and Shipwreck Galleries are located to the north in Freemantle. The Maritime and Shipwreck Galleries, as the names suggest, are spaces dedicated largely related to life in or on the water. One of the most popular exhibits is the Australia II yacht, which famously won the Americas Cup in 1983.
Please note: The Perth location of the Western Australian Museum has closed. It is scheduled to reopen as the New Museum of Western Australia in 2020.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of Western Australia’s oldest buildings, Fremantle Prison is an important reminder of Australia’s convict history. Built in the 1850s by the very convicts who inhabited its cells, the prison was notorious for its deplorable conditions and brutal capital punishment.
From the moment you walk through the giant fiberglass replica of a crocodile's head, you know that the staff at Malcolm Douglas Crocodile Park is wild about crocs. Located on the outskirts of Broome, this adventurous park is home to native saltwater crocodiles deemed too aggressive to remain in their outback communities. Though the park is only open for three hours, visitors are able to see handler-led feedings in the afternoon, when crocodiles the size of cars enjoy their daily meal. You’ll also find four other crocodile species in the park, as well as American alligators, dingoes, cassowaries, wallabies, and hundreds of kangaroos. The park serves as an active breeding center for rare wallabies and kangaroos, so feel free to ask the staff about any of the animals in the park.
Cottesloe Beach’s gentle waves and sugar-soft sand might make you forget that you're in the middle of a major Australian city. Cott, as it’s affectionately known, is one of Perth’s most popular spots for swimming, surfing, snorkeling, or sipping cocktails while watching the sun set over the Indian Ocean.
Sun Picture Gardens Cinema is the oldest picture garden still in operation in the world.
Sun Picture Gardens Cinema began between 1903 and 1913, when the Yamsaki family operated a theatre in their Asian goods store. The building was sold in 1913 and the new owner then converted the building into a cinema. Sun Pictures itself opened on December 9, 1916, playing silent films. In 1933, the cinema began to play films with sound. During World War II, when the town was evacuated, the cinema was vandalised, and due to a series of floods – and a boycott over segregation – didn’t truly recover until 1974. In 1989, the cinema became protected, and in 2004 was certified in the Guinness World Book of Records as the oldest open air cinema in operation.
Sun Picture Gardens Cinema is now accompanied by Sun Cinemas – an indoor cinema opened in 2002. Seating in the cinema remains true to the original layout. Six padded bench seats line the front rows, in front of deckchair style seating that takes up the rest of the cinema.
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