The Western Australia Bucket List

You haven’t truly “done” Western Australia unless you’ve done these 100 experiences.

#10 - A Cable Beach Camel Ride

Where is it? Cable Beach, Broome, WA

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In terms of iconic imagery of the Broome region, there are few that can compare or feel more significant than the sight of a line of camels making their way along the beachfront as the sunset casts its glow on the shoreline. It's without a doubt one of the most popular activities for visitors to Broome to take part in, and while it might seem a little touristy given this popularity, there's a reason for this: it's a true once-in-a-lifetime experience for most, particularly when coupled with the famously beautiful sunsets of Broome's Cable Beach. Camels have played a large role throughout Aussie history, particularly given their affinity for desert and other dry environments, thus having an encounter with them during your time in Broome is widely considered to be a key part of the trip.

Local operator Red Sun Camels provide visitors with the chance to take part in this distinctive part of Aussie sightseeing, with each camel having its own character quirks that makes the adventure interesting. Once the journey kicks off, you'll not only get a dose of wonderful scenery but get the chance to listen to informative and entertaining stories and adventures of camels, camel riders and their staff. Image credit: Red Sun Camels

#9 - Do the Cape to Cape Walk

Where is it? Cape Leeuwin to Cape Naturaliste, WA

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The wonderfully untouched coastline of South-West Australia is a tapestry of colours that has long made it a favourite getaway destination of both residents of capital city Perth and those from interstate looking to unplug from civilisation. As a result, the roughly 135km-long Cape to Cape walking track - the longest such coastal track in Australia - provides visitors with a first-person, multi-day showcase of this diversity, with the characteristically-turquoise colour of the region's water playing a large part in the spectacle of the walk. All of the staples of incredible coastal scenery are encountered at their untouched best on the Cape to Cape walk; cliffs, caves, headlands, and unique rock formations abound, all of which contrast brilliantly with the surrounding waters.

It's an overall well-marked and signed track, though those wanting extra assurance can book guided tours with Cape to Cape Explorer who offer single and multi-day tours of the track. With the majority of its route following the coast and with navigable terrain that largely consists of cliffs to beaches, the track also offers several diversions inland to explore some wonderful stretches of towering Karri forest. The “Cape to Cape” portion of the name refers to the two potential end departure points – Cape Naturaliste in the north and Cape Leeuwin in the south – both of which are marked by their own signature lighthouse, and the trek can be embarked upon from either direction. The Cape to Cape track offers an incredible showcase of Australia's southwest, which stands as a criminally underrated holiday destination and a wholesome sampler of Oz's pristine coastline that remains unadulterated by commercialisation. Image credit: Margaret River.com

#8 - Visit the Pinnacles Desert

Where is it? Nambung National Park, WA

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One of the most eerie and unique landscapes in all of Australia, the peak-lined terrain of the Pinnacles Desert is a moon-like portion of the Nambung National Park that can be quite breathtaking - particularly under ideal weather conditions. Roughly 245km to the north of Perth, the desert features thousands of odd limestone figures jutting out of the desert sands, and the panorama on offer here is both magical and brings to mind something akin to an alien landscape from science fiction. The Pinnacles themselves vary in both size and shape, with some of the largest measuring up to 3.5 metres tall, and form an incredible backdrop for photography both amateur and professional alike. Formed from the remnants of an eroded bed of limestone over thousands of years, they’ve quickly become one of Western Australia’s most visited natural landmarks.

Lighting conditions play an especially prominent role in the panorama of the Pinnacles; they’re especially spectacular at sunrise or sunset as the effect of thousands of shadows comes into play, and full moon here is especially eerie – and even slightly spooky! Adventures to the Pinnacles are typically based out of the nearby small town of Cervantes, and are 2-wheel-drive accessible with a number of parking bays available for those wanting to explore on foot. Visiting is also doable on an extended day trip from Perth, with guided day tours also available to book through the likes of Travel Western Australia, Grayline, and Real Aussie Adventures. Image credit: Grahame Kelaher

#7 - A Scenic Flight over the Bungle Bungles

Where is it? Purnululu National Park, WA

This remarkable, remote and entirely unique looking part of the country was formed over immense eras of natural landscaping but only came to European attention since its discovery in 1983, and ever since the Bungle Bungles have been a key bucket list item on the itineraries many travellers to Western Australia. This is a singular landscape that has no real counterpart elsewhere in Australia, with its orange and black-striped mounts reminiscent of beehives making for a dramatic spectacle from both above and below. The Purnululu National Park’s relative isolation has made it a location that’s perhaps best viewed from above with a scenic flight (bookable through Aviair), and from altitude the character of the landscape becomes more readily apparent; it’s a spectacle that’s akin to abstract art with the numerous formations truly fascinating. The sheer scale of the range also comes into full view when viewed from high above; this is not some tiny individual slice of the country that happens to be unique.

Alternatively, 4WD access is a possibility for those looking to drive, and although it can be fairly challenging conditions have been improved in recent years. Exploring on foot brings with it its own rewards; there are a number of marvellous gorges to explore on foot, and the changing colours of the sandstone with the passage of the day is impressive when viewed up close. Camping here is possible and a wondrous experience but requires bringing along all supplies; there’s no true accommodation here to speak of, but this is “raw” Australia in its truest sense. Image credit: Jewels Lynch Photography

#6 - Explore Karijini National Park

Where is it? Pilbara, WA

Centred in Pilbara’s Hamersley Ranges, Karijini National Park offers visitors spectacular views of its rugged scenery and ancient geological formations. Spread over 627,422 hectares north of the Tropic of Capricorn, this national park is the second largest in the entire state. A tropic semi-desert of a national park, rainfall is common in summer as is thunderstorms and cyclones with temperatures regularly climbing to 40 degrees Celsius. Visitors wanting to explore this vast park best to leave it to late Autumn, Winter or Early Spring. Winter days bring with it clear and warm days with cooler nights, however it provides better conditions than what summer brings. The climbing temperatures in summer are unsafe for travellers, especially visitors to the region who aren’t familiar with the grounds and are susceptible to getting lost.

The scenery here is truly something to boast about, with large mountains rising from the flat valleys and stunning gorges separating the high hills. The rocks in the park are over 2,500 million years old and have been carved by inevitable erosion over that time. Some of the highlights in the area that are common with visitors are Dales Gorge, Fortescue Falls and Oxers Lookout. Swimming is allowed in some of the cool, fresh gorges however the water can reach extremely cold temperatures between April and September and are considerably deep. Bushwalking is popular in the cooler months around the park, and explorers will encounter numerous unforgettable highlights within. Those looking to extend their experience can immerse themselves fully in the park with a stay at the excellent Karijini Eco Retreat, which offers a far more glamorous camping experience. Image credit: Tourism WA

#5 - Admire the tumbling Mitchell Falls

Where is it? Kimberley Region, WA

One of the true jewels in the crown of the Kimberley region amongst its many other impressive natural attractions, Western Australia’s Mitchell Falls are one of the state’s most photographed highlights. The gorgeous, multi-tiered waterfall is exceptionally remote but undeniably beautiful, as its waters cascade over the typical fiery orange-red rock into the awaiting maws of the pools below. Part of the wildlife-rich Mitchell River National Park, its isolation is one of the main reasons visiting here is so rewarding. The beauty of Mitchell Falls is hard to capture in mere pictures – this is particularly so with an “animated” landscape such as waterfalls when much of its draw lies in the sheer power, flow and ambient sound of the tumbling water. Given its water-based nature, Mitchell Falls is also an attraction that’s best viewed just after the conclusion of the wet season, when the muddy roads have dried yet the water is still flowing at an impressive rate.

Mitchell Falls are located on the Mitchell River Plateau – a spot that is accessible either by an extensive, multi-day drive by 4WD vehicle and then additional on-foot hiking, or by scenic helicopter flights (done by HeliSpirit or King Leopold Air) that take passengers directly to access the falls themselves. Flying in, and then walking the Punamii-Unpuu Trail which leads to the most famed “photo spot” overlooking Mitchell Falls is a popular option for those short on either energy or time, and given its epic outlook is well worth the monetary investment. Image credit: Tourism Australia

#4 - Visit the Horizontal Falls

Where is it? Talbot Bay, WA

The Horizontal Falls near the town of Broome and north of Derby is another of the prime examples of the Kimberley region's spectacles that you can't encounter anywhere else in Australia; nicknamed the "Horries" by locals, this majestic display of a combination of sheer aquatic power and the influence of the tides is one of the most impressive natural phenomena in the country. It's an occurrence that simulates the visual effect of a waterfall as water rushes between a narrow gap between two gorges of the McLarty Range which can be found in two separate sections, - one inner and one outer - and both are remarkably narrow for this kind of landform. At high tide the pure volume of water pushing through creates a spectacular whitewash that renowned documentarian Sir David Attenborough once labeled "one of the world's greatest wonders".

Experiencing the falls can be done in a couple of ways - both air and water adventures take visitors to see the region on the way to the falls, and white aerial tours are far more expensive they provide a sense of context on just how dramatic and unique the colours of the region truly are. Many trips combine both a scenic flight out to the falls and then a jet boat ride through the falls themselves - the journey begins by boarding a seaplane and ascending to the skies for some breathtaking views of the island-strewn Buccaneer Archipelago with its countless specks of land dotting the vivid waters below. If you're looking to take the plunge and visit the falls, operator Horizontal Falls Adventures provide a choice of several shorter itineraries that depart from both Broome and Derby, while Kimberley Expeditions include them as part of epic multi-day journeys. Image credit: Kimberley Expeditions

#3 - Swim with Whale Sharks at Ningaloo

Where is it? Exmouth, WA

The Ningaloo Marine Park possesses many natural wonders, but few attract visitors from thousands of miles away like the chance to swim alongside the world's largest fish. Whale Sharks are the marine park's signature highlight, as the massive and graceful creatures gather regularly just off the coast of Ningaloo, and as a result offer one of the most easily-accessible of such experiences in the world. These huge plankton eaters arrive in the region after the annual coral spawning period; they can grow up to 18 metres in length, and swimming alongside them makes for an encounter that defies description. It begins with a large shadow looming in the distance that gradually approaches and may lead to an initial, instinctive surge of adrenaline. However, it's a quick adjustment to the realisation that the sharks will do you no harm - their large, spotted and somewhat intimidating forms bely the shark's peaceful nature, and their movement is both mesmerising and surprisingly fast.

Travellers looking to embark on a whale shark swim at Ningaloo will have numerous options for doing so, as day tours depart from both Coral Bay and Exmouth, with a wide number of tour operators - including Whale Sharks of Ningaloo, Ocean Eco Adventures, Ningaloo Blue and Three Islands - all offering worthwhile itineraries. Tours initially make use of a spotter plane to locate the sharks from the air; however on the rare cases that none can be found, the tour companies offer a "no sighting guarantee" for peace of mind of a refund. The embodiment of Western Australian nature adventures, and being a life-altering experience makes a Whale Shark swim a high ranker on this list.

Image credit: Kimberley Expeditions

#2 - Snap a Selfie with a Quokka

Where is it? Rottnest Island, WA

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You can’t visit Western Australia without a visit to the gorgeous getaway spot of Rottnest Island, and you can't leave Rottnest Island without snapping a selfie with their cute, resident quokkas. These wild animals are as photogenic a native animal as you're likely to come across; spread across the entire island, you will often come into contact with these small, friendly and curious animals. Snapping a selfie with them is quite easy as they’re accustomed to being photographed and they just happen to seem to love the camera. With or without a "selfie stick", this is one photo that epitomises your successful and memorable trip to the popular island. A quick search of various social media channels is all it takes to see how creative people have been with quokkas in the past!

All wildlife on Rottnest Island is protected, however, and the quokka is no exception - it's both possible and a requirement to snap a selfie with these animals without coming in contact with them. The island is home to the most sustainable population of quokkas in the world and if not protected these cute, friendly animals risk becoming extinct in the wild. Visitors aren’t permitted to touch or feed the animals - for their safety as well as yours - as they have been known to deliver a nasty bite in the past! Couple the creatures' cuteness with the numerous beautiful beaches, history and wonderful scenery, and Rottnest Island makes for an absolute must-visit on any Western Australian itinerary. Image credit: The Wanderlust Effect

#1 - Explore Cape Le Grand National Park

Where is it? 56km east of Esperance, WA

While the debate about which of Western Australia's many stunning and diverse national parks could top this list, there are few who could argue about the comprehensive package of overall natural beauty that Cape Le Grand National Park offers. Incredible beaches with the whitest sand in the country? Check. Jaw-dropping lookout points atop granite outcrops? You bet. Oodles of Australian wildlife to encounter within arms length. For sure. This is an ancient landscape where sea meets bush, and its concentration of both walking trails and beaches each more beautiful in the last make for perhaps Australia's best overall coastal national park. It's hard to list all of the wonders and standout features that make the park so special within a mere summary; simply commence a journey at Cape Le Grand Beach and work your way east, and you'll encounter them one by one.

Most famous of these is the incredible beauty of Lucky Bay - claimed to have the whitest sands of any beach in Australia, it's a spot where kangaroos on the beach as pictured above aren't just part of a set-up promo shoot; they're tame and approachable, and can be seen lazing in the sun throughout the year. Hellfire Bay's beautiful waters and red-granite rocks are a prism of colour and wondrous scenery, while the breathtaking views of the southern coastline and Recherche Archipelago from atop Frenchman's peak are the ultimate reward for making the hike up. In addition, while a 4WD-equipped vehicle opens up even further opportunities for adventure, the majority of Cape Le Grand's highlights are accessible via standard car as well, leaving the average traveller able to take in its essentials. Situated around 50km to the east of Esperance, the small fee required to enter Cape Le Grand National Park will be the best money you've ever spent. Image credit: Visit Esperance

Western Australia MapWestern Australia is not merely Australia’s largest state; its size leads to some of the greatest variety in both experiences and landscapes of any of the country’s territories. As a result, a trip across the massive state can encompass a drastically broad range of tableaus and vistas, people, foods and wines, and amazing landscapes and geographical features.

The northern and southern ends of Western Australia are thus drastically different; one is a ruggedly beautiful land of vivid reds, where ochre rocks clash with vivid blue waters, vast deserted beaches make for incredible escapes, and some unique natural phenomena unlike anything else in the country can be found. In this portion of the state, you’re as likely to enjoy a camel ride on the beach alongside a blazing sunset as you are to venture into the heart of one of Australia’s most intriguing National Parks.

Head south, and an intermingled land of beautiful beach-pocketed coastline, verdant wine producing regions and Australia’s sunniest capital city await. Perth serves as a laid-back, picturesque and enjoyable springboard for exploring many of the states adventures – it’s entirely up to you whether you choose to venture north, south, or even east where a taste of the Australian Outback awaits. Do epic marine adventures swimming alongside the world’s largest fish entice you? Exmouth and the Ningaloo Marine Park await. Are you wanting a picturesque island escape a mere ferry ride away from the capital? Look towards the beach-and-wildlife-rich Rottnest Island. Looking to sample some of the country’s best up-and coming wines and other fresh produce? Margaret River is only a couple of hours drive away.

From Broome to Albany and everywhere around and in-between, it’s this diversity that makes Western Australia such a vastly different experience for each and every traveller – one where each is free to craft their own amazing travel story. On this Western Australia bucket list, we hand-pick the 100 experiences that we feel best sum up the state’s many wonderful offerings.

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