The Western Australia Bucket List

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

#20 - Visit Shark Bay

Where is it? Gascoyne, WA

This colourful section of Western Australia's Coral Coast is a World Heritage-listed area that features a remarkable diversity of natural features all concentrated in one spot, including both interesting land and oceanscape offerings as well as animal and marine life. Dotted with a mixture of peninsulas and islands, Shark Bay was heavily used in the early days of European exploration off the coast of Australia - particularly the Dutch, who gave it its name. Shark Bay's striking turquoise waters serve as host to the world's largest bed of seagrass, and as a result is home to the largest collection of dugongs (a.k.a "sea cows") which use the grass as their main dietary source. Dolphins can also be found here in great numbers, with the majority gathering at its section of Monkey Mia (mentioned previously on this list) where the dolphins are incredibly social and approach the shore of their own volition for a feed several times daily. Add to these the hundreds of species of birds and reptiles that populate the land and air, and it's a veritable haven for zoological life of all kinds.

The islands of Shark Bay are also impressive in their own right, with Dirk Hartog Island in the bay WA's relatively unknown as the state's largest. This island is escapist isolation at its best, with vivid and sheer red cliffs clashing with the azure waters below to form a striking contrast while offering visitors the chance for relaxation on isolated, pristine beaches, some incredible snorkel and dive opportunities and world-class fishing. Meanwhile on the mainland, the jaw-dropping Zuytdorp Cliffs form a ruggedly beautiful spectacle that stretch nearly 200km in total and are best seen from the water or the air. Guided tours of Shark Bay's highlights are offered by both Shark Bay Coastal Tours (land) and Perfect Nature Cruises (sea), that provide excellent overviews and background of this beautiful part of WA. Image credit: Elements MR

#19 - Visit Wolfe Creek Crater

Where is it? 150km south of Halls Creek, WA

Scoring bonus points for a combination of atmosphere, rarity and sheer uniqueness of experience, the world's second-largest meteorite crater is both mind-blowing to view and to consider how it was formed - the weight of which truly hits when seeing it in person. Wolfe Creek Crater is estimated to have been formed around 330,000 years ago as the result of meteorite impact, and the resulting 880m-wide indentation it formed makes for seemingly random, massive feature in the middle of an otherwise largely featureless landscape. Its sloping rim can be climbed by visitors after a fairly steep and rocky scramble, however once atop the view inside is amazing - the centre of the crater has developed its own ecosystem different to that of the surrounding area, with its flat base containing a high degree of vegetation including large trees reaching up to 8m in height. While the climb down into its middle is possible, this doesn't come recommended due to safety reasons.

Due to Wolfe Creek Crater's remote location, it requires a bit of a hike to reach; drivers are looking at a journey of between 2 and 3 hours down the Tanami Road when progressing slowly and carefully due to its unsealed conditions, however the spectacle it provides makes the trip in well worth the effort. The road's condition makes the use of a 4WD vehicle recommended, although 2WDs can also make the journey during the midst of the dry season; it all comes down to how much you value your car! Those looking to witness the crater via tour have two main options; Spirit Safaris provide multi-day itineraries that include Wolfe Creek Crater as part of the journey, while those wanting to catch the awe-inspiring sight of the crater from the air can book a flight with Kingfisher Tours - when viewed from the sky, the crater resembles a massive eye in the landscape. A solid yet basic camping area is available at the crater for those looking to stay overnight, which grants the benefit of seeing the crater both at sunset and in the early morning light. Image credit: Australia's North West

#18 - Elephant Rocks of William Bay National Park

Where is it? Denmark, WA

This aptly named attraction within the William Bay National Park is made up of a cluster of large rocks giving the visual impression of a herd of elephants, all engulfed by some bright and vivid turquoise water that creates a beautiful contrast. It's quite an otherworldly landscape; looking over the Great Southern Ocean the rocks are semi-submerged in the shallow waters representing that of a herd of elephants paddling out to sea, with the stoic nature of elephants and the time-worn presence of the rocks having much in common. Views of the beach from atop its nearby lookout grant a greater perspective of the colourful coastal panorama, as well, and seeing it all from multiple angles comes highly recommended.

Those wanting to get an up-close view of the rocks and appreciate their scale firsthand can do so via a short walking track leading to the formation from the Greens Pool car park; the beach is secluded and shielded from any chilly winds, making for a peaceful and highly scenic environment. Relaxing in the tranquil, aquamarine waters is an exercise in natural escapism; particularly if visiting on a sunny day with clear skies as the waters will be at their most vivid. This is one of the Denmark region's must-do's, and a long-running favourite of locals due to its beauty.Image credit: Greg Snell

#17 - Salt & Sculptures at Lake Ballard

Where is it? Goldfields - Esperance, WA

A destination where the best of the natural and the man-made collide, this is Australia’s largest outdoor gallery, showcasing the work of renowned artist Antony Gormley’s ‘Inside Australia’ exhibit amongst expansive, wide salt flats that stretch as far as the eye can see. Located near Menzies in the Western Australia Goldfields, Lake Ballard is one of Australia’s most unusual and remote cultural attractions - despite its visual appeal, it's an attraction you'll often be able to have to yourself. The collection consists of 51 steel sculptures spread out ten square kilometres apart, with the white salt plain of Lake Ballard making for the perfect canvas for this art instalment.

The lake itself is a significant factor in the region’s salt lake system as it is a regular breeding habitat for waterfowl species and feeding banded stilt. Lake Ballard is a desert-like lake, having seen rain a total of 7 times in more than 200 years. It’s advised to allow several hours to explore the lake and the exhibit and be prepared for the large amount of walking you’re about to undertake. Lake Ballard has an interesting spiritual history, linking to the ‘Seven Sisters’ dreaming story, referring to the cluster of stars nearest to earth and the most obvious to the naked eye in winter. A visit to Lake Ballard connects one to its history, culture, spirituality and natural beauty, all of which combine to make it another must-see for visitors to the Goldfields - Esperance region.Image credit: Frances Andrijich & Henrik Tived

#16 - Go Swimming with Dolphins

Where is it? Rockingham, WA

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For lovers of all-things-wildlife, swimming with dolphins is often said to be a life-changing experience, and Western Australia's answer to this is available from the port of Rockingham which lies roughly 40 minutes to the south of Perth. Travellers taking part equip buoyant wetsuits, then once the dolphins are spotted, submerge themselves in the water for an encounter that can only be described as "magical". A completely eco-conscious experience, travellers are able to join operator Rockingham Wild Encounters on a journey into the seas nearby to interact with these intelligent and playful mammals within truly natural conditions. Emphasis is put on an up-close viewing experience without putting any undue pressure on the dolphins themselves, with a strong message of conservation issued throughout. The dolphins approach by themselves as a result of both extended contact with humans over the decades as well as their own inquisitive natures, and seem to actually enjoy the company of the people in "their" territory.

Passengers on the experience are given equal opportunity for time in the water with he dolphins, and it's fascinating to see the creatures swim underneath, beside and around you on all sides. In addition, while basic swimming or snorkelling ability is required, a high level of confidence in the water is not - staff are used to dealing with first-time snorkellers, and the inherently calm and protected bays of Rockingham combined with the floatation of the wetsuits helps alleviate concerns. There's simply something extremely special about interacting with a wild animal, and coupled with the lovely waters and scenery of this part of WA witnessed throughout, this makes for an example of eco-tourism at its best. Image credit: Rockingham Wild Encounters

#15 - Take a trip to Wave Rock

Where is it? Hyden, WA

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Millions of years old, dabbled in a striking colour of grey and red granite strips, and formed from the gradual and steady process of water erosion, Wave Rock is a 15-metre high natural marvel situated on the eastern side of the Western Australian wheatbelt. Larger in person that it often appears in photos, the rock possesses a beautiful curved structure and its mixed tableau of colours makes for an extremely photogenic site. While it's located a long way from Perth for a single attraction in itself - the closest town to Wave Rock is Hyden, which is roughly 4 hours drive east of the Western Australian capital - the rock is an essential visit at least as a side trip item if heading further on towards Kalgoorlie. The drive to Wave Rock is interesting in its own right, passing through the Tin Horse Highway that is dotted with a number of interesting sculptures, all of which culminates in the looking sight of the rock itself.

Visitors to Wave Rock can climb up to the top for a wonderful panorama of the surrounding area, and when viewed at different times of the day the rock's colour alters significantly. Sunset here is magical as well, and creates more of a dark-ochre hue as opposed to the typical more yellow texture seen during the peak of the day. A number of facilities constructed nearby round out Wave Rock's offerings - including a kiosk for refreshments, as well as a wildlife park and wildflower shop. Perhaps the only downside to a visit to Wave Rock is the quantity of flies; wearing a fly net to cover your face comes highly recommended. Wave Rock is a WA highlight that's doable in a day (day tours with Outback Spirit Tours, Grayline and various others all visit it) yet memorable forever. Image credit: Tourism Western Australia

#14 - Lake Hillier & Pink Lake near Esperance

Where is it? Middle Island & 7km from Esperance, WA

While looking at a lake may seem like an uninteresting enough affair, several of the lakes around regional Western Australia take this conception and turn it on its head, courtesy of a striking, bright pink colour that looks like a trick of the light. No, there is no Photoshop involved here, and that massive pool of water isn't strawberry milk; they're the result of the presence of a certain type of algae common to the region that create the vivid, bubblegum-esque colour. The Esperance region of WA is home to two of the most striking examples of this phenomena, each of which can be best viewed by alternating methods. The most striking of these is Lake Hillier on Middle Island within the Recherche Archipelago off the coast of the mainland; surrounded by dense greenery of eucalyptus and paperbark trees, the contrast between the foliage and the sheer pink of the water is incredibly striking, especially when viewed from the air. Operator Goldfields Air Services offer scenic flights over Middle Island for those wanting the ultimate vantage point, while Esperance Diving & Fishing offer boat charters as well..

A second lake - simply dubbed "Pink Lake" - lies on the mainland around 7km from Esperance, with a contrast against coastal scenery. While it's not as consistently coloured as the waters of Lake Hillier - recent weather and current lighting conditions play a large part - it's far more accessible, and interested parties can take in a panorama of the lake from above from a nearby lookout. Image credit: Okert le Roux

#13 - The Swan Valley Food & Wine Trail

Where is it? Swan Valley, Guildford, WA

Wine aficionados and those who enjoy an excellent culinary experience in general can follow this 32-kilometre trail around the beautiful Swan Valley wine region. Located a short 25-minutes from Perth, the Swan Valley is a popular hotspot for tourists and locals alike thanks to its rich wine, food, art and scenery all in one. Embarking on the drive will take you past more than 150 beautiful and gourmet attractions, so have both your camera and your stomach at the ready and be prepared to take in some of the region's top sights. The trail will take aspiring travellers past a collection of wineries, busy breweries, fining restaurants, lazy cafes, distilleries, markets, arts and craft hub, fresh produce stalls and various forms of quaint and secluded accommodation.

The entire trail is well-signed, making it easy for visitors to follow without getting lost and highlighting major points of interest along the way; there's pleasure to be had in simply diverting to any of these that strike your interest on a whim. The Swan Valley Visitor Centre is also there to help you along the way providing various guides and maps to help you plan your personalised food and wine experience in the region. Swan Valley is Western Australia’s oldest wine growing region and over the years has worked hard to earn the high reputation it has for its wines. Along the trail you can expect to have a taste of a range of wines from Verdelho (a region specialty) to some of the world’s finest Fortifieds - from a number of cellar doors too numerous to mention.Image credit: Tourism WA

#12 - Cape Range National Park

Where is it? Yardie Creek Road, WA

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Famed for its blend of amazingly beautiful bays, wildlife such as emus, echidnas, kangaroos and more, Cape Range National Park blends a limestone-rich landscape of canyons, caves, gorges and other features that give travellers a staggering number of potential day trips contained within. The park offers the best of both worlds in terms of inland and coastal environments, as it sits in an idyllic location directly alongside the wondrous Ningaloo Marine Park and is home to the gorgeous Turquoise Bay (previously mentioned on this list). Cape Range is an incredible bushwalking destination, with walks that run through deep gorges and up across scenic high country with some majestic views on offer - particularly the deep and rugged scar of Charles Knife Canyon. Multiple sections of the park can also be driven, and its routes that follow the coastal areas lead to some majestic coastal scenery to be absorbed along the way.

The abundant animal life within adds an amazing dose of life to Cape Range that few other national parks can compete with; this becomes particularly apparent of an early evening once the temperatures cool down and the resident local creatures become more active. Other natural highlights abound within, including the scenic Yardie Creek Gorge which can both be walked above via a walking trail and cruised with Yardie Creek Boat Tours, the various beaches and secluded snorkelling spots you'll have to yourself, and a number of picturesque spots at which to camp. Campsites within the park are minimal, although their toilets are kept in great condition, and staying overnight eliminates the need to leave and return to the park over multiple days - and this is a location where you'll need multiple days to soak its majesty in completely. Image credit: Parks & Wildlife WA

#11 - Take in a Busselton Jetty Sunset

Where is it? Busselton, WA

The small seaside town of Busselton to the south-west of Perth has long been popular with Western Australians and has been named as the state's top tourist town in three separate years. Upon visiting its quaint, charming foreshore it's easy to see why – the old-world charm of the town still exists, and its continued development has been wonderfully balanced with maintaining the town's beauty with painstaking care. Busselton's Jetty is a key factor in providing this charming aspect; it extends an amazing 1.8km out into the waters of surrounding Geographe Bay and serves as the perfect spot from which to take in the town's famed sunsets. Busselton's sunsets are special in that they often branch away from the typical red-orange glows of many other spots and often have a distinct indigo-purple tinge integrated into their spectrum, making for a truly spectacular sight.

But what else makes Busselton's sunsets so special? The fact that because Geographe Bay faces north, and as a result the sun does not set directly out into the ocean; it sets in the west over the Cape Naturaliste area. The extensive views for miles and miles across Geographe Bay to the sunset is simply spectacular and provides an aura of calmness and serenity. It's this unique combination of escapist atmosphere, great waterfront facilities, wonderful seaside architecture and - of course - spectacular skies that make Busselton the home of one of WA's most incredible sunset views.

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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