The Western Australia Bucket List

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

#30 - Drive the Gibb River Road

Where is it? Between Derby and Kununurra, WA

This former cattle route remains one of Australia's premier 4WD roadtrips and still conveys a "land before time"-esque outback atmosphere where escapist adventure is the name of the game. Throughout its some 660km length, the Gibb RIver Road encompasses a varied and far-reaching range of natural scenery as it conveys drivers from Derby on the WA coast through to Kununurra at the state's inner border. It can make for a challenging journey for the uninitiated; the Gibb is a road where conditions vary from solid bitumen through to bare earth, and care needs to be taken for first-time visitors who are navigating the route. Making a well-planned trip along the Gibb River Road brings with it innumerable rewards, however; it serves as the gateway to a multitude of the best highlights of Western Australia - many of which feature prominently on this list - including Windjana Gorge, El Questro Wilderness Park, and Mitchell Falls as well as countless others - and thus can make for one of Australia's most unforgettable journeys for those willing to allot around 2 weeks.

Those looking to embark on this epic journey will need to be appropriately prepared; a high-clearance 4x4 vehicle is a necessity, and one can expect plenty of shakes, bumps and the occasional bruise along the way. Alternatively, Kimberley Safari Tours offer multi-day 4WD Gibb River Road adventures for small groups, utilising purpose-built vehicles for dealing with the terrain; given the exorbitant recovery costs should your personal vehicle get stuck in such a remote area, this may be the most viable option for some. The Gibb River Road is something of a rite of passage for Western Australians and a bucket list item for Aussies in general; it covers an amazing part of our vast continent and is an adventure where a lack of cell phone reception and embracing the country's wild side brings with it its own reward. Image credit: Tourism Western Australia

#29 - Climb Mt. Augustus

Where is it? Mt. Augustus National Park, WA

While northern counterpart Uluru may get all the media attention, the massive Mt. Augustus in WA's golden outback region dwarfs the Northern Territory's monolith to the tune of 2.5 times in size, giving it the status of "World's Biggest Rock". Literally in the middle of nowhere, driving down a dirt road and then suddenly seeing the spectacle of an enormous stone formation pop into view is about as Australian Outback an experience as one can get - Mt. Augustus rises prominently above a red sandplain dotted with sparse, semi-arid scrub and towers above the landscape, measuring 717m above sea level at its highest point. Much like Uluru, Mt. Augustus changes colour throughout the day with the sun's passage, while incredible sunsets can be taken in from designated lookout points designed to maximise the viewing experience.

The rock lies within a surrounding National Park that supports a great range of wildlife, many of which congregate around its "Cattle Pool" - a year-round waterway that attracts all manner of waterbirds to its southern banks. Mt. Augustus is also home to aboriginal engravings which can be seen on its Flintstone Rock Walk (a more leisurely undertaking), while travellers with a good level of fitness can climb up on the south side - a fairly challenging endeavour that takes around 6 hours to complete. Winter is a good time to climb to avoid the incredible heat that hits around the middle of the day, however visiting during spring brings with it the benefit of spectacular wildflowers dotting the landscape. Those looking to stay overnight can make use of a well-equipped campsite on the mountain's north side, and given it's a long way from anywhere else (roughly 850km from Perth) is an option most self-drive visitors will take, while operator Casey Tours also provided guided multi-day trips to Mt. Augustus and surrounds.

#28 - Relax and Enjoy Meelup Beach

Where is it? Dunsborough, WA

A treasured spot for locals of the Dunsborough region, Meelup Beach is one of Western Australia's best overall swimming beaches, as it's located in a sheltered cove with calm waters that are largely protected from both wind and waves. Situated on the shores of Geographe Bay, it's a top choice for families wanting a dose of aquatic refreshment, as the depth of the beach's water stays shallow for an extended length from the shore before dropping off; those with toddlers and young children in general will find few better spots in the state to acquaint their kids with the water. As with many other of the top beaches on this list, the waters here are pristine beyond compare, and while it's more accessible and thus busier than some of the most isolated stretches of sand, it's still a tranquil spot that's nearly deserted on weekdays in particular.

Meelup Beach is an extremely tranquil and peaceful spot in which to spend a summer evening, and offers wonderful moon viewing opportunities as the glowing sphere reflects off the still waters magically once darkness falls during the full moon periods of the month. It's also one of the region's top picnic spots, with ample grassed areas at which to throw out a rug and enjoy a meal overlooking the colourful water, with barbecue, toiler and shower facilities available, and easy parking with plenty of room for everyone outside of the busiest periods. While surfers will want to stay well away, Meelup Beach is nearly faultless for the average traveller.

#27 - Valley of the Giants & Walpole-Nornalup NP

Where is it? Valley of Giants WA

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One of Western Australia's unique eco-friendly attractions, the Treetop Walk within the Valley of the Giants - itself within the all-encompassing greenery of the Walpole Nornalup National Park - is a spectacular way to gain appreciation for the sheer scale of some of the trees that are found in the region. Visitors to the national park can, for a free, walk around the canopy of some of the tallest, oldest trees in the country, with some even standing for more than 400 years. Suspended 40-metres in the air, visitors can explore the highest level of the forest while revelling in the stunning views of the surrounding wilderness via a well-constructed and gently sloping steel walkway. While it's high above the ground, those with an aversion to heights will find comfort in the stability of the structure, and the spectacle of the massive Karri and Tingle trees will take up enough of your attention to distract your mind from the altitude.

In addition to the treetop walk, navigating the valley floor is also impressive and informative, with a number of detailed information boards located throughout and snap some excellent photos of the wilderness. The rest of the Walpole-Nornalup National Park is no scenic slouch, either, with rushing rivers and sections of wild coast to explore and outstanding views from Hilltop Lookout of the Southern Ocean and its resident islands. The national park is also home to the ruggedly gorgeous Mandalay Beach - voted #7 on our list of Australia's Top 10 Beaches in our national poll back in 2013 - with its wildly beautiful shores a must-visit. Image credit: Max Ryszawa

#26 - Visit Monkey Mia

Where is it? Monkey Mia, WA

Situated within the beautiful Shark Bay World Heritage Area, Monkey Mia has long been the site of one of the state of Western Australia's most iconic wildlife experiences - a close-up encounter with Indo-Pacific Bottlenose Dolphins. Every morning for decades, multiple dolphins have come to shore for a supervised feeding experience by the Western Australian Department of Parks and Wildlife, with visitors able to stand in the shallow, crystal clear waters as the intelligent creatures are merely arms length away. The feeds are conducted three times per day in the morning, and only a few of the dolphins who show up are allowed to be fed in order to help them retain their natural behaviour for food hunting. Rangers who conduct the experience are incredibly informative, and provide a detailed talk in the lead up to the dolphins' approach which covers their habits, diet, and the region as a whole.

The dolphins aren't the only drawcard for visiting Monkey Mia; it's an extremely pretty bay in its own right, and wonderful to explore with a walk, swim or snorkel - with the chance to spot the likes or turtles and stingrays, or even the dolphins themselves, in the water. Travellers to the region can find accommodation at the aptly-named Monkey Mia Dolphin Resort where the feeding takes place, which sits in an excellent location offering wonderful beach views. As the Monkey Mia dolphin experience is completely natural, it must be treated and understood as such; there's the chance you may make the extended trip only to have no dolphins come at all. However, the high likelihood of the encounter combined with the wonderful surroundings make Monkey Mia a bucket list item regardless. Image credit: Visit Shark Bay

#25 - Fitzgerald River National Park

Where is it? Bremer Bay/Ravensthorpe area, WA

Home to an abundance of native Australian flora - including some dazzlingly colourful flower species not seen anywhere else in the country - Fitzgerald River National Park is one of the most vibrant nature areas in Western Australia, with a colour palette that covers every aspect of the spectrum. Situated along one of the most incredible stretches of Australian coast, the national park offers countless stunning bays and inlets to stumble upon, with magnificent photo opportunities awaiting around every corner. The park is also abundant in wildlife - particularly lizards and birds, but over 20 species of mammals as well - while whales can also be spotted frolicking offshore if visiting during their annual migratory season. Jaw-droppingly beautiful turquoise water is viewable throughout, particularly from the well-equipped coastal site at Point Ann, and there are numerous opportunities to head down to the beach for a swim without another soul in sight.

The Fitzgerald River National Park recently received a major multi-million dollar upgrade coming from government investment, and as a result the majority of its roads are now in far better condition, with multiple excellent spots to take in views along the way. Parking areas, interpretive signage, and various other amenities to aid visitors have also been enhanced, and the level accessibility this has helped provide is commendable. Its campsites are now first-class as well, with those wanting to extend the journey presented with multiple options for doing so with the majority concentrated on its eastern end towards Hopetoun. Fitzgerald River National Park is another underrated destination in Western Australia where few fellow tourists go, meaning you'll often have parts of this natural wonderland all to yourself. Image credit: Tourism Western Australia

#24 - Kooljaman & Cape Leveque

Where is it? Cape Leveque, Kimberley, WA

This Aboriginal-owned wilderness camp provides a historic and cultural backdrop to what is a stunning natural part of the Dampier Peninsula; Cape Leveque is a staple of Western Australian tourism photography with its mixed tableaus of stunning white sands against bright red rocks and azure water. The camp-come-resort of Kooljaman is a wonderful and isolated base that comes with a dash of luxury while keeping the condition of the region at the forefront of its concerns; there's no awkward or garish overdevelopment here, but instead a tasteful and low-impact accommodation option with gorgeous beach views. There's not much to do here, and that's entirely the point - visiting the area involves relaxing, walking the beautiful beaches and swimming their waters, plus admiring the colours of the cape both in the early morning and late afternoon as the sun's glow enhances the striking colouration further.

The local Aboriginal landowners make for gracious hosts, and are willing to share ancient techniques for the likes of bush tucker, medicinal craft and spearfishing, while teaching travellers about the native plants and animals that populate the Cape. The rest of the Peninsula also has plenty of deserted and wild coastline in which to camp, while other regional highlights such as the walk to the Cape Leveque Lighthouse, Cygnet Bay Pearl Farm, visiting Middle Lagoon, or a number of cruises of the surrounding coast all offer alternative ways to both explore the region and pass the time. One of the very tips of Western Australia, a lot of travelling is required to get here, but the fabulous sights and remote beauty of Cape Leveque make the trip well worth it. Image credit: Australia's North West

#23 - Twilight Beach at Esperance

Where is it? Esperance, WA

Esperance is an underrated destination that has numerous positives going for it, but chief among these are its beaches; this is a coastal spot with vistas that are worthy of postcards that can easily compete with the offerings of the Whitsundays on the far side of the country. While any number of its beaches make for a spectacular slice of coast, Twilight Beach which lies roughly 7km to the west of Esperance proper is the gem in its seaside crown. With a sand and water combination that glistens like a pearl, Twilight Beach is visually stunning, well patrolled, and large enough to cater to all manner of beachgoers without feeling crowded; Esperance's boasting one of the lowest population densities of any habitable part of our country is no doubt a large contributing factor to this. The beach's exceptionally bright waters are broken up by a number of semi-submerged rock formations including its conspicuous "Hole Rock" just offshore which add yet more contrast to the already beautiful panorama

Twilight Beach is largely safe and offers good overall swimming conditions; there are waves to enjoy here but they are seldom too large to inhibit the average swimmer's enjoyment, and as a result families will also be able to enjoy this pocket of paradise. Only a 15 minute drive away from the centre of Esperance, the beach is easily accessible, is host to a generous amount of car parking, and has a well-kept toilet block. There's nothing that Twilight Beach lacks that one could ask for, and with its powdery-soft and unbelievably white sand that looks like something out of a magazine shoot, you'll likely find your mouth agape upon arrival - and not want to leave thereafter. Image credit: Tourism Western Australia

#22 - Jewel Cave of Margaret River

Where is it? North of Augusta, WA

Western Australia's largest show cave is one of many impressive displays of the combined effects of limestone, water and time in the greater Margaret River region, however it stands out not only for its size but also for its sheer quantity of interesting formations to be found within. Explored via a series of steps and boardwalks which are plentiful but easy to navigate - and with plenty of pausing to gawk at its beauty in between - Jewel Cave contains a number of weird and wonderful shapes throughout which conjure up images of other lifeforms and figures from the natural world such as ocean reefs, organ pipes, popcorn, cauliflower, and much more. The cave incorporates wonderful use of lighting throughout that augments the viewing experience without looking overly fake, and the cave has a soft, golden glow throughout that makes for a great atmosphere for exploration.

Jewel Cave is a "live" cave, with water running through it which adds yet more to the ambience, while occasional light shows are temporarily turned on that play a number of eerily beautiful effects on the contours of the cave's walls and limestone formations. Make sure your camera is fully charged when visiting Lake Cave, as chances for wonderful photos await around every turn! Those visiting the cave take part in a fully guided tour with an overview of each of the cave's main sections aided by light shone on them, and the guides are not only passionate and informative but are also equipped with an enjoyable sense of humour, too. Jewel Cave is located on Cave Road around 20 minutes north of Augusta, and while there are numerous caves along this route, in the case of Jewel Cave the cliche of "bigger is better" definitely rings true. Image credit: Margaret River.com

#21 - See the "Staircase to the Moon"

Where is it? Broome and surrounding regions, WA

One of Western Australia's most iconic natural phenomena and visible between the months of March and October, the Staircase to the Moon is a visual treat for visitors to the area that has been a major subject of artwork and photography for decades. This natural phenomenon sees the full moon rise over the North West bays and create a mirrored effect on the mudflats; the reflection represents that of a staircase climbing its way up to the risen moon - hence the name.

Visible in many locations on the coast of WA but perhaps best seen from Roebuck Bay in the tourist hub of Broome, this is a remarkable sight to see, allowing the sun's reflection to form a perfect “line” leading seemingly directly towards the full moon itself. This optical illusion is also visible from a handful of the coastal regions in Western Australia including Onslow, Dampier, Cossack, Point Samson Peninsula, Hearson Cove and Port Hedland. Visitors hoping to catch a glimpse of the stairs are advised to check the current moon cycle for the month they’re visiting; time things right and you'll find yourself mesmerised. Image credit: Tourism Western Australia

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.

The Western Australia Bucket List Map

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