The Western Australia Bucket List

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

#40 - Visit the Ferguson Valley

Where is it? Dardanup, WA

Boasting rolling hills, picturesque valleys and breathtaking views seemingly around every new winding turn, the Ferguson Valley is one of Western Australia's most idyllic destinations for day trips or weekend getaways. Its peaceful seclusion will be a highlight for most, as there are few better places to escape from civilisation within reach of around a 2 hour drive from Perth. The valley is mostly renowned as a food and wine lover’s heaven with obvious crowd favourites such as local wineries, breweries and restaurants serving as a major drawcard for visitors - the region has a growing reputation as a hotspot for boutique dining in particular, with much of the produce utilised by resident chefs coming from local farms, vineyards, and cheese producers. There are several wineries in the area that offer quality lunches - St. Aidan Wines in particular comes highly recommended with a number of standout signature dishes on offer - and with the lovely green backdrops setting the mood, make for an incredibly satisfying daytime dining experience.

In addition, the mere act of driving through the Ferguson Valley is a highlight in and of itself; the region is one of the most picturesque examples of countryside in the entirety of the south-west of Western Australia, and navigating your way leisurely through quiet back roads often leads to encountering some postcard-worthy panoramas. If looking for a more extended overnight stay, the valley also boasts a number of charming and secluded B&B's that are designed with romantic getaways in mind, and make for an ideal spot for couples wanting an escape. Lastly, if travelling with kids, be sure to make a stop to check out the quirky Gnomesville (mentioned previously on this list).

#39 - Explore the colourful Kalbarri

Where is it? Kalbarri, WA

Featuring a lovely and mixed juxtaposition of landscapes, this picturesque coastal area where the Murchison River and Indian Oceans meet blends together multiple striking elements that make it worth a visit. Chief among these is its vividly colourful Kalbarri National Park; a spectacular mix of fiery gorges and distinctively unique rock formations - including the iconic "Nature's Window" - the park features a landscape that has been carved by the combination of weather and time to form some remarkable shapes. Blending together ochre colours of distinctly Aussie earth with pockets of greenery and dissected by the blue of the Murchison River itself, the Kalbarri National Park provides a number of outstanding lookouts and vantage points from which to soak this spectacle all in. The park has plenty of excellent walking tracks to embark on for the adventurous traveller, including its renowned Z-Bend which offers a spectacular panorama of gorge, river and redgum.

Stick to the coast and town's surrounds, meanwhile, and Kalbarri offers plenty of additional potential; Chinaman's Beach is clean, picturesque and offers some quality swimming, fishing and snorkelling; Rainbow Jungle is an excellent and surprisingly comprehensive attraction teeming with bird life; and the unique phenomenon of the Pink Lake that appears a bright, fluorescent colour is just a reasonable drive away. Plus, of course, there's the long-running local spectacle of pelican feeding where dozens of the massive birds are treated on the river foreshore. Kalbarri is home to some of WA's most unique scenery while escapist in its own right and thus well worth the effort to visit. Image credit: Australia's Coral Coast

#38 - Visit & stay at Lake Argyle

Where is it? Near Kununurra, WA

One of the Kimberley’s most prominent features, Lake Argyle is a massive, man-made freshwater lake that has turned into a major attraction in its own right, both for its scale and isolation, as well the dramatic visual landscape it presents. The colour contrast of the surrounding rocky hills against the lake's water is striking, and the contours of the lake within the surrounding environment appear largely natural - it never gives of the feeling of being artificial despite its human construction. The addition of the lake to the region has resulted in a distinctive and thriving ecosystem that now exists; the lake itself is home to an estimated 35,000 freshwater crocodiles that, although numerous, aren’t generally considered to be a danger to humans, while a wide range of fish species from barramundi to bream also call Lake Argyle home. It's become something of a massive oasis in the desert in what would otherwise be an incredibly dry part of the country, and is largely unique for that reason alone.

Exploring and enjoying Lake Argyle and its surrounds can be done in a variety of fashions; there are a number of bushwalking tracks and trails that provide great overviews of the lake and its local wildlife; watersports such as canoeing, waterskiing and sailing provide fun and scenic ways to enjoy its waters; and scenic cruises conducted by Lake Argyle Cruises allow for taking in the lake from a wholly different angle - with the chance to view one of the region's incredible sunsets on offer as well. Visitors also have the option of staying overnight by the lake with campsites, cabins and villas available to rent for the night - plus admire the lake from within the wonderful Infinity Pool at the Lake Argyle Resort & Caravan Park for one of Australia's most inspiring views. Image credit: Tourism Western Australia

#37 - Wildlife at Perth Zoo

Where is it? South Perth, WA

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In close proximity to the Perth CBD, Perth Zoo is a popular destination for animal and nature lovers which is very well-run and offers access to a wide array of domestic and international animals - all at what is a very reasonable price compared to a number of other similar wildlife attractions around the country. The Zoo also offers somewhat more of a peaceful feel than many other zoos, with its position close to the shore of the Swan River combining with abundant greenery and gorgeous gardens making it a relaxing pleasure to negotiate your way through. The kids not having to fight for a decent viewing position in all except the busiest parts of the year is a bonus, too, as it's far easier to catch a glimpse of many of its animal inhabitants here.

Visitors to Perth Zoo can wander through the various different exhibits to encounter some of the myriad of friendly and curious animals which are divided up by geographical region; visit Asia to see the Asian Elephant, Nepalese Red Panda, Sumatran Tiger and Orangutan; travel through the Australian section to see the likes of a Quokka, Emu, Dingo and Tasmanian Devil; Africa is home to the giraffe, spotted hyena, slender-tailed meerkat and plains zebra. Finally, wander around the South American section to meet the Pygmy Marmoset, Bolivian Squirrel Monkey and Galapagos Tortoise. The zoo's relatively compact size also has an added side benefit of giving your kids the chance to see everything without tiring themselves out too much, and as a result makes for a reliable and easy "go to" attraction for those visiting Perth with children. Image credit: Perth Zoo

#36 - Cruise the Buccaneer Archipelago

Where is it?Derby, WA

This cavalcade of nearly 1,000 rocky islands situated within bright, turquoise waters in the state's north-west is as scenic as it is remote. A far cry from the glitz and overdevelopment of resort islands on the Australian east coast, the islands here are ruggedly beautiful, many with high cliffs, unpopulated and completely undeveloped while rich in flora and fauna and dotted with pandanus and emerald rainforest trees. The isolation of the Buccaneer Archipelago is both a reason for its pristine condition and a factor in how difficult it is to explore; tourism infrastructure here is almost completely lacking, and the maze of islands and their various hidden reefs and sudden shallows can make the chain a chore to navigate for all but the most seasoned of local explorers. As a result, travellers to the region wanting to explore their many intriguing and visually stunning offerings have a fairly limited number of ways to do so.

While scenic flights are an option and help to convey a sense of scale - as well as an overall panorama - of the archipelago, a range of different cruises also exist for a more in-depth examination of the area's highlights; many of which are multi-day itineraries that explore the greater offerings of the Kimberley region as a whole. Companies such as Ahoy Buccaneers and One Tide Charters offer such journeys for the aspiring traveller, visiting must-see's such as the rocky Yampi Sound, Ruby Falls and various secluded beaches and inlets where an abundance of wildlife may be found. The majority of adventures to the Buccaneer Archipelago springboard from the town of Derby which lies on the mudflats of King Sound, which sits around 220km north-east of Broome. Image credit: Tourism Western Australia

#35 - Drive through Boranup Forest

Where is it? Boranup, WA

This open, airy and downright beautiful collection of Karri Trees - the third tallest species in the world - makes for one of the most beautiful drives in WA's south-west and a lovely detour when visiting the Margaret River region. Filled with regrowth forest, it's a drive that brings with it great immersive qualities, and offers a feeling of being temporarily removed from the rest of the world as you're surrounded by towering trees and dense greenery on all sides. Boranup Forest is inherently tranquil, and visitors here will be able to enjoy the refreshingly clean air and lovely forest smells accompanied by the sound of birdsong - particularly from the large quantities of Kookaburras that inhabit the treetops. In addition to the raw beauty of the forest's greenery, visiting during the Spring months will showcase an extra tableau of colour courtesy of blooming wildflowers which blanket the forest floor.

Boranup Forest also offers plenty of great side tracks to explore, and walking through such an environment is an exercise in raw escapism; this includes the wonderful vantage point of the area on offer at Boranup Lookout that grants a great view of both the Indian Ocean and the rolling hills of Margaret River. Driving through the forest is done via an unpaved road, yet it's stable enough to be navigated with a 2WD vehicle as long as driving is done carefully. The forest also has a campground equipped with a toilet and fireplace for those wanting to extend their stay, and given it's only a 25 minute drive from Margaret River this becomes an easily doable prospect. Image credit: Tourism Western Australia

#34 - El Questro Wilderness Park

Where is it? Kununurra, WA

A remote slice of the East Kimberley, El Questro contains a "last frontier" atmosphere courtesy of its rugged landscape characteristic of the region that offers some outstanding diversity throughout. One of Australia's more unique holiday destinations, there's over a million acres worth of territory to explore here that encompasses everything from red sandstone ranges, to tumbling and secluded waterfalls cascading into pristine waterholes, and even pockets of rainforest to add more colour to the proceedings. A famed side trip off the renowned Gibb River Road, it's a magical destination with an abundance of attractions and activities to keep visitors of all dispositions entertained for multiple days. Horse riding, Chamberlain and other gorge cruises, fishing, guided cultural tours, bird watching... all of these are on the table at El Questro, and they're all done within an environment that sums up what is essential an "Aussie Outback" experience at its best.

The magnificent Emma Gorge is a standout highlight in particular, and makes for a wonderful walk that culminates in a swimmable pool that proves highly refreshing after the trek. The park is also a 4WD'ers paradise in general, with numerous offroad adventures to be had that - while they require sufficient driving skill to navigate - bring with them a mixture of fascinating landscapes, wildlife and flora as a reward for your efforts. Accommodation is available in multiple forms, from camping to upmarket eco-resorts, with El Questro's main "township" within the park offering surprisingly great facilities considering the isolated location; a stay of multiple days is practically a requirement in order to cover all of what El Questro has to offer. It's a wonderful way to balance the benefits of modern amenities with some of the raw beauty of the outback. Image credit: Tourism WA

#33 - Drive the Rainbow Coast

Where is it? Albany, Denmark & Walpole, WA

Encompassing a number of lovely towns grouped along a scenic stretch of coast on WA's south-west, the ostensible "Rainbow Coast" is a collection of various natural and man-made adventures all wrapped into one that makes for a flexible and gorgeous multi-day itinerary. Brimming with national parks, towering forests, incredible beaches and excellent walking trails, the Rainbow Coast is a veritable smorgasbord of things to see and do that can be explored on both 2 and 4 wheels. The region's balanced weather that rarely ever reaches scorching conditions makes it a viable year-round destination, and while certain highlights come to the forefront during the hot and cold seasons, there's never a lack of scenic spots to visit or activities to enjoy from its three main hubs of Albany, Denmark and Walpole. It's also generally less touristy than the likes of more famous Margaret River as well, and thus offers plenty of opportunities for self-driven escapism.

Many of the individual attractions and highlights of the Rainbow Coast feature prominently throughout this list, and as a result forming a wonderful itinerary thus comes largely down to personal taste. Chief town of Albany and its surrounds along has a huge variety of highlights - including most notably its unique Wind Farm, the National ANZAC Centre, and the gorgeous Little Beach, among others - that multiple days can be spent taking them all in. Numerous adventures are available to 4WD'ers in particular, including a number of beach drives which only adds to the potential exploration. As a result, devoting at least a week to navigating the Rainbow Coast comes highly recommended - it's a part of Western Australia that's easy to fall in love with, and hard to force oneself to leave.

#32 - Geikie Gorge National Park

Where is it? King Leopold Ranges, WA

Geikie Gorge in the far north of the Kimberley ranks highly on this list for a combination of reasons - it's not merely home to its towering, distinctive white cliff walls, but also rather accessible compared to many of Western Australia's other top national parks. As a result, getting here requires less of an investment of both time and money as opposed to some of WA's other more far-flung travel destinations, with a sealed road all the way to the gorge proper. Carved out by the waters of the Fitzroy River, the gorge's sculptured rock formations and banks dotted with thick knots of tropical reeds and mangroves - as well as freshwater crocodiles and native birds - make for an interesting mixture of life and colours, as the 30-metre-high walls press in on the water on each side. As a former part of an ancient Devonian reef system, glimpses of its multi-coloured walls can still occasionally be had on calmer days.

The gorge can be explored using two main methods; walking tracks that are reasonable in length yet still provide a solid dose of scenery, following along the course of the Fitzroy River which can sometimes be obscured by the gorge walls. As a result, the second method of exploration is a must-do - taking a cruise down the river itself. Cruises conducted by Darngku Heritage Cruises not only provide an awe-inspiring look at the gorge walls from far below, but also provide an emphasis and background on the indigenous historical significance of the region for an extra layer of context. The Department of Conservation and Land Management also over cruises that are guided by park ranges, and offer greater detail on the environmental aspects of the national park, the gorge, and the Kimberley as a whole. Open only for access during the dry season, Geikie Gorge is distinctive and different enough to make it well worth a visit even if you've already explored multiple other such gorges in the Kimberley beforehand. Image credit: Tourism Western Australia

#31 - Snorkel Turquoise Bay near Exmouth

Where is it? Exmouth, WA

The major appeal of this slice of coastal paradise lies largely in its name; Turquoise Bay is a gorgeous and vividly coloured gateway to the wonders of the Ningaloo Reef Marine Park that serves as an easy and rewarding snorkel spot for underwater exploration. Part of the Cape Range National Park, Turquoise Bay offers travellers who have made the effort to reach it calm waters and a magnificent underwater wonderland, with coral bommies within easy reach of the shoreline and turtle sightings both frequent and magical - and these curious and beautiful animals will often approach snorkellers of their own volition. The brightly coloured coral intermingled with rock formations is inhabited by a range of fish, and the comfortably warm temperature of the water makes for a snorkel spot that can be enjoyed throughout the majority of the year. Drift snorkelling here is possible, with hopping in at the far end of the bay and then simply letting the current do the work a relaxing way to explore.

Part of Turquoise Bay's beauty is that it's a destination you'll largely be able to experience alone; oftentimes the only company in your presence is that of the sea creatures dwelling underwater nearby. As a result, there's a lack of facilities in the area other than a toilet - the town of Exmouth is a short drive away - but this is a large contributing factor to what makes it so special. Getting there can be done via self-drive from Exmouth, or by joining Yardie Creek Boat Tours for a transfer. Clean and powdery sand, crystal-clear water, and marine life within arm's reach make Turquoise Bay a natural attraction that's easy to appreciate - simply pull up the car, park, and run down into a pristine stretch of ocean where aquatic adventure awaits. Image credit: Tourism WA

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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