The Western Australia Bucket List

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

#70 - Admire the Art Gallery of WA

Where is it? Perth, WA

Perth's flagship art gallery may not be massive in scale but is very comprehensive in its collection's offerings; the gallery features an extensive permanent collection of indigenous Australian art as well as exhibits showing influences from the region's inclination towards the Indian Ocean. Australian artists are showcased significantly, particularly those that made their works both in - and based on - aspects of Western Australia. The Art Gallery of WA's collection is organised chronologically so that the evolution of artistic progression over time is easy to see, all of which are contained within spacious and light-filled galleries that give an airy and uplifting rather than dull and subdued atmosphere. The gallery's collection aims towards a balanced reflection on native Australian culture as well as influences since European colonisation, and boasts a nice mixture of paintings, sculpture and pottery throughout.

Female artists in particular make a strong showing here, both from the past and modern eras, with many examples of postmodern art pushing themes of empowerment on display. It's possible to while away several hours here, and given that entry is free (although donations are both encouraged and appreciated) it represents one of the best free half-days out for those with a cultural bent. The gallery is part of the Perth Cultural Centre, and thus is easy to reach from anywhere within Perth city, and also serves as a solid choice for lunch as it's home to a lovely cafe that serves surprisingly high quality food to boot. Regular temporary exhibitions make for an attraction that's conducive to multiple visits, as well. Image credit: Tourism WA

#69 - Skydive over Busselton or Rottnest

Where is it? Busselton/Rottnest Island, WA

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There are few experiences more worthy of the "bucket list" title than skydiving, and there are few more scenic places in Australia to take the ultimate plunge than the picturesque and beach-laden Western Australian coastline. Those looking to embrace this adrenaline rush can join Skydive Geronimo for the experience of a lifetime, with the potential to jump out of a perfectly good airplane and free-fall over both Busselton and Rottnest Island. Viewing each of these areas from high above is amazing - assuming you can keep your eyes open - and after the combined free-fall and glide combo is over, finish up with a beach landing on the sand. Options for skydives ranging between 8,000 and 15,000 feet (the maximum allowable in Australia) are available for varying price points, with the highest altitude offering over a minute of pure free-fall.

Of course, getting over initial fears is half the battle here, however fortunately Geronimo's staff are a combination of reassuring, fun and helpful, with a professionally-run operation and a number of experienced instructors who are used to dealing with skittish first-timers. Many who have skydived equate it to the ultimate feeling of absolute freedom; couple this with an incredible landscape to take in both on the way up and back on the way down, and Western Australia makes for one of Australia's best destinations for this most extreme of sports. Image credit: Geronimo

#68 - Ocean Park Aquarium Shark Bay

Where is it? Shark Bay, WA

A combination of research facility and eco-friendly travel highlight, Ocean Park provides visitors to the region with an accessible and enjoyable showcase of the diverse marine life of the Australian west coast. Located on the shores of beautiful Shark Bay, Ocean Park is more interactive than the average stare-at-a-tank aquarium and offers visitors much more personal involvement from its staff than a purely tourist-focused attraction. Visiting the aquarium involves being accompanied by a qualified marine biologist on a tour full of information that is actually insightful rather than just a standard spiel of facts, providing detailed background on each of the marine animals that are viewable in pools below rather than behind glass. Interesting species such as sea snakes, turtles, eels, rays and sharks are all featured here, and the guide's passion for their subject matter is obvious.

The shark feeding in particular is a major highlight; it takes place hourly and is an impressive sight as the likes of tiger, whale and grey nurse sharks devour their meals in full effect - a reminder of the fearsome power of the ancient creatures. Ocean Park Aquarium serves as a good break from the majority of more active experiences that Shark Bay requires, and its restaurant that comes with spectacular ocean views is a nice and unexpected bonus. In all, the aquarium is an ideal stop along the route from popular Monkey Mia nearby, and a great way to gain more background on the region's marine life. Image credit: Tourism Western Australia

#67 - Stargaze at Perth Observatory

Where is it? Bickley, WA

Opening up the stars to inquisitive visitors for over 100 years, the Perth Observatory is WA’s oldest observatory and has been involved in various astronomical milestones throughout its existence. The facility played a role in co-discovering Uranus’ ring system, discovering 30 supernovae and were part of the NASA International Planet Patrol. Today, visitors can witness the stars and planets both with the naked eye and through the observatory's telescope, courtesy of a geographic position that is renowned for clear night skies.

This is a unique attraction suitable for all ages, filling the minds of those interested in vast world that is space. Led by friendly, knowledgeable and experienced volunteers, night tours are conducted throughout the month on select evenings. There are three tour options, Dark Sky Nights giving visitors better visibility of globular clusters and nebulae without the presence of the moon, Moonlit Nights focus on exploring the moon, and Full Moon Nights are when a full moon occurs on a weekend. Image credit: Perth Observatory

#66 - Gwalia Ghost Town & museum

Where is it? 2.5km south of Leonora, WA

The fickle nature of the mineral industry and its effect on regional populations can be seen in full effect at the eerie Gwalia several hundred kilometres to the north of Kalgoorlie - after its gold mine was shut down, the town was largely abandoned in the 1960's and exists today as a snapshot of local life of the early 1900's frozen in time. Eighteen individual buildings from the era have been preserved in their preexisting state, including miner's homes, general store and other day to day examples of architecture. The combination of harsh climate and basic housing that barely ranks above "hut" level offers a fascinating insight into the lives of those of the period - one can easily imagine that the use of corrugated iron in the building's constructions would likely not have mixed well with the harsh outback sun!

Other relics at Gwalia such as original mining equipment and railway engines add to the "abandoned" atmosphere, while curation is provided via information displayed inside each of the buildings. As a result, it's a kind of "living museum" that has been continually restored over the years, an example of the commendable effort by the local community involved for keeping this slice of Australian history alive. The actual museum itself sits on top of a hill overlooking the (currently working) open cut mine, and is open from 9am to 4pm daily. If you've ever wanted to feel grateful for modern comforts such as air-conditioning, Gwalia will no doubt help boost your level of appreciation for present-day Australian living standards. Image credit: Tourism Western Australia

#65 - Edu-tainment at Scitech

Where is it? Perth, WA

Simply put, if you're bringing kids along during your visit to WA, you'll want to include a stop at Scitech on your travel itinerary. As a facility that wonderfully walks the line between education and entertainment, it's a spot you can take the little ones without feeling like it's simply burning off empty calories – they'll likely not only have fun, but learn something while they're here as well. The variety of exhibits and activities on display at Scitech encompass all major aspects of the science and technology stratosphere, with separate sections on space and the galaxy (with a wonderful 360 degree, 3D planetarium / theatre that varies its movies over time), a workshop area where woodwork items can be constructed, and the world of physics is explored firsthand with visitors able to push, pull, press and play with a range of mechanisms, pulleys and electrical globes.

While it's an attraction that's perhaps best reserved for kids over 6 or 7 years old in order for them to get the most out of the experience, Scitech offers enough variety that most ages should be able to find multiple exhibits to tickle their fancy as it boasts over 100 individual touch points in total. Scitech also periodically runs adults only / after dark sessions that offer access to a bar serving alcohol too, which can make for a truly different, alternative and entertaining evening with your mates. Combining fun, education, convenience and price into a single great value package in the Perth CBD, Scitech is an essential visit. Image credit: Scitech

#64 - Enjoy Scarborough Beach

Where is it? Stirling, WA

Residents of Perth are spoiled in that they have multiple world-class quality beaches within easy reach of the city, and Scarborough ranks amongst the best of these. A long, wide beach that's great for swimming and possessing some truly lovely white sand that ranks amongst some of the best in Australia, Scarborough Beach in Stirling brings together the best of a wonderful natural environment with a healthy dose of urban convenience. It's a mere 20 minutes away from the Perth city centre and boasts plenty of new bars and restaurants which have spring up nearby, yet remains relatively uncommercialised compared to some of the country's more famed beaches on the east coast. The beach's water is also a stunning colour of blue that's wholly unpolluted, and its shores are both clean and well maintained by local authorities who have managed to keep it in tip-top condition.

Plenty of other benefits help augment Scarborough beach's natural beauty, too; it's well patrolled by lifesavers and is relatively sheltered and safe for swimming; there's plenty of parking available; there's a large terraced area with sufficient shade for those looking to avoid sunstroke; and it's large enough to remain uncrowded even during busy periods - simply head further down the beach and you'll be able to find some space to yourself. Couple in the ability to take in some wonderful Indian Ocean sunsets of an evening, and you've got a spot near the city that's incredibly serene at its best and vibrant and lively at its busiest. Image credit: Tourism Western Australia

#63 - The Perth Mint

Where is it? Perth, WA

The inherent allure of gold has long been a major drawcard for the human eye, and behind the lovely, prestigious facade of Perth's Mint you'll be able to discover in person some of the purest of the shiny metal ever minted. As the oldest functional mint in Australia, Perth Mint is another historic attraction dating back to the 1800's Gold Rush era and full of information on the state's past. While it's largely oriented around gold - visitors can see gold bars being created via the melting and pouring into an ingot process, feel the weight of a gold bar in the hand (a rarity for most of us), and gawk at the world's biggest gold coin that weighs in at over a ton - it's also a hotspot for interesting facts about Perth in general.

The Perth Mint offers visitors numerous screens displaying stories detailing the gold mining history of Western Australia, while numerous gold nuggets are accompanied by the stories of how they were originally discovered. Short guided tours are also available at an additional charge that add to the historical background of the building and the region as a whole, while there's also a gift shop featuring various gold coins, jewellery and various other trinkets that make for quality souvenirs. Located near the hub of Perth's main shopping centre, the Mint is easily reachable and makes for one of Perth's top rainy day activities - particularly for new travellers. Image credit: Tourism Western Australia

#62 - Whale Watching in the Margaret River region

Where is it? Augusta/Busselton/Dunsborough, WA

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Whale watching is one of Australia's most popular wildlife experiences, with the chance to get up close with these massive and gentle ocean giants not to be missed. Western Australia's greater Margaret River region is one of the country's hotspots for witnessing this spectacle, with over 35,000 of the massive mammals passing the coastline on their annual migration each year, and as a result those in or visiting the region between the months of June to December will have numerous opportunities for an encounter. In the earlier months, Augusta serves as the focal point for whale watching experiences, as the Humpbacks and Southern Rights interact, relax and play, often approaching vessels of their own volition and curiosity.

Later on in the year, the waters of Geographe Bay serve as the whale's playground as they rest and nurse their young; as a result, your choice of Western Australian whale watching adventures largely rests on which time of the year you're visiting. Whale watching operators All Sea Charters, Legend Charters and Naturaliste Charters offer whale tours from both locations, and the chance to come within strikingly close distance of the creatures to get a true sense of their sheer scale. It's an often awe-inspiring experience - particularly should one of the whales fix you with a massive, inquisitive eye - and the volume of whales that visit the reason makes encounters such as these more probably than in most parts of the country; this coastal area of WA is known as the "Humpback Highway" for a reason. Image credit: Margaret River Tourism

#61 - Hot Air Ballooning over the Avon Valley

Where is it? Avon Valley, WA

The Avon Valley is Western Australia's premier spot for hot air ballooning, with its rolling vineyards and patchwork-tapestry of fields and greenery making for a wonderful backdrop to sail serenely over. Those looking for a tranquil experience can join local operator Windward Balloon Adventures, which has long had its head in the clouds - in a good way. Since its establishment in 1982, the locally owned and operated company has been providing visitors to the region with a memorable experience. There’s are few better ways to explore the vast and rolling Avon landscape than aboard a gliding hot air balloon, as the experience offers the potential for some of the best travel photography you'll encounter during your WA trip.

The only locally owned and operated hot air balloon company in the state, Chief Pilot and Owner Damien Hays boasts plenty of experience. With more than 2,500 flying hours logged you'll be in safe hands as you're helped to explore the Avon from above. A must-do on the lists of those seeking beautiful scenery, friendly service and great experiences, the only downside to ballooning is the incredibly early start - but one that lets you take in a magnificent sunrise from the air as a result. 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.

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