Some things in Western Australia hit you immediately: the beautiful beaches, the top-tier fresh produce, the untouched wilderness. But the longer you stay, the deeper it goes. Allow yourself the time to go outback, or out to sea, and you’ll taste, touch and see things that will stay with you forever.
Stay another day and… Catch the ferry to Rottnest Island
Rottnest Island – or Rotto – is an A-class nature reserve boasting 63 white-as-snow beaches perfect for snorkelling, diving, surfing off the back breaks and posting to Instagram with #nofilter. Jump on a ferry from Fremantle or Barrack Street Jetty, where the ride will take you thirty minutes from Fremantle, or an hour and a half from Perth.
Your mission when you first land is to befriend a quokka. The marsupials are native to Rottnest and are heavily protected, yet love to investigate and mingle with new visitors, especially those who have visited Rottnest Bakery – be warned, your sourdough will not be safe. Stay overnight at Hotel Rottnest, or Karma Resort. Quokkas are the main patrons of the hotel’s beer garden so if you are lucky, expect to meet the furry critters up close. Remember to always approach with caution when leaning in for a selfie.
Overlooking the renowned Thomson Bay, Hotel Rottnest’s fish and chips can’t be missed, all items on the menu are locally sourced thanks to management’s commitment to sustainability and support of WA farmers – and that goes for the drinks list too, you’ll find plenty of WA craft beer here, as well as international favourites.
Before you bunker down for the night, take a sunset dip at Fays Bay. This hidden spot between Longreach and popular mooring spot Geordie Bay is protected by a backdrop of sand dunes and a limestone ridge that tempers the sea breeze for a postcard-worthy snap-and-swim while watching the sun sink into the water.
Stay a few more days and… Head down south
Margaret River is high on any eater’s hit list. Home to the Margaret River Gourmet Escape each November, the wine and produce region has a reason to visit in every season. Call into Yallingup en route to Margaret River to take a tour of the 500,000-year-old caves in Cape Naturaliste. The crystal formations are something to behold. Take a solo or semi-guided tour of the spaces and chambers below ground. Most are enhanced by light shows – like an underground Vivid.
No visit to Margaret River is complete without a bite to eat at Morries. The chic bar-restaurant is renowned as the best little after-5pm eatery in town thanks to its cosy setting and friendly staff who will read you the specials and give you a local surf update upon arrival.
That night, choose your own accommodation adventure – you can stay by the sea, in a winery or even in the forest, all in the same region. Continue south until you reach Manjimup – the heart of Australia’s truffle industry. While the majority of truffles harvested in Manjimup are exported to France or to some of Australia’s top restaurants, head to The Truffle & Wine Co to hunt for some yourself with the help of specially trained dogs as your guide. Finish your Down South adventure in Pemberton’s Karri Valley Resort, another 40-minute drive south. Stay here and you’ll spend the night on the edge of the trout filled Lake Beedelup, surrounded by majestic Karri forest.
Stay another day and… take a guided walk through Mandu Mandu Gorge
An hour south west of Exmouth, on the Western side of Cape Range, join a guided walking tour through the Mandu Mandu Gorge. It provides some great context to the area that has been inhabited by humans for about 30,000 years. It’ll also allow you to bear witness to the changes it is making to the natural, fossil encrusted environment. According to guides, records have found three possible Aboriginal groups have occupied the Ningaloo Coast over time. That night, stay at Sal Salis. The luxury eco resort is a short distance away from the Gorge, surrounded by wilderness on one side and waves on the other.
Stay a few more days and… set sail
Exmouth is Ningaloo Reef’s biggest access point so make the most of your trip by staying on the water in a sail catamaran. Shore Thing charters allow you to sail, swim, snorkel and dive Ningaloo the minute you wake up. With a focus on maintaining minimum impact and an environmentally sustainable business, your guides will offer interpretive and educational tips while on the waters of one of the world’s last remaining pristine coral reef systems. Choose from a three-night, five-night, seven-night or nine-night package to get the full Ningaloo experience complete with shipwrecks and the odd whale shark sighting.
Stay another day and… Glamp at Eco Beach
This eco-friendly resort is for those wanting to get away from it all. Situated 130 kilometres south of Broome, Eco Beach is glamping with an edge. Ocean fishing, turtle watching and paddle boarding are all available as are spa treatments, like hot stone massages. All guests have the option to attend complimentary yoga sessions every morning before breakfast is served at Jack’s Bar. All waste is composted and electricity is all solar sourced. Accommodation is either raised tents or eco-friendly chalets.
Stay a few more days and… Visit El Questro
For those wanting to channel their inner Nicole Kidman circa Australia, El Questro is the perfect setting. The jewel in the expansive resort’s crown is the Homestead – a mansion that sits atop a cliff overlooking the Chamberlain Gorge and surrounded by about a million acres of salt planes, thermal springs and rivers. The outback retreat, once a rundown cattle station is based 110 kilometres from Kununurra (1,000-kilometres inland from Broome), and looks like McLeod’s Daughters minus the drama. There’s no mobile phone reception – so out here, you can truly switch off. Choose between the Homestead that sleeps 18, or give glamping a go at Emma Gorge. Horse riding, fishing and hiking tours are all arranged for guests on site. One of the Kimberley’s most spectacular locations is situated on El Questro’s estate. This sometimes tricky, yet partially shaded walk involves an hour of crossing creeks and rock bridges. Then you’re rewarded with a well-earned dip. Emma Gorge is set at the foot of 65-metre high cliffs and the waterhole is filled by run-off that trickles down the surrounding rock faces. Not done swimming? A hike and dip in Zebedee is a must. These magical, rocky pools are set at the base of sheer cliffs on the El Questro property and are the perfect place to unwind and enjoy nature in all its uninterrupted glory.