You know, for being that close to Antarctica, this continent can get pretty hot. And it’s big; in fact it’s the sixth largest country in the world. It is comprised of 6 states and several territories, which includes Tasmania and other islands. Most of its 24 million people live on the eastern seaboard and are urbanised. That’s because Australia is known for its Outback; a vast inland territory spread throughout 5 states. Only Victoria seemed to have missed it. It’s largely empty with very few people scattered all over. And as mentioned before, it’s very, very hot. If your car breaks down in the middle of nowhere, that will be it. There will be nowhere to hide. No trees, no rocks, no shade. You will be Sunday’s tender roast dinner within a couple of hours. Vultures are waiting around with knives and forks, every 100 yards and ready to pounce. But don’t let that scare you. Australia is not just vultures and a killer sun. There are also poisonous snakes and spiders, stinging scorpions, man-eating crocodiles and hungry dingos. My job is to point you in the other directions and away from danger, so without further ado, here are the best places to visit in Australia. Let’s start on the left and work our way to the right.
Best places to visit in Western Australia
To get to the capital of Western Australia, Perth, you would need a few things. First on the list would be some sleeping pills, because that flight will be looooong. If you are one of the lucky ones and can afford a First Class ticket where you can stretch out your legs, you wouldn’t need to see a chiropractor when you touch down. Otherwise the 18-hour flight will contort you in all different shapes and angles, almost like a game of twister. Sunscreen is also on that list, because… you know. The temperatures can easily sore into the mid-forties and had been recorded as high as 50.5 degrees Celsius. The tar in the streets start to melt, ice-creams evaporate into puffs of steam and when a dog chases a cat, they both walk. But don’t let a little heat scare you and let me tell you about the best places to visit in Western Australia.
Australia’s largest state and the second-largest country subdivision in the world, is home to 2.6 million people; around 92% of all living in the south-west corner of the state and making up 11% of the national population. Australia is not just about the Great Barrier Reef, covered in the post, ‘7 natural wonders of the world‘; all the states have something to offer and Western Australia is no exception. Even if it is just to stop over on your way there, because that flight from almost everywhere else in the world, is looooong. Nature-wise, this state really does have it all; fauna, flora, deserts, snow in the Stirling Range, monsoon rainfall in the forests and a history as old as the mountains.
The vast majority of all people don’t like the traveling part of a trip. If someone can invent a way of instantly appearing at your destination without the hassle of trying to get to the airport on time and sitting in a cramped seat for 18 hours, we all would take that option. As stated before, Western Australia is big, which means a lot of traveling. I’m going to try and minimise your suffering by mostly concentrating just on the south-western corner of the state. The rest of the state is for all those die hard tourists that want to explore every inch of this planet.
With the vast majority of the entire Western Australia living in Perth, the capital and biggest city of the state, entertainment has to be plenty, otherwise the 2 million inhabitants will surely get up to no good. As with all other cities in the world, Perth has their fair share of waterparks, museums, parks, bars and clubs. So why travel to Perth just to visit their bars when you can do that in your home town? The idea of this travel website is to find you all the exotic and lesser known places to visit in each country; something that is worth seeing and would want to make you travel halfway around the world. Something that is unique, or as unique as can be. Enter Jaco.
As always, we need to get there first. Flight tickets will range from £498 or $647 per person hanging onto the landing gear to around £7000 or $8000 per person snoozing all the way in your first class double bed. A romantic movie, some champagne, nowhere else to be and the mile high club can easily gain a couple of members. Just wait for some turbulence and you won’t even have to lift a finger. Just remember, you have to fly with a partner. Solo does not get you into the club.
Once you’ve touched down, you need to get some money, because they don’t accept GBP and USD, or any other currency for that matter. The current exchange rate is 1 USD for 1.32 AUD, but for the sake of this website, we will keep all prices in USD and GBP, so I will do all the conversions for you. As with all, or at least most airports around the world, you can exchange your currency for the local currency right there and then. Second on your list would need to be to sort out your transport for the duration of your stay and unless you have a chauffeur waiting to drive you around, I would suggest hiring a car. It will allow you the freedom to move around wherever you want to go at a moment’s notice. Perth Airport has all the usual hire-car companies like, Budget, Europcar and Thrifty, eagerly waiting to relieve you of your newly-exchanged cash. And in case you had forgotten; you are in Australia, so do yourself a solid and spring for the best air-conditioner any of them have available. Prices will range from £22 or $29 for a small car where you would need to take out the driver seat and sit in the back like Hightower from Police Academy, if you are as tall as me, to around £80 or $105 for a nice, comfy hatchback.
In Perth, you can pick and choose where to stay. Prices will range from £35 or $45 per room, per night and up to anything really. You can stay in one of the back streets in a dusty motel or in the high street high on top in the penthouse suite of the best hotel. It all really depends on your budget. Find your perfect hotel room here.
AQWA – Aquarium of Western Australia
Now that the chores are done, it’s time to move onto the fun stuff. Aquariums are all over the world and most of us have seen at least one, so if you are going to visit an aquarium, do it right. AQWA is the largest in Australia and 10th largest aquarium in the world; also possessing the largest walk-through underwater tunnel. It will feel as if you are among the sea life, minus a shark really biting a chunk out of your ass. This aquarium specialises in marine animals living along the 7500 mi Western Australia coastline and overall holds around 4 million litres of water. With over 400 different species that include 4000 fish, grey nurse sharks, stingrays, turtles, octopuses and then the 322-feet tunnel, a touch pool and 40 exhibits, you will have plenty to see. 2 of the premiere feature exhibits also include the Coral Reef; one of the largest living coral reef exhibits in the world and then the DangerZone; a who’s who of the most dangerous marine life of Western Australia, including sea snake, lion fish, blue ringed octopus, stonefish and cone shells. Almost like a police line-up. I heard it was a huge task getting them to stay still for the photo.
Adults would have to fork over £18 or $23 to enter, children between the ages of 4 – 15 years, £11 or $14 and the youngest ones can enter for free. Yearly passes, membership passes and other passes are available at a discount, so please check before you go. For £90 or $115 you can swim with a mermaid, talk to her and even take a photo. The price includes all of that as well as the equipment hire and snorkel instruction from a professional and entry to the aquarium for the day. According to Japanese folklore, eating the flesh of a mermaid will grant you immortality, so please note, these mermaids are not real. I repeat, they are not real mermaids and trying to nick one of them will result in you getting charged with kidnapping and branded a cannibal. That will be the end of your social life, because nobody invites a cannibal over for dinner…. They invite you.
For a mere £35 or $45 per adult, £29 or £38 per child, 8 years and older, you can take lessons in snorkelling and swim with the sea life in the new Adventure Bay Exhibit. They will even issue you with a certificate upon completion, which you can take home and brag to your friends about. If you don’t want to pay these fees, you can meet me in 1985 when I used to snorkel in the bathtub and I will give you the lessons for free.
Once you’ve reached puberty and managed not to laugh at a fart joke, the aquarium will deem you old enough (12 years) and let you do an introductory course in scuba diving for £56 or $73. An instructor will stay with you at all times and once you have successfully completed the 20-min dive, you will receive a certificate. You will then throw away that snorkelling certificate and just keep the scuba one. Scuba diving is just so much cooler.
The one animal an aquarium cannot hold, is a whale. I’m sure I don’t have to elaborate on that. Luckily for us, The Aquarium of Western Australia has got that covered. Departing daily at 09:00 from September to December, whale watching cruises will take you through Marmion Marine Park and towards Little Island, A.K.A. the Humpback Highway, to witness these magnificent creatures on their way south to Antarctica. As covered in a different post, Best Places to visit in Antarctica, Antarctica tours are quite expensive, so I would urge you not to hitch a ride on one of the passing whales just to save on travel expenses. These humpback whales can stay submerged for up to 45 min, which means you would have to as well. Along with the freezing cold, you will blend in with the Big Blue all around you better than any chameleon on earth.
These cruises usually last around 3 – 4 hours, costs £47 or $62 per adult, £38 or $50 per senior or child aged 12 – 15 years or £33 or $42 for children younger than 12 years. Another company do similar tours, lasting just 2 hours and are all around a little cheaper. So it’s up to you how much time you would like to spend on the ocean. The first-mentioned tour takes you past Little Island; an ecological hotspot where you would see sea birds, bottlenose dolphins and sea lions before going on to the main attraction. The on-board ocean guide will tell you everything that you need to know, from humpback whale secrets and maritime history to local legends and and shipwreck tales and to top off a wonderful experience, also on board the cruise, you will have the chance to hear the whales through a hydrophone. This company guarantees that you will spot a whale, otherwise you can go again for free and on Wednesdays you will get free access to the rest of the aquarium. Not too bad at all.
This activity takes place in Australia’s largest single aquarium. Hosting over 3 million litres of water and lead by a qualified dive-master, you can swim with loggerhead turtles, the world’s largest stingrays, schools of prized and precious fish like pink snapper, kingfish and trevally and then finally also…. wait for it…. giant sharks! That’s right, giant fricken sharks. I assume that it will be safe as many thousands of people have swam with the sharks in that tank before, but you got to admit, safe or not, the prospect of one of those giants rubbing up against you will be terrifying, even if it is just for a cuddle. For £115 or $150 your experience will include the following:
- 30 – 45 min guided snorkle or dive
- Free admission to the rest of the aquarium
- All equipment
- Comprehensive briefing
- Extra pair of pants
Although this is in a controlled environment, they do have a few requirements:
- You must be a competent swimmer over 15
- You must not have epilepsy, asthma or a heart condition
- To snorkel, you must have snorkelled before
- To dive, you must have a minimum qualification of Open Water Diver
- You must be able to accelerate like the new Tesla Roadster, 0 – 60mph in 1.9 seconds in case a shark licks its lips in your direction
This aquarium really is worth seeing and worth making a trip Down Under just for the sharks. This experience will be impossible to forget and how many people do you actually know that have swum with sharks? If that is not enough, for £74 or $96 your child can have a sleepover under the aquarium and be surrounded by all the sharks, stingrays and fish; all brightly lit up while enjoying a movie with popcorn and snacks. They will do arts and crafts, which they can take home, eat dinner, explore the AQWA’s outdoor exhibits, get a free pass for a return trip to the aquarium, eat breakfast in the morning and get a backpack full of goodies to take home. They only do 3 sleepovers a year, so be sure to check the dates that you would like to get rid of the kids for a night. More expensive than dropping the kids off at a nanny for the night, but people will think that you are doing it for them and not for you. 2 birds.
For the same price as a sleepover, you can do a 90-min behind-the-scenes tour, which will take you…. well, behind the scenes. You will enter the restricted areas and get insight into the running of the museum, it’s day to day business and the circulation of its 4.5 million litres of water. As with all other extra activities, you will also get a free pass to the aquarium and finally a souvenir cap.
Sure you have been to a zoo before. Sure you have seen many of the world’s animals before, but as with most zoos throughout the world, Perth Zoo will have something different and unique that only they will have. That’s what’s fun about zoos, they are always changing and bringing in new animals to attract people, especially animals native to the region. And Perth Zoo is no different. First opened in 1898
During the tourist season, the population grows from around 15,000 to over 45,000 and this beach resort town comes alive.