Best Places to visit in Western Australia – It’s big

Best Places to visit in Western Australia – It’s big

Western Australia MapTo 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.

 

Perth

Perth

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 its 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.

 

First Class FlightsAs 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

Best Places to visit in Western AustraliaNow 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.

Best Places to visit in AustraliaAdults 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.

Whale watching in AustraliaThe 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.

Swim with Sharks in AustraliaThis 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 swum 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
  • Certificate
  • 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.

 

Perth Zoo

Perth ZooSure 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, mixed with animals from all over the world. And Perth Zoo is no different. First opened in 1898 in the midst of the gold boom, their original purpose was to introduce European animals to Australia and so they started off with a couple of monkeys, a few ostriches, a pair of lions and a tiger. The monkeys tricked the tiger into eating the rest of the animals, so the original 6 staff members had no choice but to expand and get more animals. They had 53,000 visitors within the first 9 months, never looked back and never closed the doors since. Not even for a single day. Today the zoo is 41-acres big, has around 1260 animals in 164 species with an extensive botanical collection and around 250 full time staff members and over 300 volunteers.

Back then work on the botanical gardens started as soon as the location was chosen. Consisting mostly of sand, the area lacked nutrients, and water, which meant that wagon loads of manure had to be brought in to fertilise the soil. One farmer probably got stinking rich by selling crap. A well was dug and before they knew it rose gardens bloomed, lupin fields sprung up and tropical plants and palms started to grow. In fact, the original palms, dating back more than a hundred years, are still standing and consist of more than 60 species. If anything else, visiting the zoo just to see a hundred-year-old palm tree, will already be worth it. All the rest is just a bonus. The zoo also started growing its own crops like onions, lettuce, carrots, bamboo etc. to feed the animals; a tradition that still stands till this very day.

Dingos in AustraliaThey are open every day of the year from 09:00 – 17:00 and tickets are very reasonable. Children ages 4 – 15 years pay around £9 or $11.50 and adults pay around £18 or $24 for a full day of fun. Seniors, groups and carers have different rates that can be viewed here and children younger than 4 get in mahala, which is South African slang for free. If you intend to move there or already live there, you can become a member and visit the zoo as often as you like at discounted prices. For the more adventurous, you can get up close and personal with the animals. Prices can be viewed here and will include encounters like the following: be a keeper in savannah or primates, see eye to eye with an elephant, rhino, giraffe or turtle and many more, or you can take a walk in Dingo Valley. They look cute, so pet them at your own risk.

The Pert Zoo has 3 main exhibits; The African Savannah, The Australian Outback and The Asian Rainforest and then some minor exhibits like South American birds, Main Lakes and Galapagos Tortoises. All these exhibits are designed to mimic the real thing so you can be on 3 different continents within 1 day. In each exhibit you will find fauna and flora native to those regions and you might even come across an ankle-biting eastern brown snake that slipped in underneath the door to explore other regions. I won’t tell you to keep your nose on the ground, but be alert at all times.

From native and exotic species to strange and endangered species, this zoo really does have it all, but if I tell you too much about it, it might spoil the surprise, so do yourself a favour and schedule a visit. You won’t regret it.

 

Broome

During the tourist season, the population grows from around 15,000 to over 45,000 and this beach resort town comes alive. Located on the east coast of the Indian Ocean, this town is almost surrounded by turquoise water, giving it the impression of a tropical island. And it’s a lot easier to get to than other islands. And it has a proper tropical climate with temperatures ranging between 24 and 34 degrees Celsius in the afternoons from January to December and 14 to 27 degrees Celsius in the mornings. Sure, if you have 23 hours and 23 minutes of extra spare time, according to Google Maps you can drive it from Perth, but for people that don’t want to waste their precious time driving a flat road surrounded by vast empty spaces of nothingness, you can fly. And at around £225 or $293 per ticket, it will take just 2 hours and 35 minutes and will not leave you broke. Then at Broome International Airport you can hire a car again and off you go.

As with many holiday destinations, it is all about nature and exploring new places and Broome is no different. Since you’ve never been there before, I urge you to explore it as much as you can. I mean, you’ve done the hard part already by traveling there. Walking tours, helicopter rides and boat tours are just some of the ways for you to get around. Sure we’ve covered helicopter rides and boat tours in another post, but this is a different location with different sights, fauna and flora to see. And instead of walking, I would suggest a leisurely camel ride on Cable Beach.

 

Cable Beach

Camel Rides in BroomeThis 14-mile, white sand beach is almost perfectly flat and at sunrise or sun set it’s the perfect spot to take the love of your life on a camel ride and as you can see from the photo above, it can hardly get any more romantic than that, plus the ride won’t end there. As soon as you get back to your hotel room, your better half might think of a few ways to properly thank you. Camels farting might temporarily put a damper on the mood, but the silver lining for you is that you can easily slip one in and no one will know.

Departing daily, Monday to Saturday, morning tours usually last around 45 min and costs £38 or $45 for adults, £27 or $35 for children ages 4 – 15 and £6 or $7.90 for children under 4, or as they call it, lapsitters. Pre sunset tours lasts 30 min, costs £24 or $31 per adult, £18 or $23 per child and £6 or $7.90 for all lapsitters. Then the longest tour of the day at sunset lasts around an hour, costs £53 or $69 per adult, £41 or $54 per child and the same as the other tours for all lapsitters.

Once you are done with the morning ride, you can make your way to the north end of the beach. Home to one of Australia’s most famous nude beaches, this will be the perfect opportunity to hang loose. Just be on the lookout for snapping turtles when you go for a dip. Crocodiles have also been spotted off the shore in the past, but measures were taken to prevent those situations. So you don’t have to worry about anything except getting that tan you’ve been dreaming about all winter, especially if you are from the UK. I decided against posting a photo of the nudist beach. This is not that kind of blog.

 

Horizontal Falls

Broome Horizontal Falls

Described by David Attenborough as one of the greatest wonders of the natural world, it is easy to see why. Nicknames the Horries, this natural phenomenon reaches up to 25m in width and was formed from breaks in between the McLarty Ranges. The falls are created by a faster built-up of seawater on the one side of the gaps and can reach heights of up to 5m. The direction of the falls changes with each tide, creating huge whirlpools and are a photographer’s dream.

Swimming with DolphinsTour companies are reminded to be respectful of the local indigenous tribes that live within the area as there are many different tours to choose from; ranging from a quick half-day flyover to a 4-night all inclusive stay. So you are bound to cross paths with some of them. Half day tours last around 6 hours and you can choose to do an early start, which includes breakfast, or you can do the afternoon tour that includes lunch. Costing around £500 or $650 per adult and £445 or $575 per child, ages between 4 – 12 years, the price seems quite steep, but what you get for your money is quite incredible. They pull out all the stops to make your trip memorable and start by picking you up from the hotel and taking you to the departure point, where you will board a 14-seater turbo prop seaplane. After a breathtaking flyover, you will first get the chance to zoom around the gorges in the fastest boat available in Broome, before relaxing with breakfast or lunch on a leisurely cruise through the largely untouched bays and creeks. You will then have the opportunity to swim in the shark free cage and feed the friendly fish and to top it off, you can even swim with dolphins. At the end of the tour they drop you off at the hotel again, just in time to greet the rest of the day with a couple of cold ones.

Horizontal Falls Boat TourThe most unique and exciting way to discover the Falls would be to do the 4-night extended tour and this one is a doozy. Your action-packed itinerary will be explained to you in great detail by one of their highly experienced crew members and will include the following:

  1. Explore the local ancient rainforests
  2. An exhilarating fast boat ride through the Falls
  3. Sport fishing (all fishing gear included)
  4. Swimming with their friendly sharks in nibble free cage
  5. A scenic helicopter ride over the Falls
  6. A leisurely cruise
  7. Beach combing where you will visit some of Australia’s most pristine islands
  8. Food and drink at the end of each night plus all other meals
  9. Seaplane transfers between Broome and Derby
  10. Luxury catamaran expeditions
  11. You being £2400 or $3100 lighter in the wallet; per person

In between the half-day and 4-day tours, there are plenty of others to choose from, including full day tours and overnight tours. Please click here for full details and choose the best tour suited for you.

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