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March 2020

Travel from Home: A guide to Western Australia's idyllic South West

As the largest state in Australia, and the second largest in the world, it comes as no surprise that Western Australia is home to a plethora of some of the world’s most diverse landscapes and climates, making it a year-round holiday destination. From the desert landscape of the Kimberley, to the tropical conditions of the North and the Mediterranean climate of the South, it is incredible just how vast and diverse it really is. A road trip covering a state that is half the size of Europe may take you a while, so today, let us just tell you about the magic of the South West.

If there’s one region of Australia that hasn’t stopped crossing our minds since we’ve been unable to travel, it is without a doubt our spectacular South West. The land of white sandy beaches, award-winning wines and incredible natural wonders is calling our name now more than ever as restrictions begin to ease. This list could go on for a while, but to fuel your travel inspiration and to help you plan your next trip, we’ve rounded up 10 of the best places to visit in this glorious bucket-list region.  

1. Margaret River

Combine the rolling vineyards and vivacious cellar doors of some of Australia’s best wineries with a backdrop of stunning coastline and forest scenery, and we may just have the ideal holiday destination.

Once a small surfing town, Margaret River is now a world-renowned wine region, producing over 25% of Australia’s premium wines. And of course, with good wine follows good food; the region is home to a multitude of incredible cafes and restaurants, and our Travel Directors are experts on these - they will always share their lists of their favourite ones with you! (A huge perk of travelling on a guided tour).

And when you need a break from indulging, you won’t be short of stunning natural surrounds for your afternoon stroll.  A must-see on any visit to the region is Busselton Jetty, the longest wooden jetty in the southern hemisphere, stretching out 1.8 kilometres to sea and home to arguably Australia's greatest artificial reef. One glimpse at your stunning surrounds will leave you speechless, we promise!

In Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park is Mammoth Cave, a limestone cave internationally recognised for its splendour and pristine condition. Here you’ll gain an amazing insight into the fascinating underground world.

2. Wave Rock

If there is one natural wonder that you must see to believe, it would have to be Wave Rock in the South West’s outback town of Hyden. Caused by weathering and water erosion over 2,700 million years. this multi-coloured granite rock forms the shape of a wave frozen at the point of breaking and came into the spotlight when it was featured in the National Geographic Magazine in 1967.

Time your visit to coincide with Western Australian’s glorious wildflower season (August to November) and witness wildflowers in bloom with dazzling vivid colours.

3. Esperance

Esperance is the number one destination at the top of every travellers list at the moment; us included! There is no where we’d rather be than relaxing on the pristine white sands of one of the world’s most beautiful beaches, Lucky Bay. A complete feast for the eyes and mind, the vibrant turquoise waters, untouched islands and vivid wildflowers of Esperance provide the backdrop for a paradise-like getaway in one of Australia’s dreamiest locations.

The kangaroos count themselves lucky to call this utterly remarkable and remote town home.

4. Perth

While Perth acts as the gateway to some of Australia’s most incredible natural wonders, it is a unique and exciting holiday destination in itself. Despite being the world’s most isolated city with the nearest city, Adelaide, a 28-hour drive away (!), you won’t be bored of things to do and see while you’re here, we promise! As like most Aussie cities, the people are friendly, the food is incredible and here you’ll find one of the world’s biggest inner-city parks, the lush Kings Park, the heart of the city.  

5. Fremantle

Fremantle, or ‘Freo’ as it’s affectionately referred to by locals, is located on the coast just 30 minutes from Perth. This port city, regarded as one of Western Australia’s most historic and beautiful cities, sits at the mouth of the Swan River and is known for its lively and charming vibe. Its streets come alive with buskers, trendy cafés, bars and sidewalks filled with diverse displays of art and music. Blending the old with the new, this lively city is a constant buzz of activity, and has become one of our favourite Aussie cities over the years.

And of course, you can’t visit Fremantle without a visit to the renowned Fremantle Markets. Rich with local talent and an incredible atmosphere and character, it is easy to see why the markets are one of the region’s leading tourism attractions.

6. Rottnest Island

If ever there was an island we wanted to escape to when the qualms of everyday life get too much, it would be Rottnest Island. Just 19km off the coast of Perth, a trip to the idyllic car-free sub-tropical island provides the ultimate immersion into what can only be described as a natural paradise.

Visit as many of the soft sand beaches on the island as your heart desires (there is 63!), snorkel in the mesmerising turquoise waters flourishing with sea life and come face to face with the happiest animal on the planet, the quokka.

If you a lover of sea creatures, time your visit to coincide with the humpback and southern right whales’ annual migration along the Western Australian coastline. In April, around 35,000 whales travel north from the Antarctic to the feeding and birthing grounds in the Indian Ocean, before returning in late August to November with newborn calves. We can’t think of anywhere better to watch this mesmerising natural phenomenon and spot some of the world’s most beautiful creatures.

7. Valley of the Giants

There is nothing more grounding than realising just how small you are in this great big world. Nature has a funny way of helping us stay grounded, and a visit to the Valley of the Giants will certainly deliver on this. The internationally recognised tree top walk gives you an incredible bird’s eye view of some of the biggest trees on Earth – Western Australia’s majestic tingle trees. Prepare for a total immersion into nature, as you walk along the forest canopy for 600 metres and breathe in the crisp fresh air… A truly peaceful experience.

8. Albany

We love Albany for its breathtakingly beautiful rugged coastlines that provide a fitting backdrop for the dramatic whaling, convict and settler history it is widely known for. Much like Esperance, the beaches in Albany are world class, and are regularly voted among the best in Australia.

There is truly something for everyone in this cultural hub, with an enviable food and wine scene, incredible 4wd and camping adventures, and a myriad of activities for all ages.

One of the city’s many fine Heritage Listed buildings, the National Anzac Centre commemorates the Anzacs of the First World War. Set high on a hill within Albany’s Princess Royal Fortress, the award-winning centre overlooks the harbour from which more than 41,000 men and women departed Australia for the Great War.

9. Stirling Range National Park

Just when you thought the South West couldn’t get any more spectacular, the brooding beauty of the Stirling Range National Park’s mountain landscape with take your breath away. Home to one of Western Australia’s highest mountain peaks, Bluff Knoll, the national park is truly extraordinary; expect panoramic views of the lush green mountains, flourishing birdlife and abundant wildflowers, it is the perfect mountain escape.

10. Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse

For the history lovers, learn about the intriguing history of the 100-year-old landmark that is still operating today. The lighthouse is situated in the farthest corner of the South West of Western Australia and is where the Indian and Great Southern Oceans meet. Here, take a moment to soak up the beauty of the incredible South West, and discover mainland Australia’s tallest lighthouse as it stands over the stunning blue waters.

Let the South West be the first destination you visit once travel restrictions are lifted; experience one of the most incredibly diverse and rugged coastlines in the world and discover incredible history and celebrate the vibrant culture.

By Laura Vitucci for AAT Kings

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