You don’t need to travel far to ‘visit’ Hawaii, Alaska and Italy when you can experience its highlights in one exciting corner of Western Australia.
We might not be able to freely travel the world, but when you realise parts of it can be experienced right on your doorstep, you don’t need to. Enter Australia’s South West.
This little slither of Western Australia can whisk you away further afield to far-flung famous world destinations all within an easy drive.
Trade Italy’s Cinque Terre Coastal Walk for: Cape to Cape Track, Margaret River Region
Get your comfy walking shoes strapped on tight as Cape to Cape Track stretches from Cape Naturaliste (Dunsborough) to Cape Leeuwin (Augusta). This 140-kilometre coastal walk is the longest track in the Margaret River region, traversing through stunning Indian Ocean beaches, ridges, bush and springtime wildflower scenery that will leave you all but breathless without uttering the words, “Che Bello!” Choose to conquer the entirety of the track (five to six days to complete) or make a day trip of seeing the highlights of one of Australia’s most famous coastal journeys.
Local tourism operator Cape to Cape Explorer Tours offers eco-friendly guided tours hike along the incredible coastline. Worried about your level of fitness? Parts of the track are boardwalk or paved to suit those with prams or wheelchair users.
Plan your trip: Cape to Cape Track
Trade California’s Sequoia and Kings National Park for: Valley of the Giants
Stand amongst Australia’s largest woodland behemoths at the Valley of the Giants. Walpole’s great tourist attraction is home to ancient trees of epic portions, tingle trees (big enough to fit a car at the base!) and Australia’s tallest tree, karri trees. That is not the area’s only unique factor: the rare ancient forest can be best observed 40 metres high above the lush canopy along the famous 600-metre-long, Tree Top Walk.
Whether you experience the forest from a bird’s eye view above or roam the forest floor to inspect extraordinary tree trunks for hidden faces, you will be mesmerised.
Plan your trip: Valley of the Giants
Trade the Sahara Desert for: Yeagarup Dunes
Pemberton’s hidden gem is kind of a big deal – literally. Forget sweating it out under a blazing sun, Yeagarup Dunes are a sure-bet for a thrilling day out playing around on giant sand dunes. The area may be best known for its woody skyscrapers, karri trees but things are also gigantic at ground level too, home to the largest inland dune system in the Southern Hemisphere. The dunes rise up to 40 metres above old-growth forests so you can imagine the oh so spectacular views of the coast and surrounding ancient forests from the sand dunes. The sand dunes are on the move too, slowly clambering inland at a rate of four metres per year, engulfing the forest while unearthing fossilised trees.
To put your south-west experience into overdrive, hop on board a 4WD tour with Pemberton Discovery Tours to ride out this unique natural wonder in the south.
Plan your trip: Yeagarup Dunes
Trade France’s Bordeaux for: Margaret River Wine Region
Taking cues from the French who know how to properly unwind with a glass of good wine and c’est la vie is our beloved Margaret River Wine Region. To best enjoy the sips of this world-famous region, pair it with a gastronomical food experience at Domaine Naturaliste: offering charcuterie and cheese boards with award-wining wines; or partake in four-course discovery menu seating at Voyager Estate; or relish a quiet lunch seating at Clairault Streiker Estate.
Want someone to guide your palate for a day (and drive you around)? Harvest Tours offers personalised vineyard and wine tours to allow you to experience the very best of the region.
Plan your trip: Margaret River
Trade the Pyrenees, Spain & France for: Stirling Range National Park
Forget the winter layers as these mountains do not require the climbing finesse of summiting snow-capped mountains.
Take on Western Australia’s largest mountain range, Stirling Range National Park to really make you feel on top of the world, er Western Australia! Recently reopened Bluff Knoll is the area’s highest peak and is not considered a difficult climb, taking 3.5 hours return to complete the 1094 metre ascent.
Another standout climb includes Castle Rock Granite Skywalk in the Porongurup. This is one for those who want to challenge themselves with a bit of bouldering (handles on rocks attached) to reach a glass skywalk wrapping itself around the mountains unique granite peak. The leg and arm work are all worth it as the panoramic views at the summit are all kinds of wow.
If you need someone to guide the way, local family-owned tour operator Down Under Discoveries offers a range of nature-based experiences, eco-tours, hikes and 4WD adventures to many unique attractions throughout Porongurup, Albany and the South West. To mix adventures with gourmet experiences, check out Busy Blue Bus.
Plan your trip: Porongurup
Trade wildlife cruises in Alaska for: Whale watching in the South West
Time to join the pod as the South West coastline full of ocean giants. The Margaret River region whale watching season is one of the world’s longest and attracts the largest humpback whale migration on Earth. Over 30,000 humpbacks, southern right, blue and orca whales swim along the southern coast from May to December across several destinations.
- Albany: May – October
- Augusta: June – August
- Busselton and Dunsborough: September – November
For your chance to catch sight of the world’s largest marine mammals at play, check them out from these coastal vantage points or hop on board a boat tour with Whale Watch Western Australia, All Sea Charters, Naturaliste Charters.
Plan your trip: Whale watching in Australia’s South West
Trade Hawaii’s North Shore for: Prevelly
Consistent waves? Check. Chilled beach vibes? Check. Gorgeous Coastal scenery? Check. Prevelly deserves the surfer’s shaka of approval when it comes to a beach getaway. This lazy town is a top spot to unwind and catch a break – all the while watching surfers catch theirs! Surfers Point is the premier place for surfers to take on world-class waves and remain consistent all year round.
As Prevelly is located in the wine-producing Margaret River region, it would be rude not to treat yourself after your coastal adventures with a taste of a local drop from one of its many vineyards.
Plan your trip: Beachside Prevelly Villas
Trade Canada’s Lake Louise for: Black Diamond Lake, Collie
That blue, that gorgeous glistening blue hue and how it sparkles ever so brightly!
Black Diamond Lake is the South West worst kept secret when it comes to outdoor adventures in spectacular surrounds. The abandoned former mining site is one of Western Australia’s most famed Instagram spots and natural pools for its brilliant blue appearance.
Once you get over being snap-happy (it will take a while!), hop in an experience Black Diamond Lake for yourself by hiring a canoe or SUP from Traaverse. Treat yourself with a tasty treat after being active with a visit to Kiosk at the Dam in Wellington National Park.
Plan your trip: Collie
Trade Honfluer, France for: Albany
There is a touch of French chic to be found in Albany. If Albany’s restaurants were placed on a menu, you would be at a loss to decide where to have your Plat de jour with some of its restaurants championing the delightful tastes – both on palate and style – found along the streets of France.
An excursion to France can be had morning, noon and night with outlets readily available for your next forkful of French flavour. Breakfast hotspot Gourmandise & Co will have you feeling like you have teleported to provincial France with homeland antiques and charms on display. Its traditionally prepared in-house patisseries, tarts and baked goods are presented as edible art, with small flowers often used as extra décor on plated dishes.
Or, if dining in saloon splendour is more your thing, head to Liberte, a Parisian-themed lounge restaurant and bar. The award-winning venue is famed for its flavour fresh Vietnamese-fusion menu and creative cocktail list, admired by many in town as crème de la crème.
Feature image: Margaret River
See more: Australia’s South West
This article was originally published on So Perth: Let Australia’s South West Take You Around The World