The Best of Western Australia

Most visitors don’t get the chance to go west, but those who do are greeted with unique experiences, from the dolphins of Monkey Mia to the desolate Pinnacles to the laid back city vibe of Perth and Fremantle.

Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is, of course, world famous, but there’s some impressive snorkeling and diving on the west coast of the country, too. Not far from Exmouth, Ningaloo Marine Park was named a World Heritage Site in 2011. The protected area of 2,435 square kilometers (940 square miles) is home to an impressive array of marine life, from recently discovered sponges to sea turtles and manta rays. Gentle whale sharks and humpback whales inhabit the waters, as do dugongs, a cousin of manatees. If you want to stay dry while admiring the reef and its residents, glass-bottom boats at Turquoise Bay let you gaze at some of the 500 or so fish species and hundreds of coral varieties found here.

100 St Georges Terrace, Perth WA 6000, Australia
A little out of place in Perth’s St. Georges Terrace business strip, Greenhouse Restaurant is a delicious dining experiment, built with 100 percent recyclable materials. Beat the crowds and arrive for breakfast, when executive chef Matt Stone turns out excellent Mod-OZ (Modern Australian) dishes such as pumpkin pancakes with goat’s curd and a daily ‘brekkie’ pizza that features Margaret River eggs and freshly picked herbs from the organic rooftop garden. When night falls, the rooftop space, appointed with upcycled furniture, is transformed into a lively outdoor bar that specializes in classic cocktails.
3L Queen St, Busselton WA 6280, Australia
The Busselton Jetty is the longest timber-piled jetty in the Southern Hemisphere and it reaches out over the protected waters of Geographe Bay to the tune of 1.8 kilometres. Heritage-listed and well loved by residents and visitors alike, it’s more than a jetty. The structure itself also houses a train, interpretive center, shops and the underwater observatory which is a stunning feat of engineering that allows visitors to get closer to the ocean’s inhabitants than I’ve ever seen anywhere else without actually being in a submersible or diving. On a gloriously sunny day, the ocean around Busselton Jetty seems clearer than drinking water and schools of fish can be seen in an around all the timber pilons weaving in and out of the grasses which grow on parts of the sandy bottom. Whether swimming from shore or from any one of the access staircases that line the jetty, it’s difficult to actually avoid getting one’s feet or whole body wet. Busselton is a lovely seaside town but the jetty is a surprising draw. On first glance, it’s like any in the world but take a closer look and you’ll quickly understand why area residents are so proud of it!
31 Cape Clairault Rd, Yallingup WA 6282, Australia
Pick one of 10 villas at Injidup Spa Retreat to be your Aussie beach pad. Each features a jarrah-wood deck and private pool as well as a kitchen stocked with organic Busselton eggs and a bottle of Lamont’s Quartet white wine. Draw back the foldaway doors come sunset. From $697. 61/(0) 8-9750-1300. This appeared in the May 2013 issue.
237 St Georges Terrace, Perth WA 6000, Australia
The [incredibly luxurious] Terrace Hotel might seem almost like a black sheep, located as it is in the downtown heart of the steel-and-glass CBD of Perth in Western Australia. Don’t be fooled! The hotel is more like a spotless, white sheep, my experience so wonderful and luxurious that for almost the first time ever in my years as a traveler -- I forgot to take photos. [Image above courtesy Terrace Hotel FB page.] I was blessed to spend my 32nd birthdday at The Terrace and everything, from the food to the bed linens to the champagne and petit fours which were waiting in my room after check in, to the impecable way in which I was treated by staff -- was beyond reproach. Since the hotel is fairly new, you may find growing pains during your stay. Bear with them. I truly believe this hotel is destined for lasting greatness on the Perth hotel scene which is so desperately in need of great boutiques such as The Terrace. You’ll find it ideally suited for walking to most major attractions, in particular the river front -- with ferry to Rottnesst Island or Fremantle -- and even Kings Park. Don’t skip eating a meal at the restaurant, the food is as excellent as the night’s sleep you will have in their beds. And come prepared to share your Apple login if you want to access the complimentary Apple TV in your room.
More from AFAR
Sign up for our newsletter
Join more than a million of the world’s best travelers. Subscribe to the Daily Wander newsletter.
AFAR Journeys
Journeys: Europe
Journeys: Europe
Journeys: Europe
Journeys: Europe
Journeys: United States
Journeys: Sports + Adventure