Western Australia

Western Australia

Whether coastal, urban or outback, the landscapes of Western Australia are like walking on a dream. Through cultural immersion and nature-based tourism, prepare to embark on an otherworldly adventure 

Writer: Phoebe Harper  |  Project Manager: Deane Anderton
Occupying one-third of the vast landmass of the Australian continent and encompassing a coastline that stretches more than 12,500 kilometres (approximately 7,767 miles), the allure behind Western Australia (WA) is as boundless and diverse as its awe-inspiring landscapes. 
A treasure trove of natural wonders, from the arid plains of the Outback to the kaleidoscopic marine life of the Ningaloo Reef (Nyinggulu), the lands of WA are intrinsically bound to the 50,000-year-old heritage of the world’s oldest continuous living culture. Aboriginal Australia can be experienced through authentic opportunities for cultural immersion, whether through touring the metropolitan centre of Perth (Boorloo), or marvelling at footprints that echo through history in the ancient rock art of the Kimberley region. 
Blessed with more than 3,000 hours of sunshine per year, the sunny riverside city of Perth is WA’s urban epicentre. Here, Mediterranean conditions abound compared to the tropics of the North. This varied climate means that whenever you visit WA, you are sure to find a taste of summer.
With such an expanse of distances to cover and a cornucopia of sights to explore, the only thing you’ll find lacking on a trip to WA is time.

Industry Insights: Tourism Western Australia

Carolyn Turnbull, Managing Director of Tourism Western Australia (Tourism WA), shares her thoughts on why WA should be top of any traveller’s bucket list – from pioneering eco-tourism initiatives, to bountiful opportunities for authentic cultural immersion. 
Outlook Travel (OT): Talk us through the mission behind Tourism WA - why, in your opinion, should someone visit WA? 
Carolyn Turnbull, Managing Director (CT): Our role at Tourism WA is to grow the state’s tourism industry by promoting WA as an incredible holiday and events destination to inspire more people to visit the state from around Australia and the world. 
We do this by marketing the state through innovative campaigns and industry partnerships, interstate and internationally; securing direct aviation routes to WA; developing, attracting and promoting major sporting, cultural, arts, culinary and business events; and by working with government and the tourism industry to improve access, accommodation and tourism experiences for our visitors. 
People should come to our state as WA truly offers what dreams are made of – from our vast, jaw-dropping landscapes, to supernatural colour contrasts and otherworldly experiences, WA is a place where reality can feel like an extraordinary dream, and this has been the foundation for the messaging behind our new global tourism brand. 
OT: What inspired Tourism WA’s recent rebrand?  
CT: A unique global tourism brand has always been fundamental to a destination’s success, but a powerful brand has never been more critical than in today’s crowded, highly competitive travel marketplace. 
Walking On A Dream has been designed to elevate WA on the world stage and make our state shine in the fiercely-contested international travel climate that all destinations are currently competing in. It is all about growing awareness and driving consideration for WA as an aspirational destination in the minds of our key international and interstate High Yielding Traveller (HYT) audience.   
Our new global tourism brand is an invitation to the world to come to WA and explore the awe-inspiring attributes that make it a wondrous, dream-like place.  
OT: What kind of traveller does WA appeal to most?  
CT: As the world continues to navigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the consumer desire for freedom, space, time and connection has never been stronger – and WA offers endless experiences that speak to these new consumer needs.  
Visitors here are seeking dreamlike encounters with wildlife and immersive experiential moments as they embark on the state’s otherworldly adventures – all bound together by connection with authentic locals, including 50,000 years of ancient stories.  
Our research shows that nature, wildlife, and aquatic and coastal experiences remain the key drivers for visitation. We have seen strong demand for the bucket list and dream-like experiences that WA offers, such as swimming with whale sharks on Ningaloo Reef and exploring the Bungle Bungle Range in Purnululu National Park. Visitors are also especially keen to explore the gourmet food and wine experiences of Perth and the Margaret River Region, and our incredible nature and wildlife experiences like swimming with wild dolphins in Rockingham and meeting friendly quokkas on Rottnest Island. 
OT: What are some of the major trends you’re seeing for tourism in WA? 
CT: Two growing areas of demand for tourism in WA are cultural tourism and ecotourism. 
Our vision is to make WA the premier Aboriginal tourism destination in Australia, so growing the Aboriginal tourism sector is one of our top priorities. Walking On A Dream as a brand has been inspired by WA’s unique Aboriginal culture in an artistic, authentic way, to align with our Jina WA Aboriginal Tourism Action Plan objectives.  
A recent initiative in this space is Camping with Custodians. This exciting, Australian-first programme is a network of high-quality campgrounds on Aboriginal lands. The campgrounds are open to the public and are owned and operated by the community. They allow visitors to experience the world’s oldest continuous living culture in a personal, authentic setting. 
Sustainability is also critical to Tourism WA’s vision, to shape and protect our industry’s future across the community, economy and environment. Excitingly, WA will soon be home to the world’s longest electric highway, with a network of almost 100 new electric vehicle fast-charging stations and back-up charges at nearly 50 different locations.  
The Margaret River Region has also recently become WA’s first certified ECO Destination – one of only four in Australia. Through this globally recognised certification programme, visitors are assured the region has a range of high-quality, nature-based tourism products and a strong commitment to improving sustainable practices into the future. 68 wineries across the Margaret River Region are also certified members of Sustainable Wine Growing Australia, with 12 percent of vineyards certified organic or biodynamic.  
WA is a leader in minimal impact glamping and eco-friendly accommodation, including iconic properties such as Sal Salis Ningaloo, Eco Beach Resort in Broome and Discovery Rottnest Island.  Tourism WA is currently investigating opportunities to further develop these types of accommodation offerings.  
We have also placed experience development managers in our five tourism regions to work with operators to grow tourism experiences and products to capitalise on investment in National Parks.   
OT: What are Tourism WA’s key priorities for the near future? 
CT: We’re focusing on three key pillars to continue to reset the state’s tourism industry and give travellers a compelling reason to visit WA – marketing, event and experience development. 
We’ve already delivered our new world-class tourism brand to set the state up for long-term success and increase tourism’s contribution to the economy, so our next step is to officially launch the Walking On A Dream brand in our priority markets around the world. We will also continue to help bring blockbuster stadium fixtures, mass participation events and high-impact art and cultural events to our state, to give visitors that ‘hook to book’ a visit to WA.  
In experience development, we are focusing on growing and strengthening the current and future tourism workforce, and working with private sector investors and government stakeholders to help develop world-class luxury lodges in strategic regional locations. Tourism WA is also supporting the development of authentic Aboriginal tourism experiences and tourism infrastructure projects in WA’s regions, restoring aviation access into and around our state, and driving success in the cruising sector, which contributed AUD$262 million to WA’s economy and supported almost 1,000 jobs prior to the pandemic.
Aboriginal Tourism
Many may not realise that Australia’s Aboriginal people belong to the oldest continuous living culture on Earth, dating back more than 50,000 years. This ancient culture is kept alive in WA by more than 100 Aboriginal tourism operators who share their unique traditions, lands and legendary stories with visitors from around the world.
Aboriginal experiences can be found across the whole state – from the limestone caves of the southernmost Margaret River Region to the urban centre of Perth (Boorloo), where a Warrang-Bridil cultural tour will immerse visitors in the Aboriginal culture of the Swan River (Derbal Yerrigan). The city pays homage to its Aboriginal heritage, as seen in Yagan Square and the WA Museum Boola Bardip, located in the Perth Cultural Centre. 
The scenic wilds of WA’s Northwest in the Murujuga National Park boast one of the world’s most ancient art galleries, with the largest collection of rock art/petroglyphs. Experience a guided trip led by an Aboriginal host to this magnificent historic landmark with Ngurrangga Tours, as the park progresses to becoming an official UNESCO World Heritage Site. 
Elsewhere, head north to Broome (Rubibi) and the Dampier Peninsula to meet with a member of the area’s Bardi Jawi people to retrace the ocean journey from the mainland through a wild network of islands and tidal passages on an excursion with Oolin Sunday Island Cultural Tours. 
Meanwhile, in Broome, you can participate in an Aboriginal corroboree experience, referred to as Wakai – meaning ‘the coming together of family’ - provided by Mabu Buru Tours in collaboration with Yatangal.
With myriad other authentic Aboriginal experiences on offer, be sure to seek insight into the ancient culture that lies at the heart of these lands.


From circus extravaganzas to sporting spectacles, here is a selection of some of the major events in WA’s cultural calendar next year
FRINGE World Festival 
20 January – 19 February, 2023
FRINGE World Festival returns, showcasing more than 170 circus, comedy, theatre, and children’s events from local, national and international artists. The festival is produced by Artrage – one of the oldest arts organisations in WA – and next year returns to its home ground at the Perth Cultural Centre in the heart of Northbridge, surrounded by a vibrant offering of arts, music, food and entertainment. New additions to the 2023 Festival include Liberty Fringe, which will bring the iconic Liberty Theatre in the Perth central business district (CBD) back to life as the old cinema room and basement transforms into theatre spaces for comedy and variety. fringeworld.com.au
Shore Leave Festival 
27-30 April, 2023 
A celebration of the Midwest region’s seafood, culture, food and adventure offerings, this festival hosts one of the most unique dining experiences in WA, the Abrolhos Islands Long Table Lunch. shoreleavefestival.com.au
Margaret River Pro
20-30 April, 2023 
This World Surf League Championship Tour event attracts top men’s and women’s professional surfers to Margaret River each year, to compete in one of the world’s most consistent big wave destinations, with more than 75 major surf breaks. worldsurfleague.com
Boab Metals Ord Valley Muster 
19-27 May, 2023
The Boab Metals Ord Valley Muster celebrates the culture and extraordinary natural landscapes of the Kimberley region in WA’s Northwest. The festival prides itself on embracing the local community to present an impressive line-up of events including comedy nights, a street party and the Waringarri Corroboree. The muster’s major drawcard, the Kimberley Moon Experience, is held on the banks of the Ord River and provides an idyllic setting to enjoy a stellar line-up of national and local musical acts. ordvalleymuster.com

In Focus: Perth 

Australia’s sunniest city can be found between the bright sandy shores of the Indian Ocean and the shimmering banks of the Swan River (Derbal Yerrigan). With 18 pristine beaches a short drive away, you won’t be short of places to watch one of Perth’s famous sunsets. 
The area’s natural beauty thrives alongside the urban epicentre of WA, home to a smorgasbord of gourmet food and wine experiences and endless bars, restaurants, hotels, shopping and cultural spaces. Perth boasts one of the world’s most beautiful inner-city parks, Kings Park and Botanic Garden (Kaarta Koomba), with more than 3,000 species of native plants and around 80 bird species. 
Elsewhere, the bustling waterfront precinct of Elizabeth Quay is a cosmopolitan celebration of the city’s love affair with the Swan River, where 5-star hotels like The Ritz Carlton Perth and the DoubleTree Hilton Perth rub shoulders over scenic riverfront views.
Just a 30-minute drive out of the Perth CBD will transport visitors into awesome natural surroundings, including WA’s oldest wine region, the Swan Valley. Swim with wild dolphins at Rockingham, cruise the canals in Mandurah (Mandjoogoordap), discover crystal caves in Yanchep National Park and hike trails in the Perth Hills. Nearby, the island paradise of Rottnest Island (Wadjemup) can be reached via a short ferry ride from the mainland and promises a glimpse of the world’s happiest animal and West Australian icon, the quokka.

Outlook Recommends 

From its base in Fremantle, Sailing Eventide offers a unique and immersive sailing experience on board a 38’ Lagoon sailing catamaran designed exclusively for small groups of up to 12 people. As WA locals and passionate lifelong sailors, you are in expert hands with Eventide’s owners.
Voted the world’s most beautiful stadium, Optus Stadium has a capacity of 60,000 people. Be sure to check the venue’s listing for world-class fixtures, from music concerts to cricket, football, and rugby Adrenaline-seekers must try ‘The Ozone’ for unforgettable rooftop tours and other experiences.  
Kimberley Experiences Group has a long-standing reputation for excellence in customer service and adventure tourism. Today, its multi-award-winning Kimberley-based portfolio includes Aviair, HeliSpirit, Freshwater East Kimberley Apartments, the Bungle Bungle Savannah Lodge, and Bungle Bungle Guided Tours.  
Off the Beaten Track WA is a hiking experience and adventure tour operator transporting guests to the Great Outdoors through unforgettable immersive experiences. Their tours range from multi-day treks along scenic long-distance trails, to weekend-long trips across WA. Offering a diverse array of experiences, the company prides itself on providing unique nature-based trips designed with minimal environmental impact in mind. Guests can create bespoke private excursions or gamble on making new connections with like-minded travellers by joining a group tour. From rugged coastal beauty to deep immersion in ancient forests, rekindle your connection with nature. 
Duxton Hotel. The Duxton offers guests accommodation in the heart of Perth’s CBD with 306 rooms and suites and facilities including a steam room, sauna, and outdoor-heated pool.
Camplify boasts an extensive fleet of campervans, motorhomes and caravans for your WA road trip adventure. As a sharing community for ‘vantrepreneurs’, Camplify connects holidaymakers with thousands of unique neighbourhood vans that are available to hire – from luxury trips for two to homes for the family on four wheels.  
The Marina Hotel can be found just 30 minutes from Perth in the stylish harbour town of Mindarie. Combining waterfront dining with live entertainment and chic accommodation, The Marina is well-positioned to enjoy scenic views across the harbour, especially from the private balconies of its accommodation suites. The area boasts a rich variety of eateries and bars, including a microbrewery and gastropub right on the water’s edge. Take a stroll along the Mindarie boardwalk, and head out on a cruise straight from the marina before returning to the hotel, where comfort awaits.

Landmark Attractions

Margaret River Region
This exquisite southern region recently became WA’s first certified ECO Destination thanks to its range of nature-based tourism products – not to mention its mouth-watering local food and wine scene. In Wardandi Noongar Country, marvel at a unique network of more than 100 limestone caves and explore some of WA’s top surf spots before winding down at a premium winery.

Ningaloo Marine Park
Where the outback meets the reef, World Heritage-listed Ningaloo Reef is one of very few places in the world where you can swim alongside gentle giants, namely whale sharks and humpback whales, when they grace these shores between March and July. This part of WA’s Coral Coast is also a major breeding area for sea turtles. 

Purnululu National Park
This World Heritage-listed treasure is home to the Bungle Bungle Range. Venture here for various hiking options amongst the curious ochre and black striped domes of rock which have been formed over the past 350 million years. Check out Cathedral Gorge and the Echidna Chasm for some of the most-popular day hikes. 

Getting There and Around

As a gateway to the region, most visitors begin their WA adventure in Perth (Boorloo). The city is well-connected with international airlines, with direct flights from the UK, Middle East, South Africa, New Zealand and Asia, and many domestic flight options from the rest of Australia. Visitors arriving at Perth Airport can access Perth city in less than 20 minutes by the new Metronet Airport train line. If visiting during spring or summer, the Perth Coastal Explorer is an open-top double decker bus that provides the perfect way to cruise along the city’s Sunset Coast.
For those travelling from elsewhere in Australia, the iconic Indian Pacific offers an unforgettable rail experience, connecting Adelaide and Sydney to Perth on one of the longest rail roads on Earth. 
Internal flights are a great way to reach some of WA’s regional destinations, as seen with the new direct flight from Jetstar which connects Melbourne with Busselton in the Margaret River Region. You can also reach Kununurra Airport in eastern Kimberley with a three-hour direct flight from Perth with Virgin Australia. Coming soon in April 2023, a new direct flight between Melbourne and Exmouth is set to launch, providing a swift and easy route for travellers looking to explore the Ningaloo Reef. 
Finally, road trips were made for WA, as one of the world’s largest states. Car and motorhome rentals are popular options, or join a bus or coach tour travelling along the Nullarbor Plain to Perth. From here, three of Australia’s ultimate adventures and long-distance road trips connect Perth to the rest of the country, including the Eyre Highway, the Outback Way and the Savannah Way.