Make it Pert, Western Australia
With a world dominated by social media, busy trains and crammed coffee shops, the idea of ‘getting away from it all’ seems so unlikely sometimes. But while the planet seems ever closer and more connected, there’s one last real wilderness out there to escape to. With 8,000 miles of coastline, Western Australia accounts for almost half the continent. If it were a nation in itself, it would be the world’s tenth largest country. So, if you want some space to breathe, you’ve just found the ultimate getaway. Perth is Australian’s sunniest capital city, not just in weather (with a long-term annual average of 8.8 hours of sunshine a day) – but attitude. Topped by a thoroughly modern skyline, Perth is endlessly laid-back and easy-going.
Gorgeous sprawling parks and easy-access bush land – King’s Park in Perth is one of the biggest city parks in the world and home to the Western Australian Botanic Garden – combine with cosmopolitan bars and world-class restaurants to create one of the most diverse cities on the planet. This is where urban cool meets raw natural beauty: a day’s shopping in flagship stores and boutique shops can end with a walk along white-sand beaches and watching the sun set over the ocean. In fact, there are 19 pristine city beaches in Perth, allowing the opportunity to swim with dolphins, snorkel and surf.
The skyscrapers house the state’s movers and shakers, while intimate, pedestrian lanes house the city’s explosive new dining and small-bar scene. Perth is currently I the midst of an exciting expansion worth bold new design projects and redevelopments such as Perth Stadium, Scarborough and ELIZABETH Quay putting the city on the map as one of the world’s greats. Elizabeth Quay – a hive of new cafes, bars and restaurants – is an energetic waterfront precinct connecting the city centre to various other districts and areas. Boasts are used to link Rottnest Island, Swan River, Fremantle and more.
No city in the world an match Perth’s blend of sophisticated cuisine, culture and couture, the vibrant new urban villages of Mount Lawley, Leederville, Northbridge and Vitoria Park, or the bohemian vibe of Fremantle – as well as an endless array of options to explore the natural world on your doorstep.
Around 45 minutes from Perth (by car or public transport) is Rockingham Wild Encounters – a multi-award winning swim with Wild Dolphins Cruise which has been running since 1989. You’ll find more than 200 local Bottlenose Dolphins that live in the sheltered waters of Rockingham’s bays and islands.
Just outside Perth, Western Australia’s vineyards provide great drinking, stories and characters. Visitors can also easily explore Rottnest Island, a protected nature reserve that is home to the quokka – a small wallaby-like marsupial which appears to be the world’s happiest animal. The stunning scenery and scenic drives of Perth Hills and Rockingham (where you get to visit Penguin Island), are also easily reached by car.
Western Australia is an extraordinarily dramatic ancient landscape with a tranquil pace. The South West, including the Margaret River region, is the only biodiversity hotspot in Australia. With 24 national parks and just three hours’ drive from Perth, it’s home to some of the best gourmet food and wine in the country.
Here you will find an emphasis on the concept of ‘paddock to plate’ – made popular by Australian TV chef Matt Moran – which focuses on sustainability and exceptional quality (meat that’s butchered onsite and locally grown vegetables). Fresh seafood, boutique beer, chocolate, cheese and black truffle are all found and made in the area and can be served fresh to visitors in beautiful serene settings among the vines looking out to the sea.
For a sense of adventure, visit Walpole-Nornalup National Park, where The Valley of the Giants Tree Top Walk provides a bird’s eye view of some of the tallest trees on Earth – Western Australia’s Red Tingle tree.
The Golden Outback is a vast region that gives visitors a taste of the ‘real’ Australian, with miles of endless blue oceans, as well as the country’s whitest beach. This vast, diverse region of outback covers 54 per cent of Western Australia. It all begins at the rugged red earth of Mount Augustus (in the north of the Gascoyne Murchison region) and takes in the sweeping white beaches of Esperance and the South Coast. The Coral Coast boasts one of the largest fringing reefs in the world – Ningaloo Reef. The area’s UNESCO World Heritage listed and allows visitors swim with whale sharks, sea turtles, dugongs, dolphins, giant manta rays and humpback whales.
The reef is one of the bucket-list road trips in Australia. Around 14 hours from Perth, it takes in The Pinnacles limestone formations in Cervantes and the Murchison River gorges at Kalbarri. The Ningaloo Reef is also the only reef you can walk to – getting up close to its teeming marine life is as easy as wading in from the beach for a snorkel at Exmouth or Coral Bay. It’s also the only place in Australia where you can swim with the gentle giants of the sea: the whale shark. Whatever extraordinary things you encounter on your adventure, remember: ‘it’s just another day in Western Australia’.