I flew across to Perth with only 12 days left of my three month stint travelling Australia, and boy did I wish I had longer on the ‘other’ side of Australia within days of being there.
The East Coast of Australia is the well trodden route and, don’t get me wrong, there is so much to see and many adventures to be had (trust me I experienced them), but there is just something about Western Australia that’s truly special.
I can’t tell you all there is to see over here because I only scratched the surface, but I fully intend on returning one day and exploring it more so hopefully I can fill in the gaps at a later date.
For now, I’m going to tell you about what I did see and do on my road trip from Perth down to Dunsborough and Margaret River, and why this made me fall in love with this part of Australia. Maybe that will be enough to spark you to explore Western Australia for yourself. Then, perhaps, you can come back and tell me what I should look out for on my next trip there.
The spectacular scenery and nature in Western Australia
One thing is for absolute sure, you’re not short of incredible scenery and an abundance of nature in Western Australia. From stunning beaches and rocky cliff sides through to natural wonders that blow your mind, you can find a new place to explore everyday that will leave you marvelling at the beauty of this place.
I cannot cover them all, but here are a few of my favourite places that I would recommend anyone to take the time to see if they are visiting the area.
The Cape to Cape walking track
If you know much about Australia, you’ll know they’re a pretty active nation. They help live up to this with access to some spectacular walking tracks across the country and one of those is in Western Australia.
Running 123km between Cape Naturaliste lighthouse and Cape Leeuwin lighthouse in the South West of Australia along the Leeuwin-Naturaliste ridge, the Cape to Cape walking track boasts stunning views over many bays and a mixture of terrain. At the right time of year, you’ll probably spot whales along the way too. Now, don’t be put off, you definitely don’t need to walk the whole 123km (unless that’s your thing), but there are many parts of it that you can do a walk for as long as you like which will still give you a taste of the scenery in the area.
While I was there I walked from Smith’s beach to Injidup Natural Spa along the Cape to Cape walking track, which was about 5km and took 1hr15m one way. There are a few of the sights i recommend you see along the way too, like the Aquarium (I’ll talk about next), Canal Rocks which you can see in the distance and then you should have a break at the Injidup Natural Spa (I’ll talk about shortly) before you walk back again.
This is just one of those places you need to see for yourself to understand the charm and beauty of. Once a local secret, but now an Instagram famous spot, the Aquarium is perfect for a swim in crystal clear waters while the rocks protect you from the crashing waves beyond.
It gets it’s name due to the variety of fish and sea life that can be found in the pools so don’t forget to take your snorkel. I thought this was one of the coolest spots I came across in my time in Australia – it’s the natural creations like the Aquarium that made this part of South West Australia so special to me.
Check out these instructions on how to find the Aquarium so you can enjoy it for yourself.
Canal Rocks are a quick stop off point, but definitely worth a look around for views of the wild western Australia coastline and to witness up close the powerful waves that crash amongst the rocks here. It’s another spot known to host an abundance of colourful fish in it’s waters, but it’s not so safe to swim around in so I recommend just keeping your eyes peeled from the rocks.
Injidup Natural Spa
Another place for you to get back in your bathers and enjoy the natural flow of water washing over you as the waves crash into and over the rocks to create a natural spa pool. I just love the crazy and exciting things nature creates and this is another wonderful example of it.
It’s such a cool spot, but can get very busy (especially when it’s sunny) so if you’re lucky enough to enjoy it to yourself make sure you make the most of it. I met a Brazilian guy here who had intended to stay for half an hour and had been there four hours because he loves the serene feel of the place and it wasn’t too busy that day.
Cape Naturaliste is the headland in which you will find the Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse (one end of the Cape to Cape walking track). There are some nice walks to do here to take in the epic scenery, such as the lighthouse walk and a couple of other loop walk options.
At the right time of year (end of May to early December), you can overlook Geographe Bay to the right of the Cape and do some whale watching. It’s a popular stop off for whales such as humpbacks, Southern Right Whales and Blue and Minke whales on both their northern and southern migrations.
There are a few whale watching tour options too if you’re keen to try and get that bit closer and to hear all about them from the experts. Legend Charters are highly recommended and a good place to start when checking out your options.
I’ve added Point Piquet in this post because I stopped off here and thought it was one of the most stunning viewpoints in this area. I found it very peaceful and spent a little while sitting on the rocks, taking in the views and soaking up the sun.
There are actually tonnes of amazing stop off points in this area so I’m sure you could create an extensive list and not just pinpoint one or two, but I certainly found myself feeling like the views at Point Piquet were so surreal that I couldn’t miss it out of this post.
At Point Piquet you’ll get the opportunity to take in the beautiful views down the coastline across the turquoise water, which sits in contrast to the red coloured rocks lining the coast. It’s worth the stop off, trust me! And, it’s easy to get to on route up towards Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse or any of the beaches that way like Eagle Bay or Bunker Bay.
Stunning beaches everywhere
When it comes to the beaches in Western Australia, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed with any you choose to visit or find along the way. Turquoise, clear water, white sand and often not too busy (unless you’re in Perth), they’re some of the best beaches I’ve been to in the world.
My top picks if you are down and around the Dunsborough area are Eagle Bay, Castle Rocks and Bunker Bay so make sure you add them to your list!
I think pictures probably speak better than words here….
Sunsets, sunsets and more sunsets
If you’re the kind of person that loves a good sunset, maybe you enjoy an evening stroll along the beach while the sky turns from bright blue to a hundred shades of pink, yellow and orange – I know I’m that kind of person. Then, you will find yourself in heaven taking in the sunsets in this part of Australia.
In Perth, you just need to head to any point along the far stretching beaches to watch the sun drop into the ocean. I did a day trip to Rottnest Island and got the later ferry back at 5.50pm so I got to enjoy the sunset while I was on the ferry back to Perth. It was a spectacular way to end a special day visiting Rottnest Island.
Down in the Margaret River/ Dunsborough region, because it’s a cape, you have two options: find a spot to watch the sun drop into the ocean or head to the other side of the cape and see the insane colours that are left painted across the sky.
For the first option, the best spot is Sugarloaf Rocks which provides a beautiful setting as the rocks kind of frame the sun as it drops. For the latter, Bunker Bay or Eagle Bay are nice beaches to sit on with a couple of beers as you watch the sky turn. You’ll probably catch a few surfers enjoying the last waves of the day too – doesn’t get much more Aussie than that!
Plenty of food and wine options to enjoy
The title kind of says it all for this point, but if you aren’t aware, Margaret River is a huge wine making region and home to around 187 wineries. There are many Margaret River Wineries tours available if you’re into this kind of thing, but you can also pop by to a few yourself and try some wines at the cellar doors.
Aside from the wine, I found this area to have a great café culture so you can always find a nice place to get a coffee or something to eat. I was lucky enough to be taken to Goanna Gallery & Bush Café for brunch and oh my word they do some incredible food. I had their ‘indo breakfast’, which is an Indonesian inspired Nasi Goreng style breakfast – my taste buds were in absolute heaven.
You can find Goanna in a really cute forest setting and it gives off the chic, nature vibes that you would expect from this part of Australia. While you’re waiting for the delights on your plate, you can have a browse at their gallery and the various trinkets that are on display and for sale here. You could easily spend a couple of hours chilling out in this peaceful set-up.
Friendly people and a wonderful sense of community
This is the last reason in this blog, but definitely not the bottom of the list in importance. Now, a big reason for a place to be appealing to me are the people and the community. In the West of Australia I found everyone so friendly. Every time I went on a walk or I came across someone on the beach they’d say ‘G’day, how you going?’. And, in all the cafes or shops they always went out of their way to help me or spark up conversation. It made me feel very welcome.
I also really enjoyed the sense of community in this part of Australia. I went across to Surfers Point, near Margaret River, one Saturday and there was a surf competition going on. Despite the weather not being its best, the surfing community was out in force. Whole families, from grannies down to little toddlers, were out supporting their family and friends. It was really cool to see and, I have to say, I did think it wouldn’t be a bad place to raise a family when this is what their weekends look like.
Another aspect that adds to the sense of community is the quirky towns that you find dotted around this area. There’s Cowaramup where the community has played on the ‘cow’ theme and installed all sorts of cow statues and decorations throughout the town. And then you have Witchcliffe (named after a cave that has a witch looking overhang) where they play on the witchy vibes and have designed elements of their town with a vintage look to add to the feel. These places have their whole community behind it and this really does add to the charm of the area. Plus, it gives you an excuse to stop off in the towns, take some pictures and grab a home-cooked treat from one of their unique cafes.
Where to stay?
You have many little towns and villages to choose from in this area when you’re deciding where to stay. You’ll be able to find Bed & Breakfast accommodation, hotels, Air BnBs and plenty of hostels so whatever your budget you’ll be able to find something suitable.
I chose to stay in Dunsborough because it was easily accessible to lots of the sights in this area by fairly short car journeys. I stayed at the Dunsborough Beach House YHA, If you’re looking for a hostel then this is the place to be. Friendly crowd, great facilities and it’s right on the beach – what else could you want from a hostel!?
I’m hoping by now you’re past temptation to visit Western Australia and have already opened another tab to look at flights. But, if you’re still wondering whether this is the place for you, watch this space for more posts about this area.
And, if you do make it over there and manage to get further afield than I did, I would love to hear what you think and any recommendations you may have.