Perth's Top 10 Day Trips If there is one thing Perth locals love more than sunshine it's a good old fashion day trip. The chance to explore the outer fringes of of our amazing "big country town" gives a finer appreciation of just how diverse and exciting our region is.
From the relatively unknown to the highly trafficked, from towering forests to sandy mountains, from country outposts to modern bush towns, Perth has a day trip to suit every taste.
The following locations are in no particular order and are a representation of the places I love the most having spent many a weekend exploring in the past decade. All of these trips can be done in a 2wd, however of course you will have more fun if you can get off road.
Wellington State Forest Ask people about Wellington State Forest and few will know where it is or what you can do there, or that it even exists. Featuring tree-covered hills and valleys with the Collie River flowing through the middle it is a haven for campers and nature lovers.
The views in Wellington State Forest are just incredible
The forest covers an area east of Bunbury out to Collie and hides the Wellington Dam, which in the past few years has overflowed in winter, creating some spectacular sights.
There are several campgrounds in the forest, as well as four-wheel-drive tracks and the Collie River, which can be fished, kayaked and swum in - though it is rather chilly. There are even some rapids for the more adventurous souls!
The Serpentine Falls are a mere 60 kilometres south of Perth in the Serpentine National Park near, you guessed it, Serpentine. It is a popular swimming hole in the summer time but really comes to life as an attraction in winter, when rains turn the Darling Scarp trickle into a steady and sometimes impressive torrent of water.
There are some lovely bush walks following the river as it meanders over rocky surfaces and through the deep green woodlands which are a haven for kangaroos, plenty of birdlife and wildflowers. The falls are open daily from 8.30am to 5pm and during summer holidays can become quite busy so it is best to go early if you're hoping for a peaceful swim.
Gnomesville It is for mine the most unique attraction in WA, thousands of gnomes who have over the years formed their own society in the trees on the side of a road now known as Gnomesville.
Just 25 minutes inland from Bunbury, there is a wealth of scenic drives in the area, but the main attraction is these gnomes placed by people from far and wide around the world. You can spend hours reading all the worldly messages, puns and spotting the garden critters in almost every nook and cranny in the forest.
Visitors are encouraged to bring their own gnome to add to the community, so if you've ever wanted to leave a permanent mark in WA, buy yourself a gnome, give it a story - or pun - and find a home among the trees. Just be sure not to disrupt any other gnomes home in the process.
Mandurah Mandurah is arguably the most popular day trip from Perth, made all the more accessible by regular train and bus services these days. It is a modern town sitting on the fringes of Perth, though arguably you could say it is basically an outlying suburb.
Despite becoming a modern town Mandurah still has a strong country vibe to it. There's fresh produce on every corner, there's great bakeries, large open spaces and plenty of trees. The inlet is peaceful and frequented by dolphins while around it there are plenty of fantastic dining options.
For the nature lovers, Mandurah's beaches are just as good as Perth's only quieter, the surrounding forest holds some impressive secrets - including some of the oldest living organisms in the world - and, of course, it is great for fishing and crabbing.
For those adventurous history buffs who want to know what much of the Perth and surrounds coast looked like as recently as 50 years a go, look no further than Wedge Island, Australia's largest remaining shack town just two hours from the big smoke.
The quiet coastal community is a short drive north of Lancelin and features a glimpse in to the good old days, when neighbours new each other and barbecues on the beach were a weekly occurrence.
The settlement is surrounded by pristine coastline, bushland and some large sand dunes which are perfect for four-wheel-driving and sandboarding.
Just one hour north of Perth, the Moore River is a tree-fringed river meandering its way from Guilderton inland to Miling and Piawaning. While it thins out pretty quickly the near-shore part of the river is a picturesque spot to set up the swag, drop a line and switch off from the world.
The coastal town of Guilderton, often the town referred to when people say Moore River, is a chilled and timeless community finding a balance between it's shack town roots and modern amenities.
The Moore River mouth is a great spot for land-based and kayak fishing, with local operators around to hire out craft for tourists.
This is one of the most unexpectedly fascinating towns in WA. Set up as a Benedictine mission for Aboriginal people in the early 1800's, New Norcia's classic Spanish architecture is absolutely unlike anything else you will find in WA.
The old monastery still stands today and is understandably the main attraction of the town, but there is so, so much more to uncover. You will likely have seen New Norcia bread on supermarket shelves, but few things can beat bread baked fresh from the New Norcia bakery itself. There are museums and art galleries to explore, and the New Norcia Hotel is no slouch in the looks department either.
The Perth Hills, or Darling Ranges, are a very visible yet vastly underrated attraction just 20 to 30 minutes east of pretty much wherever you happen to be in Perth. For those living under a rock, the hills are those big green things rising from the impossibly flat city that is Perth as you look to the sunrise in the morning.
Jess admiring the views at Bells Rapids in the Perth Hills
Pick any spot along the Darling Ranges and you will find many natural beauties from National Parks to waterfalls, wildflowers and thick forest with plenty of rural-feel suburbs dotted between them, often featuring some nice historic architecture and fantastic food and drink.
There are four-wheel drive trails, walkings trails, bicycle trails and not to mention, plenty of spots to swim, kayak and canoe on lakes and rivers. You could quite easily start at the northernmost point of the hills and have no problem filling up a hole day of activities time and time again just by moving a few kilometres south each day. The views, the smell, the tranquility... and it is just so close to Perth there is no effort required to get there.
The sleepy woodland outpost of Toodyay sits just one hour from Perth but in many ways, it feels like a whole new world entirely. Gone is the frenetic pace of the bustling city on the other side of the forest, gone is the noise and the towering glassy buildings. Toodyay is a quiet town, and the locals like it that way.
The current townsite was settled in the 1850's after slight water issues (flooding) with the original location. Still today many heritage listed buildings stand proud on the main drag, not hidden at all by modern architecture. Friendly local shops selling clothing, trinkets and food feel far removed from the tech and sign laden stores in the big smoke.
The Avon River also passes through the town, making it perfect for kayaking, and of course once a year the area comes alive for the Avon Descent. The agricultural patchwork of the area is just stunning, and at the right time of years wildflowers are plentiful, leaving you able to walk or drive through the surrounds for hours on end.
If you're after a good old fashioned country down you can't do much better than York. About one and a half hours east of Perth, York is an historic townsite sitting on the upper reaches of the peaceful Avon River, with its' plenty of parks and playgrounds to choose from.
The streets of York feature sweeping verandahs covering footpaths, huge stone columns and classic wooden lattice and a sense that you would not be surprised to see a horse and cart pop down the road at the next bend. The old buildings are fantastically preserved and what is inside them can often be just as - if not more- interesting.
Classic homestyle country meals, cavernous old halls, unique trinket shops, and a very popular motor museum can keep day trippers turning their heads for hours and if you do need a bit longer, there is plenty of simple and clean accommodation on offer.