This is not necessarily a list of the best attractions in WA, or the most popular or must-do places. Rather, this is a list of attractions which I believe makes Western Australia a unique travel experience.
Attractions have been divided into ten separate categories ranging from the best of our natural world to the most unique places to stay. If you have your own ideas of places that are unmistakably West Australian post them in the comments below.
Nature Nature IS Western Australia. You will struggle to find anything in our great state which doesn't involve the great outdoors in some way. We have such an incredible diversity of landscape, flora and fauna it is hard to pick just five for this list.
Quokkas are very approachable and very cute. Picture: Simon Manning
Valley of the Giants Treetop Walk This suspended walkway among some of the tallest, oldest trees in the world near Walpole in WA's Great Southern is a must do for most travellers as it gives a unique view of WA's most spectacular forest area.
Quokkas at Rottnest Island Quokkas seem like the happiest animal on the planet and the Internet is certainly making their adorable smiles famous these days. Rottnest Island is the best place to spot them as there are thousands and they are usually not afraid to approach humans.
Whale Watching The whale migration can be seen along almost the entire WA coastline and is an absolute magnet for local and overseas tourism. From Cape Leveque near Broome in the north to Esperance in the south there are simply too many great whale watching spots to name.
Rocks that rock We have a lot of cool rocks and we like making a big deal about them. Wave Rock in the Wheatbelt and the Pinnacles in the Mid West are the popular ones but there are plenty of other fascinating formations out there in WA's vast expanse as well.
Ningaloo Reef Forget the Great Barrier Reef, WA has it's own underwater playground. It is easier to access and is in better health than it's more fancied east coast counterpart. Snorkeling, fishing, diving, beachcombing and encounters with giants are just some of the things to do on the Ningaloo Coast.
People say we are a young culture, but in actual fact WA's indigenous past makes us one of the oldest and richest cultures in the world. Our European history is no bore either, with a colourful and sometimes controversial past shaping WA as it is today.
Indigenous Guided Tours
We are rather underwhelming at highlighting indigenous tourism at the moment but there are some fantastic guides who can draw on the vast knowledge of their ancestors to give you an insight into their homes which no well-studied guide or website could ever know. I have been on three such tours in the Pilbara, Kimberley (bottom of link) and Kings Park.
Two Feet and a Heartbeat
These guys have been making waves in the past few years for their insightful tours through Perth and Fremantle. Armed with a strong knowledge of Perth history, including many facts you will be hard-pressed to find on the web, the guides are informative and good at keeping everything lighthearted. They also do some fantastic food and drink tours.
Fremantle bar scene
Perth has seen an explosion in small bars in the past five years and as such we are spoiled for choice pretty much anywhere we go these days. Before this, Fremantle was the place to go. The main street is lined with everything from two-storey old school pubs to underground clubs and everything in between.
As the largest rodeo in WA the Boddington Lions Rodeo attracts the best of the best from across the State. While the event is all about the cowboys there is a touch of class too as it is opened by a wine and cheese night and fine arts are also on display. If you are looking for a more "outback" feel, make sure you head out the the Mullewa Muster and Rodeo as well.
Goldfields ghost towns
Everyone is fascinated by ghost towns and WA has a large proportion of Australia's abandoned outposts. While the most famous ghost town, Wittenoom, is in the Pilbara many of the best examples lay crumbling in the Goldfields region, a reminder of the gold rush days which created the WA we know today.
One of the best ways to get the most out of nature in WA is with my favourite word; adventure. Whether you are headed off into the unknown or following a well-trodden path Western Australia is one of the most remarkable places on earth for intrepid travellers.
4wding in the Southern Forests is magical and challenging
Gibb River Road
The Gibb River Road in the Kimberley region is one of the most hyped four-wheel-drive adventures on the planet. The road itself is nice but nothing special, rather it is what is off the road which makes this a must do for any true blue wanderer.
Southern Forest 4WDing
There are few things which pique your sense of adventure quite like turning off the highway onto a canopy-covered dirt trail. With thousands of tracks of varying lengths and difficulties throughout the South West and Great Southern you can spend a life time heading off into the unknown to discover what the Southern Forests hold secret from the rest of the world.
Whale Sharks, Manta Ray and Dolphin swims
The Ningaloo whale shark swim is on many bucket lists and getting up close to these gentle giants is something you will never forget. In the same place you can also play with another gentle giant of the sea, the manta ray. Closer to Perth you can have close up encounters with everyones favourite sea animal, the dolphin.
Coral Coast quad biking
Quad biking isn't all about thrashing about the sand dunes. On the Coral Coast tourists can take a scenic tagalong tour along the beautiful turquoise coastline of the region, explore the stations and stop by to relax one of the many remote, empty beaches in the area.
Pilbara Fishing charters
With big tides, hundreds of islands and mangrove-lined inlets the Pilbara is a favourite for anglers. Whether fishing on land, off a kayak or on a boat you're in with a good chance of getting action. Mackerel are a staple and further out to sea marlin can come in thick and fast. Charters leave from Perth, Exmouth, Onslow, Karratha and Port Hedland.
Food and Drink
From the best pies in the world (don't even start to argue with me on that) to fresh food which so many of our trading partners prize above all else, WA's food producers really are unsung heroes who are slowly getting the recognition they deserve.
Simmo's icecream is a favourite for South West food lovers
Yabbies are one of those famed foods everyone has to try in their lifetime and each Spring Cambinata Yabbies in Kukerin celebrates their deliciousness in the form of a silver service dinner in a shearing shed. How great is that! Of course, there is plenty of locally sourced food and drink on offer as well.
For starters Miami Bakehouse has more than 400 awards for crazy concoctions like Taco pies, parmigiana pies and pizza pies. Bakeries in the Great Southern have some great prawn, marron and other seafood pies. Elsewhere in our state you won't be too hard pressed to find an amazing lamb, beef or chicken option.
The South West
The wineries and breweries need no introduction and the food is just on another level. White Rocks veal, Mount Barker chicken and Blackwood Valley beef are among a host of world-renowned meat producers but just go to any town and you'll find homegrown everything from chocolates and sweets to condiments and breads.
Fervor degustation dinners
Get a seat at one of these are you wont be disappointed. Fervor is a traveling pop-up restaurant which sets up on hilltops, beaches, open plains and even in barns and serves up 10 to 12 courses of food made from locally sourced bush tucker. Dinners will have up to around 30 guests so are very intimate and regularly involve a campfire as well.
Twilight Hawkers Markets
Each summer the centre of Perth smells amazing. This is courtesy of the Twilight Hawkers Markets which have become a staple of Forrest Place Friday nights in the past few years. They feature a very diverse range of food and a very friendly vibe, a perfect way to end the working week.
WA doesn't actually do thrill-seeking very well; it is not in our nature. We like relaxing on a beach, taking things a bit slower and enjoying the serenity. Having said that, there are a few places adrenaline junkies can satisfy their cravings.
Jurien Bay Skydiving
Jumping out of a plane with a backpack attached to you is up there on ever thrill seekers bucket list and there are several spots in WA offering the pleasure. Jurien Bay 3.5 hours north of Perth is the most well-known jump due to its scenery, you even get to land on a beach!
Lancelin sand dunes
These sand dunes an hour and a half north of Perth are a local haven for adrenalin junkies. Four-wheel-drives, bikes, quads and dune buggies frequent the area and there are plenty of dunes big enough for sand boarding and sledding as well.
Tiger Moth flights
A vintage plane, open cockpit and experience pilot taking you for a joy flight above Perth? That sounds awesome. Depending on the amount of brave pills you consume you can either enjoy a leisurely flight or enjoy the thrills of the acrobatic manoeuvres the Tiger Moth was designed for.
Jet-boarding and jet-boating
If you haven't heard of jet-boarding yet you have to. It is available on Rockingham and it is pretty much using jets of water to make yourself fly. For a more traditional on-water jet thrill, there are jet boating companies operating in the CBD, Fremantle and the Kimberley region as well.
If you listen to outsiders, every Australian knows how to surf. While this isn't strictly true WA has surf beaches for all skill levels from the pro waves of Margaret River to gentle breakers around Perth which are perfect for first timers. There are plenty of surf schools (just Google it) all over our coast to help you get on the board.
While places like Perth City, Leederville and Karrinyup are popular shopping destinations they can hardly be called West Australian. They do have a few homegrown shops selling local products but are mostly overrun with big national and foreign brands flogging off foreign-made products. If you're looking for homemade, home-owned, try these places for size:
Country towns have heaps of great local produce for sale
If you want fresh food you can't get any fresher than heading out to a market in a country town. Fruit, veg, eggs and condiments are usually always available and you may just find a unique homemade trinket to take home too. The best thing about the markets though is talking to the people who grow and make the stuff you buy!
Fremantle is a meeting point for all the regional goods and produce. While big brands are slowly creeping in like a cancer it is still very much like what the Perth CBD used to be, i.e. lined with homegrown small businesses selling WA made products. Whether you're searching for genuine akubra's or quirky necklaces, Fremantle still has endless options.
Go to Broome and try and find someone not wearing pearls, it is a very hard challenge. Real saltwater pearls from the Kimberly are the last word in elegance and while they attract a hefty price tag, they are something you will never stop wearing. Willie Creek, Cygnet Bay and Broome Staircase Designs are the go to places here.
It is called the Wheatbelt, but could just as easily be called the woolbelt. It was recently made official that Australian wool is the wooliest in the world and you can find all manner of locally made woollen clothes and linen in the many towns dotted across the patchwork farming region.
Places like Nannup and Pemberton have some fantastic little wooden furniture and trinket stores packed full of handcrafted good using local timbers. If you've ever wanted a unique table, stool, wardrobe or anything wooden these are the places to go as you will rarely find two of the same products.
This is why you come to Western Australia. No matter how tight you're wound up, a few days in the laid back state will have you moving at the same pace as the locals. Exploring WA gives you a great perspective of time and place – the huge distances giving you no choice but to not rush anything you do.
Dwellingup forest trails
There are plenty of forest trails in WA but Dwellingup wins the relaxation stakes due to the fact it is easily accessible and you are never too far from help. With plenty of water holes around the jarrah forests here as well as creeks, flowers and lots of wildlife it is easy for the senses to get lost but hard to literally get lost in this beautiful wilderness.
Blackwood River paddle
While there are rapids on the Blackwood there is also endless stretches of seemingly untouched river surrounded by tall timbers and peaceful clearings. sit back and let the current take you, stop by on an isolated riverbank for a rest or just paddle around a stretch of lonely water. The Blackwood River is perfect for taking you away from the rush of the modern world.
Dampier Peninsula beaches
Tropical water, bright blue skies, white sand, no signs of civilisation for miles in either direction and quite often no people around. This is how all beaches in life should be and you can find them in abundance on the Kimberley's Dampier Peninsula.
Perth Hills views
Some of the most picturesque views in the state can be found just minutes out of Perth. The hills offer visitors panoramic vistas over Perth, the Indian Ocean and the surrounding bushland. Great for photos, romantic dates or just to chill out for a little while.
When you go stargazing you want isolation and there is no more isolated place in this state than Karlamilyi National Park. Situated in the far East Pilbara, you can consider yourself very unlucky if you see any other people at all. With open skies, zero light pollution and no unnatural noise it is perfect for intrepid stargazers.
There is a wide range of accommodation across WA and many are very highly regarded. Then there are those which may not be so well known but have been part of every Sandgropers lives. Whatever you flavour, WA has a bed for you.
Kooljaman at Cape Leveque
Perched at what is seemingly the edge of the world at the tip of a Kimberley peninsula, Kooljaman Eco Retreat is an indigenous-owned resort perfect for truly escaping the rush of the modern world. Fishing, swimming and cultural activities are all available from this isolated tropical hideaway.
Karri Valley Resort
Another hideaway tucked away from the world, Karri Valley Resort sits on a lake surrounded by huge old growth forest near Pemberton. It is a simple, relaxing resort offering exactly what people come to WA for; a chance to escape the world around you.
Dunsborough holiday homes
Very few West Australians wont have a story about a holiday home in Dunsborough. They are a favourite for families and young adults to use as a base to explore all the South West has to offer. You can find just about any house style and price under the sun to cater for your needs from lavish one-room suites to open-living 20-bed lodges.
Cheela Plains Station Wooramel, El Questro, Quobba, Cheela Plains... it doesn't matter which station you stay at, you will always be met with exactly what your looking for; a great glimpse into the world of life on a property the size of a European country. Cheela Plains has an abundance of wildflowers, some nice gorges and is conviently located between Karijini National Park and Exmouth.
This is another one many West Aussies will have memories of growing up as a simple family holiday destination. Lancelin Lodge is a tidy hotel in the sleepy coastal town, providing access to the well-regarded sand dunes and fantastic water sports opportunities.
One of the ultimate West Australian experiences is camping out under the stars. Whether it is big skies a mile away from anyone or cavernous forests a short skip from town, there are so many great spots to set up the tent or roll out the swag and enjoy life the way it should be.
Cosy Corner is one of the best patches on Australia and is largely unknown
Karijini National Park
Karijini is famous for it's gorges but it is the big night skies which make this an ideal camping location. You can stay at the Eco Retreat campgrounds or Dales Gorge where you may even get the chance to spot a dingo or two.
Everyone loves trees and this campground is surrounded by them, big ones too. What Marrinup lacks in facilities it makes up for in beauty and providing campers with a proper bush camping experience without being too far away from amenities if they are needed.
Cosy Corner Campgrounds
This is the best oceanside campground in Australia for mine. I say this because this campground near Albany is completely covered in peppermint trees (like, COMPLETELY covered) and the campgrounds are literally a few metres away from a lovely beach which no one besides the people staying there ever goes to.
Sitting near the Wellington Dam near Collie, Honeymoon Pool is a popular forest campground for those in the know. A river runs by the grounds and the area is services with ablution blocks, barbecues and a deck out over the water. At the right time of year marron and trout can be caught too.
The Wheatbelt is often under-appreciated but is no less picturesque than the rest of the state. Eaglestone Rock is a rugged area littered with walking trails through salt pans, wildflowers and interesting rocky outcrops, all with free bush camping for a true outback bushman's experience.
This I guess would have to be the most contentious category of all. Which towns shout out "I am WA" the loudest? It is a hard one to put your finger on but there are those places you go where you walk through the streets and you just feel like this is home, this is what Western Australia is.
The first word which springs to mind when you enter this riverside inland South West town is idyllic. Rustic, charming and quaint are other catchy words regularly thrown around when talking of Bridgetown. If ever there were a town pulled straight out of a children's book, Bridgetown is it.
Hot days, cold nights, dusty and dry, complete isolation. The residents are larrikins, not bothered by much and not in a rush to go anywhere. If you want to see the Australia made famous by our international stereotype, look no further than Marble Bar.
Broome is a different world to what you will find in the rest of Australia. It's fascinating mix of European, Aboriginal and Japanese history really has turned it into a diverse cultural outback in what is essentially the middle of nowhere. Broome is all about relaxation and is the gateway to the Kimberley region, one of the greatest wilderness areas left on the planet.
Dunsborough is an ideal example of a modern coastal country town. You still feel like you're in the bush but it has all the amenities you could want and is on the doorstep of the famous Margaret River food and wine region. If you're into water sports like surfing and fishing, Dunsborough is perfect for you too.
Tourism officials don't like promoting it but Wedge Island should be a must do on anyones itinerary. As the largest remaining shack town in Australia it is a glimpse into an age long gone where respect was the only law that mattered. There are some fascinating shacks, larrikin locals and an excellent beach and dune system to boot.