I'm a freelance writer living in Perth. Having 2 young kids with endless energy, we are always on the lookout for new outdoor activities.
Published December 19th 2012
The search for WA favourite sightseeing trip
Where Do You Go for a Family Holiday from Perth?
A holiday by the beach would be nice. But where?
Where do you go when you have about 1-2 weeks holiday that you could spend as a family? It's something quite a lot of us would do, perhaps when the school is out, when Dad or Mom's office is closed between Christmas and New Year, or when the annual leaves are about to get forfeited if not taken immediately.
I know some families would be able to afford splurging on their holidays and do let's say an African safari or a visit to the Himalayan Base Camp. On the other hand, some families would happily stay in one place for a whole week or more; Rottnest Island is such a place that comes to mind. However, for the sake of this discussion, we're going to exclude those types of holiday. Let's assume the purpose of the trip is to see more of our beloved Western Australia. So it's a "WA sightseeing trip."
I have done a few trips like this myself, so the four options below are tried and tested. However, I'd love to know more options and perhaps we could use each other's ideas for our next family holiday.
Option A: Esperance and Albany
Leg I - Esperance: Esperance (about 800km south east of Perth) is most famous for its beaches. There are many near the town, but to find their best and whitest beaches, you simply must visit Cape Le Grand National Park.
Cape Le Grand National Park
Leg II - Albany: Albany is a major town that nicely divide your trip to Esperance in two 400km halves. There are quite a few national parks around Albany, both coastal and inland. Since in Esperance you'd've focused on coastal areas already, I'd suggest concentrating on the inland ones while you're here. Bluff Knoll is one popular option, and Porongurup could also be a pleasant day trip from Albany.
Option B: Margaret River and Beyond
Leg I - Margaret River: Margaret River is undeniably the most famous of all the "down south" areas from Perth. It has its caves, its wineries, and its beaches. What's not to like?
One of Margaret River's Caves
Leg II - Beyond: Rather than spending the whole holiday in Margaret River, we like to explore a bit further to other "Downsouth" areas, perhaps to Pemberton, Walpole, or Augusta. They area lush green areas with tall trees and great views, a very pleasant destination indeed.
Option C: Camp-Hopping
This itinerary is what I call a camp-hopping trip. It has many advantages, among others the nightly rate are relatively cheap, they are a shorter distance from Perth (the furthest camp is just under 200km from Perth), and all of them are by or near the water.
To give you a balanced view, there are of course disadvantages, for example there are only very basic facilities, there is no guarantee that you'll get a spot when you arrive (except for bookable campsites like Lane Pool Reserve), and you are at the mercy of the weather (if you have ever experienced camping in a downpour, you'd know what I mean). I'd usually be heartily sick of camping after a few days of sleeping it rough, however at the start of a new holiday, somehow I'd be craving for it again, for its ability to bring our family together (no TV, internet, or mobile phone to distract), for its simple entertainments (looking for tadpoles, playing hand shadows, star gazing) and for its beautiful natural surroundings.
Leg I - Lane Poole Reserve: I'd start the trip with Lane Poole Reserve because it's bookable. And that means there's no risk of your going to a motel or worse, back home, on the first leg of your camp-hopping trip. If you have any water toys (big ones) like model boats or inflatable canoes, this is the right place to bring them.
Leg II - Wellington National Park: Drive further south from Lane Poole Reserve towards Collie to find this national park. There are a few campsites here, my favourite being Honeymoon Pool with its jumping platform. Summer is the best time to visit as otherwise the water will be quite cold.
Jumping into Honeymoon Pool
Leg III - Belvidere Camp: After the excitement of the previous two locations, this campsite near Australind would have a calming effect on the over-exuberant kids. There are less adrenalin-pumping activities here, making it the perfect place to re-connect with each other over a camp fire, play some card games to while away the time, or to think long and hard about important decisions like where to go after high school. Scary, huh?
Option D: Monkey Mia and Kalbarri
Leg I - Monkey Mia & Shark Bay: Monkey Mia is located in Shark Bay Heritage Area, about 850km north of Perth and is famous for their dolphins. Everyday of the year, rain or shine, the dolphins would come to the beach to be hand-fed by us humans.
Leg II - Kalbarri: On the way to/ from Monkey Mia, you could turn off Brand Highway to visit Kalbarri. Its main attractions are their gorgeous gorges (that's a mouthful), with the most recognisable landmark being Nature's Window.
Nature's Window - Kalbarri
Trip note: 800km each way is a long way to drive, so my family prefer to break it into two days. There are a few options where you can stay the night along the way. The biggest town about half way there is Geraldton. However if you prefer smaller towns, there are other options such as Port Denison, Dongara, or Northampton.
So after reading my answers, I am hoping you'd be tickled to share your own? Where would you go for a 1-2 weeks family holiday?