Twenty reasons to stay in WA
1. The weather
Does the annual ritual of changing your flannelette sheets for cotton or stowing your bathers for winter leave you cold? Do these chilly mornings make you mourn summer? Unless you have a spare few weeks and a few thousand dollars, the Greek Islands are out of the question, so grab a cheap fare and take flight to our perennially sunny and always stunning north. Broome (above), bikinis (and threadfin salmon at Noodlefish) are just a couple of hours in the air and a world away from your troubles. Then, of course, there is the unparalleled Ningaloo ...
When you have something this extraordinary sitting prettily just a few hours away, it’s easy to be blase about it. But seriously, the reef and surrounds are utterly breathtaking and if you haven’t been there go directly to Ningaloo. Do not pass go (but do collect $200 to contribute to a life-changing experience with the swimming bus that is the majestic whale shark). There’s some fabulous luxe accommodation, too. Check out visitningaloo.com.au
3. Tall timbers
The magnificent belt of old-growth forest that flourishes in our South West is something to behold. Manjimup and Pemberton, once known only for logging, are now recognised as divine destinations because of those very trees. Head down to Big Brook in Manji for a drive you won’t forget or visit the exciting Tree Top Walk in Walpole — if the world is a theme park then this is one hell of a ride.
4. The nags
A day at a country race carnival is some of the biggest fun you’ll ever have. If raucous racing shenanigans are your thing, you must take a sip from the Kalgoorlie Cup at least once (but make sure you book your accommodation well ahead of time). Broome Cup is another cracker, likewise Bunbury.
See rwwa.com.au for full calendar.
5. Bonza beaches
From the pristine white beaches of Esperance to the unforgettable Green’s Pool in Denmark to the cool, clear waters of Turquoise Bay, the celebrated Cott and Cable beaches and the no-longer-secret Little Beach, we’re absolutely spoilt for choice when it comes to places to lay your hat — and beach towel. Get out of your pool and your comfort zone and wade in some salty stuff.
6. Bibbulmun Track
No matter where you drive down south you’ll see a sign for the Bibbulmun Track — the WA institution seems to go forever. But it’s actually just 1000km long and stretches from Perth to Albany and you don’t have to do the whole thing — it’s in sections. This isn’t for the five-star junkies, but those who consider Mother Nature in all her naked glory to be the bees knees. Otherwise just go for a short trot, make some approving groans and then veer off for a bubbly at the nearest luxury retreat.
7. The wildflowers & Mid West
In spring the countryside comes alive with the most glorious carpet of indigenous blooms. Punters with a few bucks in their pocket have been known to hire a chopper for a flight over the flowers but it’s only a short drive north before you find yourself in a magnificent multi-hued floral embrace. Keep going and experience New Norcia or the increasingly cosmopolitan Geraldton. The Porongurups in the Great Southern is also a floral feast.
8. Natural wonders
The Horizontal Falls are one of the most majestic sites in the Kimberley and the best way to get up close and personal with this natural phenomenon in Talbot Bay (how exactly does water fall sideways) is aboard a boat or a scenic flight. Check out derbytourism.com.au for options. And how many of you have seen Wave Rock and the Pinnacles on telly but never actually been there? Sure, it’s a decent drive but it’s worth it.
9. Ord Valley Muster & Kimberley Moon Experience
It’s only a few weeks away. Now in its 32nd year, the Ord Valley Muster and Kimberley Moon Experience are the highlights of the Kimberley calendar. The latter, which boasts a lavish five-star dinner and concert experience, is up there on every A-list and bucket list and we can’t think of a more glamorous way to experience this magical part of WA.
10. Awesome Albany
There are some wonderful bed and breakfasts in this part of the world which are perfect for a very stylish and romantic fireside stay-cation. This picturesque coastal city is a winter wonderland, a foodie destination and a shopper’s dream.
11. The generally great outdoors
If your version of luxury is total peace and quiet far from the madding crowd, then the State is your oyster. Grab a swag, a tent and make yourself at home under the stars. Here are a few suggestions: Lane Poole Reserve in Dwellingup, Lucky Bay campground in Esperance, Honeymoon Pool in Collie, Walardi Camp in Purnululu, Dales Gorge in Karijini and Stargazers Campground, Millstream-Chichester National Park.
12. A fine romance
Need to make something up to someone special or just spoil your lover? Take a weekend jaunt down to “Margarets” and stay at the ever-fabulous five-star Cape Lodge, made even more alluring thanks to the remarkable restaurant dishing up to-die-for delights of the region. Also in Margaret River is La Foret Enchantee, a stunning, exclusive getaway that will have you feeling like a VIP.
13. A piece of history
Faversham House in York is a gorgeous Heritage-listed retreat that’s about as close to a Downton Abbey-style castle as you’re likely to find in WA. With sprawling, ornate grounds and accommodation that brings together luxury and tradition, you’ll be more than happy to step back in time. Similarly, the Esplanade in Freo dates back to 1896 and is a popular getaway for city types needing a portside break. Other old-style digs with a story include Ford House in Bridgetown and Caves House in “Yalls”.
14. Leeuwin concert
This year marks the 30th anniversary of this landmark event. With a history that includes performances by Roxy Music, James Taylor and Diana Ross, the Leeuwin Concert is the hottest ticket in town. The Horgan family’s hospitality is legendary, with the enormous post-concert festivities getting grander ever year. Stay tuned for the names to be announced for the 2016 show — the concert’s 31st year.
15. The wineries
There are more than 60 wine regions in Australia but we’re pretty happy to say we have nine of the best. We all know the marvellous Margaret River but why not get reacquainted? The Swan Valley, with its wonderful rural vibe just a stone’s throw from the city, also boasts some amazing wineries. Then why not check out the Blackwood Valley region, the Perth Hills, Geographe, Manjimup, Pemberton, Peel or the Great Southern? There’s plenty to drink in — even for the teetotallers among us.
16. City slick
If you want to get away without actually getting away, Crown Metropol is a destination in and of itself. If the new luxuriously appointed rooms and hyper-cool pool deck don’t keep you occupied, the Isika day spa and smorgasbord of fab restaurants such as Bistro Guillaume and Nobu will. If low-key is more your bag, there are countless bed and breakfasts around the metro area that will make you feel like you’re in a home away from home — even if it’s just for a night.
17. Truffle travels
Many wonder what all the fuss is about but these musty little nuggets sure are cause for celebration. Celebrity chefs such as Gourmet Farmer Matthew Evans, Luke Burgess, Anna Gare, Max Veenhuyzen, Aaron Carr, Sophie Zalokar and foodies will gather in truffle heartland, Manjimup, on June 26 for master classes, a marketplace, truffle hunts and a gala dinner. See trufflekerfuffle.com.au.
18. Island home
If you simply must go overseas, head to Rottnest. It may not have the luxury resort many have been waiting for but the place is heavenly. Otherwise Garden, Barrow and Varanus might be off-limits but try the awe-inspiring Abrolhos or Mackeral Islands up north, the Bay of Isles off Esperance or close to Perth, Penguin Island near Rockingham.
19. Spa time
Instead of heading off to Bali, why not spend your spa dollars in WA at some of the deluxe retreats. Empire Retreat and Injidup in Yallingup are two stars of the South-West spa show, with on-site treatments and luxury accommodation to knock your stressed-out socks off. Chimes in Denmark is another favourite.
20. Think big
If you’ve got grand travel aspirations but only a short amount of time on your hands, try a world-class destination such as the Berkeley River Lodge near Wyndham or El Questro in Kununurra. The former, only accessible by water (read: boat or seaplane), is in the middle of nowhere, and nowhere never looked so fabulous. El Questro has long been on many a wishlist and offers a range of accommodation for all kinds of budgets — including the stunning Homestead retreat atop the Chamberlain Gorge.