Try bush tucker, swim with whale sharks at Ningaloo Reef and get a selfie with a quokka on Rottnest Island, off the coast of Perth. Discover Western Australia’s best family travel experiences.
1. Jesters Flat Equestrian and Vineyard, Margaret River
Toast marshmallows around a campfire during a stay at Jesters Flat, a working equestrian farm and vineyard in Rosa Brook, near Margaret River. Named after the centre’s first stock horse, it offers horse riding tours for all abilities, from one-hour rides for beginners to multi-day camps staying in bell tents.
2. Narlijia Experiences, Broome
Try bush tucker, learn about the traditional lives of the Yawuru and see 130 million-year-old dinosaur footprints on a tour with Bart Pigram from Narlijia Experiences Broome. Drawing on knowledge gained from living a saltwater lifestyle, the born entertainer shares fascinating stories of life around the turquoise waters of Roebuck Bay, Dampier Creek, the mangrove forests and mudflats.
3. Ningaloo Reef, Australia’s Coral Coast
Swim with whale sharks, humpback whales and manta rays on a tour to Ningaloo Reef from Exmouth or Coral Bay on Australia’s Coral Coast. The world’s largest fringing reef stretches for 300km, with hundreds of whale sharks congregating there from mid-March until the end of July. Several operators offer full-day tours to swim with the gentle giants, picking you up in the morning and dropping you back at your accommodation at the end of the day. It’s an experience you’ll never forget!
4. Kooljaman at Cape Leveque, the Kimberley
Book a stay at this remote wilderness camp, which is 100 per cent Indigenous owned, at the magical Cape Leveque. A range of tours are available, including the Southern Cross at Lullumb Coastal Walk in which Bardi-Jawi man, Bolo Angus, takes you on a fascinating journey through his traditional country. Learn how the Bardi Jawi people live off the land as you walk through mangroves, mudflats, and creeks. Discover how to find fresh water, how to build a shelter, how to survive in the bush and how they perpetuate their traditions through the reconstitution of an old settlement and ancient fish trap. Accommodation ranges from campsites to safari tents and cabins.
5. Rottnest Island, Perth
Follow in the footsteps of Chris Hemsworth, Matt Damon and Hugh Jackman and get a selfie with a quokka on Rottnest Island, off the coast of Perth, before exploring its beautiful beaches and bays. The island has excellent trails for walking and bike riding, and you can also book boat and Segway tours and learn about the island’s military history and the important role it played in Australia’s World War II defence system as you explore underground tunnels, the lighthouse, Oliver Hill, and Bickley Battery. There’s also a hop on/hop off bus service that regularly runs around the island, stopping at some of the more secluded beaches and surf breaks. Ferries depart regularly from Perth’s Barrack Street Jetty, Fremantle and Hillarys Boat Harbour.
6. Kalbarri Skywalk, Australia’s Coral Coast
Venture beyond the edge of a 100m drop over Murchison Gorge for spectacular views over Kalbarri National Park from this attraction, which opened in 2020. Learn about the area’s Indigenous history and culture through interpretive signage and artwork, and discover fossils and geolocation information about the 400-million-year-old sandstone that makes these gorges. Pathways are flat and level to the Skywalk, toilets and shelters, providing easy access for people with prams and wheelchairs. There is also undercover seating and a kiosk.
7. Swim with Dolphins at Rockingham
Experience the delight of swimming with wild dolphins at Rockingham, just south of Fremantle. More than 200 bottlenose dolphins live amongst the sheltered waters of Rockingham’s bays and islands that the guides from Perth Wildlife Encounters have come to know over the years. Small groups of up to seven people enter the water at a time, led by a guide using an aqua scooter to take you right amongst the playful creatures.
8. Lucky Bay, Cape Le Grand National Park
The white beach and turquoise waters of this wide, sheltered bay are ideal for swimming, snorkelling, fishing, surfing and launching small boats. The bay was named by explorer Mathew Flinders in 1802, when he took shelter there from a summer storm, and you can walk along the beach to a lookout where a plaque commemorates this historic event.
9. Road Trip Along the Gibb River Road, the Kimberley
Embark on an Outback odyssey on one of Australia’s most unique 4WD tracks, stopping to hike, swim in ancient gorges and visit cattle stations along the way. Built in the 1960s to transport livestock from outlying stations to the ports of Derby and Wyndham, the 660km trail is a true adventure experience. Highlights include Windjana Gorge, Tunnel Creek, Lennard Gorge, Bell Gorge, Galvans Gorge, Manning Gorge, Emma Gorge, Drysdale River Station, Home Valley Station and El Questro Wilderness Park.
10. Wula Gura Nyinda Eco Adventures, Shark Bay
Learn to play the didgeridoo around the campfire during a tour with Wula Gura Nyinda at Shark Bay on Australia’s Coral Coast. Guests on the Didgeridoo Dreaming Night Tour will learn about Indigenous culture and history as they help cook bush tucker or seafood over the campfire. It also offers a kayak and wildlife adventure, 4WD and stand-up paddleboard tours, as well as a three-day trip to Dirk Hartog Island (Wirruwana).
11. Gwalia Ghost Town
Discover Western Australia’s rich mining history in the ghost town of Gwalia, a settlement that grew up around the Sons of Gwalia Mine in the late 1890s and operated until the final whistle blew in 1963. The abandoned homes and businesses create a tangible snapshot of a vanished era and way of life. Step inside houses built of corrugated iron, timber and whitewashed hessian, peer through the windows of Mazza’s Store, where shoppers could buy everything from two pounds of flour to a length of fabric to make a frock for a dance at the State Hotel, and wander through Patroni’s Guest Home next door. The old mine administration buildings now house the Gwalia Museum’s large collection of objects, documents and photographs which show the history of the mine. You can stay in a luxury B&B which was once the home of the mine manager Herbert Hoover, who later became the 31st president of the United States (yes, really).
12. Wave Rock, Hyden
Surf the amazing wave-shaped rock near the wheatbelt town of Hyden, 340km south-east of Perth. More than 2,700 million years in the making, Wave Rock is made of multicoloured granite and is 15m high and over 100m long. Follow the Pathways to the Rock self-drive trail, or book a day tour from Perth. There are walking trails and Indigenous tours to other rock formations, including Hippo’s Yawn, The Humps and Mulka’s Cave, as well as Lake Magic and the striking Salt Pond. Hyden also has a wildlife park and is known for pretty wildflowers in spring.
13. Fremantle Prison
Built by convicts in the 1850s, Fremantle Prison was used as a place of incarceration for 136 years before being decommissioned as an operating maximum security jail in 1991. Visitors can now ‘step inside and do time’ on a range of tours exploring convict and prison life, daring escapes and colourful characters, in tales laced with prison humour. You can even descend 20m below the prison to explore a labyrinth of tunnels by foot and boat, or delve into the darker side of the facility’s history on a spooky evening torchlight tour.