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Western Australia is Australia's largest state by land area, making up the western third of the continent. It is geographically so large that it covers more land than Greenland or even countries like Mexico). Most of its 2.7 million citizens live in or around Perth, while the rest of the state comprises of widely-dispersed small settlements.


Western Australia Regions Map
The state capital on the Swan River sandy coastal plain, the beaches to the west, the hills to the east.
A complex patchwork of agriculture and reserves in the interior and empty beaches on the coast
  Mid West
The Western coast has surfing beaches. The closer to Perth, the more temperate the weather and hospitable the landscape
The central coast offers a variety of features -the Ningaloo Reef is not as famous as the Great Barrier Reef, but equals or surpasses it. Shark Bay is a UNESCO world heritage site.
A hot mining region, sparsely populated, with various natural attractions.
In the far north. It is a large wilderness area, including the resort town of Broome on Cable Beach. Vast areas of spectacular scenery.
A barren and flat interior becomes greener toward the coast where chilly king waves sent from Antarctica pummel the rocky shore.
  South West
Known for its wineries, surfing, forests and caves


  • 1 Perth — The state capital of Western Australia and one of the most remote large cities in the world
  • 2 Albany — the largest town on the south coast of the state
  • 3 Broome — gateway to the Kimberley and a fashionable tourist destination among Australians
  • 4 Busselton – home of the Busselton Jetty and gateway to the Margaret River region
  • 5 Esperance — on the south coast with a fine coastline and beaches
  • 6 Kalgoorlie–Boulder — a historic mining town in the east
  • 7 Kununurra — final stop before you enter the Northern Territory
  • 8 Mandurah — a rapidly growing city nestled between estuary and ocean is popular for fishing and crabbing
  • 9 Port Hedland — One of only two cities in WA that have international flights as well as the gateway to the Pilbara

Other destinations

Pinnacles Desert near Cervantes



The large majority of the 2 million inhabitants live in the southwestern part of the state, in or close to Perth, the capital and one of the most isolated cities of this size anywhere in the world. Outside of the Perth area there are fewer than 500,000 people, hence the demonym Sandgropers. The largest towns outside Perth metro include Albany and Broome, less than 30,000 population each depending on seasonal fluctuations. Beyond the coast, Western Australia's vast interior is very sparsely populated, with only a handful of townships with over a few thousand residents. Mining settlements and cattle stations are thinly-spread so it is all too easy to find yourself alone in a 100 mile radius.

The overall huge expanses and distance between places could be considered by some as an attraction in itself.


Mount Augustus is widely claimed to be the world's largest monolith

Western Australia covers about a third of the total land mass of Australia. It encompasses climatic zones from the monsoonal and tropical north to the temperate and Mediterranean south, and the desert and barren inland. Apart from the south-western coast, the majority of the land is extremely old, eroded, flat, arid and infertile.

Many of the population centres are isolated from one another, and from the other populated zones of Australia. This and the tough environment may account for a more independent spirit than in the eastern states.

The vastness of the state is certainly not to be underestimated when planning your trip. If it were a country, it would be in the top 10 by area, as large as Argentina, larger than any African or European country, and one and a half times the size of Alaska. It is the largest sub-national administrative division in the world besides the Sakha Republic in Russia.

Perth and the south-west corner including Margaret River and Albany are easily accessible. Visiting much of the rest of the state requires some planning and will probably require some long drives. Never plan on doing a road trip, without clearly telling either the authorities or someone else, on your planned route, as you could have considerable delays if you break down. Make sure you always have lots of water (and spare fuel) with you.



The first European to reach Western Australia was the Dutch explorer Dirk Hartog in 1616 while en route to what is now known as Jakarta. In the following decade, other Dutch explorers would encounter the land here, but with no apparent natural resources to exploit, left as quickly as they came. During the late 18th century, the British and the French began to explore the more Southern regions of Western Australia and in 1826 the British decided that King George Sound would be a suitable location for a settlement. Three years later the Swan River Colony was established, and this would later become the city of Perth. The state grew slowly until the discovery of gold in Kalgoorlie in the 1890s, which led to a huge influx of people.

Western Australia is the only state to never have been part of New South Wales and is the only Australian state to have tried to leave the federation, voting to secede in 1933. A delegation was sent to Britain to petition parliament to pass the legislation needed to enable independence, but it was determined that the British parliament did not have the necessary powers to pass such legislation. The suggestion of secession still appears in the Western Australian media from time to time and generally gains most attention during mining booms. A quarter of Western Australians still support the idea.

Time zone


Most of Western Australia is in the Australian Western Standard Time Zone (AWST), 8 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (UTC+8). It doesn't observe daylight savings time and is two hours behind the east coast of Australia during winter, and falls three hours behind New South Wales, Victoria, and Tasmania when they move to daylight savings. Note that not all of WA is in the same time zone! Residents of towns east of Caiguna on the Eyre Highway (including Eucla, Madura, Mundrabilla and Border Village) in the southeast corner near the South Australian border do not follow official Western Australian time. Instead, they use what is unofficially known as Central Western Standard Time, which is halfway between Western and Central time--UTC+8:45. Additionally the Aboriginal communities of Papulankutja (Blackstone), Irrunytju, Warakurna, Wanarn, Kiwirrkurra and Tjukurla all follow +09:30, not +08.

Tourist information


Get in


By plane


Perth airport in Western Australia is the main access point for international flights.

The vast majority of interstate flights also land in Perth. However there are a small number of interstate flights to Kalgoorlie, Kununurra, Karratha and Broome. Skywest has a weekly flight from Kalgoorlie to Melbourne, however it may still be cheaper to fly Kalgoorlie - Perth - Melbourne depending on the travel dates desired.

The price of flights from other Australian capital cities to Perth fluctuates wildly. The red-eye overnight flights can often be obtained at a discount over the more civilised flight times.

By car


Considering the huge distances, driving into Western Australia from anywhere else is an experience by itself. Most car rental companies do not allow for their cars to be driven across Western Australia's borders.

There are only two sealed roads into Western Australia: in the south, the Eyre Highway is the most direct route from Adelaide to Perth. In the north, the Victoria Highway connects the Kimberley region with the Northern Territory up to Darwin. Both involve extremely long drives. Perth-Adelaide is at least 3 days of driving with stops only to sleep, and much of the drive is across the extraordinarily barren Nullabor Plain. Darwin-Perth is at least a week.

It is often possible to organise one-way car hire without additional fees from Adelaide to Perth. Shop around, and check conditions carefully, as most cars hired in Adelaide cannot even be driven into Western Australia.

The unsealed Great Central Road, Tanami Track, Buntine Highway and Gunbarrel Highway run between the Northern Territory and remote Western Australian towns.

By rail


There is one railway connecting Western Australia with the eastern states. The Indian Pacific train service runs between Sydney and Perth via Adelaide. It is a luxury service that is more expensive than air travel, and slower than driving yourself, but you can take your car onto the train with you if you are travelling from Adelaide. The train ride is a unique experience in itself, as it travels through some very scenic areas, and some of the world's most inhospitable landscapes.



There are quarantine rules if you are coming from other states in Australia. You cannot bring fruits and vegetables (including seeds and cuttings) into Western Australia. Frozen fresh food is also not allowed but you will be OK with commercially packaged foods, except honey and bee products. There are quarantine checkpoints set up on the state borders and rules are strictly enforced. Inspectors board trains into the state to check passengers, and there are checkpoints at all airports.

If you are arriving directly from overseas, additional quarantine rules apply. See the Australia article for details.

Get around


By car


If you want to travel across WA by road, be ready to drive a lot to get from point A to point B. There are only a limited number of paved roads (any map of the state will probably show you all of them) with nearly all of them concentrated on the coast. If you plan to leave them to get to more remote areas you will need to consider renting a 4WD. Contact the company to which you rent the vehicle to check the policy concerning driving on unpaved tracks, as you might have to get their authorisation. Driving a rented conventional (non-4WD) vehicle on an unpaved track may breach your rental contract and void your insurance. Check with the local depot before arriving.



Never under-estimate the distance involved in travelling around Western Australia. Fatigue from long drives annually kills drivers from overseas, falling asleep at the wheel is a genuine issue.

  • Perth to Albany is 409 km (254 mi)
  • Perth to Broome is 2,237 km (1,390 mi)
  • Perth to Port Hedland is 1,646 km (1,023 mi)
  • Perth to Exmouth is 1,260 km (780 mi)
  • Perth to Kalgoorlie is 596 km (370 mi)

Always make allowance for fuel stops, rest stops, toilet stops, and refreshment stops. There is a speed limit on all roads, never catchup with speed.

Paved highways and byways


Unpaved (dirt) roads and tracks

The Gibb River Road in Western Australia

Unpaved roads require preparation and research. They should not be taken lightly, and you would be unwise to just set off down a dirt road without having done your homework. Be cautious. On some more remote tracks, it could be weeks until anyone finds you or your body if you break down. Road conditions, weather, availability of fuel and spares, contact (phone/radio), and survival supplies should be on your checklist.

The Gunbarrel Highway may not be what you would think of as a highway. It may not even be what you would think of as a road.

That said, some of the best scenery and adventures that Western Australia has to offer lies on its dirt roads. Some can be traversed, slowly, and with care, by an average driver. Study your route, and be prepared for conditions.

  • The legendary Canning Stock Route is an 1,800-kilometre (1,100 mi) long cattle track from Willuna in the northern Goldfields to Halls Creek in the Kimberley, crossing the inner desert parts of the state. It is one of the most remote tracks on the planet, with absolutely no facilities, fuel or food supplies, and runs hundred kilometres from any civilization. Prior fuel dropping arrangements and thorough research about the dangers involved in the crossing are absolute prerequisites. Attempting the track in the summer is madness.
  • The 650-km-long Gibb River Road crosses through the heart of the Kimberley in the North through majestic scenery, with some facilities along the route. Open only during the dry.
  • The Gunbarrel Highway crosses the heart of the continent from Wiluna to Kata Tjuta in the Northern Territory.
  • The comparatively easier Tanami Track crosses the Tanami desert to the Red Centre in Northern Territory.
  • The Great Central Road, regularly graded, may be attempted by strong 2WD (with very cautious and prepared drivers). It crosses several Aboriginal lands (for which you will need permits) right to Kata Tjuta in the Northern Territory.
  • The Anne Beadell Highway goes from Laverton to Coober Pedy in South Australia

By plane


Given the distances involved, plane travel is a vital connection to many Western Australian communities. Many towns based on mining have private 'Fly-in Fly-out' (FIFO) services for their employees, which are difficult for travellers to access.

Most larger towns have some form of commercial scheduled air service. Charter services are commonly available to access more remote areas, and airstrips available for landing are available even in the very smallest towns. If you can get a group of 6 together, a charter flight need not cost significantly more than a scheduled commercial service, but don't expect to be able to each take your 23kg suitcase on board.

By train

Transwa Prospector

Train services are limited outside of Perth and Mandurah. There are three regional train services, all operated by Transwa, that depart from Perth to various country towns in the south and south-east of the state:

  • The Australind, runs from Perth to Bunbury and back, every morning and evening.
  • The Prospector, runs from East Perth to Kalgoorlie, with coach connections onto Esperance.
  • The Avonlink, runs from East Perth to Merredin, in the Wheatbelt.

These regional rail services are not "walk on" services like inner-city rail; tickets to board these services must be purchased in advance, either online at the Transwa website, or from various TransWA booking offices located around the state, usually in areas serviced by the TransWA regional rail and coach network.

Journey Beyond's Indian Pacific does not permit passengers to begin or end their journey on any of country towns it passes through. The train stops at Kalgoorlie on its eastbound run for passengers to take part in off-train excursions.

By coach


Coach Services comprehensively cover the southern regions of the state, publicly operated by TransWA. These coach services connect Perth to various regional towns, as far north as Geraldton and Meekatharra, as far south as Albany, and as far east as Kalgoorlie and Esperance.

These regional coach services are not "walk on" services like inner-city bus services; tickets to board these services must be purchased in advance, either online at the TransWA website, or from various TransWA booking offices located around the state, usually in areas serviced by the TransWA regional rail and coach network.

Greyhound runs a service from Darwin through to Broome, and via Kununurra.

Integrity Coach Lines has a bus line that starts from Perth and goes northbound to Joondalup, Lancelin, Cervantes, Jurien Bay, Greenhead, Dongara, Geraldton, Carnarvon, Coral Bay, Exmouth, Tom Price, Karratha, Port Hedland, and Broome 3 times every week. The buses also return southbound from Broome to Perth.

By other means


Bicycling, camel riding, horse riding, and walking have been part of the state's history - early explorations were done this way.

Roadhouses,and facilities along the main routes in the state do support long distance travel when measured with adequate supplies.

Inland, there are no supports like the main highway route, and very thorough preparations are required.

Many solitary cyclists have been sighted over the years on the Nullarbor crossing, and fewer on the road in from Darwin in the north.


  • National Parks in WA have standard entry fees. In 2024 a single entry is $17 per vehicle up to 12 occupants, $10 per motorbike, and cyclists and hikers get in free. For multiple park entry get a pass, which you buy online, print at home and display on your windscreen. These cost $30 for five days, $50 for 14 days, $70 for 4 weeks, and there's a selection of annual passes. They don't cover camping fees.
  • If WA does not quench your thirst of (harsh) wilderness, it is unlikely that anywhere else in the world will. That said, most visitors stay within the very civilised areas of the southwest corner and Broome, which have many attractions and well developed facilities.
  • Fremantle Prison is one of eleven UNESCO Australian Convict Sites. WA needed convict labour and imported them late into the 19th century, at a stage when the rest of Australia no longer wanted them, so WA convict structures are more recent and better preserved than elsewhere.
  • Ancient lifeforms: thrombolites and stromatolites were common until a billion years ago, large concretions of micro-organisms. (Stromatolites have layers through matted growth, thrombolites are unstructured blobs.) They helped produce the oxygen in the atmosphere that enabled other creatures to evolve and show their gratitude by eating up the micro-organisms. Live specimens are therefore rare but can be seen at Lake Clifton by the road from Perth to Bunbury, at Shark Bay, and at Lake Thetis in Nambung National Park.



Besides driving, which can be an experience for some (being on the only sealed road for hundreds of kilometres, without crossing anyone, might be either disturbing or enjoyable to most of Western Europe drivers). The regions for surfing on its beaches include, the south west corner in the Margaret River region.


  • Ningaloo Reef near Coral Bay. Known as a world-class diving spot, still relatively unspoilt by mass tourism compared to the much better known Great Barrier Reef. Here you have a relatively good chance of seeing a whale shark when they are in season.
  • Rottnest Island. Not far off Perth's coast, it has many underwater caves that are worth exploring.


  • Bibbulmun Track, +61 8 9481 0551, . A hike on the nearly 1000 km trail from Perth to Albany, passing through many south west towns is arguably one of the best walks in WA. The signposted trail wanders through forest, wetland, coastal, and grassland environments to campsites equipped with a three-sided timber shelter, rainwater tank and toilets. Pocket sized map books can be bought from the Bibbulmun track Foundation. If taking on the entire length is too daunting, several sections make good 2-5 day jaunts.
  • Cape to Cape (Cape to Cape Track), +61 8 9752 5555, . The 135km trail between Cape Naturaliste and Cape Leeuwin in the Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park meanders around precipitous coastal scenery, forests and along beaches. Periodic established campsites offer a spot to pitch your tent, toilet and watertank. The northern trailhead is 15 km south of Dunsborough and ends 6km shy of Augusta, passing through four towns along the way.
  • Munda Biddi Trail (Mountain or cyclocross style bike only track), +61 8 9481 2483, . If you prefer two wheels, the 1,000-km Munda Biddi Trail goes from Mundaring in the Perth hills to Albany in the South West. The trail varies in terrain but is not extraordinarily challenging, making it a pleasant ride for all ability levels. Campsites with shelters are spaced a days ride apart, and towns along the way give you chance to return to civilization.
  • Railway Reserve Heritage Trail. An easy, but interesting, trail in the Perth Hills that follows a 40 km loop along the route of the former Eastern Railway abandoned in the late 1950s. The most popular stretch is in John Forrest National Park from Swan View to Hovea passing through the spooky Swan View tunnel, over a decaying wood framed bridge to the magnificent Hovea Falls. The areas relatively unspoilt bushland is a major wildlife corridor so it's not uncommon to see groups of kangaroos at dusk among other native animals.
  • Kep Track (Mountain bike, walking & horse riding track), +61 8 9295 0202. The well marked track follows the Northam - Mundaring Weir railway reserve and part of the water pipeline. It is a 90 km 1-2 day cycling trip or a 3-4 day walking trip. Food, water and accommodation is somewhat limited along the route. Campsites are non existent but there are refreshment and food options at Northam, Clackline, Bakers Hill, Chidlow, Mundaring.


  • Cable Beach in Broome. One of Western Australia's most well known beaches, with warm water and sand swept clean by the tides every day. You can't swim there from October until May because of Box Jellyfish (as with any beach north of Exmouth). Irukandji are also a risk at other times of year, and the beach can also be closed if a crocodile cruises past.
  • Lake Argyle in Kununurra. As one of the largest man made lakes in Australia Lake Argyle is a good place for a dip with the friendly crocodiles. Kununurra also has a number of secluded waterholes around that make a refreshing place to float about with a beer during the humid wet season.
  • Serpentine Falls in Serpentine. Located a 35 minute drive east of Mandurah, is an excellent place for a swim.
  • Twilight Beach in Esperance. Some claim this is the best beach in Australia. Others say it is only Western Australia's best. Regardless, the white sand, clear water and rounded headland make an impression on all visitors.



Perth and the larger towns have the usual range of restaurants. Australian influenced Thai, Chinese and cafes are common. Pubs can usually be relied upon for an evening meal in most towns and roadhouses have a range of sandwiches, burgers and sometimes more substantial cooked meals. Trips away from the major towns will probably require some amount of self-catering.

  • Truffles – An item you wouldn't expect to come out of WA is the opulent black fungus that's favoured by trendy restaurants in the better part of town. While the local variety isn't considered to be equal to its European counterparts, it exhibits the characteristic taste and smell that justifies the high prices it demands. Truffle growing in the state has grown large enough to support two festivals. At the end of May the Truffle Hunts in Manjimup are held with capacity limited to the 100 epicureans indulgent enough to pay $245 for trufflesque tours, hunting and eating.
  • Marron – is a freshwater crustacean with delicate meat quite different to its salt water relatives. Trendy restaurants might have it on the menu during the right season but the best way to enjoy it is by casting a trap into a dam or water way and boiling it up on a campfire. You will need a fishing licence to catch them legally or there are many marron farms in the south west where you can buy a few of them frozen or still kicking.



The legal drinking age is 18 years in Australia. It is illegal either to purchase alcohol for yourself if you are under 18 years of age or to purchase alcohol on behalf of someone who is under 18 years of age. The only legally acceptable proof-of-age documentation are an Australian drivers licence, state-issued proof-of-age card, Keypass card or a passport, and it would be wise to carry one if you want to purchase alcohol or tobacco and look under 25 - vendors will frequently ask for ID for anybody who looks to be 25 or younger. In Western Australia, foreign drivers licences and foreign ID cards are NOT legally acceptable as proof of age documentation, and people who are unable to produce a passport or valid Australian ID will be refused service. Photographs or photocopies of ID will NOT be accepted.


  • Fremantle has a number of micro-breweries. The most well known is Little Creatures, housed in an old boat shed where they serve a pale ale straight from the conditioning tank.
  • Kimberley residents love a drink, so it's no surprise that Matso's Brewery in Broome has a rightful reputation among hopheads for making some fine brews.
  • The South West has a handful of brewers. Albany AleWorks in Albany and Blackwood Valley Brewery in Bridgetown are old style brewers. Margaret River and Busselton have a half-dozen independent micro-brewers to visit.
  • The Swan Valley in Perth's outskirts is known for its wine but also makes some decent drops of the amber variety. Duckstein Brewerey is one of the states first micro-brewers and produces a range of German style beers that are particularly popular around Oktoberfest time. You can take a look at their copper brewing kettle and then sample an ale in the garden.



A debate about the quality of coffee in WA grumbles on endlessly, with many visitors claiming a decent cup near impossible to find in the west and locals countering that they are just not looking in the right place. Subjective bean preferences aside, it is agreed that a coffee (usually starting at $5) is more expensive than in Eastern capitals and a higher price does not necessarily buy you a better cup.

  • Northbridge, Fremantle, Subiaco, Mount Lawley and the CBD in and around Perth have the highest concentration of cafes where you are more likely to get a decent espresso.
  • Outside of the metro area it can be hit and miss, but you might improve your chances around Albany and Margaret River where a couple of boutique roasters have operations and coffee sits in the same circles as the gourmet food and wine scene.
  • Non-aficionados who prefer a little coffee in their milk drink might be disappointed that they are nearly 2,000 km from the nearest Starbucks (which is in Victoria, by the way). However, they should be satisfied enough with the Dome and Gloria Jeans chains that have outlets state-wide.


  • Kununurra in the Kimberley is home to the Hoochery Distillery, the oldest continuously operating rum producer in WA (est. 1995), where local cane sugar is used to make some pretty potent booze. Though it's aged in oak barrels it's still a harsh gulp due to the alcohol percentage being up to 70%. Tours of the distilling operations run in the peak season.
  • Albany - Great Southern Distillery a boutique distillery located on the harbour in Albany, Western Australia. They produce small batch whiskies and a variety of spirits. Open daily for tastings, lunch, coffees and tours. International Award Winning



Western Australian viticulture may not produce the large volumes of the wineries on the east of Australia, but the vineyards here are known for producing quality over quantity.

  • The Margaret River wine region. was only established in the late 1960s but has since built a reputation as an eminent producer of premium wines, particularly Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon varieties. Around 90 vineyards have their cellardoor open for tastings and sales, providing plenty of opportunities for serious libations.
  • Swan Valley. in the outskirts of Perth was one of the first places in the old colony where grapes were grown for wine, however it really developed as a wine region in the 1920s when migrant Croatian and Italian families established many of the wineries that still exist today. The valley overflows with a myriad of wine related attractions along the Swan Valley Food and Wine Trail and hosts no less than three festivals a year.





Western Australia has an abundance of places to pitch a tent or roll out a swag. Many campsites in National Parks have managed sites with facilities toilet and cooking facilities. Most charge a fee of $7-9 per person, per night. Campsites can fill up quickly during long weekends and school holiday periods, especially in the South-West.



Mining and native land titles remain controversial points of discussion in much of the state – on one hand, mining is what fuels most of the state's economy, but the lack of proper consultation with Indigenous land owners has resulted in many sacred sites being obliterated – including Juukan Gorge, a 40,000-year-old sacred gorge that was blown up by mining giant Rio Tinto in 2020. This also extends to other topics, such as renewable energy and conservation of coastal areas.

Stay safe

  • The vastness of Western Australia requires travellers to be careful when going into remote areas, that is off the main sealed (asphalt) highways. When leaving sealed roads and entering remote unsealed tracks, advise someone you trust of your movements of your expected time/date of arrival, and your travel intentions. Ensure they will contact authorities if you do not arrive on time. Make sure you check back with them to avoid needless searches. Check with local officials about the conditions of unsealed roads, especially during the wet season during which these roads are likely to be difficult to travel or impassible. Seek advice from locals when fording rivers, as many become swollen and deep/fast during the wet season.
  • Always swim between the flags at patrolled beaches. Strong currents can be dangerous to novice swimmers. Box jellyfish are at beaches and estuaries as far south as Exmouth in season, and can be deadly. Check with lifeguards. Saltwater crocodiles are found as far south as Broome year round in freshwater and saltwater (rivers, streams, waterholes, and beaches).
  • Many remote rural and outback areas in Western Australia are home to kangaroos and other mammals, reptiles and birds that will cross the roads, especially at dawn and dusk. So try to avoid driving at these times (kangaroos are most active at these times) and always be alert.
  • Ross River virus is endemic in the south-west of Western Australia. The mosquitoes that carry the virus are particularly active around dusk in coastal areas from Perth to Albany.
  • Snakes are widespread throughout all Australia - know the precautions and first aid before going into the bush.
  • Redback spiders are also very common in sheds/garages, and underneath chairs. Bites are fairly common and sometimes need anti-venom. Seek medical advice if bitten by a spider.
  • See local guides for any area specific issues.

Go next


This region travel guide to Western Australia is a usable article. It gives a good overview of the region, its sights, and how to get in, as well as links to the main destinations, whose articles are similarly well developed. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.