At first glance, you’d be forgiven for thinking these dreamy landscapes were taken straight out of a Pixar movie.
Thankfully, this whimsical world is both real and accessible – it’s scattered throughout Western Australia. From these captivating aerial images, it’s easy to see why the wildflower state deserves its stellar reputation (and a trip).
Home to one of largest diamond mines in the world, and Zebra stone, whose namesake red and white stripe formations still baffle scientists, Lake Argyle is a rare gem indeed.
Aside from the abundance of wildlife – almost 1/3 of Australia’s bird species take up residence here – there are plenty of activities to choose from while exploring the Lake Argyle area. Taking to the skies, though, is the absolute best way to experience the lake. Plane or helicopter rides will have you soaring over the paradisiacal scenes at Lake Argyle, as well as the mesmerizing Bungle Bungles in neighbouring Purnululu National Park.
Unpowered campgrounds right through to villas overlooking the lake are available to book on-site while you explore the East Kimberley region. Or, you can stay a 40-minute drive away in Kununurra. Nearby and equally as scenic, this outback town offers similar excursions closer to the Northern Territory border, where you’ll find a range of eateries serving sublime local specialties.
Yeagarup Sand Dunes
Part of the D’Entrecasteaux National Park, this mobile dune system comprises a 30km2 stretch that is steadily moving inland, submerging the Karri Forest as a result of the coastal winds. The towering sand walls engulf about 4 more metres of the treetops each year. If you make return trips, you’ll never drive the same dunes twice.
And ‘drive’ is very much the key word here. You’ll need a 4WD vehicle to visit, whether you want to take the wheel yourself or feel more comfortable under the hands of an expert (we recommend using a local guide). The dunes are worthwhile but they’re also tricky to navigate. Only the most well-versed sand drivers should attempt to conquer these steep slopes. Newbies could opt for some of the 4WD tracks in QLD or NSW instead.
Walking is welcome too, just bear in mind a day of trekking up and down the soft sand will leave you in need of a really good night’s sleep. The Sand Dunes Walk through the national park will take you around an hour total and lead you past lakes and Banksias before joining the 4WD track down to the beach.
Famed wine and surf region Margaret River is one for Champagne poppers and big wave hoppers alike. Vineyard virtuosos will find no shortage of premium offerings from more than 180 wineries in the region. With a weekly Farmers’ Market selling tasty treats fresh from local vendors, it’s an epicurean delight.
After indulging on artisan delicacies, take a stroll along the walkways over the Canal Rocks. Years upon years of sea erosion have left hollow channels between the granite outcrops. This natural spectacle forms part of the Leeuwin-Naturaliste ridge, and makes a great detour on the way to Yallingup for a day of swimming, surfing, snorkelling, or whatever water sport takes your fancy.
Arklow Trail Network
Old railway formations, forestry tracks and mountain biking trails make up more than 35km of trails at Arklow, the majority of which are recent additions. The new trails come as part of a state-funded project to help create world-class biking and bushwalking routes around Collie (~5km south of Arklow) and Dwellingup.
Maps are available from the information points and contain colour-coded guides to each route (though all tracks are also signposted). Options range from accessible family-friendly green trails to more technically challenging blue and difficult black routes, so there’s something to suit everyone. You can combine tracks for a ride of your desired length and difficulty, too. Have a chat with the Crank’n Cycles team for some expertise on the routes before heading out.
On-brand for a peninsula on the Coral Coast, the red cliffs of Cape Peron make for a fantastic photo opportunity.
The Cape is located in Shark Bay, a huge site celebrating 30 years of its world heritage status this year. The region is significant both due to its cultural history and biodiversity. Indigenous Malgana people have inhabited the area for thousands of years, and many endangered species occupy the bay. Walking the Wanamalu trail from Cape Peron to Skipjack Point will bring you to a couple of lookout points on the cliffs. From here, those with a keen eye can spot some of the colourful marine life below.
Before you head off, be sure to donate your worn-out footwear to the Thong Shack near Denham. Many a pair of tattered shoes mark visitors’ final steps through the bay in a quintessentially Australian way.
South of the Coral Coast and slightly further inland, you’ll find Serpentine Falls. The perfect day trip for those headed out of Perth, the Falls boasts a 15 metre drop where in the winter months water tumbles over the rock face into the basin below. Visitors are welcome to swim, as long as you heed any of the Parks & Wildlife Service’s recommendations before diving in.
Fauna fans visiting in spring will be met with beautiful grevilleas, dryandras, donkey orchids and more along the bushwalks. Tracks range from a quick 15-minutes to 2 or 5 hours, so you can spend a short stop, half day or whole day rambling here, depending on your plans.
The tiny town of Menzies stands guard to the curious expanse that is Lake Ballard in Goldfields, WA. Here, you can find ‘Inside Australia’. The renowned work of Sir Antony Gormley showcases statues of 51 individuals scanned by the celebrated artist in Menzies back in 2002. You’ll spot these striking figures dotted across the saltpan, making up the largest outdoor gallery in the world.
Spend a night or two under the stars while you’re here. There’s a free designated camping area, and relatively low light pollution means all the more chance to catch a glimpse of the revered Seven Sisters star cluster up above.
If you’re thinking of visiting Lake Ballard, you could do so en route to Kalgoorlie, which is about 2 hours away by car.
These beautiful spots are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Western Australia. For even more great things to see and do, check out the top 12 beaches in Western Australia or take a deep dive into WA – the best of the west.