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Green Head, Western Australia

Green Head

Western Australia

A seaside haven at the heart of wildflower country, Green Head brings you the best of both worlds. To the east, flora hotspot Lesueur National Park showcases some of the richest plant diversity on Earth with 820 native flowering species. While on its shores, a playful colony of Australian sea lions invites you into their world for a close encounter. Getting there is part of the adventure when you follow the 415 kilometre Indian Ocean Drive from Yanchep, just north of Perth. The journey takes three hours, but you can take your time to enjoy some of the breathtaking beaches along the way, or stop to gaze in awe at one of Australia's most unique landscapes, the Pinnacles Desert. If you're hitting the wildflower trail in spring, make Green Head your base beside Lesueur National Park. Grab your camera and snap the striking Grevillea, Leschenaultia, orchids and pearl flowers, some of which occur nowhere else on Earth. Keen birdwatchers may also spot some 100 plus species here, including the rare Carnaby's black cockatoo. More fauna encounters can be found by joining a boat tour of the surrounding islands for some fun interaction with the friendly breeding colony of Australian sea lions. Closer to town, Dynamite Bay and a string of white sandy beaches offer some of the best windsurfing conditions in Western Australia, not to mention excellent beach fishing, swimming, snorkelling and diving. These coastal waters have seen a lot of action since the first known European visitors arrived in the 1600s, sailing the trading routes from Holland to Indonesia. Several Dutch ships were wrecked on the reefs, including the Gilt Dragon and Waeckende Boey. You can retrace the steps of more recent visitors, taking the four wheel drive track to Stockyard Gully National Park. Part of the old north stock route used in the 1850s, livestock and stockmen took shelter in the caves here on their journey from Geraldton to the markets in Perth. More comfortable accommodation can be found today in Green

Yanchep 2011

Moore River

Western Australia

Moore River is the perfect coastal and river playground, with a pretty hinterland of olive groves and wildflower country. Here, one of the oldest surviving cultures on Earth shares the story of its legendary water serpent, while regular holidaymakers from Perth enjoy its great outdoors. It's an easy one and a half hour drive north from Perth along the Brand Highway to reach Moore River, and a world away from the city. The Moore River and estuary offer the ideal spots to indulge your passion for fishing and water sports, and you're an easy day trip away from some of the region's must-see attractions. Head for the world famous Pinnacles, in Nambung National Park near Cervantes, and marvel at one of Australia's most unique landscapes, formed over millions of years. Catch some action at the windsurfing capital of Lancelin. Or step into the serenity of the Spanish missionary at New Norcia - Australia's only monastic town. The history of Moore River is equally as enchanting and dates back even further than the arrival of explorer and early settler of the Swan River colony George Fletcher Moore, who visited in the area in 1836. Stay and enjoy the Wakal's creation and choose from a range of family friendly accommodation options, from caravan parks to self-contained holiday homes and beach houses.

Gregory, Western Australia

Port Gregory

Western Australia

The beachside village of Port Gregory is famed for its pink lagoon, exposed reef, spring wildflower scenery and settler history, complete with convict-era buildings and shipwrecks. Swim, dive, fish and immerse yourself in this quintessential Western Australian beach holiday spot. Just under six hours north of Perth by car, this picturesque fishing village is nestled between the beach and Hutt Lagoon, near the mouth of the Hutt River. With its five kilometres of exposed reef forming a natural harbour, Port Gregory is a sheltered aquatic playground. From the safe swimming beach to the water-skiing area, there's something for everyone. Launch and anchor your boat. Scuba dive in the clear waters. Explore the reef. Try your hand at offshore fishing, or drop a line off the jetty - rock lobster is a local favourite. A host of natural delights await on land too. In spring, colourful wildflowers blanket the surrounding countryside. Take a scenic drive through the hinterland's hills and valleys, or contact a local tour guide to ensure you see all the native flora hotspots. Or, for an adventure of a more interactive kind, try a guided self-drive quad biking tour at Wagoe Beach. It's a unique opportunity to discover the pristine Indian Ocean coastline between Port Gregory and Kalbarri. While you're exploring inland, head to nearby Lynton - a historic settlement built by convicts in the mid-19th century. The townsite was home to a depot that served as an early employment agency, recruiting convicts to work at the local Geraldine Mine and pastoral stations. Today, you can visit restored buildings, the hiring depot and Sanfords House - a must-see for history buffs. There's much to see and experience in and around Port Gregory, with an equally diverse range of accommodation options, from the town's caravan park to nearby farmstays, chalets and beach cottages. Wherever you stay, be sure to visit Hutt Lagoon at sunset when this magnificent salt lake changes colour, from mauve to pink to

Brookton, Western Australia

Brookton

Western Australia

The historic Wheatbelt town of Brookton gives you glimpses of what life was like before and after the arrival European settlers, with grand heritage architecture and natural habitats teeming with rare native wildlife. You can make the journey from city to Brookton country charm in less than two hours, hitting the Brookton Highway south east of Perth. This is the quickest route to reach Wave Rock - an awe-inspiring granite cliff shaped over 2,700 years to form a huge wave. Alternatively, why not head southbound at a more serene pace, following one of the world's great long-distance walk trails - the Bibbulmun Track. Stretching nearly 1,000 kilometres from Kalamunda in Perth, it passes just to the west of Brookton on its way to Albany on the south west coast. This section of the track is accessible to wheelchairs and prams and makes an ideal day walk and picnic spot. Just 10 kilometres south-west of Brookton lies another idyllic picnic setting at Boyagin Rock Nature Reserve. Walking among the powderbark, jarrah and marri trees, you'll see the bush as it was before its transformation into the Wheatbelt. Widely recognised as a significant remnant of original flora, the reserve is also a habitat for lesser-spotted fauna, including Western Australia's emblem, the numbat. If you're visiting in spring, head up to Nine Acre Rock and take in expansive views of the picturesque countryside carpeted in colourful wildflower blooms stretching to the horizon. Here, the ruins of an old stone house stand in tribute to one of the region's European settlers of the early 1900s, known as the 'Animal Doctor'. Some of Brookton's lovingly restored heritage can be enjoyed at the Old Railway Station and Pioneer Park in the centre of town, where you'll also pick up some authentic country arts and crafts. Whether you're heading to the central west or deep south, Brookton makes for a pleasant stay offering hotel and caravan park accommodation, as well as the opportunity to experience the Wheatbelt way

Leonora, Western Australia

Leonora

Western Australia

Leonora is a mine of outback history and heritage, from the old world grandeur of its legendary State Hotel to the simple charm of iron and hessian miners' cottages in the eerie gold rush ghost town of neighbouring Gwalia. The best way to reach Leonora is to take the three hour drive north of Kalgoorlie, following the Golden Quest Discovery Trail and allowing a little extra time to stop at some of the interpretive sites along the way. Since its early settler days, dating back to when John Forrest set up camp here in 1869, canvas tents, iron cottages and wooden shacks made way for much grander brick hotels and establishments as gold, nickel and silver mining brought fortune, growth and prosperity. That said, even today the wide main street is lit by kerosene lamps, with many characterful buildings of the early 1900s serving their original purpose, including both of the town's hotels, the post office, police station, courthouse and fire station. More of the region's rich gold rush heritage is revealed with a short drive to the ghost town of Gwalia. Lovingly restored remnants of its heyday, from establishment in 1897 to the closure of the Sons of Gwalia mine in 1963, make for an awe-inspiring journey into the region's past. Take a walk through the precinct of 20 original miners' cottages. Visit the Gwalia Historical Museum. Or spend a night in historic Hoover House - the former residence of the 31st President of the United States, Herbert Hoover, who migrated to Western Australia to work as a mining engineer prior to pursuing his political career. More accommodation options are available within Leonora itself, including the town's original hotels, a motel and caravan park, providing a welcome break for tourists en-route to Alice Springs and North West Australia. Make time for a little extra rest and relaxation with a visit to the favourite local picnic spot at Malcom Dam or the Leonora lookout at the top of Smoodgers Hill.

Hamersley Range, Western Australia

Hamersley Range

Western Australia

The Hamersley Range sits within one of Australia's largest and most spectacular national parks - Karijini. Here, you can scale Mount Bruce, Western Australia's second highest peak, and explore the depths of 100 metre canyons, revealing four billion years of the Earth's history and some of the oldest rocks on the planet. Flights to nearby Newman, Paraburdoo, Port Hedland and Karratha depart from Perth regularly and put you within two to four hours' drive of the Hamersley Range and Karijini National Park. Guided tours also depart from Tom Price, Karratha and Port Hedland. Or, if you're taking the road trip north from Perth, you'll need to allow about three days - more if you plan to make it a more enriching journey, follow the Warlu Way to discover the region's Indigenous culture and mystical legends. Hidden within the range is nature's very own playground, featuring natural waterslides and inviting pools, adrenalin-pumping climbing adventures and gentle bushwalks. And the real beauty of Karijini is that most of its amazing scenery is within easy reach. You can pull into a car park, walk 50 metres and see waterfalls rushing down canyons into cool rock pools. Abseiling and climbing tours venture deep into Knox Gorge, 'The Centre of the Earth.' Walking trails lead to the cool plunge pools of Dales, Weno and Hancock Gorges, inviting you to take a refreshing dip or enjoy a shower the way nature intended - beneath a cascading waterfall with the steep rocky cliffs of Karijini's gorges towering above. Spend the night under a star-filled sky at one of Karijini's camping facilities, well equipped with toilets, benches and gas barbecues (camping fees apply), or seek a little more comfort in the accommodation options at Tom Price. For more information on walking, sightseeing, camping, flora and fauna, stop by the Karijini Visitor Centre.

Hopetoun, Western Australia

Hopetoun

Western Australia

Escape to a the southern coastal town of Hopetoun, where the dramatic untouched coastline and magnificent Fitzgerald River National Park invite you to trek, swim, fish and explore one of the most bio-diverse landscapes in the world. Nestled on the shores of pretty Mary Ann Haven, three hours and 45 minutes east of Albany, Hopetoun is seven hours by road from Perth, making it the ideal place to stop on a south coast road trip from Albany to Esperance. Just nine kilometres from town, the 329,000 hectare Fitzgerald River National Park opens up before you. One of Australia's largest and most botanically significant national parks, it's renowned for its rugged hinterland, coastal scenery and more than 1,800 beautiful and rare plant species, many unique to the park. Explore this spectacular landscape in a four wheel drive, canoeing on the river or walking the many trails. In addition to 20 per cent of Western Australia's plant species, you'll find the park's shores and estuaries abound with bird life. During the winter months, you can also spot southern right whales as they come into secluded bays to calve - one of only three places in Australia where this occurs. Flanked by 200 kilometres of pristine coastline, Hopetoun boasts a sting of stunning beaches where you can swim, surf and fish. Spend a lazy afternoon on Barrens Beach, swimming, snorkelling and exploring the rock pools. Visit the blow holes and cave at East Mylies. Or take the ocean drive from Hopetoun to East Mount Barren Lookout, enjoying the breathtaking coastal scenery and vistas along the way. With so much to experience, you'll want to extend your stay. Camp with kookaburras in the beautiful bush setting of Fitzgerald River National Park, or choose from a range of accommodation options in Hopetoun, including a hotel, motel, caravan park, chalets and holiday cottages. Your appetite is equally well catered for, with everything from a la carte restaurant dining to cafes and counter meals available in the town.

Geographe, Western Australia

Geographe

Western Australia

Busselton's seaside suburb of Geographe sits on the long curve of beautiful Geographe Bay boasting sweeping Indian Ocean views, white sand beaches and calm turquoise waters. It's also just minutes from the centre of Busselton - twice crowned Western Australia's Top Tourism Town - and a short hop from the world-renowned Margaret River wine region. Getting to Geographe takes just two hours and 40 minutes, following the Kwinana Freeway and Forrest Highway south from Perth. Or you can opt to fly into Busselton on a 50 minute flight from Perth's domestic airport. Along its north-facing shoreline, you can take in the sunrise and sunset with a relaxing stroll or enjoy a fun-filled family day beside the sea, swimming, fishing, snorkelling, scuba diving, windsurfing, kayaking or sailing. Venture a little further south and you'll see the longest timber-piled jetty in the southern hemisphere stretching out before you. Here, on Busselton's heritage listed jetty, you can take a 1.8 kilometre stroll or train ride over the Indian Ocean, culminating in a tour of the Underwater Observatory to view the colourful corals and sea life of Australia's best artificial reef. From the jetty, it's a short walk to Busselton's main street, where you can indulge in a little culture at the museum, modern ArtGeo Gallery and Courthouse Arts Complex. Alternatively, browse the shops and boutiques or dine on fresh local flavours. Accommodation options suit a range of tastes and budgets, including a string of beachfront resorts.

Henley Brook, Western Australia

Henley Brook

Western Australia

In the north of Western Australia's oldest wine region, Henley Brook serves a generous sample of Perth's Valley of Taste, the Swan Valley. Here, you can wile away a day indulging in the region's award winning wines, fresh produce, colonial heritage, arts, crafts and natural bushland. Just 30 minutes' drive north-east of Perth, Henley Brook and the Swan Valley are a world away from city life. Once you're here, hit the Food and Wine Trail on a self-drive tour, or go winery-hopping in the back of a horse-drawn wagon or chauffeured classic car. Many of the vineyards are still owned by the descendants of early European settlers, who may share their story over a fruity red in the cellar door. Alongside these charming family-run vineyards, you'll also find some major international award-winning wineries, small boutique breweries, art galleries, cafes and fine dining restaurants. If you're packing a picnic, stop by at the roadside stalls to pick up some fresh summer table grapes or other seasonal produce and take your pick from many natural beauty spots. But be sure to leave room for some gourmet local delights, from olives, cheeses and preserves to chocolate, nougat and ice creams. For a little family fun, swing by the green and play a round of super-sized golf. Discover the art, stories and traditions of one of the oldest surviving cultures on Earth at the Aboriginal art gallery. Or venture into the Darling Range beyond, taking a walk among native bush, granite outcrops and dazzling spring wildflowers. To make more than just a day of your Swan Valley escape, select from luxury self-contained cottages, bed and breakfasts and resort-style accommodation.

York Hotel

Kalgoorlie

Western Australia

The biggest city in the Australian outback, Kalgoorlie is a vibrant mix of gold rush history, grand colonial buildings and immense mining operations, surrounded by some of the most dazzling spring wildflowers and eerie gold-rush ghost towns. You can get there by air, road, rail or guided tour from Perth. Flights and TransWA trains depart daily. Or, hit the Great Eastern Highway for the 600 kilometre (seven-hour) road trip from city to outback, stopping to ride one of Australia's biggest waves at Wave Rock. 'Kal', as the locals call it, was born during the 1880s gold rush, when thousands of starry-eyed prospectors made the journey east of Perth to seek their fortunes. Today, their legacy lives on in magnificent architecture and one of the world's largest open cut mines - the Super Pit. At 3.5 kilometres long and 1.5 kilometres wide, the pit produces 900,000 ounces of gold each year and makes a mind-blowing experience for those who join the guided tour. There are riches in Kalgoorlie's centre too, particularly on Hannan Street (named after Irishman Paddy Hannan who struck gold in 1893) where you'll find a buzz of lively bars, nightclubs, cafes and restaurants. For a real slice of gold rush life and Goldfields culture, check out the Kalgoorlie-Boulder WA Museum, the Royal Flying Doctor's Visitor Centre and the art galleries featuring the works of Aboriginal and Goldfields artists. Venturing north to the vast salt pan of Lake Ballard, you'll find yourself in the largest outdoor art gallery on Earth - the Inside Australia exhibit by world-renowned artist Antony Gormley. Continue further to Leonora and the ghost town of Gwalia, and you'll stumble upon the home of America's 31st President, Herbert Hoover. Golfers should swing by the multi-million dollar international golf course that's rapidly becoming one of the world's top desert courses. It marks the beginning of the Nullarbor Links - the longest golf course on Earth. Accommodation-wise there are many options, from camp