Our World When Visiting Friends & Relatives Stay: Part 2

Turquoise Bay

In Part Two of her two-part guide, Penny Thomas shares a mighty list of things to see and do in WA, beyond Perth, for when friends and family come to visit

Cue the joyous airport reunions, because travelling for the sole purpose of visiting friends and family is back on the agenda now that WA’s borders have reopened.

And after months and even years of being apart, it’s almost guaranteed these out-of-towners will be looking to spend as much quality time with you as possible. So it’s time to get the spare bedroom tidy and put your hosting cap back on, because a soon-to-be house guest could call you at any moment to announce they have plans to visit.

Regardless of how excited, worried or nervous the prospect of hosting someone for an extended period of time makes you feel, there is no need to panic. You know your backyard better than you think. And even if you don’t, there are so many wonderful and amazing things to see and do here — WA is a place that practically sells itself.

But if you’re still scratching your head and wondering what to do, then you’re in luck because this two-part guide is filled with practical and useful travel suggestions for when your friends or family come to visit.

Preparation is key

When visiting friends and relatives come to stay, we instantly become quasi-tour guides, desperately seeking out fun and interesting ways to show off the place we call home. And while there is no denying this can be stressful, I’m here to tell you it doesn’t have to be. Because with a little planning, you’re bound to have a good time exploring WA.

To help you get on the right track from the outset, here are some key points to consider before your guest arrives:

Where to go and what to see?

Western Australia is a place bursting with incredible destinations — the only question is, which ones should you pick to add to your upcoming itinerary?

Having recently covered a range of things to see and do around Perth in part one of this guide, it’s time to stretch our legs and look further afield. From seeing ancient Aboriginal rock art in the State’s North West, to experiencing the incredible gourmet food and wine offering in the State’s South West, WA has a mind-boggling choice of stand-out locations and something for every stripe of traveller.

BROOME AND THE NORTH WEST

Rugged and remote, with beautiful landscapes and a history that dates back tens of thousands of years, the North West region of WA is an incredibly special place, unlike anywhere else on Earth. A lot of people visit Broome every year, whether it’s just to enjoy the spectacular sights of the Kimberley, or to begin a huge four-wheel-drive adventure to Cape Leveque and the Gibb River Road.

From Perth, there are a number of different ways to get to Broome, you can either fly to the region, drive yourself or get on a bus.

Although Broome was once a sleepy outback town, it has now established itself as being a vibrant and cosmopolitan destination, and is considered to be one of the most luxurious places to holiday in Australia. Lying at the base of the Kimberley, it’s an excellent place to begin an epic adventure with your friend or relative, because you can easily hire campers, cars, 4WDs and camping gear here. You can also take in the amazing sights from around the region on a scenic flight from Broome, or cruise the waters off Cable Beach on one of the many sunset cruises available.

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Things to do

EXPLORE MORE . . . of the North West

Wander the Warlu Way | 12-day self-drive itinerary

The Warlu Way connects iconic sites, such as Karijini and Millstream-Chichester national parks, the Pilbara coast and Murujuga National Park. The 12-day adventure follows the way of the Warlu (a Dreamtime sea serpent), leading you 2480km from sapphire seas to the lush oases, soaring gorges, rugged ranges and ancient Aboriginal art of North West.

On this self-drive journey, you’ll be given the opportunity to stop at places like Onslow and the Mackerel Islands, Karratha and the Dampier Archipelago, Cossack and Port Hedland, and mining towns such as Newman, Tom Price and Paraburdoo. And of course, one of the main highlights of this trip is Karijini National Park, which hosts some of the most spectacular sights you’ll ever see.

There is no right or wrong way to do the Warlu Way, meaning you can choose to start the journey in any major towns in the Pilbara area, including Onslow, Karratha, Tom Price, Newman or Port Hedland. From there, you can follow either the Coastal, Inland, Manuwarra-Red Dog Highway or East Pilbara Geoheritage routes, or link them together to loop back to your departure point.

For more information, visit australiasnorthwest.com/warlu-way

Gibb River Road | 12-day self-drive itinerary

The Gibb is a 660km track that is accessible between April and October (depending on the weather). Renowned for being a great 4WD adventure, the self-drive journey starts in Derby, an easy two-hour drive on a sealed road from Broome.

The drive includes some of the most spectacular places within the Kimberley, such as Bell Gorge, Lake Argyle, El Questro Wilderness Park and the Bungle Bungle Range at Purnululu National Park. Throughout the 12-day road trip, you’ll get the opportunity to explore pristine waterholes and stunning gorges, see freshwater crocodiles and even take a scenic flight over cascading waterfalls.

The Gibb River Road is not a drive for the faint-hearted. It can be an unforgiving journey if you’re not prepared, so make sure the 4WD is packed with water, food and emergency supplies. A 4WD vehicle is required for this route, which should only be done during the dry season. And even if you are travelling between April and October, call into the Derby or Kununurra Visitor Centre beforehand to get up-to-date details of road conditions.

For more information, visit australiasnorthwest.com/plan/itineraries/gibb-river-road-self-drive-road-trip

Great Northern Highway | 10-day self-drive itinerary

If you don’t have a 4WD but are eager to explore the beauty of the North West, opt for this sealed road trip from Kununurra to Broome. Dubbed the gateway to the East Kimberley, you’ll start your journey in scenic Kununurra before heading further inland to the smaller towns of Warmun, Halls Creek and Fitzroy Crossing. On the way you’ll view the famous Wolfe Creek Crater, the heritage-listed Purnululu National Park, spectacular wildlife and plenty of hidden gorges, chasms and waterholes.

For more information visit, australiasnorthwest.com/plan/itineraries/great-northern-highway-itinerary.

EXMOUTH AND THE CORAL COAST

Brimming with adventure, the welcoming coastal town of Exmouth is a great base from which to discover some of the most spectacular scenery on the planet. A 13-hour drive or two-hour flight from Perth, Exmouth is the gateway to the World Heritage-listed Ningaloo Marine Park, the world’s largest fringing reef.

Helpful hints

Things to do

EXPLORE MORE... of the Coral Coast

The Coral Coast Highway | 12-day self-drive itinerary

Stretching 1200km from Perth to Exmouth, this drive clings to the coast as it winds north, taking in Jurien Bay for sea lions and Kalbarri for birdlife before reaching two UNESCO World Heritage areas: Shark Bay, famous for its dolphins and dugongs; and Ningaloo Reef, where you can spot the big three of whale sharks, humpback whales and manta rays.

Overnight stops along the way will be fuelled by lobster shacks and rum tastings, while daytime adventures will include a flight over the shimmering pink waters of Hutt Lagoon, a sky walk over the dramatic gorges of Kalbarri National Park, and ancient stories and bush craft with an Aboriginal guide in Monkey Mia.

For more information, visit australiascoralcoast.com/plan-your-visit/itineraries/ultimate-self-drive-road-trip

The Indian Ocean Drive | four-day self-drive itinerary

The Indian Ocean Drive offers a scenic journey to the coastal towns of Cervantes, Jurien Bay, Green Head, Leeman, Dongara and Port Denison, and is a great trip for people wanting a shorter break, with plenty of things to see and do on the coast and inland.

For more information, visit australiascoralcoast.com/plan-your-visit/itineraries/4-day-indian-ocean-drive.

Self-guided wildflower weekend | two or three-day self-drive itinerary

Explore the coastal and inland towns of Cervantes, Jurien Bay, Badgingarra and Eneabba as you and your guest spend a weekend wildflower hunting. On your travels, you’ll get to stop at Western Flora Caravan Park, Badgingarra National Park, Lesueur National Park and Nambung National Park. You can easily do this trip in a two or three-day loop, staying overnight at Jurien Bay or Cervantes.

For more information, visit australiascoralcoast.com/plan-your-visit/itineraries/wildflowers/4-day

ESPERANCE AND THE GOLDEN OUTBACK

Esperance and its surrounds are a visual delight, on land and from the air. Situated within WA’s Golden Outback, Esperance is home to a string of stunning beaches and the natural wonders, including Cape Le Grand National Park, Cape Arid National Park and the islands of the Recherche Archipelago. It’s also where you’ll find kangaroos hanging out on the beach at Lucky Bay, seemingly waiting to be in your perfect holiday photos.

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Things to do

EXPLORE MORE...of the Golden Outback

Golden Quest Discovery Trail | five-day self-drive itinerary

From quirky outback pubs dripping with charisma, to wide open landscapes that’ll steal away your breath, the Golden Quest Discovery Trail begins in Coolgardie and finishes in Kalgoorlie, with 25 sites for you to stop at along the way. Best enjoyed in a 4WD, the trail leads you from the mind-blowing buzz of one of the largest open-cut gold mines on Earth, to the striking beauty of the Antony Gormley statues at Lake Ballard. This journey can be enjoyed all year round however if you’re travelling between the months of August and October, after good winter rains, the landscapes of the Wheatbelt and Goldfields will dazzle you with a spectacular display of wildflowers.

One of the best things about this trail that is has its own guidebook. Pick up a printed copy of Golden Quest Discovery Trail Guidebook for $39.95 from centres around the Goldfields, or download a digital version for $29.95 from goldenquesttrail.com. For more information, visit australiasgoldenoutback.com/the-golden-quest-discovery-trail

The Road to the Rock | nine-day self-drive itinerary

If you and your guest are looking for a rugged, authentic outback escape, with some great 4WD trails, then add this road trip to the list. Taking you from Perth to Mt Augustus and back, on the nine-day journey you’ll weave your way through gorgeous country towns, historical sites, station stays, carpets of wildflowers (in spring) and the world’s biggest rock, Mt Augustus. For more information, visit australiasgoldenoutback.com/page/road-rock

Wave Rock and Wildflower Trail | five-day self-drive itinerary

Escape the ordinary and lose yourself in the jaw-dropping glory of nature on this journey across the Golden Outback. From August to October, a colourful sea of spring wildflowers — more than 12,000 species in total — will enliven your senses as you make your way along this 749km, five-day trail to the awe-inspiring wonder that is Wave Rock. The journey begins in Perth, and takes you to York, Bruce Rock, Hyden, Culin and Corrigin.

For more information, visit australiasgoldenoutback.com/page/wave-rock-wildflower-trail

MARGARET RIVER AND THE SOUTH WEST

Bursting with epic experiences and breathtaking landscapes, Margaret River and the South West region take the phrase “world-class” to a whole new level.

In a single day, you can relax with a glass of the region’s world-renowned wine, matched with local truffles and freshwater rock lobster, and experience some of the natural treasures that make the South West one of the world’s 36 biodiversity hotspots. Watch humpback whales on their annual migration. Find hidden gems in ancient caves. Climb the Granite Skywalk near Albany. Take a postcard-perfect snap of Greens Pool while in Denmark. Or stroll through forests of timber giants, discovering rare flora and fauna found nowhere else on Earth.

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Things to do

EXPLORE MORE... of the South West

The South West Edge | 12-day self-drive itinerary

This epic road trip that will take you through wine regions, towering forests and along the rugged coastline of the South West before heading back to Perth via the Golden Outback. Throughout the journey you’ll stop at places such as Bunbury, Pemberton, Margaret River, the Walpole-Nornalup National Park, Denmark, Albany and Esperance.

For more information, visit thesouthwestedge.com.au

Villages in the Valley Road Trip | four-day self-drive itinerary

Travelling through the towns of Balingup, Nannup and Bridgetown, this four-day adventure showcases the spectacular scenery and warm country hospitality of the South West region, and begins just two-and-a-half hours drive from Perth. Between towns, winding country roads crisscross rolling green hills and stands of ancient jarrah, marri and karri forest. The beautiful Blackwood River is the ribbon that ties this stunning patchwork region together.

For more info, visit australiassouthwest.com/blog/villages-in-the-valley

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