We never thought we’d be jealous of an Australian albatross, but dammit – those big birds get some amazing views. With sweeping white sands, jungly tangles, technicolour corals and sea water that looks more like a swimming pool, Western Australia is even more photogenic from the air. Welcome to WA, as you’ve never seen it before.
Hellfire Bay, Esperance
#NoFilter required on this snap of heavenly Hellfire Bay, near the southernmost tip of Western Australia. When you’re done admiring that sugar-white sand and sapphire-blue sea, try your hand at surfing lessons and snorkelling, or tackle the two-hour hike to equally idyllic Thistle Cove.
Big Lagoon, Francois Peron National Park
No, this isn’t the surface of the moon, though if you venture up to Francois Peron National Park you’ll probably feel like the only person on earth. The rocky red cliffs of this far-flung reserve give way to soft coral sands and shallow sea pools – a spectacular spot for kayaking trips and secluded camping under the stars.
Lake Hillier, Middle Island
This bubblegum-coloured lake gets its colour from the little critters that thrive in its super-salty water. It’s a lake for floating in, rather than swimming: it has similar salt levels to the Dead Sea. To get here you’ll probably have to sweet-talk a helicopter pilot, but it’s definitely worth the effort.
Rottnest Island, near Perth
The charms of Rottnest – aka Rotto – aren’t limited to Instagram-ready beaches and water sports, oh no. You can’t see them from up here, but the island is also home to hundreds of super-cute quokkas, which look just like overgrown hamsters. Take the Rottnest Express Ferry from Perth to say hello.
Mount Trafalgar, Kimberley Coast
Towering almost 400ms above the Kimberley Coast plains, Mount Trafalgar is one rock formation that’s impossible to miss. Together with its near-neighbour Mount Waterloo, Trafalgar was named by the Brits in honour of the Napoleonic battles.
Lucky Bay, near Esperance
Unfortunately, you won’t have lovely Lucky Bay to yourself: you’ll have to share it with the resident kangaroos, who can’t get enough of its sensational sands either. Sorry. These 4x4s are probably heading off to meet them for some wild camping.
Camels on Cable Beach, Broome
Is there a beach in WA that isn’t overrun with sun-loving animals? Seaside strolls are so passé: on Cable Beach you can let camels do the legwork for you – a particularly photogenic prospect at sunset.
Fremantle, near Perth
Another treasure on the doorstep of Perth, the city of Fremantle is stuffed with cool art galleries, avocado-toting cafés, rooftop bars and independent boutiques. It’s got that Shoreditch vibe, but with sun and beautiful beaches too.
Horizontal Waterfalls, Talbot Bay
A sight so impressive that David Attenborough dubbed it ‘one of the greatest wonders of the natural world’, this waterfall changes direction with the rise and fall of the tide. Seawater builds up on one side of the McLarty Range rock, and gushes through with the force of a waterfall. But when the tide reverses, so does the water – boggling every onlooker’s brain.
Bald Head, Albany
Bald Head is the tip of Torndirrup National Park – famed for its seawater blowholes, natural stone bridge, and the fantastic Bald Head Trail which winds along the granite cliffs. Keep your eyes peeled for whales on this day walk: they’re often spotted around here between June and October.
Montgomery Reef, Kimberley
When the tide recedes, the shallow waters of Montgomery Reef reveal turtles, dugongs and black-tipped reef sharks. It’s ideal for snorkellers who don’t want to venture far to see WA’s marine wonders in the wild.
Dirk Hartog National Park
Named after Dutch explorer Dirk Hartog (great name!), this nature reserve is actually a whole island – complete with wilderness camping sites, coastal hiking trails, rock pools and secluded beaches. Perfect for adventurous types.
Wild horses near Willie Creek Pearl Farm, Broome
Willie Creek is the surprising birthplace of some of the world’s swankiest bling. The estuary’s pearl farm produces delicate, shimmering pearls for leading jewellery makers, though it’s the area’s natural charms – like these prancing ponies – that we’ve fallen for.
(images: Tourism Western Australia)