We’ve teamed up with RAC Insurance to give you some inspo for exploring unique parts of Western Australia.
To help you scratch the travel itch without casting the net too far, here are a few day-trip ideas for you to tackle on a weekend coming up. You’ll find a bunch of options that are a bit less run-of-the-mill, and all within a couple of hours of Perth:
Araluen Botanic Park
An often slept-on gem set amidst the Roleystone Perth Hills, Araluen Botanic Park is only about 30km south of Perth and a place to really wile the hours away. The developed gardens cover 14 hectares, and feature a massive array of exotic plant species, most famously their tulips, which fire up every spring. 100,000-plus tulip bulbs put on a spectacular show as part of their annual tulip festival, drawing thousands of visitors each year.
Outside of that time though, it’s simply a beautiful place to get lost in, relax and unwind in the fresh hills air. Golf enthusiasts would do well to bring their clubs and head to Araluen Golf Course for a putt – one of Perth’s most beautiful courses.
It’s tempting to brush Mandurah off given it’s not that far from Perth, but it has a heap of potential to make a great day trip. It’s got beautiful beaches all along the stretch, some world-class golf courses, fantastic walking and riding trails (national parks and along the coast), some great little wineries and of course, crabbing. The Mandurah foreshore and entertainment precinct are littered with great eating options along with a few handy eateries overlooking the estuary where you may just spot a dolphin or two swimming by.
An unheralded gem south is Marradong Country, about 90 minutes southeast of Perth and comprised of towns like Boddington, Wandering and Williams. Traditionally farming (and mining) land, the region is fast becoming well known for its bubbling winery scene, rolling green valleys and country town charm by the hectare. Go for a canoe at beautiful Ranford Pool; take a look back in time in the Jesse Martins Historical Village; walk/hike along any number of nature-filled trails; and grab a hearty pub lunch at the Wandering Tavern. These options barely scratch the surface, so we recommend checking out MarradongTrails.com to plan your trip in advance.
Only 100km east of Perth is WA’s first inland town, York, a place for those interested in the more historical side of our big old state with a heap of heritage-listed buildings. It’s also filled with things to do, including a Town Hall visit, Residency Museum, the old Courthouse & Gaol and a swinging bridge for the more adventurous out there. If you fancy a hike bring your walking shoes for a short walk up to the Mount Brown lookout, or get serious with a host of walk trails around the area, including along the glorious Avon River.
Shoalwater Islands Marine Park
This protected ocean park located on the coast of Rockingham is a marine biodiversity hotspot, home to penguins, sea lions, bottlenose dolphins and a variety of sea-faring birds. The showpiece of the area is of course Penguin Island, but if you want to avoid the crowds there’s plenty to discover along the whole stretch. Pull up on a white sandy beach for a day of relaxing, or go diving, snorkelling or kayaking in waters rich with marine life. A little further north you’ll find another excellent aquatic playground – Point Peron and Cape Peron.
Chittering Valley / New Norcia
Northeast of Perth lies WA’s gateway to the Wheatbelt – Chittering, one of a few quaint little towns with plenty to offer. The Chittering Valley sits pretty along the northern hills of the Darling Range, covered in lush bushland and wetlands and vineyards. During the spring months it’s also covered in incredible wildflowers and orchards, with the Chittering Spring Festival a must-do if you’re there during that time of year.
Further north you’ll land in New Norcia, Australia’s only monastic town and filled with stunning historic buildings founded in the 1840s by Benidectine monks. It’s a beautiful town to walk through – start off at the Museum and wind your way along the dusty old streets before grabbing a snack at the New Norcia Roadhouse, owned and operated by the Benedictine Community.
Alright we’re bending the definition of “underrated” as more and more people have been falling in love with Dwellingup over the past few years. Just over an hour-and-a-half from Perth, it’s a stunning country town surrounded by beautiful jarrah and marri forest. A popular destination for mountain bikers, it’s the perfect place for outdoor enthusiasts with walking trails, gushing rivers and wildlife aplenty. Lane Poole Reserve is a popular spot for campers, while the Hotham Valley Tourist Railway allows for an authentic, steam-powered trip down memory lane. Given the extensive network of waterbodies in the area, kayaking, canoeing, rafting and fishing are also popular.
Yanchep National Park
If some of the Coral Coast destinations are a little too far north, why not stop early in Yanchep, just 60km from the city? Get up there early for a dip in the sheltered Yanchep Lagoon, before heading onwards to Yanchep National Park. It’s full of walking trails, wildlife to spot (including koalas), prime picnic locations, Indigenous art and even a 9-hole golf course. There’s also the Crystal Caves for those feeling a little more adventurous, or the Yanchep Lavender Farm for something a little tamer.
We’re pushing the boundaries of day trip with Bunbury, although it is just under two hours from Perth – just cue up your fave podcast or playlist and it’ll feel like no time at all. And should you choose this (right) adventure, you’ll be spoilt for choice with so many things to do you might need to stay the night. There’s the Dolphin Discovery Centre (which is basically a mini AQWA); an incredible street art walking tour; some stunning dining in the Ferguson along with Bunbury’s own bubbling foodie scene; walking and mountain biking trails; huge Farmer’s Markets and much more. Plus, just a quick 25 minutes inland of Bunbury and you may find yourself a few tiny new friends at Gnomesville.
Cervantes + The Pinnacles
Another trip for those who don’t mind a scenic (two hour) drive, Cervantes is the gateway to not only Australia’s Coral Coast, but Namburg National Park AKA the home of WA’s world famous limestone rock formations, the Pinnacles. If pristine beaches and fresh seafood (make sure you find some of Cervantes’ famed lobster) are your bag, hit the Pinnacles early then park up by the beach for the rest of the day. And if Cervantes is a little bit far north for your liking, stop an hour earlier at Lancelin; another haven for beach activities, including some massive white dunes for the sandboarders out there.
Before getting on the road make sure you’re covered by WA’s most trusted car insurer, RAC Insurance.
Disclaimer: Issued by RAC Insurance Pty Limited. Check the PDS & TMD to see if this product is right for you.
All images: Shutterstock