Unfettered and alive, West Coast Australia is 12,500km of truly spectacular coastline. There's a freedom and optimism here that the rest of Australia can't replicate.
Where Is Everybody?
If the vast expanse of Western Australia (WA) was a separate nation, it would be the world's 10th-largest (bigger than Algeria, smaller than Kazakhstan). As per Australia's eastern shore, most of WA's population clings to the coast – yet you can wander along a beach here without seeing another footprint, or be one of a few scattered campers stargazing in a national park.
The state's fertile southwest is a playground of white-sand coves, rampant wildflowers and lush forests abuzz with native wildlife. Up north in the big-sky, red-dirt Pilbara and Kimberley, you'll encounter ancient gorges and mesmerising waterfalls – and no-one else for miles and miles.
On Your Plate, In Your Glass
Perth and Fremantle are laid-back, sunny cities in which the tradition of a nightly 'sundowner' (sunset drink) is culturally ingrained. The cafe and restaurant scenes here, from bohemian to white-linen wonderful, make any visit a culinary delight. After dark, small bars simmer with typical WA decadence, while excellent local craft beers flow through the pub taps.
Further afield, the Margaret River and Great Southern wine regions produce world-class bottles, complemented by inventive menus in regional restaurants. Funky truffles also grow down south, while WA's seafood is consistently sublime – don't miss a lobster (crayfish) meal around Cervantes on the Turquoise Coast.
This part of WA delivers plenty of opportunities to get active. Block out a chunk of your calendar to hike the epic 1000km Bibbulmun Track or tackle a photo-worthy day walk – perhaps a section of the Cape to Cape Track around gorgeous Cape Naturaliste, a wildflower walk through Stirling Range National Park or negotiating Porongurup's granite formations. On two wheels, options include mountain biking through the forests of Margaret River or careening along the Munda Biddi Trail (also 1000km). Dive and snorkel in marine parks and around shipwrecks, surf at Margaret River, or kitesurf and windsurf off Lancelin's blowy beaches.
All Creatures Great & Small
WA's native wildlife is ever-present: you won't have to venture too far from Perth to see kangaroos, emus, colourful parrots and lesser-known locals such as quokkas, bilbies and potoroos. This is also a place where marine wildlife and humans regularly cross paths. Each year 30,000 whales cruise the coast-hugging 'Humpback Hwy', while Bremer Bay near Albany is known for its orcas. Ningaloo Marine Park is home to the world's largest fish, the whale shark, while dolphins proliferate at Rockingham, Bunbury and Monkey Mia. With a bit of research you can make an ethical choice about how you choose to interact.