Banish the winter blues with these incredible – and most importantly, warm – Western Australia winter holidays.
It’s that time of the year again; time to chase the sun and get to exploring somewhere warmer than home. Instead of lusting over that big summer Euro trip or planning a quick escape to balmy Bali, zero in on some of the incredible, sunshiney destinations that are right here on home soil.
You won’t have to pull out your passport to prep for these sunny West Australian getaways!
If the lure of Karijini’s red, textured gorges and hidden swimming holes hasn’t already got you hightailing it to the North West for the winter, perhaps the tropical, semi-desert climate will send you on a search for your swimmers and suitcase? Winter is prime Karijini visiting time, with temperatures sitting at around 23-28 degrees during the day, and around 10-15 degrees in the evening.
Covering a whopping 627,422 hectares in the Hamersley Range, Karijini National Park doesn’t run short on majestic nature-based adventures. If it can be done in the outdoors, you can do it in Karijini. There are over 10 different hiking trails you can take through the gorges and mountains, umpteen Instagrammable watering holes to cool off in, and plenty of scrub and wildlife for you to brush up on your botany or zoology. Heck, even stargazers can get their fix with Karijini providing the optimal conditions for a glittering starry sky.
While you’re there, don’t forget to call into the Karijini Visitor Centre to learn more about the people and land of the region through their fun static and interactive displays.
Dales campground – Just off Dales Road, this large campground is within easy reach of popular spots in the park such as Dales Gorge, Circular Pool, Fortescue Falls, and Fern Pool. Bookings are essential.
Karijini Eco Retreat – Stay in style in one of the eco retreat’s spacious glamping tents. Decked out with all the creature comforts your simple swag doesn’t have, these tents are a stark contrast to the rugged outback just beyond the canvas. If you’d prefer a more traditional stay, the eco-retreat also has non-powered campsites for campers and caravanners. There’s also a restaurant, bar, and kiosk on-site for when dinner inspiration eludes you.
How to get there
Best you pack road trip snacks for the 15-hour drive to Karijini from Perth. For the most direct route, you can take the Great Northern Highway out of the city, and follow it right the way through to your turn off at Karijini drive. Along the way, stop in to refuel yourself and the car at Mount Magnet, Newman, or Meekatharra (or park up overnight at the comfortable Capricorn Village, 15km out of Newman town centre). If you’re up for a road trip, we recommend adventuring along the Coral Coast, before turning off to Karijini at the Exmouth Gulf.
If you’re coming from Geraldton, you can expect to shave 3 hours off the drive time. But, if you’re heading up from the south west, jumping on a flight to Paraburdoo airport might just be the most time-effective option.
Prone to complaining about the winter drizzle and chill? A visit to ‘Australia’s hottest town’ should put a cork in it.
Marble Bar was once a gold rush town, with remnants from its heyday dotted around the quaint community. Spend some time discovering the old stone buildings and delving into the town’s history at the museum, before heading out to see its namesake ‘marble bar’ which is actually a jasper – not marble – formation on the Coongan River. Walked up a sweat? Head 25 minutes further down the road from the jasper deposit to cool off at Glenn Herring Gorge.
Closer to the coast, the Pilbara’s hub town of Port Hedland is a great spot for keen anglers to flex their fishing muscles or crab lovers to head off on a hunt. It’s also one of the few spots in Western Australia that you can witness the ‘staircase to the moon’ in the sunny winter months; there’s even a dedicated viewing platform for it right by the Discovery Park Port Hedland.
For those who love outdoor adventure, Karratha is another spot along the Pilbara coast worth a visit. The city is surrounded by natural attractions, best explored with help from the locals such as Ngurrangga Tours. Lead by Clinton Walker, a descendant of the Ngarluma and Yindjibarndi people who are Traditional Owners of the coastal and inland areas of the West Pilbara region, the tours range in length from 2 hours to 3 days. Discover ancient Aboriginal rock art or learn about bush tucker on one of the shorter tours, or take a full-day trip with Clinton out to the ‘outback oasis’ of Millstream-Chichester National Park.
Further south and off the coast of Onslow, the idyllic Mackerel Islands are Western Australia’s best-kept secret. If you don’t have your own boat to get you across, you can hop aboard a ferry in Onslow and arrive at the main hive of activity on Thevenard Island within 45 minutes. Once there, hire a stand-up paddleboard, explore the fringing reef with a snorkel or scuba, join in on a turtle tour, or head out on a full day fishing charter.
Thevenard Island Beachfront Cabins – Wake to a waterfront vista in one of the Thevenard Island Beachfront Cabins on the Mackeral Islands. Sitting right on the shoreline, these light and bright self-contained cabins have everything you need for a relaxed, beach holiday stay.
Stargazers Campground – In amongst the spinifex and eucalypts, this outback campground is as quintessentially Australian as they come. Its location at the edge of the Millstream Chichester National Park allows for easy access to all the park’s drawcards. Bookings are essential.
The Esplanade Hotel – Originally built in 1904, the elegant, exposed-stone Esplanade Hotel is one of the most impressive buildings in Port Hedland. The 108-room hotel it houses is one of the most impressive in the region too. With sweeping balconies and large windows, the airy rooms flood with natural light, and the in-house bar is one of the coolest places to be in town.
How to get there
Get working on that road trip playlist because Onslow (your departure point for the Mackeral Islands) is approximately 14.5 hours drive from Perth along the Great Northern Highway. If you’re aiming for Port Hedland, expect to be in the car for 17.5 hours. Take it easy on the drive up and book in for a night at the quintessentially Australian Wooramel Station Riverside Retreat on your way through, 116km south of Carnarvon.
The good news is that, if you’re coming from Broome, the drive is less than half that, at 6 hours.
The Pilbara is also accessible by plane, with flights leaving Perth for Port Hedland or Karratha Monday-Friday.
There’s no denying the allure of Broome in the winter. It’s balmy (around 30 degrees), it’s tropical, and it’s that red dirt and turquoise water is Instagrammer’s delight. Broome is the pearl in the Kimberley’s crown.
Hailed as the gateway to the Kimberley, Broome has a deep pearling history. Head into town to check out one of the many stores that specialise in the town’s world-renowned export, or take a tour at Willie Creek Pearl Farm to gain a deeper knowledge of the industry that built Broome.
2 hours and 45 minutes north of town (or a much shorter scenic flight away with King Leopold Air, or one of the many other tour operaters) is Cygnet Bay Pearl Farm, another of Broome’s premier pearling farms. Sitting on the rugged, untouched Cape Leveque, the landscapes that surround the farm are unparalleled. Once you’ve met Bruce, an incredible artist and the traditional custodian of the Bardi land on which the farm sits, take a tour of the pearl farm with Terry, a 4th generation pearler who grew up on the property. While you’re there, you can’t miss out on a thrilling Sea Safari. The boys will take you whizzing through the islands on the Buccaneer Archipelago, speeding through the racing tides.
A unique phenomenon of the Dampier Peninsula, the huge tides are something that can’t be missed. If it’s not on a Sea Safari, make it a Horizontal Falls Adventures seaplane tour from Broome, out to the incredible Horizontal Falls.
Back in town, you just have to spend some time at the iconic Cable Beach. Take a ride on one of Broome Camel Safari‘s iconic camel trains, indulge in a sunset cocktail at Zanders, or simply take in the sunset from your beach towel on the sand.
Kooljaman – On native title land in Cape Leveque, Kooljaman is a wilderness camp by the beach, run by the local Bardi Jawi people. Guests are surrounded by pristine nature no matter their choice in accommodation, be it an unpowered campsite, in a beach shelter, or living it up in a deluxe safari tent.
Eco Beach Broome – 130km south of Broome, this eco-friendly luxury stay has unparalleled views out over the Indian Ocean. Made for relaxation, guests can unwind at the infinity pool with a vista, or join in on complimentary yoga daily. Choose from one of their luxurious Eco Villas, or a safari-style Eco Tent.
Seashells Broome – Seashells is set amongst lush tropical gardens, just 300m from the white sands of Cable Beach. With 1, 2, and 3-bedroom fully self-contained units on offer, Seashells is the perfect home away from home.
How to get there
Flights to Broome leave Perth on the daily, but if you’ve got the time and an appetite for adventure, consider taking the 22.5-hour road trip. The most direct route takes you through towns like Mount Magnet, Meekatharra, and Newman, but the more scenic route will see you cruise along the entire coral coast and Pilbara coast, before hitting the Kimberley region. We’d recommend stopping off on your road trip for a night or two at Quobba Station and Marble Bar Holiday Park.
Encompassing all the towns that sit along 1100km of coastline from Cervantes to Exmouth, Western Australia’s Coral Coast is an expansive and exhilarating region. Enjoy stops at Cervantes, Geraldton, and Kalbarri in the lower portion of the Coral Coast, before continuing your journey to the coastal towns further to the north. Be sure to stop in for a lobster roll at The Lobster Shack in Cervantes, and check out the brand new Kalbarri Skywalk along the way.
Ocean lovers needn’t look further than the beachside town of Coral Bay. A marine paradise along the Ningaloo Reef, the odds of spotting Nemo, a sea turtle, or even a manta ray on a snorkelling or scuba adventure are high. If you’re spending your time on the shores, you might have some luck and spy the giant school of fish that visit the bay every afternoon.
Set at the very south-eastern tip of Francois Peron National Park, Monkey Mia is a holiday favourite among tourists and West Australians alike, with some more very famous locals (no, not monkeys). Home to a pod of friendly dolphins that often frolic in the shallows. Don’t forget to pack your camera, because the rusty-red dunes, white sand, and turquoise waters make for some stunning photos.
The nearby Dirk Har tog Island
If you’re more of an adventurous person, bump Exmouth to the top of your list. During the winter months, you can hop aboard the Ningaloo Discovery catamaran and tick the whale shark swim experience off your bucket list. Prefer not to jump in the ocean? Head out to explore the canyons at Cape Range National Park instead. All the activity is hungry work, so after a big day out fuel up on all the best local seafood at Whalers.
27 Degrees Kalbarri – Take your holiday aesthetics to the next level with this super stylish stay. 2x bedroom and 2x bathroom, 27 Degrees Kalbarri is just 200m from the popular swim and snorkel spot, Blue Holes Lagoon.
Soul Camping – Trade in the swag for a glamping experience in a fully kitted out, 5m bell tent. It’s camping, but without all the hassle of setting up and pack down, and with all the little luxuries you’d sooner find in a hotel room than a camp. Soul Camping is available to set up in three Coral Coast locations: Coral Bay, Exmouth, or at Bullara Station.
RAC Monkey Mia Dolphin Resort – Rest up right on the shores of Monkey Mia, a hop, skip, and jump from their most famous residents. Offering the works – from an unpowered camp site right up to the 3-room villas – there’s an option available for any holiday maker.
How to get there
Australia’s Coral Coast is home to one of Australia’s most scenic road-trips. Jump in the car (or camper) and take your time heading up Indian Ocean Drive from Perth. Before hitting the warmer regions, take some detours to check out the otherworldly Pinnacles, grab some coffee at Quiet Life in Geraldton, and get an Insta’-worthy shot at the pink lakes of Hutt Lagoon.
If time isn’t on your side, there are also regular flights between Perth and Learmonth (25 minutes south of Exmouth).
THE EAST KIMBERLEY
How does an average of 30 degrees throughout winter sound? Like it? Well, the East Kimberley is calling!
Head to Kununurra in the very northeast of Western Australia for a winter that’s truly like no other. Not only is the weather a stark contrast to winter in Perth, but the landscapes are too. Think vibrant red earth, towering rocky gorges, and Australia’s second-largest man-made reservoir.
An hour’s drive from the main township, you’ll find the panoramic Lake Argyle. It really is a sight to behold. Pack your swimmers to cool off in the freshwater, or jump aboard a Lake Argyle tour to discover the further reaches of the massive lake. For a different perspective, book a scenic flight with Kimberley Air Tours. The flight will take you over the lake, Ord River, and even Purnululu National Park’s Bungle Bungle Range.
Back on solid ground, take a walking tour with Waringarri Aboriginal Arts. Learn about the art, culture, and land of the Miriwoong people on a 1-hour art tour, or a full-day tour through Mirima National Park, just 5-minutes out of Kununurra. Refuel with lunch (and a nip or two of rum) at Hoochery Distillery, or a beautiful, waterside meal at Pumphouse Restaurant (open breakfast, lunch, and dinner).
El Questro Wilderness Park – It’s been hailed as one of the most unique accommodation providers in all of Australia. From DIY campsites or pre-pitched tents to the spectacular cliffside Homestead retreat. Bookings for El Questro re-open in 2021, but the following accommodation providers promise equally special experiences.
Kimberleyland Waterfront Holiday Park – This is no ordinary caravan park. Sure, there are your standard powered caravan sites, but there’s a luxury element to the park too. Kimberleyland’s newly refurbished, deluxe waterfront cabins sit right on the edge of Lake Kununurra, boasting uninterrupted views over the water.
Lake Argyle Resort and Caravan Park – Chances are you’ve seen their spectacular infinity pool all over Instagram – it’s one of the park’s biggest drawcards. Whether you’ve booked an unpowered tent site or a 4-room villa, all guests have access to the Kimberley’s most beautiful pool, overlooking Lake Argyle.
How to get there
Road tripping to Kununurra from Perth is best done over a week or two. Take your time stopping in and enjoying the towns along the way. Call into Derby to see their famed Boab Prison Tree, explore the Mars-like Mitchell Plateau, or visit the northern most town in the Kimberley, Wyndham. There are also daily flights departing from Perth to Kununurra for those looking to escape to the Kimberley, pronto!
From Broome, Kununurra is a much easier 10.5-hour drive, but flights are also available.
We’re free to Wander Out Yonder – explore more of WA by visiting westernaustralia.com.
All images featured courtesy Tourism Western Australia
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