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Western Australia Travel Guide
Western Australia holiday regions
Perth, Fremantle & Rottnest Island - highlights of the SW corner
The Kimberleys - the rugged north
Shark Bay & Monkey Mia - home of the wild dolphin experience
North West Cape & Ningaloo Reef - home of the whale sharks
Spring wildflowers - spectacular spring shows across the state
The Southern Coast - wide open spaces and miles of beaches
The Golden Mile - the site of Australia's biggest gold rush
The Pilbara - glowing ridges and spinifex with vivid sunsets
Western Australia A Glance
A quick overview of Western Australia is that much of the wealth is in the north and the people are in the south. Western Australia is very big and, like Queensland, a journey of a couple of hundred kilometres is a short trip. The state is 2600 kilometres (1625 miles) north-south and 1600 kilometres (1000 miles) east-west.
Those are straight line map distances, actual road distances are considerably further. There are wilderness areas that are bigger than some overseas countries. Man made lakes in the north hold 10 times the volume of water found in Sydney Harbour, excellent coastlines and spectacular coastal scenery in the south, ghost towns on the goldfields, the primary pearling centre of Australia, the world's largest diamond mine and home of much of Australia's Aboriginal dreamtime legends.
Western Australia has always been home to a significant proportion of Australia's Aboriginal people. Archaeological records confirm Aboriginal settlements over most of the state dating back 30,000 plus years. Today many of the Aboriginals live in the northern areas of the state.
How Do I Get Around?
Western Australia is Australia's biggest state, a place with wilderness areas bigger than some overseas countries. In straight line terms, the state is 2600 kilometres (1625 miles) north-south and 1600 kilometres (1000 miles) east-west. With distances like this to contend with, it's essential that transport arrangements, and the time involved, are carefully considered.
There is no shortage of flights to all of the regional WA towns and bus services also run the major highway through to Darwin and all major centres along the way. A network of sealed roads cover the state's major centres but off the major routes, expect unsurfaced roads.
All Western Australian transport services are detailed in the Public Transport Authority site. Perth has a metropolitan commuter train service and other train services are the Indian Pacific service that links to Adelaide and beyond, plus local services between Perth and Bunbury and Perth to Kalgoorlie.
All major car rental companies are represented in the major cities and towns throughout Western Australia. If you are flying in at Perth to start your visit, consider picking up a Perth rental car at the airport and save on airport shuttle costs. 4WD campers and 2WD motor homes are available for rental from Perth offices. Advance bookings of these vehicles is essential. Tour operators provide itineraries that cover all popular sites.
Driver information and maps are available from offices of the Royal Auto Club of WA (RAC) which has offices throughout the state.
Some typical road distances are:
Perth to Adelaide = 2720 km (1700 miles)
Perth to Darwin = 4040 km (2525 miles)
Perth to Kalgoorlie = 600 km (375 miles)
Perth to Carnarvon = 907 km (565 miles)
Perth to Albany = 404 km (252 miles)
When Is The Best Time?
Western Australia is a year-round destination, but it does have extremely high summer temperatures over much of the inland and central coast areas. Any travel in those areas at that time of year should be done with all due care, in a roadworthy vehicle, well stocked with emergency spares and equipment.
Carry additional drinking water, plenty of 15+ sunscreen and protective clothing. Pay particular attention to the welfare of any small children in your party. If creature comforts are an integral part of an enjoyable experience, then consider using any of the several tour operators to get to the sights off the beaten track. The state experiences considerable climate variations ranging from tropical to balmy Mediterranean, to desert heat and cold and most things in between.
Winter is June - August with temperatures ranging from around around 8°C min. to 15°C max. in the southern coastal regions, 10°C min. to 22°C max. in the central coastal regions and 15°C min. to 30°C max. in the northern coastal regions. Summer is December - February with temperatures ranging from around around 14°C min. to 24°C max. in the southern coastal regions, 20°C min. to 35°C max. in the central coastal regions and 25°C min. to 35°C max. in the northern coastal regions.
Temperatures in the central desert areas are extreme. Summer maximums typically exceed 40°C and winter minimums can drop to around 3-5°C. The northern areas receive most rainfall during the summer "Wet Season". Monsoonal cyclones (hurricanes) occasionally cross the tropical north coast during the summer months, usually in the region of Dampier to Port Hedland.
This is not a frequent event and usually results in localised property damage and flooding. The southern areas of the state experience winter rains. The further removed from the coast, the less the rainfall.
The Australian Bureau of Meteorology provides detailed Western Australia weather information.
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