When we say these are literally ‘money can’t buy’ experiences, that’s exactly what we mean… because they’re free! Here are our top seven things to do in Western Australia that don’t cost a penny (or a cent)…
1. Whale Watching
WA’s coast turns into a ‘humpback highway’ from May to December as 30,000 whales migrate from Antarctica to calving grounds in the Kimberley. Watch their aquatic acrobatics for free as they swim close to the shore.
Top lookouts include Kalbarri National Park and Flinders Bay in Augusta. Visit Albany’s King George Sound and you’ll spot southern right and blue whales as well as their humpback cousins.
2. Sample Fine Fare
Head to the Swan Valley, it’s a short 25-minute drive from Perth, or to Margaret River in the south west, for a gourmet treat. Friendly local producers welcome in visitors with free samples of delights like cheese, olives, chocolate and fudge.
You’ll also find hundreds of wineries where knowledgeable staff encourage you to try a drop or two at their cellar door and you can do all of this without opening your wallet – unless you taste something you can’t go home without.
© Western Australia
3. Take a Staircase to the Moon
When the moon is full, Broome locals bring deckchairs and picnics down to Roebuck Bay to watch a silver staircase appear across the ocean. As the moon rises it reflects off the tidal flats creating a natural spectacle not to be missed.
The low tides create this optical illusion for just three days each month from March to October. Food stalls pop up along the bay and local entertainers perform while you soak up the sight.
4. Get the Local’s Guide to Perth
Meet locals and see another side of Perth on a free i-City tour. Volunteer guides lead a series of themed walks on Monday to Friday from the information kiosk in Murray Street Mall.
Take a tour of the city’s gardens, follow an art trail or take in the gold rush history. If you fancy going it alone, download the free podcasts and maps from www.perth.wa.gov.au and recreate it yourself.
© Western Australia
5. Sunbathe with Kangaroos
No visit to Australia would be complete without some quality time spent in the company of a kangaroo (or two) – and WA won’t let you down. ‘Skippies’ are abundant state-wide, both inland and on the coast so you won’t need a guide to spot them. At Lucky Bay in Esperance, a day’s drive south of Perth or 90 minutes by air, the local roo population can often be found sunning themselves on the beach.
Join them on the sand, swim, fish or explore the bush walks along the rugged coastline (from where you may even spot a migrating whale or two). Take your best sunglasses; Lucky Bay has been named one of Australia’s best beaches for its pure white sand, clear turquoise water and perfect swimming conditions.
© Western Australia
6. Visit some of the Oldest Art Galleries in the World
Western Australia is a hotbed of ancient rock art. The most celebrated are the Bradshaw figures near the Prince Regent River in the Kimberley and the Burrup Peninsula in the Pilbara.
Wander through these outback galleries to see more than 10,000 engravings over 30,000 years old, including what is thought to be the first representation of the human face. Closer to Perth, the Art Gallery of Western Australia is home to one of the country’s best collections of indigenous artwork and entry is free.
7. Climb Wave Rock
From the Bungle Bungles in the Kimberley to the Pinnacles Desert in Cervantes, Western Australia boasts an impressive portfolio of geological marvels. Wave Rock, 210 miles east of Perth, is perhaps the most famous of all. The granite rock is 15 metres high, 110 metres long and give or take a millennium or two, believed to be around 2.7 billion years old.
But what’s remarkable about Wave Rock is not what it’s made of or even that it was here before the dinosaurs. It’s remarkable because, although it’s a work of nature, such is its resemblance to a wave of breaking surf it could easily be mistaken for a work of sculptural realism. The rock lies 2 miles from Hyden, a tiny farm settlement in the heart of the WA Wheatbelt that can be reached from Perth by car in just under four hours.