In every curveball there's an opportunity. And we're taking international travel restrictions due to COVID-19 as a sign that it's time to (safely) explore the country we're in now. Enter: Western Australia. A lot of natural beauty, wide open spaces, and really good sunsets. If you're already there, incredible. If not, while the borders are still closed to interstate visitors, now is the time to plan your journey. So we've compiled a few of our favourite Western Australia holiday destinations. You'll need a car, a bikini and a few good podcasts for the road. In any case, given changing coronavirus restrictions, check that towns, national parks and attractions are open before you make the trip.
Margaret River region
Margaret River, known to local Noongar People as Wooditchup, is three hours and 30 minutes' drive out of Perth. But you'll soon find out that by WA standards, that isn't so far. Once you're there, take yourself for a swim or surf, then on a natural wine tour. We can't look past Si Vintners in Rosa Glen (book ahead) and Blind Corner - further north on your way to Yallingup. While you're up that way, a long table lunch at Will's Domain comes recommended. And on the note of eating and drinking, an afternoon at Beerfarm is always a good option.
Next, the beaches. Near Margaret River town, Gnarabup ticks all boxes for a walking track, coffee stop and a corner sheltered from the sea breeze. A little further north, Cowaramup bay at Gracetown is the beach of your childhood daydreams. And don't miss the Injidup Natural Spa or Aquarium near Canal Rocks, where you can swim in the clearest waters between boulders.
Another no brainer. Broome, on Yawuru country, is just like the pictures. All iron red dirt meets white sand and a horizon that stretches forever. Cable Beach is your first stop. And you'll return again and again, for your morning walk, swim, and to watch the sunset. It's also beautiful at Gantheume Point (this is also where you'll find Broome's dinosaur footprints, when the tide is low). Purchase arts and textiles from Nagula Jarndu - a Not for Profit incorporated body with a membership of 70 Indigenous women and by 8 Yawuru women Directors. And add a visit to the markets on Saturday (or Town Beach on Thursday night) to your weekly routine. If you're down for a road trip, Cape Levique provides a beachside wilderness experience - whether a palm frond beach shelter or safari tent is more your thing.
Hello to the whitest sand in the country. These Western Australia holiday destinations are beach-heavy, we know. But there are so many good ones. And those in Esperance's Cape Le Grand National Park are among the most crystalline. Esperance town, known to local Noongar People as Kepa Kurl, is (at least) a 7.5 hour drive or one hour, 35 minute plane ride from Perth - which accounts for some of its wilderness feel. Drive a little further south to the Park to visit Lucky Bay, with the aforementioned whitest sand in Australia. You'll likely be sharing it with Kangaroos. Nearby Hellfire Bay is also spectacular. One way to take in the coastline is via the Cape Le Grand Coastal Trail. For the moderately motivated, the 1 hour trek from Thistle Cove to Lucky Bay is the easiest.
Located in the Pilbara region of Western Australia, Karajini feels otherworldly. Scale ancient rock formations, swim in gorges and beneath waterfalls and sleep under the stars. You'll need walking boots with grip to best enjoy this trip, and a measure of attention - the rocks can be slippery. To treat yourself, stay at the recently reopened Karijini Eco Retreat.
Exmouth and Ningaloo reef
My dad and grandpa used to camp on the Ningaloo Coast in the 60s. When I was a kid we took the caravan with the orange flower printed curtains and did the same. You can fly into Ningaloo's hub town of Exmouth, or drive, taking in the best swimming and snorkelling spots along the way. Ningaloo Marine Park - named Ningaloo for Tradition Custodians the Jinigudera People's word meaning 'promontory' - is home to the world's largest fringing reef. Perhaps its most famous attraction is the opportunity to swim with whale sharks. But if you're going to snorkel anywhere, make it Turquoise Bay. There's a current that pushes you along the water's surface, so all you need to do is float. Stay in Exmouth, aptly named beach town Coral Bay, or at an eco-friendly luxury camp amongst sand dunes.