Three cool places to explore in the wide, wide West

Western Australia occupies around one-third of Australia’s total landmass. That’s an area of 2.5 million square kilometres or 965,000 square miles. There are more than 70 national parks and marine parks, and countless State forest recreation sites, covering an area of more than 20 million hectares. It’s famous for long days of sunshine, vast blue skies and white beaches – making it a perfect year-round Australian holiday destination. Here’s three cool places to explore in the wide, wide West.

The Pinnacles are located in the Nambung National Park about 20km southeast of Cervantes and about 200km north of Perth. The region is probably the most popular single tourist destination in Western Australia with more than 300,000 visitors per year. Thousands of limestone pillars, some up to 4m tall, rise up out of the vivid yellow quartz sand, their colors changing with the light. Nambung means crooked in the local Aboriginal tribal language. It’s a park with a 26km stretch of sparkling coastline bordered by rolling sand dunes that extend inland into banksia woodlands. Pretty red river gum trees line the banks of the Nambung River until it disappears into limestone caves. The area surrounding the Pinnacles Desert comes alive with wildflowers from August to October. There’s only one access road into the Pinnacles Desert that is 27km long. Visitors should ensure that insurance permits their vehicle to be driven on the unsealed roads. For tour options: www.thepinnacles.com.au

Camel treks along Cable Beach, near the town of Broome, which is 22km of pristine aqua water and pure white sand. This is a Western Australia gem. The stunning colours of Cable Beach – aqua against white and bright red-orange dirt inspire photographers from dawn till dusk daily. The daylight camel rides are fun, but the sunset ones are the most spectacular. Adults $A70 and children $55. Red Sun Camels does weddings on the beaches, where the bride and groom and the wedding party arrive on decorated beasts. The beach is punctuated with rock pools where octopus and other creatures wait for the tide to take them back to the deep. Vehicles are still permitted to drive onto the northern side of Cable Beach, and a blind eye is turned to those who choose to sunbath au naturelle at that end More info: www.redsuncamels.com.au/

Go visit one of the most diversely beautiful playgrounds in Western Australia. A two-hour drive south of Perth lies the sheltered shores of Geographe Bay. Voted one of the top 10 places to visit in the world by Lonely Planet, the region is famed for its breathtaking natural beauty. From the heights of the largest remaining tuart forest in the world at the Ludlow Tuart Forest, to the depths of Australia’s greatest artificial reef at the Busselton Jetty (pictured above). In between you will find hundreds more equally spectacular spots. Windsurfing is brilliant here. Sailing too.

Home to the vibrant seaside towns of Busselton, Dunsborough and Yallingup, with 30km of pristine, white sandy beaches near the  Margaret River Wine Region. It’s also the setting of a quirky annual film festival. CinéfestOZ showcases extraordinary Australian and French films over five days (August 22 – 26) each year.

In its fifth year, CinéfestOZ is a nod to the southwest’s early French exploration but also that country’s strong film making culture. Against this cultural backdrop Busselton comes alive for a celebration of engaging film, filmmaker forums, premiere and gala events. Combined with the best sustenance, wines and music the region can offer, CinéfestOZ has become a must-attend event for film followers, filmmakers, film lovers and those who appreciate the beauty of the southwest. To celebrate this year’s festival, Geographe Bay Tourism are offering some great value packages starting at just $A112 per person per night. www.geographebay.com/

*Pictures courtesy of Tourism Western Australia

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