Expansive and diverse, Western Australia is home to some of the most extraordinary places in Australia. We look at destinations that can be reached by car in two hours or less from Perth.
From ancient rock formations to pristine beaches and restaurants complete with world-class food and winei - it's no wonder Western Australia is on the map for millionaires and celebrities alikeii.
Only a 45-minute drive south west of Perth, Rockingham is famous for its bottlenose dolphins. You can board a boat and venture out to watch the dolphins splash in the clear waters of their natural habitat, or go for a swim with them on an organised tour in the early morningiii. If water sports are your thing, then Mandurah (a 20-minute drive south from Rockingham) is perfect for swimming, diving, sailing, windsurfing, fishing and especially crabbingiii. The crabbing season (September to October) in the Peal-Harvey Estuary attracts many. Just be sure to apply for a recreational fishing licence and check the crabbing guidelines regarding the type, size, weight, gender and number of crabs you can capture, before setting off on your expedition. Also, don't forget to try the fresh local seafood in town.
Nearby, about a 30-minute drive south from Mandurah, you'll find Lake Clifton along the coast in the Yalgorup National Park. The eastern edge of Lake Clifton is a great place for exploring one of the few examples of living thrombolites in the stateiv. Witness these natural formations from the observation walkway from March to April, which is when they can be seen more easily due to lower water levelsiv.
An easy two-hour drive from Perth, Bunbury is home to Leschenault Inlet and Mangrove Cove, which features mangrove ecosystems dating back at least 10,000 yearsv. Walk among the estuary's mangroves on the extensive boardwalks, where you'll find signage explaining the diverse ecosystem, complete with more than 60 species of waterbirdvi. Or choose one of many walking trails in the Geographe region such as the Tuart Walk, Big Swamp Walk or Eaton Foreshore Walk, to name a fewvii. Otherwise, walk part of the 1,000 kilometres of the Bibbulmun Track - one of the world's great long distance walking trails - that runs from Perth to Albanyviii.
Only a 20-minute drive out of Perth, Swan Valley can be found. It's Western Australia's oldest wine growing regionix and a true escape for wine enthusiasts and food connoisseurs alike. Here, you can sample a range of wines (with more than 40 cellar doors to choose from!)ix, visit local art galleries, and wander through antique furniture stores in Guildford. Guildford also has many historic buildings dating back to the 1840six.
Why not mix adventure and cuisine on the Swan Valley Food and Wine Trail? This is a 32-kilometre circuit that takes you to a range of wineries and restaurantsix. Otherwise, pick up some local produce and picnic at any of Swan Valley's favourite picnic spots, such as Bell Rapids, Middle Swan Bridge or Whiteman Parkix. While you're in town, head to Caversham Wildlife Park to see the kangaroos and koalas.
Heading further north east, just over an hour's drive out of Perth, you'll stumble upon New Norcia, Australia's only monastic townx. Amble among the historic Spanish architecture seen throughout the town and enjoy some freshly baked goods, such as nut cake, bread and almond biscotti, prepared by the monksxi.
Want a beachside holiday with an outback twist? Then cruise north along Indian Ocean Drive for a couple of hours to Cervantes and Nambung National Park. Discover the history of the town, including the American whaling ship 'Cervantes', which was wrecked there in 1844xii. For water sport lovers, Cervantes has it all: scuba diving, fishing, jet boating, sailing, snorkelling, surfing and swimmingxii. Plus, you might even spot a bottlenose dolphin or sea lion along the coast!
The Pinnacles Desert of Nambung National Park, just 17 kilometres from Cervantes, draws many to its moon-like terrain. Learn about the thousands of limestone spires and how they came to be there at the Park's Pinnacles Desert Discovery Centre.