Do you dream of warm sandy beaches, spectacular hikes, majestic forests, and a slower pace? If so, then pack your bags for South West Australia. There are plenty of things to do in South West WA, including hiking rugged mountain ranges, relaxing on sandy beaches, seeing an abundance of flora and fauna, and visiting wineries and breweries. The list is endless, and the region has something for everyone.
This area is the perfect place to experience the beauty of this idyllic section of Western Australia. The region can be divided into four areas: Bunbury-Geographe, Margaret River, Southern Forests & Valleys, and the Great Southern.
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Map of South West WA
To see a South West Australia map with destinations pinned, see this Google Maps.
The Best Things to do in South West WA
There are so many things to do in South West WA that you could spend a year here and not run out of places and attractions to visit. However, if you don’t have that much time, these are the best things to do in this region.
Climb Castle Rock and Granite Sky Walk, Porongurup
The Castle Rock and Granite Sky Walk is a 4.7 km grade 5 hike that will take two to three hours. Although a short distance, it requires agility and a certain amount of fitness to climb the large boulders. The Granite Sky Walk has a ladder to access the suspended walkway, but it felt safe going up and down. One of my favourite hikes in the South West WA region!
Read more about Castle Rock and Granite Sky Walk here.
Swim with Dolphins, Bunbury
Join this dolphin swim tour run by the Bunbury Dolphin Discovery Centre, where an experienced guide will accompany you in the ocean of calm Koombana Bay. This tour runs from November to April.
While here, visit the Interactive Zone (between 8 am and 9 am is best) for the chance to see wild dolphins as they visit the bay.
Visit Wellington National Park, Collie
Hike one of the many trails in Wellington National Park or take a drive to Wellington Dam to see the world’s largest dam wall mural. It’s impressive to see close up – view it from below, then drive up to the lookout to see it from above.
Read about Wellington National Park here.
Swim in Black Diamond Lake, Collie
This secret spot has now become well known due to social media, but it is still peaceful (at the moment anyway). If you visit on a sunny day, you will see the stunning turquoise colour it is famous for. Previously a mine site, you can swim, kayak, or do stand-up paddleboarding.
Read more about Black Diamond Lake here.
Take the kids to Apple Park, Donnybrook
Your children will have fun at this adventure playground, reputed to be Australia’s biggest free-entry fun park. You can grab a coffee from across the road and watch your kids enjoy the slides, rope bridges, flying foxes, low rock climbing walls, swings, space net, and two 9.5 m towers.
It’s an excellent place to stop with facilities including clean toilets, BBQs, and picnic tables.
Read more about things to do in Donnybrook here.
Visit Torndirrup National Park, Albany
Torndirrup National Park is one of my favourite National Parks in Western Australia. It contains some of the best beaches in the world, a challenging hike, stunning landscapes, and incredible geological formations.
The Gap and Natural Bridge are the most popular attractions in Torndirrup National Park and are best visited early before the crowds arrive. Misery Beach is a stunning beach, where the pristine sand squeaks when walked upon, and the ocean is a clear turquoise blue. Bald Head Walk Trail, a challenging 12.5 km return trail, provides incredible views of the Southern Ocean and King George Sound.
If you don’t have a vehicle or would prefer to have the knowledge of a guide, either The Gap & Natural Wonders Guided Tour by Moss Vale Cruise & Travel or The Gap and Natural Wonders Busy Blue Bus Tours visit Torndirrup National Park.
Read about other things to do in Torndirrup National Park in this guide on things to do in Albany.
Swim at Little Beach, Two Peoples Bay, Albany
Little Beach is one of the most photographed beaches in Australia’s South West. The blue ocean gleams against the white sand, and there are fantastic views towards Mt Manypeaks and Waychinicup National Park to the north.
Find out about a secret beach you can walk to in Two Peoples Bay here.
Learn about ANZAC at the National ANZAC Centre, Albany
The National ANZAC Centre is the most recent addition to the Princess Royal Fortress site, where you follow personal stories through state of the art technology, multimedia, and historical artifacts.
Each visitor can assume the identity of a serviceman or woman and trace their life through the Great War in an immersive learning experience. Entry ticket is valid during opening hours; access to all buildings within the Princess Royal Fortress is included.
While there, visit the Princess Royal Fortress, Albany Heritage Park, one of Australia’s best outdoor military museums.
See Orcas in Bremer Bay
Seeing Orcas (killer whales) has been on my bucket list for years. You can join this Bremer Canyon Orca Experience from Bremer Bay on a 7-hour tour on a purpose-built luxury whale watching vessel. Read our Orca Bremer Bay Tour review for more information.
Both Viator and Get Your Guide offer this cruise, but Get Your Guide was cheaper.
Visit stunning Greens Pool & Elephant Rocks, Denmark
Greens Pool is our favourite thing to do when we visit Denmark, especially in summer when it’s warm enough to swim in the crystal clear water. It’s perfect for children as the beach slopes gradually and the water is usually very calm.
You can walk along a 1.5 km trail that links Greens Pool to Elephant Rocks or drive. The rocks are in the shape of a certain animal, hence its name. The views here are stunning on a clear day.
See photos of Elephant Rocks and other places to visit in this guide on things to do in Denmark.
Hike Bluff Knowl, Stirling Range National Park
Hiking Bluff Knowl to see the sunrise at the summit is on many hikers’ bucket lists; however, we decided to hike it in daylight! This Grade 4, 6.8 km hike requires reasonable fitness, but the path is well maintained, and there are rest stops along the way. It’s definitely worth the effort as the views are spectacular.
Read more about Bluff Knowl and the Stirling Range National Park here.
Take the train along Busselton Jetty to the Deep Sea Pool & Underwater Observatory
Ride the red electric train along Busselton Jetty, the most popular attraction in Busselton, to the end. Here you will find one of only six natural aquariums in the world, where you can watch wild marine life through floor-to-ceiling windows. Read more about the Underwater Observatory here.
If you want to get up close to the marine life, you can swim, snorkel, or scuba dive in the Deep Sea Pool, where the world’s first virtual shark net emits electromagnetic pulses that deter sharks but doesn’t harm them or other marine life.
Drive along Cape Naturaliste, near Dunsborough
The Cape Naturaliste beaches are some of the best in the world, and most are protected by the cape, making the water calm. Choose from Meelup Bay, Eagle Bay, or Bunker Bay for the best swimming beaches. Castle Bay, Point Picquet, and Shelley Cove are picturesque too.
Watch the Sunset at Sugarloaf Rock, Cape Naturaliste
One of the best places to be at sunset, and the most photographed, is Sugarloaf Rock in Cape Naturaliste. It’s a short walk to the lookout for stunning island and coastline views. Don’t forget your camera!
Swim at the Aquarium or Injidup Spa, near Yallingup
It’s hard to choose which are the best beaches in the Margaret River region as you can’t go wrong with any of them.
Injidup Spa is another Instagram-famous spot that has recently received an influx of visitors and is sometimes hard to park due to its popularity. I wasn’t that impressed and much preferred the quieter Injidup Beach on the other side.
The Aquarium was a secret beach that only locals knew about before social media outed where it was. This rockpool is between Canal Rocks and Smiths Beach but can only be accessed via the Cape to Cape Track. You can get to it from either direction but from Canal Rocks is more accessible and shorter; 500 metres as opposed to 1.5 km from Smiths Beach. The water here is transparent and a fantastic spot to swim and snorkel.
There are lots of other beaches near Yallingup to explore too.
Explore a Cave, Margaret River region
December 2021 Bushfire update:
Lake Cave is closed while damage is assessed and safety checks are carried out, but hope to open as soon as possible. Ngilgi Cave, Mammoth Cave, and Jewel Cave are open as normal.
Several hundred caves are in Leeuwin National Park, with six open to the public.
Mammoth Cave is a multi-chambered cave, home to many ancient fossil remains, and is the most accessible cave in the region. The self-guided audio tour ends with a walk through beautiful bushland. Book tickets here.
Lake Cave is a stunning preserved chamber beneath the earth. A long staircase descends through a sinkhole to a sunken forest floor. Crystal formations reflect on the tranquil lake inside the cave, and stalactites suspend from the ceiling. It’s not suitable for anyone with low mobility. **Please note this cave is closed at present due to fire damage, please check for updates with MR Visitor Centre**
Jewel Cave is the largest cave in the area and home to one of the longest stalactites in any Australian tourist cave. Be amazed at the towering crystal formations that adorn the cave’s ceiling. During the one-hour guided tour, you will learn about the Tasmanian Tiger fossils found in the cave. Reads our Jewel Cave review for more information or Book tickets here.
The other two are Calgardup Cave and Giants Cave.
Wine Tasting in Margaret River
The Margaret River region has over 120 world-class wineries and over thirty-six grape varieties, the most popular being Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Chardonnay, and Shiraz.
Why not visit one of over ninety boutique wineries to do some wine tasting? A whopping sixty-two of those have received a 5-Star Halliday rating. Margaret River is the third most visited wine region in Australia by international visitors (after Yarra Valley and Hunter) and the most visited wine region for domestic travellers.
Some wineries charge a small fee for the tastings, taken off any purchase, to stop vans full of people stopping at each winery for tastings and not buying anything.
You can pick up a free map that includes all the wineries and other attractions from the Margaret River Visitor Centre, located along the main street in Margaret River town centre (100 Bussell Highway).
Live Music/Sunday Session at Caves House Hotel or a Brewery
Lots of breweries and pubs, and some wineries, have live music on weekends and public holidays. Radio Margaret River has a gig guide, or try the Margaret River Visitor Centre for information on events in the area.
We enjoy the Sunday Session at Caves House Hotel.
Take a Whale Watching Tour
The best way to see these incredible ocean giants is on a tour, like these:
Hike part of Cape to Cape
The Cape to Cape track runs 130 km from Cape Naturaliste to Cape Leeuwin, mainly along the coast. It will take you around a week to complete it, walking about 20 to 25 km per day. However, an easier option is to tackle part of it on short walks.
See Stingrays at Hamelin Bay
Stingrays are a popular tourist attraction and one of the best things to do in Hamelin Bay. At most times during the day in summer, you can see the black shadows in the ocean by the boat ramp, waiting for scraps from fishers. They are wild animals, though, so keep your distance as they will defend themselves if they feel threatened.
Climb Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse
Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse is the tallest lighthouse in mainland Australia. This working lighthouse has stunning views of the rugged coastline and the Southern and Indian oceans.
You can buy tickets through Klook with free cancellation (24 hours notice) here.
Climb a Fire-lookout Tree, Pemberton
You can climb two fire-lookout trees in Australia’s South West if you’re feeling brave! Gloucester Tree is the closest to Pemberton, where you can climb to a height of 53 m via 153 metal pegs. Dave Evans Bicentennial Tree is the tallest climbing tree in the world at 65 m above ground.
See what else there is to do in Pemberton here.
Cross the Suspension Bridge at Beedelup Falls, Pemberton
Beedelup Falls is a favourite of mine as the waterfall and 25m suspension bridge is beautiful. It’s best visited after heavy rainfall (usually at the end of winter or the start of spring) when the waterfall is in full flow.
The 300 metre loop trail takes you across the suspension bridge, where you’ll find the best views of the falls and Beedelup Brook.
Kayak or Walk around Big Brook Dam, Pemberton
Walk 4 km around Big Brook Dam or stop for a picnic, ride your bike, have a swim, or kayak. It’s very popular with locals and visitors.
Read more about Big Brook Dam here.
Valley of the Giants Tree Top Walk, Walpole
The Valley of the Giants Tree Top Walk, which takes you on a gradual climb to nearly 40m above the forest canopy, is the most popular tourist attraction in Walpole. It gives you a birds-eye view over the 400-year-old giant red tingle trees without damaging them.
Read more about the Valley of the Giants Tree Top Walk here.
Walk inside a Giant Tingle Tree, Walpole
The Giant Tingle trail leads to the Giant Tingle, said to be the largest, living girthed eucalypt in the world at 24m. This red tingle has been hollowed out by fire but is still alive as the living, and growing parts of the tree are located just below the outer bark.
Read more about this impressive Giant Tingle tree here.
Hike Mt Clare Summit Trail, Walpole
The 2.4 km Mt Clare summit walk is a moderate Grade 3 trail, which takes you through magnificent tingle and karri forest.
Look out for the teapot tingle along the way.
Find out more about the Mt Clare summit trail here.
See the Conspicuous Cliffs, Walpole
Conspicuous Cliffs has an isolated beach with soft, white squeaky sand and wild surf. However, it’s known for its rips, so you must take care here (I don’t recommend swimming).
The uphill walk to the top lookout is worth the effort for spectacular views of limestone cliffs, granite headlands, and the unspoiled coastline. On the way, see views over the coastal heathland with swamp paperbarks and red flowering gum trees (they flower in summer).
Find out more about Conspicuous Cliffs here.
Learn about Aboriginal Culture on a Cultural Tour
I highly recommend taking one of the following cultural tours to gain an insight into our original landowners’ culture and history through their eyes. You’ll get to hear about Dreamtime spirits that shaped the land you stand on, cultural traditions, and lots of fascinating stories.
Kurrah Mia, Albany
Koomal Dreaming, Margaret River region.
South West Road Trips
The best way to see Western Australia’s South West region is by road. It allows you to see all the charming towns, beautiful coastline, and stop at some of the best eateries.
Here are the best road trips in the South West:
Save money planning your holiday
Flights: We use different sites to get the best possible price for flights. Check matrix.itasoftware.com to get an idea of the cheapest dates, but you can’t book through this site. Compare the cost of flights with Kiwi.com and try different routes.
Accommodation: We mainly use Booking.com for accommodation as they consistently have the lowest rates with free cancellation on most properties. We also book through Stayz for private accommodation as they are usually cheaper than Airbnb.
Car Rental: To compare rental car company prices, we use Discover Cars, an award winning car rental comparison website. They offer competitive pricing in over 10,000 locations worldwide and are highly-rated.
Tours: We use third-party sites Viator, Get Your Guide & Klook due to their free cancellation policies, instant confirmation, price guarantees, and mobile ticketing. We occasionally book through Red Balloon too.
Mobile: Telstra has the best coverage in Western Australia. We buy our sims through Boost who provide 4G/4GX coverage on full Telstra 4G Mobile Network. With up to 82GB for 28 days or 240GB for 12 months, unlimited national calls & text, and international inclusions on selected plans, you’re sure to find the right prepaid SIM for you. See plans here.
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