While there is so much to see and do in Perth, road trips always call to the traveler in us, seeking to expand our journeys. Here are two REALLY cool places to explore outside of Perth – heading East and North. Imagine them as a ninety-degree angle – perfect for day trips! You can circle back to Perth for your accommodations and activities, or keep on road tripping and discover places to stay at your destination.
First, head to Rottnest Island. But…“it’s an island,” I hear you saying. Indeed. Catch a ferry to Rotto (as locals call it) – so named because of the many Quokkas (native small marsupials) on the island. Legend has it that early western explorers thought they were rats and named the island Rat’s Nest! We prefer the modern version. The Aboriginal name for Rottnest is Wadjemup. There are no cars permitted on the island, so you can walk, rent a bike or explore via shuttle bus. A day ticket will allow you to hop on and off wherever you like. It is 24km around the hilly island, so be fit if you’re going to pursue the bike option. But “what can you do?” I hear. Well, being an island, you can imagine that the over 60 beaches are pretty incredible, especially in summer. There are many great places to swim, including The Basin, Little Salmon, and Parker Point. Not into swimming? There are several lighthouses to explore; the Lighthouse at Bathurst is lovely (and has an excellent beach). If you’re there with kids, be sure to head to the family fun park or the just4fun aquapark – you can jump on a huge trampoline, play minigolf, play on waterslides, and more.
Volunteers lead free daily walks, which explore historic buildings, the Aboriginal cemetery, the lighthouse, and of course the quokkas. These depart from the Salt Store. More history can be discovered at the Salt Store (one of the oldest buildings on the island), Lomas Cottage, the Pilot Boathouse, and Rottnest Island Museum.
Rottnest Island Tips
The Dugite is a poisonous snake found on Rotto. Be wary if you see one (they are timid), or call the Rottnest Rangers for help. Another snake on Rotttnest is the Southern Blind Snake – non-venomous, but will bite. Steer clear.
The landscape is mostly open, as there are not many trees (or shade). Bring plenty of sunscreen, hats, and coverings (including high SPF rash guards for when you’re swimming – water reflects and you’ll get even MORE sunburned! A hard-earned hint from a redhead…).
If you’re into snorkeling (and this is the perfect place to do so), bring your own gear, or rent it when you hop off the ferry.
Do NOT feed the wildlife. Human food can make them sick – or die.
It’s all about the water (of course!). You can spot whales, seals, ospreys, dolphins, and plenty of marine life. If you’re in the water, please don’t touch or take anything – as SCUBA divers say, leave only bubbles.
Be sure to carry plenty of water with you to stay hydrated. While there are many restaurants to choose from (http://www.rottnestisland.com/about/restaurants-cafes-bars), it’s always best to be prepared.
The next day, head along the State Route 60 up to Lancelin (it’s about 120km north). Named after nearby Lancelin Island, Lancelin is an interesting (and windy!) town. Known for its stunning sand dunes, Lancelin is a place to explore and play. It is on a sheltered bay of the Indian Ocean, and is protected by both reefs and islands. So what can you find here?
Dunes, of course! Many people take 4WD rides around the dunes, motorbike, or try their hand at sandboarding. Want to move a bit slower? Walk the pure white sand of these hills.
On the water, you have many options for playing. Windsurfing is the most popular, and Lancelin is located on the International Windsurfing circuit, because of the ever-present winds. Many people come to fish – there are plenty of Rock Lobster boats, too (work up your appetite?!). You can also swim, boat, surf, kiteboard, and see marine animals, such as sea lions and dolphins.
If seeing shipwrecks is more your thing, Lancelin has 14 of them. The most famous is the Gilt Dragon, located near Ledge Point. It was wrecked in 1656. Many years (centuries!) later, the Guilderton Lighthouse was built in 1984 to prevent more wrecks. It’s located south of Lancelin.
Stop by the Endeavor Tavern, a classic Aussie pub right on the beachfront. They have a beer garden!
If you’re into flora and fauna and wildlife, the Lancelin Island Nature Reserve is worth visiting. When you’re on Lancelin Island, you can see plenty of sea lions and dolphins – as well as birds.
Please remember: don’t disturb the wildlife! Stay on defined paths. And as with all travel, leave nothing behind.
Summer temps range from 19°C to 35°C. Winter temps range from 8°C – 20°C. The wind is always gusting!
Lancelin started out in 1950 being the town of Wangaree (the aboriginal word for fishing!). The name was changed to Lancelin in 1953, to match the island.
Scuba divers love exploring the shipwrecks in the area. Lancelin is a gateway to a renowned wreck dive trail.
Highways in Western Australia are smaller than you might imagine – one lane in each direction. If you’re stuck behind slow-moving vehicles, I’d suggest taking a zen approach, as passing here is pretty scary (and passing lanes are rare). Enjoy the scenery, and feel your internal body clock slowing down, too. While you might not exactly thank the campervans for their speed limit, you may come to appreciate it!
Always be prepared – have plenty of water and food in the car, as well as a good GPS system.
The beaches in Western Australia are some of the best in the world. Bring your swim gear – and sunscreen and cover-ups!
Remember to always treat the environment with respect – stay on marked trails, don’t feed the animals, and don’t disturb the animals.