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11 February, 2020 By: Tatum Stafford
Luckily for locals, Perth is full of natural, historical and cultural gems.
While Rotto or the Swan Valley both provide an epic day trip, there are some other less-common spots worth exploring. Whether it's a national park, a lavender field or a protected dive wreck, here are 10 of our favourite unique day trips from Perth.
The quaint town of York is steeped in history, as WA’s first inland European settlement. Established in 1831, the town is nestled on the banks of the Avon River and offers a unique insight into WA’s history through its heritage precinct and preserved colonial architecture. If you have a penchant for the past, pick up a York Heritage Walk Trail booklet from the Visitor Centre.
York is also renowned for its vibrant wildflower season. The York Bushland Garden is just a short walk from town, and displays over 300 species of the region’s flora - many that are rare in their natural habitat. York’s canola display is equally as impressive, and information for each season can be obtained from the Visitor Centre.
- Distance from Perth: Approximately 90 minutes from Perth on the Great Southern Highway.
- Places to go: York Bushland Garden, Mount Brown Lookout, Avon River Suspension Bridge.
- When to visit: All year round, but September to November for wildflower season, and mid-August to September for canola season.
2. Shoalwater Islands
The Shoalwater Islands Marine Park sees the convergence of sea lions, penguins, dolphins, seagrass, and thousands of fish. The protected park is perfect for snorkelling, diving, kayaking, swimming or just relaxing on its stretch of white, sandy beach. If you’re feeling adventurous, the Saxon Ranger Dive Wreck in Warnbro Sound provides a safe snorkelling or diving opportunity. A permit from the Rockingham Visitor Centre is required to dive the site.
Penguin Island is one of the most notable islands within the park. A short ferry ride offshore, the island is home to the largest colony of little penguins in Western Australia. The Penguin Island Discovery Centre allows you to get up close and personal with the penguins during feeding time, or the 1.5 kilometre Penguin Island Nature Walk displays the island’s idyllic beaches, fauna and hidden caves.
- Distance from Perth: Just under an hour from Perth on the Kwinana Freeway.
- Places to go: Seal Island, Penguin Island, Saxon Ranger Dive Wreck, Cape Peron.
- When to visit: All year round, but ferry tours of Shoalwater Bay operate from mid-September to early June.
The town of Collie is renowned for its natural beauty, rich coal mining history and opportunities for outdoor adventures. Camping, cycling and water sports are top activities, and thanks to the town’s many inland lakes, it has become quite the Insta-worthy destination for day-trippers. As far as activities go, Stockton Lake and Potters Gorge are great for water-skiing, and Minninup Pool and Honeymoon Pool are great spots for a picnic or a paddle.
The Bibbulmun Track and Munda Biddi Trail both pass through Collie, providing great opportunities for mountain biking and bushwalking. The trails are especially picturesque when the town’s wildflowers bloom in spring.
- Distance from Perth: Two and a half hours from Perth on Kwinana Freeway.
- Places to go: Black Diamond Lake, Minninup Pool, Wellington National Park.
- When to visit: All year round, or spring months if you’d like to view Collie’s wildflowers.
4. Kalamunda and Walliston
Kalamanda and Walliston are two neighbouring suburbs within the Perth Hills region. Both suburbs are renowned for their walking trails, bushland lookouts and national parks. In Kalamunda, the Bibbulmun Track, Mundy Regional Park and Rocky Pool Walk are great spots for embracing the outdoors. And for foodies, the weekly Kalamunda Farmers Market enables shoppers to buy fresh produce direct from farmers and growers within the Perth Hills.
One of the most notable attractions within Walliston is the S&R Orchard. The orchard hosts seasonal blossom festivals and fruit-picking sessions from December to March each year. It’s a great place for families, as it often has entertainment, food vans and all-you-can-eat fruits on offer.
- Distance from Perth: 30 minutes from Perth on Tonkin Highway.
- Places to go: S&R Orchard, Rocky Pool Walk, Kalamunda Farmers Market, Zig Zag Scenic Drive.
- When to visit: All year round, September for the S&R Orchard Blossom Festival, or February for the S&R Orchard fruit-picking season.
The ‘sea to scarp’ town of Waroona is a popular weekend getaway spot thanks to its picturesque lakes, dams and weirs. Not only great for water-skiing, swimming and paddling, these bodies of water are perfect for setting up camp and staying the night. Lakeside camping at Lake Navarino and Waroona Dam or bush camping at Lane Poole Reserve are particularly popular spots. More information can be found on the Waroona Shire website.
The remarkable Lake Clifton Thrombolites in the Yalgorup National Park are also worth a visit. Just west of Waroona, this collection of rock-like formations make up the largest thrombolite reef in the southern hemisphere, and is one of few places in Western Australia where living thrombolites survive.
- Distance from Perth: An hour and a half south from Perth on the Kwinana Freeway.
- Places to go: Waroona Dam, Yalgorup National Park, Lake Clifton Thrombolites.
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The town of Yanchep is home to some of the state’s most pristine natural reserves, including the Yanchep National Park. Treasured for its wildlife, walking trails and limestone caves, visitors to the park can experience Aboriginal cultural tours, picnic in stunning natural surrounds and admire Australian flora and fauna, including kangaroos and koalas.
Another must-visit spot in Yanchep is the Yanchep Lavender Farm. The family team at the farm grow, harvest and distil lavender onsite, and also maintain the farm’s impressive lavender field that guests are free to wander through on Tuesdays to Sundays. Be sure to check out their website for a range of lavender FAQs, recipes and health benefits.
- Distance from Perth: 45 minutes from Perth on Mitchell Freeway.
- Places to go: Yanchep National Park, Yanchep Lavender Farm, Yanchep Lagoon.
- When to visit: All year round, or December to February for lavender season.
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Gidgegannup is a scenic area packed with nature reserves, farming properties and fields of wildflowers in the springtime. Not far into the Perth Hills, this sleepy town is a great place to get closer to nature – and thanks to the neighbouring Avon Valley, it’s also a great place to hike alongside some impressive sights, such as the Bells Rapids and Noble Falls.
If you’ve ever wanted to try your hand at horse riding, the Zia Park Equestrian Centre is great for beginners and experts alike. The centre offers a cross country course, private riding trails through the surrounding bushland, and several large paddocks for training.
- Distance from Perth: 45 minutes from Perth on Toodyay Road.
- Places to go: Bells Rapids, Walyunga National Park, Zia Park Equestrian Centre.
- When to visit: All year round, our August to November for wildflower season.
The township of Lancelin is characterised by its pristine beaches, relaxed lifestyle and crisp white sand dunes. Sandboarding, dolphin-spotting and fishing are three of the most popular pastimes in this iconic WA town, with the Lancelin Sand Dunes in particular welcoming thousands of visitors a month. It’s often dubbed Australia’s premier sandboarding destination, and rewards sandboarders with epic views over Lancelin and its surrounding coastline.
Lancelin’s Back Beach is a great place to unwind after a day on the dunes. Thanks to a sandbar 20 metres from shore, the beach has calm and slow waves that are great for kids learning to surf, or adults wanting to relax close to the shore. It’s also a great spot for kitesurfing, windsurfing or stand-up paddle boarding.
- Distance from Perth: An hour and a half from Perth on Indian Ocean Drive.
- Places to go: Lancelin Sand Dunes, Back Beach, Lancelin Lookout.
Set amongst picturesque Jarrah and Marri forests, the town of Dwellingup is the perfect spot for those who love the outdoors. Renowned for its mountain biking, walking and river trails, Dwellingup is abundant with recreational areas the whole family can enjoy. The Lane Poole Reserve River Trail, in particular, is a great spot for canoeing, rafting, swimming, fishing, bushwalking and camping.
Dwellingup is also famed for the Hotham Valley Tourist Railway. This heritage, tourist railway transfers its passengers from Dwellingup into the Darling Ranges, and is one of only a handful of heritage railway organisations in Western Australia.
- Distance from Perth: Under 90 minutes from Perth on the Kwinana Freeway.
- Places to go: Munda Bindi Bike Trail, Hotham Valley Railway, Lane Poole Reserve.
- When to visit: All year round, or May to October if you’d like to ride the Steam-Ranger train on the Hotham Valley Railway.
10. Guilderton and Moore River
The town of Guilderton is situated on the last remaining river estuary, the Moore River. There’s plenty to do within Guilderton, including swimming, sandboarding and surfing. Plus, for avid fishers, the Guilderton Beach is a great place to cast in a line; as tailor, flathead, herring, mulloway and whiting can all be caught from the shore. There’s also a fishing boardwalk at Stephens Crescent.
One of the best ways to explore Moore River is by paddling. There are a few options for canoe or kayak hire in Guilderton, and the river is paddle-able upstream for about 12 kilometres, until Boobabbie Bridge. There are more than 100 species of birdlife on the Moore River waterway, so be sure to keep an eye out for the region’s fantastic fauna whilst you’re on the water.
- Distance from Perth: Just under 90 minutes from Perth on the Mitchell Freeway.
- Places to go: Guilderton Lighthouse, Silver Creek, The Desert.