Perth, Western Australia & the Outback
by Holly Smith
Following is an excerpt from this extensive & highly detailed guide by a lifetime resident of Australia. The guide covers all the hotels, restaurants, sights to see and activities, from beachgoing to hiking, kayaking to exploring the Outback and the cultural attractions. Australias largest state takes up nearly a third of the continent, filling some 2,525,250 square kilometers with a diverse mix of extreme and wonderful landscapes. The balmy seaside capital of Perth and its thriving southern suburb of Fremantle, where 1.4 of the states 1.8 million residents live, are spread along Australias southwest edge, just north of the Cape Naturaliste hook. South of here, lush river valleys and coastal parks stretch east for more than 1,620 km, while north of Perth, along the rough edge of the Indian Ocean, towns are far and few, with vast natural parklands coloring in the empty spaces between them. The countrys westernmost town, Coral Bay, lies halfway up the coast, from where the land cuts back east and north toward Port Hedland and Broome. And still the state sprawls on, further northeast through the great, dry plains of the Kimberley, and south through endless expanses of gold and red desert. Within these great, barren stretches and along the coastlines, however, are hidden treasures that for the past century have fueled much of Australias economy. The famous goldfields, where fortune-seekers thronged in the late 1800s, surround the southern Outback city of Kalgoorlie-Boulder. Mineral sands and deposits of bauxite, the source for the countrys massive aluminum industry, are tucked along the states southwest edge. Around the Kimberley, or the far northwest, natural gas is the abundant resource, tapped in enormous quantities from the Northwest Shelf. The Pilbara, along the north-central coast, has the worlds most extensive iron-ore deposits. And this is all not to mention the world-famous pearls found offshore of Broome, which rack up some US200 million in yearly exports alone, or the Argyle Diamond mine of the same region, which produces more diamonds a year than anywhere else on the planet. In short, this is a massive state where riches and resources are only just being discovered. Million-hectare cattle stations stretch far and wide; broad national parks with million-year-old natural phenomena take their places in patchwork fashion around them; and thousands of kilometers of desolate, unexplored lands fill the gaps in between. You could wander here for a year and not run into a soul if you were well-prepared, or you could skirt between desert, ocean, and river excursions. Theres plenty of history and culture surrounding every settlement, too, providing for a well-rounded adventure experience that delves deep into a very unique blend of environments. With more than 63 national parks, bushwalking is the number-one activity, followed closely by four-wheel-drive adventures. The entire state is edged by the ocean, with magnificent reefs around the center, so diving and snorkeling, boating, windsurfing, and other watersports are all possibilities. Historic cultural excursions take place in the center and the far north Aboriginal lands, while modern encounters might have you wine-tasting through the southwest Margaret River vineyards. You can cycle around the coast, rock climb and abseil in the rugged mountains, explore caves in the central region, camel trek in the desert, kayak the southern rivers, dive and snorkel along remote reefs, and surf chic Perth swells or lonely Pacific bays. The possibilities are as endless as the land, for the state is only just being chiseled into a major adventure destination, and its a place where you truly have the chance to trail-blaze, get lost, and discover something entirely new about the world - and your own character within it.
- Hunter Publishing, January 2011
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