Were you the kid who always jumped on the scariest ride, the one that stopped the big boys in their tracks? Constantly dreaming up new ways to push the boundaries, even today? For an adventure junkie like you, a holiday is all about adding to your epic experiences. Skydiving? Ready when you are. Abseiling down a Kimberley gorge? Bring it on! From 4WDing across the Nullarbor to mountain biking in Perth’s Hills, WA is an adventure lover’s playground.
Ever wished you could fly? Well here’s the next best thing, guaranteed to
get you grinning. Using the same air currents as birds, gliding is an amazing way to experience Western Australia’s spacious blue skies and wide-open landscapes from on high.
Types of gliding
PARAGLIDING The pilot sits in a harness, suspended below a lightweight, free-flying, fabric wing. This one is great for beginners, who can fly tandem with an experienced practitioner.
HANG-GLIDING A hang-glider is a V-shaped aluminum frame inside a fabric wing. Movement through the air is controlled by shifting weight, and flight times are usually longer than paragliding.
GLIDING An ultra-lite, unpowered plane that uses natural currents of uprising air.
Where to fly
Wherever you wish to fly, the Hang Gliding Association of WA (HGAWA), can help you get in touch with hang-gliders across the state.
SOUTH WEST Albany’s coast is a paradise for gliders. Contact the Albany Hang Gliding and Paragliding Club, or the WA Paragliding Academy in Albany, which offers lessons and tandem flights.
CORAL COAST Hill-launch sites in the Chapman Valley are popular, but contact the HGAWA for site requirements before you launch. Exmouth is also great for hang-gliding, with tandem flights available via Birds Eye View Ningaloo.
PERTH SURROUNDS Coastal locations are a winner, but contact Western Soarers and Cloudbase Paragliding Club to check regulations first.
OUTBACK Mt Bakewell, overlooking York, is a premier destination for gliding, but make sure you contact the HGAWA to ensure you use the appropriate linking road. Contacts in the region include the Beverley Soaring Society, the Gliding Club of Western Australia in Cunderdin, Narrogin Gliding Club, Hill Flyers Club WA, and Goldfields Dust Devils.
If you want to experience the thrill of flying without extensive training, the Gliding Club of Western Australia offers 30-minute joy flights in two-seater gliders out of Cunderdin Airfield. The pilot is with you the whole time, and will even let you take the controls mid-flight. Prices start at $160.
ROCK CLIMBING & ABSEILING
Nothing tests your mettle like climbing up a mountain or abseiling down a cliff. There are more than 50 national parks in WA, so there are plenty of climbs to conquer, incredible views your reward.
1 Birds Cave, Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park
2 Bob’s Hollow, Margaret River
3 Wallcliffe, Margaret River
4 Wilyabrup sea cliffs, Margaret River
5 Hawks Head, Kalbarri National Park
6 Z-Bend Gorge, Kalbarri National Park
7 Hancock Gorge, Karijini National Park
8 West Cape Howe, Albany
9 Bluff Knoll, Stirling Range
10 Peak Charles, northwest of Esperance
Best for beginners
Mountain Quarry, Greenmount. Stathams Quarry, Gooseberry Hill. Churchman Brook, east of Armadale. Granite Skywalk, Porongurup National Park.
Where to learn
Adventure Out (08) 9472 3919, adventureout.com.au
Outdoor Discoveries (08) 9757 72821, outdoordiscoveries.com.au
Shaw HoriZons/WA Roping School 0427 008 384,
Margaret River Climbing Co 0415 970 522, margaretriverclimbingco.com.au
Imagine picking the leaves off treetops while floating through the sky. It may sound too good to be true, but it can be experienced with a hot-air balloon ride in the picturesque Avon Valley, east of Perth. At Windward Balloon Adventures you’ll start the morning with a cup of coffee and briefing, then climb aboard the balloon for a 45-minute to one-hour flight. Once you land you will be taken to a venue for a champagne breakfast. Yum! The ride is open to anyone over the age of eight, who’s able to climb into the basket. Most flights reach up to 2000 feet above sea level, providing passengers with 360-degree views of the horizon. The season runs from April to November, at dawn. Contact Windward Balloon Adventures
(08) 9621 2000 ballooning.net.au.
GOLD FOSSICKING & PROSPECTING
WA is a land of booms, the first and most famous being the 1890s gold rush. These days, most of the mines in WA’s Golden Outback are run by corporations, but that doesn’t mean you have to give up all hope of discovering that mythical nugget for yourself. The best way to learn about prospecting is to join a club.
What you’ll need A Miner’s Right, necessary licences, paperwork and written permissions from landowners, a communication device, GPS and personal locator beacon, topographical and geological maps, orientation and navigation skills, a metal detector (these can be hired at reedsprospecting.com.au) and enough food, water and first-aid supplies for your mission. For info on regulations, visit dmp.wa.gov.au.
The creme de la creme of adrenalin-pumping activities, skydiving is not for the faint-hearted. They call it diving for a reason – being up that high and freefalling through space sucks the wind out of you, but as soon as the chute opens you can breathe easily and take in views, not just all around, but below and above. You’re at the centre! If you have ever thought about it, why not take your leap of faith in WA? The views from 14,000ft are breathtaking.
WA Skydiving Academy 1300 137 855, waskydiving.com.au
Skydive the Beach and Beyond 1300 663 634, skydive.com.au
Southern Skydivers 1300 449 669, southernskydivers.com.au
Hillman Farm Skydivers (08) 9736 1386, hillmanfarm.myclub.org.au
Kambalda Skysports 0419 853 193
Skydive Jurien Bay 1300 293 766, skydivejurienbay.com
Skydive Kalbarri 0400 355 730, skydivekalbarri.com
While there’s no snow in WA, the wide-open beaches and sloping sand dunes of the Coral Coast offer the perfect spots to tear down a slope.
Kalbarri Sandboarding offers half-day 4WD adventures riding the dunes, followed by a swim and snorkel with tropical fish and coral at Lucky Bay lagoon. sandboardingaustralia.com.au.
Near the famous Pinnacles are the largest sand dunes in the state – around two kilometres of nothing but mountains of pure white sand. It’s the perfect spot for sandboarding, plus a spectacular sight at sunrise or sunset. Sandboards are available for hire from Have a Chat General Store in Lancelin.
QUAD BIKE TOURS
Unleash the ‘little terror’ inside you, and rev up a storm. Western Australia offers all manner of quad-biking fun.
Very popular guided quad bike tours are run by Kalbarri Quadbike Safaris, through the bush and along gorgeous Wagoe Beach. (08) 9937 1011, kalbarriquadsafaris.com.au. Coral Bay Quad Treks offer options that include snorkelling on Ningaloo Reef and trips to see the turtles. coralbay.org/quadtrek.htm.
Bodybuilders and gym owners Tom Long and Astrid Kernen also run Bremer Bay Quad Bike Tours, guiding adventure trips through the bush and over the huge dunes down to stunning Dillon Beach. It’s pure fun and exhilaration, carving tracks into the sand as waves peel onto the shore. You might spot a kangaroo or emus in the bush on the return drive. Bremer Bay Quad Bike Tours on Facebook.
West Moto Park in the Wheatbelt town of Wyalkatchem, two hours northeast of Perth, offers the ultimate off-road adventure experience, whether it’s for serious MX riders or novices, on six motocross-styled tracks or on the 10km Enduro Trail. Just hire a bike or quad, and take off. westmoto.com.au.
Recreational shooting is great fun – there’s nothing like the satisfaction of hitting the bullseye while your companion can barely tag the target’s outer circle! Contact one of these clubs or associations for locations.
Experienced, licensed shooters can participate in hunting at approved sites in WA, to assist with feral animal control. Head to westernhunting.com.au to find out WA locations.
Whiteman Park International Pistol Club whitemanparkinternationalpistolclub.com
Lone Ranges Shooting Complex lrsc.net.aa
Perth Field Rifle Club pfrc.com.au
Perth Metro Field & Game Association pmfg.org.au
Pine Valley Pistol Club pvpc.asn.au
The West Australian Clay Target Association wacta.net
West Australian Gun Club wagunclub.com.au
West Australian Rifle Association wara.asn.au
West Australian Shooting Association washooting.org.au
West Australian Pistol Association wapa.asn.au
When planning a mountain-biking adventure, it’s hard to go past a trip down south. More and more tracks are being developed in this beautiful region of forests, wineries, mountains and rugged coastline, to suit all levels of ability. You’ll also find plenty of events for adventurous trailblazers in our events feature (p23) and regional guides (starting p142).
Munda Biddi Trail A 1000km track through untouched forests and bush land, with sections suited to all abilities. The trail is easily accessible by car, so you can begin your journey at any point.
10 Mile Brook Trail Starting on the northern edge of Margaret River, this 15km return trail follows the meandering river to the 10 Mile Brook Dam with some wonderful views. Suited to all abilities.
Albany Downhill Mountain Bike Trail Beach lovers, this one’s for you.
Coastal views surrounding the track make it a scenic route, with drops, jumps and wood berms.
South Shore, Dwellingup This track offers experienced bikers an exhilarating ride, with plenty of obstacles. To start with, hit the Uptrack, complete with a seesaw, before attempting the more challenging Snakes and Ladders trail. Riders of all abilities can enjoy the log park and connecting trail.
Margaret River Pines This series of trails stretches across 15km, challenging riders with jumps and berms. There are also smoother tracks for beginners.
PERTH AND SURROUNDS
Kalamunda Railway Reserves Heritage Trail This track forms a unique 41km loop of the Darling Range and John Forrest National Park railway formations. There are different sections, challenges and lengths to
suit all abilities.
Lake Leschenaultia Family-friendly, this 5km Chidlow loop takes one to three hours to complete. It has a few small hills, making it ideal for beginners.
Goat Farm Mountain Bike Park This track offers it all: cross-country, downhill riding, four-cross, and a great bike park to hone your skills. It’s just 4km from Midland train station, making it the closest mountain bike track to the city.
Mountain bike hire
Bike Shed Dunsborough (08) 9759 1495, bikesheddunsborough.com.au
About Bike Hire, Perth (08) 9221 2665, aboutbikehire.com.au
Margaret River Cycles & Repairs (08) 9758 7671, search Facebook
Gecko Bike Hire, various locations geckobikehire.com.au
Dunsborough Bike Hire 0413 045 520, dunsboroughbikehire.com.au
Two billion years in the making, Western Australia’s outback is home to some of the world’s most magnificent caves, begging to be explored. From easily explored show caves to hardhats-essential adventures, the best caving sites are within the national parks.
LEEUWIN-NATURALISTE NATIONAL PARK
The Leeuwin-Naturaliste Ridge is dotted with more than 150 limestone caves. Eight are open to the public, including Ngilgi, Lake, Mammoth, Jewel and Moondyne caves. Journey into an ancient underworld and see spectacular limestone and crystal formations more than 350,000 years old – there are guided or self-guided tours. Feeling adventurous? Take a journey by torchlight to explore deeper, hidden pathways.
Perth & surrounds
CRYSTAL CAVE, YANCHEP NATIONAL PARK
Just under an hour’s drive north of Perth is an underground wonderland. Explore picturesque lakes and see cave decorations such as stalactites, stalagmites, helictites, flowstones, columns and shawls.
TUNNEL CREEK NATIONAL PARK
Pack your torch and enter the oldest cave system in Western Australia. You can venture as far as 750m into Tunnel Creek’s darkest depths, encountering bats and freshwater crocs along the way. For more details, visit parks.dpaw.wa.gov.au.
Western Australia boasts some of the world’s finest 4WD tracks that wind through stunning outback scenery travellers can only experience off-road.
Close to home
MUNDARING POWERLINES (24km) Popular with experienced drivers
only. Follows a powerline in Sawyers Valley, with many obstacles on the way. It will take on average five to six hours to complete.
WILBINGA Located 70km north of Perth, between Two Rocks and Guilderton, this is the closest beach-and-dune spot for 4WDing, and is great for beginners. Bring your bathers!
CAPTAIN FAWCETT TRACK (105km) Located in Dwellingup, this track is of moderate difficulty in dry weather. There are camping spots by the river.
HARVEY DAM Just 136km from Perth, Harvey Dam is great fun in winter. The terrain constantly changes, making it a challenging track for experienced drivers.
Lancelin The dunes are open 8am-7pm daily. Make sure you read the signs and take precautions.
BRUNSWICK 4X4 CHALLENGE TRACK (21km) Only suited to experienced drivers. There are plenty of difficult sections, including three river crossings and two very steep hills.
SEABIRD TO GUILDERTON (10km) This one is great for beginners all
year round. The track is just 100km north of Perth.
GIBB RIVER ROAD (700km) This beauty slices through the vast northern landscapes, from Derby’s King Sound to Wyndham’s Cambridge Gulf. Pass by boab trees, rocky escarpments, plunging gorges – including the Windjana Gorge – and the King Leopold and Cockburn ranges. Go between May and October.
KINGSFORD SMITH MAIL RUN (800km) Want to get a real feel for the WA outback and its history? This track is great for beginners, taking you inland from Carnarvon to Meekatharra.
CANNING STOCK ROUTE (1900km) The Canning Stock Route runs from Halls Creek in the Kimberley to Wiluna in the Goldfields. Experienced drivers who have tackled it describe it as a never-ending expanse of acacia-fringed dirt. You’ll pass only the Kunawarritji community, so considerable planning and expert skills are required. For more info, go to canningstockroute.net.au.
CAPE LEVEQUE ROAD (206km) There’s one road in and one road out on this track to King Sound and the Buccaneer Archipelago. It’s a mix of deep sand and jarring corrugations, and should take about three hours. Go between May and September.
CAPE ARID NATIONAL PARK (unlimited kilometres) Navigating skills are
a must for this vast 280,000ha expanse. Choose your track wisely and stick to it, because it’s easy to get lost. On the way, you’ll pass Mount Ragged, Seal Creek and Poison Creek. You can also venture out to Israelite Bay, where you can spy the cliffs that signify the start of the Great Australian Bight. Hit the Cape from October to April.
ANNE BEADELL HIGHWAY (1350km) If crossing the Nullarbor via Eyre Highway sounds too easy, this one’s for you. Striking out from Laverton, the rarely used, narrow, twisty and sandy ‘highway’ is a serious slog across the Great Victoria Desert. You’ll pass former atomic bomb test sites at Woomera and Maralinda, rabbit- and dog-fences, Aboriginal rock art, and
a biosphere reserve. Be prepared!
WARLU WAY TRAIL (2480km) This track features serious eye candy for nature junkies. You’ll weave through the Gascoyne, Pilbara and Kimberley regions, with sights along the way including Ningaloo Reef, Karijini National Park, and Eighty Mile Beach, as well as Cossack, Roebourne and Marble Bar. The 95 per cent graded road means you can stick to the track with a high clearance 2WD, but the opportunities for off-road exploration are endless with 4WD.
YEAGARUP DUNES (6km) Located on the edge of a forest in D’Entrecasteaux National Park, this impressive, land-locked mobile dune system is 10km long. Make sure you reduce your tyre pressure before taking to the sand (and adjust it back afterwards). Take care, the slopes can be intimidating.
THE WOODLINES A group of 4WD tracks throughout the Goldfields, where remnants can be found of the light railways, originally created for timber transportation to mining communities. Access is via moderately difficult tracks branching off Eyre Highway, out of Norseman.
LEONORA LOOP (665km) This track explores remote station country across vast, inhospitable land that was sieved for gold more than 100 years ago. The loop is split into two sections that can be done separately or as one, ideally in a clockwise direction. Local history buffs can rev their engines along the Agnew Loop, a 300km day drive that reveals the struggles of those hunting for nuggets. Aim to go between April and October.
Goldfields driving trails
Jane Pelusey, author of the Western Australia 4WD Top 50 Atlas, gives us her
tips for touring the red dirt roads.
I have a soft spot for the Goldfields. The lure of gold enticed my great-grandfather and his brother to leave England in search of their fortune. With many other men, they arrived in Albany by steamship, caught the train to Broomehill and walked the 731km to Coolgardie, and on to Kalgoorlie. Those men had walked the Holland Track, which was reopened to 4WDers in the 1990s. The remote off-road track leaves Hyden, following in the footsteps of John Holland and his team and the thousands of prospectors with gold fever. You must be self-sufficient for this one.
GOLDEN PIPELINE HERITAGE TRAIL
Water, or lack thereof, was the greatest single problem faced by goldminers in the 1890s. It was C.Y. O’Connor who surmounted the great engineering challenge of getting water to Kalgoorlie. He planned a 600km pipeline from Mundaring Weir in the Darling Ranges, helped along by a series of pump stations. Facing massive scepticism about the project, O’Connor committed suicide at South Beach in Fremantle. Ten months later, the water arrived in Kalgoorlie, heralding the success of the project – still the world’s longest water pipeline to this day. The pipeline trail follows the heritage locations along the way.
GOLDEN QUEST DISCOVERY TRAIL
Get a feel for how hard the pioneer prospectors had it. This fascinating 965km loop trail takes you to ruined townships that were wealthy, busy hubs in their heyday. Take a good guidebook on this one.
GRANITE AND WOODLANDS DISCOVERY TRAIL
This alternative route to the Great Eastern Highway joins Norseman and Hyden by good gravel road through the untouched Great Western Woodlands. Along the way there is a series of colourful granite and limestone outcrops. The Breakaways are a lovely spot to camp and watch the sun rise.
THE OUTBACK WAY
Known as Australia’s longest short cut, this is an alternative route to Queensland from Kalgoorlie. The section from Laverton to Uluru and Kata Tjuta is a classic off-road adventure across red-sand dunes, best done in a well-equipped 4WD.
The best way to explore the Goldfields is in an SUV (2WDs can be used with care). Information on trails is available from the Kalgoorlie Visitor Centre.
EXPLORING THE NULLARBOR
Crossing the Nullarbor has been described as a trip of a lifetime that everyone should experience once. Instead of booking a flight for your next holiday over east, add a few more weeks onto your journey to experience rural WA at its best.
The Nullarbor will take at least two to three days of driving, but it’s best to spread this out over a week to see the sites and avoid fatigue. These days you don’t need a 4WD to make the trip – a family car will do just fine along Eyre Highway, provided it has good tyres.
WHEN TO GO This is desert country and temperatures are extreme, so it’s best to travel in winter when its not too hot. Make sure you rug up at night though – it can get chilly.
ATTRACTIONS Remote railway outposts; the scenic granite hills of Fraser Range; Mt Pleasant peak; Afghan Rocks; Ninety Mile Straight (the world’s second-largest straight stretch of road); Caiguna blowhole; Nuytsland Nature Reserve, with its small caves and collapsed caverns; Dead Dog Cave, where
a mummified Tasmanian Tiger was found; Cocklebiddy Cave; Eyre Bird Observatory; Eucla National Park; the old telegraph station in Eucla; Bunda Cliffs; Australia’s longest golf course; the Great Australian Bight.
ACCOMMODATION You can sleep overnight in roadhouses or campsites.
ANIMALS YOU'LL SPOT Kangaroos, cattle, whales, birds, emus, camels and wombats.
TIPS Keep your eyes peeled during the low-visibility hours of dawn and dusk. Select petrol stops wisely, and stock up on plenty of water and food. Ensure your car is serviced, don’t bring fruit or veg past Border Village, and watch out for road kill. Take a break every two hours. In the event of a breakdown, stay with your car.
Day 1 Perth to Balladonia
Day 2 Balladonia to Caiguna
Day 3 Caiguna to Madura
Day 4 Madura to WA/SA Border Village
Day 5 Border Village to Nullarbor Roadhouse
Day 6 Nullarbor Roadhouse to Ceduna (from here, Adelaide is 800km)
- The Nullarbor is the largest piece of limestone in the world.
- There are up to 100,000 wild camels in the desert, abandoned there after being used in building the railroads.
- When you drive through Kimba you are halfway across Australia.
- Its name comes from the Latin ‘Nullus’ and ‘Arbor’, which means ‘no trees’.
- The ABC offers audio downloads about the Nullarbor towns. Go to abc.net.au/eyre/nullarbor/?section=audio