Say hello to the Smurfs at Gnomesville
Nobody knows how the first gnome arrived. Was it magic? Or was it the outcast of an owner going through a Pinterest-inspired redecorating phase – retiring her garden gnome and swapping it with a lace-covered mason jar.
Today, there are over 7,000 gnomes living in gnomesville, where they are grouped into different occupations and categories. Broken gnomes wait to be repaired at the Gnomesville hospital while cop-outfitted gnomes stand guard and threaten to throw naughty gnomes into the slammer.
Visiting Gnomesville is free and easy to get to, as it’s just a few kilometers from Bunbury.
Get your passport stamped at the Principality of Hutt River
Australia has always a place welcoming to creatives and eccentrics who enjoy pushing limits and bending rules. One of the most interesting men who has done this is Leonard Casley, who on 21 April 1970 founded the micronation called Principality of Hutt River after a dispute between his farm and the Australian government over wheat quotas. Being 75-square-kilometres large, it is larger than a handful of independent countries. Leonard Casley refers to himself as Prince Leonard and the micronation is now led by his son, Prince Graeme.
At the Principality of Hutt River, you can get your passport stamped, trade with the interesting currency, camp, and swim in the community pool. There are small museums on site and it is an interesting way to break up a road trip from Perth to the northern side of the state.
Hang out with penguins on Penguin Island
About an hour south of Perth is Penguin Island, a sanctuary for fairy penguins, the smallest breed of penguins. On the ferry ride to Penguin Island you’re likely to see sea lions and dolphins swimming alongside the boat, and once arrived, you can learn more about what conservationists are doing to help the local fairy penguin population.
Bird lovers in general will enjoy watching the nesting seagulls, pelicans, and other water birds that use Penguin Island as their own oasis away from predators as well.
Take a selfie with the world’s friendliest animal
Surely, you’ve seen quokka selfies making their way around the internet and into the hearts of everyone who views their cute, round faces.
Quokkas are a small marsupial found only in Western Australia. On Rottnest Island, the quokkas have been accustomed to people and will let you get close enough for a prime picture. Though you can’t feed or pet them, you’ll enjoy spending a day (or three) cycling around Rottnest Island and taking advantage of the white-sand beaches, top snorkeling sites, and variety of accommodation.
Dip your toes in a pink lake
If you’re a fan of whimsical, Dr. Seuss-like settings, you’ll love the pink lakes of Western Australia. Algae in the water causes can cause these lakes to have an opaque pink hue, that is especially bright and obvious in the morning or before sunset on a cloudless day.
The best pink lakes in Western Australia
Lake Hillier: This pink lake is not as accessible as many of the others, as it’s on Middle Island around 130 kilometers from Esperance. If you take a scenic flight over the islands, it’s sure to be a sight you’ll remember for a lifetime.
Pink Lake: Just outside the town of Esperance, this lake ranges from a light purple to bubblegum pink depending on the time of year and weather conditions. You can take pictures at the lookout off Eleven Mile Beach Road.
Hutt Lagoon: Just outside of Kalbarri and in the town of Port Gregory, Hutt Lagoon is an interesting lake that ranges from red to lavender depending on the conditions. It’s an easy lunch stop for caravanners and those going on a classic Western Australian road trip.
Go sandboarding at the Lancelin Sand Dunes
Western Australia doesn’t have snow – but it has sand! Strap on a sandboard, similar to a snowboard with loops to hold your feet in place, and try your hand at sandboarding down the Lancelin Sand Dunes.
The area is extremely popular for 4×4 driving and photographers wanting to photos on a lunar-like landscape. From the top of the highest dunes, you’ll be able to see the ocean, a glimpse of the town, and the surrounding bushland.
Pay tribute to some of the world’s oldest living organisms
Maybe you often think to yourself, “Hey, I wonder what the earth looked like 3.5 billion years ago…”
Wonder no more at Hamelin Pool, home to the stromatolites. Stromatolites are some of the world’s oldest living organisms – often referred to as living fossils – that offer a great representation of what the world could have looked like billions of years ago. Though you can’t see it with the naked eye, each square centimeter of a stromatolite has a similar amount of biodiversity as an entire rainforest. There are only a handful of places in the world where these organisms still exist.
It is the combination of high salinity, sunshine, and lack of disturbance at Hamelin Pool that allows them to stay alive for as long as they have.
Visit the stromatolites by driving thirty minutes from Denham, Western Australia.
Visit a replica of Stonehenge
Replicas rarely have the je na sais quoi that the original provides, but the recreation of Stonehenge in Esperance, Western Australia is impressive. The 137 stones used to recreate how Stonehenge would have looked in 1950 BC were mined from a local quarry.
While you cannot walk through or touch the original Stonehenge in the U.K., the owners of the replica Stonehenge encourage visitors to walk around even feel the rocks that create the structure. Kangaroos love bouncing through the area – which surprisingly only adds to the novelty.
If you’re lucky, you might even get a chance to meet the owners of this Stonehenge, who are passionate about explaining the history of Stonehenge and the logistics of creating the replica.
Cost: $10 per adult.
Admire the beauty of Wave Rock
Wave Rock in Hyden has been a significant site for humanity since Aboriginal Australians first stepped foot there. The rock is thought to be over 20 million years old and stands 15 meters high, with a shape that resembles a wave about to break.
The best way to experience the region surrounding Wave Rock is to go on a cultural tour, where you can view Aboriginal art paintings in nearby caves and learn about heritage Dreamtime stories. Visit on a weekday during wildflower season for the most beautiful experience.
Take a train along the world’s longest wooden jetty
Busselton Jetty stretches 1.8 kilometers out into the ocean and has a train that takes tourists along from shoreline to sea. Once you reach the end, you can visit the underwater observatory or throw on some snorkeling gear to swim along the pier. The pillars of the Busselton Jetty attract all types of sea life like sea stars, schools of fish, and seaweed. You can walk along the jetty, watch train mermaids perform, go scuba diving, walk underwater with an air-filled helmet, and more. After a day out at sea, enjoy the town of Busselton or cook up a hot meal on the free, local barbeques.
About the author
Chantae Reden // Chantae Was Here
Chantae Reden is a journalist who writes about adventure, politics, extreme sports, and travel. She believes every stranger is a potential friend. You can find more adventure writing on her blog, Chantae Was Here or on The Salt Sirens, her ocean-sports website.