Although international travel is well and truly up and running after Covid’s 2020 – 2022 peak, it turns out that us West Aussies don’t have to travel far to see some stunning scenery. But with such a vast landmass, where does one start?
Well Mitsubishi Motors Australia’s recently carried out a mammoth study, Secret Road Trip Hotspots that analysed over 38,000 Trip Advisor attractions to reveal a final list of 141 nature-based spots in Australia. And they’ve revealed the best places to visit to avoid the crowds and inspire different road trip and destination planning.
As for Western Australia, the final top ten locations that made it to the list are the most highly rated, yet least searched for locus, ensuring that you avoid typically overcrowded tourist attractions to experience the most beautiful, and more untouched parts of the country.
Whether you are an Aussie looking to plan an interstate trip, or if you are set to explore Down Under for the first time, then there’s nothing quite like taking the road less travelled. From day trips to longer breaks with breathtaking beaches, hiking trails, and wondrous waterholes, check out the ten spots which highlight Western Australia’s hidden gems.
1. Mammoth Cave, Boranup
Located 21 kilometres south of the beloved wine region and town of Margaret River, Mammoth Cave in Boranup made it to the Top 20 Secret Road Trip Hotspots in Australia, coming in at number six. The gigantic limestone cave is one to be marveled, with its array of formations including stalactites, stalagmites and large columns, as well as a stream that flows through it in winter.
In addition to the awe-inspired natural wonders of Mammoth Cave, it also houses ancient fossil remains of Australian Megafauna – that being really dang big animals which once ruled the south before their demise around 46,000 years ago. A stroll along the boardwalks and platforms will guide you to a gigantic jawbone of an extinct marsupial, Zygomaturus which is embedded in the wall of the cave to this day!
The surrounding Mammoth Cave National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and International Biosphere Reserve too, with spectacular green forestry that’s home to a rich diversity of plants and animals alike, including glorious wildflowers during spring.
2. Jewel Cave, Augusta
Turns out West Aussies and travellers from beyond love a good cave, with Jewel Cave in Augusta, located 43 kilometres south of Margs (Margaret River) topping the charts too. Jewel Cave is the largest cave on show in Western Australia, and encapsulates three humongous chambers of deep, dark beauty; all crystal encrusted, for that matter.
Here, you’ll have the pleasure of gazing up on heaps of delicate helectites, cave coral, pendulites, a very large stalagmite called The Karri Forest, and sensational displays of flowstone such as The Frozen Waterfall and The Organ-Pipes.
Again, fossils are no stranger to Jewel Cave, and you can bear witness to fossilised remains of several Tasmanian Tigers (Thylacines) that have been marvelously preserved for more than 3,000 years after the mysterious marsupial became extinct on mainland ‘Stralia.
3. Emma Gorge, Kununarra
If the tip top of Western Australia is on your bucket list, then don’t sleep on Emma Gorge in north-western Kununarra. Located in the El Questro Wilderness Park, Emma Gorge lies at the end of a hike and a half, but well worth the physical exertion for the ‘gorge’ous result.
After the one-hour walk over rocks and what not, you’ll be rewarded with a glorious oasis and a 65-metre droplet waterfall, encircled by red cliff faces and decorated with lush, dessert greenery. The peaceful gorge offers a relaxing ambiance and a shady refuge by the waterhole’s edge, as well as a spot to cool down and refresh in the deep natural pool. But if cooling down doesn’t tickle your fancy, Emma Gorge is also known for its small thermal spring.
4. Lake Cave, Boranup
Caves are pretty cool, we guess? Lave Cave is again located near world-renowned Margaret River in Western Australia’s south, and is truly a stunner. The crystal adorned cave lies beyond a spectacular sinkhole, where eye-catching crystal formations line Lake Cave’s roof, such as the Suspended Table which is superbly reflected in the serene water below. This particular cave is the most actively dripping and deepest on the caves on show in the south-west, so rest assured each hollow offers a different visual experience.
5. Ngilgi Cave, Yallingup
Okay, if you’re not a huge fan of caves, you’ll be pleased to know that this is the last on Mitsubishi’s Secret Road Trip Hotspots list. Yallingup is situated southward of Perth, adjacent to the Dunsborough township. Wineries and cellar doors are scattered around the area, as well as splendid beaches, and Ngilgi Cave is located right off of the coast line, a 5-minute drive from Yallingup Beach, to be exact.
Ngilgi Cave was Western Australia’s first ever tourist attraction, and offers a plethora of stalactites, stalagmites, helictites, and vibrant shawls. A red layer of paleosol soil lines the cave, and a natural amphitheatre awaits within. Ngilgi Cave sits at a constant temperature of 20°C, so the cave offers either a refuge from the summer’s heat or the winter’s breeze.
6.Yardie Creek, Exmouth
Sitting within Western Australia’s top third in Cape Range National Park, Yardie Creek could be worth a detour if you’re visiting neighbouring tourist hotspot, Ningaloo. Yardie Creek isn’t just a creek however, it’s a whole entire gorge with a permanent water source that flows between marvellous cliff faces. Tamarisk trees offer a shaded spot to park up for a picnic while overlooking the glorious gorge’s vertical red rock walls too.
The moderate Yardie Nature Walk also offers fabulous vantage points of the gorge, as well as the creek mouth and Ningaloo Reef. While those up for something a little more adventurous can join a boat tour or continue up the Nature Walk on the Class 4 Yardie Gorge Trail. Keep a weathered eye for the endangered fauna too, like the black-flanked rock wallaby, ospreys, and other crettins that inhabit Yardie Creek.
7. Frenchman Peak, Esperance
Located an eight-hour drive south-east of Perth and 45 minutes from the Esperance township, Frenchman Peak is a feature of Cape Le Grand National Park. The peak rises 242 metres above sea level and the granite dome has survived weathering and erosion; not the mention the spacious cave near the summit which is said to have formed by wave action and underwater currents some 40 million years ago when sea levels were at least 300 metres above today’s beachy bays. From the cave, enjoy sweeping views over the bright blue waters of Lucky Bay and Esperance.
8. Eagle Bluff, Denham
Eagle Bluff can be found just a 20-minute drive out of Denham in Western Australia’s Shark Bay World Heritage area, about 870 kilometres north of Perth. Eagle Bluff features a boardwalk trail which extends over the sea’s clear water, and plenty of viewing platforms over the Indian Ocean where you can spot sharks, rays (RIP to our Aussie icon Steve Irwin), turtles, and various sea-life in the shallow waters. The boardwalk lines the spectacular cliffs where you can overlook Denham Sound, and gaze upon dugongs feeding on sea grass meadows during the summer months.
9. Red Bluff, Kalbarri
The coastal town of Kalbarri lies 570 kilometres north of Perth, and at Red Bluff you’ll see staggering views over the Inidan Ocean from 100 metres above sea level. The dramatic rocky cliffs appear as red tears which became stationary in formations which are said to be 400 million years old. The coastal cliff spans 13 kilometres, and it’s the supreme location to witness humpback whales on their annual migration along the Red Bluff and Kalbarri coastline.
10. Carnarvon Blowholes, Carnarvon
As the name suggests, expect to see blowholes, and in more ways than one. Not only is Carnarvon Blowholes another great spot for whale watching, but the rugged coastal terrain semi covers the ocean, creating pockets where huge burst of water shoot into the sky like a whale’s blowhole. The natural phenomenon that is Carnarvon Blowholes also houses a nearby reef and lagoon which is ideal for snorkelling and gazing upon stunning corals and intricate seashells and life. Make sure to stop at the Blowholes-Tuckerbox van while you’re there for some delicious, hot grub while you’re on the go.
The full findings of Mitsubishi Motors Australia’s Secret Road Trip Hotspots study with an interactive map to help planning can be found here. Happy exploring!