Photo Credit Australia.com/Jayegirl99@flickr.comWhen you think about luxury travel, you may not think about Gondwanaland, Australia. However, it may quickly become one of the best family vacation ideas as this Western Australian region is one of the most gorgeous destinations on the planet. Gondwanaland refers to one of the hypothetical super continents that existed millions of years ago. Gondwanaland included parts of many continents including sections of Australia, Madagascar, South America, Antarctica, Arabia and India. Today Gondwanaland regions are marked by a rich common bio-history that is still evident especially in regions where Gondwanaland continents were originally joined. The Western Coast of Australia is one of these regions.
Like the Galapagos Islands or Alaska, traveling to Western Australia isn’t for everyone. Travel often requires the best luxury airlines or renting a private jet charter to make the massive distances manageable. Like the Galapagos Islands and Alaska, Western Australia is filled with amazing living treasures. This is considered the final frontier in a continent that is one of the wildest on the planet. Here is a look at just a few of the amazing things to be found in Western Australia.
All treks into Western Australia usually begin in Perth. Perth is the capital of Western Australia and the major population center in the region. Built around mining and gold during the 1890’s, Perth saw a renewed “gold rush” during the 1980’s that ended in a sordid tale of banking corruption and scandal. Despite this, the strength of mining and a burgeoning tech industry have made present-day Perth and her businessmen powerful and rich. Perth has some amazing restaurants and hotels as a result of this prosperity. Close to Perth is the charming coastal city of Fremantle. The host of the 1987 World Cup, Fremantle is as quaint as Perth is modern. The Roadhouse, Western Australia’s oldest building (dating back from the 1830's) is located here.
Close to Perth, and accessible by ferry or plane, is Rottnest Island and Penguin Island. Penguin Island has a colony of over 1,000 warm water penguins. Rottnest is a recreational island free of car traffic, however it does offer golf, tennis, and diving on one of the best reefs in Australia. There are only two places to stay on Rottnest, The Rottnest Hotel and the Rottnest Lodge. The Rottnest Hotel has recently undergone a major renovation; it was originally the residence of the state governor. Make reservations well in advance to stay on the island.
Australian Wine Anyone?
The best wines in Australia can be found in the countryside outside of Perth. This is where the cultured and estate wines that win the worldwide awards are grown. These are distinctly different from the industrial wines grown on the Eastern Coast of Australia. Just outside of Perth is the Swan Valley wine road; just think 25 miles of eating and drinking. A driver is a good addition for an afternoon of swooning in the Swan.
To the southwest amazing forests can be found. At Koombana Beach (about 110 miles south of Perth) there is a dolphin discovery center that revolves around a wild colony of dolphins. Further south still are Cape Leeuwin and Cape Naturalist and the famous Margaret River Valley (about 200 miles south of Perth but an easy flight in a private jet). It is here that vines for Xanadu, Leeuwin and Moss Wood are grown. Excellent local cheeses are available to be paired with the wines.
Further south and east past the wines of the Margaret River Valley are the largest Australian hardwoods found in the Tingle Forest. To the east are the steep cliffs of Stirling Range National Park and the whale filled waters of King George Sound off of Albany. This entire area is also known for wildflower viewing and whale watching.
Inland in Western Australia
The heart of Western Australia is filled with grain in Merridin, The famous Wave Rock near Hyden and the gold minefields that stretch out in all directions from Kalgoorie. There are even a few ghost towns to visit.
North of Perth
To the north of Perth are some of Australia’s most stunning natural wonders. The Nambung National Park has many things to see including the Pinnacles. These natural limestone outcroppings challenge Aires’s Rock for the reputation as Australia’s eeriest spot.
Off the coast near Geraldton are the Abrolhos Islands. The Abrolhos have both excellent reef and wreck diving. Many of the wrecks on display in Sydney and Perth were actually excavated from Abrolhos. Continued delights are found further north in Shark Bay and Monkey Mia. Monkey Mia is a section of Shark Bay that is designated as a World Heritage Site. Monkey Mia includes many unique species that have developed in the highly salty and isolated water. Some of the species are millions of years old and shed light on the prehistoric world of Gondwanaland. Shark Bay is also known for the opportunity to interact with schools of wild dolphins. Further north is Ningaloo Reef, one of the best-preserved natural reefs on the planet. Ningaloo is one of the only places on earth where it is possible to regularly swim with the largest fish in the sea, the whale shark.
The national forests to the north are as interesting as they are breathtaking and numerous. The Kalbarri National Park is the best known and most visited. Tours are available in this sizable park to make hiking and viewing its wonders more manageable. Karijini National Park, filled with towering cliffs and freshwater gorges, is another entirely different experience. Breathtaking rock faces beckon rock climbers and hikers from all over the world. Finally to the very far north in Western Australia is the Kimberley. It is here that the strongest aboriginal cultures of Australia cam be found. In many parts of Kimberley the outside world is only accessible by a private jet charter. The area is so remote that the government of Australia has invested millions of dollars to bring a National Broadband Network to the area in order to increase education and communication in this remote region. The Buccaneer Archipelago tops off Western Australia with a maze of red rock cliffs, islands and pristine beaches.
Seeing Western Australia takes both time and money. In many ways this, rather than the much more famous Eastern Coast, is really where the best of Australia can be found. Luxury is, after all, about access to fine and rare things and Western Australia’s Gondwanaland has both in abundance.
For more information about visiting this amazing destination visit Australia.com.