If you’re planning a visit to Australia, I highly recommend spending 3 weeks backpacking Western Australia! This guide will show you what to do and where to go.
Western Australia is by far the most snubbed state in the country as a hotspot for backpackers to see the true Australian landscape and culture. Although W.A. has the best beaches, coral reef and outback towns in Oz, it can be a lot more expensive to travel than its eastern counterparts. This 3 week backpackers guide will help you budget your way across the Western Coast, see and explore the gems of the region and of course- meet some kangaroos!
Valuable information about Western Australia to know before arrival:
Currency: Australian Dollar
Capitol: Perth (starting point of this journey) Language: English
Visas: You MUST have a valid visa BEFORE entering Australia unless you are from Australia. You cannot get one at the airport! Australian Visas can get very messy if you have not declared all information necessary to apply.
- For visitors: You’ll need an ETA (Electronic Travel Authority) visa which is good for one year but you can only stay 90 days at a time. The visa is cheap at $20 and you can apply on the government website or faster and easier (for the same price) on iVisa. You need to show an outgoing flight.
- For working visas: This is where things get tough. The Australian Government requires all foreigners to do farm work before receiving acceptance into the professional working visa status, so unless you are willing to shovel chicken poo or pick apples, you might not want to take the risk.
- Depending on age, income, profession, prior medical and residency status (along with other things) the visa system varies, so it is best to get a consultant or read through here:
Customs: Before entering Australia you will be searched thoroughly by customs (bags pulled apart, clothes sorted through, even body searches!). As one of the world’s most isolated countries, our wildlife is very susceptible to bugs and infections. Therefore, no food, plant and animal products, including fur, wood and nuts- MUST be declared.
3 Week Guide to Backpacking Western Australia
Transport in Western Australia
The best way to see as much is possible is to rent a car. You can rent a car, or for longer trips of 3 months + it can be more cost effective to buy a used car from a private dealer or listing site, as you can sell the car on once you’re done. You will be able to get to these destinations, plus take the hidden driving tracks to secluded beaches, all on your own time. For those who cannot drive in Australia, I would suggest car-share or group tour. There are very few reliable bus services, no trains and no consistent modes of transport aside from driving. Why? Because over 75% of the population live in Perth itself, there is a LOT of wide open space and very few permanent residents in the North!
- Average Costs: Full tank of petrol, $60 AUD, budget about 1 tank a day petrol + car rental costs
There are hostels in Australia which are popular and a great way to meet people. Use Hostelworld to book and get low rates.
Also check out this road trip packing list before you go.
Perth / Fremantle
Suggested stay: 4-5 Days
The capitol city of Perth may be the most isolated in the world, but is very modern and entertaining. The lively city district and neighbourhood of Northbridge is perfect for party animals, whilst the coastal suburbs of Scarborough and Cottesloe are a beach bum paradise. Head into Fremantle for the hipsters land of markets and the best dining in town. Got an extra day? You simply MUST head over to Rottnest Island- get a quokka selfie or bike to secluded bays.
Where to stay in Perth?
- Cottesloe Ocean Beach
- Fremantle Pirates Backpackers
- Rottnest Authority
Suggested stay: 3 Days
Whether it be hiking through the Kalbarri National Park and admiring Nature’s window or stopping by the beach for a cool-down- this is a perfect way to start your outback experience. Kalbarri is a great place for adrenaline junkies, with abseiling, skydiving and rock climbing all popular activities.
Where to stay in Kalbarri?
- Kalbarri Backpackers
Suggested stay: 1 Day
Dolphins at your feet, literally! Monkey Mia Dolphin sanctuary is heritage listed and protected, with the local pod coming into play every day. Listen to the guide’s stories about the majestic bottlenose,
or relax on the white sandy beaches. A great one night or even day-trip stopover, however there is not much else to see and do.
Where to stay in Monkey Mia?
- Monkey Mia Backpackers
Suggested stay: 1 Day
During the long, hot drive north, you will need to take a stop for one night to refuel and relax. Carnarvon is a great little town with bopping night life and you can eat your weight in delicious bananas- all locally grown!
Where to stay in Carnarvon?
- Carnarvon Backpackers Inn
Suggested stay: 3-4 Days
My personal favourite place in all of Western Australia- Coral bay is the gem of the coast. The Ningaloo Reef, one of the most colourful and animated reefs in the world, begins here and it is a sight that must be seen. Parrot fish, manta-rays, turtles and dolphins just meters from the shore and the coolest laid back beach town around. The locals are super friendly, with hundreds of backpackers in town every day of the year. It is never cold, it is never boring and there are hundreds of adventures waiting for you.
Suggested stay: 3 Days
A little further north, this is the prime region of the Ningaloo to snorkel and surf. Exmouth is one of the larger towns of the north and well supplied, so a great stop to have. The beaches here are picture-perfect, with hundreds of kilometres of white sand for you to just chill out. Heaven!
Where to stay in Ningaloo?
- Excape/YHA Exmouth
Suggested stay: 4-5 Days
The most northern township in W.A, Broome is fast becoming a tourism hub. With big names including Oprah and Ellen DeGeneres choosing Broome’s Cable Beach to vacay, it is a bucket list item for most in Australia. Think crocodiles, camels and sharks- but in the safety of a palm tree lined paradise!
Where to stay in Broome?
- Beaches of Broome
So there you have it, 3 weeks in Western Australia and you will cover the beaches, the outback, the reef and get a lot of sunshine! Getting home? Broome has an international airport that is well connected to other Australian cities. If you still want to do the whole country in the same time, try this 3 week itinerary for Australia.
Rachel Pedreschi, owner of Global Roaming is an Australian adventurist with her sights set on big adventures. A savvy traveller and writer with passion beyond compare, Rachel loves to share insightful and inspiring articles to her readers. You can find her at www.globalroamingblog.com, follow her Instagram or stay up to date on her Facebook and Twitter.