7 Must-See Road Trip Destinations for Nature Lovers
Now is the perfect time of year to enjoy Western Australia’s natural beauty as millions of wildflowers burst back into season and we soak up the beautiful spring weather. Whether you’re an eagle-eyed bird watcher, a keen wildflower explorer, or simply enjoy a relaxing walk-through nature, these seven unique places from outback to ocean are perfect to escape the city and explore Australia’s big backyard.
The first place on this list lies just outside of Broome on the colourful shores of Roebuck Bay. The Roebuck Bay Nature Reserve is an oasis for shorebirds with over 330 recorded species migrating through each year. Godwits, dowitchers, sandpipers, tattlers and pratincoles make up just some of the international visitors which frequent the Australasian Flyway each year. Learn about the region’s unique wildlife at the Discovery Centre, take a guided tour, or just sit back and relax at the immersive Graeme’s Base shelter where you can watch the birds, reptiles and small mammals gather at bustling The Waterhole.
Did you know that the ancient petroglyphs in Murujuga National Park are up to 50,000 years old? Meaning ‘hip bone sticking out’ in the Ngarluma-Yaburara language, the park is located on the peninsula just north of Dampier in the Pilbara region. A 700m boardwalk through part of the park offers a unique opportunity to view the ancient art created by the land’s traditional owners which depicts now-extinct birds, fish, and animals such as a giant kangaroo and the Tasmanian tiger. The national park also offers a haven for dozens of species of bats, birds, reptiles such as the Pilbara olive python, and the Rothschild’s rock-wallaby. The best time of year to visit is during the dry season in the North West which occurs between May and October each year.
If you’re yet to experience the Understory Art & Nature Trail in Northcliffe, this fantastic outdoor art exhibit needs to be on your next WA road trip itinerary. Starting from the Northcliffe Visitor Centre, this nature-based art trail is a highly acclaimed outdoor exhibit featuring the works of many Australian and international artists. The trail seamlessly integrates stories, sculptures, poetry and music into the native old growth forest of the South West. The trail experience has been organised by the Southern Forest Arts group and offers an audio tour, child-friendly spaces, and many natural stops along the way to encourage you to slow down and notice small details- leaves, blossoms, and bark- throughout this sensory experience.
Back up in the state’s North West, Karijini National Park is one of Western Australia’s best natural treasures and attracts thousands of visitors each year. Explore the endless gorges and rock holes carved into the ancient land believed to be created by Warlu, the rainbow serpent, in Dreamtime stories. Be sure to stop by the Karijini Visitor Centre which has all the essential information you will need to fully appreciate your time at the park. This includes many interesting historical artefacts, and stories regarding the spiritual significance of the land to the Banyjima, Karrama and Innawonga people. The wonderful Karijini Experience festival is also hosted in the park each winter in celebration of the culture, food, music and art found in the region.
There’s no better way to learn about the native wildflowers of a region than by speaking with one of the knowledgeable members of the Wildflower Society of Western Australia. If you are driving through the central Wheatbelt region, make sure to stop by the Kulin branch which features some of the area’s unique species such as the Kulin wattle (Acacia kulinensis) or the Black Toothbrush (Grevillea hookeriana). Thousands of local species have been painstakingly pressed and preserved by dedicated volunteers and are on display at the flora herbarium in the town. Just make sure to call ahead when planning a visit as the herbarium is open by appointment only.
This fantastic piece of history is located far off the beaten track near WA’s southern border. Accessible only by four-wheel-drive, this isolated spot is perfect to relax and reconnect with nature away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. A secluded observatory offers the perfect opportunity to watch the local birds and small animals in their natural habitat, and long tracks toward the coast are lined with many of the beautiful orchids and wildflowers found along the Nullarbor Plain. The observatory was also built close to the original Eyre Telegraph Station which operated from 1877, and contains much of the old telegraph equipment and curiosities collected from around the surrounding region.
The last spot on this list is the Yongernow Malleefowl Centre in Ongerup. Many may not have heard of this unique native bird which builds large mounds in the bush to lay and incubate its eggs. Native to the South West region, the Australian Malleefowl has been classified as endangered due to loss of the mallee bushland and predation. The Malleefowl Centre is a community owned operation which seeks to raise awareness about this fascinating ground-dwelling bird and supports local conservation efforts. Next time you’re in the area, why not stop by to learn more about this exceptional species, explore the gallery and library, or enjoy a hot drink at the nearby cafe.