Your complete guide to Western Australia

Are you thinking of visiting Western Australia? Do you have some questions or need some answers? Come and discover all you need to know right here, right now!

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Camel riding in Broome, Western Australia
Riding camels up in Broome, WA!

Western Australia, also known by the shortened version WA (and sometimes referred to as West, or Over West), is the largest state or territory in Australia, about 800,000 km² bigger than the next closest state, Queensland. It is home to 2.4 million people, known as West Australian, and its capital city is Perth.

Western Australians are sometimes referred to as Westralians (a shortened version by combining the two words, a favourite grammatical combination of Australians!) or sometimes as Sand Gropers (a type of insect that lives in sand, where 5 species is thought to only be found in WA).

Location

As you can see on the map above, it is the most western state in Australia. The most westerly point is called Steep Point, and is located at Shark Bay. To the north-east it borders with the Northern Territory, and to the south-east with South Australia, the driest state on the continent.

Population

By population, it is the fourth most populated state or territory. However, if measured by people per km², due to the massive size of the state, it ranks as the second smallest, with a tiny average of 0.94 people per km²! To put this into perspective, the United Kingdom has 256 per km², Germany has 229 per km², and France has 117 per km².

Ranking of the largest cities (by population): ¹
1. Perth
(1.8 million)
2. Mandurah(83,000)
3. Bunbury(68,000)
4. Albany(33,000)
5. Kalgoorlie-Boulder(31,000)
6. Kwinana(30,000)
7. Geraldton(27,000)
8. Busselton(21,000)
¹ Sourced from, you guessed it, Wikipedia!


About 75% of all Westralians live in Perth, and you can see that the next biggest cities drop off quickly in their population size. If you excluded all the people from the cities listed above, the average population density drops from 0.94 people per km² to a tiny 0.1 people per km².

Australian road sign - Kangaroos for the 5 kms
Once you get into parts of outback WA
there isn't much there except kangaroos!

What does this mean?

Once you get out of the cities, expect big wide open spaces! Much of the land classified as Desert, Arid, Semi-Arid, or Savannah. Once you get onto the back roads you can easily drive for an hours and hours and hours without coming across the next town or seeing a single car. You might see some cattle, as a lot of the land that isn't desert is used for light cattle grazing.

If you are heading inland and away from the coast and see a petrol station, you should always fill up, even if your tank is almost full. It is not uncommon for there to be 400 - 500 kms between stations. When you see one you fill up, it could save your life! If you plan on heading off the main roads and into desert areas you should visit the Survive driving in the Australian Outback page to get a crash course in outback survival should your car break down or get bogged.

National Parks

Western Australians are very proud of the natural beauty of the state, and this is evident by the 1224 separate Protected Areas which total about 6.3% of the state's land, which includes 98 national parks covering over 2.14% of the state.

While these figures may not sound like much, 6.3% of WA totals a massive 170,610 km². This is about twice the size of Cambodia, and is the approximate size of Austria, Hungary or Portugal... that's a lot of land!

What else?

There are many free camping spots all over the state, so for all you nature lovers, get ready to go camping and exploring. And one of the best things about WA is that because it is so big, there are so many places that are not crowded by tourists.

Another good thing is that there is such a variety of things to see and do. Up north near Broome it is tropical, down south is your typical four season climate with cool weather rain forests, inland you have desert wonderlands, there are mountain ranges, gorgeous deserted beaches, island resorts, and so much more.

One of the most under-rated drives in Australia is from Perth up to Broome along the coast. Many people continue onto Darwin, in the Northern Territory. It is about 2,400kms from Perth to Broome, but most of it is along the gorgeous coast line and will take you through some spectacular country.

There is so much to do in WA for everyone. With premier wine regions, amazing surf beaches, gorgeous sea-side townships and beaches, rain forests down in the south, desert national parks, tropical fun and sun, what more could you want?

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