The best of Western Australia with kids

Incredible wildlife experiences, perfect beaches and outdoor adventure galore – WA is a family holiday dream.

Two boys riding the waves ashore on a skim board.
  • Janine Eberle
  • June 2018

Western Australia's 2.5 million square kilometres is jam-packed with otherworldly landscapes, natural wonders and opportunities for adventure. You kids will have the chance to see critters like dolphins and quokkas up-close, surf waves and sand dunes, and experience the Australian Outback in its purest state. Here are just some of the family adventures you can have when you take a flight to the most remote capital city on earth.

Perth for kids

WA’s capital is one of the world’s great outdoor cities, and its wide-open spaces, beaches, bike paths and laid-back spirit make it a great family destination. Soak up the outdoorsy vibe by hiring bikes for everyone and doing a lap of the 10km path along the Swan River and over its bridges, taking in the impressive city skyline views. Spend some quality nature time at the enormous Kings Park, where kids can get an eco-education at Rio Tinto Naturescape or climb on things at the Saw Avenue playground, and the grown-ups can join in the enjoyment of the impressive wildflower displays at the Botanical Gardens.

In amongst Perth’s 80 kilometres of coastline are some fantastic kid-friendly beaches. Floreat and City Beach are great for body boarding, Scarborough is the place to go to surf school, and Cottesloe is gentle and gorgeous. A post-paddle fish ‘n’ chip feast at Amberjack’s is a local rite of passage.

If you need to get out of the sun for a while, at the Aquarium of Western Australia offers the opportunity you can try snorkelling or diving risk-free, or take a guided behind-the-scenes tour. Parents take note: they also offer a ‘shark sleepover’ for 7-12 year-olds, which could be just the ticket if you want a night off to check out Perth’s nightlife.

Family-friendly Fremantle

The kids are in for a back-in-time experience in Freo, which claims to have the world’s best-preserved 19th-century streetscape. Dial up the immersive history lesson with a visit to Fremantle Prison, ‘welcoming visitors since 1850’. Kids’ tours take 8-12 year olds through the old gaol as if they were new inmates, from mugshots to prison labour; older kids (and parents) will enjoy the creepy atmosphere and ghastly tales of a night-time torchlight tour.

The famous Fremantle Markets are also historic – they’ve been housed here since 1897 in the same grand Victorian building. But with their cracking buskers, cosmopolitan traders, delicious food choices and endless array of tempting purchases from didgeridoos to mettwurst, they’re a very modern experience and a blast for all the family.

Freo also has its share of beaches: Port and Leighton beaches for swimming and snorkelling, family favourite South Beach for casual cafés and picnic areas, and Bathers Beach for glorious sunsets.

Quokka posing on Rottnest Island, a short ferry ride from Perth.

Fun trips around Perth

No west coast family trip would be complete without quokka-spotting on Rottnest Island, just a ferry ride from Perth or Fremantle. It’s a car-free zone, so the perfect place for leisurely exploring by bicycle (or you can take the hop-on, hop-off bus). Discover the island’s 63 beaches, snorkel the pristine waters, and encounter the super cute furry residents (you might see dolphins, too).

For guaranteed fun for all the family, take the 90-minute trip north of Perth to Lancelin, Australia’s best spot for sandboarding. Hire boards, hit the enormous sand dunes and slide down at high speed as many times as you can handle walking back up. Lancelin is also one of the world’s premier windsurfing destinations and a great place to learn to kite- and windsurf, and a frequent visiting spot for dolphins and humpback whales.

Margaret River, three hours south of Perth, is most famous for its adult attractions – wineries, craft breweries and gourmet produce. Find a drinking spot where kids are well catered for like Eagle Bay Brewing Co with its big outdoor space and child-pleasing menu, and get the best of both worlds. Some of the local specialities are sure to be of interest to young gourmands, such as the Margaret River Chocolate Factory, and the adventure playground at The Berry Farm is a great way to combine a gourmet pit stop with some energy-burning activity. Away from the table, Meelup Beach and Geographe Bay are known for turquoise waters and perfect swimming conditions.

For a gourmet day trip closer to Perth, the Swan Valley is just 25 minutes away. Along with microbreweries, wineries and excellent local produce, family activities here include riding the easy-going Swan Valley Heritage Cycle Trail and visiting the wombats, echidnas, koalas and other furry (and spiky, scaly and feathered) friends at Caversham Wildlife Park.

A whale shark swimming off Ningaloo Reef in Western Australia.

The great West Australian road trip

If you’re flying into Perth as the starting point for a long road trip, there are some unmissable family experiences you need to put on your itinerary. You’ll see some incredible landscapes and give your kids the chance to really experience the Australian Outback – from the dramatic Pinnacles Desert about three hours’ north of Perth, to the wilderness frontier of the Kimberley 20 hours further on, with its spectacular gorges, idyllic freshwater swimming holes and sprawling outback stations.

WA is brimming with wildlife experiences you simply can’t have anywhere else. Swimming with the dolphins at Monkey Mia – they visit every day, so you’re sure to see them – will top your list. At Ningaloo Reef – every bit as breath-taking as the Great Barrier Reef, and less crowded – you’ll be able to get up close with countless tropical fish, turtles, manta rays, humpback whales and whale sharks – they’re here in greater numbers than anywhere else on earth.

If you get as far north as Broome, a hovercraft ride to view 130-million-year-old dinosaur footprints, a sunset camel ride on Cable Beach and an outdoor cinema night at the heritage-listed Sun Cinema await you and your kids. And beyond, the ultimate 4WD territory of the Kimberley.