Covering a third of Australia, mighty Western Australia is the country’s largest state. There are 2.6 million square kilometres of everything from arid desert to lush tropics to explore.
You probably already know all about the wineries, breathtaking wildflower fields, panoramic beaches and the relaxed capital city of Perth; but few people know about the state’s quirkier side.
This sometimes-forgotten state offers more than enough to fill not one, but several holidays, and give you a unique experience along the way.
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Gnomesville, Western Australia, has a population of about 7000, yet you won’t find it on any official map.
It’s located out in the Australian bush, just a few kilometres from Bunbury or Wellington Mills and the population is made up entirely of gnomes.
Nobody knows quite how the collection started. Some say it was a woman with a penchant for repairing gnomes; another story points the finger at construction workers looking to brighten the day of passers-by.
However it started, it’s a delightfully quirky way to spend an afternoon.
It’s located in the verdant Ferguson Valley, and the gnomes are surrounded by lush greenery, landscaped pathways to wander and a curling, lazy stream to enjoy.
Of course, sometimes the gnomes succumb to the elements, but someone somewhere is always quick to pick them up and brush them off.
Their motto sums it up nicely: a place where everybody feels at gnome.
Stare in awe at this rock formation
Wave Rock in Hyden has been a significant site for humanity since Aboriginal Australians first set foot there. The rock is thought to be over 20 million years old and stands 15m high and around 110m long. The natural rock formation is shaped like a tall, breaking ocean wave.
It’s located 340km southeast of Perth, a four-hour drive through picturesque farmland.
Read more: Immerse yourself in WA’s natural beauty
Get your passport stamped at Hutt River Province
The Hutt River Province was founded by Leonard Casley and advertises itself as the second-largest country on the Australian continent.
The micronation was born after a dispute between Leonard and the Australian government about wheat production in 1969.
Comprising more than 75 square kilometres, it’s larger than a handful of independent countries, though it has never been recognised by Australia as an independent state.
A stop here is the perfect way to break up a road trip from Perth to the northern side of the state. Upon entry, you will often be greeted by Prince Leonard himself, or another member of the royal family if he’s occupied.
You can get your passport stamped, trade with the interesting currency, camp, and swim in the community pool all in this micronation.
Visit Penguin Island
Around an hour south of Perth lies a sanctuary for fairy penguins, the smallest breed of the flightless bird.
The wildlife is the star attraction of this day out, and you will often catch a glimpse of sea lions and dolphins swimming alongside the ferry.
Once in the spectacular Shoalwater Islands Marine Park, bird lovers will enjoy watching the nesting seagulls, pelicans, and other water birds that use the island as their own oasis away from predators.
Island rangers hold daily penguin feedings at 10.30am, 12.30pm and 2.30pm, then you’re free to swim, snorkel, picnic and explore.
Penguin Island is open daily from 15 September to early June. The island closes for the winter penguin nesting season the day after the WA public holiday on 7 June.
Take a unique selfie
Rottnest Island is a short ferry ride from Fremantle or Perth, and it’s long been a holiday destination for residents of WA and many from further afield. In fact, it’s so popular that accommodation is already solidly booked for Christmas 2021!
The resident quokkas are so accustomed to people that they’re sure to bring a smile to your face. You can’t feed or pet them, but they often let you get close enough to get the perfect holiday snap.
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Visit the world’s largest wooden jetty
Busselton Jetty is the longest timber piled jetty in the southern hemisphere, stretching 1.8km out into the ocean.
You can either walk the 25 minutes to the end or jump on a tourist train to sit back and enjoy the 360-degree views across the Indian Ocean.
Once at the end, you can visit the underwater observatory, snorkel, scuba dive and more.
Get up close and personal with a replica of Stonehenge
The Esperance Stonehenge is the only full-size replica of the original Stonehenge in the UK. It’s made up of 137 stones of Esperance Pink Granite mined from a local quarry and recreates what the original would have looked like around 1950BC.
Although you can’t touch the original Stonehenge, the owners of the replica often encourage people to walk around and feel the rocks that create the amazing structure.
Have you visited this wondrous state? What unique destination would you most like to see?
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