Perth has a reputation for being one of the most isolated cities in the world, however once you see it, you’ll feel much less sorry for the locals! Here are a few highlights within reach with a rented car or a tour for a short getaway from the urban sprawl.

Caversham Wildlife Park

For those who have yet to cuddle a koala this should be a peak experience! The park houses around 200 species of animals, including all the Australian staples such as wombats, dingos, wallabies, kangaroos, possums and many species of birds. Located a short drive into the suburbs of Perth, this is the perfect day out for families with kids and those with limited sightseeing time.

Nambung National Park

This is the gorgeous spot where you’ll be able to appreciate Australia’s own version of Monument Valley – albeit in miniature. Unique limestone pillar formations, called the Pinnacles, rise out of the desert sands, forming an unforgettable landscape and offering the perfect photo opp to share with friends and family back home! Located 162 km northwest of Perth, you’ll find plentiful beaches as well as bushland walks here. Head for a picnic to Hangover Bay (I kid you not, welcome to Oz and it’s creative approach to place-naming!), which offers BBQ facilities and a beautiful white beach with regular visits from bottlenose dolphins…

Lancelin Sand Dunes

I have to admit that personally, I love the desert landscape. It appears desolate and yet is full of life if you know where to look. Plus the silence and the starry skies above create an amazing atmosphere, if you get to camp in one overnight. But Lancelin, found 1.5 hour’s drive out of Perth, is primarily a destination for those who love the adventure sport of sand boarding, and it doesn’t get better than the pure white sand dunes in this area, which are the largest in WA and offer 45 degree angles! Watch out for avid motorbike and four wheel drivers though, and try and stay for the spectacular sunset.

Kalbarri National Park

Speaking of adventure sports, if abseiling is more your thing, head straight for a camping weekend at the gorgeous Kalbarri National Park, full of impressive gorges, the most famous being the 80km Murchison River Gorge. This park offers great hiking opportunities as well of course, and once you get super-sweaty, have a dip in the inviting waters of the Murchison river – a great reward just for making the effort to reach it! The park is located 485 kilometres north of Perth, so you will need to fly to Perth and make your way from there. It’s worth spending a few days exploring here, if your itinerary allows for it.

Monkey Mia Dolphins

If you’re after a longer vacation and a 10 hour drive does not put you off, Monkey Mia is one of the most famous spots along WA’s coast: it’s a dolphin paradise. Located in the Shark Bay Marine Park, a World Heritage Site where dolphins come inshore for a daily visit and feeding in the crystal clear waters, so you can get really close and personal with them. Shark Bay is also a prime sailing destination, with the park being home to abundant wildlife, including dugongs, sea turtles, pelicans and whales. Could you ask for more?

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Patricia Bieszk is a freelance writer who loves to camp in Australia’s amazing national parks and explore their natural wonders.