Since Western Australia is our home state we love finding the best free things to do! Down in Australia’s little south west corner is one of the most beautiful and diverse regions of our home and it is filled with free activities and attractions!
The South West Region is made up of Bunbury, Busselton, Yallingup, Margaret River, Augusta, Denmark and Albany. It is such a beautiful destination with an extensive coastline, the best beaches, farmland, wineries and forests. Honestly, I have know idea why this place isn’t on everyone’s travel bucket-list?
As beautiful as the South West Region is, staying here can become expensive… as it is in Australia. So, I have put together a list of our top free things to do in the area to help make your family holiday more affordable.
Best Free Things to Do in Australia’s South West:
- Visit the Best Beaches
- Go on a Hike
- Explore Boranup Forest
- Go Wine Tasting
- Taste Local Produce
- Visit the Best Attractions
- Go Fishing
- Look For Whales
- Watch the Sunset
- Have an Animal Encounter
Visit the Best Beaches in Australia’s South West
With so much coastline, the South West region has some of the best beaches we have ever been to… and beaches are free! You simply cannot visit the area and not go to at least one of these top beaches.
Injidup has a natural spa, which fills up with water at high tide. You can watch the waves come crashing over the rocks, spilling into the rock pools. Because of the surging water, it is probably not the best place to swim if you are visiting with kids. However, it is worth a visit simply for its photography opportunities!
Elephant Rocks & Greens Pool, Denmark
Located in the William Bay National Park near Denmark is the incredible Elephant Rocks and Greens Pool. William Bay National Park is also one of the most instagrammable and popular destinations for tourists to visit. When you visit these beaches, you will easily see why!
If you plan to come here to take photos, make sure you arrive early as the beaches do fill up quickly. So does the car park.
Both of these beaches are great for snorkelling, paddle boarding and relaxing on the beach. We loved coming here for a swim and letting Koby run into the water. Even though the beaches can get busy (especially Greens Pool) it is definitely worth a visit!
Meelup Beach, Dunsborough
Meelup Beach has always been a family favourite. We love that it has a grassed area, shaded by trees where you can set up for the day. The water here has a stunning blue colour! If you are also interested in snorkeling you can follow the rocks around the corner to see some marine life!
Surfers Point, Margaret River
Surfers Point is a popular surf destination. If you don’t really surf, like us, it is still great place to come watch the waves and the surfers.
During the winter months it can also be a great place to try and spot some whales!
Go on a Hike
Australia’s South West region has some of the best hikes in Western Australia. Hiking is a great activity that you can do for free (aside from the occasional National Park Entry fee) as well as really get to experience the area you are visiting.
Cape to Cape
Along the entire coastline from Cape Naturaliste to Cape Leeuwin is the Cape to Cape Track. While it would take you a couple of days to hike this entire track, it is worth hiking a small section of it!
We have been to several different sections of this track and every single one is surrounded by beautiful nature! From ocean views, white sandy beaches, and rugged coastline to the lush Boranup Forest.
Bald Head is probably one of the most surprising hikes I have ever done. We arrived here a little unprepared… we forgot the carrier for Koby, so we didn’t hike it all. However, every corner we rounded the scenery just got more beautiful and so we went much further than we expected!
Since you can easily turn around at any point, without missing out on a spectacular view, this hike is perfect for families who are new to hiking! It is easily accessible, located in the Torndirrup National Park in Albany. However, you are planning to do this hike you will need to pay the national park entrance fee.
Like Bald Head, to hike Bluff Knoll you will need to pay the entrance fee for the Stirling Range National Park. Unfortunately I have not yet experienced this hike as the National Park was closed because of fires when we were last here.
If you want to read about hiking Bluff Knoll here is a link to a blog post from Tess Somewhere who has done the hike and shared some information on her experience.
Explore Boranup Forest
Hike Section of Cape to Cape
As already mentioned, the Cape to Cape track runs through the Boranup Forest. This is a great place to take a walk, no matter the time of year!
We were here in the middle of winter and it was absolutely beautiful! Just make sure you time it between showers so you don’t get caught in the rain.
Take a Scenic Drive
If you’re not up for walking around you can simply drive through the Boranup Forest along Caves Road. This entire road is an attraction of its own!
Go Wine Tasting
This region, especially around Margaret River, is famous for its quality wines. Take a self-guided tour to the local cellar doors for free tastings!
If you have your kids along for the day, the most family friendly wineries include Aravina Estate, Yallingup; Xanadu Wines, Margaret River; and Swings and Roundabouts, Yallingup. Here, you will also find playgrounds and other forms of entertainment for your kids to enjoy.
Taste Local Produce
Throughout Australia’s South West there are countless places where you can go and taste test the local produce for free. You can try everything from olives, jams, olive oils, cheese and dressings. There are signs along the road for all these small companies. While we were in Denmark we stopped at an Olive farm. It was way off of the main road and we weren’t sure where it was taking us… but we got to taste some delicious olives!
Some of the more popular companies to try local produce are:
Margaret River Providore: This company sells an array of products, including jams, preserves, olive oils, dressings and desserts. It is a great place to taste test some local produce.
Vasse Virgin: An olive oil company, that produces a variety of flavor infused olive oils. They also have a Soap Factory, that develops natural and organic body products using the finest extra virgin olive oil.
Margaret River Chocolate Factory: This is a family favourite of ours, and every time we are in the area we pop in for some free chocolate!
The Margaret River Dairy Company: Enjoy free tastings of award-winning cheeses and yoghurts!
Visit the Best FREE Attractions in Australia’s South West
Australia’s South West Region is filled with countless free attractions to suit everyone. While we love visiting the natural attractions, there are also some great structures to see that are located in beautiful settings.
Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse
The Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse is located near Dunsborough. The lighthouse is free to visit and walk around. It is also a great place to get a photo!
If you would like a guided tour, this will cost you $15 per person. However, there is enough free things to see and do in the area to ensure a great experience!
There are also plenty of OTHER FREE places to stop at along the Cape to make it worth the journey! Be sure to visit Meelup Beach for a swim and a snorkel before heading to Sugarloaf Rock for sunset.
Giant Tingle Tree
Tingle Trees are the largest girthed eucalypt trees and are often found hollowed out in the inside. The Giant Tingle Tree is a great attraction to visit, a unique way to experience walking through nature.
On our trip to Denmark we didn’t manage to see the Giant Tingle Tree, which is one of the largest in Western Australia. However, we did get to experience walking through several of them in the Ancient Empire Walk at the Valley of the Giants Tree Top Walk. While here you have to pay to walk through the treetops, the ground walk is free.
Climb Karri Forest Trees
Located in the stunning Karri Forest near Pemberton are several trees that are set up to climb for free. Originally, foresters would scan the landscape for fires from the top of these trees. However, now they are used as a free tourist attraction, a fun way to experience nature.
Gloucester Tree: This tree is 61m tall, with a lookout located at the top. From it you can have spectacular views over the surrounding karri forest and farmland.
Bicentennial Tree: This is the tallest of the trees, reaching 75m above ground. From the top you can have a 360 degree view of the karri forest.
Diamond Tree: This tree is now closed to climbing, however it is still open to the public to see. It reaches 51m tall and has a wooden cabin built at the top!
Porongurup Granite Skywalk
If you are staying near Albany, head to the Porongurup Granite Skywalk. It is a great place to stop on your way back from hiking Bluff Knoll. It is about 2km to the Granite Skywalk lookout from Castle Rock picnic area. Reaching the top requires a little climbing, so be prepared when visiting.
The Albany Windfarm is set on the coast, in the Torndirrup National Park. There is a nice walkway and several lookouts where you can enjoy the scenery. There are also public toilets here.
Busselton Jetty after 5:00
The Busselton Jetty is the longest jetty in the Southern Hemisphere. We love visiting to simply walk to the end or go fishing in the evening.
If you want to walk the jetty for free, be sure to visit after 5:00pm when there is no entry fee. However, it will only cost you’re a few dollars if you are visiting during the day.
Although you will have to pay for bait, fishing in Australia’s South West is a great activity that you family can do for free!
The coastline is home to a variety of fish species and is particular popular of fishing during the annual Australian salmon run during March-April. Throughout the year, the area is home to a multitude of bread and butter species such as herring, whiting, squid and flathead (pictured). Moreover, using berley will almost guarantee a positive result.
Look for Whales
Whale watching is a popular activity to do in the South West Region during the winter months. From June until early December, whales from the Antartic migrate through the region, a sight that can be seen from shore. Visiting Margaret River for a winter getaway can be a great way to experience this activity!
If you are interested in trying to spot some whales, the best places to go are Gnarabup Beach, Surfers Point, Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse or Canal Rocks.
Watch the Sunset
One of my favourite places to watch the sunset is Sugarloaf Rock, located on Cape Naturaliste, near Dunsborough. The sun sets so beautifully over the ocean, with the huge ocean rock sending rays into the sky as it sink into the water. But, just remember to take a blanket to snuggle up with your family, as it gets cold once the sun disappears!
Aside from Sugarloaf Rock, the entire coastline is filled with beautiful spots to watch the sunset. There are so many places where the sunsets over the ocean, making for a picture perfect moment. Watching the sunset is one of my favourite free ways to experience Australia’s South West.
Have an Animal Encounter
One of the best ways to have a memorable holiday in this region is to have an animal encounter. There are so many different ways you can see animals for free, with these being our top favourite in Australia’s South West.
Being in Australia, seeing a kangaroo is a must. There are plenty of kangaroos to see in the South West; you just have to spend time in nature.
While we were camping at Conto Campground in the Boranup Forest, we saw some while walking around. Since it was the first time Koby had ever seen a Kangaroo, we were very excited!
Stingrays are very common along the coast in the South West. So, if you are hoping to encounter one up close, the best place to visit is Hamelin Bay! Since the stingrays are protected here, they are very comfortable around people. You can even feed them!
They often come right up to the shore, so that you can even touch them! While I am normally not a sea-life lover, I had to give it ago. This unique encounter is free, which will make for a cool experience for your time in South West of Australia.
Just like stingrays, dolphins are very common in the region. So, if you are hoping to spot a dolphin some of the best places to go are Geographe Bay in Busselton and Koombana Bay in Bunbury.
When we visit Busselton, we stay at a beach house right on the bay. Every morning we wake up and spot a pod of dolphins, making for a great start to our day!
As you can see, the majority of the must see animals in Australia’s South West live in the ocean. To see marine life in general, go snorkeling at Bunker Bay or Greens Pool. These are two of the best and easiest places to experience animals in the water, since they are quite protected.
Overall, you could easily fill your entire South West itinerary with free activities. While there are definitely things you can pay for, the free activities in Australia’s South West will give you an incredible destination experience.