Boating Getaways in Western Australia
As the scorching summer sun bakes the country, few feel the heat quite like the folk out west. Combine that with the spectacular coastline that skirts the voluminous state of WA and it's no wonder westerners have such a penchant for boating.
You're spoiled for choice when it comes to top spots to drop a tinny out west, so we figured we'd narrow it down a little and share two of our top trailerboat trips from the western shores.
(Image: Rottnest Beach WA.)
The unique marine environment around Rottnest Island makes it a favourite destination for WA's boating set. It's a decent trip out in a small boat, so the Boating Industry Association hold regular safety convoys for boats between five and 10 metres, which is a great way to do it for the inexperienced skipper.
The reefs around Rottnest are the southernmost tropical coral reefs in Australia, and house a huge variety of colourful fish and unusual marine life – for a world-class reef encounter all you need is a snorkel and a mask. Due to conservation efforts in place to maintain this pristine area, the island does require visitors pay anchoring and admission fees (which fund further conservation work) and there are a number of no boating areas that must be observed. Once admission is paid, vessels can be anchored within Rottnest Island Marine Reserve, on selected beaches, or can be secured at rental moorings.
There's also plenty to do on land if you get tired of lounging on the beautiful beaches, and you can't visit without scoring a snapshot with one of the world's most endearing creatures – the quokka. If you plan on casting a line from your boat then make sure you're well clear of the sanctuary zones and you may hook a pink snapper, breaksea cod and dhufish. A little further out and you can a yellowtail kingfish, dolphin fish or mackerel.
Western Australia's Coral Coast is a top pick for any breed of recreational boatie, and the jewel in that crown is Shark Bay. The waters around this region offer up experiences that you're going to be hard pressed to find anywhere else in the world; feeding wild dolphins on the beach at Monkey Mia, strolling above the ancient stromatolites of Hamelin Pool or seeing a dugong feed among sea-grass meadows. It is important to note, however, that there are a number areas where boating in restricted to protect fragile environments and special care is to be taken around certain types of marine life.
The stunning coastline is characterised by red cliffs, white sandy beaches and clear blue water. The Francois Peron and Dirk Hartog National Parks are outlined with tranquil beaches that are only accessible by boat. There are a good selection of snorkelling locations around the coral patches and rocky outcrops, while the marine sanctuary that contains the wreck of Gudrun makes for an intriguing dive site.
If you plan to fish around the are you'll need to make sure you know where all of the sanctuary zones are and stay well clear. But in the right spots there's an abundance of species that can grow to impressive sizes, making the region one of Australia's premier fishing spots.