Tag Archives: western australia

Sal Salis

Wine, whales, rocks and reef – an adventure in Western Australia

On my first trip to Australia I almost didn’t visit Western Australia. I had all of the usual hot spots on my checklist, from the Sydney Opera House to the Great Barrier Reef, but nothing out west appealed. It seemed that it was a part I could skip. And lots of visitors agree.

Fortunately, though, my husband didn’t, so we did head west, and I promptly fell head over sandy heels for the place. Now I rarely visit Australia without some time in WA, as the locals call it, and some of my favourite memories are of its beaches and dirt roads.

To find out where my very favourite spots are, check out my feature in today’s Times.

GibbRiverRoad

18 trips for 2018: Western Australia

It’s the last day of 2017 and that can mean only one thing – it’s time to round up the best places to go in 2018!

One of my all-time favourite destinations is Western Australia and so I was thrilled that the Sunday Times selected it for this list. That new direct flight from London may have had something to do with it!

Read my top tips on visiting WA in 2018 in the Sunday Times today.

ElizabethQuayPerth

How Perth got cool: article for Rough Guides

I’ve been visiting Perth for many years and, yes, it did used to live up to its Dullsville name.

But not any more. On my most recent visit to Perth I found a hip city shaking off its early-to-bed past and emerging as a city break destination to rival any other in Australia.

My article for Rough Guides introduces the new Perth, one of hip bars, cool restaurants and luxury hotels.

You can also find out more about Perth here.

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Swimming with humpback whales: piece for the Times

On August 1st 2016 for the first time people were allowed to swim with the world’s largest migration of humpback whales, off the coast of Western Australia.

I joined the very first group to head out from Sal Salis near Exmouth, with Murray on his boat Wave Rider. But finding a whale that was moving slowly enough, without a calf, and in the right place, turned out to be more difficult than I had imagined.

We swam with whalesharks, watched humpbacks breaching and diving just a few metres from the boat and soaked up the ‘winter’ sunshine (25 degrees) – but there was no humpback whale swim before lunch.

Fortunately in the afternoon our luck changed and finally, after much trial and error, we shared the water with a humpback whale. It was incredible.

Read more about my experience in my article for The Times.

Photo courtesy of Jana of Soul and Sea Photography.

DSC_4062

Grown Up Guide to Western Australia for High 50

People say that Western Australia is the “real” Australia – and it’s certainly the state I’ve fallen most in love with.

So I was delighted to work with Tourism Western Australia on a project for High 50, putting together a series of articles introducing this fantastic destination’s adventures and vast landscapes to their readers.

Read my articles on the links below.

A thirst for adventure: five top WA adventures

48 hours in Perth

A foodie guide to Margaret River

Marine encounters: from whale sharks to manta rays

Five top treks: from flying across the Kimberley to cycling the Munda Biddi

Itineraries for the perfect trip: 4 days, 7 days and 14 days

A year-round destination: when to visit WA

GibbRiverRoad

Western Australia: my highlights


Last summer I travelled around Western Australia updating the Rough Guide to Australia. As part of my research I was asked to select my highlights. You can find these in the new guidebook, which can be bought at the link below, but here’s a taster of my top three.

NINGALOO MARINE PARK:
Enjoy superlative snorkelling and diving at “the barrier reef without the barriers” DSC_4062

THE KIMBERLEY:
The stunning, untamed Kimberley is the country’s last frontier and a backdrop to real adventure IMG_0041

PURNULULU NATIONAL PARK
Accessible only by 4WD or air, the striped beehive domes and narrow gorges of the Bungle Bungle massif make the trek worthwhile. IMG_9930

Buy the all-new guidebook here:

Hotel review: The White House, Swan Valley

There is nothing quite like staying with friends. When I stayed with Shelly and Ian they made me breakfast every day. They let me use their tennis court and their bikes. They introduced me to their kids and their horses. And they helped me to plan the perfect day of touring the wineries and restaurants of the surrounding Swan Valley.

But Shelly and Ian are not my friends; they are the owners of the White House bed and breakfast. And what a bed and breakfast it is. The White House is a truly spectacular home, with wooden floors, ancient fireplaces, gorgeous verandahs – and just one guest room. Or rather, suite of guest rooms. All of this was mine for the night: my own entrance and hallway, a lounge complete with piano, a dining room with a large fireplace, a double bedroom, a separate bathroom, an outside seating area.

I wasted no time in settling in to my new home. I made tea and sat on the verandah just outside the bedroom door as the sun set and then ran a bath in the clawfoot tub and began sinking into thoughts of which wineries I might try tomorrow.

I had no idea, frankly, but fortunately Shelly already had this all figured out for me and over a glass of wine she talked me through the valley. Giving me a map, she noted all sorts of things, from which wineries to visit to the spot where Captain James Stirling decided that he was going to build a brand new colony, and left me with enough recommendations to fill a week.

On one her recommendations was Sittella’s, just the other side of the river and accessed by footbridge, which I visited for lunch the next day. Here I did a fantastically informative tasting with cellar manager Shannon and dined on delicious red snapper washed down with a cracking shiraz. Shelly clearly knew what she was talking about.

Her other recommendations included the oldest two wineries in the valley: Houghton’s and Sandalford. I dutifully visited both and was not disappointed  – at least, not by anything other than the fact I had to drive. The wines were fantastic and, in my amateur opinion, rivaled the wines of more famous Margaret River further south.

On my return to the house Ian and Shelly were keen to hear about my day and to tell me more about the history of the area. The Swan Valley is one of Western Australia’s oldest settled areas, with Guildford one of the state’s first three towns, along with Fremantle and Perth.

The house itself probably dates back about 100 years and it is lovely to be staying somewhere historic in a country where this can be rare. Antique furniture fills the rooms and the décor is in keeping with the age of the house. Even better, it reflects the fact that this is a house, with family portraits filling the walls and homely touches in every room. By the second night I am very much at home, ranging around the rooms as if I own the place – and certainly fantasizing that I do.

When it comes to time to leave, it is just like leaving a friend’s house. No impersonal speedy checkout here, we take our time saying goodbye and as I drive back onto the main road I am genuinely sorry to go. How often can you say that about a hotel?