We ventured into Western Australia having never been there before, well at least the kids and I hadn’t. I truly didn’t know what to expect. Western Australia was so vastly different from what I thought it may be and it quickly became one of our favourite states to travel. Western Australia is like no other state. The landscape is harsh and dry, but beautiful at the same time. They have the most amazing beaches and snorkelling in the clear, warm waters is such bliss.
If you are an avid collector of memories then Western Australia offers a unique opportunity that the other states do not. Throughout this region you can collect souvenir tokens at a cost of $2 each. Each tourist site will have a small coin dispenser where you can trade your gold coin for a souvenir coin of the site that you have visited. Had I realised at the start of Western Australia, I would have collected them with the children.
During your travels I highly recommend taking the time to really link your child’s learning to the region. Western Australia has so much to offer in terms of education, particularly to city kids like mine who have had limited exposure to the country.
Termite mounds are fascinating when you first see them, but actually just become part of the landscape as you travel. Take the time to learn about termites, they are truly fascinating creatures and the way they structure their mound and live is complex and amazing.
Be sure to stay at some stations and national parks and learn about station life and what it involves. The harsh realities of limited water, not having the convenience of access to a supermarket 24//7 or any phone or internet reception teaches the children appreciation for the niceties in life but also to understand that not all of us live with those luxuries. Not to mention the fact that most of the stations in Western Australia have a vast amount of land and beautiful beaches that you will spend hours exploring.
Water is precious in Western Australia, much of the state use bore water or desalinated water as there simply aren’t enough damns or rain to supply the region. Some regions like Exmouth and Cape Range haven’t seen rain in over a year. Throughout your travels I recommend that you teach your children about the different ways we collect water for use and how to conserve it. Study the landscape and the types of animals that you see and discuss how they can live with such limited water. Immerse yourself in the national parks for the most stunning experiences, however go prepared with your own water supplies and prepare the children with water saving methods. Across the region we found many salt deposits along the coast. The kids would find rock pools that were dried up with just salt left behind. As you drive through Port Hedland you will also see the salt mines. Salt has become a significant part of Western Australian life, the water even feels saltier and more buoyant when you swim in it! I suggest teaching your children about evaporation and the water cycle.
With so much off the grid travelling, this really is the perfect time to teach your kids all about renewable energies (wind and solar). You may even be lucky enough to be relying on solar for your own energy. What better opportunity to learn about it, right when it is relevant and has meaning to your kids. Albany has a wind turbine farm that you can also visit. I’m no expert myself on how these technologies actually work, so together my kids and I learn new information when we research and watch videos.
It might be stating the obvious but Western Australia lends itself to learning all about the ocean animals and beaches. Study the animals that you see while you are snorkelling, work to identify them and draw them (the Western Australia Field Guide is handy for offline research of animals). Make a list of the animals you discover and write a report of two. Study the food chain, learn about how sand is formed and teach your children about stonefish. Sit on the beach and observe hermit crabs, watch David Attenborough’s video on them and discuss why you shouldn’t take shells from the beach. Teach your children how to snorkel without damaging reef and discuss why conservation of our reef systems is imperative. As you get further north, no doubt you will learn about crocodiles. My children found it fascinating learning about crocs and my four-year-old is great at differentiating between and ‘salty’ and a ‘freshie’. In truth, just learn about everything, because if you are anything like us, then this whole way of life where crocs are the norm and the seasons are wet and dry not Summer and Winter then this is all new learning. Talk. Talk all the time about these experiences and help your children form ideas and understanding through conversation. Encourage your children to ask relentless questions, this way you know they are taking it all in.
Highlights of our trip were
- Esperance, Lucky Bay
- The Valley of the giants
- Historic Whaling Station, Albany
- Busselton Jetty
- The Pinnacles
- Perth Mint
- Western Australian Museum
- Kalbarri National Park
- Carnarvon Space and Technology Museum
- Snorkelling with whale sharks and manta rays in Exmouth
- Cape Range – had the best information centre
- Snorkelling at Cape Range and Osprey
- Karijini National Park
- Windjana Gorge and Tunnel Creek
- Bells Gorge
- Galvin’s Gorge
- Emma Gorge
Station stays we stayed at and recommend
- Murchinson river station
- Warroora Station
- Pardoo Station
- Homevalley Station
- El Questro Station
Check out the Western Australian souvenir coins here