What to do in Western Australia, whenever you visit: the 12-month events and cultural calendar

Whatever time of year you’re travelling, there’s always a part of Western Australia with great weather and something worth visiting for

Everybody knows that the seasons are reversed Down Under and that Australia’s high summer is December and January, with winter at its most harsh in July. But did you know that the country also has a tropical north, above the Tropic of Capricorn, where there are in fact two seasons: wet and dry?

Because Western Australia fills the entire western third of the country, it has some regions where there are four seasons and others where there are just the two. So it’s always warm and sunny somewhere. The only question is, where?

December, January, February

Best to visit: the south west

This is the time for wine touring in Margaret River, surfing at Dunsborough and quokka spotting on Rottnest Island. Temperatures in Perth should be hovering around 30 degrees and the skies should be perpetually blue.

When to visit_110580_620x349
A quokka on Rottnest Island

The only drawback? It’s the school holidays from late December and throughout January, so expect peak prices and peak crowds.

Don’t even think of heading north. This is the wet season in the Kimberley and it all starts with the build-up during December, when stifling humidity makes doing almost anything seem impossible. Then the rains come and much is closed.

What’s on:

It’s the season for watersports, with the Lighthouse to Leighton kite-surfing race from Rottnest to Fremantle (the world’s longest) taking place in December and the Lancelin Ocean Classic’s four days of windsurfing and kite-surfing races in January.

When to visit 105410_620x349
Kite surfing at Sandy Bay Coral Coast

Also in January, Perth paints the sky with fireworks in celebration of Australia Day on the 26th before launching into the three-week Perth International Arts Festival in February. Daily music, art and theatre events take place in venues around the city and down in Albany.

March, April, May

Best to visit: Ningaloo Reef

The coral here spawns in March or April, and that calls home the reef’s most famous resident, the whale shark. From a high point of around 37 degrees in January temperatures will be dropping nicely here now too, to around a comfortable 27 degrees by May.

When to visit_110880_620x349
A whale shark, the largest fish in the ocean, at Ningaloo Marine Park

That’s the perfect temperature for leaping in and out of the water so board a boat trip, head out on a cruise or simply strap on the snorkel and get out among the marine life.

This is a great time to head inland to the bustling and utterly incomparable Kalgoorlie too, with temperatures in the gold-mining town dropping into the 20s.

What’s on:

There are plenty of arts events in autumn, including Sculpture by the Sea at Cottesloe Beach in Perth, which turns the beach into an outdoor art gallery for 19 days in March, and the Fremantle Street Arts Festival in April, celebrating busking, street theatre and circus.

Foodies will find plenty to get excited about, too, with the Taste Great Southern food and wine festival taking place in Denmark, Albany and Mount Barker in March, as well as the five-day Margaret River Wine Festival.

WA_111140_620x349
A dish using fresh local produce from the Great Southern region

Further north, it’s cool enough by May for Broome’s Beach Polo Festival, while the Kimberley’s Argyle Diamonds Ord Valley Muster in May brings people from across this sparsely populated region together for concerts, dinners and generally dancing under the stars.

Also in May, in Exmouth the beginning of whale shark season is celebrated with the weekend-long Ningaloo Whaleshark Festival.

June, July, August

Best to visit: Broome and The Kimberley

With the wet season finished, all is green and it’s time to slip into Broometime, with a trip to the laidback coastal town, where temperatures are finally dipping (just) below 30.

Take advantage of the Dry by striking out along the Gibb River Road, hiking in the Bungle Bungles and getting truly off the beaten track on remote cattle stations or by flying in to luxurious lodges far from the nearest paved road.

Ningaloo Reef still has those whale sharks, and the humpback whales will be on their migration north to breed.

The Milky way in the night sky over the Bungle Bungles
The Milky Way in the night sky over the Bungle Bungles
What’s on:

While in Broome, don’t miss Broome Cup Week in August, the culmination of the Turf Club’s 12-week horse-racing season.

Down south, it may be winter but that doesn’t stop local thrillseekers from hurling themselves down the mighty Avon River in the 134km time trial the Avon Descent.

In Manjimup the cooler weather heralds the start of truffle season. Celebrate by joining the Truffle Kerfuffle, when you can head out on a truffle hunt and feast on truffles at the Gala Opening Hunt and Harvest Dinner.

September, October, November

Best time for: a full tour

This is the best time of the year to combine the north and south of WA, starting up in the north where it is still the dry season and ending up in the southwest for early summer.

You’ll be following the humpback whales while they migrate back south as you tick off waterholes and gorges in the Kimberley, swimming with manta rays on Ningaloo Reef and cycling from vineyard to restaurant in Margaret River.

Winery 111196
The Forest Hill Winery in Denmark
What’s on:

Margaret River’s reputation is international, so it’s no surprise that chefs come from far and wide for the Margaret River Gourmet Escape in November, to take part in dinners, masterclasses and book signings.

In Perth it’s fashion week, with the Perth Fashion Festival taking place in September.

Along the Coral Coast it’s turtle season, with night tours taking place to view these fascinating creatures laying their eggs and, later, those eggs hatching.

when-to-go_110608_620x349.jpg
September to November is turtle season on the Coral Coast

Produced in association with Western Australia.
Experience more events on the Western Australia website.