Western Australia’s rivers have shaped some of the most dramatic landscapes on Earth.
The rivers in Western Australia meander through the majestic tall-tree forests of the deep south, carve out cavernous gorges, and feed the waterfalls and wetlands of one of the world’s last true wilderness areas – the Kimberley.
Rivers of a true wilderness
With the arrival of the tropical summer rains, the rivers of the Pilbara and the Kimberley cascade down sheer gorge walls and spill into the floodplains, creating a haven for thousands of migratory birds and some of the most inviting, fern-fringed swimming holes you’ll ever encounter.
Take a wildlife cruise on the Ord River from Kununurra, or join a fishing charter to chase the mighty barramundi. Explore the spectacular cliffs and wildlife-rich canyons of Kennedy Range National Park, which feed the Gascoyne River. Or head east from Broome to the mighty Fitzroy River – it’s one of the world’s most voluminous rivers when in flood and responsible for shaping the striking sheer walls of Geikie Gorge.
Big, bold and beautiful lakes
In Kununurra, you’ll also encounter a manmade lake so vast, it's classed as an inland sea. Lake Argyle is the largest manmade lake in the southern hemisphere, around 20 times the size of Sydney harbour and teeming with wildlife. Take to the air to appreciate its enormity, or take a cruise to meet the many animals and hundreds of species of birds that call Argyle home.
Another manmade wonder can be found on the salt bed of Lake Ballard near Menzies, where globally-renowned sculptor Antony Gormley has created the largest outdoor gallery on Earth. The Inside Australia exhibit features 51 sculptures dotted across 10 square kilometres of the white salt plain – a particularly striking sight at sunrise and sunset.
Mother Nature has also dazzled visitors to the pristine wilderness of the Recherche Archipelago, with a lake of the brightest bubble-gum pink. Known as Lake Hillier, this striking natural phenomenon can be viewed with a scenic charter flight or cruise from Esperance.
City cruises, wineries and white water fun
From the foreshores and waters of the Swan River, you can take in Perth’s photogenic cityscape while you walk, cycle, jog, picnic, fish, paddle, water ski, sail or cruise. Follow its path west to the historic port city of Fremantle, or east to WA’s oldest wine region, the Swan Valley, where you can literally cruise the cellar doors.
In the far upper-reaches, where the Swan River meets the Avon River, these waters are most famous for their white-water thrills after good winter rains. Every August, the river challenges national and international canoeists and power boaters to test their skills in the Avon Descent white water rafting event. It’s quite a thrill just sitting on the river banks and watching the pros race by.
Fishing, canoeing and houseboat holidays
A one-hour drive south of Perth city brings you to the magnificent waterways of Mandurah and the Peel Inlet, a top spot for dolphin watching, crabbing, fishing for king prawns, swimming, canoeing, kayaking, boating and bird watching.
Venture a little further south and you’ll find tranquillity in some of the most biodiverse and scenic river settings. Fish, kayak or canoe the Frankland River near Walpole, or take a chilled-out houseboat holiday on the largest river in the South West, the Blackwood.