Now's the Time to See Western Australia

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With sweeping desert plains, vibrant wildflower valleys and remote cities perched on vast swaths of uninhabited lands, Australia's largest state is an ideal escape. Waterfront Perth is the obvious base camp for venturing into the desert, road tripping through the outback or cruising along the windswept coast. Just don't expect to get anywhere quickly — the enormous state is bigger than all of western Europe!

When to visit Western Australia depends largely on where you're heading, thanks to varying climates. In summer, temperatures can soar to over 100°F (40°C), even in Perth, and the northern tropics suffer from daily rains. Winter offers more manageable weather in all areas. Whenever you plan to visit, there's no time like the present to book your trip. With the Australian dollar falling, US and European travelers have even more reason to book soon and take advantage of the favorable exchange rates.

Ready to start planning? Here are four things not to miss: 

Visit the Pinnacles: a desert by the sea
An expanse of desert plains and rolling dunes dotted with gigantic limestone pillars, the Pinnacles are the postcard star of Western Australia. Located in Nambung National Park, the otherworldly landscapes are just as impressive in person, and a visit to the seaside desert can be combined with a stop at the beach or a sand boarding excursion at the Lancelin Dunes.

Cruise Perth
The most atmospheric way to see Western Australia's capital is from the water, so opt for a romantic sunset cruise along Swan River; venture out to Swan Valley on a wine-tasting cruise; or sail into the Indian Ocean to explore the beautiful beaches of Rottnest Island.

Go Whale Watching
Located on the 'Humpback Highway' whale migration route, Australia's west coast is a prime location for spotting the gentle giants. Take a whale-watching cruise from Perth; sail out to sea between September and November for the best chance of spotting humpback and southern right whales.

Adventure through The Kimberley 
With its staggering gorges, untamed coastline and epic desert sands, The Kimberley is one of Australia's wildest regions and an ultimate destination for off-road adventures. Marvel over the mind-boggling landscape of the UNESCO-listed Bungle Bungles, ride a camel through the desert or take a sunset cruise across Lake Argyle, then camp out beneath the stars.
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