The region’s lengthy coastline makes it an ideal place for water-based activities such as surfing, windsurfing, kite surfing, and sailing. Water sports in the region are not just limited to the coast however. There’s many inland lakes and fresh water courses that wind their way through the valleys and provide playgrounds for canoeing, kayaking and water skiing. For a list of suppliers, head to our tours/hire page, or contact a local visit centre.
The Blackwood River is one of Western Australia’s premier water sport locations. In summer, the calm waters provide long stretches of river ideal for families and in winter when the waterways are at their fullest, the more adventurous can go white-water rafting. Bring your own water craft, or hire one from towns along the river.
Canoeing, kayaking and rafting
Winter is the best time of year for adventure canoeing or white-water rafting, when the rivers are full and rapids are in action. The South West has many ideal paddle trails along the region’s main arterial waterways.
Running through spectacular state forest and the pristine Mt Frankland National Park, the upper section features a series of broad pools separated by rapids.
Head to Walpole where you can canoe along the Frankland River through national reserves and dense woodlands.
The Collie River is dam controlled, and the section at the base of the Wellington Dam creates an exhilarating white-water rafting challenge. Further down the river, the pace is slower.
Windsurfing and kite boarding
With world-class waves and consistent winds, Western Australia is an ideal spot for windsurfing or kiteboarding, if you come prepared. The South West typically is windiest in summer, when the sea breeze turns onshore around mid-morning and blows until just before sunset. There is consistent wind all year round though.
The best spots for windsurfing and kite surfing are the Leschenault Inlet in Bunbury where you’ll find waist-deep, flat water, the Blackwood River in Augusta where there’s easy launch spots and consistent wind, and Main Break or Gnarabup Beach near Margaret River, where world-class surf tempts advanced wind surfers and boarders.
Just note, there’s not many options to pick up gear in the south west, so you’ll need to bring your own.
Diving and Snorkelling
The marine environment around the South West is a unique one. Both warm and cool currents mix together as the Indian and Southern oceans collide at Cape Leeuwin. The Leeuwin Current is a warm water current system that travels down the west coast and wraps around Cape Leeuwin, bringing with it a host of sub-tropical marine life that is not normally found so far south. This mixes with the cooler currents from the Southern Ocean, creating a mix of marine species rarely found anywhere else in the world.
Wreck dives and artificial reefs
The Lena, Bunbury
Sitting in 18 metres of clear water five kilometres off Bunbury, the Lena is a unique dive, with massive swim throughs and an open engine room, with motors still in site.
The Swan, Dunsborough
The former destroyer HMAS Swan was scuttled to form a dive wreck and artificial reef in December 1997. The tower of the vessel is just six metres below the surface with her base at 31 metres.
The Perth, Albany
The decommissioned HMAS Perth II was scuttled in the pristine waters of King George Sound, Albany, in November 2001. The Perth is a 133-metre guided missile destroyer with a distinguished service record. She encountered enemy fire during the Vietnam War and her scars from this battle can be seen.
Snorkelling and diving the Busselton Jetty is considered one of the best artificial reef dives in Australia. The mixing of warm and cold-water currents, in addition to the unusual underwater climate from the jetty’s shadow have created a unique collection of fish and coral species.
Great snorkelling sites
- Leschenault Peninsula and Rocky Point near Bunbury
- Castle Rock, Eagle Bay and Meelup, near Dunsborough
- Cosy Corner, Mushroom Rock, Hamelin Bay and Hamelin Island near Augusta
- Greens Pool and West Cape Howe, near Denmark
- Whalers Cove, King George Sound and Two Peoples Bay, near Albany
- Bremer Bay
Geographe Bay near Busselton and King George Sound near Albany are two of the safest and most picturesque sailing spots in the State. Seafarers can set sail on a privately chartered yacht and learn the ropes, or simply kick back and enjoy a skippered cruise.
Houseboats are another great way to explore Western Australia's rivers - you can even be your own captain. Houseboats are available for hire in Albany, Walpole and Augusta. The vessels usually sleep 2-8 people, and offer the perfect opportunity to throw in a fishing line or kick back under the sun or stars.
A series of inland lakes near Collie provide ample opportunity for waters skiing, including Stockton Lake and Potters Gorge at Wellington Dam. Stockton was originally an open cut coal mine, but has long been abandoned and has filled with water. It’s very popular for boating and water skiing. Potters Gorge on the Wellington Dam is a for deep water take off only; take-off and landing of skiers from shore is prohibited. Skiing is permitted between sunrise and sunset.
Before planning a trip to inland lakes and dams, make sure the skipper checks with the local authority that the dam/lake has not been closed for skiing due to depth or conditions.