52 Weekends Away: Western Australia's best weekend getaways for 2020

Relaxing resorts, endless beaches and wondrous adventure are abundant here, so go forth!

Smiths Beach Resort

67 Smiths Beach Road, Yallingup; (08) 9750 1200; smithsbeachresort.com.au

THE LOCATION Find this stylish resort on the sandhills behind one of Margaret River's most spectacular surf-pounded beaches, about 12 kilometres from Dunsborough. Driving time from Perth is just under three hours.

THE PLACE Designed as a self-contained hideaway – it has its own gourmet deli, cafe and restaurant – Smiths Beach Resort is also a comfortable base from which to explore WA's premier wine region, Margaret River. Accommodation categories range from one- to four-bedroom "beach shacks", apartments, villas and "beach houses", each with full-size kitchens and laundry facilities. It's family friendly, and reception will organise activities for your lot, such as a Didgeridoo Twilight Tour to Ngilgi Cave, at extra cost.  

THE EXPERIENCE While facilities are certainly luxe – think infinity pool and in-room massage – the resort holds fast to the relaxed beachy vibe that has long existed on this part of the coast. The emphasis is on swimming, surfing, bushwalking and, if you're up for it, tennis on the resort court, followed by a lavish meal at the in-house dining room, presided over by renowned WA chef Kate Lamont.

DON'T MISS An early swim in the surf is a great way to kick off your stay. Or, if you are feeling energetic, tackle a section of the 250-kilometre Cape to Cape walking track, which stretches south to Augusta.

FROM $500 a night. - Mark Chipperfield

Explore the great outdoors with the many activities on offer including canoeing, fishing, tennis and bushwalking.

The great outdoors, within majestic Karri forest: activities on offer include canoeing, fishing, tennis and bushwalking. Photo: Timothy M Campbell

RAC Karri Valley Resort

11342 Vasse Highway, Beedelup; (08) 9776 2020; parksandresorts.rac.com.au 

THE LOCATION Buried deep in the majestic Karri forest 323 kilometres south of Perth, the resort seems remote. But it is easily accessible from the bustling town of Pemberton.

THE PLACE With its rustic cabins, dark lake and backdrop of tall trees, there is something vaguely Scandinavian about this established forest retreat. The resort has a range of accommodation styles, sleeping groups from up to three people (a queen bed plus single), to up to eight – families are most welcome. All "Chalets" have their own kitchen; a small general store has basics only, so bring your own provisions. 

THE EXPERIENCE While many will just want to sink into peaceful hibernation, there are plenty of ways to explore the great outdoors. Canoeing, fishing and bushwalking are all popular options. Tennis, mini golf and archery are also available. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, the onsite Lakeside Restaurant has a locally focused menu daring enough to match the stunning view across Lake Beedelup. You can eat in the laidback restaurant, or take away to enjoy in private.

DON'T MISS An evening stroll along the lake shore is guaranteed to feed the soul, but if you are feeling adventurous, take a dip in the tranquil but chilly waters.

FROM $264 a night. - Mark Chipperfield

Swim in the infinity pool before ordering a cocktail and taking up residence on one of the loungers.

Swim in the infinity pool before ordering a cocktail and taking up residence on one of the loungers. Photo: Samuel Hesketh


Ritz Carlton Perth

1 Barrack Street, Perth; (08) 6559 6888; ritzcarlton.com

THE LOCATION This brand new luxury hotel is on the edge of Elizabeth Quay below the Perth CBD, overlooking the Swan River and the green slopes of Kings Park.

THE PLACE There's a hint of Mediterranean resort to this 29-storey tower, which opened in late 2019, given Perth's bright blue skies and the waterfront location. The lobby (with soaring 13-metre high ceiling) sets the tone with stone and timber flooring and waves of hanging lamps. Off the lobby is the restaurant, Hearth, looking out on the quay. Hearth Lounge, its bar, is a light-filled space of low, blue-grey chairs and angular metal chandeliers, serving its own food menu including afternoon tea.

THE EXPERIENCE Whether you've booked an entry-level deluxe room or a suite, you'll still get floor-to-ceiling windows with river views, standalone bath tub, and earth-toned armchairs angled to take in the scenery. In the afternoon, swim in the infinity pool next to the spa on Level 5 before taking up residence on one of the broad-cushioned loungers. Order a cocktail from the adjacent Songbird bar: perhaps the Tatti Mule with creme de banana and vodka from local distiller Tattarang Springs. Dinner at Hearth is mod Oz, cooked over an open fire with WA produce such as marron, or even boab tubers.

DON'T MISS Sip a local beer at Island Brew House, which serves pub-style food on an artificial island in Elizabeth Quay's inlet.

FROM $359 a night. - Tim Richards

Don't miss the sunset over Pinky's dunes is epic, and quokkas at dusk on the club's lawn.

As the sun sets over Pinky's dunes, don't forget to check out the quokkas at dusk on the club's lawn.

Discovery – Rottnest Island

Strue Road, Rottnest Island; (08) 6350 6170; discoveryholidayparks.com.au  

THE LOCATION Abutting the alabaster dunes of Pinky's Beach, Discovery – Rottnest Island can be reached by ferry in 25 minutes from Fremantle and 45 minutes from Hillarys Boat Harbour, followed by a short walk from the wharf through the island's historic village, Settlement. 

THE PLACE It's like a hotel, only with walls of canvas, inside of which you'll find crisp bed linen, scented soaps and steaming showers. Though facilities depend on accommodation category, all 83 stilted eco-tents have en suites, outdoor decks and access to shared barbecues. Most have kitchenettes and ceiling fans; four are designed for accessibility. The capacious Deluxe Dune tents boast floor-to-ceiling glass doors that overlook the beach.

THE EXPERIENCE When you're done checking out the island's multitudinous beauty spots by bike, bus or on foot, stroll from your tent along flora-protecting boardwalks to Bathurst Lighthouse, cool off in the resort pool or (better still) the translucent waters of Pinky Beach, and sample locally inspired dishes at Pinky's Beach Club.

DON'T MISS The sunset over Pinky's dunes is epic, and quokkas emerge at dusk to nibble at the club's lawn.

FROM $119 a night; minimum two-night stay during high season. - Catherine Marshall

Just like the local animals that roam, feel right at home in the lush gardens and by the pool.

Just like the local animals that often drop by, make yourself right at home in the lush gardens and by the pool. Photo: Taryn Yeates Photography

HALL OF FAME: Cable Beach Club Resort & Spa

Cable Beach Road, Broome;1800 199 099; cablebeachclub.com

THE LOCATION Broome, 1700 kilometres north of Perth, is the gateway to the Kimberley region. The hotel is positioned to capture views of the evening tropical sun painting blazing colours in the sky over the Indian Ocean and throwing long shadows of the camels on the shoreline. 

THE PLACE Across the road from the pearly-white sand, Cable Beach Club Resort & Spa has been Broome's premier lodging since Lord Alistair McAlpine opened it in 1988. The sprawling, manicured property comprises 225 accommodation units, from studios to suites, plus a day spa, family and adults-only pools and four first-rate restaurants.

THE EXPERIENCE The buildings and room decor blend colonial, Asian and Broome influences: think polished jarrah floors and panelling, corrugated iron walls, painted lattice, propeller ceiling fans and private verandahs. Wallabies, possums, goannas and tata lizards feel right at home in the lush gardens, scampering across paths in front of you. Artworks displayed throughout the resort include paintings by Sidney Nolan and Elizabeth Durack, plus an exquisite collection of glass art and sculpture, including regularly spaced stone-carved horses, which all face reception so you don't get lost.

DON'T MISS For a shucking good time, take the bumpy 45-minute tour bus ride to Willie Creek Pearl Farm and prise open the whole pinctada maxima story.  

FROM $488 a night. - Mal Chenu

These two books whill pull on your hearts strings while visiting Western Australia.

These two books will pull on your heartstrings while visiting Western Australia.

To read while you're here: 

Honeybee by Craig Silvey (Jasper Jones) is a sensitive portrayal of friendship between Sam, a young trans person, and Vic, a bereaved old man. They meet on a bridge they are both about to jump from. Set in Fremantle, it is about courage and empathy, finding your tribe and being true to yourself.

Award-winning author Gail Jones's new novel, Our Shadows, set largely in Kalgoorlie, centres on the troubled relationship between sisters Frances and Nell. Also touching on love, illness and grief, it is hauntingly beautiful. - Nicole Abadee 

Looking for escapes further afield? We have you covered: NSW/ACT, VIC, QLD, TAS, SANT.

To read more from Good Weekend magazine, visit our page at The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and Brisbane Times.