West Australians have been busy. While COVID-19 restrictions have kept most of us out of Australia's largest state for the last eight or nine months, the residents of WA have been busy improving their tourism offering, with a spate of new hotels and attractions ready for the influx of interstate visitors when all borders finally reopen.
HOTELS - THE RITZ-CARLTON COMES TO TOWN
Perhaps the most exciting of the hotel openings is Perth's new Ritz-Carlton Hotel, the luxury brand's 100th property, and its only current presence in Australia. The new Ritz-Carlton, which opened last month, sits on the banks of the Swan River in downtown Perth, and features a rooftop bar overlooking the water, a fire-powered grill restaurant called Hearth led by executive chef Jed Gerrard, plus a spa and outdoor infinity pool.
There are plenty more new hotels to look out for, too: the likes of the Samphire Rottnest, the first luxury accommodation on Rottnest Island; Warders Hotel, a boutique property in Fremantle set in old limestone cottages; Jaspers Cabins, a set of three luxury studio spaces in Pemberton; the Hilton Garden Inn in Albany; and a new Doubletree by Hilton overlooking the Swan River at the Perth Waterfront.
EXPERIENCES - SKY WALK AND SKY TOURS
Of course, holidays have to come with experiences, and numerous products have been launched throughout Western Australia in the last few months. In rugged Kalbarri on the Coral Coast, the Kalbarri Skywalk, which opened in June, has been extremely popular with local travellers, and will become even more of a drawcard with the launch of Skywalk Dinners, a series of meals under the stars, with diners perched on a platform 100 metres above the Murchison River Gorge.
Elsewhere, HeliSpirit is now offering scenic helicopter flights from Esperance, taking in Cape Le Grand National Park and the pink-hued Lake Hillier; Perth Waterbike Adventures and GoGo Active Tours are sending visitors out on the Swan River on waterbikes and kayaks; RedSands Campers has opened a depot in Kununurra, meaning travellers can undertake one-way 4WD journeys along the Gibb River Road; and in Dwellingup, home to some of WA's best mountain-biking terrain, the new Dwellingup Trails and Visitor Centre has thrown open its doors.
CULTURE - MUSEUMS AND TOURS
For culture vultures, WA also has a few big-ticket museum openings, as well as new Indigenous experiences to attract visitors.
In Perth, the WA Museum Boola Bardip is a $400 million project designed to act as a gateway to explore all of Western Australia. There's nearly 6000 square metres of exhibition space , spread across restored heritage sites and a newly constructed building. At the Perth Cultural Centre, meanwhile, a new multi-use rooftop venue called Elevate is due to open early next year.
For those looking to connect with Indigenous culture and stories in WA, Warrang-Bridil's Nick Abraham is now conducting walking tours of the Swan River area, sharing the knowledge of the Nyoongar people along the way. In Bunbury, to the south of Perth, Troy Bennell from Ngalang Wongi Aboriginal Cultural Tours shares his own knowledge and experiences with tours of his local area. And in Murujuga National Park, in the Pilbara region, the new $1.5 million Ngajarli walking trail is helping showcase the area's wide array of rock art, some of it thought to be up to 45,000 years old.
FOOD & DRINK - BREWING & FIND DINING
And finally, we come to food and drink. If you like a beer, Perth is your spot. Bailey Brewing Co, a new craft brewery set on a 10-acre property overlooking the Swan River just outside the city opened last month. Pirate Life is another recently opened microbrewery, this time in the CBD. And down south in Busselton, Shelter Brewing Co's brewpub has a stunning location overlooking Busselton Jetty and Geographe Bay.
For foodies, Cooee is set to become destination dining, a 125-seat venue on the banks of the Swan River in the Old Swan Brewery site, helmed by acclaimed chef Alan Wise. Here, Wise is taking fine-dining techniques learned in New York kitchens and applying them to high-quality WA produce, with a seafood-heavy modern-Australian menu already attracting attention.