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December 2020


Travel and Lifestyle News from Western Australia


Welcome to the December edition of This is WA, bringing you the latest travel and lifestyle news from across Western Australia.

This will be the last newsletter for 2020, with the next edition scheduled for February 2021.

Tourism WA wishes you a safe and happy festive season.

What's Hot

DoubleTree by Hilton Perth Waterfront now open

DoubleTree by Hilton Perth Waterfront

Offering spectacular views over the Swan River and Perth city skyline, DoubleTree by Hilton Perth Waterfront has opened its doors. Located at the Elizabeth Quay precinct, the 229-room hotel spans 18 floors, and includes meeting and event spaces, a fitness centre and an outdoor infinity pool with views over the Swan River. The food and beverage offerings include Reel Kitchen – with an open kitchen concept showcasing fresh, seasonal WA produce and seafood; Oar Bistro, a deli and bakery located on the boardwalk; and 18 Knots Rooftop bar. Located on the 18th floor, the rooftop venue offers breathtaking and uninterrupted 360-views of the Swan River and Perth city. The artwork on the side of the building has been designed and installed by Fremantle-based artist Tom Mùller – and reflects the rhythm and waves of the Swan River.

Melbourne to Margaret River direct flights

Margaret River region. Image credit: Lauren Bath

Exploring one of WA’s most diverse destinations is now easier thanks to Jetstar’s new direct flights between Melbourne and Busselton in the Margaret River region. February 1, 2021 heralds the first time that travellers can fly directly from the east coast of Australia to one of Australia’s premium wine regions and also enjoy white sand beaches, ancient forests and cave systems, wildflowers and wildlife and Aboriginal culture. Here you will also find gourmet produce, breweries and distilleries, boutique accommodation, relaxed dining and local art and design. The new direct flights will operate Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays, departing Tullamarine Airport at 8:05am AEST and arriving at Busselton-Margaret River Airport at 9:10am WST; then returning to Melbourne at 9:45am WST. Flights are now on sale through, with fares starting at $149 (one way).

WA stars to shine bright at Perth Festival 2021

Tim Minchin. Image credit: Damian Bennett

The 2021 Perth Festival will overflow with WA creativity this summer, celebrating the theme of Bilya (river) from February 5 to 28. WA’s premier cultural and arts event will open in dazzling style with the City of Lights taking over the Perth Cultural Centre for 21 nights, and WA-born, globally-renowned artist Tim Minchin performing the world-premiere of his new album Apart Together with the West Australian Symphony Orchestra in Kings Park. The centrepiece for City of Lights will be the imaginary world of Bilya Beneath, an hourly immersive 360-degree spectacle of music, projections, and animations covering the Perth Cultural Centre’s buildings in vivid colour in tribute to Northbridge’s submerged waterways. As the festival's new home for 2021, City of Lights will bring live music and food from the State Theatre Centre of WA Courtyard to the street fare of Lantern Lane behind the Rechabite and all venues in between, with the full Contemporary Music program due for release on January 21. The new WA Museum Boorla Bardip is set to host several special events, including the One and Many chamber music series staged under the famous Blue Whale. Tickets are now on sale to all events, and for the full program, visit

Kylie Minogue releases WA chardonnay

Australian pop icon Kylie Minogue has expanded her recently launched wine label – Kylie Minogue Wines – with the addition of a Margaret River chardonnay. One of only two new Australian wines added to the range, the chardonnay is being made by Howard Park winery’s chief winemaker Janice McDonald, and will be launched next year. Minogue collaborated exclusively with London-based distributor Benchmark Drinks to launch her eponymous wine label in May this year, and has always been determined to have Australian wines in the range. Howard Park is a pioneering WA winery, based in the renowned Margaret River wine region in WA’s South West.

FRINGE World program release


The full 2021 FRINGE World Festival program is live, with tickets to more than 350 shows on sale. The festival will take over 93 venues throughout Perth, including festival hubs at the much-loved Woodside Pleasure Garden in Northbridge, and Girls School - located in the historic 1930s Old Perth Girls School Building. There’s also a new hub - State of Play at the State Theatre Centre of WA; and new venues across the city and in the coastal suburb of Scarborough. Highlights for the festival program includes the multi-sensory musical Ballads, Banksia and Beauty by Fringe stalwart Jessie Gordan, theatre work FIRE, a world premiere by local Aboriginal group Kaylakoorl Collective, A Day in the Life of Man by Men of the West choir, and Have a Bath with Me? by notoriously debauched Perth cabaret icon Tomas Ford. The annual festival is the third largest Fringe festival in the world, and will run over four weeks from January 15 to February 14, 2021.

Abrolhos Islands named best 2021 destination

Abrolhos Islands

The Abrolhos Islands, one of WA’s most unique marine environments, has been named the world’s best destination for off-the-grid and under-the-radar-travel in 2021 by global company Skyscanner. As one of the world’s largest travel companies, Skyscanner’s 2021 Top Destinations & Travel Trends was curated using extensive traveller data and insights from expert travel commentators, including predictions on the soon-to-be trending destinations. Located 60 kilometres off the coast of Geraldton in WA’s Coral Coast region, the Abrolhos Islands are made up of 122 islands, surrounded by coral and marine life, with the three main clusters of islands stretching north to south for 100 kilometres. Accessing the islands will soon be made easier thanks to the construction of two new jetties at East Wallabi and Beacon Islands, expected to be completed by early-2021. In addition, Abrolhos Adventures – operating from Geraldton – has introduced a new vessel to its fleet. Offering all-inclusive sightseeing day tours to the Abrolhos Islands, the new vessel reaches the islands in 80-minutes, as opposed to 2.5-hours on other vessels.

Albany to welcome Seashells accommodation

Albany’s iconic Middleton Beach will be the site of a landmark new hotel with a buyer now secured for the ocean-front site, and Seashells Hospitality Group confirmed as the operator. The new four-star plus hotel - Seashells Albany - will be the centrepiece of the Middleton Beach Activity Centre, offering 80 to 100 rooms with a choice of one and two-bedroom spacious and stylish suites. The hotel will also see the creation of beach front food and beverage facilities for both locals and visitors. Construction is expected to start in mid-2021. The coastal city of Albany in WA’s Great Southern region is a five hour drive from Perth, or one hour and 15 minutes on a direct flight.

Lifestyle and Culture

Northam welcomes new public art

Northam Flour Mill Mural by Amok Ilsand

Visitors to the town of Northam - located in the picturesque Avon Valley, less than 1.5 hours’ drive from Perth – will now be welcomed by a stunning new mural displayed on the historic Northam Flour Mill. Designed and painted by Perth-based artists Amok Island – the work celebrates Northam’s white swans and their home on the banks of the Avon River. Built in 1867, the Northam Flour Mill is a well-loved major landmark for the town, with historical significance as a pioneer industry in the district. The new mural is an addition to the handful already in existence, including the 38-metre high work painted across eight CBH Group wheat silos by international artists Hense and Phlegm as part of FORM’s PUBLIC Silo Trail. In addition to these new attractions, over the past couple of years the town has welcomed the opening of boutique accommodation offering, the Farmers’ Home Hotel; and a state-of-the-art Aboriginal cultural learning centre – Bilya Koort Boodja.

Black Swan releases 2021 season – With Love

Black Swan Theatre Company of WA has released its program for the 2021 season – With Love. In celebration of Black Swan’s 30th year, the season will re-establish the company’s strong connection to heritage. The season will commence with an Aussie makeover of The Cherry Orchard, taking place from February 17 to March 14 at the Sunset Heritage Precinct, located alongside the Swan River. Black Swan will also host the inaugural Maali Festival at the State Theatre Centre of WA, to be held during NAIDOC Week from July 9 to 10. The multi-disciplinary festival will acknowledge and celebrate the diversity of the world’s oldest living culture, from traditional dance and musical acts, to a return season of the ground-breaking play Bindjareb Pinjarra. Other highlights include the world premiere of York at the Heath Ledger Theatre from July 10 to August 1, and a return to the playwright and stage where it all began, Octagon Theatre – with audiences invited to vote for the Shakespearean play they would like presented to complete the 2021 season.

Shinju Matsuri tickets now on sale

Shinju Matsuri festival

Tickets are now on sale for Shinju Matsuri (festival of the pearl), set to be held from August 21 to September 5, 2021 in Broome – the pearling capital of Australia in WA’s Kimberley region. Guests can now secure a spot at the iconic Sunset Long Table Dinner at Cable Beach on September 4, and the Chinatown Feast on September 1. Travel packages for accommodation during the festival are also now available. The annual Shinju Matsuri event is a celebration of the diverse cultures that have come together in Broome over the past century for pearls, including Japanese, Malaysian, Chinese and Aboriginal.

Emergence Creative Festival to return in 2021

Emergence Creative Festival workshop. Image credit: Darren McCagh

Emergence Creative Festival is set to return to Margaret River in WA’s South West from March 24 to 26, 2021. Now in its seventh year, the festival is an immersive anti-conference fusing culture with creative thinking. Over three nights and two days, some of the world’s most innovative minds and acclaimed speakers will share their latest revelations, inspiring guests to tap into new ideas and skills in a series of talks and hands-on workshops. Tickets and accommodation specials are now on-sale, with the line-up set to be announced in early 2021.

Food and Wine

Fremantle welcomes a new distillery

Republic of Fremantle

The eclectic port city of Fremantle, located less 30 minutes from Perth, has welcomed the opening of a new urban distillery – Republic of Fremantle. Crafting signature vodka and gin using innovative grape to glass distilling methods – sourcing wine from WA vineyards which is then double distilled in a custom-built copper still, located in the venue. The 100-seat bar and kitchen – with additional bar space to come in 2021 – offers tasting flights, fresh cocktail creations and an eclectic selection of small share plates and apertivo style snacks.

SoHo opens in Mount Lawley

The inner-city suburb of Mount Lawley has recently welcomed a new neighbourhood café. SoHo Lane, the sister venue of coffee spot Little Soho in the Perth CBD, offers an all-day brunch menu focusing on simple food done well, but with a twist, including New York-style dishes such as pickle-brined fried chicken and ox tongue pastrami bagel. The colour palette for the venue is also inspired by New York streetscapes – with the owners Matt Miller and Trindy Adler having lived in city for 12 years. The drinks menu features coffee locally roasted by Micrology Coffee Roasters, and a rotating selection of single origin brews, tea, speciality chai, kombucha and cold pressed juices.

EPOCH café opens at WA Museum Boola Bardip

EPOCH at the new Museum Boola Bardip

With the opening of the new WA Museum Boola Bardip comes a new café. EPOCH, meaning a definitive moment in time, celebrates WA local produce with a rotating seasonal menu and a fully licensed beverage menu heroing WA wines and brews. The neutral toned space, which offers alfresco dining surrounding the museums old and new architecture, delivers an all-day menu, with ‘Grab and Go’ options available for passers-by. EPOCH has also partnered with the iconic Mary Street Bakery to provide pastries and breads. Located just off Beaufort Street, the café is open from 7am daily, with gluten free, vegetarian, vegan, halal and other dietary options available, along with a kids menu.

Australia’s first wheat whiskey

Whipper Snapper Distillery's Wheat Whiskey

Perth’s first urban distillery - Whipper Snapper Distillery - has started producing Australia’s first wheat whiskey. Born from a connection to the WA Wheatbelt region, the new single grain collection showcases the heritage of local farmers and the provenance of their land. Produced from a hard red winter wheat grown on a farm near Narrogin, and aged for four years in Char #3 Virgin American White Oak barrels, the new wheat whiskey delivers the silky soft flavours of vanilla, maple syrup and caramel blended across oak and grain. With the first release selling out in record time, the second release is due in early 2021.

Dates announced for Truffle Kerfuffle

Manjimup truffles

Much-loved WA foodie festival, Truffle Kerfuffle, is set to return to Manjimup from June 25 to 27, 2021 to celebrate its 10th year. Guests can look forward to indulging in long table feasts with generous amounts of freshly unearthed truffles, joining in free cooking demonstrations, taking part in a truffle hunt and sampling fresh truffle and Southern Forest produce. Manjimup and the Southern Forests region, located a 3.5 hour drive south of Perth, produces more than 70 per cent of Australia’s supply of the rare delicacy, with the festival celebrating the beginning of the truffle season.

Voyager Estate awarded Winery of the Year

Voyager Estate, located in the Margaret River wine region, has received a number of accolades in Ray Jordan’s The West Australian Wine Guide 2021. The family-owned and organically farmed winery was awarded Winery of the Year and Winemaker of the Year, with the 2018 MJW Chardonnay also taking home White Wine of the Year. Guests to the winery can discover more about Voyager Estate’s wine growing practices, organic certification and food and wine philosophy on one of the bespoke ‘behind the scenes’ tours.

Tours, Attractions and Accommodation

New high speed ferry to Rottnest

Rottnest Fast Ferries new high speed catamaran - Harbour Master

Visitors to Perth’s island playground, Rottnest, are set to benefit from a significant boost in ferry capacity this summer, thanks to the acquisition of a new vessel by Rottnest Fast Ferries. Scheduled to commence on December 26, the new high speed catamaran – Harbour Master – will be the newest and most spacious ferry to service the island. Catering for up to 420 passengers, it will be the largest of Rottnest Fast Ferries’ existing fleet. Operating from Hillarys Boat Harbour, Harbour Master will service all suburbs north of Perth and tourists staying in Perth city. Rottnest Fast Ferries are also offering a Kids Travel Free deal, with two children per adult ferry fare able to travel for free any day of the week.

Orca expeditions to commence in early 2021

Bremer Bay Orcas. Image credit: Naturaliste Charters

The small coastal town of Bremer Bay in WA’s South West is home to one of the largest known congregations of orcas in the Southern Hemisphere. Every summer more than 150 orcas and other marine predators such as sperm whales, pilot whales and sunfish visit the Bremer Canyon to feed on an abundance of prey. Visitors can witness first-hand the excitement of spotting these incredible creatures in the wild on a whale watching tour with Naturaliste Charters – which run from January to April, and Whale Watch Western Australia – which run from January to March. The all-day expeditions depart daily, and include meals, beverages and on-board commentary by a Marine Biologist.

New water-based tourism hub at Collie’s Lake Kepwari

The outdoor adventure playground of Collie, nestled in the Darling Ranges in WA’s South West, has welcomed the opening of a new water-based tourism hub at Lake Kepwari, located 10 kilometres south-east of the town. Featuring areas for boating, waterskiing, swimming, camping and picnicking – the new development at the lake has seen the construction of a dual lane boat ramp, designated parking for boat trailers and sealed accessible pathways. This project adds to the other new tourism offerings being developed in the region, including a mega mural at Wellington Dam, and mountain bike, walk and drive trails through the Collie River Valley and Ferguson Valley.

Glamping on Woody Island

Woody Island's new glamping tents

Woody Island, one of the 105 islands in the Recherche Archipelago located just 15 kilometres off the coast of Esperance, has recently welcomed the addition of four glamping tents to its accommodation offering. Operated through Woody Island Eco Tours, the four new tents are all individually styled with decking and supreme ocean views of Shearwater Bay, and start from $250 per night. Other accommodation options on the island include safari huts, furnished tents and camping sites, as well as a kiosk with food, drinks, a fully equipped camp kitchen and equipment for hire. Guests will enjoy the natural and unique island environment, with opportunities to swim, snorkel, fish, and hike; or simply just relax on the beach. The town of Esperance is located a 7.5 hour drive south-east from Perth, in WA’s Golden Outback region.

Nullarbor Traveller launches new yoga and wellness tour

Nullarbor Traveller has launched a new four day South West Yoga & Wellness Glamping Adventure tour in the Margaret River region of WA’s South West. Departing from Perth once a month from January to April, 2021 – guests will have the opportunity to connect with mind, body and country as the experience takes in the natural wonders of the region. Highlights of the tour include regular yoga sessions, including SUP yoga in Geographe Bay, glamping at the award-winning permaculture farm Fair Harvest, a hike along the Cape to Cape Track with a local healer and meditation expert, tasting organic and local produce, and an Aboriginal cultural experience with Koomal Dreaming. Tours start from $1,450 and include accommodation, transport, meals, daily yoga and all activities.

Upgrades to William Bay National Park now complete

Greens Pool in William Bay National Park

William Bay National Park – located in the South West town of Denmark, and home to picture perfect Greens Pool and Elephant Rocks – has now reopened to the public after receiving upgrades to the park’s infrastructure. Sealed roads, additional car parking bays, new toilet blocks, picnic tables, bicycle racks and signage are set to improve the visitor experience. Located just 4.5 hours’ drive from Perth, the national park is well-known for its pristine turquoise water and white sandy beaches edged by granite boulders which create ideal swimming, snorkelling and diving conditions.

Pink Lake buggy tours

Visitors to the iconic pink lake Hutt Lagoon, located near Port Gregory in WA’s Coral Coast, can now experience the bubble gum hues on a guided buggy tour. The Pink Lake Buggy Tours will take guests along the Port Gregory coastline to discover some of the town’s history and local flora and fauna, and to the top of the sand dunes where they will get a stunning elevated view of the lake. The one hour tours – which start from $80 for adults and $50 for children - will commence again in January 2021, and are available to book through the Port Gregory Caravan Park.

Perth’s Outback Splash opens new summer bar

Gage Roads Summer Bar at Perth's Outback Splash

Perth’s newest waterslide attraction, Outback Splash, has opened a new pop-up bar for the summer months in partnership with Gage Roads. Located on the doorstep of the Swan Valley wine region – less than 30 minutes from Perth city – the Gage Roads Summer Bar is situated inside a large timber cabana overlooking the six-storey water slide tower, and will serve up a range of Gage Roads local brews. Featuring pallet furniture, bean bags and plenty of umbrellas on the grass, it offers the ideal location to sit back and relax during a fun-filled day.

Coral Expeditions releases expanded 2021 Kimberley program

Coral Expeditions, Australia’s small ship expedition line, has released a revised expanded sailing schedule for the 2021 Kimberley season in WA’s North West, with a series of forty sailings on-board three vessels: Coral Discoverer, Coral Adventurer and the debut season of the new Coral Geographer. In the company’s 25-year history of Kimberley coast expeditions, this will be the largest season of over 40 voyages, and will meet demand for guests who wish to experience this magical destination. The season will start in late March and extend through to October 2021, with the 10-night expeditions carrying fewer than 100 passengers. Guests will have the opportunity to see the Kimberley waterfalls in full flow early in the season, and to see the whale migration season during the September and October departures.

Sealing of Broome’s Cape Leveque Road now complete

Kooljaman at Cape Leveque

Access to Aboriginal experiences dotted along the Dampier Peninsula coastline in WA’s Kimberley region will now be easier, with the sealing of Cape Leveque Road between Broome Highway and Beagle Bay now complete. The sealed road provides all weather access to the northern areas of the Dampier Peninsula, improving safety and reducing commercial transport costs. The peninsula has one of the highest concentrations of Aboriginal-owned tourism businesses in Australia, including the award-winning wilderness property Kooljaman at Cape Leveque, and is also home to Australia’s oldest operating pearl farm, Cygnet Bay.

Go-kart around Optus Stadium

Visitors to Perth’s iconic sporting and entertainment complex – Optus Stadium, will be able to experience high-octane go-kart racing on a unique 730-metre purpose-built track at Stadium Park. Operating until the end of February 2021, Stadium Park Karts will enable guests to race up to 16 people in Italian-made Ricciardo Karts – capable of hitting speeds up to 60kmh, and designed by Perth-born Formula 1 legend Daniel Ricciardo. Racing is suitable for those over 140 centimetres in height, and bookings are essential.


Busselton Jetty Swim

February 13 to 14 | Busselton | WA’s South West

The SunSmart Busselton Jetty Swim event will be held over two days, with activities and family entertainment for everyone. The event is regarded as one of the South West’s premier sporting events. The course is a swim of 3.6 kilometres around the Busselton Jetty, in the tranquil waters of Geographe Bay.

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KFC Big Bash League

January 3, 6, 9 & 12 | Optus Stadium | Perth

Perth’s world-class Optus Stadium will play host to the KFC Big Bash League cricket games over the month of January 2021. The Perth Scorchers will take on the Melbourne Renegades, Sydney Sixers, Sydney Thunder and Hobart Hurricanes in the T20 series.

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FRINGE World Festival

January 15 to February 14 | Perth

One of WA’s most popular festivals, FRINGE WORLD, is set to deliver the ultimate summer festival experience. Now the third largest Fringe festival in the world, the jam-packed program of over 350 shows held across more than 93 venues, will see a line-up of comedy, circus, free and family entertainment, theatre, visual arts, musicals, dance and cabaret presented by local artists. 

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Perth Festival

February 5 to 28 | Perth

WA's premier cultural and arts event is set to deliver a feast of cutting-edge performances and activities for all ages, featuring local WA talent expanding across contemporary theatre, dance, music, film, visual arts and literature. Celebrating the theme of Bilya (river), festival highlights for the 2021 program include the City of Lights taking over the Perth Cultural Centre with an immersive 360-degree spectacle of music, projections and animations; Tim Minchin performing the world-premiere of his new album Apart Together with the West Australian Symphony Orchestra in Kings Park; and the new WA Museum Boorla Bardip is set to host several special events.

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Sculpture by the Sea

March 5 to 22 | Cottesloe | Perth

Sculpture by the Sea sees Cottesloe Beach transform into a spectacular sculpture park with more than 70 works on display from artists across Australia and the world. As Perth’s largest free public event, exhibits from some of the world's top sculptors are displayed against a backdrop of one of the city's most popular beaches.

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Karijini Experience

April 6 to 10 | Karijini | WA’s North West

The Karijini Experience is a celebration of culture and connection, set in the magnificent Karijini National Park in WA’s Pilbara region. The five-day program offers a selection of art, music, food and culture experiences presented by a mix of traditional owners, nationally renowned artists and talented locals. There’s free and family friendly events, alongside high quality ticketed events such as a culinary experience under the stars and Opera in the Gorge.

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Media contact:
Jayde Little & Tiana Anderson


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