Wildflowers of Western Australia

Many people have the impression that Western Australia is just a great big barren land. It is true that WA has more than its fair share of desert, and that much of the state is wild and inhospitable, but Western Australia also has a gentler side, and come Spring a very large part of this enormous landscape bursts into brilliant colour as the wildflowers come into season.

With over 12,000 different types of flowers that are native to Western Australia (that we know of – many are still being discovered), which is roughly the same number of plants which occur naturally in all of the countries of Europe, the range of colours when they bloom is simply awesome.

These displays can last from June to November, but the first flowerings start in the north and they gradually open later into the season as the sun spreads its warmth further south. By the time the most southerly of the flowers are in full bloom, those in the north are long past their prime, so the canny wildflower watcher starts their search up near Carnarvon, and slowly meanders south to coincide with the change from late winter into late spring.

Naturally, the vibrancy of colours and abundance of flowers depends on the amount of winter rains each region receives. In relatively dry years, the shows are simply wonderful, but following a wet winter, the sight of hundreds of kilometres of land glowing with carpets of reds, whites, yellows and purples is absolutely astounding. It’s as if the land just bursts into life. A landscape which formerly looked harsh and foreboding suddenly turns soft and welcoming with great bursts of colour everywhere. With the flowers comes the birds, and all is rich and bountiful.
Acacias, banksias, orchids, dryandras, grevilleas and hardenbergias overtake the landscape along with melaleucas, Scaevola, leschenaultia and verticordia. Some of these species are relatively abundant, whilst others demand a keen eye to be seen.

Wildflower season is the most popular time for tourists to visit Western Australia, and many tour companies offer itineraries of varying durations; most of which are accompanied by a horticulturalist who can talk in great detail about the plants that will be encountered.

Many people choose to drive themselves and, thankfully, it is never difficult to find the extensive drifts of wildflowers; indeed, in many areas you’d be hard pressed to find areas that aren’t covered by colour.

Some of the better shows can only be seen on the more remote roads, which are usually dirt, and which can often be in poor condition. Often, you won’t need a four wheel drive to reach these spots, but if there have been recent rains; a four wheel drive vehicle would be the safest option.

I’ve found that the best time to see the wildflowers is usually between mid August until mid September in an area roughly bounded by Dalwallinu, Payne’s Find and Mullewa; but I stress that is merely a personal preference. From mid September until Mid October the southern part of WA bursts into life, and that’s a good time to visit the Margaret River or Albany region to enjoy wildflowers at their best in the cooler climes.

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