Western Australia road trip: Australia south west

If you are reading this blog, then you are most probably planning a trip to Australia. Congratulations, Australia is the place for road trips. Western Australia road trip is the opening door to the beautiful Australia’s southwest area.

You couldn’t choose a better location for road trips.

Plan sufficient time for your Australia adventure, as you will explore many attractions. Each of Australia’s road trips offers something unique. Australia is very diverse, but so beautiful.

The most popular road trips in Australia are:

  • Great Ocean Road in Victoria
  • Sydney to Melbourne and driving on the coastal Grand Pacific Drive (or from Melbourne to Sydney)
  • Sydney to Brisbane/Cairns and visiting Great Barrier Reef
  • Exploring Red Center and Uluru
  • Crossing the iconic Nullarbor Plain
  • Western Australia: either driving to the north or exploring Australia’s South West

All road trips offer many remarkable adventures, you will make unforgettable memories. Australia’s beautiful nature will leave you speechless.

EAST OR WEST COAST

Are you planning your first trip to Australia? And are you wondering where to go first? This is a tough question, and it depends on your wishes. We highly suggest you read our Australia Travel Tips before you land in Australia.

Visiting Sydney should be on your bucket list while in Australia. Check our guide on Sydney Best Attractions you should not miss. If you ask us, we suggest to plan your first road trip in Australia on the east coast.

Western Australia is a dream come true, but it is quite remote and it is not as busy as the east coast. If you prefer that, Western Australia road trip is perfect for you.

We recommend planning your road trip in a clockwise direction, so you always have the ocean on your side as you also drive on the left side.

Exception is the road trip from Sydney to Cairns, start in Sydney and make your way to the north.

Remember: you drive on the left side of the road. It is very easy to get used to it, so don’t worry about it. You will see many signs on the streets, which remind you to keep left.

Western Australia road trip

Before we will have a closer look at this road trip, few things you should know about this journey.

Western Australia is Australia’s largest state by land area, making up the western third of the continent.

Perth is the capital city of Western Australia. It is also the largest city in WA, and Perth is one of the most isolated city in the world. 

Western Australia would be in the top 10 by area, (as a country counted). It is as large as Argentina, larger than any African or European country. And one and a half times the size of Alaska.

You need to count with overall enormous expanses and distance between places.

Good thing is, Perth and south-west corner (the area you are planning to go) are easily accessible.

For the rest of the state, it requires good planning and will require some long drives. Make sure you always have lots of water (and spare fuel) with you.

Don’t underestimate the vastness of the state when plan your trip.

Western Australia road trip

Basic info

As already mentioned, this Western Australia road trip guide will take you clockwise. You will first drive from Perth to Esperance and continuing your journey to the west along the coast. It is a long drive: It is 1850km in total (1150miles). A lot of driving and many stops along your Western Australia road trip and even more speechless moments.

Why do we highly suggest doing this road trip clockwise? Many beautiful attractions and the ocean are on your left side and the first stage of Perth to Esperance road trip takes 8hours of driving.

You can either do the first stage on one drive or camp or book an accommodation along this long drive. We drove this part in one day, hit the road early in the morning and made few stops. On your long drive, you will not meet any other car for hours.

Important note

So make sure you have enough fuel, food and drinks with you. Don’t forget to have your road trip music ready as you will not get any radio signal. You will see many road trains driving in this direction (Perth to Esperance). It is a great road trip experience and we wish you happy driving.

We recommend at least 14days on this road trip, but any road trip in Australia should not be less than three weeks. The same applies for Western Australia road trip, it is a hidden gem of Australia and deserves all your attention.

Along this road trip you can do many things: from surfing (WA is famous for surfing) to swimming in rock pools or the open ocean. From hiking to easy strolls through the nature. From discovering national parks to enjoying charming little towns.

Are you looking for some great food scenes and wine tasting? Western Australia is your answer.

To enjoy Australia to its fullest, we recommend slowing down and plan always some extra time for exploring.

Let’s dive in and give you some great inspiration on your remarkable road trip through Australia’s South West area.

Western Australia road trip guide

1. PERTH

You will start your road trip in Perth. Perth is a beautiful and clean city with many great beaches around which you can reach within 20min from CBD.

Everything is within walking distance in Perth, so you don’t need a car unless you want to drive along. We highly recommend you rent a car at least for a day and check the beaches and Fremantle.

You need to visit Rottnest Island and get a selfie with quokka. Rottnest Island is a car free reserve, and in order to visit you need to book a ferry and if time allows, spend a night at Rotto. It is a beautiful place to be.

Plan a couple of days to explore Perth and its surroundings, 5 days should allow you to see everything Perth is famous for: CBD, Kings Park, Elizabeth Quay, Fremantle and Rottnest Island. The more days you have, the more you will explore.

We have a great Perth Travel Guide for you. Check it out.

Our tip: We recommend two full days for Perth: one day for Kings Park and one day for CBD. Visit during the week, as over the weekend the city is empty. One day for Fremantle and the beaches around Perth. One-night stay on Rottnest Island – book a ferry in the morning so you have enough time to bicycle around Rotto. If your schedule allows, stay even longer.

2. From Perth to Esperance road trip

This is the longest part of your Western Australia road trip, it is around 700km (435miles) and it takes around 8hours of driving to get there. When you look up on google, you can either drive by yourself, use a train or fly.

As you plan a Western Australia road trip, we assume you will rent a car or caravan, right? Don’t miss stopping at Wave Rock.

Wave Rock is a must see stop on your Perth to Esperance road trip. It is located approx. 340km south-east from Perth and takes around 4hours to get there. A perfect break on your road trip.

When you see it, you will not believe it. It is a natural rock formation that is shaped like a tall breaking ocean wave.

The “wave” is about 15m (49 ft) high and around 110m (360 ft) long. It’s believed this amazing formation was over 2,700 million years in the making. What a wave to catch.

You can explore the native flowers and birds, while taking a bush walk around the rock. It is so beautiful in springtime. The area hosts a popular music festival each year in spring – one more reason to visit this place.

Our tip: The park costs $12 to enter (you can pay at the meter or kiosk), so make sure you’ve got some change on you. Be ready for flies! Particularly during the warmer months they can be plentiful and plenty annoying.

3. Esperance

Esperance is approx. 380km (236miles) from Wave Rock and around 700km (435miles) from Perth.

It is home to one of Australia’s best beaches; it is the right place for blue sea, sunshine, grand adventures and natural attractions. The coast here changes from rugged cliffs to sweeping bays with crystal clear water and pristine national parks.

Consider Esperance as a starting point of your road trip heading along the coastline to west, back to Perth.

Esperance offers over 500kms of coastline, you will definitely find a little paradise for yourself and you will get to see the best beaches in Australia, with the most vibrantly blue water.

Our tip: Esperance is a little charming town, with a big port, so you might see big ships there. Head to visitor center where you will find useful maps for your adventures.

Don’t miss these attractions while in Esperance:

ESPERANCE’S GREAT OCEAN DRIVE

It’s a 40km self-drive loop which features a vast range of coastal elements such as stunning beaches, rocky headlands, small bays, steep cliffs and hidden ocean pools.

There are 23 stops for you along this drive, and we highly recommend visiting them all:

Rotary lookout and walk trail – offers view of the town, and there are two trails winding around Dempster Head with spectacular views of the crystal blue waters.

Twilight Cove – One of Esperance’s most famous beaches, and is a brilliant spot to kick back and relax, enjoying the sun and surf.

Pink lake lookout – it is a lovely place to watch a sunset. Information on the lake’s history and why it is no longer pink is available on site.

Our tip: We didn’t hike or ride a bicycle on this drive, which you can both do. There are few lookouts and walk trails, which are easy to walk. Make sure you have water, sunscreen, a swimsuit and a hat with you.

CAPE LE GRAND NATIONAL PARK

A 45min drive from Esperance and drive you will reach one of Western Australia’s best known and most spectacular National Park.

You need to pay an entry fee of 15AUD for one day or you can purchase a park pass. Here you will find more information about park passes.

It is famous for an ocean coloured all imaginable shades of blue sand so white and fine that is hard to picture.

No matter for how long you will visit, the place is a paradise and there is something for everyone: swim in the ocean, snorkel, surf, camp, bush walk or simply enjoy a picnic.

Visit Helfire Bay, Thistle Cove, and Lucky Bay. Did you hear about kangaroos sunbathing in the sun in Australia? This iconic sight you will see at Lucky Bay.

There are few rules to follow while visiting national park, all update information you will find under Parks and Wildlife service.

Our tip: You don’t need a 4WD to visit this national park, but if you plan on visiting more national parks or going off-road, we recommend booking a Toyota Landcruiser or something similar.

4. Fitzgerald River National Park

This national park is approx. 230km (142miles) west from Esperance, about 2,5hours drive. Depending on which route you will take.

Fitzgerald River National Park is one of the largest and most botanically important national parks in Australia. You will find nearly 20 percent of Western Australia’s flora species, many of which occur only within its boundaries.

You will see an appealing variety of landscapes, colourful breakaways, rugged peaks and headlands to stunning bays and inlets.

Entry fee is 15AUD and the unsealed roads are still suitable for a two-wheel-drive vehicle.

Enjoy scenic drives, wonderful hikes, swim at Four Mile Beach, go canoeing, surfing, fishing or camping.

Our tip: Don’t forget to bring your binoculars for whale watching. Head to Point Ann point, as it is a prime whale watching spot between July and October.

Western Australia road trip guide: The Great Southern region

Part of The Great Southern region are these towns: Bremer Bay, Albany, Denmark, and hinterland towns.

We will tell you about each town in just a quick minute but first a few words about this largest and most diverse region within Australia’s South West.

You will find it approx. 4-5hours southeast of Perth and it has so many unique attractions to offer: unspoilt coastline to idyllic seaside towns. National parks with world’s rarest species of flora and fauna.

The Great Southern region is the largest wine-producing region by area in Australia. Denmark, Frankland River, Mount Barker, Porongurup and Albany are the five wine sub-regions here. 

Do you enjoy a good bottle of wine and freshly caught seafood, then this the right place for you.

5. Bremer Bay

Bremer Bay is a coastal hamlet at the far reaches of the Great Southern Region, surrounded by stunning beaches and some of the most ecologically significant flora in the world.

A must stop is the Bremer Canyon, which is an amazing deep-water ecosystem that has proven to be one of the few locations on our planet where you can encounter offshore killer whales throughout the Australian summer months.

Around 50 kilometres off the coast of Bremer Bay is a deep canyon, less than half a square kilometre in size and recently discovered. It’s home to the largest pod of Killer Whales in the southern hemisphere, with up to 100 killer whales spotted in the area. 

6. Albany

It is about 190km (118miles) to the west, when driving on Route 1 from Fitzgerald River National Park.

The City of Albany is a historically important region of Western Australia. The King George Sound was the site of Western Australia’s first European settlement, settled several years before the Swan River Colony in Perth.

Whaling was an important industry in the early 20th century, and Albany is now THE SPOT to watch migrating humpback and southern right whales along the dramatic coastline. 

Albany plays a central role in the ANZAC (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) legend, being the last port of call for troopships departing Australia in the First World War.

Don’t miss these attractions while in Albany:

The National Anzac Centre

Learn about the 40,000 soldiers who departed Albany’s shores for the First World War.

At the beginning of the tour, you will receive a card with the name of an actual person who served in the war. Make your way through the interactive exhibition to find out what happened to the person during and after the war.

The award-winning exhibition is really worth spending some time there!

The whale museum

This whale museum is actually a former whaling station

Albany’s Historic Whaling Station was the last operating station in Australia and it provides a fascinating insight into Albany’s colourful past. 

The Gap and Natural Bridge

You can feel the power of the Southern Ocean at The Gap, a spectacular channel in the 40m high coastal granites of Torndirrup National Park.

These two attractions are close to each other and easily accessible by a pathway.

Lookouts at both The Gap and Natural Bridge provide outstanding views of the Southern Ocean and the coast from Bald Head to West Cape Howe.

When visiting The Gap, you can venture onto an accessible viewing platform 40 metres directly above the surging seas.

The viewing area of the Natural Bridge provides a less confronting but still impressive window to one of Australia’s most exposed coasts.

Our tip: Check out Torndirrup National Park, Frenchman Bay, Goode Beach, Vancouver Peninsula: these places are great for a hiking tour and spectacular views.

Perfect attractions for a day trip from Albany:

Stirling Range National Park

It is about 100km (62miles) to the north, and you need a little over an hour to get there.

Stirling Range National Park is the only major mountain area within the southern half of Western Australia.

The park is one of the world’s most important areas for flora. Many of 1500 species grow nowhere else.

The range is also one of a few places in Western Australia where snow occasionally falls.

This area is perfect for bushwalking and you can climb Bluff Knoll, which is one of Western Australia’s highest peaks. Rewarding are spectacular views over Stirling Range National Park.

Or you can do a scenic drive: The Stirling Range Drive. It will take you through the heart of the park and offer ever-changing views of rugged peaks, each with its unique character. This 42km drive, on mostly unsealed roads graded for two-wheel drive.

Porongorup National Park

You will find it half way north from Albany on your way to Stirling Range National Park.

The massive ancient granite domes of Porongurup National Park rise 670 metres, giving exhilarating views of the landscape. Enjoy a Granite Skywalk suspended on Castle Rock.

It protects the Porongurup Range, an extremely ancient and largely levelled mountain range formed over 1200 million years ago.

Two Peoples Bay Nature Reserve

It is only 35km (21miles) east of Albany, it will take you approx. 45min to get there. The reserve is perhaps most important for being home to the critically endangered Gilbert’s potoroo and the endangered noisy scrub-bird, both of which were presumed extinct until being rediscovered at Two Peoples Bay.

If you enjoy hiking, then do not miss Heritage trail which starts close to the Visitor center. Lookouts on the trail provide views across the sheltered bay. A 5km return spur from this loop leads to picturesque Little Beach.

Alternatively, you can drive from the visitor centre to Little Beach. 

7. Denmark

Denmark is only 55km (34miles) to west from Albany. You will reach this little charming town within 45min drive. Denmark has many natural attractions, mild climate all year around. It is really one of the nicest places in Australia.

Thanks to the offshore Leeuwin Current the area numbers in the top six regions for marine biodiversity, containing the most southerly coral reefs in the world. 

In the charming little town of Denmark, you will find wonderful places to shop and delicious restaurants and cafes. 

Don’t miss these attractions while in Denmark:

William Bay National Park

Expect nothing less than turquoise green waters, white sandy beaches, towering granite rocks.

You can surf, bush walk, swim in the ocean or rock pools, snorkel, and much more but do not miss Greens Pool and Elephant Rocks.

Western Australia’s iconic beaches, Greens Pool, is a must see destination. The calm waters provide great swim opportunities for the entire family. You can either swim or snorkel, relax on the beach or on the rocks overlooking the water.

At Elephant Rocks, enormous granite boulders resemble a herd of elephants lumbering out to sea.

You can walk from Elephant Rocks around the rocky headland to Greens Pool.

Great Southern wine tasting

You can already do some wine tasting around Albany, but in Denmark it is a must.

There are many vineyards with open cellar doors which will welcome you with open arms. Usually there is a small fee for wine tasting, but it varies.

You haven’t tried wine tasting yet? This is the best place to do so. Check our Do’s and Don’ts of wine tasting so you know a bit about the wine etiquette.

Our tip: When you are around Denmark you need to visit Singlefile Vineyards. They are the best and their cellar door is so beautiful and they produce very delicious wine.

Valley of the Giants Tree Top Walk

You will reach this place within 40min drive to west of Denmark and it is a glorious adventure on your Western Australia road trip.

You will climb up to 40 metres high into the forest canopy and meandering through the treetops for 600 metres. The walk trail is the first of its kind, designed to maximise views and minimise impact.

It will give you a bird’s-eye view of some of the biggest timber giants on Earth–Western Australia’s majestic tingle trees.

After your treetop walk, you will descend to the boardwalks below to explore the Ancient Empire Walk. Entering a grove of towering veteran tingle trees. Some trees have been standing for over 400 years.

Our tip: This activity is a great stop on your way to Margaret River. But if you fear heights, this attraction may not be the right place for you. The walk trail is 40 meters above the ground and is slightly swaying by the wind.

Western Australia road trip guide: Margaret River

Your Western Australia road trip would not be complete if you skip this breathtaking area.

The entire area from Albany all the way to Margaret River offers many nature attractions, spectacular views and never ending white beaches.

Margaret River is world famous, but it is still a hidden gem. You choose to visit this upcoming “a must visit destination” at the perfect time.

The drive from Denmark to Margaret River is about 320km long (198miles) and will need around 3,5hours.

Margaret River Region

The Margaret Region spreads from Busselton in the north to Augusta in the south.

Margaret River is a small town south of Perth in western Australia, known for its craft breweries, boutiques and surrounding wineries. 

This entire area is breathtaking. You can enjoy world award winning vineyards, impressive caves, white sand beaches, amazing views over Indian ocean, great surfing breaks and much more.

Don’t miss our Margaret River Region guide. The guide looks into each area closely and it has many great tips on what to do and see.

Our tip: If you love ocean, hiking, great wine and food and relaxing vibes then plan at least 5 days in this area. Even when you spend weeks, you will still have so much to discover in this area.

Western Australia road trip guide: back to Perth

Last part of your unforgettable Western Australia road trip is driving back to Perth.

The drive is about 270km long (167miles), you will need about 3 hours to get there. A good stop between your ride is to stop at Bunbury town.

We only stopped there for a cup of coffee and a slight break. You will see a sign of taking a scenic drive along the Route 1. We took it and we do not recommend it. You will not see any ocean views. It felt boring after seeing the superb south of Western Australia.

Head back to Perth and if the time allows it, stay one or two night at one of the beach towns close to Perth. We highly recommend Scarborough, which is a coastal suburb of Perth.

Get in touch with us

We hope our Western Australia road trip guide inspires you to pack the bag and visit this beautiful area. The untouched beauty of this region is simply stunning. Enjoy your road trip adventure.

Are you planning a trip to Australia and you are not sure what to see or where to go? Get in touch with us, we will gladly help you.

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You can contact us also via email if you have any stories to share or you just need some advice from us. Or you just want to chat.

We are looking forward to hear from us.

With love, Teri and Felix

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