During our Western Australia Road Trip we found beautiful nature, rugged coastal landscape, magic beaches, solitary vastness and last but not least very large distances from one place to another. All about what we have seen during the two months Western Australia Road Trip in this article. How about this itinerary for your next Western Australia Road Trip?
We have two months time to travel together with my parents through Western Australia. We want to see as much as possible of Western Australia. Normally, we travel much slower and take more time but for two months we will travel a little faster than usual.
We start in Perth and drive a big lap around Western Australia in a counterclockwise direction until we reach Perth again after two months. Because of the gigantic size of Western Australia, we cannot cover the entire state.
Western Australia is the largest state in Australia. The area is roughly 64 times the size of Switzerland or seven times the size of Germany. Only 2.6 million people live in this huge area. Most of them live along the coast. Thus, Western Australia is very sparsely populated in the interior of the country. There are huge areas that are almost deserted and difficult to access. Several deserts and barren landscapes characterize these areas far from civilization.
For a road trip through Western Australia you should calculate enough time, because the distances are huge and the attractions are often hundreds of kilometers apart. You also have to consider the seasons, because Western Australia stretches from the north to the south of the country. From the northernmost point to the southernmost point of Western Australia it is more than 2’500 km. If it’s the best time of the year to travel in one part of the state, it doesn’t mean that it is the best to other areas. Depending on the season, certain areas may not be accessible due to flooding.
In the Australian winter it is cold and unpleasant in the south, in the north it is warm and dry. During the summer months, it is extremely hot in the interior of the country and heavy rainfall can put large parts of the north under water. Along the coast it is very crowded during the summer holidays and prices rise sharply.
Perth is the only big city we visit during our Western Australia Road Trip
Perth is the starting and end point of our Western Australia Road Trip. It is the only big city in the entire state of Western Australia. Perth has a population of about 1.2 Mio. All other cities are not even close to 100’000. In Perth there are no really famous sights like the Harbor Bridge or the Opera House in Sydney. Nevertheless, spending a few days in Perth is still worthwhile.
The Kings Park with the Botanical Garden and the wonderful view of the skyline of Perth with the Swan River is a great place to spend some hours. One night we met our friends in the Kings Park to watch the sunset over Perth. The atmosphere is great and the seeing the skyline of Perth by night is awesome.
The newly designed area of Elizabeth Quay, at the banks of the Swan River, is another good place to explore. It’s a great place to have a beer in the evening and go out for a meal. In the city center, the pedestrian zone of the Hay Street Mall offers everything a shopping heart desires. A visit to Perth is always worthwhile.
You can find more inspiration for your visit to Perth in our blog post “13 Things to do in Perth”
Fremantle is the party place to go if you are in Perth
A visit to Fremantle is a must while on a road trip through Western Australia. For us, Fremantle is one of the best cities in Australia to spend some time exploring. We love the coffee culture in this cozy harbor town and the wide range of restaurants pubs and cafés. We keep coming back to Fremantle again and again and usually we stay a few days longer than we have planned.
Perth and Fremantle are very well connected as regular trains, buses and ships travel between the two places. We prefer staying in Fremantle and leave our vehicle there. If we want to go to Perth we hop on a train to get into the city. The trip with the ship takes a bit longer but is a great alternative for one way.
In our post “13 Things to do in Fremantle” you will find our tips for visiting Fremantle.
Margaret River is a fast growing wine region in Western Australia
Margaret River is very easy to reach from Perth. It’s only 270 km from Perth in a southerly direction on Highway 1. The route follows the coast and on the way to Margaret River you can stop at places like Rockingham, Mandurah, Bunbury and Busselton.
Margaret River is a relatively young wine region. The wines produced are not as well known as those from the Barossa Valley. This could change in the future, as some of Margaret River’s wine cellars specialize in high-quality products. These wines are gaining more and more attention in the market and the popularity of these wines is growing.
To explore the different wineries and visit the cellar doors we participate in a wine tour. We do not have to think about driving and can fully enjoy tasting the wines. We can highly recommend the Cheers Margaret River wine tour.
But it’s not all about wine around Margaret River. In the vicinity of Margaret River there are several, huge cave systems. Some of these caves are accessible to visitors. We decide to visit the Mammoth Cave. Equipped with an audio guide, we can explore the huge cave system independently.
Also the two peninsulas of Cape Naturaliste and Cape Leeuwin with the lighthouses are worth seeing. You love the sea and its inhabitants? Then do not miss the Hamelin Bay. Rays regularly visit the bay and if you stand in the water, they come right up to you and will touch you.
The giant trees around Pemberton are impressive
In southeastern direction of Margaret River, there are large forests with huge trees. The small town of Pemberton is the starting point for exploring these impressive forests. Pemberton was the heart of the wood industry and most of the buildings are built of wood. Before we visit the giant trees, we treat ourselves to a delicious cappuccino at the local coffee roasters.
The Dave Evans Bicentennial Tree is about 12 km outside of Pemberton. It’s one of the giant trees of this region that can be climbed. It’s great to climb up to the top and enjoy the amazing view over the landscape but don’t attempt to climb if you are afraid of height. In the article “Climbing a giant tree near Pemberton is not for the faint hearted” we described this adventure in detail.
On the way to the east you can take a short detour to the small town of Windy Harbor. If you are there at the right time of the year, you can watch whales passing by. Even if it’s not whale season, the coastal landscape is very impressive.
From Mount Frankland we can see the huge forests around Walpole
Walpole is the starting point for exploring Mount Frankland National Park. In this national park we hike to the summit of Mount Frankland. The view of the lush forest landscape is beautiful.
On the way from Walpole to Denmark lies the “Valley of the Giants” with the “Treetop Walk”. Here we can enjoy a completely new perspective in the tree tops at a height of up to 40 meters. 600 meter of catwalks were built in the tree tops and thus the tree crowns were made accessible to visitors. Right next to the Valley of the Giants is the Ancient Empire Walk, which leads through a grove of old trees.
The coast around Albany is gorgeous
The coastal section between Walpole, the small village of Denmark and Albany offers beautiful coastal landscapes. In some places the sea is very rough and the coastline rugged by the steady waves. In other places we find beautiful, protected bays and where the Denmark River flows into the sea, the beautiful Wilson Inlet has formed.
At Shelley Beach in the West Cape Howe National Park, just south of Albany, we have found a wonderful camp spot. We camp right on the beach and are blown away by the beautiful sea view. We spend our time walking along the beach, enjoying the coastal landscape and watching the sunset.
From the beach we head into the mountains. North of Albany, we visit the Porongorup and the Stirling Range National Parks. Both national parks offer spectacular landscapes with mountain peaks and great hiking trails.
The Porongurup National Park offers great hiking experiences
The highlight at Porongurup National Park is the walk to Castle Rock with the Skywalk. For the last part of this hike you will need a certain level of fitness. Climbing over the rocks is rewarded with the breathtaking Skywalk at Castle Rock. The view is phenomenal. In the article “The highlight at the Porongurup National Park is the Castle Rock” you will find more pictures of this national park.
In the Stirling Range National Park we feel like in the Swiss mountains
In the Stirling Range National Park, some mountains are up to 1’100 meters high. We like the extremely steep and rather difficult climb up to the summit of Mount Toolbrunup the most. The 360° panorama is fantastic.
The hike up to the Bluff Knoll is much easier and the view from the top is nevertheless spectacular. More information about hiking in the Stirling Range National Park in this post: Hiking in the Stirling Range National Park
A detour to Wave Rock in Hyden is worthwhile
The plan was to drive from Albany along the coast to Esperance. But heavy rains have damaged the bridge over the Philips River. The road is closed and it does not look like it would be reopened in the next few days. Since we have to drive a detour through the inland route anyway, we decide to take a little longer detour and visit the Wave Rock near Hyden.
Just outside of Hyden is a huge granite rock, the Wave Rock. The massive Wave on one side of the rock is about one hundred meters long and 15 meters high. The granite rock itself is much larger. On the granite rock, a small wall was built at the edge in 1928. With the help of this wall, the rainwater is still collected today and led into a dam containing almost 30’000 cubic meters of water.
Esperance and the Cape Le Grand National Park
We have heard a lot about Esperance and the Cape Le Grand National Park with the Lucky Bay. Lucky Bay is supposed to have the whitest beach in the world. Kangaroos come to the beach to drink water and you can cuddle them. We are eager to see if our high expectations are met.
Of course we are not the only ones that have heard of the beauty of this coastal section and so we find Esperance very touristy. At the tourist information we learn that the camping sites in the Cape Le Grand National Park are filling up very fast. However, if we will arrive there in the morning, we should be able to find a free spot. We spend one night on a campground in Esperance and leave the next morning to try to get one of the popular spots in the Cape Le Grand National Park.
We are lucky and can even choose our camp spot. During the day, the large campsite is filling up and in the afternoon it is completely full.
We enjoy a few days in Cape Le Grand National Park with hiking, swimming, relaxing, kangaroo watching and walking along the beach. And we want find out, if the beach at Lucky Bay is really the whitest beach in the world.
Yes, we agree. The beach at Lucky Bay is extremely white and we have probably never seen a whiter beach before.
The coolest attractions at Lucky Bay, however, are the kangaroos. They bounce along the beach and come to drink early in the morning and late in the afternoon. The kangaroos can hardly be disturbed by visitors and their cameras. And hey, they are really very sweet.
Our expectations have been fully met and we are glad we went back to the coast to visit the Cape Le Grand National Park. In our post about the “Lucky Bay at Cape Le Grand National Park” you will find pictures of the cute kangaroos.
Now, however, it is time to say goodbye to the sea for a while. From Esperance we travel up north and head into the Outback to follow the traces of the gold diggers. Via Norseman we are heading towards Kalgoorlie-Boulder, where we will learn more about the pioneers of the gold rush.
The mining town Kalgoorlie-Boulder
Kalgoorlie-Boulder is a gold mining town with beautifully decorated facades and historical buildings reminiscent of the gold rush at the end of the 19th century. With around 29’000 inhabitants, the outback and mining town is the fifth largest city in Western Australia. We stroll along the main shopping street and marvel at the historic buildings.
The viewpoint of the KCGM Super Pit
From the lookout, we can see the dimensions of the huge KCGM Super Pit Mine. The open cut mine is currently 3.8 kilometers long, 1.4 kilometers wide and 600 meters deep. Each year 800’000 ounces of gold are won. Every day explosions are triggered and the times of the blasting are published in the Visitor Center. The blasts always attract a whole crowd of people. A loud bang and loose rock thunder into the depths. After the bang follows the dust and a huge dust cloud rises.
From our vantage point, the mining trucks look like toy cars. Next to the road, however, they are huge. A CAT 793 mining truck costs four million dollars, weighs 166 tons and has a 3’790 liter fuel tank. This vehicle transports 225 tons of rock per load. The average amount of gold per ton is between 450 and 500 grams, which corresponds approximately to the size of a golf ball.
The Western Australian Museum in Kalgoorlie-Boulder
As we want to learn more about the history of the mining town of Kalgoorlie-Boulder, we visit the Western Australian Museum. The entrance to the museum cannot be missed with the 33 meter high Ivanhoe Headframe. In the museum we learn a lot about the history, the gold rush and the gold production.
The Miners Hall of Fame in Kalgoorlie-Boulder
We also highly recommend a visit to the Miners Hall of Fame in Kalgoorlie. We spend a whole morning in this very interesting museum. There is a huge outside area with old machines and buildings from the time of gold rush.
Unfortunately the underground mine tours down the shafts of the mine are no longer offered. A few years ago, we have been on one of these underground tours and it was a great. The mine is over 400 meters deep and has over 13 levels. For security reasons, we have only been to the first and second levels at a maximum depth of 32 meters.
The unique sculptures of Lake Ballard
We leave Kalgoorlie-Boulder along the Goldfields Highway in northern direction. After 132 kilometers we reach the small town of Menzies. After another 51 kilometers on an unpaved road to the north-west we reach the dry Lake Ballard. The largest outdoor art gallery in Australia is located on this mostly dry salt lake. The artist Antony Gromely is the artist who created the 51 sculptures. In the article “Lake Ballard – The largest open air gallery in Australia” you can find pictures of this outstanding outdoor art gallery.
We camp at the lake and enjoy the beautiful atmosphere at sunrise and sunset. Our next destination is Karijini National Park. We could backtrack from Lake Ballard and drive north along the Goldfields Highway via Lenora and Wiluna. We decide for the direct route over the unpaved road via Sandstone and Meekatharra. We arrive at the Great Northern Highway and continue to the mining town of Newman and finally to Karijini National Park.
The deep gorges of Karijini National Park are a dream
The Karijini National Park is one of the most popular and beautiful national parks in Western Australia. For millions of years, the water has washed deep gorges into the earth’s crust, creating a labyrinth of gorges and waterways. There is a large national parks campground in Karijini National Park with simple infrastructure and you can spend a few days exploring all the different walks of different difficulty levels.
Some of the gorges are so narrow that we have to climb along the rock faces like spiders using our legs and arms.
In our blog post about the Karijini National Park you can find pictures and information on the hikes in this beautiful national park.
Exmouth and the Ningaloo Reef
Exmouth is the base to explore the Cape Range National Park and the Ningaloo Reef. The Cape Range National Park offers a variety of walks, canyons, very popular seaside camping sites, many Emus and access to the Ningaloo Reef. In the Information Center of the national park we are watching an interesting movie about the whales. The whales can be seen swimming along the coastline during the season. Very popular but also extremely expensive are the whale watching tours. The whale sharks are searched with spotter planes and then chased by boats.
We do not really like the idea of chasing whale sharks and paying a fortune to get a glimpse of these wonderful animals. We decide to explore the Ningaloo Reef from the beach. In contrast to the Great Barrier Reef on the east coast, the Ningaloo Reef is much easier to access. We can simply swim from the beach and after a few meters we already reach the first corals.
We spend the day in the Cape Range National Park, explore the various beaches and walk along Yardie Creek, which is located at the southern end of the coastal road in the national park. A visit of the two canyons Charles Knife and Shothole are worthwhile and offer beautiful views over the rugged landscape.
Hamelin Pool Marine Nature Reserve and the Francois Peron National Park
The Shark Bay is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Located in the Shark Bay area, between the mainland and the Peron Peninsula, we visit Hamelin Pool. This is a very exceptional place. The beach is covered in a thick layer of tiny little shells. In some places the shell layer is up to 10 meters deep. These shells have been compressed and cemented together. Large blocks of this material were cut and used for the construction of buildings.
In the shallow waters of the Hamelin Pool there is another attraction. The stromatolites are colonies of microorganisms and are among the oldest forms of life that exist on our planet. They can be proven up to 3.5 million years ago. Those in the Hamelin Pool are estimated to be around 3’000 years old.
The town of Denham is located further up north on the peninsula. This is the starting point for the Francois Peron National Park and a visit to the dolphins of Monkey Mia. The attractions in the National Park are beautiful beaches, turquoise blue lagoons, red sand cliffs and remains of sheep farms. In Monkey Mia the dolphins are the stars. Every day dolphins can be seen on the beach. However, the dolphins do not come here by accident. They get fed by employees of the National Park under the observing eyes of hundreds of visitors.
The two faces of the Kalbarri National Park
300 kilometers south of the Hamelin pool there is another national park with beautiful landscapes. The Kalbarri National Park has two completely different faces. One is the deep red gorges of the Murchison River and the second, the rugged coastal landscape.
We first explore the gorges and start off with the eight kilometer loop walk. Near the start of this walk is also the much photographed Natural Window. The first part of this hike is high above the gorge and the Murchison River with fantastic views. After half the distance, the path leads down into the gorge. From now on the trail follows the river.
The next morning we continue our journey in southern direction. On our way along the coast we stop at the attractions of the Kalbarri National Park. The attractions are well signposted and most of the viewpoints are easily accessible from the car park. The coast with the impressive rock formations is beautiful.
The cozy coastal town of Geraldton
400 kilometers north of Perth we stop at the city of Geraldton. We find a good campground in Geraldton within walking distance to the sea and book for three nights.
The most famous landmark in Geraldton is the HMAS Sydney II Memorial on a small hill overlooking the city. The HMAS Sydney II Memorial was built to commemorate the 645 Australians who lost their lives on the ship during the Second World War.
From our campsite we can just walk over the road and we are at the beach. The 34 meter high Point Moore lighthouse is in walking distance too.
The Pinnacles in Nambung National Park near Cervantes
About 200 kilometers north of Perth We reach the town of Cervantes. The main attraction of this town is the nearby Pinnacles Desert in the Nambung National Park.
The Pinnacles Desert can be easily explored with your own vehicle. There is a four kilometer long tourist drive through this amazing landscape. The color of the sand is yellow and the landscape is extremely photogenic. Along the drive, there are many stopping bays where we can park the vehicle and walk through the rock formations.
There is also a short 1.2 kilometer long walk that starts at the Visitor Center at the entrance to the Pinnacles Desert.
The gigantic sand dunes of Lancelin
Now it’s definitely time to head back to Perth. It’s only a few days before my parents will have their flights back to Switzerland. On the way from Cervantes to Perth, we stop at the huge, white sand dunes of Lancelin.
We have heard a lot about the sand dunes around Lancelin. Now it’s time to have a look and see this great landscape with our own eyes. We drive through the town of Lancelin and follow the signs to the sand dunes. Suddenly the huge white sand dunes emerge before us. We park our car and scramble up to the dunes.
At the top of the first sand dune we can see the extent of this incredible landscape. The detour to the gigantic sand dunes is totally worthwhile.
Now it is finally time to go back to Perth. In just under two months, we have traveled about 7’500 kilometers and seen a lot of Western Australia. But there is much more to discover. The Gibb River Road, Broome, the Bungle Bungles and much more. On this trip with my parents we concentrated mainly on the south-western part and tried to pack as much as possible into our ultimate Western Australia Road Trip.
If you have more time, a visit to the Kimberley region in the north of Western Australia, is very worthwhile. In the Outback, we can highly recommend the remote routes such as the Great Central Road from Kalgoorlie-Boulder to Alice Springs in the Red Center or the Gibb River Road from Derby to Kununurra. To the south the long crossing of the Nullabour Plain brings you to South Australia.
Western Australia is the largest state of Australia and you have to adjust to huge distances and long travel times. Perth, the capital city of Western Australia, is very far from the rest of Australia. Take your time and enjoy your ultimate Western Australia Road Trip through this fascinating country.
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Have you ever been to Western Australia? Where did you like it best? Or have you planned a Western Australia Road Trip?