5 Outstanding Western Australian Road Trips

5 Outstanding Western Australian Road Trips

In a nation known for its vast frontiers and independent spirit, Western Australians epitomize the essence of that daring Aussie DNA. Perth consistently finds itself on lists of the world’s most remote settlements. Situated nearly 4,000km away from Sydney by road and a four-hour flight from the east coast, Perth exists in its own time zone (Western Standard Time), setting it apart from the rest of the country.

Despite embracing their isolated roots, locals are avid travelers, both domestically and internationally. Take my friend Anthony, an entomologist who studied invasive insects in the historic pearling port of Broome in the northwest. He would journey 250km (155 mi) twice a week simply for a game of squash. I wholeheartedly agree with him — Western Australians truly embody the spirit of a “road trip.” Here’s a mere glimpse of the remarkable routes, both long and short, that this wild and awe-inspiring region has to offer.

1. Rottnest Island: Around Perth

Embark on a thrilling two-wheeled adventure that unveils an island paradise boasting some of Western Australia’s most breathtaking bays, perfect for snorkeling, fishing, surfing, and all within easy reach of Perth. Plus, you’ll have the opportunity to hang out with the adorable quokkas — miniature wallabies that were mistakenly called rats by Dutch explorers, hence the nickname “Rat’s Nest” or Rottnest.

Start by renting bicycles in Perth and enjoy a scenic 25km (15 mi) ride along the picturesque Swan River to Fremantle. Take a moment to savor a refreshing espresso on The Strip or explore the vibrant local markets. Then, catch the morning ferry of Rottnest Express, ensuring you grab an island guide and some picnic supplies in Thomson Bay before embarking on your adventure. Pedal your way through the island’s car-free sanctuary, covering its 18km (11 mi) length and 6km (4 mi) breadth. Don’t forget to savor a pint at the Rottnest Hotel, where you can admire captivating city views across Cockburn Sound. Finally, hop on one of the regular ferries that will effortlessly transport you back to Perth, concluding your memorable journey.

Road trip distance: 40km (24 mi).

2. Margaret River: Wine country

Embark on a captivating journey by heading south from Perth on the scenic Kwinana Freeway for a two-hour drive to the Dolphin Discovery Centre, an esteemed attraction in Bunbury. From there, continue your adventure to the charming town of Margaret River, affectionately known as “Marg’s.” This idyllic wine region exudes natural allure and boasts numerous vineyards nestled amidst ancient karri forests, renowned for producing exceptional Sauvignon Blancs and Cabernet Sauvignons. Indulge in delectable dining experiences as top chefs in the area curate delicious pairings for your palate.

For those seeking coastal thrills, venture to the nearby coast, where prime surfing spots await, and witness the awe-inspiring sight of humpback whales during their annual migration from June to October. Delve into an underground world of wonder as well, with the presence of vast and intricate karst cave systems in the vicinity. Explore these subterranean marvels through guided tours, ranging from leisurely boardwalks to more adventurous “abseil-your-way-in” expeditions, offering a truly immersive experience.

Road trip distance: 540km (335 mi).

Also read: Should I Travel Alone or In A Group?

Do be sure to pass by Sugarloaf Rock on your visit to Margaret River.
Do be sure to pass by Sugarloaf Rock on your visit to Margaret River.

Also read: East Coast VS West Coast Australia

3. South Coast to Esperance: The world’s whitest sand

Embark on an epic southeastern journey from Perth, spanning four and a half hours, where you’ll traverse the tranquil wheat-belt towns and reach the historic city of Albany, marking the first European footsteps in Western Australia. Immerse yourself in the rich whaling and ANZAC military history that permeates the region before setting off on a captivating coastal drive towards Esperance.

Begin your adventure by exploring the rugged beauty of Torndirrup National Park, where you can witness the dramatic Blowholes, marvel at the Bridge, and wander through the breathtaking Natural Gap. Two hours away lies Fitzgerald River National Park, boasting diverse bush trails that showcase a remarkable array of wildflowers during spring, including many species found nowhere else on the planet. As you reach the windswept shores of Esperance, indulge in the serenity of its pristine, white-sand beaches, perfect for swimming and snorkelling. Experience the meeting of the golden Outback and the Southern Ocean, as vibrant turquoise waters collide with rust-red granite outcrops.

Continuing east, you’ll discover the dazzling Cape Le Grande National Park, a mere half-hour away. Here, you’ll find Lucky Bay, renowned for its pristine, powdery white sands, considered the world’s purest. Finally, on your return journey to Perth, be captivated by the awe-inspiring Wave Rock, WA’s magnificent geological wonder, located hundreds of kilometres away from the ocean but still offering a glimpse of nature’s raw power.

Prepare for an unforgettable adventure, where dramatic landscapes, rich biodiversity, and cultural heritage blend harmoniously to create an extraordinary exploration of Western Australia’s southeastern wonders.

Road trip distance: 1682km (1045 mi).

Make the high-drama Southern coastal drive east toward Esperance.
Make the high-drama Southern coastal drive east toward Esperance.

Also read: These Places Should Be On Your Australia Bucket List

4. The Coral Coast: Exploring Ningaloo Reef

For a quick getaway, hop on a flight from Perth to Exmouth and embark on an unforgettable adventure in this magnificent northwest wonderland. Upon arrival, rent a car and set off to discover the natural marvels of Ningaloo, a UNESCO World Heritage-listed fringing reef that stretches an impressive 300km (186 mi) along the coastline. Prepare to be amazed as the reef hugs the shore, allowing for easy exploration in enchanting locations like the must-visit Turquoise Bay, where the reef lies just 100m (328 ft) from the beach. Make Exmouth your base as you embark on daily road trips to explore the region.

Discover the wonders of Ningaloo Marine Park, where you can snorkel, dive, or cruise in a glass-bottom boat among a staggering array of marine life. Encounter over 500 species of fish, graceful manta rays, and majestic turtles. For the adventurous at heart, venture just beyond the reef and swim alongside the magnificent whale shark, the largest fish in the ocean, as they visit from March to July.

Immerse yourself in the beauty of Cape Range National Park, where you can hike through the picturesque Mandu Mandu Gorge or take a scenic cruise along Yardie Creek, where you might catch a glimpse of the elusive black-footed rock wallaby. Indulge in the laid-back atmosphere of Coral Bay, where the coastal Cardabia-Ningaloo Road (accessible by 4WD vehicles) leads to secluded beaches and idyllic snorkelling spots. Before you embark on your journey, ensure you stock up on supplies and check road conditions and tide times.

With its proximity to Perth and an abundance of natural wonders to explore, Exmouth and Ningaloo offer an adventure-packed escape that will leave you in awe of the region’s beauty. Dive into the crystal-clear waters, marvel at the vibrant marine life, and create lasting memories in this extraordinary corner of Western Australia.

Road trip distance: 450km (279 mi).

5. Gibb River Road: The Far Northwest

At the pinnacle of my Western Australia bucket list lies this captivating route, a journey filled with stories and adventure. It traces the path of an old, rugged cattle-drive trail from Derby to Wyndham in the remote and untamed northwest. Prepare yourself for an expedition like no other, where breathtaking gorges, historic outback cattle stations, rich Aboriginal culture, and captivating pioneer history await in the heart of the vast wilderness. This is Western Australia at its purest and most authentic, an experience that embodies the spirit of this remarkable land.

Road trip distance: 660km (140 mi) one way.


Also read: The Best 5 Attractions & Things to Do in Brisbane

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