Road Tripping Australia’s South West? Here’s what you need to know!

Australia’s South West seems to fly under the radar a lot. Western Australia is usually forgotten and when people think about Australian travel, they generally only think about the East Coast.

Western Australia is my home, and while I’m always thinking about where to go and planning the next trip, i often forget about how insanely beautiful my home is. So when me and my sisters all had time off work over Christmas and New Years, we decided, we were going to conquer Australia’s South West, and see it all in 12 days.

This itinerary covers everything that i would consider to be the main things you have to see. Of course there’s always more to see and do but to really get a feel for Australia’s South West and see all the main sites we locals love, these are things i suggest you do.

Quick Tips before head off on your adventure:

  • Make sure you’re car is safe, the last thing you want is to be in the middle of the desert, 3 hours out of reception, with a broken down car in the midst of a Western Australian summer
  • Book campsites in advance, we made the mistake of not doing this and spent a lot of time trying to find a spot to camp some nights. Lesson learned!
  • Don’t take FWD tracks if you don’t have a FWD. Sometimes they look fine but they’re really not, so just be sensible with what your car can handle
  • Pack healthy snacks and some basic food items to start off with. Anything you need food wise, you’ll be able to get along the way. Being on a road trip and on a budget doesn’t mean you can’t be healthy. See my post on staying healthy on a budget road trip!
  • Take turns driving, road tripping can be tiring and driving for hours at a time on a continuous road can be very dangerous. The South West Highway is also not the safest road as there is a lot of people driving really dangerously. So, stay aware and swap if you’re starting to feel like you can’t concentrate.

 

Day 1: Perth to Lane Poole

Drive duration:

Perth -> Lane Poole = 1 hour 30 minutes a nice easy drive to start your trip!

Where to stay:

Chuditch camp ground in Lane Poole Reserve for approximately $10 per night. Chuditch has picnic benches on each site, toilets, and even a camp kitchen.

What to do:

There’s plenty of walking trails for the hiking lover. You could even do a section the Dwellingup section of the Bibbulmun track.

If you’d rather relax, you could head down to Island pool to have a picnic and a swim, or you could even just stay at your campsite, set up a hammock and read a good book. There’s something so serene about being surrounded by gigantic, beautiful trees with the light shining through and hitting your skin.

australia's south west road trip

 

Day 2: Lane Poole Reserve to Boranup

Drive duration:

2 hours 50 minutes

Where to stay:

Boranup Campground! It’s only a small campground so show up early or ask someone if you can squish onto their site with them. We did this, and ended up making a few friends from the Netherlands that were travelling Australia. This campground isn’t anything special in terms of facilities but it’s only $7.5o per night and, wait for it, is set in the middle of a karri forest. If this isn’t making you want to go to Australia’s South West then i don’t know what will.

What to do:

When you get to Boranup, set up your things at the campground and then take a few drinks, some crackers and dip, and your camera and get down to Hamelin Bay.
Enjoy an afternoon of swimming and just relaxing on the beach, watch the sun go down and bask in how beautiful this world is.

strongbow cider

Day 3: Boranup to Walpole

Drive duration:

Boranup -> Pemberton (lunch stop) = 1 hour 30 minutes

Pemberton -> Walpole = 1 hour 30 minutes

Where to stay:

Crystal Springs Campsite, Walpole. This place was insanely beautiful but really creepy at the same time. There was something about the trees and how much light they blocked out that gave this place a little bit of an eery feeling. But in saying that it was cheap, coming in at $7.50 per night, really spacious and stunning. So definitely a win, despite the creepy vibes i got.

What to do:

Have a stop off in Pemberton for lunch at The Crossings Bakery that’s very well-known amongst West Australians. There’s also a great coffee shop down the same road that does great cold drip iced coffee and I’m kicking myself that i never wrote down the name.

Once you get to Walpole there’s actually quite a few things to get up to. You can go see the infamous Giant Red Tingle Tree, which is actually very cool. After that follow the signs and make your way to ‘the lookout’ which was surprisingly beautiful for how dodgy the signs were. Then continue following the signs to get to ‘Circular Pool’ which was beautiful rapids.

australia's south west camping

 

Day 4: Walpole to Bremer Bay

Drive duration:

Walpole -> Albany (lunch and supplies stop) = 1 hour 30 minutes

Albany to Bremer Bay = 2 hours

Where to stay:

We originally tried to go straight to the Bremer Bay Caravan Park but we were turned away because they were all booked up. So we ended up at Tozer’s Bush Camp back down the road, after the Caravan Park owner was sweet enough to call him and ask him to let us in late. It was definitely one of those moments where something bad happens because something else was meant to be, because we loved this campsite!

Tozer’s was so cool, had the cleanest camp kitchen and showers, flushing toilets and even a little bonfire that we got to sit around. The site came in more expensive than the other camp sites, approximately $15 per night for unpowered camping, but was completely worth it.

What to do:

In the morning, before leaving Walpole, head to the tree top walk area, and do a section of the Bibbulmun Track, we just walked to the hut and back which took just over an hour.On the way to Bremer Bay we stopped in Albany to have some lunch and get some supplies. Do me a favour and splurge on your road trip budget and go get a nice veggie burger from Dylan’s

Shhh… I have a secret little tip for you that we learned from the locals because Bremer Bay isn’t great at signs. So when you’re driving down the main road, you’ll eventually get to the caravan park. When you get there take a sharp right up the track just after the car park for the best views in Bremer Bay. First up there’s a look out where you can see all of Bremer Bay. Go there at sunset, you won’t regret it. If you keep driving to the top, it’s only a few minutes, you can park and walk down some rocks and see the big beautiful waves crashing up and a beautiful stretch of beach.

bremer bay

 

Day 5: Bremer Bay to Esperance

Drive duration:

Bremer bay -> Esperance = 4 hours

Where to stay:

In Esperance we stayed at the Esperance Seafront Caravan Park, which was really expensive for camping. It was $45 per night, luckily there was 3 of us so it ended up being $15 each per night which is a lot more reasonable. I think this caravan park is only worth it if you’re with a few others and can share the costs. But in saying that, it’s close to everything, has showers, proper bathrooms and a laundry.

What to do:

Today’s the day to explore Bremer Bay. Pack up your campsite and head down to the bay to relax. You’ll need to walk through the estuary to set up your things on the other side, or if you have a FWD that has a snorkel you can you drive through the estuary. It definitely seemed to be the place to be for four-wheel driving because it was packed out. Once you’ve set up, relax for the day, read a book and swim in the estuary. You can float all the way down the estuary straight into the ocean, which is so much fun.
Once you’re all swum out, dry off, pack up your things, grab some lunch and get on the road to Esperance.

bremer bay

 

Day 6: Esperance

What to do:

Get up and head straight to the info centre in town today. Grab the map that shows you the loop of Esperance that you can follow to see all the best beaches and the pink lake. This is what we used for our plan for the day and it was definitely the perfect way to see it all in a day. Don’t have high expectations of the Pink Lake because you will probably be disappointed like i was. Unfortunately when we were there it wasn’t pink, it was actually light blue. If you don’t have much time, the best beaches were: Bluehaven, 11 mile and Twilight. Just a warning though, Esperance will blow you away and you won’t want to leave. I can confidently say that Esperance has the best beaches in Australia’s South West.

twilight beach esperance

 

Day 7: Esperance with a day trip to Cape Le Grand National Park

Drive duration:

Esperance -> Cape Le Grand National Park = 1 hour 25 minutes

Cape Le Grand National Park -> Esperance = 1 hour 25 minutes

What to do:

Before you hit the road, stop off at an IGA and grab some snacks, like fruit and muesli bars because there’s no food in the national park. It’ll cost you $12 for the vehicle to get into Cape Le Grand National Park or $6 if you have a concession card, so it’s fairly cheap and the money goes to the maintenance of this beautiful park.

I’d 100% recommend you start your day hiking up Frenchman’s Peak, so definitely wear exercise clothes and good runners. When we were researching everything said it was a ‘gentle slope’ and an easy hike taking about 1 hour total.

Now I’m not an avid or experienced hiker but i wouldn’t call climbing up rock on all fours a gentle slope. This is a good way to scare yourself half to death if you’re scared of heights like i am and i wouldn’t place crying and having a panic attack half way up in my top 10 moments. I found the way up very mentally difficult but the view at the top was incredible and well worth it, and the walk back down is easy. But, please make sure you follow the markers because we saw lots of people not looking and walking way off in the wrong direction.

cape le grand national park

After your hike, of course you want to cool off and you’re in the perfect spot! Head over to the famous Lucky Bay and witness complete a completely stereotypical Australian scene as you’ll very likely see some kangaroos hopping around on this beach. You can also head over to Thistle Cove, Hellfire Bay and Cape Le Grand Beach, all of which are incredible crystal clear water beaches. After you’ve explored you’re little heart out, it’s time to head back to Esperance. If you’re not too tired, head to West Beach to watch the sunset, it’s incredible to say the least.

lucky bay esperance

Day 8: Esperance to Norseman

Drive duration:

Esperance -> Norseman = 2 hours 10 minutes

Where to stay:

We actually ended up free camping in the middle of nowhere on a dry salt lake, which i have to say is one of the coolest things I’ve ever done. Because we were in the middle of nowhere, we got to see the most incredible display of stars I’ve ever seen.

There was quartz crystals, natural glass and succulents everywhere so it’s safe to say i was in heaven. Just be respectful of the beautiful land and if you feel the need just take one thing for a souvenir.

I definitely wouldn’t recommend free camping this far out if you’re by yourself as you’re far enough into desert that there will be dingoes. If you really want to at least sleep in your car to stay safe. We were really careful with not tipping out water that we had cooked food in, putting all our rubbish, and cooking equipment, into the car so there were no smells to attract them.

What to do:

Sit back and let nature do its work. We set up our chairs and waited for the sun to go down and the stars to come out and then I spent hours taking photos. We got to see satellites, shooting stars, Venus and Saturn (which flashes different colours because of the rings reflecting light, coolest thing ever i know), the milky way and thousands of stars. I can’t even explain how magical it was so I’ll let the photos do the talking…

norseman western australia
astrophotography

 

Day 9: Norseman to Denmark

Drive duration:

Norseman -> Albany = 6 hours 45 minutes

Albany -> Denmark = 40 minutes

Where to stay:

Okay, this is my best kept secret, that i didn’t really want to share because its 100% the best campsite in Australia’s South West, but I’m not going to be selfish, I’m going to tell you. Get ready to write this down in that bucket list note we all have in our phones…camp at Shelley Beach in Denmark.

This place will literally blow your mind. So on the drive in you’ll notice you’re surrounded by mountains, and then when you arrive you’ll realise that you’re on a private beach with insanely clear blue water and if that’s not enough you’re far enough out of the city that there” be a sky full of stars after you watch the sun set over the ocean. Mountains, the beach and stars?! What more could you want in life. This place is literally insane and I can’t wait to go back.

What to do:

Get up early, pack up your things and go. The sun will blast you and it heats up really quickly in the desert of Australia’s South West. It’s also a really long driving day so the earlier you get on the road the better.

Have a break when you reach Albany, grab any supplies you need and then go check out the gap, an insane beautiful gap between two huge cliff faces where the water crashes when the waves come in.

When you reach Denmark it’ll probably be pretty late so set up camp, make some dinner, and watch the beautiful sunset over the ocean.

camping australia's south west

 

Day 10: Denmark to Prevelly

Drive duration:

Denmark -> Prevelly = 3 hours 45 minutes

Where to stay:

Prevelly Caravan Park. It cost us about $55 per night for the three of us so about $18 per night. It had a camp kitchen, toilets, a cafe right outside that had really good coffee and the beach was really close. So overall, it was a really nice and clean caravan park.

What to do:

Get up early, watch the sunrise and pack up your camp so you can spend the day exploring Denmark before getting on the road to Prevelly.

Skip Ocean Beach, it was really disappointing, and head straight for Lights Beach before going to Greens Pool and the Elephant Rocks which are right next to each other! Park and walk to Greens Pool and swim until you’re done and then head around to the Elephant Rocks to swim and jump off the big rock. These beaches were incredibly beautiful and i hadn’t heard much about Denmark so i was shocked at the beauty and Denmark quickly became one of my favourite places we went on this trip.

After exploring Denmark get on the road to Prevelly. When you arrive go check out the beautiful beach and watch the sunset. 

things to do in denmark western australia

 

Day 11: Prevelly and Margaret River

Drive duration:

Prevelly is only about 10 minutes away from Margaret River so it’s a really quick drive.

What to do:

Drive through Margaret River doing taste testers. Check out the distilleries, wineries, breweries and all the factories for different types of food including cheese, fudge and olives.  Most of the main things are on Harman’s Mill Road but i recommend also going to Limeburners for the best whiskey in Australia and The Grove for their famous spiced rum. When you’re finished exploring Margaret River, if you have time head down to Redgate Beach, hire a surfboard from the Margaret River Surf School for $25 and do the thing that Prevelly is famous for, surfing!

australia's south west

Day 12: Prevelly to Perth

Drive duration:

Prevelly -> Perth = 3 hours 10 minutes

What to do:

Today you’ll be heading back home/to Perth, but don’t worry, there’s still plenty to see today.

I’d recommend stopping off at Sugarloaf Rock, in Yallingup for the Canal Rocks and then also in Bunker bay before you end up back in Perth.

Sugarloaf Rock is pretty much just a big rock in the ocean but it’s really pretty and funny birds live on it. The canal rocks are incredible, it’s a rock pool on the beach that you can swim in. Unfortunately the day we went the waves were way too huge and it was too dangerous to go in. Lastly Bunker Bay is just incredible, more crystal clear blue water and white sand, just another gorgeous beach to add to the list of incredible beaches you’ve been to in Australia’s South West.

After this it’s time to head back to Perth, and finish up the ultimate road trip of Australia’s South West, hopefully with salty hair, a fresh tan and a lot of memories.

margaret river

Thank you for letting me share a little slice of my home with you. I really hope this inspires you to put Australia’s South West on your list of places to go. If it doesn’t, check out my photo diary of Australia’s South West because that sure will.

 

Like this article? Share the love by pinning it!

pinterest road trip

68 comments

  1. This is such a lovely guide. My husband and I haven’t been on a roadtrip in a different country in a long time and sure would be nice to do it in Australia! I love the photos that you shared, it’s enough to convince anyone to go and take a tour around the south west.

  2. It would be nice to do this and see all the wonderful places of Australia’s south west! I’ve never been there before.

  3. The places look awesome! I must admit that camping is more of my brother’s interest than mine. I do hope I get to visit Australia in the future.

  4. This is awesome! Super useful thank you!

    We did the classic east coast road trip, travelling from Sydney to Cairns in a camper. While it was fun, it was way too hot to sleep in the camper with no a/c by the time we got to Cairns and there was a lot of open road and not much to see! What is the temp like in Western Aus? What time of year would you suggest to do a trip like this?

  5. Myself and my sister plan to do trips like this during this summer. Maybe this will be an option for us. I’ll be pinning this for later for sure! Thanks! (:

  6. Such a helpful and in depth post! I’ve wanted to road trip around Australia for such a long time! I’m from South Australia and I haven’t seen as much of the rest of the country as I would like. I’ve only seen a bit of Perth, but outside of the city around WA looks beautiful!

    1. WA is so beautiful! Once you get out of perth and see the south it’s just magical! You’re so close to esperance, you should definitely head out there one day, it’s ridiculous

  7. This looks unbelievable! I think you are def right that the SW can be forgotten. I didn’t explore this area while I was there years ago and your pics are making me sad for this, especially Esperance and the Cape le grand beach! wow so beautiful 🙂

  8. This looks like an awesome road trip. I love how you were on the coast basically the whole time! Those views of the ocean are what I search for when I travel. Thanks for the tips – saving this for sure.

  9. I was in Australia this time last year and clearly by your post I need to head back. It has such beautiful coastline. Hopefully will make the trek back next year as I have a friend there.

  10. Wonderful post – this part of Australia is completely unknown to me – usually everyone i know (including me) has been to the usualy Sydney – Cairns – Ayers Rock – Darwin route, but not to other parts. It´s such a huge and diverse country and i would love to visit it once again and discover exactly such places less known to us europeans 😉 Love your photos, x

  11. I love this post!! So many people don’t realize how large Australia is and how long it actually takes to road trip a big portion of it. You broke it up into great little sections!! Great photos too!

  12. Great post! Clear and crisp 🙂 This now makes me wanna visit Western Australia. You’re right, I had been only planning for the East coast but this post changes my mind 😀

    Cheers

    Asmita

    1. Omg so happy! that is exactly what i was aiming for with this post, people forget about the west coast. I have a photo diary coming tonight with more photos from the trip so make sure you check that out for more WA inspiration 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *