In contrary to the beautiful and calm north of Western Australia you will find a rough ocean with rugged cliffs down South. Nevertheless the beaches look almost similar to the beaches in the Caribean (although the water is less warm)! Go hike in one of the many beautiful natural parks and camp on a beach or surf near Margareth river. As you can see the South West has a whole variety of activities in store for you. On this roadtrip we covered around 3000 kilometres in ten days. It is easily possible to prolong this route by extra days without having to spend a lot of money if you travel by your own vehicle.
Accomodation and transport
Depending on how you would like to travel, the easiest and cheapest way (next to buying your own car) is to rent a car and go camping. We rented a SUV in which we could sleep. Because there were several unpaved and gravel roads on this route I would recommend paying a little bit more for getting a SUV instead of a small car. Use Wikicamp or Campermate to find cheap and beautiful campsites along the way. There are several free campsites (listed below) with only basic facilities (a bush toilet) but perfect for an overnight stay. Via the Campermate app you can find public showers and drinking water where you can get your shower session for free as well.
Time to go
Because the weather around Esperance and Albany is precarious it is difficult to tell the right time for a visit. But, if possible, try to avoid school holidays in summer for example between the end of December and middle of January. Many campsites will be full and charge more money than out of season. But it is definitely not impossible to do it in this time, speaking out of experience. One very usefull tip we would recommend doing is that when you get to a campsite in a Natural Park (non – prebooking) which looks completely full just ask around on the campground if you may share a campsite with someone that is already there. 99% Of time people will allow you to stay on their space!!
Day 1: Perth – Woodman’s point – Busselton – Canebrake Pool (campsite)
Start off early in the morning and to get your groceries and camping gear ready. Drive from Perth to your first stop at Woodman’s point. One of the most astonishing kitesurfing beaches close to Perth and of Australia. Walk around to Beach number three; a turqouise pool of flat water and a whole bunch of semi profesional kitesurfers who you’ll see flying in the air! If you are into kitesurfing or kite yourself you should also check out the famous Safety Bay (in Rockingham) along the way.
Make your way towards Busselton where you will find the, in my opinion, overrated Busselton Jetty. An almost 2 kilometer long jetty for which you have to pay an entrance fee…
Look up the Canebrake Pool campsite in your Campermate app for your night sleep. It is located in a beautiful forresty area next to a natural pool. It does take a gravel road to get you there though!
Day 2: Dunsborough – Cape Naturaliste – Margaret river – Boranup camp at Leeuwin-naturalist national park
Get woken up by the sounds of the birds, make your peanut butter sandwiches and head out to the beautiful beaches of Dunsborough. Go to Castle Rock Beach for a classic Australian morning dip. Drive along the coast to Meelup beach and Point Piquet. You could go to the Cape Naturaliste lighthouse but expect to pay an entrance fee. Drive along the coast towards Margaret River and make a stop at Injidup Natural Spa.
Although Margaret River is not directly at the coast it is a very famous surftown known for it’s surfbeaches and laid back vibe. Stroll around the town’s centre with a bunch of cosy restaurants, bars and plenty of surfshops. After that you can go and watch the real surfer’s in action at Surfer’s Point!
As you continue your journey you will drive the famous and beautiful Cave’s Road until you end up in the Boranup National Park where you will find your next campspot (Boranup Campground).
Day 3: Boranup beach – Hamelin Bay – Seine Bay (Augusta) – Pemberton – Sid’s Campground Northcliffe
If you have made the choice to rent a SUV or 4×4 it is possible to drive from your campground you towards the beach. It would also be possible to walk or if lucky get a ride in one of the many 4×4’s that will drive past the campground. This again is a heaven for surfer’s and you will see their big 4×4’s on the parking lot. You don’t have to drive all the way down on the dirt road (many rocks and actually only meant for 4×4 car’s) but you can park just in front of the busty road and walk down.
Time to spot some Australian wildlife at Hamelin Bay. Stingrays and eagle rays swim really close to shore, and they will swim over your feet. Sometimes you will even be able to pet them! Next to this wildlife encounter, this beach is also very beautiful and a nice stop for a morning dip.
Next stop; Seine Bay in Augusta where the river meets the ocean. Makes it a perfect spot for kitesurfers and a beautiful sight for visitors on the shores. There are grassy picnic area’s and perhaps you might want to take a quick shower at the public area next to the river banks before you head off to Pemberton.
It is mostly just a scenic drive with a change of environment every other kilometer where you end up in a hilarious small and cheap campground. In Sid’s Campground you only pay 5 dollars per person and everything there is eco-friendly and all the facilities are handmade. For example, the showers are made from old outhouses and warm water comes from solar energy.
Depending on how tired you are and what time it is you could still drive towards Windy Harbour and Point D’entrecasteaux. This is especially beautiful around sunset and one of my favorite natural parks of the trip even though it’s not famous or big at all.
Day 4: Windy harbour – Point d’entrecasteaux – Walpole – Cosy corner free campground (2nights)
If you haven’t gone to windy harbor the day before than do it today. If you have than your next stops will be located around Wallpole. In Wallpole you will find the (little bit overpriced; 22AUD p.p.) Valley Of The Giants tree top walk. The choice is on you but i found it worth the visit.
From there you get back on the highway and turn right onto a gravel road towards Suspicious Cliff and Peacefull Bay.
On towards Denmark you’ll find the gem of this coastline. The Green’s pool and Elephant Rock is a turquoise still water pool with big round like rocks in it and splashing waves in the background.
Your next camp spot will be right at the coast and is completely free! Get there a in time in high season or ask if you can stand on someone’s campground if you still see an open space. Cosy corner is a beautiful calm campground close to Denmark and Albany.
Day 5: Stirling Range National park (scenic drive) – Albany – Torndirrup national park – cosy corner
A 1,5 hour drive inland from the Cosy Corner campsite you will find Stirling Range National Park, West Australia. There is a scenic drive (dirt road) that runs right through the mountainous park with beautiful lookouts and hikes.
You will exit at the other side of the National Park from which it’s about an hour drive to Albany which is one of the bigger cities on this route (although fairly small). Stop here to get your groceries and do some shopping.
A short drive away from Albany lays Torndirrup National Park. A straight road will eventually bring you to Frenchman Bay but it is worth it if you take a left just before you enter the national park towards the beaches of Vancouver Peninsula. Back on the road towards Frenchman Bay there are a few scenic lookouts like Salmon Bay, The Gap and the Natural Bridge.
Day 6 Hopetoun – Fitzgerald National park
Leaving Cosy Corner behind have a stop at a public shower in Albany before you head out for a long drive towards Fitzgerald National Park. You can either get there via Bremer Bay or Hopetoun. We chose to enter the park via Hopetoun because they also had a few campsites next to the beach. It seemed to be the right choice because this park was for sure one of our favorites!
Day 7: Pink Lake – Esperance
Last but not least Esperance! You have definitly seen pictures of the Carribean like beaches of this part of Australia. On the way you’ll pass the Pink Lake which was pretty dry and not so pink when we got there in January!
Go explore the magnificent beaches around Esperance which you can find along the Great Ocean Drive. Our favourite was Blue Haven Beach!
Day 8: Cape Le grand National Park
Today is D-day, you’re going to pay a visit to the most beautiful beaches of this route! Lucky Bay is famous for it’s eye blinding white sandy beach and her native visitors; kangaroos!
Another spectacular thing to do in this park is “Le grand beach”. This very long stretched beach is suitable for driving on with your SUV or 4×4. Scary but an amazing experience!
Day 9: Beachday – Hyden
In preparation for your drive back towards Perth have a relaxing afternoon one more time at one of the beautiful beaches. Watch the surfers catch some waves at West Beach!
Day 10: Hyden (wave rock) – Perth
Check the Campermate app where you want to camp or sleep before you head out of Esperance because there are not many campsites on the way. We slept in a secluded area which was normally closed for camping. Wave rock looks very impressive on pictures and it is worth a visit although it wasn’t as scenic and grant in real life. It will only take you a short visit ( about an hour) to walk around this natural phenomenon.