Embrace your hippie side on this 14-day adventure from Perth to Esperance. This exciting road trip will showcase the best of Western Australia’s South West region, where every pit stop features an Insta-worthy sight you cannot miss.
Soak up the scenery from towering forests to marine life-rich coast, discover the incredible food and wine on offer, while allowing plenty of time for contemplation and relaxation. Western Australia’s South West Edge will give you an experience that will leave you in awe with its extraordinary landscapes, and is definitely one to add to your travel list.
Day 1: Explore Perth’s Rottnest Island & Fremantle
Day one is all about a day trip to Rottnest Island, home to the world’s cutest and most photogenic marsupial, the Quokka. It is a secluded island off the coast of Western Australia and is maintained by the Rottnest Island Authority. Take the first ferry ride from B-shed Fremantle to the picturesque Rottnest Island, where you can relax at the sweeping white sands of Thomson Bay; one of the 63 beautiful beaches on the Island.
Just a short walk from the beach you’ll find the Thomson Bay Settlement where you can grab a coffee, hire a bike and explore the rest of the island. As the island is a car-free zone that can only be explored by bike or the island Explorer bus, a combo of bike and ferry transfer is always a great option to explore at your own pace. Furthermore, there are multiple tour options and activities to choose from.
Don’t forget to bring your snorkel mask as Rottnest has beautiful marine life. Towards the end of the day, join a Rottnest Wild Seafood Experience tour for a sundowner cruise serving freshly caught seafood before taking the last ferry back to Fremantle.
You can spend the night in the heart of the historic town, at the Hougoumont Hotel, a unique boutique hotel that is just walking distance to incredible eating venues and touristic highlights.
Day 2: Fremantle to Bunbury
Fremantle is a charming and lively port city in Western Australia. There is a great vibe difference in comparison to Perth – with European-style old buildings and laid-back atmosphere. Enjoy a nice breakfast at one of Fremantle’s gourmet cafes, eat fish and chips at Fremantle fishing harbour. Sip a cocktail or two at Bather’s beach. Go pub-hopping or drink craft at Little Creatures Brewery. Explore Fremantle local boutiques for unique and vintage finds, and visit its historical sites such as the Fremantle Prison.
Afterwards, head down to Bunbury and drive through the rolling hills of the Ferguson Valley. Explore the Valley’s secret spots on a customised tour with South West Tourist Services or Hinterland Escapes. Go for a hike or a bike ride and venture out along the scenic trails of Wellington Forest National Park, explore boutique wineries and breweries, and take in the magnificent sights at Black Diamond Lake, one of the most popular spots in Collie. The spectacular view of the vivid turquoise waters create stunning backdrops which makes a perfect capture for your Instagram post.
While in Bunbury, you can purchase fresh local produce at farmers’ markets, meet native animals at the Bunbury Wildlife Park, shop at boutiques and admire lively street art.
Spend the evening at one of many bars and restaurants in Bunbury, overlooking one of the city’s famous three waters – the bay, the inlet and the ocean – before returning to your accommodation at Bunbury Seaview Apartments or Discovery Parks Bunbury Foreshore.
Day 3: Bunbury to Yallingup
Start your morning with a dolphin eco cruise or head over to the Dolphin Discovery Centre in Bunbury. You will spot some bottlenose dolphins that come into shore every morning between September and April to interact with you. For a wonderful experience, we recommend getting here by 9am, go into the water until it comes up to your knees and watch the dolphins swim around you.
Just a 57 kilometre drive away, you will find yourself in Busselton, a popular family holiday destination which sits on a white sandy beach on the north-facing shoreline of the tranquil waters of Geographe Bay. Take some time to relax before a 20 minute drive to the legendary Ludlow Tuart Forest, where you can take on a ropes course and swing high among the majestic trees – Only if you’re feeling adventurous!
Make your way to Yallingup, a small coastal hamlet nestled into the hillside and overlooking one of the region’s well-known surf beaches. The coastline here is dramatic with its stunning beaches, top-rated surf, world-class wines, ancient caves and awe-inspiring ocean sunsets. Yallingup really captures the hearts of nature lovers, thrill seekers and those who love a good wine.
Day 4: Yallingup to Margaret River
Book a tour with Top Drop Tours and spend the day exploring the magnificent Margaret River region, a heaven for wine lovers. There are many wineries and breweries that you will find while driving in and around the region.
After breakfast at the hotel, your tour guide will pick you up for a day-long tour visiting some of the region’s wineries. These include Leeuwin Estate, Voyager Estate and Vasse Felix – one of the first wineries in Margaret River, with a designer lounge bar and great views across the region.
Spend the next two nights at the Smiths Beach Resort, which will give you the ultimate beachside experience. Have a drink at their brilliant wine bar, then dine in at the on-site restaurant for ocean views and a side order of superb food.
Day: 5 Explore the Margaret River Region
Explore more of the Margaret River region. Go for a swim just in front of the resort at Yallingup, then take a short drive up north and discover Ngilgi Cave’s most beautiful array of varied crystal formations including shawls and helictites.
Attend an Aboriginal cultural tour and spend the day with Josh from Koomal Dreaming where you will immerse yourself in an authentic Aboriginal cultural experience. Feel the powerful vibrations of the didgeridoo, learn to create fire, and learn about the world’s oldest living culture.
From there, head 43 kilometres west of the Margaret River to watch the professional surfers at Surfers Point.
Take a short drive south to the casual beachside dining place, White Elephant Cafe, where you can enjoy a delicious brunch whilst overlooking the calm Gnarabup Beach. Take on a stand-up paddleboard lesson, go rock climbing or abseiling, or go kayaking along the Margaret River.
After a day at the beach, there is nothing better than a refreshing beer at one of many craft breweries to choose from – The Beer Farm, Black Brewing Co and Brewhouse. Complete your day with a delicious pub meal at Settlers Tavern, or authentic Japanese cuisine at Miki’s Open Kitchen.
Day 6: Margaret River To Pemberton
From Margaret River, take a 30-40 minute drive south towards Augusta. Jump on a 2-hour whale watching tour where you will see humpback whales that come here to interact with each other through tail slaps and breaches.
After a nice lunch in town, drive to Cape Leeuwin, where the Indian and Southern oceans meet at the south-western tip of Australia. One of Australia’s best land-based points for spotting humpback and southern right whales is the Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse.
Go for a scenic drive into the forest around Pemberton, an old mill town with original mill workers’ cottages that are still used today. You can climb three karri trees which will give you spectacular views over the area that were initially used as fire lookouts. And if you’re really up for it, ride one of the many mountain bike trails around the area or go for a walk on the Bibbulmun Track; a long distance trail that runs from Perth through the Southern Forests and along the coast from Walpole to Albany.
Spend the night in the majestic karri forest at RAC Karri Valley Resort Hotel, Pemberton. This accommodation is located on the edge of Lake Beedelup and surrounded by trees and seasonal wildflowers.
Day 7: Pemberton to Denmark
In the southern tip of Western Australia, Albany and Denmark boast unique forests, awashed with wildflowers in spring and vineyards producing fine wines.
Drive along the eye-catching coastal scenery to William Bay National Park, where you will find the giant granite boulders of Elephant Rocks, and the turquoise clear waters and white sandy beaches of Greens Pool.
Stop by for lunch at a local destination icon “Denmark Good Food Factory". It is the perfect place to enjoy a cidar in the garden, meet new people and taste one of the best burgers in the west.
To get the full nature experience, check into the peaceful Aiyana Retreat, just a 5 minute drive from Denmark’s Centre. The villas are surrounded by native flora and is close to the Wilson Inlet. End the day and fully unwind in the Aiyana Massage Studio, just a short walk from your chalet door.
If you want to spend a bit more time in Denmark, take the time to explore the family-owned wineries along the Scottsdale Scenic Drive before heading back to Albany the next day.
Day 8: Denmark to Albany
Enjoy a nice breakfast at a Denmark favourite, Mrs Jones Cafe before leaving to go to Albany. Attend a cellar door tasting at an organic winery called Oranje Tractor on the way, or stop by at Wilson Inlet to watch the blue splendid wrens, parrots, lorikeets and cockatoos.
Follow Frenchman Bay Road to Torndirrup National Park and The Gap. This natural gap in the granite cliff has a see-through skywalk platform that extends 10 metres out over the cliff’s edge. If you’re brave enough and in for a thrill, you can walk out and look down at the pounding waves below.
Just a few steps away you will find the Natural Bridge which is a thick, horizontal column of rock.
There are several activities to do in and around Albany such as exploring the Albany Heritage Park, sampling whisky at the Limeburners distillery while watching for dolphins in the bay, visiting the nearby Australian Wildlife Park, or stopping in at the beautiful Regional Wildflower Garden.
Enjoy a Vietnamese-French inspired cuisine at Liberte At The London and stay at Hilton Garden Inn Albany, a beautiful accommodation surrounded by stunning views from Apex Lookout, Middleton Beach, and the National Anzac Centre; all within 5 kilometers.
Day 9: Albany to Bremer Bay
If you are here on a Saturday, browse the Albany Farmers Market, one of Australia’s best artisan markets, and take a walk along Middleton Beach. Afterwards, drive 49 kilometres inland to Porongurup National Park. Located here is the Granite Skywalk, which rises 670 metres above sea level; providing panoramic views of the surrounding terrain.
If you’re a wildflower enthusiast, birdwatcher or hiker, climb Bluff Knoll, one of Western Australia’s highest peaks and known for its sweeping views of the Stirling Range National Park. Take a 1.5-hour drive to the small seaside town of Bremer Bay and stay at the Bremer Bay Resort. It is not your typical 5-star hotel but it’s perfectly situated in the heart of the picturesque coastal town, offering panoramic views across the bay.
Day 10: Bremer Bay to Hopetoun
Bremer Bay is one of the only three places in Australia where southern right whales calve in large numbers. On the west side of Fitzgerald River National Park, 63 kilometers from town, you can watch them frolicking in the water from purpose-built platforms at Point Ann.
During the months of February and April, Naturaliste Charters offers tours to watch the gathering of the largest pod of orcas in the southern hemisphere at Bremer Bay. If whale watching isn’t your thing, the national park is still worth a stop with 62 species of plants found nowhere else on earth; making it one of the most significant biospheres in the world.
Make your way to Ravensthorpe, known for its spectacular displays of wildflowers during spring and discover the secret hotspots on a tour during the Ravensthorpe Wildflower Festival. You can stay the night in Hopetoun Motel & Chalet Village, a cost stay located in the centre of town.
Day 11: Explore Esperance and Lucky Bay
Approximately 2-hours and 20 minutes away from Hopetoun is the beautiful town of Esperance. In Esperance you can discover the majestic pure white sandy shores of Esperance Bay, surrounded by over 100 islands that make up the Recherche Archipelago (known locally as the Bay of Isles), where whales, seals, and dolphins are often sighted.
One of the biggest draws to Esperance is Lucky Bay. It is a 40 minute drive from town in Cape Le Grand National Park. Whether you drive or join an Eco Discovery Tour in Esperance, you can check out the world’s only full-scale replica of Stonehenge (it’s just as quirky as it sounds). Follow the coast to the national park, where you will find white sandy beaches, freshwater pools, granite outcrops, and carpets of wildflowers in spring.
Head back to Esperance and spend a couple of nights at the Esperance Island View Apartments where you can relax at the world-class, self-contained accommodation that is perfectly located on the waterfront. Or stay in the reimagined and refreshed Esperance Chalet Village, located on the edge of town in an idyllic bush setting with various accommodation options – from the popular A frame chalets to the quaint family cabins or luxe couples king shacks.
Day 12: Esperance
You can leave the car keys in your room today, as you’ll be picked up by your Aboriginal guide for a self-guided eco-cultural discovery tour of the area with Kepa Kurl.
During this memorable half-day experience, you’ll gain a real understanding as to how the indigenous Noongar people hunted and gathered food here for thousands of years. You’ll see plenty of native wildlife and some Aboriginal rock art as well as getting a great orientation to the area.
When you return to town, drive 20 minutes to Yirri Grove, an olive grove restaurant. After eating, take a stroll along the Great Ocean Drive, a 38 kilometre loop that showcases the sugary beaches and translucent waters. Look out for Twilight Bay – a firm favourite for its translucent, turquoise waters, sculpted rock formations, picnic tables and the breaks at West, Fourth and Observatory beaches where you will see the local surfers enjoying the water.
Day 13: Explore Lake Hillier
Helispirit will take you on a helicopter tour from the Esperance Foreshore showcasing the pristine coastline and the famed pink lake.
The pink lake dazzles with its natural colour, resulting from bacteria that’s found in the waters. It’s hard-to-believe hue will make you want to take a few shots of the extraordinary sight.
Head back to your Chalet at 6pm to freshen up before you enjoy a European-influenced cuisine at the Loose Goose Bar & Restaurant.
Day 14: Esperance to Perth
If you’ve hired a car for your 14-day road trip, at the Esperance airport you can return it before boarding your 90-minute flight back to Perth. Or if you’d prefer to soak up more of the South West, drive back to Perth via Hyden or Kalgoorlie over the next couple of days – the choice is yours!
If you decide to travel through Hyden, be sure to visit the impressive Wave Rock on the way. The Wave Rock was formed millions of years ago and is entirely natural, rising 15 metres from the ground and more than 100 metres long. This makes the perfect end to your Instagram highlights reel.
Stay at Wave Rock Hotel, where you can relax and unwind after a day filled with adventure before driving back to Perth.