Ultimate West Coast Australia Road Trip Itinerary

Gallery Of Ultimate West Coast Australia Road Trip Itinerary

Ultimate West Coast Australia Road Trip Itinerary

Ultimate West Coast Australia Road Trip Itinerary

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Undoubtably my favourite state in Australia to travel, a west coast Australia road trip is really one you shouldn’t miss. Imagine fantastic surfing locations, a stunning variety of national parks, 1,150km of beautiful coastline and rugged mountain ranges and you’re already halfway there.

Having a self-driving itinerary, will allow yourself to get more immersed in what the West Coast offers whilst taking in the hidden gems where tourist buses do not venture.

So after travelling around Australia on my 6 month road trip, here is my full rundown of the very best Western Australia has to offer. This guide starts in Perth, takes you on a ‘small’ loop round the south west of the state, back via Perth and up to Kununurra on the boarder of the Northern Territory.

Ultimate West Coast Australia Road Trip Itinerary

- This road trip is completely customisable to your own plans or the timeframe and time of year you’re planning on doing it. It can be done in reverse, or in separate chunks it’s ultimately up to you on how you plan it!

- There are numerous national parks along your road trip, thus I’d highly recommend buying an ‘All Parks Pass’ which provides unlimited entry to any WA park for 12 months or the ‘Holiday Pass’ provides unlimited entry to all WA parks for up to four weeks. This will save you a lot of money instead of paying for each one separately.

Quick Tips Before Heading Off On Your East Coast Australia Road Trip

When I travelled the West Coast, I was there from March to April , which turned out perfect for me. The weather was still warm around the south coast of Western Australia and by April up round the Kimberley it was starting to cool off. If I had the chance to do it again I’d start in April on the south coast and finish around the start of June near Kununurra, with the hope of the Gibb River Road being open.

It could be advisable to avoid the summer months up round Monkey Mia and north of there, due the summers getting very wet and tropical…aka cyclone season! Huge widespread flooding between these areas occurs regularly, meaning you’d have to skip a lot of incredible sights.

Ultimate West Coast Australia Road Trip Itinerary

Note: Whale shark season runs roughly from mid March to mid September, so if this is a must do on your trip, plan your road trip between these months.

How Long Does It Take To Drive The West Coast?

This is ultimately up to you. There’s no golden answer, however many people do not realise how big Australia is, especially Western Australia. Driving from Perth to Kununurra via the coast is over 3,500km and over 37 hours of driving . You could drive it in less than a week, but you’d miss out on everything. If you include the southern loop south of Perth it’s over 5,100km of driving!

I would allow a minimum of 4 weeks to drive the whole West Coast. On my west coast Australia road trip, I took around 5/6 weeks from Esperance to Kununurra. For me, this was the perfect amount of time to see all beautiful lesser known sites as well as the main tourist attractions like The Margaret River, Karijini National Park and Monkey Mia etc.

This really depends on your time frame and if you’re planning on travelling more of Australia.

Ultimate West Coast Australia Road Trip Itinerary

If you’re travelling for up to a month, it’ll be easier and less stress to hire a camper-van/4×4. The following are companies that I recommend.

Note: Most hire companies only operate in the major cities and do not allow you to take campers off road, unless they specify it is a 4×4. Thus, in Western Australia you may have to pick up and return your hire vehicle in Perth. If they do allow drop-off in other cities it will be Broome. Kununurra is very unlikely, which limits your road trip and one way fees are usually very expensive. Due to this, I’d highly recommend buying a car/camper-van.

For my 6 month road trip across Australia I bought my own 4×4 Mitsubishi Pajero with an in-built bed in the back. If you’re wanting to travel off-road, on the beaches and want a bit more comfort a 4×4 is a great option. Otherwise if you’re sticking to paved roads a camper-van is probably your best option .

In addition, at the end of the trip you’ll be able to sell your car/camper for a similar price you paid for it! I paid AUD$5500 for my 2001 Mitsubishi Pajero, and sold it 6 months later for AUD$5000.

Free Camping, Paid Campsites or Hostels?

Ultimate West Coast Australia Road Trip Itinerary

The west coast is very sparse compared to the east coast, so finding hostels is only an option in the city of Perth and town of Broome. Free camping is impossible here and paid campsites can be AUD$40 upwards per night. Making it just as cheap to stay in a hostel in these two places.

When you’re out of the main cities, I’d recommend trying out free camping. I stayed 80% in free camps when I travelled Australia, and had no issues at all. Doing this I saved several hundred dollars which I spent on activities. However, free camps aren’t everywhere and some may look sketchy, thus paid campsites are advisable.

These two resources were my wholly grail to free camping and finding camping spots along my journey, I cannot recommend them enough:

Map Overview: Perth to Kununurra

So starting from Perth, here are some essential stops and things to see on the my ultimate west coast Australia road trip up to Kununurra. You can also skip parts, do sections of the road trip or do it in reverse, it’s completely up to you.

Ultimate West Coast Australia Road Trip Itinerary

This itinerary lists the minimum amount of days I suggest you spend in each place, what to do, where to stay in major towns and approximate driving times between the major stops.

The starting place for many travellers driving up the west coast, it’s the perfect place to get your bearings and fully immerse yourself into the Aussie lifestyle. Perth is actually my favourite city in Australia if I were to live Down Under! It’s got many wonderful parks, it’s the cleanest city I’ve ever visited, has amazing beaches at your door step and it’s much more affordable than many east coast cities.

Perth has an attractive setting on the Swan River and nearby to several stunning beaches that are a lot less crowded than its east coast counterparts, which also adds tremendous appeal.

Don’t forget to visit the famous Rottnest Island home to the adorable Quokka. It’s a short ferry ride to the island and make sure to stay for the full day. I recommend hiring bikes when you’re on the island to get around, if you walk you will not see all the fantastic beaches.

I suggest you spend some time in Perth before beginning your west coast Australia road trip. Here, you can stock up with your Target and K Mart essentials, get your vehicle serviced and soak in the city life before you leave.

Ultimate West Coast Australia Road Trip Itinerary

- See the skyline from Kings Park both during the day and at sunset.

- Soak up the sun on Perth’s most famous city beach: Cotteslowe Beach. Bonus: during sunset.

- Take a stroll along the pathways of the Swan River.

- Take the ferry over to and hire bikes to get round the island.

- Visit the art galleries and museums of Perth in the Perth Cultural Centre.

Ultimate West Coast Australia Road Trip Itinerary

- : Located on stunning Cottesloe Beach and overlooking the glorious Indian Ocean, this is the perfect hostel if you’re wanting to be close to the beach, but within public transport distance to the city centre. Included in your stay you will also get access to free Parking, bike hire, free surfboards and body boards plus lots more.

- : Is the best place to stay in town offering a constant friendly atmosphere and walking distance to the city centre. They offer a range of accommodation to suit your needs, a four bed standard mixed dorm, 6 bed standard female only dorm and a six bed standard mixed dorm.

- : Previous winner of the Best Hostel in WA, a stay at the Barracks provides the budget backpacker with the best that Perth has to offer. Situated in the heart of Perth in the Northbridge entertainment area and only several minutes away from the rail and bus terminals.

From Perth head 3 1/2 hours east to the tiny town of Hyden which it home to the impressive ‘Wave Rock’. Once visited, head another 2 hours south east to Ravensthorpe for your night stopover.

Ravensthorpe via Wave Rock: 1 day

Ultimate West Coast Australia Road Trip Itinerary

To cut up your 5 1/2 hour drive to Ravensthorpe, stop by the magnificent ‘Wave Rock’. It is one of Australia’s biggest waves and is also the furthest from any ocean. Wave Rock rises 15 metres above the outback plain and has a history of over 2,700 million years in the making.

Pose on the rock face and surf the giant wave or see it from a different perspective by following the walk trails around the base and over the top.

From Ravensthorpe head 2 hours east to Esperance, home to the famous Cape Le Grand National Park.

Esperance & Cape Le Grand National Park: 2 days

Esperance is the gateway to the stunning Cape Le Grand National Park. It is home to white sandy beaches, friendly kangaroos, rugged coastal peaks and sweeping heathlands. The natural beauty is so breathtaking that it’s definitely in my top 3 favourite places in all of Australia. The best part is that you will basically get to experience it alone, apart from the add tour bus from Perth. The park is so remote and only has two small campsites, so there won’t be large numbers of tourists around. However due to this, make sure to get there early to snag a camping spot, trust me it’s worth it!

Ultimate West Coast Australia Road Trip Itinerary

- Drive your 4WD onto Lucky Beach, also known as the beach the Kangaroos call home. This is perhaps one of the most beautiful in the world and is quickly becoming an iconic Australian beach.

- Walk along Hellfire Bay, with its pristine waters and white sand. Maybe even spot a dolphin or two!

- Thistle Cove Beach, from here you can adventure up to Whistling Rock.

- Drive your 4WD along the long stretch at Cape Le Grand Beach.

- Hike up Frenchmans Peak. This grade 5 walk becomes a scramble over loose rocks and dodgy ledges to reach the summit and at times it feels like it’s more of a climb than a hike.

Ultimate West Coast Australia Road Trip Itinerary

- Walk along the Esperance Esplanade.

- Head 1 hour further east to Wharton Bay, here there are a few hidden coves and untouched beaches that only locals know about. Hidden gem for sure!

Don’t want to hire a car for your south coast road trip? This covers all the best south coast spots.

From Esperance head back west past Ravensthorpe until you reach Albany. Roughly a 5 hour drive.

Albany via Stirling Range National Park: 1-2 days

Ultimate West Coast Australia Road Trip Itinerary

On your way to Albany, make sure to take the route which goes via the Stirling Range National Park. This national parks is hikers galore with many challenging longer hikes within the park, so if you’re into that then this is a must. Once you read the coastal town of Albany, you’ll soon come to realise that the beautiful coastline doesn’t stop, with endless white lined beaches for miles to be seen.

- Hike the 3rd highest peak in Western Australia, Bluff Knoll in the Stirling Range NP. It’s a 6km walk however very steep in places so allow half a day.

- Just south of the Stirling Range NP is Porongurup NP. Hike to the granite skywalk, not for those who are afraid of heights!

- Visit Torndirrup National Park, home to impressive beaches, The Gap and the Natural Bridge.

- Visit Albany Farmers Market on a Saturday.

Ultimate West Coast Australia Road Trip Itinerary

From Albany drive 45 minutes west to Denmark, a beautiful coast town, where you can spend the day. Continue onwards to Pemberton. Total drive time of 3 hours.

The last bit of picturesque coastline now until you head inland towards The Margaret River vicinity. Denmark is a quaint little town, home to the famous William Bay National Park. Make sure to spend the morning down by the beautiful beaches here and pack a picnic. Continue on towards Pemberton home to the famous Gloucester tree.

- Explore William Bay National Park: Elephants Rock, Green Pools, Waterfall Beach and Madfish Bay.

- Explore the Valley of the Giants Treetop Walk.

- If you’re brave enough and not scared of heights climb the Gloucester Tree which stands at 53m high. Warning: no safety harness or nets so climb at your own risk. Probably the scariest thing I’ve ever done!

Ultimate West Coast Australia Road Trip Itinerary

From Pemberton head 1 1/2 hours north west to reach The Margaret River.

The next stop is Margaret River and the Margaret River region.The town has its very own charm with various shops, a book store, several cafés and restaurants and a well-stocked supermarket. It’s beaches and oceanfront are also popular among surfers who flock into the city nearly all year round as the region offers great surfing conditions throughout the year.

But there’s much more to Margaret River: the town and it’s surroundings are known for it’s famous wineries, some of them among the most well-known of Australia. Make sure to visit a few wine estates, and take part in some cheese tastings. You can also buy your favourite bottle of wine for one of the many nights to follow on your trip!

- Visit Hamelin Bay where giant rays can be seen right from the shoreline!

- Venture inside many of the caves in the region – like Jewel Cave, Mammoth Cave or Lake Cave.

Ultimate West Coast Australia Road Trip Itinerary

- Head to Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse. The 39m-high lighthouse is continental Australia’s most south westerly point.

- Visit Surfers Point, go surfing or watch the sunset and surfers at their best.

- Go on a of the Margaret River.

From The Margaret River head 1 hour north via Dunsborough and the coast to Busselton. You’re nearly at the end of your south coast trip, so get ready for the real outback soon!

The town of Busselton is known for its sheltered beaches and seasonal humpback whale populations. The beachfront features the 19th-century Busselton Jetty. This wood pier stretches nearly 2km to the Underwater Observatory, where life in a coral reef is on view. On the way make sure to pass Injidup Natural Spa, and Dunsborough.

Ultimate West Coast Australia Road Trip Itinerary

- Bath in the Injidup Natural Spa. Make sure to arrive early before all the crowds as it does get very busy with locals.

- Climb up Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse for sweeping views along the coastline.

- Visit the beaches: Shelley Beach, Bunker Bay Beach, and Eagle Bay Beach.

- Walk along Busselton Jetty and go inside the underwater observatory.

From Busselton pass through Perth as we already visited this beautiful city on our first few days and head to Yanchep a 3 hour drive north. Stock up on any necessary items as the next fairly large town is South Hedland, over 1,700km away!

Ultimate West Coast Australia Road Trip Itinerary

You’re on your way north past Perth, let the real adventure and outback begin! Yanchep National Park is just an hour north from Perth. There’s a few short walks in the area, but the best attraction is the range of wildlife. It’s one of the only places in Western Australia where you can see koalas, and there’s also great birdwatching opportunities and plenty of kangaroos. The National Park is small and in a rural countryside setting, the perfect place for a picnic!

- In Bunbury visit Marlston Hill Lookout.

- Walk along the observation boardwalk at Lake Clifton overlooking living rocklike organisms, called thrombolites, on the shore.

- Visit Yanchep National Park to spot some of Australia’s most famous wildlife like the koala and kangaroo.

From Yanchep head 1 1/2 hours north to Jurien Bay passing little coastal towns like Lancelin and Cervantes. Make sure not to miss The Pinnacles.

Ultimate West Coast Australia Road Trip Itinerary

It’ll soon come apparent how rural it gets so quickly when you leave the outskirts of Perth. As you head up the coast, you’ll pass tiny communities before arriving in Namburg National Park home to The Pinnacles. This unearthly desert landscape will fascinate you, especially considering it’s perched almost directly next to the ocean. Spend some time driving or walking through the park and marvel at the huge pinnacles.

- Sand-board on dazzling white sand in Lancelin.

- Get an iconic photo in front of the sign at Hangover Bay. You can also drive your 4WD along the sand, just make sure to let your tyre pressure down and keep an eye on the tide.

- Drive through the shanty town at Wedge Island. It’s very impressive!

- Drive/walk around The Pinnacles in Namburg National Park.

Ultimate West Coast Australia Road Trip Itinerary

- One fantastic tour, if you would rather learn about the history, get some stargazing in and a full day out of it from Perth is .

- Walk around Lake Thetis. Oldest of the 4 places in the world where Stramatolites are found, dating back 3.7 billion years.

From Jurien Bay head 2 hours north to Geraldton.

Geraldton is the largest town between Perth and Darwin. Remember that as you drive into this very averagely sized town! Geraldton is a great place to get some supplies for the next leg of your road trip and enjoy some civilisation before the likes of Shark Bay and the Pilbara region.

- Visit the Museum of Geraldton, Geraldton Regional Art Gallery and the Old Gaol.

Ultimate West Coast Australia Road Trip Itinerary

- Walk along Geraldton Esplanade.

- There is a great free camp right in the centre of Geraldton right next to a fish n chip shop and a park. One of our favourites!

- Visit the 19th Century Point Moore Lighthouse.

From Geraldton head north 2 hours and reach your first real taste of the outback in Kalbarri National Park.

Kalbarri National Park is another definite highlight on your West Coast Australia Road Trip. With many impressive lookouts and hikes, I suggest you spend a few days here to experience it in all it’s glory. From Geraldton there are a few great spots on the way including Pink Lake and numerous coastal viewpoints. Kalbarri itself is a modest coastal town, but Kalbarri National Park is located slightly inland… and it’s absolutely epic.

Ultimate West Coast Australia Road Trip Itinerary

- Visit Pink Lake and it’s lookout. If you do venture onto the lake be careful as I fell through it and saw my life flash before me!

- Visit the quirky Hutt River Principality. It is an independent sovereign state within Australia , having seceded from Australia in 1970.

- Take in the coastline at Natural Bridge, Castle Cove and Island Rock near Kalbarri town.

- Take the short hike down to Natures Window, an impressive natural formation overlooking the winding river below.

- If you have time, take the 9km Loop Trail, it’s impressive but make sure to pack lots of water.

Ultimate West Coast Australia Road Trip Itinerary

- Z-Bend Lookout, Hawks Head Lookout, and Ross Graham Lookout.

From Kalbarri head 4 1/2 hour north to Monkey Mia.

A UNESCO world heritage area, Shark Bay sits at the westernmost point of Australia. It’s the marine life that makes Shark Bay so interesting; it’s sea-grass beds are the world’s largest and richest. As a result, you can spot dugongs, dolphins, turtles, tiger sharks and much more.

For those in a 4WD Francois Perron National Park is a great place to drive along sandy tracks and explore secluded beaches. If you want a real adventure and have all the required equipment for a proper of road experience head to the most westerly point on the Australian continent – Steep Point. This is an overnight trip.

- Visit the Hamelin Pool Stromatolites.

Ultimate West Coast Australia Road Trip Itinerary

- Walk onto Shell Beach, a beach full of millions of tiny shells. It’s a little bit prickly to sit on, but really beautiful.

- Spot sharks, dugongs, dolphins and turtles at Eagle Bluff Lookout.

- Visit the town of Denham and Shark Bay World Heritage Discovery Centre.

- If you have a good 4WD drive up to Cape Perron in Francois Perron National Park. We had to rescue someone in this national park which took over 4 hours so sadly we didn’t make it. Don’t venture in unless you’re a good off road driver.

- Head to Monkey Mia, famous for feeding the dolphins every morning. Make sure to turn up as soon as it opens to get the chance to feed them. Usually 3 feeds per day.

Ultimate West Coast Australia Road Trip Itinerary

- Rent a kayak or go on a cruise from Monkey Mia and spot Dugong and Tiger Sharks.

Next head to Carnarvon a 3 1/2 hour drive from Monkey Mia.

You have to backtrack a bit on day 6, driving back down the road leading to Shark Bay to get back on the route northward. Next on your West Coast Australia road trip, it’s time to head onto the country town of Carnarvon – the fresh produce capital of Western Australia.

- Visit the Heritage Precinct Museum.

- Walk along the one mile jetty.

Ultimate West Coast Australia Road Trip Itinerary

- Drive Carnarvon’s fruit loop, stopping at farm shops to buy some delicious local produce.

- Head outside the town to see the amazing Blowholes at Quobba Point.

From the sleepy town of Carnarvon head to the beautiful Coral Bay, a 2 1/2 hour drive north.

And up to the tropics! It’s now up to you whether you decide to swim with whale sharks in Coral Bay or Exmouth. I personally recommend swimming with them in Coral Bay as it’s not as busy/many tours going out so you’re likely to have the whale sharks all to yourself!

Coral Bay is just over the Tropic of Capricorn. It’s a tiny tourist town that’s focused on the beautiful Ningaloo Reef; there’s whale shark excursions, snorkelling and glass bottom boat tours, a couple of great campsites, a lovely beach, and a tiny shopping precinct.

Ultimate West Coast Australia Road Trip Itinerary

- Swim with whale sharks off Coral Bay .

- Go snorkelling right off Coral Bay beach.

From Coral Bay head 1 1/2 hours north to Exmouth. If you haven’t swam with whale sharks yet here is your last opportunity.

If you haven’t swam with whale sharks yet, Exmouth is the last place on your road trip where you’re able to do so. Make sure to book the trip well in advance as space get’s filled quickly and only 20 people per boat are allowed. The town itself is fairly small, and is purely built on tourism, so I suggest heading straight to Cape Range National Park and camping at one of their many beautiful campsites right on the beach.

- Before arriving in Exmouth drive up to Charles Knife Canyon, and admire the views.

Ultimate West Coast Australia Road Trip Itinerary

- Vlamignh Head Lighthouse near Exmouth for stunning views over the reef, especially at sunset.

- Watch baby turtles hatching and learn a bit of information about them at Jarabi Turtle Centre.

- Visit and spend the day snorkelling at one of the many beautiful beaches in Cape Range National Park.

Get ready for the long 8 hour drive to Karijini National Park, you’ll be heading inland to the Pilbara region.

Karijini National Park: 2-4 days

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