After spending over 4 months in Australia, we thought we had gotten the complete picture of just how spectacular this country was. Well, we were wrong. Western Australia took us by surprise and reminded us, once again, how big, beautiful, and diverse this country is. It is not on most backpacker’s list but it is absolutely worth it. Here is the ultimate itinerary to road tripping Australia’s South West coast.
You will be flying into Perth airport and settling into your accommodation. We stayed in the center of the city but we recommend heading more towards the coast and finding accommodation there. Ideally, stay near Cottsloe beach since it is the nicest beach in Perth and definitely worth visiting. If you don’t land too late, make your way to the beach and enjoy an incredible western Australia sunset!
On your first morning, head over to Fremantle. It is a charming port town, where you will find great markets, street performers, as well as some great restaurants. Head over to “cappuccino strip” where you can have a great breakfast and some even better coffee! After spending the morning walking around and enjoying the livelihood of the town, go back to the beach and enjoying another spectacular sunset.
After having two days to relax by some of Perth’s lovely beaches, day three will be spent adventuring around the beautiful Rottnest island. It’s a 90 minute ferry ride from Perth, and if you’re lucky, you may spot some curious dolphins following the boat. Rottnest island is absolutely remarkable for several reasons. First off, it’s surrounded by pristine water and beautiful bays. Second, it’s home to Australia’s cutest marsupials: the Quokkas! They are so sweet and friendly, and you can find them all over the island. Finally, the best way to travel around the island is by bike ride, which gives you a much more intimate perspective when exploring the beaches and hot spots. You can bike the entire island in about 5 hours, but give yourself time to stop along the way to enjoy the beaches (salmon bay, the basin, and strickland bay were some of our favourite stops).
This where the road trip starts. Once you have your campervan or car (campervan is highly recommended!), stack up on petrol, snacks and water, since you have a long drive ahead! We chose to begin our trip with the longest drive (Perth to Esperance) in order to get it out of the way and make the remainder of the trip more laid-back and flexible. The reason we mention stacking up before you leave Perth is that it is over 700 km before you make it to your destination, and the road at times is surrounded by absolutely nothing. It can also be very windy in this part of the country, so if you are driving a campervan, driving fast can be quite dangerous. Therefore, it’s best to give yourself plenty of time. If you leave early in the morning, you will make it to Esperance by sunset. We had a campervan and chose to reserve a spot in a caravan park in advance so we would have a sure place to spend the night and recharge the van.
You have now made it to your first day in the beautiful Esperance region! This is the day where we ventured the furthest away from Esperance town. Make sure you have some food, water and enough gas. The first stop of the day will be at duke of Orleans Bay. This is a stunning bay with shallow crystal clear water. It’s great for picture opportunities as well as to cool off and enjoy the views.
Next you will head to what is one of the nicest beaches in all of Australia, and in our opinion, potentially the world: Wharton beach. It is hard to describe how mesmerized we were by this beach the second we laid eyes on it! The water is the most beautiful color we have ever seen and it is surrounded by pure white sand dunes! The 4WD vehicles parked on the beach make it even cooler. There are even some small waves that could be surfed with a nice longboard so if you have one make sure to bring it! We could have spent all day here and we know for sure we will see that beach again someday.
After enjoying dazzling Wharton beach for a few hours, it was getting closer to late afternoon so we headed back towards Esperance town. It was the perfect time for us to see some of the beaches along the great ocean drive in Esperance. We stopped at Salmon beach and West beach since they are very close to one another and enjoyed watching the waves as golden hour was setting over Esperance. Both of these beaches are worth seeing and are great places for a swim, a surf, or just to hang out and take some sun!
Day 5 is all about Cape Le Grand National Park. Get ready to have your mind blown. This national park is our favorite we have visited in Australia. First up we have the famous Lucky Bay. This bay is renowned not only for its beauty, but also for its friendly local inhabitants. This is where you will find the sweetest and most curious kangaroos. Early in the morning and in the evening when the weather cools down, the kangaroos come down on the beach looking for food, and they are not shy at all. It was such a cool experience and definitely a highlight of our trip.
Up next you have Thistle cove and Hellfire Bay. These two beaches are absolute must-sees! Once again, the water is the perfect blue and the sand is as pure as it gets. Adjacent to Thistle cove, there are huge rock structures that you can walk on to get an amazing view of the bay!
Both of these bays have nice calm water, perfect for swimming and relaxing. We honestly were not able to take our eyes off that water the entire time we were there. It really is breathtaking! Pro tip: at Hellfire Bay, hang out on the rocks instead of on the sand (better angle for the sun, and less people).
Once again we ended our day back in Esperance as the sun was setting over the town.
We started off our morning in Esperance since we had two more beaches we absolutely wanted to see. The first one was Blue haven beach. The name does it justice as it is a pretty perfect beach. It is small but packs a big punch! It also has a lovely staircase leading you down to the water, allowing you to take in the view as you make your way down.
The second one was twilight beach, and this one was probably our favorite one along the Great ocean drive. I know I am repeating myself, but the water really is perfect in this entire region! It is just as impressive every single time.
After spending our last morning in Esperance, we got ready for a long drive towards Two People’s Bay nature reserve. It is almost a 500 km journey so stack up on food and water once again, bump some tunes and get ready for a long drive.
Wake up nice and early and head towards little beach in two people’s bay nature reserve. You want to get there early for a two reasons. 1: it is spectacular and it’s always fun to have the place all to yourself. 2: as the name indicates, it is not a large beach, so space does fill up quickly. This was another place where we could have spent all day simply in awe of the views in front of us. Definitely made the 500km drive the previous day worth it.
Our plans for the remainder of the day unfortunately did not work out quite as we had hoped. Next on our list was “Elephant rocks” and the “green pools” in Denmark but the national park ended up being closed for rebuilding. Instead we ended up treating ourselves to a fancy caravan holiday park by accident. It had a pool, a hot tub and a bbq area so we bought some beer and burger patties and had a fun evening enjoying the facilities.
After waking up and having a slow morning in our fancy caravan park, we went to “Ocean beach” in Denmark. It is a pretty simple beach, but the water was nice, it was very spacious and it had good facilities, which is always nice when you’re living in a van. We spent a few hours on the beach, had a nice lunch by the water, and then embarked on another long drive. This time we had almost 350km to go until our next destination: Margaret River.
Margaret River is nothing short of spectacular. It is a very famous surfing location, and some of the biggest surf competitions worldwide are held there. We learned that as soon as we arrived and witnessed the biggest waves we had ever seen! We parked our van at “Surfer’s Point”, and had a nice lunch admiring incredible waves and even better surfers. We then trekked down to spend the afternoon on Gnarabup beach. Surfer’s point also has great facilities, so we took advantage of it to shower, have a little bbq, and watch a ridiculous sunset. We then found a spot on the side of the road to sleep for the night.
The next day was spent exploring some of Margaret River’s other highlights. We started the morning off by driving to the “Canal Rocks”, where you can enjoy watching the iconic waves crash on these huge rocks. There is also a “natural pool” within the rocks, but based on the tide level, it can be underwhelming. We then went to Indijup beach. It is a huge, golden sand beach that is nearly entirely empty. One thing to note about the water here is that the waves do crash directly on shore, so be careful with body surfing or general frolicking (Ben learned the hard way). The next beach we went to was the total opposite of Indijup: Yalingup beach. It is far more developed, more crowded, but has some Australia’s calmest water. It’s a great place to sunbathe and take it easy for the afternoon. We then watched another amazing sunset at Sugarloaf rock. The colours in the sky that night were impossible to beat!
Margaret River is also a very well-known wine region in Australia. We did not end up doing any wine tours since we were always driving but we have heard nothing but amazing things about all the wineries in the region. Definitely recommend giving them a try if you can.
This day was a bit of a dud since we had to schedule a medical appointment for Bianca’s eye. We spent the afternoon in Busselton, where we had ice cream at the longest jetty in the Southern hemisphere (just under 2km)! After Bianca’s appointment, we ran some errands, and drove to Bunbury where we found an awesome spot to park the van for the night. Bunbury is a town that runs along the west coast, so every night you can watch the sunset. We had dinner while witnessing another incredible dusk, and enjoyed some Australian shiraz.
Our thirteenth and final day with the van began with a magical morning: hanging out with Dolphins! Bunbury is next to Koombana beach, where you can find the “Bunbury Dolphin Discovery Center”. Every morning, dolphins come into the bay, and hangout just 10 feet away from the shore. We dipped our toes in the water, and watched them swim around us for a little while before having breakfast. After this, we sadly had to make our way back to Perth and return what had been our home for the past 10 days.
Once again, a huge thank you to TravellersAutobarn for the amazing service, and they handled our van return with professionalism and class.
We then spent our last day in Australia relaxing and running some errands, before heading off on our next adventure.
We hope this helps you plan your time in Western Australia, which we cannot stress enough, offered the most beautiful landscapes we have ever seen. If you are planning on renting a van, have a look at our post here to help you prepare for what we’re sure will be an amazing experience.
Lots of love,
Ben & Bianca