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Great south west road trip – your Perth to Esperance itinerary

Busselton WEATHER

If you’re after a coast-to-coast adventure from Perth to Esperance, exploring the south-west of Western Australia is a dream road trip.

It’s easy to see why.

This picturesque Perth to Esperance road trip covers multiple West Australian holiday destinations with everything from the coastal bush, turquoise beaches (such as beautiful Lucky Bay), historic towns and Karri forests. However, to experience all south-west Western Australia has to offer, you’ll need more than a week or two.

Fortunately for those with limited time, we have put together a Perth to Esperance road trip itinerary and travel guide including some of our favourite highlights.

On this WA road trip, you'll see abundant native Australian wildlife and marine life, explore some of the world’s best beaches and sample wines, craft beers and local food. Whether you’re looking for a laid-back getaway or something more adventurous, the south-west of Western Australia has something for everyone.

Pack your most important road trip gear, write down your road trip bucket list, create the ultimate road trip playlist and let’s escape on your Perth to Esperance drive.

Perth to Esperance road trip itinerary highlights

Estimated days: 7-10 | Stop overs: 4

Perth To Esperance Southern Road Trip

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Perth to Esperance road trip map

Perth to Eagle Bay

(3 hours)

Cape Naturaliste Dunsborough coastal landscape

The first stop on your Perth to Esperance road trip itinerary is beautiful Eagle Bay.

Eagle Bay is a coastal town only minutes’ drive from Dunsborough and Yallingup and an easy three-hour road trip from Perth city, Western Australia. However, be prepared to add more time to your schedule to cater for stops along the way as you head from Perth to Esperance.

This road trip route will take you through other coastal hot-spots such as Binningup, Bunbury and Busselton.

Once you hit Eagle Bay, there’s plenty of local produce to indulge in and scenery to soak up.

Highlights along the way and whilst you’re there

  • Bunbury Dolphin Centre: Get up close and personal with bottlenose dolphins in Koombana Bay.
  • Busselton Jetty: The longest jetty in the southern hemisphere. Walk down the Jetty or relax and enjoy the view right from Busselton beach.
  • Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse: View Cape Naturalise Lighthouse from a distance or take a guided tour with a 59 step climb to the top - perfect for adults and children.
  • Dunsborough Bakery: Not like any bakery you'll find in Perth. Dunsborough Bakery is regarded as one of the best bakeries in Western Australia, with fresh baked goods daily. Drop-in for a bite to eat or grab some delicious road trip snacks to enjoy as you continue the drive south.
  • Eagle Bay Brewery: The perfect blend of rural and coastal views, this south-west brewery is renowned for its craft beers, quality wine and food.
  • Meelup Beach: Arguably one of WA’s best swimming spots with plenty of shade and pretty coastal walks.

Eagle Bay to Margaret River

(45 minutes)

margaret river wine estates

Follow the coast through Gracetown into Margaret River - Western Australia's surf and gourmet escape.

Think undulating vineyards, lush forests, walking trails and some of the country’s best surf breaks. Day adventures in Margaret River’s centre include bustling shops, cafes and boutique galleries.

At night, the town comes alive with a different scene of food, wine bars and live music, unlike anything you'll find in Perth.

Enjoy some of the highlights below

  • The Wilyabrup Sea Cliffs: WA’s wild, rugged coastline and rocky hills with breathtaking views. Look out for whales during spring and summer migration season.
  • Indijup Natural Spa: Stop off for a natural spa retreat in Injidup, right on the beach. This natural beach spa is a well-kept secret amongst the locals.
  • Gracetown Beach: Famous for its world-class surf breaks. Head to North Point for more of a challenge or South Point for a less heavy swell.
  • Margaret River Wine Estates: There are over 150 cellar doors to choose from in the area.
  • Discovery Co. Tour: Take a one-day canoeing tour along Margaret River.
  • Sugarloaf Rock: Just off the beach in Margaret River you'll notice a large rock formation known as Sugarloaf Rock. This unique granite rock is part of the nature reserve in the Leeuwin-Naturalise National Park.
  • Hamelin Bay’s Historic Jetty: Watch the stingrays and snorkel the nine submerged wrecks in the bay. Or relax down by the white sand beach for a great tan.

Recommended accommodation

Stopover for a few nights at our Margaret River Tourist Park, close to the beach and other tourist hot-spots. Choose from holiday units, cabins, cottages, ensuite camping sites or powered and unpowered camping sites.

Book Here

Margaret River to Pemberton

(1.5 hours)

Karri Forest Pemberton

Drive inland via Vasse Highway into Pemberton to discover the town’s timber heritage and experience charming streetscapes. Alternatively, take the coastal route from Perth to Esperance down Bussell Hwy, stopping in at Hamelin Bay, before rerouting to Brockman Hwy towards Pemberton.

The region is renowned for its enchanting forests with Karri trees more than 300 years old. Fun fact: these trees were originally used as fire lookouts in the 1930s.

You can extend this leg of the road trip by venturing inland from Pemberton to explore Diamond Tree, Manjimup and the Karri Forests.

Highlights include

  • Karri Trees: There are three fire lookout trees remaining in Pemberton to climb. The Gloucester tree is over 60 metres high with 360-degree views – not for the faint-hearted!
  • Beedelup Falls: Follow the walking trail in Beedelup National Park. The suspension bridge hangs over the falls to give you an impressive view.
  • Hamelin Bay: If you take the more coastal route past Hamelin Bay, enjoy a splash beachside before grabbing a bit to eat at one of the amazing local restaurants.
  • The Cascades: Rocky rapids nestled in the karri forest off Northcliffe Road.
  • Yeagarup Dunes: Sandboard or 4WD amongst the dunes.

Pemberton to Walpole

(1.5 hours)

Tree Top Walk Valley of Giants Walpole

Head back towards the coast to Walpole from Pemberton, weaving through the forests and exploring wildlife trails along the way as you continue your Perth to Esperance road trip.

Walpole is a tourist and local attraction famous for its beaches, rivers and waterways, diverse wilderness and scenic drives.

Be sure to indulge in the local food, vineyards and breweries as well.

Highlights include

  • Walpole-Nornalup National Park: Walk the Valley of Giants Treetop Walk to experience the sheer size of the ancient trees.
  • Fernhook Falls: Along the Deep River in the Mount Frankland National Park, these falls make a popular swimming and picnic spot. Don’t forget your camera to capture the views.
  • Circular Pool: A large, tranquil freshwater pool surrounded by wilderness.
  • Giant Tingle Tree: A giant fire-hollowed red tingle tree opposite Knoll Drive.

Recommended accommodation

Book a few nights at the Walpole Rest Point Caravan Park in the heart of Walpole. Our tourist park staff can organise any local tours or adventures for you as well.

Book Here

Walpole to Albany via Denmark

(1.5 hours)

whale watching albany

This route brings you back down towards the coast of Denmark into Albany – the first settlement spot in Western Australia.

Hikes are well-catered for in this area as are the gourmet food and winery trails. Discover the maritime history of Albany, visit the local museums or take a short drive to Frenchman Bay to tour the old whaling station.

As you drive past Denmark, stop in at Elephant Rocks and Elephant Cove for some amazing views off the beach. Park at the Greens Pool car park before taking a scenic ten-minute walk down the track to the cove.

Highlights from Denmark to Albany

  • Whale Watching Cruise: Watch the Humpback and Southern Right whales migrate in peak seasons past the Albany beach line.
  • National ANZAC Centre: An award-winning tribute to the past and those who served, through interactive technology and historical artefacts. The wider Albany Heritage Park also incorporates Princess Royal Fortress, lookouts, Desert Mounted Corp Memorial and Avenue of Honour.
  • Discovery Bay Albany: Comprises Australia’s last operating whaling station, Australian wildlife park and regional wildflower garden.
  • Torndirrup National Park: Carved out over time by the crashing waves to create an impressive 25-metre 'gap', now a popular lookout spot.
  • Little Beach: One of the most beautiful beaches in the south-west of Australia, Little Beach is located in the Two Peoples Bay Nature Reserve.
  • Elephant Rocks & Greens Pool: Beautiful natural spot along the beach, Elephant Rocks and Greens Pool are ideal for visitors passing through Denmark. The cove features an amazing rock formation you'd be lucky to find anywhere near Perth.

Albany to Hopetoun

(3.5 hours)

Fitzgerald River National Park Hopetoun

The longest drive along the route from Perth to Albany and Albany to Esperance follows the outskirts of Fitzgerald River National Park into Ravensthorpe before you arrive at Hopetoun.

Make sure you set off early for this one. Depart Albany via Porongurup National Park along Chester Pass Road.

This drive from Albany to Esperance through Hopetoun is a favourite for native flora lovers with 750 native plant species found in the area. Wildflower enthusiasts are encouraged to visit Ravensthorpe in September for the flower show.

As you drive further East, stop off at Bremer Bay and enjoy the beautiful local beach.

Highlights include

  • Granite Sky Walk: A 670-metre-high walkway scaling Castle Rock granite outcrop with two lookouts over the south coast to Mt Gardner and Mt Manypeaks.
  • Archer Drive Lookout: For breathtaking mountain and farmland views, head to Archer Drive Lookout.
  • Fitzgerald National Park: This is one of the largest and most botanically significant national parks in Australia with more than 20 per cent of all WA’s flora species and diverse native fauna found within its boundaries.
  • Southern Ocean Road: Head east of Hopetoun to access coastal lookouts and secluded beach swimming spots, including Mason Bay and Starvation Bay.
  • Bremer Bay: Don't forget to stop off and enjoy relaxing at the beach as you drive through Bremer Bay. Bremer Bay is definitely on the list of favourite local towns in the area, great for whale watching, diving and fishing right off the beach.
  • Middleton Beach: A quick 5-minute drive from Albany, Middleton Beach is one of the most popular beaches in the area, perfect for swimming, snorkelling and surfing.

Hopetoun to Esperance

(2 hours)

Pink Lake Esperance

Esperance is a haven for unspoiled beaches and extensive national parks such as Cape Le Grand National Park.

Take the National Route for a scenic road trip to Esperance.

When you get there, the best way to explore Esperance is with a 4WD, as many of the beaches are open to drivers with designated 4WD tracks that meander through National Parks.

In Esperance, you’ll also be able to witness the whitest beach sand in Australia at Lucky Bay, arguably Esperance’s biggest drawcard.

Esperance highlights

  • Pink Lake: Best viewed from the Pink Lake Lookout, this body of water is stained pink because of the high concentration of algae and salt. This is one of the most unique attractions in Esperance, off the coast at Middle Island, and one that provides the perfect photo opportunity for social media lovers. Pink Lake is one of the most popular salt lakes in Western Australia.
  • Camping at Lucky Bay: Get up close and personal with native wildlife at Lucky Bay in Esperance. Many local Esperance Kangaroos call Lucky Bay home as they sunbathe and relax along the white sand beach year-round. Jump in for a swim right on the beach in Lucky Bay, before camping back at the local Esperance Bay Holiday Park.
  • Cape Le Grand National Park: Cape Le Grand National Park is a tourist's dream destination, a must-visit stop on your road trip from Perth to Esperance. Drive along the sweeping hills and endless dunes as you soak in the beauty of the Esperance and Cape Le Grand.
  • Recherche Archipelago: Here you’ll find fur seals, sea eagles and be able to access boat cruises. The Recherche Archipelago (also known as the Bay of Isles) in Esperance is full of amazing scenic tours and experiences - so play to spend a few days exploring.
  • Twilight Beach: Another of the most popular beaches in Esperance, Twilight Beach (also known as Twilight Bay) provides one of the most scenic coastal destinations in Australia. Make sure to head here if you're lucky enough to arrive on a sunny Esperance day.
  • Condingup Tavern: A character-filled local country pub made from dark stone and wood. This is a favourite amongst the Esperance locals. Stop in and chat to some locals for advice on where to visit next as you complete your Perth to Esperance road trip.
  • Esperance Museum: Check out the Skylab exhibit and local Esperance art and craft outlets nearby. Esperance is full of rich history and culture, with many locals creating unique pieces that represent the region.
  • Esperance Stonehenge: Outside the remote coastal beach town of Esperance is the world’s only full-size replica, made from local pink granite.

Recommended accommodation

It’s easy to spend a week in Esperance with the number of attractions and things to do. Stay at our Esperance Bay Holiday Park, which has multiple accommodation options to suit all travellers.

Book Here

Finishing your Perth to Esperance road trip

Driving from Perth through the south-west of WA is a relatively straightforward drive. However, if you like to explore, it’s easy to stay more than a night at the stopovers listed on our itinerary.

Although the mentioned times are accurate according to Google Maps, this road trip can take days or weeks, depending on how long you choose to stay at a location or whether you get side-tracked with other adventures.

Alternatively, if you're located in Esperance and plan to visit Perth, take this road trip itinerary in reverse from Esperance to Perth. Be sure to stop off at many of the local beaches along the coastal trip as you make the long journey from Esperance to Perth.

After all, it’s often the stops along the way that make for a satisfying adventure.

Take one of the best road trips north

Experienced south-west WA before and want to give up north a shot?

If you're searching for one of the best road trips in the northern corridor of WA, be sure to check out our Ultimate Road Trip Along the Coral Coast.

For more travel tips or West Australian accommodation information, contact us to see how we can help you plan your next WA adventure.

Frequently asked questions

31 August 2018

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