Travel through quaint Wheatbelt towns to the breathtaking southern coastline of Western Australia. Here you’ll discover superb fishing, pristine nature and the whitest beaches you’ve ever seen.

A road trip map of the Great Southern
Distance Approx. 993km (one way to Esperance)
When to visit All year round but spring and summer are great for wildflowers and swimming
Itinerary Perth - Mount Barker - Albany - Ravensthorpe - Hopetoun - Esperance - Perth via inland, western, southern or coastal route
Tips for travel
Take a snorkel to explore Cape Le Grand National Park and your hiking boots for beautiful coastal trails. Stay safe on your road trip.
Highlights  King George Sound - Mount Clarence - Hopetoun nature - Ravensthorpe wildflowers - Munglinup Beach - Recherche Archipelago - Cape Le Grand National Park - Wave Rock (inland route) - Manjimup truffles (southern route) - Margaret River region (coastal route)

Perth to Albany (415km)

Take Albany Highway through the towns of the Wheatbelt region, stopping at museums or to sample local wines at Williams, Kojonup or Mount Barker before arriving in Albany - WA's first European settlement. The beautiful Princess Royal Harbour and King George Sound surround the City of Albany, renowned for its history, whales and dramatic coastline.

With breathtaking island and ocean views from Mount Clarence and Mount Melville, visitors can spot for dolphins and seals frolicking in the waters and whales on their annual migration. Indulge in local wines and produce in gourmet restaurants or from the farm gate.

Padre White lookout, Albany
The view from Padre White lookout on top of Mount Clarence (Photo: Amazing Albany)

Explore the National Anzac Centre to learn about the First World War, visit local galleries, absorb the city’s fascinating history, or take a tranquil bushwalk in one of the nearby national parks. The beautiful landscape and white sandy beaches are the perfect backdrop for a relaxing holiday. Albany’s attractions are diverse enough to cater for everyone. 

Albany to Hopetoun (343km)

Depart historic Albany, heading east on South Coast Highway to the delightful town of Hopetoun. Nestled on the tranquil shores of Mary Ann Haven, this was once a thriving port for the Phillips River goldfields.

Explore the magnificent Fitzgerald River National Park, one of the country’s last great wilderness areas renowned for its rugged inland and coastal scenery and 1800 species of wildflowers.

Hopetoun offers a great variety of activities and attractions and scenic drives for the active visitor. Go bushwalking, camping and surfing at the nearby Fitzgerald River National Park. View the local seal colonies and other marine life in the Southern Ocean.

Fishing at Culham Inlet, just west of Hopetoun
Fishing at Culham Inlet, just west of Hopetoun (Photo: Tourism WA)

Try your luck at onshore or offshore fishing and check out the fishing competition held at Easter. Spend the evening gazing at the magnificent night sky where the Southern Cross points its way across the Southern Ocean.

Follow the Southern Ocean Road east of Hopetoun to access breathtaking coastal lookouts and beaches with quiet pools for fishing or swimming, including Mason Bay and Starvation Bay.

Hopetoun to Esperance (235km)

Travel north to the historic settlement of Ravensthorpe, where you’ll find historic mining relics, scenic lookouts, untouched bushland and beautiful spring wildflowers. On the way to Esperance along South Coast Highway, stop by at Munglinup Beach for a swim and Stokes National Park to admire the inlet scenery or walk the 4.3km heritage trail.

As you continue to Esperance take in the island views of the Recherche Archipelago and watch for humpback and southern right whales migrating along the Southern Ocean coast (seasonal). The archipelago is a necklace of 110 islands, earning Esperance the title of the 'Bay of Isles'. 

Recherche Archipelago in Esperance
In the right season, you can see whales swimming through Recherche Archipelago

Esperance is nestled on the south coast of Western Australia, about nine hours’ direct drive from Perth. The year-round temperate climate, beautiful beaches and pristine coastal landscapes make it a popular holiday destination.

Esperance is an ideal base from which to explore a string of stunning beaches and the natural wonders on the south coast of WA, including Cape Le Grand National Park, Cape Arid National Park, and the paradise islands of the Recherche Archipelago.

You can take a cruise around the archipelago, stopping at Woody Island for bushwalks and snorkelling or an overnight stay in the island’s tents and safari huts.

Follow the coastal roads out of Esperance and within minutes you’ll be passing a string of unspoilt white-sand beaches, perfect for a picnic or a photo stop.

For many visitors, the untouched beaches and bushland of the outback coast’s national parks are a big drawcard. Follow one of the many coastal walk trails and take in the stunning views of white sandy beaches, rust-stained granite headlands and rugged islands.

 A kangaroo on Lucky Bay, Esperance
See wildlife at beaches like Lucky Bay in Cape Le Grand National Park (Photo: Tourism WA)

Esperance to Perth via Albany (approx. 714km via Hyden)

If you have your camping gear or caravan in tow, there are a range of caravan parks and camping sites, attractions and tourism services in Australia’s Golden Outback, via Kalgoorlie or Hyden and back to Perth.

Alternatively return westward via Ravensthorpe. Situated south-east of Perth, between Esperance and Albany, it enjoys a temperate Mediterranean climate with beautiful sunny winter days and cool summer nights.

The town of Ravensthorpe is surrounded by ancient rocky ranges, rugged river valleys, vast sand plains, rare animal species and historic mine sites.

A stand of salmon gums (Eucalyptus salmonophlia), found in the Ravensthorpe Range
The area around Ravensthorpe is a haven for flora (Photo: Tourism WA)

Visit in spring and you’ll also be treated to an awesome display of wildflowers. Stop and enjoy the town’s facilities, including barbeque facilities in Jubilee Park on Morgans Street.

You can also take the southern route via Walpole, Manjimup, Bridgetown and the South West highway, or through the Margaret River region back to Perth. It's up to you - the road is yours....

Share your favourite road trip photos with us on Instagram using @racwa. And if you need music for your travels, download our For the Drive playlist from Spotify so you can just hit play and focus on the drive.

Last updated September 2018

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