Travel & Touring | WA Road Trips

Follow the famed freshwater pipeline by CY O'Connor all the way from Perth to Kalgoorlie, where people flocked to seek their fortunes in the Goldfields, for a road trip with a remarkable history.

A road trip map of Perth to Kalgoorlie
Distance Approx. 620km (not including tourist detours)
When to visit All year round. August - October (wildflowers)
Itinerary Perth - Northam - Cunderdin - Merredin - Southern Cross - Coolgardie - Kalgoorlie
Tips for travel
Most of the trail is on an excellent surface, but short stretches are on unsealed roads. Check with local authorities about the state of the roads before you travel after periods of rain. Stay safe on your road trip.
Highlights  Follow in the footsteps of old gold prospectors - gold mining and ghost towns - Westonia's Hood Penn Museum - 

Perth to Mundaring Weir (49km)

It’s a short drive from Perth to Northam on Great Eastern Highway but there’s plenty to do, starting with Mundaring in Perth’s picturesque hills.

The main attraction is Mundaring Weir with its imposing dam wall. This is the beginning of the Golden Pipeline Heritage Trail and an important part of WA's heritage. 

Here you can also wander part of the picturesque Bibbulmun Track, which stretches all the way down to Albany. 

Mundaring Weir in the Perth Hills
Head to Mundaring Weir, where you'll start the Golden Pipeline journey

At the foot of the weir is the Number 1 Pump Station Museum where you can learn more about the engineer behind the pipeline, CY O'Connor.

Mundaring Weir to Northam (77km)

The pipeline keeps you company most of the way along the Great Eastern Highway, sometimes above ground on concrete supports, sometimes going underground and out of view, sometimes doubling up. 

You'll see the PUBLIC Art Silo Trail along the highway between Perth and Northam - a giant mural painted on wheat silos that adds drama to the Wheatbelt landscape. 

The historic town of Northam sits alongside the Avon River and the Avon Valley. Walk along one of Australia's longest pedestrian suspension bridges, take a walking tour through the town, visit the museum, or if you're feeling adventurous organise a hot air ballooning tour over the Avon Valley. 

Hot air ballooning over the Avon Valley in Northam
Float above the Avon Valley on a hot air ballooning tour

Northam to Merredin (163km)

The tiny town of Meckering is only 37km past Northam on Great Eastern Highway, but it’s well worth a stop. Meckering was devastated by an earthquake in 1968 and north of the town you can see evidence of its impact in the Salisbury farmhouse, preserved in ruins as a reminder of the impact of the earthquake.

A series of small towns synonymous with wheat and sheep farming line the highway including Cunderdin, Tammin and Kellerberrin. Occasional massive wheat silos stand out starkly along the famously flat landscape.

In Cunderdin the No. 3 Pumping Station houses an interesting museum with a great deal of information about the trail. 

Interior view of Cunderdin Museum
Stop at the Cunderdin Musuem, which is inside the No. 3 Pumping Station (Photo: Tourism WA)

Stop at Kellerberrin to explore the third largest monolith in WA at Kokerbin Rock, and head to the top of Kellerberrin Hill with your camera for a panoramic view of the surrounds.

Take your time on this route and stay in Merredin to explore the local walk trails at Merredin Peak and Tamma Parkland. You'll also see the colourful PUBLIC Art Silo Trail mural on Merredin's wheat silos. 

Merredin to Coolgardie (295km)

Continue along Great Eastern Highway to Coolgardie. On the outskirts of Merredin is the ruins of a 600-bed army field hospital, relocated on the outskirts of the town from Palestine in 1942. There is extensive interpretation on the site of the hospital’s history and purpose – erected to be used in the event of an invasion during the Second World War.

Further up the road is evidence of the fight against another enemy – the rabbit. By the 1890s, rabbits had reached WA, refuting suggestions they wouldn’t be able to cross the arid Nullarbor.

An 1833km-long fence was constructed from Esperance on the south coast to Port Hedland in the Pilbara and when it was completed in 1907 it was the longest unbroken fence in the world.

Don’t miss Westonia – a 9km detour off the highway from Carrabin. It’s a delightful little town with a main street full of old shop facades and a working gold mine with a stunning lookout. The Westonia Hood-Penn Museum is a quirky stop that showcases early life in the shire and has a vibrating mine tunnel where you can experience what it was like to work in an early gold mine. 

Hood-Penn Museum, Westonia
Learn about the region's history at the Hood-Penn Museum in Westonia (Photo: Tourism WA)

After Westonia, the trail follows the highway with a side-trip 5km off the highway to showcase the splendid Karalee Rocks. It was one of several places in the region where locals worked with nature — granite rock formations were used to collect water and channel it into a dam, where it was used both for drinking and to fuel steam trains.

Karalee Rocks also features walking trails and another free camping ground – a special spot to relax in peaceful surrounds for a day. 

Coolgardie is the final town along the highway before Kalgoorlie and is well worth a stop. With its impressive Warden’s Court building which houses the Goldfields Exhibition Museum, historical park, and a perfectly preserved residence built in 1895, it's a good place to stretch your legs. 

Coolgardie to Kalgoorlie (39km)

Get back on Great Eastern Highway and finish the final leg to Kalgoorlie, just 30 minutes from Coolgardie. 

In Kalgoorlie, walk up to Mount Charlotte where there’s a splendid interpretive centre and garden. It's a great place to watch the sun set over the town, and you'll see where the pipeline ends. 

Kalgoorlie town site
The Kalgoorlie townsite is fed water from the iconic pipeline

Head to the Museum of the Goldfields to learn about the area's rich mining heritage or to the Super Pit Lookout, where you can see a working mine site in action and gaze into the abyss.

From the impressive sight of wheat silos on the horizon to the region’s fascinating war history and iconic rabbit-proof fence, following the pipeline is a chance to explore WA’s farming and mining history.

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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