By: Tatum Stafford
You don’t have to venture too far out of Perth to embrace small town, country charm.
The Wheatbelt is filled with plenty of gorgeous nature reserves, quaint country pubs and intriguing history just waiting to be discovered.
So, we’ve done the hard work for you. Here’s your ultimate road trip itinerary from Perth to New Norcia (and back) with a few quirky stops in between.
At a glance
|Distance and days||Approx 384 kilometres, allow two days.|
|Why do it?||Newcastle Gaol Museum – Oak Park walk trail – Elphin Nature Reserve – Wongan Hills Pioneer Museum – New Norcia Museum and Art Gallery – Bindoon Bakehaus – Swan Valley wineries|
|When to go||All year-round, or between August and October for wildflower season.|
|Need to know||There are a few basic amenities, including supermarkets, roadhouses and petrol stations along the way. There’s only one basic roadhouse in New Norcia.
Only Telstra 3G mobiles work at New Norcia – there is no WiFi access. Phone reception can also be spotty along the Great Northern Highway.
|Vehicle access and safety||This road trip can be completed in a two-wheel drive – just take extra care on Great Northern Highway, as road trains, flooding and dust are common. It’s best to avoid driving on the highway at night. If driving at dusk, keep an eye out for kangaroos and other wildlife. Before setting off, read our long distance driving safety tips.|
|Member benefits along the way|
Day one: Perth to New Norcia via Toodyay, Goomalling and Wongan Hills (253 kilometres)
Your first stop is the quaint country town of Toodyay. Founded in 1836, the town still has many of its original buildings, including the Old Courthouse, Connors Mill and Newcastle Gaol, where the infamous Moondyne Joe was held. After a dose of local history, go for a stroll down main street, pick up a sweet treat from the Toodyay Bakery, or shop for festive trinkets at the quirky Christmas 360 gift shop.
After a stroll through Toodyay, head north-east to the farming town of Goomalling – keeping an eye out for the rolling hills, olive groves, vineyards and lavender fields you’ll pass on the way there. In Goomalling, visit the historic George Slater Homestead, the restored residence of the town’s first European settler. And if you’re visiting during springtime, head to the Oak Park walk trail to spot plenty of local blooms.
From Goomalling, head a little further north to reach the town of Wongan Hills. With more than 1,400 species of flowering plants, this small town is a prime stop-off if you’re road-tripping during WA’s wildflower season – Reynoldson Reserve and Elphin Nature Reserves are particularly colourful hotspots. The Wongan Hills Pioneer Museum is also worth a visit before you start to head west.
Your last stop of the day is New Norcia, Australia’s only monastic town. Home to a peaceful community of Benedictine monks, the town was established in 1847 and is dubbed ‘a piece of Old Spain in the middle of the Australian bush’. The town is characterised for its olive trees, historic buildings and the eclectic New Norcia Museum and Art Gallery, which is filled with Monastery memorabilia and European religious artworks.
Day two: New Norcia to Perth via Bindoon and the Swan Valley (131 kilometres)
It’s a two-hour drive from New Norcia back to Perth, so take your time and stop in at the stopover town of Bindoon on the way back. The award-winning Bindoon Bakehaus is one of WA’s most popular country bakeries, so grab a takeaway coffee and a few tasty treats before hitting the road again.
Passing through Bullsbrook, continue on Great Northern Highway to reach the Swan Valley. This picturesque region is beloved for its gourmet food, fine art and world-class wine – so be sure to stop in at a few wineries and food producers before venturing back into the city.
Ready to tackle this Wheatbelt road trip?
Make sure you fuel up first – RAC members save 5 cents a litre at participating Puma Energy stations.
Last updated December 2020