By: Tatum Stafford
Australia’s South West is the ideal spot for a driving holiday.
With its sealed and signposted roads, relatively short travelling distances and picturesque coastal driving routes, there’s no better way to explore this diverse region than with a good old-fashioned road trip. If you're after a longer trip, check out our top five road trips up north.
Here are five of our favourite road trips down south.
1. Perth to Pemberton and Margaret River
|Distance||Approx. 830 kilometres|
|When to visit||All year round, or August to November for wildflower season|
Make a stop at the heritage-listed town of Jarrahdale via South Western Highway, before continuing to Serpentine Falls. If time permits, continue travelling south and take a walk on the Bibbulmun Track from Dwellingup’s corner of the State Forest of the Darling Range. Then, follow Bannister-Marradong Road south to the country town of Collie.
Next, take the Donnybrook-Boyup Brook Road towards Bridgetown before joining the South Western Highway to Manjimup - a great spot to stop for a gourmet lunch. As you keep travelling towards Pemberton, be sure to visit the Diamond Tree, a 51m karri tree that’s the only wooden tree top tower in the world.
After a stop in Pemberton, take the forest-route towards Busselton on Pemberton-Northcliffe Road. Just east of Northcliffe is the Great Forest Trees Drive, a picturesque loop worth taking for a closer look at the area’s tall timber. If you’d like another stop-off, the stunning D’Entrecasteaux National Park is not far from this road.
From there, head back towards Pemberton and turn left onto Vasse Highway to enter the Margaret River region. From Margaret River, you can take Caves Road to pass through Yallingup for some coastal scenery, or drive through Cowaramup along Bussell Highway for the quickest route back to Busselton.
2. Perth to Albany and Porongurup
|Distance||Approx. 460 kilometres|
|When to visit||All year round, but July to October for whale watching and August to November for wildflower season|
Take the scenic route on Albany Highway through the Jarrahdale State Forest before you arrive in Kojonup. Spend the night or keep travelling on Albany Highway to Mount Barker. While here, explore the Stirling Range or take a trip to the Porongurup Range, which is only a half-hour drive from the town centre.
A short drive further on Albany Highway will take you to the regional centre of Albany, set on the scenic WA coast. Spend a few days in Albany to visit the Gap and Natural Bridge, the National Anzac Centre and the picturesque Middleton Beach.
If you’re after a day trip from Albany, travel on the South Coast Highway to Denmark where you’ll find the Elephant Rocks, Greens Pool in the William Bay National Park, and a slew of family-owned boutique wineries.
3. Perth to Esperance
|Distance||Approx. 993 kilometres|
|When to visit||All year round, but spring and summer are great for wildflowers and swimming|
Take Albany Highway through the towns of the Wheatbelt region, including Williams, Kojonup, Mount Barker and Albany. Then depart Albany on South Coast Highway to reach the town of Hopetoun. While here, explore the magnificent Fitzgerald River National Park – a great spot for camping.
Next, travel north and stop at the historic settlement of Ravensthorpe before continuing to Esperance along South Coast Highway. On the way, stop at Munglinup Beach for a swim and at Stokes National Park to walk the 4.3 kilometre heritage trail. As you continue to Esperance, take in the island views of the Recherche Archipelago from the road.
Esperance is an ideal base to explore a string of stunning beaches and natural wonders on WA’s south coast. While you’re there, be sure to visit Cape Le Grand National Park, Woody Island and Cape Arid National Park. If you’re after more ideas, check out our top 10 things to do in Esperance.
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4. Perth to Gracetown
|Distance||Approx. 290 kilometres|
|When to visit||All year round, but spring and summer are great for swimming|
Your first stop is Mandurah, less than an hour from Perth on the Kwinana Freeway. After a quick stop, continue to drive south on Forrest Highway towards Bunbury, where you can stop for the night or to take a break.
After spending some time in Bunbury, take the 40-minute drive to Busselton along Bussell Highway. While in Busselton, it’s worth catching a sunset at the foreshore, traversing the Busselton Jetty and visiting the busy town centre.
It’s a quick drive on Bussell Highway from Busselton to Dunsborough, where you can climb the stairs of the Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse or take a dip at Meelup Beach. Then, on the way to Yallingup via Caves Road, stop in at Ngilgi Cave for a view of some spectacular crystal formations. Canal Rocks, a little further down the road, is a great spot to swim and catch an epic sunset.
After a stop in Yallingup, continue on Caves Road to reach Gracetown. For the thrill-seekers, Injidup Beach is great for snorkelling, diving, and surfing, while Injidup Natural Spa is the perfect spot to relax. Gracetown is famous for its surf breaks, and is also a great base for exploring more of the South West.
5. Perth to Augusta
|Distance||Approx. 320 kilometres|
|When to visit||All year round, or June to August for whale watching|
After passing through Mandurah via the Kwinana Freeway, continue south on Forrest Highway for 60 kilometres to reach Yalgorup National Park. Lakes, bays and dunes can be seen from high vantage points throughout the park, and Preston and Myalup beaches are nearby for those wishing to get their toes wet.
Next, head south along Old Coast Road to Bunbury; a great place to explore and stay the night. Check out the Dolphin Discovery Centre, take a walk through the city centre that is spotted with murals, or simply unwind at one of the town’s picturesque beaches.
From Bunbury, travel south on Bussell Highway to reach your destination of Augusta in just under two hours. Explore Jewel Cave, walk part of the Cape to Cape Track, or explore the stunning Ngari Capes Marine Park while in this sleepy seaside haven.
Need a place to stay on the way?
RAC members save up to 20%* at RAC Parks and Resorts. We've got you covered with locations in Busselton, Esperance, Karri Valley and Margaret River.
*Terms and conditions apply. Member rate varies according to season. See full website for details.
Last updated: February 2021