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Travel & Touring | WA Road Trips

28 January, 2020   By: Tatum Stafford 

There are few places on Earth like Australia’s North West.

Offering a true outback experience, the vast North West region boasts rugged ranges, pristine coastlines and lush forests. For the ultimate Aussie experience, load up the four-wheel-drive and prepare to hit the road.

Be wary that these drives span more than 1000 kilometres of road each. So if you'd rather embark on a shorter adventure, check out our top five road trips down south.  

But without further ado, here are our top five road trips up north.

1. Perth to Exmouth and back

Distance Approx. 2,960 kilometres
When to visit April to July to see the whale sharks, or March to November for cooler temperatures and less crowds
Highlights
  • The Pinnacles
  • Whale sharks at Ningaloo Reef
  • Dolphins at Monkey Mia
  • Kalbarri National Park
  • Pink Lake

Heading up the Indian Ocean Drive from Perth, your first stop is Nambung National Park to see The Pinnacles rock formations. Take a rest break at either Jurien Bay or Dongara-Port Denison before a longer overnight stop in Geraldton.

Continue on the North West Coastal Highway to Carnarvon – a great place to wind down after a long day of driving. On your way further north along the North West Coastal Highway, detour to witness the natural blowholes, enjoy the surf at Gnaraloo Station, or go snorkelling at Quobba Station before you reach Exmouth.

On your way back, head south along Minilya-Exmouth Road, where you’ll reach Shark Bay in around six hours’ time. Take the Shark Bay World Heritage Drive for a few stop-offs at the Hamelin Pool Stromatolites, Eagle Bluff and Shell Beach before you reach Monkey Mia.

After visiting the dolphins, head south on the North West Coastal Highway to Kalbarri and spend a day exploring the rugged Kalbarri National Park. Then, it’s time to return to Perth via Brand Highway and the Indian Ocean Drive, making a pit stop at Port Gregory’s famous Pink Lake to round out the trip.

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2. Perth to Mullewa

Distance Approx. 1,036 kilometres
When to visit July to October (wildflower season)
Highlights
  • Badgingarra National Park
  • The Pinnacles
  • Lesueur National Park
  • Coalseam Conservation Park

Instead of taking the coastal route from Perth to Cervantes, take Brand Highway to see some of WA’s stunning wildflowers and inland scenery. Stop in at Badgingarra National Park to enjoy the nature trail, before heading west to see The Pinnacles at Nambung National Park.

Next, head out of Cervantes on Indian Ocean Drive and travel north to Lesueur National Park via Jurien Bay for more wildflower spotting. Then following Brand Highway east through Mingenew, where you’ll see the Coalseam Conservation Park. When in season, carpets of white, pink and yellow everlastings blanket the landscape in colour.

The journey back to Perth is picturesque along Great Northern Highway, so keep your eye out for more wildflowers and spots to take in the serenity.

3. Geraldton to Wubin

Distance Approx. 2,070 kilometres
When to visit May to October (dry season)
Highlights
  • Pink Lake
  • Kalbarri National Park
  • Hamelin Pool
  • Shell Beach

Leaving Geraldton, head north on the North West Coastal Highway to Kalbarri, stopping at Port Gregory to view the famous Pink Lake on the way. In Kalbarri, explore the inland gorges at Kalbarri National Park, visit the Hawks Head Lookout for a view of the Murchison River, and sample fresh seafood at one of the town’s many coastal eateries.

Break up the drive from Kalbarri to Monkey Mia by stopping at Hamelin Pool to see the stromatolites, taking a walk along Shell Beach, or visiting the Eagle Bluff lookout to catch a view of the dugongs and dolphins from above.

Once you’ve arrived in Monkey Mia, be sure to catch a dolphin feeding on the beach from 7:30am each morning.

Continue north to Carnarvon before heading to Mount Magnet – a place regarded ‘pure wildflower country’ from July to October. Stretch your legs on the Heritage Walk before travelling to Meekatharra on Mount Magnet’s 37km tourist trail. To finish in Wubin, jump back on the Great Northern Highway and drive south through more of the region’s spectacular fields of wildflowers.

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Enjoying this article? Check out:

Tips for long distance driving »
Beginners guide to wildflowers »
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4. Port Hedland to Onslow

Distance Approx. 1,588 kilometres
When to visit May to October (dry season)
Highlights
  • Beaton's Creek Gorge
  • Karijini National Park
  • Millstream Chichester National Park
  • Dampier Archipelago

Start this trip by driving along Marble Bar Road to Marble Bar, the hottest town in Australia. After staying overnight, make your way to Newman via Nullagine on Marble Bar Road. If you need a rest, there are plenty of waterholes in Nullagine, like Beaton's Creek Gorge, where you can cool off in the heat.

After a stop-off in Newman, take the Great Northern Highway north-west to Karijini National Park and drive through the Hammersley Range. Consider staying in the national park for a few nights to take advantage of the incredible gorges, pools, waterfalls and walking trails it has to offer.

After a stay at Karijini, head to Tom Price via Nanutarra Road. After a rest stop, venture into the Millstream Chichester National Park along the Rio Tinto Access Road – and before doing so, be sure to obtain a park permit from the Tom Price Visitor Centre. Camp on the shores of the park’s Fortescue River before heading to Roebourne via Warlu Road.

Next, stop at the coastal hamlet of Point Samson before re-joining the North West Coastal Highway towards Karratha. While you’re there, explore the Dampier Archipelago before heading south-west on North West Coastal Highway to Onslow - your final stop on this mammoth trip.

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5. Kununurra to Broome via Gibb River Road

Distance Approx. 1,200 kilometres including stop-offs
When to visit May to October (dry season)
Highlights
  • El Questro Wilderness Park
  • Working stations
  • Cable Beach

Touted as one of the last true outback experiences in WA, the Gibb River Road spans 660km between Derby and Kununurra. The track passes stunning gorges, cattle stations and remote wildlife sanctuaries.

On this trip, you’ll pass through some of the state’s most unique destinations, including the expansive El Questro Wilderness Park, Manning Gorge, Windjana Gorge and Tunnel Creek National Park – before arriving in Broome, where you’re free to unwind and enjoy the laid-back atmosphere for which the town is so famous.

The Gibb River Road is not a drive for the faint-hearted. It can be an unforgiving journey if you're not prepared, so make sure the four-wheel drive is packed with water, food, and emergency supplies. And remember to allow plenty of time to enjoy this majestic landscape.  

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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 RAC Parks & Resorts locations in Cable Beach, Cervantes, Exmouth, Monkey Mia and Ningaloo Reef.

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