By: Tatum Stafford
There’s plenty to love about winter road trips here in WA.
So whether you’re heading up north, down south, or somewhere in between, here are 10 iconic WA drives for the cooler months.
1. Carnamah-Eneabba Wildflower Drive, Mid West region
|Distance||104 kilometres via Coolimba-Eneabba Road|
|Stop-offs||Tathra National Park, Yarra Yarra lakes.|
The Carnamah-Eneabba Wildflower Drive is home to one of the largest wildflower displays in the State. With more than 180 species of flora on display, this scenic drive is a must-do for budding wildflower enthusiasts. It’s best enjoyed between late July and early October when the wildflowers are in full bloom.
The self-drive tour starts in Coolimba, which is a three-hour drive north of Perth. Travelling north-east through the town of Eneabba, you’ll pass the Tathra National Park. This park is particularly unique as it contains some fauna species, such as the Daviesia, which are only found within this reserve.
At the end of the drive in Carnamah, be sure to visit the Yarra Yarra Lakes for a spot of bird-watching. Carnamah is also renowned for its astrotourism, as it’s a great place to view the Milky Way due to little light pollution.
2. Chittering to New Norcia Drive, Wheatbelt region
|Distance||120 kilometre loop via National Highway 95|
|Stop-offs||New Norcia Visitor Centre, Gingin Brook.|
Start your drive in the quaint town of Chittering, stopping to pick up fresh produce from roadside stalls along the way.
Continue heading north until you reach New Norcia – Australia's only monastic town, established in 1847 and still home to Benedictine monks. While you’re there, enjoy a stroll around the church and old dormitories and stop into the local visitor centre for tastings from the famous New Norcia bakery.
On the way back, stop off at Gingin. It’s one of WA’s earliest settled towns – and alongside a dose of local history, you can enjoy the surrounding parkland at Gingin Brook, which is propelled by a unique water wheel.
3. Mundaring to Kalamunda, Perth Hills
|Distance||23 kilometres via National Highway 94|
|Stop-offs||Mundaring Weir, Kalamunda National Park.|
Just 40 minutes from the Perth CBD, the town of Mundaring is a great spot for bushwalking, camping and cycling. After a stop at Mundaring Weir, travel to Kalamunda with a drive through the Kalamunda National Park on the way.
There is plenty to do in Kalamunda once you arrive – but in winter, one of the most popular events is the Winter Kalamunda Night Market. This vibrant market features street food, live music, arts and craft and children’s activities right in the middle of town.
If you'd rather something a little more active, the Whistlepipe Gully Walk is particularly beautiful in winter when local wildflowers are in bloom.
4. Roleystone to Serpentine Drive, east of Perth
|Distance||43 kilometres via South Western Highway|
|Stop-offs||Araluen Botanic Park, Serpentine Dam.|
Begin at the Araluen Botanic Park in Roleystone, a scenic spot featuring walk trails, local dams and of course, wildflowers. Each season at the park offers a unique display of exotic and native plants, so there’s plenty to see if you’re visiting in winter.
Next, head to South Western Highway towards Jarrahdale, where you can explore historic sites such as WA’s first major timber mill, the Old Post Office and a general store which was built in 1872.
Finally, continue to the Serpentine National Park, finishing at Serpentine Dam. At the dam you’ll find plenty of areas for picnicking, bushwalking and relaxing, plus a stunning lookout that you can reach on Kingsbury Drive. And if you’re keen on photography, you’re in luck as winter is the perfect time to photograph the nearby Serpentine Falls.
5. Mount Shadforth Scenic Drive, Great Southern region
|Distance||10 kilometres via Mount Shadforth Road|
|Stop-offs||Mount Shadforth Lookout, wineries in the Great Southern region.|
The Mount Shadforth Scenic Drive is short, but it has a lot to offer.
Begin the drive two kilometres out of the Denmark township along Mount Shadforth Road where you’ll be treated to beautiful views of forest, farmland and the Porongurup and Stirling ranges in the distance.
Then, from Mohr Drive, head to the Mount Shadforth Lookout for views of the ocean and Wilson Inlet. To make a day of it, stop in at the various art galleries and shops with local produce along the way.
6. Boranup Drive, Margaret River region
|Distance||16 kilometres via Caves Road|
|Stop-offs||Boranup Drive picnic area, Boranup Lookout.|
The Margaret River region is renowned for its majestic karri forest which is arguably best explored with a drive through the Boranup Forest in the Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park. Starting on Caves Road just south of Lake Cave, wind your way through the timbers that can climb up to 50 metres tall.
In the central section, you’ll find a quaint picnic area that is signposted as Anchor Road. After a quick stop-off, continue on to the Boranup Lookout, where you’ll soak up incredible views of the coastline, surrounding karri forest and Hamelin Bay.
7. Scotsdale Scenic Drive, Great Southern region
|Distance||34 kilometres via Scotsdale Road|
|Stop-offs||Harewood Forest, Greens Pool, Elephant Rocks.|
Starting in the town of Denmark, the Scotsdale Scenic Drive is designed as a half-day, self-guided tour of the town’s picturesque coastline and countryside.
To begin, stop off at the Harewood Forest and complete the 40 minute-return walking trail; complete with creeks, heritage plaques and plenty of bird life. Then, on your way to the coast, break up your drive with stops at the multiple wineries, food producers and art galleries along the way.
Once you reach South Coast Highway, enter the William Bay National Park and explore the tranquil Greens Pool and the majestic Elephant Rocks just a short walk from your car. If it’s particularly stormy on the day of your visit, take extra care not to slip on the walking track near Greens Pool.
8. Great Forest Trees Drive, South West region
|Distance||50 kilometre loop through Shannon National Park|
|Stop-offs||Snake Gully, Big Tree Grove, Shannon Dam.|
Nestled in the Shannon National Park, the Great Forest Trees Drive is ideal for views of old-growth forest and granite outcrops. It’s also a great drive if you’re interested in local history, as the national park provides their own FM commentary which broadcasts interesting stories about the park at signposts throughout your drive. Visitors can tune in on FM 100.0.
The drive starts from the recreation area on the northern side of the South Western Highway and finishes at the campground, south of the highway. On the northern side, you’ll visit Shannon Dam, and on the southern side, you’ll pass Snake Gully and Big Tree Grove. If you’re viewing the Shannon Dam on foot, take care as the dam may overflow in winter; cutting the walking track off.
The roads on this drive are gravel, but they’re suitable for two-wheel-drive vehicles.
9. Great Ocean Drive, Goldfields-Esperance region
|Distance||40 kilometre loop starting on Twilight Beach Road|
|Stop-offs||Observatory Point, Pink Lake.|
One of WA’s most stunning tourist coastal drives, the Great Ocean Drive starts just a few kilometres from the Esperance town centre. Once you hit the road, you’ll first pass West Beach, Blue Haven Beach, and Salmon Beach. Observatory Point is another great spot to stop at in winter, as from June to October you can often find dolphins and migrating whales just one hundred metres from the shore.
While it’s a bit cold to explore some of Esperance’s great snorkelling beaches (such as Twilight Cove and Ten Mile Lagoon), the inland portion of this drive takes you past the Pink Lake, which is at its fullest in winter. The route also features plenty of photo opportunities at coastal lookouts.
10. Blackwood River Tourist Drive, South West region
|Distance||113 kilometres starting on Blackwood River Drive|
|Stop-offs||Blackwood River, Boyup Brook.|
The extensive Blackwood River Tourist Drive is a great way to explore the region’s quaint towns of Nannup, Balingup and Bridgetown. Beginning in Bridgetown, it’s a short, scenic drive through to Boyup Brook, situated on the edge of the river.
While paddling or canoeing are popular summer activities in the river, there are also plenty of picnic spots that are well-suited to long lunches in winter. And with the region’s local produce a highlight, you’ll be spoiled for choice for baked goods and fresh produce to bring with you.
Enjoy a stroll through Balingup and Nannup before heading back towards Bridgetown, winding through the region’s lush orchards and tall jarrah and marri forests.
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Image credit: Margaret River region
Last updated: February 2021