A road trip through WA's beautiful south-west

Western Australia has it all. From the red earth of the outback and gorgeous stretches of coastline to incredible national parks and world-famous food and wine, there’s something for every kind of traveller. But how do you see it all? After all, WA is one big place.

If you ask us, the best way is by car. Having a set of wheels means you can create your own road trip and take as much time as you like, in the places you like. Want to spend a couple of days winery-hopping and gourmet grazing in Margaret River? No problem. Keen to explore the coast at your own pace? Done. And this is where a hire car comes in. Renting your ride means out-of-towners can simply fly in and fly out of Perth, without having to compromise on their itinerary.

To give you an idea of the freedom a hire car provides, we’ve done some of the graft for you and pulled together a route that explores WA’s beautiful southwest. And because we know that when you travel in style you’ll probably want to sleep in style too, we’ve even picked out some of our favourite Beautiful Accommodation properties for you to stay at. Happy driving!

Arrive in Perth

Fact: Perth is closer to Singapore and Jakarta than it is to Canberra. In fact, it's actually the most isolated capital city in the world. Don’t think that means your options here will be limited, though. Oh no. Perth is a happening, vibrant city, where your days can include strolling along beautiful waterfronts, gawking at artworks or sampling top-notch local produce. The Perth Cultural Centre is definitely worth a visit and is home to the Western Australian Museum, the state library and a collection of galleries. Fremantle is also a must-see, and is only 20 minutes from Perth by train.

Where to stay: House in Belgravia

Please note this property has a four-night minimum stay.


Perth to Margaret River (3 hours)

We hope you packed your appetite. Margaret River is one of Australia’s favourite foodie hotspots, and the region is brimming with excellent provedores, artisan producers, award-winning wineries and hatted restaurants. To reach Margaret River from Perth, head towards the Kwihana Freeway and just keep following it south. The freeway goes on to become Forrest Highway and will take you into Bunbury – a great location for a pitstop and leg stretch. It’s then on to the Bunbury Bypass and Bussell Highway, which will take you into the Margaret River township. The wider Margaret River region covers towns like Busselton, Dunsborough, Yallingup, Gnararup and Augusta, so foodies and wine lovers are spoilt for choices when it’s time to indulge. There are big names – Leeuwin Estate, Vasse Felix, The Margaret River Chocolate Company – and smaller producers, including roadside stalls and excellent farmers’ markets. Plus, there are opportunities for whale watching, cycling trails, nature walks, surfing breaks and beautiful beaches. Good thing you have your own set of wheels – you’ll be able to see, taste and explore to your heart's content.

Where to stay: Margarets Forest

Please note this property has a two-night minimum stay.


Margaret River to Albany (4 hours)

Driving from Margaret River to Albany can be done in a couple of ways. The Vasse Highway/South Western Highway/South Coast Highway option is a seriously scenic route, and will take you through Pemberton, Walpole and Denmark. You could also take an inland route, driving through Manjimup, Mount Barker and along Albany Highway. Albany is a city whose history is as impressive as its natural beauty. It’s here that European settlers first set foot in Western Australia, and Albany’s King George Sound is also where the first convoy of ANZACs departed for World War I. For spectacular views over King George Sound, make for Middleton Beach boardwalk trail. Albany is surrounded by national parks – Torndirrup National Park is home to the Gap and Natural Bridge rock formations; West Cape Howe National Park boasts dramatic cliffs and pristine beaches; and Stirling Range National Park has scenic drives, mountain bushwalks and walking trails.

Where to stay: The Beach House at Bayside


 

Albany to Esperance (5 hours)

The South Coast Highway will lead you straight to Esperance. With its squeaky-clean beaches, too-blue water and rugged coastline, Esperance is a beach- and nature-lover’s heaven. It’s even home to Australia’s whitest beach, Lucky Bay at Cape Le Grand National Park. There are spots for swimming and snorkelling, surfing breaks to hang 10 and plenty of opportunities to cast a line and reel in a catch. From September to November, Esperance’s countryside is scattered with a pretty blanket of wildflowers too. Head to Lake Hillier to marvel at this pink-hued natural wonder; the lake sits on Middle Island, one of the islands that make up the Recherche Archipelago.

Where to stay: Seascape Beach House

Please note this property has a two-night minimum stay.


Esperance to Kalgoorlie (4 hours 5 minutes)

Bid adieu to the coast, because you're headed inland. This time it’s to Kalgoorlie, the biggest city in the Australian outback. The city is a buzzing mix of gold rush history, colonial architecture and the mining industry boom. In fact, you can get up close and personal with Kalgoorlie mining heavyweights. The Super Pit is one of the world’s largest open cut mines and joining a guided tour is an eye-opening experience into gold mining. In town, there are a handful of galleries for those looking for an arty fix. Keen for art on a larger scale? Venture north to Lake Ballard and one of Western Australia’s most unusual attractions – Inside Australia: Antony Gormley Sculptures. This art installation sees a collection of 51 steel sculptures dotted across the lake. To reach Lake Ballard, you’ll need to travel through Menzies and along an unsealed sandstone road.

Where to stay: The Church

Please note this property has a two-night minimum stay.


Kalgoorie to Perth (6 hours 20 minutes)

When you’re Perth bound, the Great Eastern Highway will take you directly from Kalgoorlie into the heart of the capital. You’ll drive through some small towns and national parks along the way. To wrap up your Western Australian adventure, you can spend your time wandering along Scarborough’s soft-sand beaches, explore nearby rock pools or simply kick back on your balcony and sip sundowners.

Where to stay: The Big Shell and The Big Shell 2