A road trip from Perth to Esperance takes you through the underrated southwest of Australia. All of which is located in Australia’s biggest state: Western Australia. The more than 1000km of coastline to explore will make you want to stay forever. The coastal views are absolutely breathtaking.
You will be driving through green forests, admiring wineries next to the road and enjoying amazing beaches. It’ll be hard to resist a stop at every single place you see. From heavenly turquoise waters, majestic rock formation, tall karri trees to meeting friendly locals (kangaroos). We are more than confident that you won’t be bored. So if you are ready to hit the best road trip of your lifetime then keep reading!
One of the best arguments to do a road trip from Perth to Esperance is that compared to other road trips in Australian it is a rather short one. Thus, 10 to 14 days should be just enough to do it.
GETTING READY FOR YOUR ROADTRIP FROM PERTH TO ESPERANCE
Before we get started, there are a few things you should consider:
- Rental car or camper van?
- Should you get the National Park Pass?
- Do you have any travel insurance?
If you are only doing this particular road trip, then renting a car is enough. It will be more costly than buying a car, but you won’t have to go through all that trouble with buying and registering a car. For backpackers, this is a different story and buying a car is much more affordable.
We wrote a full guide on how to buy a great car for backpackers in Australia. It also all depends on your budget, you can sleep in your tent or get a van where you can cook inside as well. There are also mobile homes with everything you can imagine like a toilet, shower, stove and etc.
Make sure to bring your international driving license.
WESTERN AUSTRALIA HOLIDAY PASS
If you are doing only this road trip, you can get a holiday pass for 14 days which costs AU$40, a pass for 4 weeks cost AU$60 and now they even introduced a 5-day pass which costs AU$25 AUD. Please note, that all the passes are connected to a car. A single entree to the National Park costs AU$15 per car. You can find all the information about entrance fees and passes here.
And again, never travel without travel insurance, Australia is a very, veeeeery dangerous country (just kidding) but with 7 of the most deadly animals around make sure you are covered. We can recommend this one.
If you are looking at the map, you will see two routes. We recommend you to drive along the coast in order to see all the beauty of southwest Australia. If you want to get back to Perth from Esperance as quickly as possible you can take the shortest route that goes inland.
Let’s dive into the highlights along the route from Perth to Esperance. But first, we give you a heads-up on when to visit this part of Australia.
WHEN TO VISIT AUSTRALIA’S SOUTHWEST?
Most people are not familiar with Australia’s climate and often underestimate how volatile it can be down here. Yes, there is a lot of sunshine, but there is also rain, wind, and snow. So make sure wherever you go to check first when it makes the most sense for you. I know it sounds crazy, but it really rains in Australia.
We visited this area of Australia at the beginning of spring. We had a lot of rain and clouds. But spring is great for spotting an array of wildflowers. There are so many different types. The weather in spring is also great for bushwalking as temperatures are mild. The water of the ocean is still chilled.
If we could, we would definitely come again, but in summer and spent the whole time in the ocean. Perfect for swimming, water sports and to enjoy balmy nights.
FALL & WINTER
Winter is great for spotting whales. Fall is best for its colors. However, not the best time for swimming neither.
READ MORE: 15 MOST ICONIC LANDMARKS IN AUSTRALIA
THE HIGHLIGHTS FROM PERTH TO ESPERANCE
IMPORTANT INFO: Each entrance to the NP in Western Australia cost AU$15 per car. We advise you to get a monthly Western Australia Pass for all national parks. If you are coming down to Perth from Darwin, there are many National Parks and a yearly pass will be definitely the best option.
PERTH & FREMANTLE
Let’s kick off your adventure in Perth. Perth itself has not much to offer. Yes, it’s an Australian city, but that’s about it. However, there is an awesome botanical garden in Perth. It is free and the best time is definitely in spring when wildflowers are blooming. If you insist on staying a bit longer you should head to Fremantle, which is just around the corner.
If you came to Australia for city trips you should probably stick to Sydney and Melbourne.
The area that lies between Perth and Margaret River is called Geographe Bay these days. For an incredible 50.000 years, the area between Geographe Bay and the town Augusta further south, has been inhabited by the Warandi people. And guess what? As smart nomadic people they spend the summertime on the coast (aka the beach) and the winter months inland. We dumb westerners, however, came to the beach in spring and had an awful lot of miserable rainy days. Nevertheless, it’s an underrated area that can keep you busy for a couple of days with beautiful beaches and scenic walks.
Coming down from Perth, small-town Busselton should be your first stop. Walk on the longest jetty in the Southern Hemisphere (the world’s second-longest). For AU$4, you can walk all the way to the end of the jetty which is 1.8 km (25min one way) or take a cute train. Yes, this jetty has train tracks and a train to take you out if you don’t feel like walking (AU$14 per adult).
Dunsborough is a great starting point to get to Cape Naturaliste. Furthermore, there are some really beautiful white sandy beaches nearby. Make sure to check all of them.
CASTLE ROCK BEACH
We were battling with crappy weather during most of our time in Geographe Bay and Margaret River. As you can imagine, rain and clouds are really not great for beaching.
There are many other stunning beaches around. Just to name a few: Meelup, Eagle Bay, and Bunker Bay. Follow Cape Naturaliste Rd that also leads to Cape Naturaliste and you can make stops at all of them.
Cape Naturaliste lies at the western end of Geograph Bay and is named after a French ship that explored the region. There are several things for you to do in Cape Naturaliste. As the name indicates, this area offers beautiful coastal views with spectacular fauna and flora.
LIGHTHOUSE LOOP TRACK
Cape Lewis Lighthouse is the tallest lighthouse on the mainland of Australia. For a fee of AU$5, you can go up to the lighthouse and see 360° degree coastal views.
If you don’t want to pay to see a lighthouse (we didn’t), you can walk around it with views on the ocean, spot pretty flowers, dolphins and whales in the distance too, if you visit at the right time. To see the best of Cape Naturaliste, make sure to do a 40 mins loop track. It a beautiful trail where you can spot wildlife and admire typical Australian nature.
HIKE THE CAPE TO CAPE TRACK
If you are up to challenge and really into hiking, then you can hike the full Cape to Cape Track. The whole trail is long, to be precise, 135km. Of course, you can’t complete the track in one day (if you can, then you are a beast), and travelers camp in designated areas. However, you can choose to walk sections of this track as well. Get more information here.
We are not sure how to even describe this place by only using words: breathtaking, incredible and mind-blowing. From this spot, you can see incredible coastline views and this magnificent rock formation. The best thing is, that you can easily reach it, just simply come down from the viewing platform near the parking lot.
INJIDUP NATURAL SPA
Fancy a spa in natural surroundings and that for free? For traditional aboriginal owners, the Injidup spa is a secret spot for peace and quiet. We only found out later, and it can’t be truer. We spent some time observing majestic waves crushing to the shore. The power of the ocean is so strong and frightening. We took up our drone and Gigi was brave enough to go and sit on one of these rocks. Let me tell you, it was so fascinating and scary at the same time seeing huge waves around you splashing and coming to this “spa”.
Again the weather was giving us a hard time, but I think we did a great job anyways. What do you think?
Another awesome stop on the way from Perth to Esperance is the beautiful area around Margaret River. The Margaret River region is very famous for its premium wines and world-class surf. We also enjoyed driving through forests and winding roads for once. In the beginning, we couldn’t believe that we were still in Australia. Driving around green wineries reminded us of classy wine regions in France, Italy or Germany. Margareth River deserves at least one week for exploration.
GO FOR A WINE TASTING
During our visit, the rain was only good for one thing. We had plenty of time to go wine tasting. There are many wineries around and it’s quite overwhelming to choose where to go. We tried a family-owned winery called Windance, and we had a really great experience. Usually, tastings are for free, but of course, it would be nice if you would buy a bottle at the end. Naturally, we have bought one which we then, later on, enjoyed next to a campfire while observing the starry sky (we know, camping is great).
Extra tip: If your budget is bigger, you can book a tour as well to learn about wines, try wine from barrels and walk around a winery.
BORANUP KARRI FOREST
Hard to believe that Australia has these amazing and towering karri trees, some growing over 60 meters. We loved driving around 100-year-old karri trees. Even more so if you spend weeks in the arid areas of the Outback.
If you have spare time the region is home to many caves. To be precise more than 150 limestone caves. But only four caves are open to the public: Jewel Cave, Lake Cave, Mammoth, and Ngilpi Cave.
DENMARK & WILLIAM BAY NATIONAL PARK
There are several campsites around Denmark, but we really recommend to stay at Boat Harbour Campsite. It is owned by one of the loveliest people we have met during our travels. They have chalets, powered and unpowered sites. We came in the off-season and ended up helping them with their avocado trees, which was amazing. We got eggs and avocados for free and because of our work, we also stayed for free. So if you are looking for work, this is the place! It’s only a 15 minutes drive to the Elephant Rocks.
WILLIAM BAY NATIONAL PARK
William Bay National Park is located 20km west of Denmark and you should make sure to check out the Elephant Rocks, Greens Pool, and Mad Fish Bay. We would definitely recommend at least 3 days for all of the sites.
The Elephant Rocks are huge boulders that frame a lagoon. And yes they really reminded us a bit of elephants. The Elephant Rocks need to be in your itinerary. We guarantee you will not see anything like this again. They are situated in a National Park which gives you a few tracks for wandering around with epic views. Once you get to the Elephant Rocks you will be blown away by how gigantic they actually are. Walk down the path and you are on the beach. We think capturing this beauty with a drone is a must.
Nearby Greens Pool deserves your attention as well. They are just next to the Elephant Rocks and you can walk to them in 10 minutes. Make sure to stay for sunset, the colors are indeed incredible.
MAD FISH BAY
If you take the dirt road along the coast, you will get to the Madfish Bay, which is a very beautiful beach. It is usually a very remote area, so if you would like to have some time out, this is the place.
VALLEY OF THE GIANTS TREETOP WALK
Drive through Pemberton all the way to Walpole is a hell of an experience. If you have time, you can stop at Pemberton and climb on the so-called Gloucester Tree which is 58 meters tall.
The small town of Denmark is a gateway to a forest of gigantic tingle trees. Here you can walk amongst incredibly high tingle trees. Some of them are 400 years old which is super fascinating to see. Some of them have a hole in them which looks really unique. The hole was created due to fungi, insects and, also fires.
The entrance to the walk at The Valley on a lightweight walkway is AU$21 per person. There is also a free option called Ancient Empire (as broke nomads we took the free option), where you can see many beautiful and old trees; red and yellow tingle and also the famous grandma tingle tree. Make sure to find it. We felt really feel tiny among those gigantic trees.
ALBANY & AROUND
The region of Albay used to be called Kinjarling which means in the Aboriginal language the “place of rain”. Yes, it does rain in ‘Straya’ (Australia), and apparently it has for several thousand years. Albany itself is nothing special, but nature nearby is incredible. So don’t waste much time and go for the highlights right away.
TORNDIRRUP NATIONAL PARK
In the south of Albany, you will find Torndirrup National Park. This National Park is known for The Gap and the so-called Natural Bridge. The Gap is a natural cleft in the rocks. There is a new spectacular viewing platform that makes the experience quite intense as you stand above the waves crashing into the coastal cliffs. If you are afraid of heights (like Gigi) it will be a thrill. The Natural Bridge is right around the corner from Albany. If you didn’t get the Holiday Pass you’ll have to invest AU$13 per car to see this awesome place.
Further down you will pass by Bremer Bay, this is where you can spot Orcas. Unfortunately, it is not free and you need to pay an entrance fee. There is an information center where you can learn all about the Orca’s migration and more.
LITTLE BEACH (TWO PEOPLES BAY)
This place was definitely a highlight during our road trip from Perth to Esperance. 20km east of Albany you will find Two Peoples Bay Nature Reserve and its highlight Little Beach. No question one of our favorite beaches in Western Australia (and the world). It’s wonderful to just walk on the fine white sand, looking at turquoise water (even during a cloudy day) but the scenery around is what makes this beach so special. In particular, the two big rocks popping out in the middle of the beach.
ESPERANCE & AROUND
Esperance is first and foremost really isolated. It is the last stop on your road trip from Perth and Esperance, and we can assure you it will end on a high note. Or let’s say Esperance is something like a big cherry on top of your cake.
For us, it is one of the most beautiful National Parks in Western Australia. Here you might find the best beaches in all of Australia. So do not come for just 1 day, but take at least 4 days to fully explore this region.
READ MORE: THE BEST THINGS TO DO IN ESPERANCE, WESTERN AUSTRALIA
GREAT OCEAN DRIVE
Right next to Esperance you will find the Great Ocean Drive (the Great Ocean Road is in Victoria). It is a 40 km scenic drive, that will take you around an astonishing coastline with beautiful beaches such as Blue Haven Beach, Salamon Beach and Twilight Cove. Don’t miss out on Observatory Point for the wonderful views of this coastline.
LUCKY BAY (CAPE LE GRAND NATIONAL PARK)
Lucky Bay, rated as the beach with the whitest sad in Australia is an ultimate dream. It belongs to one of the most iconic beaches in Australia for many reasons. Here you can meet the cutest locals of Australia, walk on white sugary sand and swim in heavenly turquoise waters.
If that’s not enough, then here its another one. You can drive there too and park your car (just check for tides) on the beach. We also included Lucky Bay in our 15 most iconic landmarks in Australia. Here I had a chance to meet this cute kangaroo and I think she liked me too. Also, the drone footage we took here of our car (named Knut) is really incredible.
CAPE ARID NATIONAL PARK
Cape Le Grand is already a remote place, but if you would like to go even further, then Cape Arid National Park is for you. Located just 80 km from Cape Le Grand, follow the unsealed road (bring a 4WD) that will take you to ultimate remoteness. There are only a few campsites which are very basic. That means if you would like to stay here for a couple of nights (which you should), make sure to bring enough water, petrol, and food. Unfortunately, we couldn’t go as the weather was very bad (winds of 60 kph). Well, definitely a reason to come back.
WHERE TO GO FROM ESPERANCE
This is the end of the road trip from Perth to Esperance. You have a few options on how to get back to Perth or even to continue further east to South Australia and eventually to one of the most famous road trips in Australia: The Great Ocean Road. We created a full guide on Great Ocean Road, so have a look to get inspired.
RETURN TO PERTH
You can fly out from Esperance Airport back to Perth. Alternatively, you can make it a roundtrip back to Perth and return your rental vehicle here. Inland it’s a 700km trip. In case you chose to drive back make sure to check out the Wave Rock. A wall of rocks that looks like, you probably guessed it, a wave.
We hope that you will stop at as many awesome places as possible. Again, you can take as much time as you like, with an indefinite number stops at beaches, barbecues, and sunsets.
Let us know if you have any questions regarding the road trip. Good luck, drive safely and have fun. We are more than sure that you will enjoy your ride from Perth all the way to Esperance.
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