A Backpacker’s Guide to Great Road Trips in Western Australia

Are you thinking about hiring a campervan with a bunch of mates and hitting the open road to explore the best this country has to offer? This has to be one of the top things to do on every traveller’s bucket list.

Getting on the road with the windows down and your favourite tunes blasting out the stereo as you drive through the never-ending outback and into mind-blowing sunsets is sure to be a once in a lifetime trip, so make sure you’re fully prepared.

If you’ve never done a road trip in Australia before or hired a campervan then here is a handy guide that runs you through everything you need to know about road-trippin’ in Western Australia. We’ve covered detailed driving itineraries, tips for must-see places to stop and essential information on driving Down Under.

Here is what you can find in the guide

  1. Top Tips for Driving a Campervan in Australia
  2. West Coast Adventure: Perth to Darwin
  3. Explore the South Western Wine region
  4. Indian Ocean Drive
  5. Things you need to do if you break down
  6. 5 things you need to see in Western Australia

 

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West Coast Adventure: Perth to Darwin

  • Total estimated driving time: 43 hours (without stops)
  • Number of Kilometers: 4,040km
  • Recommended days needed: 21 days

Roadtrip Highlights: 

  • The Pinnacles Desert (home to the oldest fossils on earth)
  • Shark Bay (for dolphin and whale watching)
  • Ningaloo Reef and Cape Bay
  • Karijini National Park

Create an epic playlist, grab the snacks and buckle up, this road trip is going to take some time! We recommend you plan for at least 21 days for this one, as there are miles to cover and plenty to see.

If you want more information on this must do campervan road trip then check out this blog post, otherwise read on for a quick summary.

 

First Leg: Perth to Shark Bay via the Pinnacles

Before you get on the road spend the first couple of days taking in the sights of Perth, a city full of nature, history, action and adventure, arts, culture and dining. Once you’re done exploring then it’s time to commence your drive, heading northbound to Shark Bay. This 9-hour drive will take you along the coast, so make sure your phone or camera has enough charge to capture all the coastal and sunset shots.

On the drive up a must-see is the world famous Pinnacles desert. This awe-inspiring site is home to thousands of huge limestone pillars raised from the shifting yellow sands.

pinnacles road trip

 

When you arrive at Shark Bay, find a spot to camp for the next 2 – 3 days and head out to explore the city of Kalbarri. This is also a great spot for catching sight of dolphins and other marine wildlife, so consider taking one of the many boat trips on offer.

 

Second Leg

The second leg of this trip takes you from Shark Bay to the famous Ningaloo Reef.

When you’re ready to leave the coastal city of Kalbarri then jump back in the campervan and drive to Karijni National Park. If you want to snorkel, dive or swim with Sharks then make sure you take a route that goes Ningaloo Reef and Cape Bay. These renowned spots are great for spotting for whales, dolphins, dugongs, manta rays, huge cod, turtles and whale sharks.

 

road trip in west australia

Third Leg

The third and penultimate leg of the trip sees you travel from Karljini to Nitmiluk, a whopping 2,500km apart. As you pass by mountains, northeastern beaches, gorges and outback villages this is definitely one of the most scenic parts of the road trip.

Final Leg 

The final leg of this trip takes you from Nitmiluk to Darwin.

Although it might look close together on the map, Nitmiluk to Darwin is almost 400km apart, and so we recommend that you allow about three full days to travel the distance. Next and final stop, Darwin! As the most northern city of Australia, Darwin is home to a stunning harbour and a tropical outdoor lifestyle and if you’re a fan of Asian food then you’re in for a treat!

 

Explore the South Western Wine Region

  • Total estimated driving time: 11 – 13 hours (without stops)
  • Number of Kilometers: around 1000km
  • Recommended days needed: 3 – 4 days

Roadtrip Highlights 

  • The historic town of Albany
  • Torndirrup National Park
  • Denmark Coastal Town
  • Scenic wineries and cellar doors for wine tasting
  • The Valley of Giants Treetop Walk

This relaxing and picturesque road trip takes about four days and is the perfect opportunity to slow down the pace while you take in the best of South Western Australia’s famous wine region.

Day 1:

Kick off this trip by leaving Perth to take the Kwinana Freeway to the Albany Highway. This is around a four-hour drive, but there are opportunities to stop and grab a coffee and snack in one of the small country towns, such as Wheatbelt, on the way.

Your destination is Albany, and once you turn off the engine hop out of the campervan and explore historic Albany.

west coast road trip in australia

FACT: Albany is the place that European settlers first stepped foot in Western Australia. If you’re up for stretching your legs then why not have a go at the 30 minute self-guided ‘Amity Trail’.

Have dinner at one of the many historic restaurants and taverns available before driving to one of the nearby campsites in the Torbay area. If you’re there for the weekend then make sure you don’t miss out on a trip to the local Famers Market.

Day 2:

After easing yourself into the day with a leisurely breakfast it’s time to hit the road and explore one of the most dramatic coastlines in Western Australia.

Torndirrup National Park is home to blowholes, tall cliffs and spectacular ocean views. It’s also a great spot for whale watching, (best times of the year are July – October).

 

whale watching in west australia

 

 

In the afternoon hope back in the campervan and continue the road trip by following the coastline to Denmark, where the tall timber forests of the south meet the sea.

Grab some lunch in this romantic old timber milling town or follow the Mount Shadforth Tourist Drive if your keen to keep on exploring the local area.

The nearest campsites such Parry Beach Camping and Boat Harbour Chalet camping are around 30km east of Denmark along the South Western Highway.

Day 3:

The scenic drive from Denmark to Scotsdale, through the rolling hills and valleys of the Karry forest, is the perfect way to ease yourself into day 3 of this Western Australia road trip. You’ll drive by a number of wineries and cellar doors which make this a great place to stop for a long lunch.

The afternoon should be spent by heading west to the William Bay National Park, an ideal destination for swimming and snorkelling.

We recommend heading back to a campsite near Denmark for the night.

 

Day 4:

If you’re feeling energetic take a short 45-minute drive to the Valley of Giants Treetop Walk for the best views of some epic views of the local 400-year-old trees. This is located in Walpole.

Spend the afternoon making your way back to up to Perth via local town Manijump. Make sure you taste some of WA’s famous truffles.
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The Famous Indian Ocean Drive

  • Total estimated driving time: 9 – 10 hours (without stops)
  • Number of Kilometers: around 900 km
  • Recommended days needed: 3 – 4 days

Roadtrip Highlights: 

  • Yanchep National Park (to catch spot a kangaroo or koala)
  • The Pinnacles (where you can see the oldest fossils on earth)
  • Cervantes (world famous for it’s lobster)
  • Jurien Bay (for unforgettable lookouts over the Indian Ocean)
  • Geralton (the windsurfing capital)

This 4-day coastal road trip takes you on an adventure through Australia’s wildflowers, epic sunsets and world-famous landscape – The Pinnacles.

Day 1:

First stop Yanchep National Park to hang out with the resident kangaroos and koalas. If you make the trip between September and October you also get the bonus of seeing the gardens blooming with wildflowers.

west coast beach road trip

 

From here, hop back into the campervan and join the Indian Ocean drive, north of Yanchep. If you’re feeling peckish then Cervantes is the rock lobster capital, perfect for a fresh seafood lunch by the ocean.

Spend the afternoon being amazed by one of Australia’s most stunning landscapes – The Pinnacles, home to some of the oldest living fossils on Earth.

 

Day 2:

Head from the Cervantes area north to Jurien Bay. Don’t forget to make time to stop at some of the epic lookout points that look out across the Indian Ocean along the way.

Spend the afternoon snorkelling or diving in Jurien Bay, or if you’re feeling brave skydiving out of a plane and onto the beach.

 

Day 3:

Once you’ve grabbed your morning caffeine fix then it’s time to make your way up to Geraldton, the windsurfing capital. Depending on how active you’re feeling you can sit back and watch the pro’s or have a go yourself.

 

Day 4:

If being in the water is your thing then you will love spending time on one of the many coral fringed Abrolhos Islands, perfect for snorkelling, diving, swimming or fishing.

 

Abrolhos Islands west coast road trip

 

From there it’s time to make your way back to Perth via Lancelin, where you can pull up the campervan, sit back, relax and watch the sunset from one of Australia’s tallest sand dunes.
DOWNLOAD WEST COAST ROADTRIPS IN AUSTRALIA GUIDE

To put it simply, a campervan road trip is the only way to see Australia. Speak to the team at Travellers Autobarn for more information and to book your campervan today

 

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