I had visited Western Australia for the first time 5 years ago, driving from Perth to Broome on an epic road trip. As much as I fell in love with the northern coast, I’d always been sad we missed out on the south-west, an area I knew was famous for its wine, beaches and laid-back vibe. So, when we decided to head back to Aus, I knew this region was top of my list. We packed our bags, and headed off on our Western Australia road trip.
We landed in Perth in the late afternoon and hopped in an Uber straight over to Fremantle. Last time we visited we stayed in Perth and went to Fremantle for the day but this time we knew we wanted to base ourselves in this beachside suburb. Not only does Fremantle have a cool vibe, with lots of restaurants and bars, it also has so much history to discover.
Our first stop was the WA Shipwrecks Museum, which I couldn’t wait to explore. On our previous trip, we had visited the Abrolhos Islands off the coast and seen the site of the Batavia mutiny. It is such a fascinating part of Australian history and to see part of the ship in the museum was so interesting.
The rest of our time in Fremantle was spent exploring the shops and markets and eating delicious food in waterfront restaurants. We tasted local ales at Little Creatures Brewery, ate incredible fried chicken at eggspot, enormous sandwiches at Bread in Common and sipped Matso’s Mango beer on Bathers Beach. We also hopped on the Ferris wheel in the Esplanade Park, with spectacular views over the city all the way up the river to Perth. We stayed at the Esplanade Hotel Fremantle, which had lovely rooms and one of the best breakfast buffets I’ve ever had.
Again, Rottnest was somewhere we visited on our last trip, and just loved. Last time, we went over for the day and promised ourselves that if we ever came back, we’d stay a few nights on the island itself. Luckily for us, a new glamping place had just opened. We stayed at Discovery Rottnest Island, with big luxury tents with proper beds, a barbecue and tiny kitchen. I loved staying here – we were in the premium tents, with ocean views to watch the sunset and a fantastic location to explore the island.
We rented bikes when we arrived, and the glamping tents are only a 10 minutes bike ride to the little shop on the island to get all the food you’d ever need. We enjoyed steaks, burgers and delicious grilled veg, it was perfect.
We spent our days here cycling all over the island, spotting the cute quokkas who live here and enjoying the different beaches. One day we woke up before dawn and cycled to the beach to watch the sun rise. It was here that my boyfriend proposed! It was so wonderful and the best way to start our holiday.
We got back to the mainland as an engaged couple! After breakfast, we went to pick up our campervan and did a big supermarket shop to stock up our fridge. Last time we did a camper trip, we went for a large van with our own bathroom as we were in the wilds of northern Western Australia. This time, however, we knew we were going to be staying in campsites everywhere we went, so we decided to choose a smaller camper. We picked up our Britz Voyager and headed off into the bush.
One thing we missed on this campervan was a barbecue, as on our last trip the campervan had a pull-out barbecue. However, we just went to a nearby hardware store and bought a little barbecue, using the gas bottle from our camper to run it. It worked perfectly and only cost 80 dollars, so at only 8 dollars a day it was bargain. At the end of our trip we took it to a charity shop who were delighted to have an almost new barbecue to sell.
Our first stop on our journey was Wave Rock. It was a long drive and we had just about arrived by nightfall. If you are planning the same journey, I would recommend leaving earlier than we did, giving yourself enough time to get to Wave Rock. We were pretty exhausted when we arrived and headed straight to bed. The heavens opened and I spent our first night listening to rumbles of thunder in the distance.
In the early morning we headed over to Wave Rock. It really is a sight to behold, with a beautiful curve and pleasant surrounding woods. Definitely a good stop off point on your way to Esperance.
Next, we were heading to the coast, to experience the vast beaches of Esperance. It was a long drive, but we were excited to get there. The weather was a little stormy – there were times that I thought we were going to tip over in the wind but eventually arrived, cruising into Esperance on a hop and prayer, pulling into a petrol station just as we ran out of juice. It was a close call!
After filling up (and promising ourselves to never get into a similar situation again!), we continued, driving towards Cape Le Grand National Park, an hour further east from Esperance. On arrival, we pulled into the campsite, parked up, and watched the sunset over the beautiful curve of Lucky Bay.
The day we spent here was one of the best of the trip. We woke early after a night of wind and rain, crossing our fingers that the weather would be kind. The sky was split into red and pink streaks, and we quickly got dressed and went for a long walk down the beach. It’s about 5km to get to the very end of the beach which took most of the morning as we wandered along, playing in the waves and looking out for the famous kangaroos.
At the end of the beach, we found a ray surfing in the shallow waves and swam with him for a while. It’s a beautiful place – it felt like we were in a dream most of the day. Lucky Bay is famous for having the whitest sand in Australia – in fact, it is so clean and pure that it squeaks beneath your feet when walking. We enjoyed exploring further throughout the national park – we hiked across the hill to Hellfire Bay, a pretty walk with another lovely beach at the other end.
To really take in the most of this area, we decided to book a scenic flight, taking us over the beautiful coastline of Cape Le Grand towards Cape Arid National Park, where the shocking pink Lake Hillier sits on Middle Island, just off the coast. It was a phenomenal view – I cannot recommend this scenic flight enough.
After our amazing time in Esperance, we embarked on the epic drive to Albany. It was long and pretty exhausting but eventually, we made it. We pulled into our campsite by Middleton Beach and walked straight to the local fish and chip shop! We tucked into a delicious meal of fresh hake, crispy chips and 2 large beers. Bliss.
The next day we got up early to get to the National ANZAC Centre, the museum that celebrates Australia and New Zealand’s military history. It was a fascinating place, with most of the exhibits about WWI and the role the ANZACs played in Gallipoli. I found it quite emotional, especially as the museum has huge windows that overlook the Frenchman’s Bay, where hundreds of ships were gathered in 1914, taking soldiers off to war. The museum has a clever system – when you arrive you are given a card with a real soldier on it, who experienced the war. As you go around and learn about different things, you can scan your card and learn how the war unfolded for that particular man. It made it all feel much more real and personal.
In the afternoon, we headed out of town to Two Peoples Bay Nature Reserve. Here we drove out to Little Beach, a beautiful cove tucked away on the east coast. The beach itself is relatively secluded already but if you walk to the end and follow a little path, you will come to an even more secret beach. It was a wonderful way to spend the afternoon. Back in Albany, we finished our evening with a meal at Wilsons Brewery, tasting several of their best craft beers.
Heading west from Albany, we drove to Denmark, a lovely region full of vineyards and breweries. We didn’t have time to stay here, and the main area, Elephant Rocks, was closed. However, we stopped to have lunch in a lovely little place called the Boston Brewing Company, where we spent the morning wandering among the vineyard, tasting unusual beers and feasting on wood-fired garlic bread. We also stopped at Bartholomew’s Meadery to taste their delicious honey ice-cream.
After this we headed west to the Valley of the Giants, a treetop walk through the vast tingle trees that cover this area. It was such a magical spot and we were lucky to have the place to ourselves – I could have wandered along the walkways under the rustling trees all day. Heading north through the Karri forests, we drove through dappled light and twisting roads.
After this we pulled in to visit the Gloucester Tree. This magnificent karri tree is 58-metre-tall and used to serve as a fire-lookout tree, to keep control of wildfires in the region. Metal spikes are stuck into the tree, creating a spiral “staircase” to the top. There was no way I was going up, but my fiancé bravely climbed all the way to the top, while I cheered him on. It sounds like the view was wonderful, but I was happy enough to experience this amazing tree from the ground.
In nearby Manjimup, we stayed at a lovely little campsite called Fonty’s Pool. We parked under a trailing tree, cooked up some dinner on our barbecue and ate it next to the peaceful lake, watching the stars come out above us. We especially loved the rubber rings – floating on the calm water the next morning was a great way to start the day.
Finally, we began to head north and arrived at the world-famous wine region of Margaret River. We spent three nights here and even that wasn’t enough. There is so much to do and see. On our first day, we headed to Hamilton, to see the rays playing in the surf in the early morning, before exploring Cape Leeuwin and the pretty lighthouse there. We also visited Jewell Cave, one of several along the Naturaliste peninsula. I was not really up for this but was persuaded to go on the tour into the cave – however, I am a total convert – it was interesting and incredibly beautiful inside.
Of course, you can’t come to Margaret River without indulging in some wine tasting. We visited several vineyards (my favourite was Stella Bella), tasting sensational wines. It’s good to get an overview of different vineyards when you are there – not just the big, commercial ones but small boutiques as well. Be honest and let them know if you know nothing about wines – the guides at each vineyard were so helpful and love sharing their passion and knowledge.
There is so much delicious food to be found in Margaret River – I’d recommend visiting Temper Temper, a chocolate shop full of dark and unusual flavours, as well as the Margaret River Dairy Company, where I ate more cheese than I care to admit. We also experienced the farmers market, as we were visiting on a Sunday, enjoying the fresh produce, hot cinnamon buns and friendly locals.
I cannot recommend this beautiful area highly enough. Breath-taking beaches, delicious wine, tasty food, great roads, exciting wildlife and of course, getting engaged – what more can you ask for? If I’ve inspired you to take a trip to Western Australia, give us a call on +44 1273320580 or request a quote. We are experts in planning tailor-made holidays to Australia, as well as round the world flights, so we can work together with you until we’ve created your perfect trip.