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Vast, breath-taking and blessed with wide open roads – Australia is probably the best country in the world for a road trip. And when it comes to choosing a state to drive around, Western Australia’s picturesque and rugged beauty was made to be explored by car.
White sandy beaches, lush vineyards and the red ochre soils of the Outback pepper Oz’s largest state, and the best way to discover it is behind the wheel of a rental car.
With so many incredible places to explore it can be hard to narrow down where to go for your road trip in Australia, but these five classic itineraries are a great place to start.
1. The South West Nature and Wine Drive
Starting in Perth and taking in Bunbury, Margaret River and Pemberton, the South West Nature and Wine drive does exactly what it says on the tin. This four to six day trip is a dream for foodies and nature lovers, with the chance to spot wild bottlenose dolphins off Bunbury pier and sip your way through Margaret River’s finest vintages.
As well as producing top quality wines (and craft beers), Margaret River is also a biodiversity hotspot – 80% of its plants are unique to the region. Hiking through Boranup Forest is a great way to clear your head after a night on the Cabernet, while the limestone caves make a fascinating detour. On your way back to Perth, drop into Manjimup to taste the town’s famous black truffles, coveted by chefs around the world. How’s that for an itinerary?
2. The Great South West Edge
We recommend spending 11 days on this West Australia road trip, which starts in Perth and loops around the entire south west edge of the country taking in beaches, forests and vineyards. During your trip you’ll drive through national parks including the William Bay, Porongurup, Fitzgerald River and Cape Le Grand national parks.
This is one for real nature lovers – don’t miss the vertigo-inducing Granite Sky Walk in Porongurup National Park. Suspended 670m in the air, the pathway has incredible views. Just don’t look down. Back in the car, it’s worth taking a detour along Chester Pass to the Stirling Ranges: home to Western Australia’s highest peak, Bluff Knoll. During this road trip you’ll have the chance to spot bottlenose dolphins, fur seals and sea eagles along our coast. Look out for the local kangaroos hopping along the beach at Lucky Bay.
On your way back to Perth you’ll wind through Western Australia’s ‘wheat belt’, where you’ll find historic country towns where you can get a glimpse of real outback culture.
3. The Coral Coast Highway
This West Coast Australia road trip takes in two UNESCO listed world heritage sites – Shark Bay and Ningaloo Reef.A top pick for a Western Australia 10 day road trip, it starts and ends in Perth. The drive takes you all the way along the Indian Ocean coastline, passing through the Pinnacles in Nambung National Park with its lunar-like limestone formations on the first day before reaching Kalbarri where you can kayak through 400 million year old river gorges and take a photo through Nature’s Window, which perfectly frames the rugged landscape behind it.
Other highlights from this tour include Shell Beach, a beach made of billions of tiny shells, and Monkey Mia where wild dolphins frolic just off the shore. If you’re visiting from March to July, don’t miss the opportunity to swim with the whale sharks at Ningaloo Reef, the gentle giants of the ocean.
4. The West Kimberley Crossing
This drive starts and ends in Broome, passing through traditional outback towns, Aboriginal villages and a unique landscape that was formed by a 350 million year old reef system. The drive itself takes four or five days, however it’s necessary to factor in the time to get to Broome which is possible to fly to from Perth (flight time is around 2h30 minutes). The trio of sights – Windjana Gorge, Tunnel Creek and Geikie Gorge – have to be seen to be believed.
Stretch your legs with a stroll through Windjana Gorge and look out for the fossils embedded in its towering sides. Afterwards, take shelter from the strong Aussie sunshine with a torchlit walk through the underground Tunnel Creek. At 750m long, the cave system is home to bats and freshwater crocs. At Geikie Gorge the indigenous Banuba people will be happy to take you on a river cruise, showing off the freshwater crocodiles and fossil-lined walls of the stunning natural wonder.
5. The Indian Ocean Drive
We’d recommend at least five – ideally seven – days for this road trip. Expect a true riot of colour. During your drive you’ll be treated to the turquoise blue Indian Ocean, arid red gorges, pale yellow moonscapes and the bizarre bubblegum pink hue of Hutt Lagoon. From July to October a burst of wildflower blooms add even more colour, as well as a light fragrance that will make you swoon. Stop at Lesueur National Park to see more than 900 different flowers in their full glory, or take a detour inland to Mullewa, Three Springs and Carnamah for more bloom spotting.
When it’s time to stretch your legs, go snorkelling around the coral-fringed islands of the Abrolhos, skydive at Jurien Bay or catch a breeze at Geraldton – Australia’s windsurfing capital.
Which road trip will you be adding to your Western Australia itinerary?
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