Table of Contents

Itinerary - 4 Weeks in Western Australia

The road less travelled

Our four week road trip began in Perth and took us South through the Margaret River region and then back up the coast to the North as far as the Ningaloo Reef before heading back home – a whopping 5,300 kilometres in total.

 

4 weeks in Western Australia The Road Less Travelled WA Road Trip Australasia
Western Australia Itinerary Australasia
Western Australia Itinerary Australasia

Best time to visit WA

We visited in October – Springtime – in the hope of seeing the best of the wildflowers in this region and avoiding the heat of the Summer.   

If wildflowers are your main interest, you need to come between mid August and the end of September to see the best show, but it may well be busier then and not as warm.  See below for links to photos of the many beautiful flowers I saw during my stay here.  If you think of Australia as hot, dry, red and sandy – be prepared for a a very pleasant surprise!

Top Ten “Must-Dos” for a road trip to WA

  1. Go snorkelling at Sal Salis
  2. Go sand boarding at Lancelin Sand Dunes
  3. Explore the Pinnacles desert
  4. Gaze at a a Pink Lake at Hutt Lagoon
  5. Watch kangaroos play on the beach at Lucky Bay
  6. Take a 4 wheel drive in Francois Peron National Park
  7. See the dolphins at Monkey Mia
  8. Enjoy a tasting menu at a vineyard in Margaret River
  9. See a quokka on Rottnest Island
  10. See Koala Bears at Yanchep National Park

Best Hotel Award

Sal Salis was easily the winner of the best hotel award for the trip.  It is an expensive option, but how often do you get the chance to swim across a coral reef right outside your bedroom (well – make that a very luxurious tent) door?  Lovely food, great hospitality and a to die for location.  It take some effort to get there, but is definitely a “must do” in my view.

Sal Salis WA
Sal Salis WA

What I’m Packing

Don’t travel without:

Sun hat
Fly net
Sun cream

For snorkelling:

Mask
Snorkel
Rashie
Underwater camera

Read my tips for the best buys and other packing tips:

Western Australia What I'm Packing Cressi Big Eyes Prescription Snorkel Mask
Western Australia What I'm Packing sun hat
What I'm Packing Underwater Camera Olympus Tough TG6

Flora and Fauna

Wildlife

This is just a checklist of what I actually saw – to inspire you to go – but there is potentially so much more to see here!  Search for “Flora and Fauna” to find the relevant posts – or click on the links below:

Wildlife Checklist:

  • Quokka
  • Lizard
  • New Zealand Fur Seals
  • Osprey
  • Grey Merino Sheep
  • Kangaroos
  • Green Parrot
  • Emu
  • Bluebotttle Jellyfish
  • Karri Moth
  • Sharks
  • Koala Bears
  • Pink Galahs
  • Tiger Sharks
  • Nervous Sharka
  • Dolphins
  • Dugongs
  • Thorny Devil
  • Black-Flanked Rock Wallabies
  • Blue spotted ray
  • Pelicans
  • Carpet Python
  • Echidna
Perth to Geraldton Where to see Koala Bears in WA Fauna Koala Bear Yanchep NP
Koala Bear Yanchep NP
Kangaroo - Pinnacles Desert WA
Kangaroo - Pinnacles Desert WA
Rottnest Island WA Quokka
Rottnest WA Quokka
Monkey Mia to Ningaloo Reef Thorny Devil WA
Thorny Devil WA

WA Wildflowers

If you are coming to WA to see wildflowers – and it is a really great place to do that – this website has lots of useful information about the best times to go and what there is to see.

Western Australia really is an absolute mecca for wildflowers.  

Visit in Springtime (between mid August and the end of September) to get the best chance of seeing the best display.

There are more than 60 photos of flowers in this trip!  Follow the links to discover where to find them all …

I have named as many as I could, but I couldn’t identify all of them.  If you can help me fill the gaps, please get in touch – I’d love to hear from you!

Foodie Firsts

Search for “Foodie Firsts” to discover more about WA’s Foodie scene.

Sharing a Golden Gaytime
Sharing a Golden Gaytime

Learning the Lingo

Rule 1 – When in doubt, add an “O”:  

  • Arvo (afternoon)
  • Avos (avocados)
  • Bottle-O (Liquor shop/Off Licence);
  • Fisho (fish shop);
  • Servo (Petrol Station)
  • Vego (vegetarian)

or an “IE”

  • Brekkie (Breakfast)

Thongs –  flip flops

Stubbies – bottles of beer.

Poachies –poached eggs

Nude nut – a balding head

Flaming and bloody – seem to be used very liberally to amplify almost any noun?

POHM – Prisoners of his Majesty.  Early settlers were transported to Australia as a punishment and became known as POMs for short – i.e. – Englishmen.

Chew & Spew – Roadhouse

Wanju Kepa Kurl Boodja –  Esperance -Where the Water Lies Like a Boomerang

Boy Dijnoong Quabba – “Look way out from this high place and feel good about where you have been”

Tips for Future Travellers

  1. For tips on driving in WA, read my post 10 Tips for Driving Safely in Australia
  2. Hindsight is always a wonderful thing and if you are reading this in advance of your trip to WA, then let me give you the benefit.  We spent 32 days in WA.  There was so much to see and do that I would have allowed an extra five days, if possible, with an extra night in each of Carnarvon, Kalgoorlie, Geraldton, Albany, Coral Bay and Monkey Mia and would have given Mandurah a miss.  To save time, you could fly back from Exmouth to Perth and visit everywhere on the trip North, but this would incur additional charges with a one way drop off and may limit your luggage allowance too and the road trips did definitely add something to the overall experience I felt – it is part of what this huge country is all about.
  3. Sundays are quiet days in WA – like the UK 50 years ago.  It can be hard to find many places open for dinner and shops/tours often close up too – particularly later in the season towards the Summer.
  4. It is definitely an early to bed, early to rise culture .  Most restaurants close at 8 – 8.30 and breakfast starts as early as 6 in many places.
  5. You may want to consider having a GPS navigation device and  satellite phone as reception is poor in many places and you can’t rely on a mobile ‘hone for either navigation or an emergency contact device.
 

For more tips – browse using “Tips for Future Travellers” in the tag cloud on the sidebar.

Final Reflections

We visited a grand total of 17 National Parks on this tour and covered 7340 kilometres.  The fuel cost for the trip came in at $822 AUD – about £450.

There is just so much to love about Western Australia:

  • It has a great climate – although best to avoid it in Summer (Nov/Dec/Jan/Feb/Mar).
  • It is clean, tidy and well ordered.
  • English Breakfast Tea is available everywhere (take note USA!)
  • Parking is free everywhere (outside of Perth).
  • They drive on the” right” side of the road (i.e. the left).
  • The roads are really quiet – even in Perth.
  • The serve great coffee – everywhere
  • The public toilets are universally spotlessly clean and well maintained
  • The water is safe to drink straight from the tap (except in the National Parks, of course).
  • The wine is good – and getting better every day.
  • You don’t need any horrid jabs to come here.
  • The great Aussie sense of humour helps to ensure that no-one ever makes a drama out of a crisis.
  • Best of all – everyone I have met here has been friendly and eager to help you.  There is a great community spirit.  Help?  It’s what Australians do.

Also – you really can’t help but love a country where everyone’s favourite TV programme seems to be Escape to the Country.

Useful Websites

Flight Centre/Round the World Experts

Our trip was booked through Round the World Experts who co-ordinated the itinerary I had constructed myself very well – all the ground arrangements and transfers worked seamlessly. The arrangements all went to plan and cost no more than they would if we had booked directly, so it made great sense for us to use them.  I did have to do my own research to find out which excursions to do though and to construct the itinerary – but that’s all part of the fun for me. 

Read my full trip to Western Australia:​

Kangaroo - Pinnacles Desert WA

4 Weeks in Western Australia – The Road Less Travelled

Another exciting road trip begins.  4 weeks in Western Australia – the road less travelled – will take us on a journey through a land which offers so much:  national parks, Aboriginal culture and the closest fringing coral reef.  We will take a month to travel over 5,300 kilometres going South from Perth through the Margaret River region and then travelling up the coast to the North as far as the Ningaloo Reef before heading back home.

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Western Australia
Rottnest Island WA

Rottnest Island – “I will survive”

We pre-booked a day trip to “Rotto” (Rottnest Island) – the family holiday playground of choice for Perth locals – with Rottnest Fast Ferries.  This car free island is an off-the-grid slice of paradise about 30kms into the sea off the coast of Perth.  The trip includes a shuttle bus collection from your hotel, which makes things really easy.

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Western Australia
Perth to Mandurah - Mandurah WA

Perth to Mandurah – Slow down and enjoy the ride …

We picked up the hire car this morning to drive from Perth to Mandurah and were a bit disappointed to find it had no sat nav as we had requested.  Fortunately, our ‘phone plans cover Australia, so we could plug them into Apple Play and get by on Google maps.  Perth is not a busy city by any means and was easy to navigate our way out of.  We were quickly out into the country and driving on deserted roads.  There is so much SPACE here!  It is also much greener than we expected, although the earth is deep red underneath.

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Western Australia
G'Day Skippy Kangaroo WA

Best Place to See Kangaroos in Western Australia – G’Day Skippy!

The road from Mandurah to Margaret River has one of the best places to see kangaroos in Western Australia – G’Day Skippy! Our journey south continued today via Dunsborough to the Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse in Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park.  The road from the lighthouse to Ngilgi Cave passes close to the Petra Olive Oil Estate where a quick detour to Sheoak Drive rewards you with easy sightings of kangaroos.

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Western Australia
Pemberton WA Treeline

Margaret River to Pemberton – Another Great Day in WA

Time for another great day in WA!  Today, we travelled from Margaret River to Pemberton taking a short detour to the Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse en route.  This is where the Indian and Southern Oceans meet (although they didn’t make much of a splash in the process today).  It is the most southerly point in Australia – it is 5435 kms to the South Pole from here.

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Western Australia
Karri Valley Resort WA View

Accommodation Review:  Karri Valley Resort, Pemberton

The Karri Valley Resort is good place to stopover for a couple of nights in Pemberton.  There are self catering chalets and lakeside rooms.  The lakeside rooms are not overlooked – well – unless you count a duck and four parrots perched on the roof and the odd canoe paddling gently past.  You can see your neighbours a bit, but the angles are good.

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Western Australia
Dolphin Lodge Albany Lounge

Accommodation Review: Dolphin Lodge Albany

Dolphin Lodge Albany provides spacious self catering accommodation with a fully equipped kitchen and a washing machine.  Our unit (No 10) had three bedrooms – more than we needed, but great if you are travelling with a family.  A sea suite for two is $143 pppn (£85) – we were upgraded foc. .  The property is located a stone’s throw from the Fish & Chip Restaurant  that has been voted the best in Australia (for very good reason!).

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Western Australia
Albany to Bremer Bay WA Kangaroos - Quaalup Homestead Fitzgerald River NP WA

Albany to Bremer Bay – “No Worries Mate!”

We woke early on the morning of our drive from Albany to Bremer Bay and enjoyed a hearty breaky (pronounced brekkie) at the Three Anchors in Alby. (Hey – this learning the lingo is a real breeze!).  A group of other early risers were lifting weights with big grins on their faces outside the cafe.  Middleton Beach has a net line set up for swimmers (large marine animals can’t pass through it, but small fish can) and there were half a dozen of them braving the cool morning to have a dip in the ocean.

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Western Australia
Esperance WA's Best Beaches Esperance Lucky Bay Kangaroos WA Australasia

Esperance WA’s Best Beaches

The road from Bremer Bay to Esperance (home of Australia’s best beaches) was long – very long – and straight.  There were hardly any vehicles on it except the odd road train (shortish) which gave you a start as it rushed past.  The road took us through interesting sounding places like Jerramingup, Munillinup and Nindilibillup.  Up means “place of” around here – I wonder what these places we were passing through were places of …?  They didn’t have enough interest to make us stop long enough to find out.  We were keen to press on to Esperance and explore all those beautiful beaches.  It took us around 4 hours in total to get here.

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Western Australia
Great Ocean Drive WA

The Great Ocean Drive WA – “Beware the Big Bitey!”

We spent the whole of today driving the 40kms scenic loop that is the Great Ocean Drive, stopping all the way along the route for long walks and lookouts.  We have driven along beautiful stretches of coast before in South Africa (The Garden Route) and California (Big Sur Drive), but this was way better than either of those.  Maybe because of the intensity of the light here – the sun made the deep blue water sparkle all the way along and the wind gave us really BIG waves – awesome.

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Western Australia
Kalgoorlie to Perth Kalgoorlie Super Pit Digger

Kalgoorlie to Perth – Rough and Tough

It is a long way from Esperance to Kalgoorlie – and an even longer road from Kalgoorlie to Perth (7 hours with one brief stop).  This Place is Rough and Tough.  With hindsight, we should have spent 2 days in Kalgoorlie which would have given us a chance to visit the Super Pit and also the Flying Doctor Service which is based here, which would have been really fascinating.

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Western Australia
Quest Yelverton Kalgoorlie WA Bedroom

Accommodation Review:  Quest Yelverton Kalgoorlie

TheQuest Yelverton Kalgoorlie conveniently located apartment style hotel – a short walk from the Main Street in Kalgoorlie and the Tourist Information Office and Museum..  Wi fi is a reasonable speed.  There is a nice spa style bath in the room.  There is no restaurant here though and no laundry facilities.  Our room was up a long flight of steps , which could be awkward if you have luggage to haul up.

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Western Australia
#undertheatrium - Hyatt Regency Perth

Accommodation Review:  Hyatt Regency Perth

The Hyatt Regency is a well located, luxurious hotel with everything you need for a comfortable stay in Perth.  The free bus to King’s Park and the Elizabeth Quay area stops right outside the hotel.  The atrium is delightful – complete with a live pianist in the early evenings – but the downside of that is that it is a long way to walk around to your room.

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Western Australia
Polished Perth Carousel

Polished Perth

Polished Perth – capital of a state ten time the size of Great Britain – is as close to the nearest big city (Adelaide) as London is to Leningrad.  Perth is a large, clean, modern city much like many others, but its balmy climate, position by the wide, blue Swan River and radiant sunlight bouncing off the skyscrapers gives it a unique charm all of its own.  It is, in every sense, very polished with a smart, high-sheen finish.

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Western Australia
Geraldton to Monkey Mia Wild Yak Beer - Shell Beach WA

Geraldton to Monkey Mia – RUOK?

The road from Geraldton to Monkey Mia (pronounced Mya) is a long 443 kms – 4 hours 40 minutes if driven straight.  We took a brief 44kms (return) detour at Northampton to visit Horrocks Beach because it was billed as a world class beach and won the best mainland beach in Australia award in 2018.   The route from Geraldton to Monkey Mia also allows you to visit two more National Parks:  The Stromalites at Hamelin Pool and Shell Beach.

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Western Australia
Monkey Mia to Ningaloo Reef Shark Bay Aviation Scenic Flight

Monkey Mia to Ningaloo Reef – A Scenic Flight over Shark Bay and a Thorny Devil!

We made an early start today on our journey from Monkey Mia to Ningaloo Reef so we could take a pre-booked early morning scenic flight with Shark Bay Aviation.  Their “bargain” flight is 40 minutes long and is a really great way to get a different perspective on this vast and largely inaccessible wilderness area.  You get superb views of the huge salt works, lagoons, Dirk Hartog Island, Steep Point (the most Westerly point of mainland Australia), sea clliffs and the wondrous crystal clear blue spectrum of the Indian Ocean.

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Western Australia
Coral Bay to Exmouth Trealla Beach WA

Coral Bay to Exmouth – “It’s very deep out there and there are big things in the water”…

It is a long road from Coral Bay to Exmouth and we didn’t really have much time to explore Coral Bay as we were only staying one night and had a drive the next day.  I would have liked to take a snorkelling trip, but there were no tours running as it was close to the end of the season here and a Sunday.  I am beginning to appreciate just how quiet Sundays can be in WA.  Many shops and tourist facilities close up – just like England 20 years ago.  It can be difficult to find places to eat on a Sunday too.

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Western Australia
Ningaloo Reef Resort WA View

Ningaloo Reef Resort Coral Bay – Lose your Shoes!

The Ningaloo Reef Resort is fairly small – all apartments and no caravans etc.  It has a really great location – all apartments look out onto the ocean and you can walk out straight to the beach from them.  The apartment style accommodation is very spacious – we could have fitted another three in ours easily. 

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Western Australia
Sal Salis WA

Sal Salis, Exmouth – Where the Outback Meets the Reef – A Definite “Must Do”!

We arrived at Sal Salis in good time for a 2pm check-in and were blown away by it.  This really is a very special  place to stay indeed.  It is a digital detox zone (no wi-fi), so forgive me, but I am going to say little more about our stay here beyond the accommodation review.  The photos can do the talking and if you want to know more, then add this place to your bucket list and come and discover it all for yourself – I promise you, you will not leave disappointed.

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Western Australia
Carnarvon Motel WA

Carnarvon Motel, Carnarvon.  An Unexpected Highlight!

All in all, the Carnarvon Motel was an unexpected mini highlight of the trip.  For a room 1/6th of the price of the luxurious Sal Salis Resort we had just come from, we had a comfortable bed, bathroom and all you would expect from a decent motel room.  The bonus though was great local company in the bar during happy hour (the beer is very cheap here at $6 a pint) – we cried laughing at some of the good humoured banter. 
This was followed by a great steak in the “Hot Rocks” restaurant.  You cook your steak just to your liking on a hot lava rock at your table.

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Western Australia
Carnarvon to Kalbarri Nature's Window - Kalbarri

Carnarvon to Kalbarri – Where the Gorge Meets the Ocean

It is 443 kms from Carnarvon to Kalbarri – 4 and a half hours.  We get off early and broke the journey at the Billabong Roadhouse  – familiar ground from earlier in the trip, but this time, I stopped to take a quick photo of the funny flier for  kangaroo burgers and a joke you can get hard copies of for free on request – you just have to love the great Aussie sense of humour.  The temperature had dropped a bit today and the wind had picked up, but they told us it often reaches 49 degrees on Christmas Day here and tops out at around 53 degrees in January – definitely a place to avoid in our winter then.

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Western Australia
Kalbarri Edge Resort WA Lounge

Accommodation Review:  Kalbarri Edge Resort, Kalbarri

Kalbarri Edge Resort is an excellent place to stay in Kalbarri.  The resort is operated on a timeshare kind of basis, so owners come for 4 weeks a year and rent out their apartments for the remainder of the year, paying a management fee.  The apartment we had was very spacious with a well equipped kitchen, large gas Jumbuck barbie on the patio, a washing machine and a good sized spa bath.  There is also a swimming pool in the grounds.  The Tourist Office is just a short walk away as is the beach and a really good little supermarket.

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Western Australia
Mount Lesueur National Park WA

Mount Lesueur National Park – Boh Djinoong Quabba

Mount Lesueur National Park is one of the world bio diversity hotspots as a result of of its severely impoverished soil and the unforgivingly low rates of phosphorous.  900 flora species grow here – 10% of WA’s flora. These are the species that are known too – it is highly likely that others exist in the dense bush that no-one has yet found.  It has seven species of Declared Rare Flora.  In late Winter to Spring, it erupts into a rainbow of colour and you can see rare orchids and several varieties of kangaroo paw as well as many other beautiful plants.

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Western Australia