Must-Do Road Trips in Western Australia

 Car crossing a river along the Gibb River Road, Kimberley, Outback, Western Australia, WA, Australia
Car crossing a river along the Gibb River Road, Kimberley, Outback, Western Australia, WA, Australia | © Genevieve Vallee / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Cassie Wilkins
19 August 2020

Hit the open road in Western Australia and you can take in the Margaret River, the country’s original goldfields and the stunning coastal highway – plus the odd kangaroo or two. From the bush to the beach and on to the outback, here are a few of Culture Trip’s favourite road trips to help you plot your perfect itinerary.

Western Australia (WA) might as well be known as the road trip state for the number of amazing routes it has to offer. Down south, there are beaches, forests, vineyards and mountains. To the east lie the Wheatbelt and the outback, dotted with ghost towns and goldmines. Up north, a whole world of adventure awaits, from pink lakes and coral reefs to rugged gorges, waterfalls and canyons. We suggest you start in Perth, the region’s capital, and go the extra mile by renting an irresistibly retro campervan to call home for your trip.

Margaret River

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Prevelly Beach, Margaret River
© Manfred Gottschalk / Getty Images

Margs, as it’s known locally, makes for an ideal weekend trip from the city. Hit the highway and head south, where you’ll be greeted by endless vineyards, lush green forests, hidden caves, great surf and pretty towns and villages. Take a trip to Boranup Forest and Hamelin Bay to see the rays before heading down to see the Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse in Augusta, Australia’s most southwesterly point. If Margaret River is a little busy, check out Dunsborough or Yallingup, or head inland to Barrabup Pool for some bush camping.

The Golden Pipeline Heritage Trail

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The water pipeline from Perth to Kalgoorlie near the town of Merredin Western Australia
© Ian Beattie / Alamy Stock Photo

Perfect if you only have a few days, the Golden Pipeline Heritage Trail starts in Perth and ends in Kalgoorlie in the Goldfields. Running alongside the historic Golden Pipeline, there are plenty of interesting places and unique outback towns to stop at along the way, including the Super Pit in Kalgoorlie. If you have time, extend your trip to include the Golden Quest Discovery Trail to see Gwalia and Lake Ballard – and if you want to travel in style, consider renting your very own RV.

Coral Coast Highway

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The 130km-long Shark Bay Road between the North West Coastal Highway and Denham - Coral Coast, WA, Australia
© lkonya / Alamy Stock Photo

One of WA’s most famous road trip routes, the Coral Coast Highway takes you all the way up the west coast, from the eerie Pinnacles to the sea lions of Jurien Bay, past the pink shores of Hutt Lagoon and on to Kalbarri National Park. From there, swing by Shark Bay, Monkey Mia and Hamelin Pool to see the ancient stromatolites, before heading up to Coral Bay and Exmouth, where you can go diving with whale sharks on Ningaloo Reef and drive through the spectacular Cape Range National Park.

Albany and Esperance

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© ClaraNila / Getty Images

Famous for the endless beaches and friendly kangaroos of Lucky Bay, Esperance is on many WA bucket lists, and for good reason. Fire up the playlist, load up the esky (cooler), maybe even hire an RV and take the long way down, stopping off in Collie, Bridgetown, Pemberton, Denmark and Albany, before deciding whether to take the coastal road past Two Peoples Bay or to head into the Stirling Ranges via Porongurup. Whatever you decide, make one last stop at Ravensthorpe to see the silo art before arriving in Esperance. When it’s time to head back, take the inland road via Wave Rock and enjoy the contrasting landscapes of the Goldfields.

Karijini National Park

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Karijini cliff jumping
© John Crux Photography / Getty images

With its deep red-rock gorges, hidden waterfalls and awe-inspiring landscape, it’s easy to see why Karijini is considered one of Australia’s best national parks. Just over a 14-hour drive northeast of Perth, it’s a bit of a mission to get there, but the journey along outback roads with nothing but red dirt and blue skies for miles is half the fun. When you finally arrive, cool off under Fortescue Falls or take a dip in Fern Pool, and run through ancient canyons before camping out under the stars in this huge natural playground.

Gibb River Road

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Gibb River Road (eastern section), The Kimberley
© robertharding / Alamy Stock Photo

Australia’s greatest four-wheel drive adventure, the 660km (410mi) unsealed Gibb River Road from Derby to Wyndham through the vast outback wilderness is arguably the best way to experience the natural treasures of the Kimberley region. Ideally, you want to spend at least a week exploring the natural infinity pools, plunging waterfalls, towering gorges, tropical oases and huge cattle stations along the road. If you don’t have your own 4×4 or campervan, not to worry – there are plenty to pick from in Perth.

These recommendations were updated on August 19, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.