A good seven day drive of the South West from Perth

The South West of Western Australia is the most visited region in Western Australia outside of Perth.  Many people want to see it, but are unsure as to how long it takes to cover the area adequately.  Here is an easy seven day self drive tour which begins and ends in Perth:


From Perth you need to get onto the Kwinana Freeway heading south (just follow the signs, you really can’t miss it).  Once on the Freeway you have a very straight run to Bunbury, experiencing free conditions all of the way.  The Kwinana Freeway becomes the Forrest Highway, and it is a very good, new road.  This route bypasses the coastal town of Mandurah.  If you do wish to visit Mandurah the exit is well signposted.  When you reach Bunbury, which is Western Australia’s second biggest city, you have the option of visiting the town, or taking the bypass down to Busselton.  Bunbury is a very pleasant coastal city, and is certainly worth seeing and stopping for a drink in the city’s cappuccino strip.  If you take the bypass, simply follow the signs to Capel and onto Busselton.  Because of the new road, it is only a two and a half hour drive to Busselton these days, but if you wish to stop, once you get to Capel it is the beginning of wine country, and there are wineries open, you can also picnic in some of the forests.  It is certainly worth stopping in Busselton as it is a popular tourist destination, and it is worth visiting the jetty, which is the longest in the Southern Hemisphere, and which has a very interesting marine viewing centre near its end.  The Busselton Visitors Centre is excellent, and worth visiting to pick as much information about the South West as you could possible carry.

From Busselton you can continue on the bypass to Dunsborough, or take the coastal road through some of Busselton’s outlying suburbs.  Busselton to Dunsborough is only a short drive of about 20 minutes or so.  The drive from Perth to Dunsborough is only three hours non-stop.  If you wish to take it very easy you can make Dunsborough your overnight stay, or continue to Margaret River (about another 30 minutes), or even stay at the popular coastal town of Yallingup or, if your budget will stretch that far, the exclusive Bunker Bay Resort.  To be honest, it doesn’t matter where you stay – the next day will be spent sightseeing, and all of these towns are reasonably close to each other.


It doesn’t matter where you spent the night, or which way you choose to travel, but you should drive a circular route which takes in (starting from Dunsborough) Cape Naturaliste, Caves Road to visit the beaches at Yallingup, Gracetown and Prevelly, The head down to Augusta and Cape Leeuwin, move north to Margaret River and Cowaramup and back to Dunsborough.  Take as many as the side roads as you like to visit the many wineries, the gourmet food providores, the pub breweries, the Margaret River Chocolate Factory, the shops and galleries, and choose to eat and any of dozens of restaurants.


Wherever you are staying head down Caves Road or the Bussell Highway and turn onto the Brockman Highway.  Turn right onto Stewart Road and follow that to the Vasse Highway, where to turn right and head to Pemberton.  From Margaret River to Pemberton is a journey of about one and a half hours.  Pemberton is a timber town that is surrounding by Karri forests.  The Karri tree is one of the world’s tallest and straightest trees, and if you are brace enough you can climb the 72 metres to the fire watch platform at the top of the tree.  From Pemberton keep following the Vasse Highway, which is a very pretty drive, to the South Western Highway, and follow this down to the coastal town of Walpole.  This portion of the drive should also take about one and a half hours.  You could chose to stay in Walpole, or move further east to Denmark, depending on what time you arrive.  If you do arrive late morning or early afternoon then make sure that you visit the Valley of the Giants, in this case they are giant Tingle trees, and do the Treetop Walk.  There are plenty of lovely drives and very easy walks in and around the Valley of the Giants, so you could spend the afternoon quite easily admiring the majestic trees.    


As the crow flies its only about 60 kilometres from Walpole to Denmark, but don’t worry about the crows, as you really don’t want to drive directly between the two towns when there is so much beautiful coastline to see including: Walpole and Nornalup Inlets, Broke Inlet, Peaceful Bay, Coalmine Beach, Conspicuous Cliffs, Mandalay Beach, wineries, a meadery and lots of small farms where you can try a whole range of handmade goodies.


Once again, the direct drive to Albany is only 50 kilometres, but you do want to ensure that you see Wilson Inlet, Ocean Beach, West Cape Howe.  A lot of artisans are based in Denmark, which is a very pretty town, and Albany is an historic town which has many heritage buildings, a replica of the brig Amity, some beautiful, rugged coastline and Whaleworld, a former whaling station that is one of the best attractions in Western Australia.  In winter Albany is a popular spot for whale watching.  The town has two harbours: Princess Royal Harbour, Oyster Harbour and also King George Sound. Albany also has some highly acclaimed restaurants, so if you do want a special night out, this is the place to do it.


From Albany Head out onto the South Coast Highway, heading towards Esperance.  At King River take the left fork onto Chester Pass Road, and follow it until you get to Stirling Range Drive, where you turn left and head into the carpark.  The Stirling Ranges are the highest mountains in Western Australia, and there are a number of bushwalks you can do, each of varying degree of difficulty.  If you wish, you can walk up to Bluff Knoll, the highest peak, for some spectacular views.  From the Stirling Range National Park, follow the road through the wheatbelt towns of Borden, Gnowangerup, Tambellup and Katanning to Wagin.


Make sure that you visit Wagin’s famous Woolorama to learn everything there is to know about woll and sheep.  From Wagin, take Arthur Road to Arthur River, and turn right onto Albany Highway, which will lead you back to Perth, about a three hour drive.

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