Road & Rail

Road trip guide: The South West Edge

Sponsored by Tourism Western Australia

Western Australia’s picturesque and rugged beauty was made to be explored by car.

Over the next week, we’re bringing you some of the dreamiest road trip itineraries so your clients can explore the state’s most beautiful spots.

The South West Edge is an epic road trip around, you guessed it, the south-western edge of WA.

The trip weaves between wine regions, towering forests and along marine life-rich coast, before returning to Perth across the outback.

It can be done in just 12 days and traverses 1,200 kilometres from Perth to Esperance, returning via Kalgoorlie or Hyden (Wave Rock).

Day one: Rottnest Island to Fremantle (25km + ferry ride)

Your clients can jump on a ferry ride from Fremantle to the picturesque Rottnest Island where they can hire a bike and explore beaches, go snorkelling and meet friendly quokkas.

Other standouts include checking out the Thompson Bay Settlement or hopping on a Rottnest seafood tour with Rottnest Cruises to experience fresh delicacies before catching the ferry back to the mainland.

Day two: Fremantle to Bunbury (190km)

Fremantle’s gourmet café culture is perfect for a relaxed breakfast followed by a browse through local boutiques for unique or vintage finds before hitting the road and heading to Bunbury via the rolling hills of the Ferguson Valley.

Here, clients can spend the morning wine tasting, exploring or mountain biking in Wellington Forest National Park and stop by Black Diamond Lake near Collie for spectacular views of turquoise waters.

Image source: iStock/ RUBEN RAMOS

Once in Bunbury they can purchase fresh, local produce from farmers markets, meet native animals at a wildlife park, shop the boutiques and spend the evening immersed in the nightlife at one of the many bars and restaurants.

Day three: Bunbury to Yallingup (95km)

The wild dolphins at Koombana Bay are a must-see before departing for the Margaret River region, beginning at Busselton and Dunsborough.

In Busselton, clients can swing amongst the trees on a high ropes course or dive below the Busselton Jetty for a view of colourful, local sea life.

From winter through spring, they can spot whales as they migrate along the coast and indulge in gourmet food at beachfront dining before continuing to Yallingup, and incredible coastal spots like Canal Rocks and Injidup Natural Spa.

Day four: Yallingup to Margaret River (40km)

Famous for its premium wines and world-class surf, Margaret River is also home to plenty of restaurants, wineries, breweries and distilleries for foodies to enjoy.

Plus, cellar doors are aplenty, where clients can meet the makers on guided tours with nature-meets gourmet experiences.

If they’re feeling adventurous, they can ride waves, go rock climbing or abseiling, or take a kayak or canoe along the Margaret River. Alternatively, they can savour the natural surroundings with plenty of underground caves, the Boranup Forest and Hamelin Bay.

Day five: Margaret River to Pemberton (165km)

On day five, they can drive to Pemberton through Nannup and Manjimup; home to the black truffle.

If they’re getting road-weary, they can ride one of the many mountain bike trails or tackle the Munda Biddi, hike the Bibbulmun Track and admire Beedelup Falls.

Day six: Pemberton to Denmark (195km)

Before heading to Denmark, clients can take a four-wheel drive tour of the world’s largest moving sand dune system, Yeagarup Dunes, with Pemberton Discovery Tours.

On the way, they can stop by Walpole and join an eco-cruise and walk among the tops of tingle trees at Valley of the Giants Tree Top Walk.

Then, it’s on to Greens Pool and Elephant Rocks, framed by huge boulders which act as a protective shore break for the peppermint-tinged waters – perfect for snorkelling.

Day seven: Denmark to Albany (55km)

Next stop: Albany, where they will find farmers markets, fresh oysters and marron galore, plus some of the most pristine beaches this side of the equator.

Here, there’s paragliding at Shelley Beach, or wreck diving in King George Sound plus the striking coast at The Gap and Natural Bridge and historical attractions at Discovery Bay.

They can also Spend an extra day between January and April to join the Bremer Bay orca tour with Naturaliste Charters or Whale Watch Western Australia, chasing the largest-known group of orcas in the Southern Hemisphere.

Day eight: Albany to Hopetoun (360km)

Next up, they can head inland, where it’s another world entirely.

The trails in Porongurup National Park are perfect for hiking and they can climb to the top of the Granite Skywalk for spectacular views across the jarrah, marri and karri forest, and undulating farmland to Albany.

Reward their active morning with lunch at one of the boutique Porongurup wineries followed by frolicking in wildflowers in spring and climbing one of Western Australia’s highest peaks, Bluff Knoll for sweeping views of the Stirling Range National Park.

Day nine: Hopetoun to Esperance (185km)

Next, they can head to Esperance and sip on refreshments at Lucky Bay Brewing, sample local olive oil and take in the town museums and craft shops.

Nearby, there are numerous lagoons and beaches along the breathtaking 40km loop of the Great Ocean Drive before watching a sunset at twilight.

Day 10: Esperance

The nearby Lucky Bay in Cape Le Grand National Park lives up to its name in plenty of ways – translucent water and sand-like icing sugar, not to mention sunbaking kangaroos!

Clients can explore more stunning beaches around Esperance via coastal walk trails or for a bird’s eye view, take a scenic flight to witness the striking juxtaposition of bubblegum pink Lake Hillier on Middle Island against the blue ocean.

Days 11 and 12: Esperance to Perth (via Hyden: 715km, via Kalgoorlie: 985km)

Clients can return to Perth via Hyden or Kalgoorlie over two days. Via Hyden, they can visit the impressive Wave Rock, which is entirely natural and thought to have formed some 130 million years ago measuring 15 metres (roughly three storeys) in height.

Via Kalgoorlie, they can check out living gold history, quirky outback pubs and be stunned by the scale of the Super Pit gold mine.

When to visit:

Summer is best for:

  • Exploring the coastline, from sandy beaches to rugged sea cliffs.

Autumn is best for

  • Charming golden hues and moody mist-covered landscapes.
  • Adventure outdoors – mild days are great for mountain biking or hiking, and the mellow winds and swell make for prime surf conditions.

Winter is best for:

  • Spotting migrating humpback whales. You can spot whales from winter through to spring, at any high vantage point, or go on a whale watching tour.
  • Taking time out with loved ones – there’s hearty comfort food, campfires, good red wine and plenty of cosy accommodation.

Spring is best for:

  • Spotting a beautiful array of wildflowers, many endemic to The South West Edge.
  • Bushwalking – the weather is mild and wildflowers add another dimension to trails.

 

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