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South West Wine & Exploration Trail

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Perth to Margaret River

Stopping in at Bunbury and Margaret River, this easy drive takes you from Perth to Pemberton, and is a favourite for visitors and Perth residents alike. Blending outdoor adventure and exploration with the opportunity to sample entirely enticing local produce, the journey takes in the aquatic playground of Bunbury, the scenic beauty of Margaret River, and the towering timbers of Pemberton, with plenty to explore in between.

Travel

5 days


Route

Perth return via Margaret river

760km


Best Time of the Year

all year round

Highlights

  • Margaret River
  • Harvey
  • Bunbury
  • Pemberton
  • Mangrove Cove
  • Dunsborough

The Journey

Days

1 2 3 4 5

Day 1
Perth to Bunbury

Distance 186km - Driving Time 2 hours

Driving south from Perth in your newly-hired campervan, Bunbury is just a short two-hour journey away. But, if you need to break up the drive to nibble on some tasty delights, consider stopping off in Harvey along the way. This harvest town will provide you with your first taste of the exceptional wine, cheese and fresh produce this region is known for.

On to Bunbury. What was once an industrial port is now an inviting coastal town filled with enticing wine bars and cool boutiques, edgy art galleries and excellent restaurants. If you’ve not had your fill of wine and cheese, take a drive out to Bunbury’s award-winning wine region, the Ferguson Valley. Or, if you have the kids with you, it’s more likely you’ll spend the afternoon in search of the friendly wild dolphins that call Bunbury home.

In terms of adventure, there is plenty to keep you occupied on both water and dry land. Head to Wellington National Park for the awesome mountain biking tracks and bush walking trails, or get your feet wet in the waters around Bunbury. As it’s situated on a peninsula, Bunbury is a haven for all sorts of water activities, including surfing, canoeing and stand-up paddle boarding, as well as diving and snorkelling at the Lena wreck site.

A trip to Mangrove Cove offers an easy boardwalk stroll, where you can wander through 25,000-year-old Leschenault mangroves, while over at the Big Swamp Reserve, you can uncover a diverse range of wetland flora and fauna, including more than 30 species of birdlife. If the kids want to meet some Aussie wildlife, take them to Bunbury Wildlife Park, or alternatively, wander through Maiden’s Reserve, watching out for ringtail possums, bats, echidnas, bandicoots and kangaroos.

Busstleton Wharf - Credit Tourism Western Australia

Day 2
Bunbury to Margaret River

Distance 107km - Driving Time 2 hours

After your overnight stay in Bunbury, it’s time to pack up the campervan and hit the road for Margaret River. Driving along the Bussell Highway, you will travel along the spectacular coastline of Geographe Bay, passing through the seaside towns of Busselton and Dunsborough. Stopping in at Busselton is highly recommended, where you can enjoy breakfast overlooking Geographe Bay and Busselton Jetty, the longest timber jetty in the southern hemisphere. Walk along the jetty to take a tour of Australia’s greatest artificial reef at the Underwater Observatory, or snorkel it if you want to get a closer look.

Less than half an hour on the road and you will have reached Dunsborough. Stopping here or nearby Yallingup for lunch offers a great excuse to visit Ngilgi Cave, where you can join an Aboriginal culture tour of the cave to discover its history and legends, as well as its natural wonders. If you have time, take a drive out to Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse, where you can catch an unforgettable sunset over the Indian Ocean, stopping for a wander along the beautiful beaches of Bunker Bay and Meelup Beach along the way. If visiting between June and December, you’ll have the perfect vantage point to spot migrating whales, or if you want to get closer to these incredible creatures, you can take a whale watching tour out of Busselton or Dunsborough.

Margaret River is about 40 minutes away, where you can park up your campervan for the night, ready for a day of exploring in the morning.

Cape to Cape Walk - Credit Tourism Western Australia

Day 3
Margaret River

Depending on the time you have available – and how much wine you’d like to sample – you could extend your trip by a few extra days to roam Margaret River, or shorten it by taking less time to travel south from Bunbury. Margaret River certainly has a lot to offer though, whether you’re a wine enthusiast or a nature lover. 

On your day in Margaret River, you could take a tour of the local wineries to sample wine and local produce, revelling in all the amazing artisanal goodies the region has to offer. You could walk a part of the Cape to Cape Track to enjoy one of the most diverse coastal trails in the world, or you could take to the surf in any of Margaret River’s 40 top surfing spots. Looking for a scenic drive? Head to Boranup Karri Forest to enjoy a picnic underneath the canopy of 60-metre tall karri trees, and then take a guided tour of Mammoth Cave, Lake Cave, or Jewel Cave, where you’ll find the world’s longest publicly accessible straw stalactite.

Day 4
Margaret River to Pemberton

Distance 139km - Driving Time 2 hours

Heading south, you’ll drive to the old-time milling town of Pemberton today, set deep in the heart of karri tree country. Exploring the region, you can drive, ride or hike the network of bush tracks, or canoe on the river and lakes. If you want some serious 4WD action, venture out to the largest inland dune system in the southern hemisphere at Yeagarup Dunes, or for something a bit more sedate, wander the woods to uncover a world of colour during wildflower season.

Want a better view? You better start climbing! Originally used as fire lookouts in the 1940s, Pemberton's climbing trees rise up to great heights, with the tallest reaching 61 metres – which is about as tall as the Sydney Opera House! Alternatively, a drive to nearby Walpole will take you to the Valley of the Giants Tree Top Walk, allowing you to wander among the magnificent tingle tree forest, 38 metres in the air.

Staying overnight in Pemberton provides ample opportunity to try some of Western Australia’s cool-climate wines, which is sure to be a wonderful accompaniment to the town’s finest delicacy, marron.

Day 5
Pemberton to Perth

Distance 327km - Driving Time 4 hours

Time to pack up the campervan and head back to Perth, no doubt weighed down by a bottle or two of your favourite tipples. Or, if you’d like to extend your trip to see more of the spectacular South West, check out our Great South West Coastal Trail itinerary, which takes you from Pemberton along the coastal route, all the way to Esperance WA.

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