Western Australia is one of the most unique places to visit in Australia. You can spend the day doing something as simple wine tasting, or as exhilarating as swimming with whale sharks. There are no limits to the amount of activities on offer in this huge state – we’ve tried top cherry-pick the highlights but believe us when we say choosing the best wasn’t easy!
Follow our recommended tour through rugged gorges at Kalbarri to Australia’s Coral Coast which encompasses the World Heritage listed Shark Bay and Ningaloo Reef – some of the most incredible marine and coastal scenery on the planet. This journey will take you around 11 days, but if you’ve got time to play with, we’d suggest spending an extra night or two wherever takes your fancy.
Perth to Perth
Best Time of the Year
all year round
- Ningaloo Reef
- Coral Bay beach
- Link Lake
Perth to Geraldon
Distance 420km - Driving Time 4 hours 20 mins
Leaving Perth, the state capital, head north up the Indian Ocean Drive through the coastal towns of Cervantes, Dongara, Port Denison and Greenough. Explore Pinnacles Desert, an incredible landscape of limestone structures scattered over seemingly endless desert plains. After a swim in Hangover Bay, head up to Geraldton. This area is famous for its Western Rock Lobster and there are plenty of trendy cafes and restaurants to choose from to sample it. For a history lesson visit the HMAS Sydney II Memorial where you can pay respects to the 645 sailors who gave their lives in WWII.
Geraldton to Carnavon
Distance 480km - Driving Time 4 hours 20 mins
The next leg of the journey is dedicated to foodies (which is why it might be our favourite part…) Head north to Carnavon where you can sample some of the freshest fruit and produce in the country. Visit the mango and banana plantations at Carnarvon or head out to the Gascoyne Food Trail. Along this road you can sample everything from chutneys and sauces to freshly caught seafood. In the evening, take a stroll along The Fascine (Carnavon’s central walkway), taking in the magnificent sunset views – before heading out for a fresh seafood meal.
Carnavon to Exmouth
Distance 370km - Driving Time 5 hours
Get up early and hit the northwards straight to Exmouth. Spend the morning exploring the unspoiled beaches of the Ningaloo Reef and book in to swim with the whale sharks in the afternoon. This unforgettable experience is one to tick off the bucket list: the water is crystal clear, the sun is almost always shining and you will feel tiny next to these mammoth creatures.
If that isn’t your thing, then how about taking a glass bottom boat tour to see the amazing coral gardens beneath the water? Squeeze as much as you can out of the afternoon then head back to stay atNingaloo Lighthouse Caravan Park which has unspoiled views of both the Coral Coast and Cape Range National Park.
There is too much to do in Exmouth to spend just one day here, so don’t pack your bags just yet. The next morning, grab your flippers and mask and snorkel the coral gardens of the Ningaloo Marine Park. Get up close and personal with hundreds of species of sea life and pack your underwater camera for once in a lifetime photo opportunities. Spend the afternoon exploring Cape Range National Park. This wild terrain offers everything from deep canyons to sheer limestone ranges and untamed bushland.
Exmouth to Coral bay
Distance 150km - Driving Time 2 hours 20 mins
After packing up your campervan, drive up to Coral Bay. The coastline turns into coral reef creating a spectacular underwater forest of marine life. The main beach is known as a snorkeler’s paradise, with calm, protected waters and hundreds of fish and coral species just metres from the shore. Or there’s another chance to go out on a glass bottomed boat and watch as fish swim in the crystal clear water underneath your feet.
For those into fishing, be sure to grab the opportunity to jump on the Mahi Mahi fishing charter where you can hope to catch Blue Marlin, Black Marlin and Stripped Marlin, Sailfish, Wahoo, Mackerel and Dolphin Fish (Mahi Mahi). We’d suggest staying another night in Coral Bay to make the most of the unique reefs and awesome coastal activities on offer.
Coral Bay to Shark Bay
Distance 590km - Driving Time 6 hours
The next day, head south on the Northwest Coastal Highway to the Shark Bay World Heritage Area. On the way, stop in at the Hamelin Pool stromatolites – the oldest living fossils in the world – and the serene waters of Shell Beach – an 110kms stretch of beach made entirely of millions of tiny shells.
Drive into Monkey Mia where you can enjoy a dinner of freshly caught seafood on a sunset cruise and finish up your night with an astronomy tour for a view you won’t forget of seemingly endless skies are dusted with thousands of stars.
Dedicate the next day to meeting the famous dolphin population of Monkey Mia. This pod of dolphins comes to the shore up to three times daily to be fed, and you can get up close and personal with these incredible creatures.
Shark Bay to Kalbarri
Distance 390km - Driving Time 4 hours
Meander southwards down the highway to the coastal town of Kalbarri. The wild Australian coast stretched out to your left as you drive makes this journey anything but boring. Explore the magnificent Murchison River gorges of Kalbarri National Park, enjoy a fishing tour, river cruise, whale watching charter (late June - November) or spend your day relaxing and taking in the sights of this dramatic coastline.
That night, head down to Rainbow Jungle Outdoor Cinema. This parrot paradise is home to Purple Crowned Lorikeets as well as many other brightly coloured Australian Parrots and hosts a movie each night in an outdoor cinema.
Spend the next day getting an adrenalin boost with many of the thrill seeking activities available in this area including abseiling, canoeing, sand-boarding or touring the region on quad bikes.
Kalbarri to Perth
Distance 590km - Driving Time 6 hours
On your way back down to Perth, stop in at Pink Lake. This unusual phenomenon is caused by bacteria getting trapped in the salt particles in the water and gives the entire lake a pink hue.
For those inclined, there are plenty of hiking opportunities available at Kalbarri National Park in the natural gorges. Wander through dramatic scenery of limestone cliffs giving way to the Murchison River.
Spend your last few hours soaking in the scenery as you head back down to Perth where you can enjoy a well-deserved drink at one of the trendy bars.