Having driven the length of the WA coast, Ashlee’s got more than a few nuggets of wisdom on how to pull off the North West Australia road trip. Dig in.


Western Australia is a land of stark contrasts, of red sand and blue waters, raw landscapes and pristine coastline; a place of beauty and discovery. The rugged landscape evokes a feeling that you’ve stepped back in time – to a slice of true blue Australia in all its rough readiness.

North West Australia is begging to be explored. From the epic waves and nostalgic small-town feel of Kalbarri to the majestic beauty of the Gibb River Road and the Kimberley; WA will not disappoint.

Kalbarri Bound

A North West Australia road trip is a must do for all travellers, no matter your age or budget. First up, a 6-hour drive north of Perth will deliver you to the dreamy town of Kalbarri.

Not only does Kalbarri offer world-class waves, jaw-dropping vistas and remarkable hiking – there’s beauty in the community itself, with a friendly small-town culture that’ll have you hooked.

Land Of The Long Lefts

From Kalbarri To The Kimberley – How To Drive Through North West Australia, Red Bluff, photo by Ashlee Kehoe-Sporton, camping, ocean, rest spot

Sunsets over the sea are a WA specialty

If surfing is your thing, Jacques Point is the cream of the crop, with its perfect barrelling left-hander. If you prefer to observe, the headland is the ideal spot to get amongst the action and watch the sun set over the Indian Ocean.

A local couple park their Bean Drifting coffee van down at the point every morning, and it’s a popular place to have a latte and a yarn.

Trek It Out

Pot Alley, Rainbow Valley and Eagle Gorge are well worth exploring. Hike across rocky headlands with epic views of the Indian Ocean and keep an eye out for dolphins cruising past.

Spectacular beaches aren’t all that Kalbarri has to offer, the inland is just as glorious. Kalbarri National Park is a hidden gem, with multiple hiking options that allows you to discover the magnificent rock formations and gorges formed by the Murchison River. The Loop Trail is a great way to really explore the park, taking you to the famous Nature’s Window, past gorges and sacred red rock carvings.

From Kalbarri To The Kimberley – How To Drive Through North West Australia, Kalbarri, photo by Ashlee Kehoe-Sporton, cave, rock formation

Rock formations in Kalbarri Gorge

The Magnificent Red Bluff & Gnarloo Station

If it’s true adventure you seek, it’s time to head to Quobba Station and experience the magic that is Red Bluff and Gnarloo. Located deep within a working cattle station, a bumpy drive in over a corrugated red road delivers you to premium camp spots overlooking the ocean in all its glory.  

Roll Out The Swag: Top Camping Spots North Of Carnarvon

Stock up on supplies in Carnarvon and get ready for a remote experience; away from the hustle and bustle. Red Bluff camp is the first stop and a must do. With sites overlooking the ocean, watch whales sail past on their own journeys through the deep blue waters that seem to stretch on forever.

From Kalbarri To The Kimberley – How To Drive Through North West Australia, Red Bluff camp, photo by Ashlee Kehoe-Sporton, camping, beach, coast

Red Bluff Camp

Three Mile Camp is a further half an hour down the road and has a similar setup. Both sites provide the sense of remoteness and adventure that you come to expect in the west.

Hit The Waves For A Surf At Red Bluff And Gnarloo

Red Bluff and Gnarloo are both renowned surf spots, dishing up epic left-handers that are known to be amongst the best in Australia. Gnarloo’s ‘Tombstones is a heavy wave that should be treated with respect.

The Bluff is one of the most photographed waves in the country and you can see why, watching from the headland is nearly as exciting as catching one of these long, grinding lefts.

Throw In A Line On The Carnarvon Coast

If fishing is your cup of tea, you won’t be disappointed. This coastline is a perfect place to drop a line and take in the serenity. Particularly if you run out of food and aren’t keen to mission it back in to town.

Sunsets Over The Ocean

One of the greatest things about Western Australia are the magnificent sunsets; as the sun slowly sinks down into the ocean it brings another day of adventure to a close. Sit back and witness one of nature’s greatest shows from the comfort of your camp chair (or get out for a cheeky sunset swim!).

Ningaloo Reef & Beyond

Crystal clear waters and an abundance of wildlife characterise the Ningaloo Reef region. Exmouth is a laid back diving town, surrounded by some of the most epic national parks and beaches Australia has to offer. Be warned, the Exmouth region has a penchant for luring you to stay far longer than planned…

From Kalbarri To The Kimberley – How To Drive Through North West Australia, Turquoise Bay- Ningaloo, photo by Ashlee Keho Sporton, beach, white sand

The Ningaloo Lighthouse Holiday Park is the perfect hub to set up for a stay, it’s super close to Cape Range National Park, Ningaloo Reef and Dunes Surf Beach. The Dunes is a great spot to relax by the turquoise waters, or take the board out and catch a couple of waves while watching a turtle sail by.

Walk up to Vlamingh Head lighthouse for a panoramic sunset view, and watch the humpbacks cruise by on their migration from June to November.

Snorkelling & Scuba Diving In Ningaloo

Ningaloo is notorious for its snorkelling and scuba diving, strap on your goggles and explore the underwater world of turtles, tropical fish and colourful corals. Turquoise Bay, Oyster Stacks and Lakeside all provide top snorkelling from the shore, just jump in and instantly start taking in the abundant wildlife and corals.

If you’re feeling adventurous, venture a bit further out to sea and treat yourself to the magical experience of diving with the whale sharks. Swimming alongside these majestic creatures is the experience of a lifetime and a reminder of the untouched beauty of a region teeming with wildlife.

From Kalbarri To The Kimberley – How To Drive Through North West Australia, Coal Bay, photo by Jess Batheram, 4wd, dirt road, ocean, coast

Coal Bay – Photo by Jess Batheram | @wildroadwanderers

Hiking Trails Around Ningaloo

The marine parks aren’t the only jewel in Ningaloo’s crown: The Cape Range National Park boasts spectacular hiking. If you feel like a gentle meander, the Yardie nature trail is for you.

If you want to explore further, the Mandu Mandu Gorge trail, Charles Knife Canyon trail and Badjirrajirra Loop trail are all well worth a look.

With world class snorkelling and diving, scenic hiking, fun waves and top class fishing you can see how Exmouth draws people in. Before you know it you may be working for the local dive school!

Drive Through The Heart Of The Kimberley On The Gibb River Road

The Gibb River Road is an adventure in itself, chock full of jaw-dropping landscapes, watering holes and a strong undercurrent of culture and history. Stock up in the quirky town of Derby (and be sure to stop in at the Norval Gallery) before hitting the dusty corrugated road that will lead you into the belly of the Kimberley.

Ensure you’ve organised yourself for the drive ahead, as it’s remote and requires some preparation.

Read: How To Prepare Your Car For A Summer Road Trip

From Kalbarri To The Kimberley – How To Drive Through North West Australia, Gibb River Road, photo by Ashlee Kehoe Sporton, wild swimming

Don’t forget your swimmers for the Gibb River Road!

Gorge Hiking & Camping With A Side Of Wild Watering Holes

Stop in at Tunnel Creek and explore the ancient cave system that was used as a hideout by Jandamarra in the late 1800s. Close by lies Windjana Gorge, a beautiful place to explore and set up camp.

Bell Gorge boasts spectacular watering holes nestled amongst the towering red rocks, as well as a place to sleep. Leave enough time to sleep in both!

From Kalbarri To The Kimberley – How To Drive Through North West Australia, Bell Gorge- Gibb River Road, photo by Ashlee Kehoe-Sporton, wild swimming

Lush times at Bell Gorge

The Imintji Art Centre is well worth checking out, it’s a community store and centre run by the local Imintji people that gives an insight into the local culture. Next, continue further on up the road to the beautiful Manning Gorge.

Home Valley Station offers camping (and croc spotting) on the mighty Pentecost River. Catch a Barramundi or get a Heli Tour of the ranges.

El Questro Wilderness Park is well worth a decent stay, with a number of hikes to truly spectacular watering holes. The El Questro Gorge Trail is a must do as is the Emma Gorge hike. Get ready to drink in the magnificence of the Kimberley. Have a soak in the natural Zeebeedee Thermal Springs to rest your weary legs.

From Kalbarri To The Kimberley – How To Drive Through North West Australia, El Questro gorge walk- Gibb River Road, photo by Ashlee Kehoe-Sporton, hike

Warm weather hiking in El Questro Gorge

The Gibb River Road is an epic road trip in itself, and an incredible opportunity to witness amazing sights and experience the rich history that runs deep through this country. Explore the ancient wonders of the King Leopold ranges, cruise past Emus, Kangaroos and magical silver Boab trees. Like a giant artery, the Gibb has many twisting turn-offs, each taking you deeper into the bloodlines of the Kimberley.

Read: Red Dust // A Journey Along The Gibb River Road (WA)

So, When’s Your North West Australia Road Trip?

A stint of driving through the North West of Australia is a must do for all intrepid road travellers.

The West is full of diamonds in the rough, from the tranquil waters of Ningaloo, to the pristine remoteness of Gnarloo, and the ancient beauty of the Kimberley.

The deeper you explore, the more you’ll be rewarded.

 


Feature Photo by Jess Batheram | @wildroadwanderers


Start planning your route!

Troopy Travels // Chasing Sunsets From Byron Bay To The Ningaloo Reef

9 Stunning Natural Wonders To Visit In South Western Australia

A Humbling Landscape // Kayaking The Kimberley

Sunrise At Nature’s Window // Kalbarri National Park (WA)