With an endless coastline of pristine, rugged beaches, the South West Coast of Western Australia is home to the most jaw-dropping scenery in all of the country. Don’t let the red dust stop you from heading off the beaten path; it only adds a layer of character to the campervan.
We acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the Country on which this adventure takes place who have occupied and cared for this land for thousands of years. We pay our respects to them and recognise that sovereignty was never ceded.
- Incredibly clear ocean water lapping up against pristine white sand at Lucky Bay
- Albany’s hidden coves, epic oceanside walking tracks, and beautiful cafes
- Swimming with manta rays at Hamelin Bay, Margaret River
- The longest jetty in the Southern Hemisphere – Busselton Jetty
Day 1 – Perth to Wave Rock / Hyden
Campsite: Wave Rock Caravan Park
Duration: 3.5 hours
Leaving the city behind us, it wasn’t long before my Kiwi partner and I were reminded just how big Australia really is! Stocking up the campervan fridge with supplies for the next few days whet our appetite for adventure.
The first leg, with its abundance of red dust, rocks, and road trains flying by, kept the adrenaline levels high. Wave Rock is famous for its curving, wave-like formation that could easily be mistaken for somewhere along the coast, only a lot less forgiving if you were to fall off the board!
Day 2 – Wave Rock to Esperance
Campsite: RAC Caravan Park, Esperance (No free camping available around Esperance)
Duration: 4 hours
A nice early start departing Hyden gave us plenty of time to grab a coffee from one of the roadside stalls and head south towards the famous Esperance.
On arrival we were greeted by kangaroos bounding down endless white sandy beaches and red rocks mixed with the perfect blue ocean hues of the Great Australian Bite; this spot is one not to be missed!
I’d be lying if I said that after visiting 47 countries, living in The Whitsundays and travelling most of Australia, this didn’t make it to my top three places to visit. It’s just an absolute ripper!
Day 3 – Day Trip to Cape Le Grand National Park
Campsite: Le Grand Campsite (Book online through WA parks – very popular/limited sites)
After grabbing the morning caffeine kick from Downtown Espresso, it was time to head into what’s by far my favourite national park in Australia. Cape Le Grand gives you plenty to explore, from the ultimate lookout up Frenchmans Peak, to clarity like you have never seen before in Hellfire Bay.
Yet, no trip here would be complete without stopping by the iconic Lucky Bay, made famous with its friendly locals that greet you along the beach each morning.
By camping just metres away from the water in the Le Grand beach campsite, we had the opportunity to get up close and personal with the kangaroos at sunrise and experience something not found in any other country in the world.
If you have the time while in Cape Le Grand National Park, I highly recommend the short but steep hike up Frenchman Peak. With much of the surroundings being flat, it gives you a completely different perspective of the area from the top of this vantage point.
Day 4 – Wharton Bay
Campsite: Duke of Orleans Bay Caravan Park (Expensive but great location)
Duration: 1 hour
Distance: 90km out of Esperance
While Lucky Bay gets plenty of attention, Wharton Bay sits not far around the corner and is, by contrast, almost empty!
As the rhythmic waves roll into the smooth, white sands, this is hands-down the best spot to throw the surfboard in – don’t be surprised if you come across dolphins surfing the waves alongside you.
If you have the time, be sure to stick around for sunset as golden hour lights up the rugged surrounding landscape.
Day 5 – Esperance to Fitzgerald National Park
Campsite: Hopetoun Town Centre Free Camp
Duration: 3.5 hours
We only expected to explore walking trails in Fitzgerald National Park, so were amazed when we came across a stunning expanse of pink water in the Fitzgerald River Inlet with a backdrop of Bluff Knoll in the distance!
Salty seawater flowing through the mouth of the river created a picture-perfect postcard landscape against the pink lake, and was something we never expected to see.
With so many amazing hikes, the one that can not be missed is the Mamang trail. Mamang is the Noongar name for whale, and if you’re lucky enough to visit in winter during migration, you may even spot a Humpback passing by.
Along the Mamang trail you’ll find one of the park’s best viewpoints, the Hakea lookout. Giving you 360° views of the surrounding landscape, this view will leave you speechless if the Mamang trail hadn’t already done so.
Day 6 – Fitzgerald National Park (Hopetoun) to Bremer Bay
Campsite: Bremer Bay Caravan Park
Duration: 2 hours
While Bremer Bay is usually known for its incredible whale watching in the early months of the year, heading there in low season gave us the ultimate spot to wind down.
With a cold beverage in hand, the sunset seemed to taste that much better, as we watched the sun drop behind the horizon from the secluded comfort of our van.
Day 7 – Bremer Bay to Stirling Range National Park
Campsite: Stirling Range Retreat (Closest park to Bluff Knoll)
Duration: 2.5 hours
After our few busy days spent hopping between beaches along the coast, it was time to spend a night inland. Bluff Knoll is one for the bucket list with vast bushland surrounding the mountain and challenging hiking trails leading you to its peak.
Allowing around three hours each way should get you to the peak and back again comfortably. Just make sure to pack a jumper, as it can be deceivingly warm down below and like ice at the peak… it’s even known to see snow on occasions in winter!
Day 8 – Stirling Range to Albany
Campsite: Big 4 Caravan Park, Middleton Beach (Expensive but beachfront)
Duration: 2 hours
What’s considered a ‘short’ drive in Western Australia, only two hours down the road, is a spot that seems to get overlooked by many travellers – and thriving marine life call this area home, including Bottlenose dolphins, and Humpback and Southern Right whales.
Although Torndirrup National Park is one of the quietest areas in the south, it has no shortage of jaw-dropping cliff faces, matched with epic beaches. When venturing out along the banks of Frenchman Bay, we were pleasantly surprised how serene this part of Australia really is.
Read more: Remember to leave no trace!
Day 9 – Two Peoples Bay
Campsite: Bettys Beach Free Camp
Duration: 40 minutes
Distance: 40km out of Albany
Backtracking a little bit after breakfast, we headed east to a hidden gem that I’d rather keep between you and I. Little Beach is exactly that; a small stretch of sand without a single footprint in the morning and two perfectly placed rocks.
It gave us a feeling of satisfaction that we’d discovered the perfect minimalist beach. I do believe less truly is more around these parts.
Day 10 – Albany to Walpole Via Denmark
Campsite: Valley Of The Giants Ecopark
Duration: 1.5 hours
By now we were considering this stretch of road as mighty short, given that it’s under a two hour stint; however with so many great little stopovers, you’d be wise to save more time to explore the area.
Shelly Beach at West Cape Howe was well worth a detour off the beaten path. Elephant Rocks, Greens Pool, and Madfish Bay were also standouts on this scenic strip of road.
Day 11 – Walpole to Hamelin Bay / Margaret River
Campsite: Hamelin Bay Holiday Park (Beachfront)
Duration: 3 hours
Having made it through Mount Frankland National Park and over to Hamelin Bay, we found the locals awaiting our arrival – huge manta rays call the main beach home.
They made themselves comfortable as they swam, very quickly, over our feet in the knee-deep water. Once we’d snapped a few photos and cooled off, we made our way to the end of the beach for some of the most spectacular limestone cliffs in the west.
Day 12 – Hamelin Bay to Yallingup
Campsite: Yallingup Beach Holiday Park
Duration: 1 hour
It’d be rude to visit the world famous Margaret River Region and not sample a few of their world class wines! Along your way; Voyager Estate, Leeuwin Estate, Flametree Wines, and Xanadu Wines should be a good start for any palette.
Rain, hail or shine, after a long, hard day of sampling the region’s finest wines, there’s no better way to relax than in nature’s bubbling waters at Injidup Natural Spa. This is a completely free, natural rock formation that brings refreshing ocean water through small crevices, resulting in high-pressure water pools among the rocks below.
If you’re not into bubbles, you might prefer to explore the northern tip of the Margaret River region and stop for a dip in the pristine waters of Eagle Bay. As you depart Yallingup, Eagle Bay and Meelup Beach are two of the most epic stretches of sand in this part of the world.
Day 13 – Yallingup to Fremantle
Campsite: Fremantle Village (No free camping within 70km of Fremantle)
Duration: 3 hours
A little further down the road we came across the iconic Busselton Jetty. Visiting outside of office hours allowed us free access to the almost two kilometre-long jetty and by far one of the best places in the area for sunset.
Spin around and you get a great view of Shelter Brewery and the township. The three boatsheds here were originally a gateway to the jetty, which accommodates a train track that was used to retrieve goods from docking ships back in the day.
Day 14 – Welcome back to Perth / Rottnest Island
Campsite: Discovery Eco Tents, Rottnest Island
Duration: 30 min boat ride from Fremantle
No trip to Perth is considered complete without jumping over to one of Australia’s most iconic islands. Rottnest Island is home to the famous quokka, who are known for being the friendliest animals on the planet, with their adorable, welcoming smiles.
The ferry trip offers a great vantage point for views of Perth and Fremantle shores. You also get a glimpse of Carnac Island where sea lions hang out and Garden Island, which houses a military base.
Grabbing a bike for the day (or half-price after 12pm) we set off to explore the rustic vibes of this spectacular place. With an entire circuit of beaches to choose from, I’d suggest kicking the bike into fourth gear and heading straight for Parakeet Bay, my personal favourite.
After returning the bikes around 4pm, you can enjoy happy hour at Frankie’s Pizzeria or your beverage of choice and a marina view from Thompson’s.
While this might be the end of the trip, the memories made will stay with you forever and I can guarantee the list of places to visit in WA’s South West will have only grown!
- Sanitiser and wipes – Shower time and water are limited
- Rain jacket – The weather here is very unpredictable. It might be a very dry state; however when it rains, it pours!
- Campermate App – This is amazing for finding both free and paid campsites to park your van each night. The main reason we use this app is that it’s available offline, which is super handy when on those long, isolated outback roads!
- National Parks Pass! – Without this pass, you’ll be paying around $15 for every individual entry. Saves you money and the hassle of paying each time. For a one-off $50, you’ll have unlimited access for a month right across WA.
How To Get There
Perth Airport is located 20 minutes south of the CBD, with direct flights from all capital cities in Australia.
Campervan rental offices are all located within five minutes’ taxi ride from the airport and most have a free pickup service if you let them know in advance.
First time campers can tackle this road trip with ease. Sealed roads that are well maintained, easy-to-follow signage and a home for the road that is ready to roll. All you need is a driver’s licence and a little wanderlust!
Distance Covered / Duration
2,175km round trip from Perth, with a few optional extras / Comfortably done in 14 days