Perth to Esperance in 11 days
Get set for an epic journey set over 100 kilometres (62 miles), covering pristine beaches and untouched wilderness in Australia’s Southwest.
What to expect
- Experience towering forests, white dunes, calm bays and pristine beaches
- Adventure outdoors, be it deep underwater or miles high
- Immerse yourself in Aboriginal culture with a Koomal Dreaming Twilight Didgeridoo Cave Tour in Margaret River
- Time: 11 Days
- Transport: Car & Plane
- Price: $$
Day 1: Explore Perth
Starting in Perth, head to Elizabeth Quay to learn about Perth's ancient cultural heritage on a Derbal Yerrigan cruise. Climb aboard the eco-friendly 1920s-style river ferry before learning about the history of the Whadjuk people of the Derbal Yerrigan (Swan River). Through their stories, you'll begin to understand their deep connection to the waterway and surrounding landscape.
In the afternoon, take a stroll through Kings Park, set in the heart of the city. Bigger than New York's Central Park, Kings Park grants incredible views of the Swan and Canning rivers as well as bushland trails and manicured gardens.
Spend the night at City Perth Backpackers Hostels, which is only a five-minute walk from Perth’s buzzy bars and eats.
Day 2: Discover Fremantle
After a hearty yet affordable breakfast at Toastface Grillah, head to Fremantle, a charming suburb known for its blend of the heritage and the contemporary.
If you're keen to check out the craft beer scene, stop by Fremantle's famous Little Creatures Brewery to taste a range of pilsners and pale ales.
If you'd rather spend the day with the state's cutest creatures, hop on the ferry to Rottnest Island. Rottnest Island is home to a colony of quokkas, a small marsupial known for their friendly nature. Snap a selfie with smiling quokkas, keeping a safe distance of course, before exploring the island by bike or on foot. There are also dozens of beaches, so you're sure to stumble upon some welcoming sand.
If you're up for a thrill, Rottnest Island also offers an adrenaline-pumping adventure. With Skydive Geronimo, you'll take in Western Australia's breathtaking coastline and turquoise waters before soaring safely to the beach at Rottnest. It's the only island skydiving experience in the state, so you're sure to make a one-of-a-kind memory. After you've returned to Fremantle, grab a fresh fish and chips dinner at the Fishing Boat Harbour.
After a long day of exploring, check into Fremantle Beach Backpackers. Located in the heart of Fremantle, you’ll be surrounded by restaurants, entertainment, coffee shops and cafes.
Day 3: Swim with Rockingham’s friendly dolphins
Head to Rockingham, about 45 minutes south of Perth, for a close-up encounter with resident bottlenose dolphins.
Spend a day with the dolphins with Rockingham Wild Encounters. The Swim with Wild Dolphins Cruise allows you to join the animals in the water with the help of an experienced guide. You'll have a snorkel and mask to make sure you don't miss any of the action.
For yet another wildlife encounter, paddle out to the Shoalwater Islands Marine Park to spot sea lions and little penguins. Capricorn Seakayaking offers a small group eco tour of Seal Island and Penguin Island. Stay the night in Rockingham, or head back to Fremantle for a night spent in a historic prison.
Day 4: Heading south to surfing mecca
This morning, drive three hours south to Margaret River, a region known for its stellar surf and incredible wines. On the way, stretch your legs in Harvey, a charming small town and the home of the 'Big Orange,' which sits on the top of a 10-metre (33-foot) tower.
When you arrive in Margaret River, check into Margaret River YHA before stopping by a few of the 120 wineries in the region.
If you'd rather swap the wine for waves, hit the sand at one of the nearby surf beaches. The region is home to over 75 breaks, but you don't have to be a surfer to enjoy the beautiful bays. At Hamelin Bay, you'll not only find turquoise water and white sand but also friendly stingrays that come up to shore. Other favourites include Injidup Beach, Meelup Bay and Smiths Beach.
Day 5: Adventure in Margaret River
With hundreds of miles of coast lined by rugged bushland, the Margaret River region is ideal for off-the-grid exploration. Join a Surf N Dirt Adventure Tour to experience the best of Margaret River all at once. Choose from tours that include river kayaking, mountain biking, surfing, and wildlife as well as brewery and winery tastings.
Alternatively, immerse yourself in the world's oldest living culture on a Twilight Didgeridoo Cave Tour. You'll begin with a short guided bushwalk, where you'll identify traditional plants used for medicine and learn about local Noongar knowledge. After, you'll venture into the Ngilgi Cave as your Aboriginal guide tells you about the cave's legends. Inside the cave, your guide will play mesmerising didgeridoo music before you depart for the chance to catch a colourful sunset.
Day 6: Wilderness in Walpole
After breakfast, drive just over three hours to Walpole, a town famous for its wilderness. Along the way, stop in the quaint country towns of Nannup and Pemberton. Nannup is known as the ‘Garden Village’ in honour of its many beautiful gardens, while Pemberton’s Karri forests are filled with outdoor activities - think mountain biking, bush walking, swimming, canoeing, 4WD tours, and world-renowned Munda Biddi cycling trail.
Continue to Walpole, where the town and the nature around it are famous for the Tingle and Karri trees in the old growth forest. The trees are so tall that the area is referred to as The Valley of the Giants. Take the 800-metre (half-mile) boardwalk loop to truly get a grasp of how grand this forest is.
Day 7: Stunning south west coastline
After you wake up in Walpole, get out onto the beautiful waterways with a WOW Wilderness cruise. Float by even more forests of giant karri and tingle trees reaching right to the edge of secluded inlets, hills and rugged coastline. You'll also step off the boat and into Western Australia's wilderness for a short walk to a secluded beach.
After the cruise, continue your way to Albany, located about an hour and a half east of Walpole. Along the way, stop in Denmark, a village spoilt with soft, sandy beaches and tree-lined drives. Head to Greens Pool for a beach filled with boulders, or wind through towering trees on the Mount Shadforth Scenic Drive.
When you reach Albany, pop into the whaling museum to get an idea of the town’s history or take a cruise to spot the whales in the water. Check into one of Albany's hostels, like Albany YHA or Albany Backpackers, for the next two nights.
Day 8: ANZAC history in Albany
Take a 40-minute drive to the Granite Skywalk, a suspended walkway that spirals around the huge granite outcrop of Castle Rock to the summit. As you stroll in the sky, you'll get views from the park and neighbouring farmland to Albany on the south coast. You can even spot Mount Gardner and Mount Manypeaks to the southeast. In August and September, this is also where you'll find the region's much-loved orchids and wildflowers.
Return to Albany for the afternoon to explore the city's fascinating heritage. Albany marks the spot where the first European settlers set foot in Western Australia and the first convoy of Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZACs) departed for the battlefields of the First World War. Get an introduction to the region’s rich history by taking a 30-minute walk along the Amity Trail, or visit The National ANZAC Centre. Afterwards, pop into the Great Southern Distilling Company for a taste of world-renowned Australian whisky.
Day 9: Orca spotting at Bremer Bay
In the morning, go for a dip at Little Beach at Two People’s Bay Nature Reserve, often called one of the most beautiful beaches in Australia. Or, head straight to Bremer Bay, located about two hours from Albany. Bremer Bay is brimming with beaches, perfect for swimming, surfing, sandboarding, snorkelling, scuba diving and quad biking.
From July to November, you could catch a glimpse of whales and dolphins passing through. From January to April, the Bremer Bay Canyon becomes home to a pod of orca whales, which can grow to be six to eight metres (20 to 26 feet) in length.
To spot the incredible creatures, embark on a boat cruise with Naturaliste Charters. Your tour will be led by a qualified marine biologist, so you can watch the whales as well as learn about them. Spend the night camping or in a cabin at the Bremer Bay Caravan & Camping Park.
Day 10: See the famous pink lake
Hit the road early for the four-hour drive to Esperance. Home to white-sand beaches, unbelievably blue water and even a pink lake, you'll want to soak up as much time here as you can.
First, head to one of the town's most famous natural landmarks, Lake Hillier, located about 130 kilometres (70 miles) from Esperance. Here, you'll find an astonishing bubblegum-pink lake neighbouring the dark blue ocean. The lake can be seen by boat or by air, both of which offer a breathtaking view of this unbelievable sight. After you've returned to Esperance, check into the local YHA.
Day 11: Kangaroos on the beach
Drive 60 kilometres (37 miles) into Cape Le Grande National Park to find one of Australia's iconic experiences: hanging out with kangaroos on the beach. At the far end of Lucky Bay, you'll find kangaroos lounging on some of the whitest sand in the country.
It's an idyllic sight. Take in the translucent blue waters and the wildlife before checking into the Lucky Bay campground, which offers free barbecue facilities and hot showers. Alternatively, hit the road for the 8.5-hour drive back to Perth.