When you think of Australia, the generic destinations and the most popular ones that pop-up are Sydney, Melbourne, and Queensland. Well, there is more to discover if you are looking for an unusual experience.
The western coast is still mostly untouched and usually less crowded which means less chaos and more quality time. And moreover, Western Australia has it all: beaches, vineyards, trekking ranges or long empty roads. What more do you need for a vacation?
From exploring some of the pristine beaches and tasting wines from about 4-5 vineyards, from visiting cheese factory to drooling in the chocolate factory, we did it all and that too in a self driven caravan, where we slept, ate, cooked, bathed and camped all in our 9 days trip to South Western Australia. Here, I present you our detailed travelogue of the trip:
Day 0: Arrival at Perth
Welcome to Australia !!!
Our happy Australian experience began with the super fast immigration at the Perth Airport: Prompt and hassle free. We were out and sitting in the car in just 15 mins post landing. I am sure it would be similar at other Australian Airports.
NOTE: In case you are planning to shop at Duty-free, all shops are before immigration.
Day 1: In and around Perth
The capital city of Western Australia is the starting point for most of the road trips in WA. Not to mention, we also started our road trip from Perth but not before enjoying a day Perth. In addition, we had to shop and hire stuff for the 8-day long road trip as well.
Nakul, one of our college friends settled out there in Perth, was our lead for the trip. He had already booked our ‘ride’ for the roadtrip.
Perth is an amazing tourist destination in itself. Recommend you to keep a day reserved for enjoying the laid back culture of the city.
Click below for our blog post on Perth:
Day 2: Perth – Stirling Ranges
Time to hit the road. The distance between Perth and Stirling Range is approximately 381 km with a travelling time of around 5 hours by Caravan. It is a good idea to start early and reach before dawn as the highways are fairly deserted in this part of WA.
We, however, could only start by 2 PM and by the time we enter the Stirling Ranges, it was already dark. Our destination for the night was Mount Trio Bush Camp and Caravan Park. The TomTom GPS on the van got confused with the destination and we ended up at a picnic spot. On top of that, the van was running on reserve fuel. ‘Awesome’ right :D. Anyways Google Maps came to the rescue and we luckily reached the desired destination.
The bottom line is – ensure the vehicle GPS destination is same as Google Maps location and of course, keep an eye on fuel level.
Staying in Stirling Ranges
Mount Trio Bush and Caravan Park: The park has plenty of powered camping sites and charges AU$35.00 per couple and AU$25.00 per extra person per night. Pre-bookings are not required except for long weekend holidays. Facilities at the park include fully functional kitchen, toilets and hot showers, log fire and table tennis room. Overall a perfect place in the wilderness for camping. Website
Other options for stay:
- Tony and Ayleen Sands
- BlueBell Cottage
- Mount Barker Caravan Park & Cabin Accommodation
- Moingup Springs
Places to visit in Stirling Ranges
Hike to Bluff Knoll: Approximate elevation 1095 meters, Bluff Knoll is the third highest and one of the most spectacular peaks in Western Australia. The trail is about 3 kilometres one way and round trip takes three to four hours.
The walk starts from the Bluff Knoll car park and picnic area which well worth a stop in, even if you don’t have time to do the 3-4 hour return hike.
Read more about our experience of hiking Buff Knoll:
The Lily – The Lily Windmill is an authentic 16th Century design brick mill and is one of the largest traditional windmills ever built in Australia. The compound housing the mill also has a replica of traditional Dutch House and a DAKOTA C47. The place was high on our “To Do” list but all thank to gloomy weather we skipped it :(. Website
Dos & Don’ts
- Book campsites in advance if you are travelling on the long weekend (especially of if there are school holidays as well)
- Leave from Perth as early as possible and try to reach before sundown.
- If you are using caravan GPS, double check for the destination with Google Maps
- Ensure the fuel tanks is full. If possible refill en route. Mt Trio Bush and Caravan Park has a private tank but you never know. We forgot to refill and hit the reserve 25 KM before the destination but got lucky with refill at the caravan park.
- Visit Bluff Knoll car park and picnic area which well worth a stop in, even if you don’t have time to do the 3-4 hour return hike
Day 3: Buff knoll – Albany | Day 4: In and around Albany
By the time we got down from Bluff Knoll, we were already a bit cold and a lot wet. So at this time of despair, Caption Morgan came to our rescue. A couple of drinks and half an hour of cozying around in the blanket and we were good to go. The travel distance between Buff knoll and Albany is around 102 KM with a travelling time of 1.5 hours.
Due to some cyclonic depression, the weather went southwards with continuous drizzel. We reached our camping destination for next two days – Emu Beach Holiday Park at around 4. Trying to find a warm local pub, we roamed around but couldn’t find one and instead bought a carton of Pale Ales and headed back to our van. Our very own ‘local pub’.
Staying in Albany
BIG4 Emu Beach Holiday Park: Our home for next two days. The park is essentially is a big lawn with a private (mostly) beach. The powered camping site has a sleeping capacity up to 8 and charges AU$ 42 per site. Camp facilities include internet, toilets and hot showers, a fully functional kitchen, kid playgrounds, and a mini golf ground.
Other options for stay:
- Panorama Caravan Park & Cottages
- Albany Happy Days
- Kalgan river caravan park
Places to visit
Albany is one of the prettiest and most picturesque coastal towns. Albany has a lot to offer precisely 5 national parks, 10 beaches, 3 natural reserves, many and historic heritage sites. This blog post will help you plant your trip to Albany:
Day 5: Albany – Two Peoples Bay – Parry beach (Denmark)
Ah! Finally a beautiful sunny day. Bidding adieu to Albany, we headed towards Two Peoples’ Bay, home to the Little Beach and Waterfall beach. It is around 50 km from the city centre towards the eastern end of Albany. We reached there quite early by Australian standards but it was for good as we got a parking spot for our ‘beast’.
Stay in Denmark
Parry beach campsite: It is a volunteer run unpowered camping site beside Parry beach. The site has a height restriction of 2.7 meters on camper vans. We were lucky enough to get one outside camping spot for our huge RV. The charges are just AU$15.00 per couple (AU$ 7.50 per extra person). The payment however has to be made in cash. Camp facilities include toilets, showers (solar heated), and a BBQ area. It does not have a kitchen and drinking water facility.
It seems the above description would be discouraging enough for you but let me tell you the best part – beautiful quiet night sky full of stars, the best I have ever seen. Imagine seeing milky way with the naked eye! We had the most beautiful night of our trip at this site. Still don’t believe me, see for yourselves:
Other options for stay in Denmark:
- Peaceful Bay Caravan Park
- BIG4 Denmark Ocean Beach Holiday Park
BIG4 Middleton Beach Holiday Park
- Denmark Rivermouth Caravan Park
Riverbend Chalet and Caravan Park
Detail blog on Two Peoples Bay:
Day 6: Denmark – Walpole – Pemberton
After spending the most wonderful night at Parry beach, we headed towards Pemberton, a small town surrounded by national parks and huge forests which are home to the giant Karri trees.
Stay in Pemberton
Pemberton Caravan Park: They have 100 sites varying from level shaded sites and grassed areas to scenic camping areas under the canopy of the Karri forest. It has an open kitchen with all basic facilities. Best kitchen in our entire journey.
- Big Brook Arboretum Campgrounds
- Warren River Camp ground
Place to visit
Greens Pool: This beautiful pool always features in Australia’s best travel destination. The pool is barricaded separated from sea by lines of massive granite boulders clustered close together sheltering ‘the pool’ from waves and wind. If you know swimming, there is no better place than this to dive in. At a small walking distance lies, Elephant Rocks which also worth the visit.
Valley of Giants Tree Top Walk: The massive structure built in 1996, meanders through the forest, scaling up 40 meters height, and allows you to get a true appreciation for the scale of the giant Karri and Tingle trees that are native to this area.
Click below for detailed post on valley of giants:
Margaret River region has as much as 150 caves formed by drainage of water through limestone. Jewel cave is one the few which is open for public.
Gloucester Tree and Bicentennial Tree: We skipped thinking it to be more or less same experience as valley of giants. In hindsight, its not. It is more adventurous in fact. The Bicentennial tree and the Gloucester tree can individually be climbed trill the top which is 61 metres. Google its pictures out and then decide.
Hamelin bay: At around half an hour drive from Jewel cave, there another secluded and quiet beach – Hamelin bay, home to friendly Stingrays. But we were not so lucky to spot a stingray.
Place to Eat
- Old Kent river: A small quaint winery on the way to the valley of Giants. The entrance of the winery is so charming that you will automatically stop to explore further. As it turned out we had the best lunch of our entire journey over here. Meals here are based around their signature cobalt blue marron which is unique to the area as well as lamb which is reared on the property
Dos & Don’ts
- Green’s pool starts getting crowded as the day breaks. If you want to avoid crowd, hit it early
- Not far from Green’s pool is Elephant rocks. Do visit it. We couldn’t
- Internet Access
- If you’re camping or otherwise without the internet, head down to either the Visitor Centre (South Coast Highway),
- or the Community Resource Center (Latham Street)
Day 7: Pemberton – Margaret River | Day 8: In and around Margaret River
If you love wine, beer and food – Margret River is the place to be. It has a very natural vibe to it and an appealing sense of solitude.
Stay in Margret River
Riverview Tourist Park: They have close to 20 powered / unpowered sites. It has an small kitchen with all basic facilities. Good thing about this park is its river front and canoes (can be hired)
Margaret River Tourist Park
- Wharncliffe Mill Bush Retreat & Eco Tours
- Prevelly Caravan Park
- Taunton Farm Holiday Park
Place to visit
The place has wineries are everywhere. You actually don’t need an organised tour or advanced booking. Most of them will offer free tastings (or with small cover charges) but for that, a car is required. You can’t just roam around in caravan so we hired Bushtucker Tours. They charged us AUD 110 which included the trip to wineries, breweries, dairy factory and chocolate factory with free wine tasting and sumptuous lunch. The places which we covered were:
- Brygon Reserve Wines: It is in top 10 best new Australian Wineries
- Adinfern Estate: Run by a lovely family. Lunch was served here
- Cowaramup Brewing Co: A picturesque microbrewery offering ales and lagers. No free tasting here. Try out the beer platter
- Tassell Park: Lovely property
- Margaret River Dairy Company: The place house-made cheese – Brie, Camembert, Cheddar, Feta, Baked Ricotta and Creamy Pot. Free cheese tasting is available here
- Margret River Wine Makers: Liquors are also served in free tasting
- Margaret River Chocolate Company: Free tasting heaven. This store offers free tasting of the chocolate chips (white and dark). They also sell Simmo’s Ice Cream and other snacking items
Place to Eat
- Sea Garden cafe: The cafe is all about food and the view. The sunset from the cafe is stunning. The fence of the cafe is formed from used surfboards.
Dos & Don’ts
- Don’t hire a tour company if you have a car
- Don’t miss out on free wine tasting no matter how high you are by end of the day
- You can skip wasting time in finding actual Margret river, it not that beautiful anyways
- Try out skydiving, if you have time
Day 9: Margret River – Busselton – Perth
After spending magical two days in Margret River, it was time for the return journey – the last leg of great West Australian road trip. Our first stop was Busselton rotary market which happens on second and fourth Sunday of each month. The market offers cheap food, arts and crafts and amazing collectables. Right after we headed towards the famous Busselton Jetty. Extending 1.8 kilometres in Geographe Bay, Busselton Jetty is the longest wooden jetty in the Southern Hemisphere. You can walk it ($3 for access) or take the little train which ambles along on the hour ($12). Take the train only if you running short on time else walking on the jetty is magical.
And after spending some quality time in and around the area, we drove 3 hours back to Perth with infinite memories
Special mention for couple of our friends, Himanshu and DJ who couldn’t make it: You were missed