Perth to Perth in 10 Days (2,114 km)
Your ten-day Western Australia campervan adventure begins and ends in Perth, known for its Mediterranean climate and abundance of arts and culture. The first half of your trip takes you to the shores of Geographic Bay in Busselton, the Margaret River wine region with its vineyards and cheese and chocolate factories, on to the forests of Pemberton and the historic town of Albany.
At the core of your trip is a two-day stay in Ravensthorpe, adjacent to the magnificent Fitzgerald River National Park. You will need two days to explore the Park, designated a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and home to flora, fauna, and animals not found anywhere else in the world.
From there you're off to Esperence, known for the popular Twilight Beach, and then to the gold-mining town of Kalgoorlie. The final leg of your trip is all about wildflowers, as you explore Merredin in the heart of the Wheatbelt. From Merredin you will make your way back to Perth, where you could easily extend your trip to take in any number of cultural events.
Before you leave on your trip, visit Western Tourist Radio www.touristradio.com.au or up-to-date information about traveling through Western Australia. The site has useful info, but also will tell you how to learn more as you are driving through the area.
The first leg of your trip takes you 233 km south-west (almost four hours) via the Kwinana Freeway, Old Coast Road and Bussell Highway to Busselton. Located on the shores of Geographe Bay, where the Leeuwin current has produced a bounty of tropical and sub-tropical sea life. In spring, the wildflowers are spectacular, and from October to December, you can watch the humpback whales as they migrate. Thirty miles of white sand beach let you enjoy windsurfing, diving, fishing and other water sports. (As you drive to Busselton, consider taking the tourist drive through Ludlow Tuart Forest, abundant in picnic areas, walking trails, and the only remaining natural stand of Tuart in the world.)
Where to Stay:
Peppermint Park Eco Village
Located in a natural bushland setting, yet only 300 meters from Geographe Bay, this award-winning park boasts an all-new game room and children's playground, a swimming pool, Internet kiosk, volleyball, free BBQs, cappuccino machine, camp kitchen, modern amenities block, laundry facilities, and private amenities for the disabled. Choose from self-contained units, powered and unpowered sites, and ensuites. (www.peppermintpark.com.au)
Beachlands Holiday Park
Located on Geographic Bay, considered the gateway to the Margaret River wine region, Beachlands Holiday Park features a saltwater pool, BBQ areas, camp kitchen, spa, boat ramp, Internet kiosk, wireless Internet, a children's playground with a giant jumping pillow, central TV system, movie nights, and a sausage sizzle. Accommodations include self-contained units from budget to luxury, private ensuite sites, and powered and unpowered sites. (www.beachlands.net)
The Busselton Jetty is the longest wooden jetty south of the Equator and Australia's greatest artificial reef. Walk out to the Interpretive Centre to learn more about the jetty and check out marine life through the underwater camera. At the end of the jetty the Underwater Observatory takes you eight meters below the surface to a world of colorful coral, fish and mollusks. The jetty is one of Australia's top ten dive spots. You can fish from the jetty, too. (www.busseltonjetty.com.au)
The Wonnerup House, 10 km north of Busselton, was fist settled in 1834. The first house is now a dairy; and the 1859 home is a magnificent site. All the buildings, including kitchen, stables, smithy, school and teacher's house have been restored and furnished with original items.
Heritage Park and Trail
Pick up a map at the Busselton Visitor Centre and follow the Heritage Park and Trail. The trail begins just opposite the Visitor Centre at Peel Terrace and Causeway Road. You will see sculptures, the Ballarat Steam Engine, St. Mary's Church (Western Australia's oldest stone church), the Pioneer Cemetery and the 'Aboriginal Interpretive Garden'. (www.geographebay.com)
Drive 48 km west (about 45 minutes) via the Bussell Highway to the Margaret River wine region. Margaret River offers some of the best surfing anywhere, with forty different spots where you can catch your wave. There are dozens of wineries in the area, as well as cheese and chocolate factories, such as the Margaret River Cheese Company, maker of boutique cheeses and yogurt.
Where to Stay
Taunton Farm Holiday Park
Located only 18 km north of Margaret River in a unique farm-like setting, this park offers a BBQ shed, children's playground, modern amenities block, and barn-style camp kitchen. Special features include farm animal feedings and wildflower walks. Accommodations include farm-style cottages, on-site caravans, drive-through sites, wood campsites, and semi-permanent sites. (www.tauntonfarm.com.au)
Mammoth and Lake Cave
These spectacular caves are south of Prevelly Park, where you can enjoy a picnic lunch. Mammoth Cave was once home to Tasmanian tigers and giant kangaroos, for their bones are among the ten thousand animal bones found there. Here you can take a self-guided tour, but be sure not to miss the Marri Walk Trail. Just south is Lake Cave, arguably the prettiest of all the southern caves, with its lake and its dainty formations in white. Here you can take a guided tour every half hour and enjoy a meal at the Lake Cave Tearooms. (www.margaretriver.com)
Margaret River is famous for its wineries. The Margaret River Visitor Centre shows how the local wines are made. Margaret River Tours offers full and half-day tours, or one tailored just for you. You will enjoy touring and tasting at several local wineries - local cheese and chocolate are also on the bill of fare. (www.margaretrivertours.com/pages/winery.html)
Margaret River Heritage Trails
While you are at the Visitor Centre, pick up the Heritage Trails brochure. All three trails start at the Rotary Park (with relics from the lumbering days at Margaret River) and follow the river for varying distances. All the walks take you through local flora, such as the Karri-tree forest.
Drive 139 km south and east (just under two hours) via the Bussel and Vasse Highways to Pemberton, a lovely town surrounded by forests of Karri, Jarrah and Marri trees. A lumber mill built in 1913 to supply wood for railway sleeping cars is still operating and can be toured. The famous Gloucester tree is one of the many tall trees in which fire-lookout cabins were built. Pemberton is almost surrounded by national parks, and you can book river cruises or guided canoe and hiking trips through them at the Tourist Centre.
Where to Stay
Pemberton Caravan Park
Located in Pemberton not far from Pemberton Station, this park features laundry facilities, a convenience store, bookshop, and children's playground. Choose from bungalows, ensuite cabins, budget cabins, drive-through sites, and grassy sites. Water, power, and BBQs are available for all caravan sites. (www.pembertonpark.com.au)
Beedelup National Park
Beedelup National Park is 19 km west of Pemberton on the Vasse Highway. Covering 1,500 hectares, the park has both Karri and Marri forests. The Beedelup Falls can be viewed from suspension bridges or viewing decks. Be sure to stand inside the 'Walk Through' tree, where you will have 150 tons of living Karri overhead.
The Karri Forest Discovery Centre and Pemberton Pioneer Museum is in the same building as the Tourist Centre, on the main street. A film and exhibits explain the ecology of the Karri forest. The Pioneer Museum includes a full size settler's hut with its tools and furnishings. (www.pembertontourist.com.au)
The easiest way to catch a rainbow trout is to visit the King Trout and Marron Farm, seven miles south of Pemberton. You can rent a rod and fish in the stocked dam, and eat in the cafE if you come up empty. The Tourist Centre has maps of good fishing holes for trout and the local marron, a local freshwater crayfish, which is third largest in the world. At Yeagarup Beach and D'Entrecasteaux National Park, you can fish from the beach. (www.pembertontourist.com.au)
This next leg takes you 239 km east (about three hours) via the Vasse, South Western, South Coast, and Albany Highways to Albany. Beautiful Albany with its snug harbor became wealthy during the gold rush days of the 1890's. Many of its elegant buildings date from that time. Five different Heritage Walks lead you through various aspects of this historic town.
Where to Stay
Albany Gardens Holiday Resort
Located just off of the Albany Highway one km from the center of town, this park features award-winning gardens and an on-site animal sanctuary. Other features include a modern amenities block, free undercover BBQs, camp kitchen, convenience store, swimming pool, tennis court, game room, and children's playground. Choose from enclosed unites, powered ensuite sites, and powered and unpowered sites. (www.albanygardens.com.au)
Middleton Beach Holiday Park
Located on Middleton Road just 3km south of Albany, this park boasts 500 meters of beach frontage. Other features include a new solar-heated swimming pool with an indoor hydro spa, an entertainment center, movie theater, convenience store, children's playground, camp kitchen, free BBQs, Internet kiosk, and wireless Internet. Choose from deluxe cabins, ensuite cabins, ensuite sites, and powered and powered sites. Keep in mind this park also has conference facilities, so plan ahead and make a reservation. (www.holidayalbany.com.au OR www.big4.com.au)
Torndirrip National Park
Torndirrip National Park is on a peninsula just south of Albany on the Frenchman Bay Road. The sea has sculpted some fantastic natural wonders here. Stay on the marked paths and behind the guide rails, as people have been swept away by freak waves. Follow The Gap Road to viewing platforms where you can see the Gap and the Natural Bridge. A Park map will help you explore other roads and hiking trails.
Follow Frenchman Bay Road through the Torndirrip National Park to Whale World, on the side of the old Cheynes Beach Whaling Station. Twenty exhibits, including the eye-popping Giant of the Sea Skeleton Exhibit and the whale-chasing ship Cheynes IV, as well as a 3-D animated film will teach you about whales and whaling. The cafe features homemade food. (www.whaleworld.org)
Middleton Beach is one of many lovely beaches in or near Albany. Its five km of white sand beach is great for all water sports. The picnic area is delightful and the views are amazing. Take the Boardwalk from the Beachside Cafe for an hour and a half stroll or cycle. You will have great views of King George Sound and the islands as well as of the harbor.
Drive 293 km east (about 3 1/2 hours) via the Albany and South Coast Highways to Ravensthorpe. A historic gold mining town known for its spectacular wildflowers and proximity to the Fitzgerald River National Park, Ravensthorpe is a good base for exploration of the Park and the nearby coastal town of Hopetoun. Portions of the fence made famous in the film, Rabbit Proof Fence can be seen in the area. Stay at one of the campsites in the Park, or at one of the nearby caravan parks in Ravensthorpe and Hopetoun.
Where to Stay
Ravensthorpe Caravan Park
Located close to the Fitzgerald River National Park in the town of Ravensthorpe, this park features modern amenities blocks, laundry facilities, individual bathrooms, and a shaded camp kitchen and BBQ area. Choose from self-contained cabins, caravan and camping sites, and backpacker units. (ravensthorpecaravanpark.com.au/)
Fitzgerald River National Park
With over 330,000 hectares of coastline between Bremer Bay and Hopetoun, the Fitzgerald River National Park is one of the most impressive national parks in Australia, and was designated a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 1978. You could spend days exploring the numerous rivers, gorges, pebble beaches, mountains, cliffs and wildflowers in the park. The Park is well known for the coastal hills known as The Barrens, the sponglite cliffs along the river valleys, and more than 1,800 species of flora and fauna, sixty-two of which are found only in Fitzgerald River National Park. (www.naturebase.net)
Though the wildflowers boom year round, the best time to visit the Ravensthorpe region from August through November, when the flowers are at their peak. The wildflowers cover the entire region, and include seventy-five species that cannot be found anywhere else in the world. If you visit the area in September, make time for the Annual Wildflower Show at the Senior Citizens Center, where you will see between 650 and 800 displays of wildflowers.
The area of Ravensthorpe and Hopetoun is perfect for spotting Southern Right Whales, who make an appearance in the winter and the Spring to have their calves. Consult with the locals for the best viewing points, some of which are within the Fitzgerald River National Park.
From Albany, travel 188 km east (just over two hours) via the South Coast Highway to Esperance. Take time to enjoy its white sand beaches and turquoise ocean; Twilight Beach is one of the most popular beaches in Australia. Four national parks are nearby. Visit the town's pet sea lion, Sammy, at the tanker pier, and stroll among the inviting shops and galleries. Stop by the Mermaid Marine Leather shop for interesting items made from fish skins!
Where to Stay
Esperance Bay Holiday Park
Only a ten-minute walk from the center of town, this Big4 park features a modern amenities block, TV room, children's playground, laundry facilities, BBQ areas, LPG refills, laundry facilities, tour bookings and a postal box. Accommodations include self-contained unites, concrete or grass powered sites, and camping areas.
Pink Lake Tourist and Caravan Park
Located two km from the town's center and a short distance from Esperance's beautiful beaches, Pink Lake offers a children's playground, BBQ areas, and camp kitchen with television, tour booking, and a well-stocked kiosk. Choose from self-contained units, ensuite cabins, powered caravan and camping sites, and unpowered camping sites. This park is pet friendly. (www.pinklakepark.com.au)
Cape Le Grand National Park
Cape Le Grand National Park, with its sand plains and granite outcrops, is one of Australia's most spectacular. Visit Lucky Bay and you may see sunbathing kangaroos along its 5km beach. Especially from September to November, you can see spectacular wildflowers.
Great Ocean Drive
The Great Ocean Drive is a long loop, partly paralleled by a bikeway. Read the signposts as you go, and visit Twilight Cove and other beaches for fishing and swimming (and scenic viewing), the wind farm and the Pink Lake.
This archipelago is scattered across the bay. You can take a tour or charter a boat to enjoy the clear water, perhaps see porpoises and whales, dive or snorkel. Some of the larger islands have camping facilities, but you can enjoy a beach picnic on most of the islets.
Tour this working farm with its acres of protea plants. You will see buffalo, deer, elk, alpacas, ostriches, kangaroos, emus, camels, cattle and sheep. Located 20 km from Esperance, the farm is closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays, except during school holidays.
The longest driving day of the trip, today you will travel 391 km northwest (about 4 1/2 hours) via the Coolgardie Esperence and Goldfields Highway to Kalgoorlie. Kalgoorlie's Golden Mile had the richest concentration of gold anywhere. Now that Mile is a huge open pit. Located on the Nullarbor Plain, Kalgoorlie is filled with historic buildings from the era of the independent prospector, so do take some time just to mosey about.
Where to Stay
Prospector Holiday Park
Located off of the Great Eastern Highway and 3km from the center of Kalgoorlie, this pet-friendly park offers a camp kitchen, children's playground, swimming pool, BBQ areas, and a TV and Internet room. Choose from ensuite cabins, standard cabins, ensuite rooms, and powered and unpowered sites for campers and caravans.
Kalgoorlie Accommodation Village
Located in gold rush country only five km from the center of Kalgoorlie, this park offers a saltwater swimming pool, free BBQs, camp kitchen, baby's bathroom, in-house movies in cabins, a modern amenities block, children's playground, laundry facilities, Internet kiosk, tour bookings, and a bus stop at the park's entrance. Choose from superior cabins, deluxe cabins, standard ensuite and non-standard ensuite sites, and powered and unpowered sites. This park is managed by Beston Parks. (www.bestonparks.com.au)
Prospect for Gold
You can fossick on vacant crown land or with permission of the leaseholder or owner. Do be sure to ask permission; many people will not permit you to fossick on their land. Visit the International Lapidary for local advice and for metal detectors.
Western Australia Museum, Kalgoorlie-Boulder
In Boulder, this museum includes restored miner's cottages and memorabilia to recreate the early social history of Kalgoorlie. Be sure to see the wooden bicycle and the gold nuggets. You can climb the headframe from the Old Ivanhoe mine, and stop at the British Arms Hotel in the museum to see what was once the smallest pub is Australia. (www.museum.wa.gov.au/oursites/kalgoorlie/kalgoorlie.asp)
The Pit Mine
The Kalgoorlie-Boulder Super Pit has yielded over 1000 tons of gold over the last 100 years. You will get the best photos during the middle of the day, so parts of the huge pit are not in shadow. You can get blast times at the Kalgoorlie Visitor Centre.
Drive 334 km west (about four hours) to the heart of the Wheatbelt. Merredin, with its sweeping vistas, is an artistic center with a significant military history. Hike the Merredin Peak Heritage Trail, take one of the Rock Hop routes to see local wildflowers and birds, and stop by the Old Railway Station where the clay bricks are rumored to have gold in them.
Where to Stay
Merredin Caravan Park
Located with the Av-A-Rest Village off of the Great Eastern Highway, this park features a swimming pool, laundry facilities, children's playground, and tourist information centre. Choose from cabins, on-site vans, powered and unpowered sites, and backpacker units. New fully self-contained units are available at the Av-A-Rest Village, which feature a patio, native garden, and a TV and DVD in the common lounge area. (www.wheatbelttourism.com/en/Accommodation/Merredin.htm)
Southern Cross Caravan Park
Located in Southern Cross just off the Great Eastern Highway between Merredin and Perth, this park features a swimming pool and BBQ areas. Choose from ensuite cabins, self-contained cabins, and camping sites.
You can easily see the 50-foot tall water tower from the Great Eastern Highway. Built in 1893, it provided water for steam locomotives until the 1960's. The Merredin Military Museum is next to the water tower. Also in the park is the Merredin Museum with displays on steam trains, the Army hospital and pioneer women.
Arts and Crafts
Local artists display their work at the Country Nostalgia Gallery. You will find pottery, glassware, wood and ironwork, stained glass and bush furniture. Do find the community-built mosaic at the roundabout on the Kalgoorlie end of Barrack Street and the mosaic at the Council Offices on the corner of Barrack and King Streets, which was designed by local artist Ann Sutherland.
The Zig Zag Wildflower Garden showcases local and rare plant species, including the endangered Sandpaper Wattle. The herbarium of local plant species will also help you identify the wild flowers you are seeing. The garden is always open; check with the Merredin Visitor Centre to tour the herbarium.
Drive 262 km west (about 3 hours) back to your starting point. Perth, on the Swan River between the Indian Ocean and the Darling Range, is the capital of Western Australia. Perth is famous for its cultural scene, with His Majesties Theatre, the Western Australian Art Gallery and the Perth Concert Hall. Beaches and sports, especially cricket, and the Mediterranean climate bring residents and visitors outside.
Where to Stay:
Discovery Holiday Park - Perth
Located on a scenic drive only 20 minutes from Perth, this park features a free BBQ station, camp kitchen, tourist information center, modern amenities block, and a TV and game room. Choose from accommodations ranging from luxurious spa villas, to budget standard cabins. Caravan sites include premium pull through, standard powered and unpowered, and grassy campsites. (www.perthinternational.com.au)
Perth Vineyards Holiday Park
Perth Vineyards Holiday Park is considered the Gateway to Perth, located only 14 km from the city. Situated in the picturesque Swan Valley wine region, it is easily accessible from major highways. This Big4 park offers features a convenience store, rec room, camp kitchen, Internet kiosk, children's playground, BBQ area and a swimming pool. Choose from self-contained units, ensuite family cabins, standard cabins, ensuite van sites, and powered and unpowered van sites. (perth-vineyards-holiday-park.wa.big4.com.au)
Just 20 km from downtown Perth, and on your way to Busselton, is Fremantle. Fremantle Prison is the biggest structure in Western Australia that convicts built. Guided tours show prison life, including art and humor, punishment and execution, escapes and the everyday. If you're feeling adventurous, book a torchlight tour. Leaving at sunset, this tour covers the darker side of the prison, complete with ghost stories and a few surprises! (www.fremantleprison.com.au)
Western Australia Museum
The Western Australia Museum's exhibits will introduce you to prehistoric times through fossils and Aboriginal artifacts, as well as modern flora and Fauna. Don't miss the recently discovered giant marsupial lion, Thylacoleo. (www.museum.wa.gov.au)
Aquarium of Western Australia
Twenty minutes north of Perth at Hillary's Boat Harbour, visit the Aquarium of Western Australia, which is the largest aquarium in Australia and has the biggest collection of Western Australian Marine life in the world. Qualified divers may swim with the sharks on the living coral reefs. Everyone can observe the sea life and pet the seals. (www.aqwa.com.au)
End of Trip
Return your campervan and begin working on that scrapbook!