Our beautiful home state of Western Australia is the perfect place for a road trip. Long weekends – a weekend with a public holiday held on the Monday – are also the perfect time to plan a getaway. With no shortage of places to see, the hardest decision is where to go!
Prior to leaving on our around the world adventures, we had the rare opportunity of a long weekend that Mike was home for. I was able to take an extra day off work, so with four days together up our sleeves, we planned a road trip. Having grown up on the coast of the south west of WA, we decided to mix things up a bit and head inland and south, from Perth to my childhood town of Albany. We arranged our long weekend road trip just a few weeks out and were able to do so for a reasonable price!
If you’re looking for some road trip inspiration, this is the route we took and the stops we made – it was a fabulous four days. This is our itinerary for the perfect road trip in WA’s south west.
Day 1: Perth, Pinjarra, Bridgetown, Pemberton
We left Perth in the early hours of a Friday morning, beating the rest of the long weekend traffic. Our first stop for morning tea was the famous Pinjarra Bakery – you have not lived until you’ve tried one of their award-winning sausage rolls!
Continuing on, we made our way to Bridgetown. Bridgetown is a quaint little spot for a wander – we stocked up on sweets at Ooh La Lollipop on the main road, wandered around the Jarrah Park making friends with the ducks before stopping at our favourite spot for lunch – The Cidery. Their Sweet Rosie Apple Cider is a must try!
Our next stop was Gloucester Park, just outside of Pemberton. There are many trails throughout the park for the hiking enthusiast, as well as the Cascades – a series of picturesque waterfalls, and the famous Gloucester Tree. We spent the afternoon exploring the area, before checking into our accommodation around 5PM.
Accommodation: We stayed at Gloucester Motel, rooms starting from $95.00 AUD per night.
Total Distance: 327 kilometres
Day 2: Pemberton, Walpole, Denmark
Setting off early on our second day, we drove to Walpole to explore the Valley of the Giants. A world renowned attraction, the national park is home to soaring tingle forests, with a suspension bridge soaring 40 metres above the ground meandering through the trees. Back on the ground, the Ancient Empire walk gives another perspective of these giant trees. It’s one of the best views we’ve ever come across!
After a road side picnic – we had packed an esky full of snacks to keep our dining costs down over the weekend – we stopped at the nearby Fernhook Falls and explored the Mount Frankland National Park.
En route to Denmark, our next destination, we stopped at The Toffee Factory and Cidery – one must always make a stop for sweets and cider! The peanut brittle is a must try!
Arriving in Denmark late afternoon, we took the scenic Scotsdale Tourist Drive which lead us to the coast and the beautiful Greens Pool. Whilst not as calm and picturesque as it might be on a hot summer’s day, there was something just as beautiful about it on the cold, blustery spring evening. We wandered the beach until the sun began to set…
Our second night was spent at the local hotel – a pub, bottle store and restaurant all in one!
Accommodation: We stayed at the Denmark Hotel, double rooms with shared facilities from $60.00 AUD per night.
Total Distance: 185 kilometres
Day 3: Denmark, Albany
We had an early start on day three – driving 1.5 hours out to the Stirling Range National Park to climb Bluff Knoll – the highest peak in the park and one of the highest in WA. It’s one of the few places in WA with recorded snowfalls!
Bluff Knoll is a 6 kilometre round trip, taking 3 – 4 hours. A cold and drizzly day, we rugged up as we took off, but it wasn’t long until we were stripping back the layers – climbing Bluff Knoll was no easy feat, and we were sweating despite the cold! It was two hours before we reached the top, the rain lightly sprinkling, surrounded by clouds. Whilst it would have been a fantastic view on a clear day, there was something magical about being so high up in amongst the clouds.
The trek back down took around an hour, and whilst not as physically exerting as climbing up, the rocks and steps of varying heights made for a fun experience. Heading back to Albany, we picked up some German tourists and offered them a ride back into town as the rain was really setting in. We’d never picked up hitchhikers before, but figured one day we’d need someone to help us out of the rain – it’s all about karma!
Accommodation: We stayed at Acclaim Rose Gardens Beachside Holiday Park, in a self-contained chalet. Prices start from $95.00 per night.
Total Distance: 222 kilometres
Day 4: Albany, Perth
Upon waking on the last day of our road trip, we found that we were a little worse for wear after our climbing activities the day before – neither of us could barely walk! Goes to show you can tackle Bluff Knoll with no preparation – but you may pay for it the following day!
We headed towards the coast, stopping at Torndirrup National Park to see the sight known as ‘The Gap’ and ‘Natural Bridge’ – natural granite rock formations. Visiting the park was testament to just how powerful the ocean is – seeing the erosion of the area and feeling it’s power was mind-blowing. Also in the area are the ‘blowholes’ – deep crevasses in the rocks reaching the ocean below. As the waves crash, the holes ‘blow’ air and water up the channel creating a whoosh sound. Don’t get too close – you’ll get very wet!
Before making the long journey back home, we stopped by my childhood homes in Albany – they were exactly as I remembered! A visit for a photo by Dog Rock was also a stop we had make!
It’s around a four hour drive from Albany back to Perth, but there’s no shortage of beautiful road side stops – we stopped by a canola field that was so picture perfect, it actually looked like a Windows screensaver!
Total Distance: 449 kilometres
Having grown up taking road trips – a common long weekend activity – this was one of the most special ones we’d taken together. It was a perfect mix of driving through beautiful country side, physical activities and trekking, sightseeing and dining at some spectacular local eateries. If you call WA home, or want to visit – this is the perfect road trip in WA’s south west!
We’ve listed above the accommodation we stayed in – at the time, we found these to be the cheapest options though prices may have changed.
A road trip is not possible without a reliable vehicle, however there is no need for a 4WD – we managed all the tracks in the national parks easily with Mike’s Holden Commodore SV6, but a smaller vehicle would do just fine. If you don’t own a car, you can easily rent one through one of numerous vehicle hire businesses in Perth, and rent it at the end of your road trip.
If you’re a first time visitor to Australia, you’ll quickly realise it’s not a cheap destination like Asia. However, the quality of accommodations, vehicles, food and activities is first-class. Plus, all our national parks our free – the odd one may charge a vehicle fee or camping fee, but the natural beauty of our country – and there’s lots of it – can be enjoyed at no cost!
Fuel Costs: $150.00
Activities: $30.00 (Valley of the Giants)
Food: Approximately $150.00 for four days – this cost is completely dependant on where you choose to eat and how much you wish to spend. We were able to spend a little less as we filled an esky full of food like crackers, cheeses, olives, meats, fruits and other nibbles for lunches and snacks.
Total Spend: Approximately $580.00 AUD or $290.00 per person – equating to $72.50 per day.
Note: Vehicle hire would increase the cost.
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