the middle of caves road stretching out before you with trees lining each side of the road

Best of the South West Road Trip Itinerary 2023: Locals Guide

Have you been looking for the best of the South West road trip itinerary?

As a proud Perth local, I can’t help but rave about the stunning beauty and incredible experiences awaiting you in Western Australia’s South West region – breathtaking coastlines, world-class wineries, towering forests, and charming towns that will steal your heart.

I’ve been lucky enough to explore these places firsthand through countless road trips and holidays to the region as a couple and with our daughters.

Best of the South West Road Trip Itinerary Summary

Distance: Approximately 245 kilometers (152 miles)

Driving Time: Approximately 2 hours and 45 minutes (excluding stops)

Free day to explore the area

Distance: Approximately 45 km (28 miles)

Driving Time: 35 minutes (excluding stops)

Free day to explore the area

Distance: Approximately 72 km (45 miles)

Driving Time: 90 minutes without stops

Distance: Approximately 190 km (118 miles)

Driving Time: 2 hours 15 minutes (excluding stops)

Distance: Approximately 55 km (34 miles)

Driving Time: 45 minutes

Explore Albany & surrounds

Distance: Approximately 420 km (261 miles)

Driving Time: 4 hours 45 minutes

Day 1 Best of the South West Road Trip: Perth to Dunsborough

🛣️ Distance: Approximately 245 km (152 miles)

🚘 Driving Time: Approximately 2 hours and 45 minutes (excluding stops)

⏰ 8:00 AM: Depart from Perth

Morning: Bunbury

⏰ 10:00 AM: Arrive in Bunbury

  • After driving for about 175 kilometers (109 miles) from Perth, you’ll arrive in Bunbury.
  • Spend around 2 hours here – see this list of things to do in Bunbury.
  • Head to the Dolphin Discovery Centre located on Koombana Drive, where you can join a dolphin eco cruise at 12 pm – prebook here.
  • Enjoy the 90-minute boat ride and observe these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat.
  • 2pm Depart Bunbury for Busselton.

🐬 Book Dolphin Eco-Cruise Direct here

Afternoon: Busselton

🛣️ Distance from Bunbury to Busselton is approximately 60 km (37 miles).

🚘 Driving Time: Approximately 45 minutes, depending on traffic and road conditions.

the red train you to the busselton jetty underwater observatory
Busselton Jetty Train

⏰ 2:45 PM: Arrive in Busselton

  • Arrive in Busselton, home to the iconic Busselton Jetty, stretching an impressive 1.8 kilometres into Geographe Bay.
  • Take a leisurely walk along the jetty, enjoying the scenic views of the coastline.
  • If you prefer, you can choose to take the jetty train to the end and back, saving some time.
  • Spend approximately 1 to 2 hours exploring – see things to do in Busselton for ideas – before leaving for Dunsborough.

Evening: Dunsborough

🛣️ Distance from Busselton to Dunsborough is around 22 kilometers (14 miles)

🚘 Driving Time: Approximately 20 to 30 minutes

small catamrans for hire with brightly coloured sails
Dunsborough Foreshore
  • Check into your accommodation (for 2 nights) and take some time to relax and freshen up.
  • As the day winds down, treat yourself to dinner at one of Dunsborough’s local eateries. Some of my favourites include Clancy’s Fish Pub (a bit out of town), Blue Manna Bistro, and Yarri.
  • Plan your itinerary for tomorrow with this guide on things to do in Dunsborough.

🏨 See Dunsborough Accommodation choices here

Day 2 Best of the South West Road Trip: Explore Cape Naturaliste & Yallingup

Morning: Cape Naturaliste

a white lighthouse on cape naturaliste
Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse
  • Start your day with breakfast at a local café.
  • Head towards Cape Naturaliste, which is about a 15-minute drive from Dunsborough.
  • Explore the Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse: Take a guided tour of the lighthouse and learn about its history and significance. Enjoy panoramic views of the coastline from the top of the lighthouse (you may even spot whales during their migration season).
  • Take a walk along the Cape Naturaliste Heritage Trail: This scenic trail offers stunning views of the coastline and is a great opportunity for birdwatching and wildlife spotting.
  • Or if you prefer beaches, stop at one of the many stunning ones along the coast like Meelup Beach.

Book Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse Direct Here

Afternoon: Yallingup

the ocean rushing between rocks at canal rocks
Canal Rocks
  • Drive to Yallingup, which is approximately a 20-minute drive from Cape Naturaliste.
  • Have lunch at one of the local restaurants/cafes near Yallingup.
  • Spend some time at Yallingup Beach: Relax on the sandy beach, swim in the clear waters of the lagoon, or try your hand at surfing if you’re feeling adventurous (Yallingup is known for its excellent surf breaks).
  • Visit a winery for wine tasting or see Canal Rocks and Injidup Natural Spa.

Evening: Sugarloaf Rock

sunset over sugar loaf rock off the coastline
Sugarloaf Rock at sunset
  • Enjoy the sunset at Sugarloaf Rock: Drive back towards Cape Naturaliste to witness the breathtaking sunset at Sugarloaf Rock. This iconic rock formation provides a stunning backdrop for photography enthusiasts.
  • Head back to Dunsborough for dinner.
  • If you’re interested, you can spend the evening stargazing. Dunsborough and the surrounding area are known for their dark skies, making it a great location for observing the stars.

Day 3 Best of the South West Road Trip: Dunsborough to Margaret River

🛣️ Distance: Approximately 45 km (28 miles)

🚘 Driving Time: 35 minutes (excluding stops)

Morning: Cowaramup

a black and white cow sculpture in cowaramup near margaret river western australia also known as cow town
  • Head to Margaret River via Bussell Highway and stop in Cowaramup, also know as Cow Town. Stroll through this small town and take photos of the cow sculptures or have a coffee in one of the cafes that line the street.

Mid-Morning: Margaret River Beaches

a stunning bay with beach in Margaret river
Gnarabup Beach
  • Visit a nearby beach: Margaret River is known for its beautiful coastline. Spend some time at one of the stunning Margaret River beaches like Gnarabup Beach, Redgate Beach, or Prevelly Beach.

Afternoon: Wineries

western australia expert with wine purchased at howard park winery margaret river after wine tasting
  • Discover the region’s wineries: Margaret River is renowned for its world-class wineries. Choose a few vineyards to visit and enjoy wine tasting sessions. Some popular options include Leeuwin Estate, Voyager Estate, Howard Park, and Vasse Felix.

Optional: To enjoy more wine tastings consider a wine tour for tomorrow.

🍷 Book your Margaret River Wine Tour Direct Here

Evening: Dinner in Margaret River

three beers in a tasting paddle at margarewt river beerhosue brewery
Beer Tasting Paddle at Margaret River Brewhouse
  • Have dinner at one of the many eateries in Margaret River. Some of our favourites include Margaret River Brewhouse, Swings & Roundabouts, La Scarpetta Trattoria, and Morries.

🏨 See Margaret River Accommodation Here

Day 4 Best of the South West Road Trip: Explore Margaret River

If you’re not going on a wine tour today, you can check this list of things to do in Margaret River or choose the itinerary below.

Morning: Hamelin Bay or Whale Watch Cruise

🐳Book Whale Watching Cruise Direct Here

eagle ray close up in hamelin bay wa
Stingray at Hamelin Bay
  • If you’re visiting during the warmer months, head to Hamelin Bay early for the chance to spot a stingray close to shore. Avoid touching or feeding them, though, as it can disrupt their natural behaviour and potentially harm them.

Local tip: Stingrays are more likely to be spotted on sunny days when the water is calm and clear. Early mornings are a good time to see them as the water is usually calmer and there are fewer people around.

Lunch: Winery or Brewery

long wooden table inside the restaurant at swings and roundabouts winery margaret river
Swings & Roundabouts (cellar door)

Afternoon: Caves

❤️ Book Your Cave Tour Direct Here

Evening: Sunset & Dinner

  • See the sunset at one of the beaches then have dinner in Margaret River, trying a different restaurant or enjoying a casual meal at a pub.
  • Plan your itinerary for tomorrow with this guide on Pemberton.

Day 5 Best of the South West Road Trip: Margaret River to Pemberton

🛣️ Distance: Approximately 72 km (45 miles)

🚘 Driving Time: 90 minutes without stops

⏰ 8AM Depart Margaret River

Start your day early from Margaret River. Grab some breakfast to-go or pack a picnic lunch for later in the day.

Head east on Bussell Highway (State Route 10) toward Nannup and enjoy the scenic drive through the picturesque countryside.

Morning: Nannup & Pemberton

⏰ 8:45AM Arrive in Nannup. Stop for a coffee or stretch your legs before continuing on to Pemberton.

⏰ 9:30AM Leave Nannup and arrive in Pemberton about 10:30AM

a lookout over beedelup falls surrounded by trees
Beedelup Falls
  • Explore Pemberton – our highlights were Beedulup Falls, Big Brook Dam walk, The Cascades, and Warren National Park. Stop somewhere picturesque for a picnic.

Afternoon: Pemberton

tall karri tree with people climbing the pegs
Dave Evans Bicentennial Tree in Warren National Park
  • After lunch, continue exploring the stunning area of Pemberton and check into your overnight accommodation.

Family option: Manjimup Heritage Park

Evening: Pemberton

🤩 Book your Pemberton Accommodation Here

Day 6 Best of the South West Road Trip: Pemberton to Walpole & Denmark

🛣️ Distance: Approximately 190 km (118 miles)

🚘 Driving Time: 2 hours 15 minutes (excluding stops)

Another early start leaving from Pemberton to Walpole along National Route 1. It will take about 90 minutes to reach Walpole.

Morning: Walpole

the steel structure of tree top walk above the tree canopy
Valley of the Giants Treetop Walk, Walpole
  • Head to the Valley of the Giants Treetop Walk, an elevated walkway taking you through the canopy of towering tingle trees, with stunning views of the surrounding forest. Take your time to explore the Ancient Empire Walk and the interpretive centre to learn about the unique flora and fauna of the region.
  • After the treetop walk, drive to Walpole-Nornalup National Park and visit the Hilltop Lookout, the Giant Tingle Tree, and Circular Pool. This picturesque spot is known for its crystal-clear waters and tranquil surroundings. Take a short walk along the trail to reach the pool and enjoy the peaceful atmosphere.

Leave Walpole and drive the 45 minutes to Denmark.

Lunch: Denmark

view of a country town
  • Stop in town for some lunch and stock up any essentials or food you may need.

Afternoon: Denmark

view of a sand beach with calm turquoise water and large granite boulders
Greens Pool
  • Visit Greens Pool, one of the most stunning beaches in Western Australia. Its calm turquoise waters and large granite boulders make it a perfect spot for swimming, snorkelling, or relaxing.
  • Take a short drive to William Bay National Park and explore Elephant Rocks. These enormous granite rocks resemble a herd of elephants bathing in the ocean.
  • If you want to visit a winery, Singlefile Wines is one of our favourites or Boston Brewery for some great beer and food (plus a children’s playground).

Family option: Pentland Alpaca Farm

Evening: Denmark

🤩 Book your Denmark Accommodation Here

Day 7 Best of the South West Road Trip: Denmark to Albany

🛣️ Distance: Approximately 55 km (34 miles)

🚘 Driving Time: 45 minutes

Head towards Albany but turn off South Coast Highway to Torndirrup National Park.

Morning & Lunch: Torndirrup National Park, Albany

turquoise white water gushing through a gap in huge granite boulders
The Gap, Torndirrup National Park
  • Drive to the Gap and Natural Bridge in Torndirrup National Park to see the powerful ocean waves crashing against the granite cliffs. If the weather is nice, stop at Misery Beach for a swim. Another option is hiking or running the Bald Head Trail – a challenging 12.5 km return trail on the Flinders Peninsula.
a trail leading high up a large hill on a peninsula with stunning beaches either side
Bald Head Trail, Torndirrup National Park
  • Enjoy a picnic lunch at Frenchman Bay or at one of the many scenic spots in the national park.

Afternoon: Albany Heritage Park

an outdoor museum of military guns and misiles
Albany Heritage Park
  • Visit the National Anzac Centre, a state-of-the-art museum that provides an immersive experience of Australia’s involvement in WWI. Learn about the stories of the ANZAC soldiers and enjoy panoramic views of King George Sound.

🤩 Book National ANZAC Tickets Direct Here

  • After, explore the rest of the Albany Heritage Park including the Desert Mounted Corps Memorial, Padre White Lookout, Apex Lookout, Princess Royal Fortress, and Convoy Lookout.

Evening: Albany

  • Have dinner at one of the many restaurants in Albany.

🤩 Book Albany Accommodation Here

Day 8 Best of the South West Road Trip: Albany

crystal clear water in a small white sand bay with rocky outcops in the background
Waterfall Beach, Two Peoples Bay
  • Read this guide on things to do in Albany and plan your day accordingly. You may want to explore Two Peoples Bay with a stop at Little Beach, take the kids to Emu Point, go on a whale watching tour, hike one of the incredible trails, or enjoy a drink at Wilson Brewing.
aerial view of a walkway going around the outside of a massive granite rock
Castle Rock by Tourism Western Australia
  • The Granite Skywalk at Castle Rock is an excellent hike in the Porongurup National Park and only a 35-minute drive from Albany.

Day 9 Best of the South West Road Trip: Return to Perth

🛣️ Distance: Approximately 420 km (261 miles)

🚘 Driving Time: 4 hours 45 minutes

Morning: Williams

street art of the williams wool truck on the way from Perth to Albany
  • Start your day early and grab some breakfast at a local café in Middleton Beach or Albany.
  • Begin your journey north on Albany Highway, heading towards Perth.
  • Stop at the historic town of Williams, approximately 2 hours 40 minutes from Albany. If you don’t have any food, pick some up here.

Afternoon: Araluen Botanical Park

pink tulips and yellow and red tulips in gardens
Araluen Botanic Park – Perth tulips
  • Resume your journey towards Perth, and as you approach the town of Armadale, consider making a detour to visit Araluen Botanic Park. It’s a beautiful garden showcasing a variety of native and exotic plants and is especially beautiful in spring with thousands of tulips.
  • After exploring Araluen Botanic Park, head back to Albany Highway and continue your drive towards Perth.

Consider ending your Best of the South West tour with a night or two at one of Perth’s best city hotels.

Best Time to Visit WA’s South West

The best time to visit Western Australia’s South West region is generally during spring (September to November) and autumn (March to May). These months offer milder temperatures, pleasant weather, and fewer crowds compared to the peak summer season. Here are some factors to consider:

Spring (September to November)

  • Wildflowers: The region is renowned for its stunning wildflower displays during spring, particularly in September and October. The countryside bursts with colourful blooms, creating a picturesque landscape.
  • Mild weather: Spring offers comfortable temperatures, usually ranging from 15 to 25 °C (59 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit). It’s a great time for outdoor activities like hiking, exploring national parks, and visiting wineries.

Autumn (March to May)

  • Mild weather: Similar to spring, autumn offers pleasant temperatures ranging from 15 to 25°C (59 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit). It’s ideal for outdoor activities and exploring the region without the scorching heat of summer.

Summer (December to February) attracts more visitors due to school holidays and warmer temperatures, which can reach high 30s to low 40s (86 to 104 degrees Fahrenheit). If you prefer hotter weather and don’t mind larger crowds, summer is a great time to visit the region’s beaches and enjoy water activities.

Ultimately, the best time to visit depends on your preferences, whether you prioritise specific activities like wildflower viewing, and your tolerance for hot weather.

a white sand beach with calm turquoise ocean on a partly cloudy day
Misery Beach, Albany

Getting Around WA’s South West

The best way to get around Western Australia’s South West region is by car, as it provides flexibility and convenience to explore the area at your own pace. If you’re arriving in Perth by air, hiring a car from Perth Airport is a convenient option. Several car rental companies operate from the airport, offering a range of vehicle options to suit your needs.

Once you have your rental car, you can easily navigate the South West region using well-maintained roads and highways. The region is known for its scenic drives, and having a car allows you to visit popular destinations like Albany, Margaret River, and the national parks at your leisure. Remember to plan your routes, check road conditions, and observe speed limits and other traffic regulations.

🤩 Compare Rental Cars Here

Must-Visit Destinations in the South West

Some of the must-visit destinations in the South West region include Albany, Margaret River, Denmark, Busselton, Pemberton, and Dunsborough. These places offer stunning natural landscapes, beautiful beaches, renowned wineries, and unique attractions.

huge granite boulders that resemble elephants looking out to sea with turquoise water and green grass
Elephant Rocks, Denmark


How many days in WA’s South West?

It depends on how much time you have and the specific places you want to visit. Ideally, allocating at least 7 days will allow you to explore the main highlights. However, if you have more time, extending your trip will allow for a more relaxed and immersive experience.

Are there any specific attractions or activities suitable for families in the South West region?

Yes, the South West region offers various family-friendly attractions. You can visit animal farms, parks, and mazes. Enjoy swimming at family-friendly beaches, explore caves, and take scenic hikes suitable for all ages. Additionally, several wineries and breweries provide kid-friendly activities and facilities.

Final Thoughts: Seeing the Best of the South West

This road trip itinerary of the best of the South West is rushed but allows those who don’t have much time to get a feel for the region. However, you will gain more appreciation for Western Australia if you spend more time exploring the South West and places off the beaten track.

If you have any questions, join our Facebook Group and ask our ever-growing community. Or do you have any photos or tips to share?

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