dolphins in the canals

Local’s Perth to Margaret River Road Trip Guide 2024

Are you looking for a road trip with beautiful scenery, great food, and plenty of adventures? Look no further than a Perth to Margaret River Road Trip. This route takes you from Perth along the stunningly beautiful coast and through spectacular forests winding its way to the picturesque town of Margaret River. Along the way, you’ll find plenty of wineries, scenic lookouts, and even a few hidden gems.

David was born in Western Australia and I have lived here for over 20 years. The Margaret River region has always been one of my favourite places as it reminds me a little bit of England (where I was born).

🤩 To Book Tours Direct with the Tour Operators, click the links in the box below


aerial photo of a rugged coastline
Yallingup coastline by Tourism Western Australia

Perth to Margaret River Road Trip Map

a map showing the route from perth to margaret river

Car Hire for a Perth to Margaret River Road Trip

Perth to Margaret River Road Trip Stops

Depending on your interests and what you’ve already seen, use these Perth to Margaret River road trip stops to plan your itinerary and overnight accommodation. You can get from Perth to Margaret River in about three hours, but you will miss out on some incredible experiences.

Penguin Island

aerial view of penguin island surrounded by emerald green ocean
Penguin Island Wildlife Cruise with Perth Wildlife Encounters by Tourism Western Australia

Penguin Island, located 700 m off the coast of Rockingham, is an amazing place where you can see wild penguins up close. Only 45 minutes south of Perth city, Penguin Island is part of Shoalwater Islands Marine Park and home to more than 1200 little penguins! This guide provides all the information on Penguin Island.

Book tickets for a Dolphin, Penguin and Sea Lion Cruise, which allows you the opportunity to spot dolphins, penguins, and sea lions on a leisurely tour. The ticket price includes:

  • Complimentary photos from your cruise uploaded to Flickr
  • A 60-minute cruise around the Shoalwater Islands Marine Park
  • Return ferry transfers to and from Penguin Island
  • Penguin Feeding Show held by the rangers at 10:30 am, 12:30 pm and 2:30 pm daily

If you just want the ferry over to Penguin Island, you can book here.

Mandurah

Only 35 minutes from Rockingham is canal-lined Mandurah.

The Peel-Harvey Estuary has abundant wildlife, including dolphins, and the most popular way to see them is on a dolphin cruise. This 75-minute tour departs several times during the day and offers the chance to spot dolphins in the calm waterways and many of the 130 bird species that live in the Creery Wetlands.

dolphins in the canals
Dolphins in Mandurah’s canals

This Pirate Cruise is a fun way for those with children to explore the canals and hopefully see the wild bottlenose dolphins. You also have the chance to steer the pirate wheel and ring the bell as you cruise Mandurah’s canals.

pirate cruise boat docked with people getting on
Mandurah’s Pirate Cruise

If you decide to stay overnight in Mandurah, consider this 90-minute Sunset Cruise aboard the two-story Dancing Dolphin.

a boat called dancing dolphin cruising through the water
Dancing Dolphin departing Mandurah

Lake Clifton

Lake Clifton is 30 minutes from Mandurah, with a slight detour off Forrest Highway. Here you can see the incredible thrombolites, living, breathing rock-like structures, viewed from a wooden boardwalk and lookout.

Read this guide on things to do in Lake Clifton for more information.

thrombolites seen through crystal clear water on a blue skied sunny day
Lake Clifton thrombolites

Bunbury

Leaving Lake Clifton, travel along Forrest Highway for about 50 minutes, and you will be in Bunbury.

Locals tip: The Crooked Carrot along Forrest Highway in Myalup is an excellent place to stop for breakfast or lunch with a fresh selection of gourmet pies, salads, rolls and sandwiches, plus delicious hot dishes. However, this popular café is not just about the food, even though it’s amazing. Kids will love the large playground, and you can’t help but find the quirky vintage additions fascinating. The restored trams are beautiful.

This port city is most famous for its Dolphin Discovery Centre, where you may see wild dolphins, or you can take a Dolphin Eco-Cruise.

To find out more about what there is to do, read this Bunbury Travel Guide.

Find out the best places to stay in Bunbury here.

If you plan on spending the night in Bunbury, you can take a detour into the Ferguson Valley and Gnomesville.

sculpture of an aboriginal noongar elder
Sculpture of an Aboriginal Noongar elder in Bunbury

Busselton

Busselton is one of my favourite stops between Perth and Margaret River, especially in summer. The calm bay provides fantastic swimming conditions for children, and the shark net provides that added safety.

There’s always lots to do in and around Busselton, with the Busselton Jetty and the Busselton Underwater Observatory being the main tourist attraction.

For more information, read this guide on things to do in Busselton.

If you’re thinking of extending your stay, this guide on the best accommodation in Busselton will help you find where to book.

the platform on busselton jetty at sunset
Busselton Jetty at sunset

Dunsborough

Just over 20 minutes from Busselton is the trendy town of Dunsborough, on Geographe Bay. This small town is a favourite with tourists and locals who enjoy being close to the beach and the Margaret River region.

My favourite part is Cape Naturaliste, where you will find some of the best beaches in the world, a beautiful lighthouse, and the start of the famous Cape to Cape track.

Read this post on what to do in Dunsborough for more information.

For where to stay, this guide to the best accommodation in Dunsborough will provide some ideas.

people realxing on meelup beach in summer
Meelup Beach near Dunsborough

Yallingup

The laid-back small community of Yallingup, just 10 minutes across the peninsula from Dunsborough, is favoured by surfers due to its world-class surf breaks. The beach is also popular with families due to the sheltered lagoon providing calm conditions.

Yallingup is the start of the Caves Road wineries that line the road to Margaret River. You’ll also find art galleries, caves, breweries, restaurants, luxury accommodation, and more around this area.

This article shares all the best things to do in Yallingup, and find the best places to stay in Yallingup here.

sunset over sugar loaf rock off the coastline
Sunset at Sugar Loaf Rock near Yallingup

Margaret River

The final leg of your Perth to Margaret River road trip is half an hour from Yallingup. The town has a relaxed holiday feel with shops, pubs, cafes, and restaurants lining the main street.

Margaret River is a great place to base yourself to enjoy the local wineries, breweries, tourist attractions, outstanding beaches, mountain bike tracks, and hiking trails.

For a complete list of attractions, read this guide on things to do in Margaret River and the best accommodation in Margaret River for ideas on where to stay.

a stunning bay with beach in Margaret river
Gnarabup Beach Margaret River

Perth to Margaret River Road Trip Packing List

Tips for a Perth to Margaret River Road Trip

  • Leave early in the morning to arrive well before dusk when animals can hinder and danger the roads.
  • Don’t drive tired. If you feel sleepy, pull over at one of the many rest stops on the side of the road.
  • Make sure you have plenty of water for your journey – stay hydrated.
  • Keep some snacks handy.
  • Be prepared that you may lose the radio signal in some parts, so bring some music with you.
  • Know your route and research the best places to stop along the way. Our Western Australia travel guides provide great advice on which hotels, restaurants and attractions to visit.
  • Check for road closures which can be closed due to several factors, including bush fires.
  • If you are towing a caravan, trailer, or boat ensure you know the legal load limit for your vehicle and that it is well secured. The maximum speed limit for a vehicle towing a trailer or caravan is 100 kmph, unless otherwise signposted.
  • Buy a Telstra SIM card as their regional coverage is the best.
  • Road trains (large trucks with up to four carriages) can be as long as 60m so extreme care must be taken if overtaking.
  • Keep up to date with emergency advice on the WA Emergency site.
  • The open road speed limit is 110 km per hour and 50 km per hour in built up areas. However, pay attention to the signs as they often change.
  • It is illegal to touch your mobile phone while driving and all passengers must wear a seatbelt.
  • Carry a first aid kit.
  • It is highly recommended to have a GPS in order to avoid getting lost or download a mapping app like Avenza that provides a map even when you are out of range.
  • Note a list of emergency contacts before you leave.
  • Keep valuables out of sight.

With these considerations in mind, you should be able to enjoy a safe, fun, and memorable road trip from Perth to Margaret River.

Perth to Margaret River Road Trip FAQ

Is it better to stay in Margaret River or Dunsborough?

Read these guides on Margaret River and Dunsborough to find out what to do in each area. Margaret River has more affordable accommodation options and plenty of eateries in town.

How many days should you spend in Margaret River?

You should allow at least three days in Margaret River, but you will need more time if you plan on trying to fit everything into your itinerary.

When is the best time to visit Margaret River?

If you want the beaches, the best time to visit Margaret River is summer. The shoulder months of spring and autumn are a lovely time for hikes, visiting wineries, and the caves.
Winter is cold but choose accommodation with a wood fire to cosy up in front of with a glass of local wine.

We hope you found this article helpful. Please consider booking through one of our links – it won’t cost you anything but will help towards the cost of running this site. Thank you!