I could have spent an awful lot longer in Western Australia. But as a part time traveller who just wants to see as much as possible, I crammed a 3000km road trip into just 7 days and I loved every single second. This is my 1 week Western Australia itinerary, including where I stopped each night, what there is to see on the route and how we spent our time in our overnight town stops! I designed my trip so I either had a full afternoon or morning in the towns that we stopped at. If you don’t have the time to go from Perth to Exmouth, Perth to Coral Bay is well worth the trip!
Perth to Coral Bay
Duration: 7 days
Month of Travel: April
Method of Travel: Camper van (Toyota HiAce)
Start/Finish Point: Perth International Airport
Highlights: Lancelin Sand Dunes, Nambung National Park, Tropic of Capricorn, Coral Bay (Ningaloo Reef), 26th Parallel, Shell Beach, Monkey Mia, Kalbarri National Park, Hutt Lagoon (Pink Lake)
Western Australia Itinerary
Perth Airport to Lancelin: 144km (approx 1hr45)
When flying in from the UK, on a 24 hour flight, I debated either staying a night in Perth…which I didn’t really have the flexibility with all the other places I wanted to include on the trip, or jump in a Campervan as soon as we landed (at 6am) and hit the road. As you can see, we hit the road, driving just a short distance to Lancelin. We were there well before lunch time so literally spent the day strolling around Lancelin, laying in hammocks and napping!
Accommodation: Lancelin Lodge
The great thing about having a camper like a HiAce, it was small enough to fit in a car parking bay if we decided to actually stay in a hotel rather than camp. Travelling over Easter, I struggled to find places where we could stop for just 1 night. For $15, Lancelin Lodge let us camp in the car park and use the hostel facilities, such as the toilets & showers, WiFi, hammocks and communal kitchen.
Lancelin to Nerren Nerren: 490km (approx 6hrs with stops)
My reason for stopping in Lancelin was because I wanted to go sand boarding at the Lancelin Sand Dunes! We spent the whole morning at the dunes before hitting the road around lunch time. Sand boards can be hired from the petrol station or the little supermarket in town.
A must see on a Western Australia itinerary is the Pinnacles Desert in Nambung National Park, 45 minutes from Lancelin. Here you’ll find lots of bright yellow limestone ‘pillars’ of all shapes and sizes, sticking out of the desert floor.
A fun stop for an hour. We parked up and walked around them, but there is a driving trail too. Entrance to the Namburg National Park is $13 per vehicle (including passengers).
Accommodation: Nerren Nerren Rest Stop.
This can’t really be called accommodation. It’s a giant lay-by area off Highway 1 where you are allowed to camp for free for 24 hours. We chose this particular rest stop because it had toilets, but there was no electric hook up or water. This is where the gas cooker in the camper came in handy and being in the outback we made sure we always carried plenty of water with us. We arrived here just after dark.
Nerren Nerren to Coral Bay: 520km (approx 5hrs)
We left Nerren Nerren straight after breakfast. We stopped at the Tropic of Capricorn sign for a couple of photos on the way to Coral Bay!
Typical scene on a Western Australia road trip!
Things to do in Coral Bay: Arriving at lunch time meant we had the whole afternoon in Coral Bay. Our main reason for visiting the Coral Bay area was to see Ningaloo Marine Park. The best part of the reef is further up closer to Exmouth, but being pushed for time and actually wanting to see something rather than be on the road the whole time, we stopped at Coral Bay on the outskirts of the park. This was the furthest north we went in Western Australia. A straight through drive time from Perth to Coral Bay is around 11 hours 30 minutes.
I had packed my own snorkelling gear so managed to see part of the reef which is easily reached from the beach. I hired a stand up paddle board from a hut on the main beach. It was the first time I’d been stand up paddle boarding and the waters of Coral Bay were perfect, calm and shallow!
Accommodation: Bayview Coral Bay
We stayed on the camp site part of Bayview but they also have rooms available. Pitches were quite small and because of it being Easter weekend, we could only get hold of an unpowered pitch. There was a camp kitchen area that we were able to use though which had power points and appliances. The beach was literally a 1 minute walk away which was awesome!
Coral Bay to Monkey Mia: 580km (approx 6hrs)
Again, we left straight after breakfast. We stopped at the sign for the 26th Parallel (like the Tropic of Capricorn, but the Parallels are the invisible lines that go from north to south!)
From here we turned off Highway 1 into the Shark Bay World Heritage Area. A MUST stop is Shell Beach. From a far it just looks like bright white sand…
but when you get up close, the WHOLE thing is actually millions of little tiny white shells, it’s pretty amazing.
We also went paddling in the water, we waded out for miles and it was still only knee deep and the water was crazy clear!
One of the main reasons for travelling to Western Australia was because I had seen Monkey Mia in a guide book and from that point on it was firmly places on my Western Australia itinerary! The biggest draw to the area is the wild dolphin feeding but this only happens in the morning so we spent the afternoon swimming and laying on the beach! The sea was so calm and blue and everyone just seems to be zoned out scanning the horizon for dolphins, makes it a very relaxing place!
Accommodation: Monkey Mia Dolphin Resort.
Again, we slept in our camper van but the Resort also has a hotel. We had an electric hook up pitch and we could even reach the WiFi from our camper. An ostrich stuck his head into our camper and I screamed so much, it peed right in our doorway. There’s also a swimming pool on site, a large gift shop and a restaurant and takeaway. Without staying at the resort, visitors are required to have a day pass.
Monkey Mia to Kalbarri: 400km (approx 4hrs)
Because of its location, Monkey Mia has great sunrises and sunsets! Seriously, Monkey Mia is home to one of my favourite ever sunrises!
Of course before you hit the road again you have to stick around for the dolphin feeds! There are 3 feeds a day where MOST of the time, wild dolphins will come right up to the waters edge to be fed. A few people in the crowd, will be chosen during each talk, to go and feed the dolphins by hand.
This is limited to encourage the dolphins to go out and hunt for themselves. The fish they are fed literally act like a snack rather than a meal. It’s awesome to be able to get so close to the dolphins and listen to the guide talk about them! We stayed for 2 talks and were still on the road by 10am.
It took around 4 hours to get to Kalbarri from Monkey Mia. We pitched up and then walked into the town to buy some snacks and relax on the beach…or if you’re me, jumping off a jetty into the water!
Kalbarri sits at the mouth of the Murchison River so the main beach area is protected by a bit of a break wall. You can see the waves smashing into it, yet the water on the ‘Kalbarri side’ remains pretty calm!
Accommodation: Kalbarri Tudor Holiday Park. The Holiday Park owner encouraged me and my friend (both adults) to go and play on the giant jumping pillow in the playground at the site, so we spent the first part of the afternoon jumping around on that!
I paid a little extra at this site to get a pitch with our own private toilet and shower building. We could even lock it so we were sure that no one else could come by and use it! It was just a short walk from the beach and the supermarket.
Kalbarri to Ledge Point: 470km (approx 5hrs)
Another must see Western Australia road trip stop is the Kalbarri National Park. It is however, a 26km drive on unpaved roads to reach Nature’s Window. I think it was the roughest road I have ever travelled on!
Just look at that road!
When I visited in April the river was dried up and there were 3 million flies…one even sat on my lip while I was having my photo taken…it was disgusting!
Nature’s Window – Kalbarri National Park
Just like the Nambung National Park, the same fee is required for entry to Kalbarri National Park, $13. There was nobody at the entrance during my visit, so we had to stop and self pay by putting the money in an envelope and placing it in a letter box. It does mean that we did need cash and the correct amount too as there was no way of getting change.
(Perth to Kalbarri is around 6 hours of straight through driving)
Following the coast road from Kalbarri, you’ll reach Pink Lake (aka Hutt Lagoon) at Port Gregory. Pink Lake, really is a lake that’s pink. However depending on things like the time of day and the weather, the water may be really bright pink or not so much! During my visit it was only really the water around the edge of the lake, in the shallow areas, that was pink. This website gives you an idea on the best time to visit Hutt Lagoon.
Accommodation: Ledge Point Holiday Park
Ledge Point is literally just past Lancelin, heading back to Perth. We nearly had the camp site to ourselves and could choose whatever pitch we wanted! There was a swimming pool and a playground. The site was a short walk to the beach, that we stopped at for a little look before heading back to the site via the local shop for an ice cream!
Ledge Point to Perth Airport: 130km (approx 1hr 40)
We had a lunch time flight on to Alice Springs so left Ledge Point at 5.30am to be able to return the camper and get back to the airport in time!
Western Australia Road Trip Tips
There was so much more to see and do in Western Australia, we barely scratched the surface! I feel like the trip I took gave us a nice introduction to the area and the beaches that we stopped at were AMAZING! Coral Bay is home to some of the bluest sea I have ever seen!
- Keep in mind that dawn and dusk are the times of day when wildlife are most likely to be present. There was only one day where we got a bit carried away and ended up driving at night. Thankfully we didn’t see any wildlife (only roadkill) but I would hate to think what damage hitting a kangaroo would have done!
- The roads are long and straight. If it’s possible, switch drivers every couple of hours. Some places have ‘Driver Reviver Rest Stops’ that have free coffee for drivers. We tried to fill up with fuel every time we passed a fuel station just so we always had a full tank. This gave us an excuse to switch drivers too!
- Make sure you have a paper map as well as a GPS. Our GPS actually stopped working during one part of the trip. I had Googled the route before hand so roughly knew where we were going!
Further Australia Reading
Heading to the East Coast too? I’ve got you covered!
Winter in Australia