Go West: Perth to Esperance travel guide

You’ve ticked off a few of the great Aussie driving holidays, but have you taken on the Great South West road trip? It’s more than a thousand kilometres of epic beaches, amazing wines and incredible scenery.


Aerial view of a bright pink body of water surrounded by bush near the ocean, Lake Hillier, Recherche Archipelago, WA

This is one of Australia’s premier driving routes taking in the magnificent coastline of southwest Western Australia, as well as ancient forests, wine regions (including Margaret River, which you can find out more about here) and even a touch of the outback on the way home. The best advice when taking on the Perth to Esperance drive is to give yourself enough time to enjoy it all – that means more than a week. In fact, two weeks is a much better option. You’ll want to spend some quality time in Esperance. Dip into the ocean at the many gorgeous beaches around the town or pay a visit to the replica of Stonehenge. It also faces the Recherche Archipelago, a smattering of uninhabited islands that can be explored on a boat cruise. If you’ve got time (and the funds) take a scenic flight over Middle Island and the bright pink Lake Hillier.


Aerial view of six killer whales (orcas) swimming in the ocean, Bremer Bay, Western Australia

Time your trip right because from late January to early April you can join an expedition from Bremer Bay to check out the largest pod of killer whales thought to reside in the southern hemisphere. You’ll spend all day spotting these incredible creatures, as well sperm whales, pilot whales, dolphins, seals, oceanic birds and other creatures that reside in the huge Bremer Canyon about 50 kilometres offshore. From July to November, join a whale watching tour to see calving southern right whales.


  1. There are tall trees, then there’s the tingle forest, near Walpole. Stop and be amazed at the size of the fire-hollowed Giant Tingle Tree, more than 50 metres high. You can also head to the Valley of the Giants Tree Top Walk that meanders 40 metres above the ground to give a completely different perspective of the forest, where some of the trees are thought to be 400 years old.

  2. Be sure to make some time to stop at cellar doors throughout the Great Southern, Australia’s largest wine region by area. Made up of five sub-regions, each of which produces distinctive styles, it has about 50 wineries in all, many of which have visitor facilities. Recommended is West Cape Howe Wines, near Mount Barker, which offers tastings, but also serves up pizza, platters and coffee roasted onsite.

  3. While there’s no end to the beautiful beaches along this part of the coast, be sure to spend time in Denmark, where you won’t be able to tear yourself away from the water. Check out neighbouring Greens Pool and Elephant Rocks. The former, sheltered from the ocean, is a great place for swimming and snorkelling; at the latter, leap off boulders into the water.

  4. It’s the oldest colonial settlement in Western Australia, and the point from where Australia’s soldiers first left for the battlefields of World War I. There is plenty of evidence of Albany’s age on its streets. Follow the Amity Trail to see prisons that once held convicts from far-off lands, pretty churches and heritage cottages. Just out of town is Albany’s Historic Whaling Station, a museum that includes a restored whaling boat and whale processing factory.

  5. If dazzling aquamarine waters and kangaroos hopping across pristine white sand beaches sounds like the makings of the perfect spot to relax, your itinerary should include Cape Le Grand National Park. The beach in question is Lucky Bay, but you can also climb Frenchmans Peak for great views.


Six Degrees

At Six Degrees in Albany, you can choose between motel-style digs or upgraded boutique rooms, some with views of the harbour. There’s also a restaurant, bar and beer garden onsite, with DJs and bands appearing on the weekend.

Quaalup Homestead Wilderness Retreat

Set in the Fitzgerald River National Park, not far from Bremer Bay, is Quaalup Homestead Wilderness Retreat. With a range of rooms, cabins and campsites available on the 16-hectare property, it offers the perfect opportunity to get away from it all.

Esperance Chalet Village

A-frame beach shacks have been upgraded at the adults-only Esperance Chalet Village. It’s bright and white, with lots of luxuries and nature all around. And it’s just a short stroll from Esperance Bay.


View across a beach to an island as sun sets; the sky is shades of orange and pink, Esperance, Western Australia

This is quite the drive. The first thing to do is book a vehicle with Apex Car Rentals to pick up at Perth Airport when you arrive. The journey to Esperance along the coast covers about 1,100 kilometres and you should leave at least a week to get there, as well as a couple of days to explore Esperance and two days to drive back.


People exploring a sandstone rock formation in the shape of a large wave, Wave Rock, near Lake Magic, Western Australia

You have to get back from Esperance, so take the shorter route – it’s just over 700 kilometres – cutting through Western Australia’s Wheatbelt. It’s possible to do it in a day, but overnight in Lake King before exploring the surrounding salt lakes and, 120 kilometres closer to Perth, the incredible Wave Rock.