The Ultimate Guide to Western Australia's Southwest.
Updated: May 12, 2021
Jeromie and I have been itching to get away have had WA on our bucket list for years! We were up for something completely different than we had ever done before- that is renting a camper van and traveling through Western Australia. We were a little overwhelmed by so many places to visit, so found some really good guides on Travis to help us plan our trip. Travis made it super easy by being able to save people's guides onto our moodboard so we could check back at a later time.
First off, we found our trusty camper van, Harry, on Camplify! He's a 15ft Toyota Hiace converted into the cutest space. Complete with running water, a working refrigerator, a charging station, some twinkle lights, and cooking burners...what more could you need? He had a great set up of extra cups, cutlery, plates bowls, and all basic cooking utensils. Harry included bedding and pillows as well as some lightweight towels for showers. He had fairy lights that lit up at night as well! We were so excited to get on the road, but knew there would be lots of driving. Harry held up so well and had no issues with the more rural roads.
We found Harry on Camplify ANZ. It's a website like airbnb for campervans and RV's. You plug in the dates you want, and see what campervans are available. Insurance of the vehicle is included and you contact the owner for any questions about the vehicles. We got super lucky finding Harry! Most of the places we went to were extremely rural too and there weren't many options for hotels, so campervanning seemed like the best option. We were pleasantly surprised with how spacious the van was. Jeromie is over 2 meters tall, and we slept comfortably on the bed. Check out Harry on Camplify here.
We heard that free camping is quite common in WA, but as first time campervanners, we chose to stay at trusty campervan parks. We were surprised by how comfortable and convenient they all were!
Western Australia is SO big, so we knew we needed to confine ourselves by just discovering the Southwest Coast. First stop? Margaret River!
Located only 3 hours south of Perth, this area is really well known for its beautiful wines. But, that's only scratching the surface to what is popular here. Endless beaches and stunning finds, we jam packed our days here to visit Hamelin Bay and some wineries.
On your way down, there's an excellent grocery store called Bunbury Farmers Market. It is the creme-de-la-creme of super markets! We found all of our fresh fruit and vegetables here. They also had these awesome pre-cut stir fry kits that came in super handy for cooking! It saved us a lot of time with chopping vegetables at night!
Also worth noting is the jetty at Bussleton. The Bussleton Jetty is nearly 2 km long and holds an incredible ecosystem of fish and wildlife underneath. It's the longest timber piled jetty in the Southern Hemisphere. It's worth looking at. The beach around it is really nice and it has some incredible parks! They even have a train that will drive up and down the jetty for tours. You can check out more information on their website here.
Hamelin Bay is home to some giant stingrays that will come up close to the shore when the fisherman are nearby. The fisherman will feed the stingrays scraps, so they like to hang around. It's a great beach to visit...We didn't want to leave! Head here in the morning as it does get a little busy!
There is an excellent parking lot here and even a campervan park called Hamelin Bay Holiday Park. Unfortunately, this holiday park was full for the dates that we wanted to book, so we stayed in Augusta at Turner Holiday Park The amenities were fine here with a toilet and shower nearby. Our parking spot was right on the water too and made for a super relaxing morning with coffee with the ducks!
We spent some time visiting a few wineries in the area, but our absolute favorite was Cullen Wines. A completely biodynamic and carbon positive winery, this winery knows what they're doing! We enjoyed their 4 course lunch where we sat out on the patio overlooking the vineyards. It's a bit of a splurge, but I highly recommend this!
Our second night, we stayed at Gracetown Caravan Park as we wanted to be close to the Injidup Natural Spa for sunrise.
The Injidup Natural Spa is a natural pool connected to the ocean. When the wave breaks over the rocks, it flows into the pool creating the look of a champagne bath. The easiest way to find directions to this point is to put the Injidup Natural Spa in our GPS and continue to follow the Wadyup Road to the very end where there's a carpark. This is the exact location found on google maps of Injidup Natural Spa. There is a natural pathway to walk down to the spa from the car park that takes about 5 minutes or so. Make sure you're wearing sturdy shoes because there is a little climbing you have to do over some boulders. We visited during the full moon and it was so stunning to see the moon rise over the spa in the morning! If you're keen for a coastal walk, it does run thought a nice trail along the beaches.
Just three hours south of Margaret River, is the quaint city of Denmark. The drive to Denmark is quite pretty filled with forests and beautiful scenery. If you have the time, I suggest stopping at the Valley of the Giants- a forest of giant tingle trees unique to the area. In 1996, the Tree Top Walk opened. It is a 600m raised walking trail amongst the trees. At the highest point, it reaches 40m. This still doesn't compare to the height of the 70m trees! Click here to view their website and opening times. It's great to spend about an hour at to stretch your legs from driving and enjoy the forest scenery with some of the tallest trees in Australia.
Just a 30 minute drive down the road from Valley of the Giants is William Bay National Park. Inside are the stunning beaches of Elephant Rock and Green's Pool. Parking was very easy and it was just a short walk to these beaches. I loved how quiet the beaches were and how calm the water was. Elephant rock is named due to the giant rocks sticking out of the water that look like the backs of elephants from above.
Another thing to note- in order to visit the national parks in Western Australia- you need to purchase a national park pass. The passes are an entry fee for the vehicle and can accommodate up to 12 people in a car. You can purchase a holiday pass for 4 weeks, 14 days, or 5 days and all national parks are paid for during that allotted time. We found it saved us a lot of money doing this online ahead of time and printing out our pass before we arrived in WA. If you forget, or know that you're only going to visit one national park, you can always pay for a day pass at the park. We chose the 5 day park pass which was only $25. It saved us a lot of money from paying for each individual day. William Bay National Park did require a parking pass for entry. Click here to purchase your own parking pass.
Only an hour away from Denmark is Albany! This is where we stayed for the night at Big 4 Emu Park. This was our favorite campervan park that we stayed at the entire trip! Located 10 minutes from the city of Albany, it was easy to get to. The park was right on the beach too, so we made it just in time to watch sunset. The facilities were super clean and close by to our lot.
We were keen to check out Two People's Bay to see Little Beach for sunrise...and it did not disappoint! One of the most incredible experiences of the trip was watching the sun rise over beach and watch the shades of blue set in! It was magical! The best part? We had the entire beach to ourselves. Be careful when driving during dawn or dusk as this is prime time for kangaroos to be out. We did see a few hop in front of our vehicle as we were driving and had a few near misses. Two People's Bay is also a park that requires a parking pass.
5.5 hours down the coast of Albany is the stunning town of Esperance. Filled with incredible beaches with the clearest blue water, we now know why they're so famous! We began at the Duke of Orleans Bay. This is located another hour and a half outside of Esperance. This beach is extremely rural. There are no towns nearby (other than Esperance) so make sure to stock up on everything you need in Esperance like gas or groceries.
We stayed the night at the Duke of Orleans Bay Caravan Park. This was a more old school "camping" style caravan park. We even spotted a few kangaroos as we were driving in to our lot! We woke up for sunrise and parked Harry with views of Wharton Beach. It was a surreal spot for our morning coffee! Our favorite beaches were Wharton and little Wharton. If you do have a 4WD car, you're able to drive your car on the beach for the ultimate beach hang.
Another famous National Park just outside of Esperance is Cape Le Grand National Park. To say this was our favorite spot would be an understatement. I've never witnessed such beautiful beaches! Make sure to visit Hellfire. The water was the clearest shades of blue. Cape Le Grand National Park also requires a parking pass.
We spent most of our time at this beach, but also enjoyed Lucky Bay. It's rumored that you can spot a few kangaroos on the beach of Lucky Bay. We went at sunset to see if we could find any, but unfortunately, we were unsuccessful. I think sunrise might be a better time to spot them. Overlooking Lucky Bay is an epic campervan park, The Lucky Bay Campground where you wake up with the most stunning beach views. This is such a popular campground and is always booked out, so make sure to plan ahead on this one! It was booked out for us, so we chose to stay in Esperance at Esperance Bay Holiday Park. It was in a great location and very central to Esperance the town.
In Esperance, our favorite beaches were Wylie Bay, Twilight Beach, Blue Haven, and West Beach. All beaches had adequate parking lots and great views! There are so many beaches to chose from, so I don't think you could go wrong with any!
We definitely didn't want to leave Esperance, but on our way back, stopped in the small town of Hyden. It's a 8 hour drive direct from Esperance and Perth and Hyden seems to be the middle mark at 4 hours. It's known for this giant wave formation called Wave Rock. It's a rock millions of years old formed by erosion and water drop off that has created a 15 m wave nearly 110 m long. It's a pretty iconic spot and great to stretch your legs there! Be aware of the flies though! We felt we could only stay for a few minutes because the flies were swarming us! Click here for exact location of Wave Rock on Google maps.
When To Go
We did our whole road trip at the end of March- beginning of April and it was perfect! The water was still super warm from the summer, but the days weren't boiling hot. We did have a few flies that would swarm us on the beaches, but apparently this is much worse in the peak of summer.
We were able to complete our entire road trip in 6 days, but I would recommend a full 8-10 days. I would have spent extra days in Margaret River and Albany area as well as one extra day in Esperance.
The driving is quite lengthy, so having those extra days would allow you to relax and recover before your next big drive.
What to Bring
We were really unsure of what to bring considering this was our first ever campervanning trip, but here's a list of things that we absolutely loved!
For coffee: Our van had a french press for coffee in the morning, but I prefer a classic flat white. Jeromie found a portable espresso press like this where you add an espresso pod and hot water and are able to make your espresso. I also enjoy a frothy milk, so we found this portable, battery charged frother like this. We would boil the milk on the burners and then froth it for coffee.
Having beach towels that were water resistant, light weight, and sandproof made a huge difference. These beach towels from Sumoii were great and light weight. They made it super easy to travel with and store in the van.
We also enjoyed this rug from Wilder the Label. It made for a great rug to put on the bed at night for a cooler night as well as a great beach rug too.
Make sure to pack an extra pair of flip flops (or thongs for my Aussies!) for using in the shower. The campervan parks had very clean facilities, but it's always important to wear shoes in the shower to just protect your feet.
We also were a little "extra" and brought additional fairy lights. They were great because we could hang them around the van for additional light when cooking and made are campsite super cute. We had so many people stopping to take pictures of our van when we set up camp!
I hope Ive inspired you to check out Western Australia and the stunning beaches there! We truly had no idea that WA was that gorgeous and would visit again in a heart beat!
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Our campervan was partly sponsored by Camplify ANZ and Travis during our trip. Of course our itinerary and thoughts are not influenced by this.