From natural wonders unlike anything you’ll find in the world, coastal hikes, Aboriginal sites, silo art trails and pristine, white beaches with sunbaking kangaroos, Australia’s Golden Outback has it all.
This epic road trip to Esperance (Kepa Kurl) will take you through endless natural wonders, the wildflower-strewn wheatbelt and curious country towns – the perfect chance to disconnect from the real world and reconnect you with nature, friends, family and yourself.
It also doesn’t hurt that this road trip just happens to end at 2023’s World’s Best Beach!
Table of Contents
- Wave Rock and Hyden
- Fitzgerald River National Park
- Cape Le Grand National Park
- Southern Wheatbelt
1. How to get there
Though the Perth (Boorloo) to Esperance road trip is one of the longer journeys in Western Australia, it can easily be done in around five days, or take more time and dive a little deeper. We’re driving from Perth to the wondrous Wave Rock (Katter Kich) in Hyden, before heading south through Ravensthorpe and Fitzgerald River National Park and on to Cape Le Grand (Mandoowernup), finally arriving at Esperance.
2. Best time of year to go
Being in the deep south of the State, the winters in Esperance get pretty cool, which does come with its own cosy advantages, and is the best time of year for whale watching. If you’ve got sun-soaked, white sandy beaches on your mind we suggest aiming around December through to April. You’ll find milder weather all round in spring and autumn, with calmer conditions on the coast and a less-prevalent sea breeze blowing in the afternoons, making either time of year a fantastic time to visit!
3. Where to stay
When it comes to accommodation around Australia’s Golden Outback, you’ve got plenty to choose from no matter what your flavour. Caravan parks with modern amenities are plentiful, as are roadside motels, B&Bs, farm stays and off-grid tiny cabins. Head to the Australia’s Golden Outback website for a comprehensive listing of what’s available and where.
4. Where to visit along the way
Rather than go down the coast, we’re getting to Esperance via an inland route to begin with, travelling through the Wheatbelt region before exploring some huge national parks. Along the way you’ll see incredible rock formations, Aboriginal sites and some of the world’s best beaches.
Wave Rock and Hyden (4 hours from Perth)
Stop number one is Western Australia’s biggest inland wave, the 2700-million year old Wave Rock. If you’re not in a hurry the Tin Horse Highway is a quirky attraction and a fun way to get there – track dozens of unique sculptures made by locals offering an insight into the sense of humour that permeates the Wheatbelt region. Once at Wave Rock wander some of the trails and take in the amazing wheatbelt views, before walking to nearby Hippos Yawn and then jumping back in the car to visit Mulka’s Cave.
While you’re there, Lake Magic is a cool spot to check out – a naturally occurring salt lake with gypsum minerals at its base and a sandy, circular beach surrounding, plus there’s a Miniature Soldier Museum and a huge antique Lace Collection. If you’re here in springtime this part of the world is also bursting with wildflowers.
Fitzgerald River National Park (6 hours from Perth)
Hit the road nice and early so you can spend the morning in Ravensthorpe, checking out the impressive giant art mural (part of the PUBLIC Silo Trail), grabbing some road trip lollies from Yummylicious Candy Shack and a bite to eat to fuel your explorations through Fitzgerald River National Park. Head off on a day of bushwalking, camping, canoeing, fishing, and whale-watching (June to October), plus keep your eyes out for endangered animals like the Dibbler, a recently re-discovered marsupial in the park. Flora lovers will find much to enjoy as well – the park is one of the most diverse botanical regions on Earth!
From here you’ll make a beeline to Esperance to set up camp for the next couple of days. Hit the Great Ocean Drive for some scenic sunset views before popping into town for dinner – there’s plenty to choose from including Fish Face, Lucky Bay Brewing, The Pier, Loose Goose, Taylor St. Quarters and Seasons, or grab some takeaway from Curry Palace and Xing’s Sushi & Noodle Bar.
Cape Le Grand National Park (8 hours from Perth)
Hit the road early to prepare for the big day ahead, eat a big breakfast and pack plenty for a picnic lunch to enjoy while exploring the vast terrain of Cape Le Grand National Park. With any luck you’re in town for the fortnightly Saturday Esperance Growers’ Market – perfect for filling the car with fresh produce and snacks to keep you going.
First stop in Cape Le Grand National Park is the short-but-steep Frenchman Peak. This hike offers a cool cave with incredible views of rolling green hills and the azure blue waters and islands in the Recherche Archipelago, providing the perfect photo opportunity. All that climbing deserves a swim, and here you’ll find some of the most spectacular beaches in the country, including Lucky Bay, where you’ll share the white sand with kangaroos lazily catching a few rays as well.
From here you’re spoilt for choice with more beaches like Hellfire Bay and Thistle Cove, or head on a hike along the Le Grand Coastal Trail, linking Le Grand Beach and Rossiter Bay. After an action-packed day it’s time to head back to town via the weirdly wonderful Esperance Stonehenge, the only full size replica of the original Stonehenge in the UK. Finally, it’s time to grab a bite and get some rest – you’ve earned it!
Esperance (7.5 hours from Perth)
After an adventure-filled few days driving and exploring, now’s your chance to relax and unwind, soaking up a bit of the southern coastal lifestyle, best spent at another beautiful beach, or taking a stroll along the foreshore. If you’re keen to dive a little deeper into Esperance’s marine wildlife, jump on the Esperance Island Cruise to explore the Archipelago and go snorkelling. If you’ve got a bit more time, take a cruise or helicopter flight with HeliSpirit (in season) out to Woody Island where you can go for some more snorkelling, or even stay overnight in a glamping tent.
If you’re keen to do some snorkelling off the beach, Blue Haven Beach and Twilight Cove offer clear waters, while surfers can take their boards to West Beach, Fourth Beach or Observatory Beach for some cruisy curlers. Observatory Point Lookout and Rotary Lookout are well worth the views, but if you want to really see it all, splurge on a scenic flight where you’ll see green bushland, blue waters and the hundreds of islands that make up the Recherche Archipelago.
Southern Wheatbelt (3 hours from Perth)
Once you’ve overcome the crushing reality of home time, it’s time to set course for Perth via the southern Wheatbelt. Grab a coffee and breakfast at Downtown Espresso Bar or Brown Sugar before embarking on a journey that takes you through the outback vistas. Along the way stop for lunch at Lake Dumbleyung or Lake Grace, pick up some Wheatbelt wine samples at Walkers Vineyard or Downderry, and grab a yabby at Cambinata Yabbies, before making your way home.
If this sounds like the epic road trip for you, head to here for all the insider’s info on driving the dream in Western Australia’s Golden Outback.
Image Credit: Supplied/Tourism WA
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