Taking over the outback in a kaleidoscope of colour every spring, Western Australia’s wildflowers are the stuff of legend.
From carpets of everlastings to rare and precious orchids and the famous wreath flowers to the fields of canola, it’s like the whole state is putting on a show. While you don’t have to go far from the city to catch a glimpse of the spectacle, WA’s Wildflower Country is home to some of the greatest wildflower displays on earth, especially after a wet winter.
This nice and easy three-day wildflower road trip showcases some of the best spots around the state to see the wildflowers while taking in the towns and sights along the way.
Article and photos by Cassie Wilkins.
WHEN TO SEE WA’S WILDFLOWERS
The best time to explore WA’s wildflower country is between late July and mid-October. August and September are usually the best months to visit, but you can also check on the Wildflower Tracker beforehand to get an idea of what’s out there. Some years are also better than others, depending on autumn/winter rainfall, so make sure you get out there and do your rain dances!
WHERE YOU’LL GO
The beauty of WA’s wildflowers is that you don’t have to go very far at all to enjoy them – there are plenty of places in the city that also burst into colour at the first hint of spring – but the area north of Perth has become very popular for the opportunity to see the carpets of everlastings and the famous wreath flowers.
This three-day route takes you through WA’s stunning Mid West and Wheatbelt up to Coalseam National Park and Mullewa and then back down again, covering some of the best places to see flowers within a few hours’ drive of the city.
While there is accommodation en route, a lot of places – especially in small towns – get booked up pretty far in advance and can be a bit of a trek from the best flower spots. Camping is the best way to really experience Wildflower Country, with free campsites surrounded by flowers and the best opps for stargazing away from the bright lights of town.
While all the roads are usually accessible by 2WD, some of the optional side-ventures can be a little hairy in a small car or when towing a caravan – especially after heavy rain. The bitumenised road between Canna and Perenjori is also pretty narrow in places, so just take it easy and go slow. There’s plenty of room to pull over if you need to.
THINGS TO NOTE
Please don’t ruin it for everyone else, stick to paths and don’t trample the flowers. It’s also illegal to pick wildflowers and collect seeds, so don’t do that either. Follow the “old” proverb – take nothing but photographs, leave nothing but footprints. Especially if you’re camping, don’t be that person. Be sure to take all your trash with you and follow fire regulations, including bringing your own firewood if you want to have campfires.
HITTING THE ROAD
Day 1: Perth to Coalseam Conservation Park/Mingenew (~400 km)
Our first day of wildflower wandering is a big one, so you’ll want to get up and out early. Just an hour out of the city, Bindoon Bakehaus is a great spot to fuel up on coffee and stock up on baked goods for breakfast and picnic food for the day ahead. From there, follow the road north through the lush countryside to the historic town of Moora, before stopping off at Jingemia Cave in Watheroo National Park.
While you may have seen snippets of colour on the drive, the amazing Coorow Farm Wildflower Trail takes it to the next level. A floral feast for all the senses, you can walk or drive the trail, which features everlastings, wattle, orchids, grevillea and blue lechenaultia, as well as the ruins of the old 1860s homestead. Best between July and October, it can get pretty busy so come early and/or on weekdays to avoid crowds.
Next up, Carnamah’s Macpherson Homestead offers a taste of 21st-century 19th-century Australia – crumbling old buildings and rusting cars – covered in purple flowers. The town itself is worth a stop to see the beautiful murals, the old St Andrews Church, designed by architect-priest Monsignor John Hawes, the Carnamah Historical Museum and the post office. Pushing north, the Yarra Yarra Lakes make for a scenic lunch spot surrounded by birds on the way to Three Springs.
Whatever time of year you visit, you’ll be able to get a taste of the wildflowers at the Three Springs Wildflower Mural on Railway Road. Painted by local artists, the mural has become a bit of a tourist attraction in its own right, but there are a few other things to see in this quaint and quirky Wheatbelt town including old school silos, the Heritage Trail and the Arrino Gardens.
Whether you’re staying in Mingenew or powering on through to Coalseam, this little town is still worth a stop, with the 1 km trail at Mingenew Hill offering epic vistas over colourful-flower filled landscapes and the old WWII army rifle range at Depot Hill making for an interesting place to see all sorts of orchids and everlastings with a side of history. Famous for the dark night skies, Mingenew Hockey Oval and Yandanooka Siding are also great places to marvel at the Milky Way.
Half an hour northeast of Mingenew, Coalseam Conservation Park – renowned for its gloriously colourful carpets of everlastings and stunning stars – has become one of the most popular places in WA to visit during wildflower season. While it gets pretty busy, there are still plenty of flowers here for everyone, with Irwin Lookout and Plateau Loop offering some of the best views.
Hot Tip: You can’t book the campsites at Coalseam in advance, so you really want to get here early to shotgun a spot. The overflow camp might have some spaces, but if not you might want to download Wikicamps to find some other spots around. Although you should just download Wikicamps anyway because it’s amazing.
Overnight: Mingenew or Coalseam Conservation Park
Day 2: Coalseam Conservation Park/Mingenew to Morawa (~200 km)
Rise and shine, it’s day two of our adventure and there’s still plenty more to see! If you stayed overnight in Mingenew, you might wanna grab brekkie to go from Mingenew Bakery and head out to Coalseam, while if you’re waking up there, even better! The morning light makes the flowers even more beautiful – and so does the lack of crowds!
From Coalseam, head north to Tenindewa On the way, you can swing by Butterabby Graves, where the flowers that grow from the earth are a tragic reminder of the early struggles between the Wajarri People and the European arrivals.
In Tenindewa, the flowers at the No.1 Pioneer Well are well worth a visit. The walk from the old school site to the dry lake bed is ideal for seeing the sheer variety of the wildflowers here, while the drive from the road gives you an idea of the scale of the floral carpets – which are much better than the ones at your grandma’s house, for sure.
Our next spot is Mullewa. As famous for its flowers as it is for the stunning old architecture, like Monsignor John Hawes’s architectural marvel, the Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, and the beautiful murals that are dotted around the town’s heritage buildings, showcasing the history of this area. In the centre of town, the artists at the Aboriginal Art Workshop and Gallery can tell you more about their works and the murals, while the walking trails are a great way to learn more about this fascinating place – and see more wildflowers (we know what you’re here for!) The Mullewa Wildflower Walk is a great place to start, though the annual wildflower festival is even better if you can tee it up with your dates.
Before you leave Mullewa, call in at the Mullewa Visitor’s Centre to find out if any of WA’s famous wreath flowers – lechenaultia macrantha – are in flower. There are usually some on the back roads around Pindar, a short way east.
Then you’ll turn off the highway and head south to Canna. A cute town popular with grey nomads, the old General Store has long been closed (1929-2003) but is still worth a visit, with flower displays in rusty cars and a famous tree growing through a wall. If you have time, grab a map and head to Canna Dam to see the orchids.
From there, it’s a pretty cruisey drive to Morawa, but if you want to see more – and you’re not yet flowered out – you can check out War Rock, Pintharuka Dam or Bilya Rock, where you can see everlastings, lots of beautiful orchids and sometimes even wreath flowers. If you want to camp, Koolanooka Hills (east of Morawa) is a great historical spot with barbecues and toilets, and, if you feel like climbing to the top, great views too.
The final destination for the day is Morawa. Filled with character – and windmill blades, which seem to be its thing – there are some great old buildings to explore, including another two by Monsignor Hawes, the Church of the Holy Cross and the Old Presbytery. The Morawa Museum is also worth a visit, or there are a couple of walk trails in the town, Widimia Trail, a 4.5 km track where you can see an abundance of wildflowers, including native foxgloves, and the Heritage Trail.
Hot Tip: The Shire of Morawa is known for its amazing dark skies. If you’re staying in the town but still want to marvel at the majesty of it all, there’s a great self-drive road trip route, the Koolanooka “Stargazing” Drive Tour. Bring along a picnic or barbecue food to cook up on the free barbecues there and then head back to your comfy bed – camping schmamping!
Overnight: Morawa, Koolanooka Hill
Day 3: Morawa to Perth (~390 km)
Phew, it’s day three already – time to get up and get this show back on the road! If you camped, give yourself a bit of time to check out Morawa and grab a coffee and a feed before heading south towards Perenjori.
Our first stop today, Perenjori – named after the Badymia word for ‘waterhole’ – is home to yet another of Monsignor Hawes churches, the aptly named Monsignor Hawes Church, along with lots of glorious wildflowers like orchids and everlastings. Open from July to October, the Perenjori & Districts Tourists Centre and Pioneer Museum is the place to go for information on where to find the best ones. John Forrest Lookout
East of Perenjori, Camel Soak is a great camping spot and a popular wildflower area on the edges of the Karara Rangelands. The granite rock features a deep hole – the camel soak – which was sunk in 1903 to provide water for the camels (and the men) who were working on building the nearby No.2 Rabbit Proof Fence. Nearby Orchid Ridge is the place to go for, yep, you guessed it, orchids.
If you’re not yet rocked out, Buntine Rock is another wildflower-spotting spot just before Wubin. The road’s a little rough here, especially after rain, but it’s a pretty place and you can climb to the top for great views. Wubin is small but sweet, and the Wubin Wheatbin Museum is a lot more interesting than it sounds, with lots of cool old vehicles. This is also another spot to try your hand at finding those elusive wreath flowers if you have not yet found them already – check with the Visitor Centre to see where they’re hiding.
Officially the gateway to Wildflower Country, Dalwallinu will be more the closing gate on this trip, though of course, you could do it in reverse if you really wanted. The Home of Wheat and Wattle, Dally is known for its glorious wattle flowers, with a huge Wattle Week celebration every September when the streets are filled with colourful blooms. If you feel like one last side quest, Petrudor Rocks and/or Xantippe Watertank might be worth the venture, but you can ask at the Dalwallinu Discovery Centre in town before making the trek.
From there, it’s a 2.5-hour drive back to the city, where the promise of your own bed will hopefully help pass the time – along with the beautiful scenery out of the window.
Hot Tip: If time allows, the Rothsay Heritage Trail from Perenjori leads to the stunning John Forrest Lookout, along with the old Rothsay townsite and a couple of abandoned mines.