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A 9-day West Coast Australia road trip itinerary: Exmouth to Perth

Updated On 27th March, 2022

If you’re looking for the best places to visit in Australia, travelling in Western Australia should definitely be on your list. Western Australia is an iconic Australian bucket list destination with so much natural beauty to explore. While it is best known for its fertile southwest corner, there are so many beautiful places to visit in WA beyond the southwest. Covering the entire western third of Australia, WA is filled with a contrastingly beautiful combination of the rugged red outback and a whopping 12,500km of pristine coastline.

As such, the West Coast is notorious for having some of the best places to visit in Western Australia: from the abundant sea life in the Ningaloo Reef near Exmouth to the scenic desert gorges of Kalbarri, as well as seeing the quokkas on Rottnest Island near Perth, there are so many things to do in Western Australia. Due to the sheer size of this state and with so many of the amazing places to visit in WA found in small towns or remote national parks, there really is nothing quite like a road trip in Western Australia!

That’s why we have put together this 9-day West Coast Australia road trip itinerary, filled with some of the best things to do in Western Australia, including snorkelling in the world heritage listed Ningaloo Reef, getting up close and personal with baby sharks in a shark nursery in coral bay, marvelling at the pink algae display of Hutt lagoon, experiencing one of only two beaches in the world made of completely of white shells, and more fun things to do when travelling in Western Australia. Before we show you some of the best places to visit in Western Australia on a road trip, let’s dive into a few things to consider when planning a road trip in Western Australia!

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A 9-day West Coast Australia road trip: best places to visit in WA

Getting to Western Australia and getting around Western Australia… 

For this itinerary, we will start with the best things to do in Exmouth and make our way south towards Perth and finish with the best things to do in Perth. Perth is the largest major city in Western Australia, so if you’re flying into WA internationally, or interstate, this is the best place to arrive. From here, you get to choose your own adventure! 

Check flights on skyscanner here.

If you want to stick to the 9-day itinerary when travelling in Western Australia, then I would suggest flying from Perth to Exmouth a day early, hiring a car or campervan and making your way south and finishing in Perth. Flights from Perth to Exmouth cost around $150AUD and will arrive in Learmonth (about a 25-minute drive to Exmouth) so make sure to organise your hire car/motorhome accordingly. 

This west coast Australia road trip itinerary involves around 14+ hours of driving and 1300km of ground to cover, so if you do have more time and you want to take it slower, you could also fly up (or make your own way there if you’re travelling in your own van/car) and take your time heading south. While Exmouth and Coral Bay are not free-camp friendly, further south there are plenty of beautiful rest stops along the highway where you can stop and pitch a tent/park your van if you want to space out the driving and exploring to suit your timeline. The best way to find the rest stops and places to stay is on apps like campermate or wikicamps

As many of the best places to visit in Western Australia are found in National Parks, an essential for a road trip in Western Australia is a Western Australia Parks pass. If you’re just planning a short visit then a holiday pass will be your best choice. You can choose from 14 days for $40 or a month for $60, which will give you access to all WA parks for the duration of the pass.

Weather and other considerations: the best time to visit Western Australia…

Western Australia boasts a spectacular array of natural events and attractions, many of which follow a regular seasonal calendar. As such, time of year is something to consider while planning your road trip in Western Australia and places to visit in Western Australia. While planning, you should consider what natural events and things to do in Western Australia are most important to you, as this will help you decide on when you would want to plan your visit. 

For example, if you’re hoping to swim with the whale sharks when travelling in Western Australia you would want to plan your trip between March and July, and if you want to see wildflower season, you would want to be here between June and November. Obviously do your own research for what is most important to you, but for most of the things to do in WA listed in this west coast Australia road trip itinerary, June would be an ideal month to plan a visit.

Another consideration is whether or not you should have a 4WD to do a road trip in Western Australia. For the purposes of this west coast Australia road trip itinerary, it’s not explicitly necessary. However, you may encounter dirt roads during a road trip in Western Australia and so if you’re hiring a car I would consider the type of car you feel comfortable taking on these roads, as well as any restrictions of the insurance of the car hire company.

Along this coastline, things like grocery stores and taps for refilling drinking water are very limited. You will be able to buy fresh veg along the way, and there are some restaurants in the more touristy locations, but everything else will either be limited or at a significant premium! If you’re travelling by campervan, be sure to stock up with essential non-perishables in Exmouth (or at another major city/town if possible) before making the trip south and be prepared to pay to fill up your water tanks with water along the way.

A 9-day West Coast Australia road trip: best places to visit in WA

With all that in mind, let’s dive into this 9-day West Coast Australia road trip itinerary…

The ultimate 9-day West Coast Australia road trip itinerary: Exmouth to Perth...

Day 1: Get a taste for the best things to do in Exmouth

Exmouth is the closest township to access the Cape Range national park and the north end of the world heritage listed Ningaloo Reef. If possible, arrive the afternoon before so you have time to get all your car rental/ motorhome rental sorted, so that way when you wake up you can spend the day experiencing the beauty of Exmouth. 

There are so many amazing things to do in Exmouth when travelling in Western Australia including going snorkelling on the reef up in Cape Range national park, taking a tour to swim with the whale sharks, going to the locals favourite surf spot or marvelling at the views from the lighthouse. For a more detailed look into the best snorkelling spots and the best things to do in Exmouth, check out this blog post.

Once you’re done for the day, drive south to Coral Bay and stay a night in one of the caravan parks or accommodation.

A 9-day West Coast Australia road trip: best places to visit in WA
Frame Chasers Exmouth, WA

Day 2: See the Shark Nursery at Coral Bay

This aptly named town is best known for its enviable display of coral, but that’s not all that’s in the water! This area is also known for its shark nursery, and is one of the best places to visit in Western Australia to see hundreds of them swimming from a safe distance on the beach.

Start the day by wandering down to Coral Bay beach (the main beach) and walking to see the shark nursery. This nursery is located in a shallow stretch of water about 20 min walk from Coral Bay beach, heading north towards Skeleton Beach where you have the chance to see baby sharks swimming 1-2 metres away from shore! Be sure to go in the morning as the glare from the sun in the afternoon can make it hard to spot them. It is an experience not to be missed on any road trip in Western Australia. 

Once you’re done marvelling at the sharks, grab your snorkel gear and go explore the beauty of the coral in Coral Bay. You can see coral by going to the far left bank of the main beach and swimming a few metres parallel to the beach (don’t worry, it’s a nice safe distance from the sharks!). Once you’re done, head south toward Carnarvon to the Quobba blowholes. 

If you’re in a camper or tent and self-contained, Quobba station campground is a great place to stay when travelling in Western Australia (just be sure to pre-book as it does sell out!). Otherwise, you can stay in Carnarvon for the night and make the drive to the blowholes in the morning. 

Day 3: Explore the blow holes in Carnarvon

After a night of being lulled to sleep by the sound of the ocean, start the day with a walk to see the Quobba blowholes, one of the best places to visit in Western Australia. This is easily accessible via the beach as you make your way back toward the ‘King Waves Kill’ sign you will have seen on your drive in. Be aware, this sign isn’t just a tourist attraction, it’s a warning. Be safe and don’t go too close to the edge while watching these king waves create massive spouts of water through the network of blowholes.

Once you’re back at camp, if you’re feeling brave you can go for a swim in the aquarium (next to the campsite) where there is another, smaller, shark nursery. Be aware the water is very shallow and so a wetsuit is advised. For the afternoon, make your way into Carnarvon and stock up on fresh veg and grab an organic frozen banana dipped in chocolate at Gascoyne organic farm, and finish the day with a drive south to stay the night in Monkey Mia. Monkey Mia has an additional reserve fee which is different to a WA parks pass that you will pay upon entry when travelling in Western Australia. 

A 9-day West Coast Australia road trip: best places to visit in WA

Day 4: See the dolphins and visit the only shell beach in the southern hemisphere

Start your morning by heading down with Dolphin watching in Monkey Mia, where you can stand on the beach edge and watch resident wild dolphins come to shore. Daily feedings happen between 7:30-12 noon every day, but rest assured these ‘feedings’ are mandated to be less than 10% of their daily requirement, so the dolphins stay beautifully wild.

Once you’re done basking in the beauty of these intelligent beasts, head south and make your way to Shell Beach. This beach is one of 2 beaches in the entire world made completely of shells and is a must when it comes to the best things to do in Western Australia! Be aware that the water at Shell Beach may look inviting but it’s very high in salt content so may not be the refreshing swim you may be hoping for.

Then drive south and if you’re in a motorhome you can stop off at the free rest stop Galena Bridge Camp Area just before the turnoff to Kalbarri National park, or if you’re booking into accommodation, make your way into Kalbarri for the evening.

Day 5: Take a peek through Nature’s Window and see the Pink Lake

Wake up and get an early start by driving into the National Park to enjoy the sweeping view of the Kalbarri Skywalk, towering 100metres over the Murchison Gorge – a must do when travelling in Western Australia. Then drive to the start of the walk to go see Nature’s Window and make the descent to marvel through this rocky portal overlooking the gorge. It can get hot so start early and bring water!

Continuing along the coastal road driving south, you will arrive at the beautifully vivid pink Hutt Lagoon that is at its most vivid midmorning or just before sunset. Australian pink salt lakes are such a unique experience and are one of the best things to do in Australia. The pink colour comes from a type of algae (Dunaliella Salina) and Hutt Lagoon is one of only a few places to visit in Western Australia where you can see these pink lakes. Finish the day by heading to Geraldton where you can stay in one of their free overnight parking bays, or check into accommodation. 

A 9-day West Coast Australia road trip: best places to visit in WA

Day 6: Explore WA’s Wildflower Country

Geraldton is a growing town located about halfway between Exmouth and Perth and is best known as the heart of WA’s wildflower country. There are over 12,000 species of wildflowers in WA, and for 60% of these wildflowers, WA is their only known location on earth, so you must go when travelling in Western Australia. Between July-October some of the best places to visit in Western Australia for wildflower season include Chapman River regional park, Mill Lookout and Mullewa. 

As the biggest city you will have seen in a few days, take the chance to enjoy the variety of restaurants and eateries before driving south to Jurien Bay for the night. 

Day 7: Jurien Bay

Jurien Bay is one of the best places to visit in Australia to see the Australian sea lions. These puppies of the sea are the rarest of their species with only 10,000-20,000 in existence. Lucky for us, many of these take residence on Essex Rock, a short 15-minute boat ride from Jurien Bay. There are many tours operating daily, giving you a chance to swim and play with these extremely playful animals. 

Tours typically cost around $115 per snorkeller and honestly, of all the things I have done in my 2 years travelling Australia, swimming with the sea lions is one of the best experiences I have had and is one of the best things to do in Australia in my book! Be aware that these tours are weather dependant, so be prepared to have some flexibility when travelling in Western Australia if you can. 

Once you’re finished, head south and drive through Cervantes Pinnacles Desert. This desert is located in the heart of the Nambung National Park and is renowned for its unique landscape filled with thousands of limestone spires of all shapes and sizes. Marvel at the unique formations and once you’re finished with the loop, drive the rest of the way to Lancelin for the night. 

A 9-day West Coast Australia road trip: best places to visit in WA

Day 8: Go boarding on the dunes in Lancelin

Lancelin is a sleepy little beachside town renowned for its laid-back vibe and its spectacular sand dunes. Tourists flock to explore the dunes by board, Motorcross, ATV, QTV, and 4WD. If you’re looking for an entertaining morning, try your hand at boarding down the dunes! Rentals are around $12.50 for 2.5 hours, and it will give you a workout! If you’re after more of an adrenaline rush, there are plenty of motorised options. This is definitely one of the top things to do in Western Australia!

Once you’re finished exploring the dunes, head to Endeavor Tavern for a bite to eat (the pizza is amazing!) then head south toward Perth. If you’re travelling in Western Australia in a van you can stop at one of the many free camps just north of Perth, or if you’re booking into accommodation, make your way down to Perth for the evening. 

A 9-day West Coast Australia road trip: best places to visit in WA

Day 9: Experience the best things to do in Perth

Perth is the capital of WA and is home to 75% of Western Australia’s population. Heading into this metropolis may seem a little overwhelming after 8 days in rural WA, but holding onto its roots with its small town friendliness, you will have a blast exploring the very best things to do in Perth. With the diversity of food, beaches and cultural attractions, visiting Perth is high on the list of best things to do in Western Australia. 

Some of the best things to do in Perth include visiting the largest inner city park in the world, seeing the only habitat of the smiling Quokkas in the world on Rottnest Island, entering foodie heaven at the Freemantle markets or enjoying some leisure time at some of Perth’s most popular beaches – all must-dos when travelling in Western Australia.

For more of the best things to do in Perth check out this blog post.

A 9-day West Coast Australia road trip: best places to visit in WA
A 9-day West Coast Australia road trip: best places to visit in WA

That brings us to the end of this West Coast Australia road trip itinerary! Hope you found some ideas for your own road trip in Western Australia and can’t wait to hear about your adventures when travelling in Western Australia. 

What are your favourite things to do in Western Australia?

Where are the best places to visit in Western Australia? Anything you’d add to this West Coast Australia road trip itinerary?

Love as always and happy adventuring…

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IT’S LOVELY TO MEET YOU

I’M MOLLIE AND I STARTED THIS BLOG BACK IN 2013 WHEN I HEADED OUT ON MY FIRST BACKPACKING ADVENTURE. 

I’D LOVE TO SHARE THE JOURNEY WITH YOU, WE’VE GROWN A LOT SINCE THEN!

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