Best of South West WA: One Week Road Trip Itinerary

Last Updated:

When visiting Perth, exploring the South West of Australia is a must. The region has spectacular natural attractions, stunning coastal scenery and delightful food and wine. A road trip through the region is a great way to experience the best of Western Australia.

It’s a popular road trip from Perth, for both tourists and locals alike. You’ll hear us locals refer to it as a road trip “down south.”

It’s important to plan your route carefully, to make sure you maximise the time spent seeing the main attractions in the region, without finding yourself constantly on the road driving to the next spot.

To make life easier, in this guide I’ll step you through a suggested one week itinerary for a Southern Western Australia road trip.

Aerial photo of Frenchman Bay
Frenchman Bay, Torndirrup National Park

Best Time for a South West WA Road Trip

This one week south west Australia itinerary can be done at anytime of the year.

Winters (June – August) in the South West can be cold and rainy (usually more so than Perth). But there are also many sunny but mild days – which come without as many people as you might get in summer!

For the best weather for exploring many of the region’s beaches, late spring to early Autumn (November – April) would be the ideal time of the year to road trip south western Australia.

Mid December to late January are the busiest months, thanks to the warm weather and coinciding with the busy Australian school holidays. Make sure to book accommodation well in advance if visiting during this period!

During the cooler months from May to October, another Western Australia 1 week itinerary could be a Perth to Kalbarri or (slightly longer) Perth to Exmouth road trip.

If you’re spending some time in Perth before starting your road trip, make sure to check out my fun 3, 5 and 7-day Perth itineraries to make planning a breeze!

About this South Western Australia 7-Day Itinerary

Departing from Perth, exploring the whole region in one week is do-able but will require some driving.

We based ourselves in three towns over six nights to ensure we had a full day of exploring in each area.

This South Western Australia 7 day itinerary is ideal for those who want to see the key attractions and sights in the region in just a week. If you do have a few extra days, I would spend them exploring the Margaret River Region.

Distances & Driving Times South West WA

  • Perth to Yallingup: 260km, ~3 hours (if driving to Margaret River, allow 3.5 hours)
  • Yallingup to Denmark: 345km, ~4 hours
  • Denmark to Albany: 55km, ~40 minutes
  • Albany to Perth: 420km, ~5 hours

Getting Around

You will need a car for this road trip – public transport is very limited (or non existent!) in many of the towns you’ll be visiting.

You should hire a rental car in Perth, as there will be the largest range of options and availability.

I recommend using Discover Cars – this highly-rated car aggregator offer the best prices across a large range of suppliers, plus the flexibility of free cancellation.

Compare car rental prices and get the best deal here.

A 4WD vehicle is not required for this road trip, you will spend most of your time on sealed roads. There may be the occasional gravel road in some of the National Parks, but they are 2WD suitable.

South West Australia Road Trip Map

Click below for an interactive map of this suggested South Western Australia road trip itinerary.

Day 1: Perth to Margaret River

It’s road trip time! Get ready to commence the round trip on this South WA road trip itinerary, departing from Perth.

To make the most of your day, set off from Perth early to start the 3 hour drive south to the Margaret River Region.

It is an easy drive down the highway, mostly going at 110 km/h until you reach Busselton.

You could visit Black Diamond Lake or Gnomesville in the Ferguson Valley on the way to Margaret River

It’s worth stopping Busselton to check out the heritage listed Busselton Jetty, the longest timber jetty in the southern hemisphere. Walk or take a train ride out to the end of the jetty, where an underwater observatory awaits.

Grab a bite to eat in town (Shelter Brewery, in front of the jetty is a personal fave!), or continue on the 30-40 minutes to reach your destination, Yallingup or Margaret River.

TIP: Busselton or Dunsborough are good stops for groceries to pick up snacks and dinner supplies for the next few days.

After your long drive, you probably don’t want to spend too much more time in your car!

If staying in Yallingup, go for a walk down to Yallingup Beach. This sheltered lagoon that makes for the perfect swimming and snorkelling spot.  

Calm and tranquil Yallingup Lagoon

Visit a Cave in Australia’s South West

If you have time and are feeling adventurous, check out one of the acclaimed caves in Margaret River.

Please note some of these are self-guided, semi-guided or fully guided, depending on the cave. Check out my dedicated guide on the Margaret River Caves to learn more about each of the caves.

It’s hard to pick a favourite, but if I had to choose just one to visit, Lake Cave would be my recommendation.

For sunset, check out the iconic Sugarloaf Rock or kick back at your accommodation to watch the sun go down with a glass of wine in hand.

Girl standing in front of Sugarloaf Rock
Sugarloaf Rock is also a great spot during the day!

Where to Stay in the Margaret River Region

In the Margaret River region, the main towns are Dunsborough, Yallingup and Margaret River town. There is a wide range of available accomodation in these towns and the surrounding areas.

Dunsborough is on the west coast, with a shopping complex including a supermarket and lots of residential houses. A 10 minute drive away is Yallingup, a small beachfront town with houses nestled onto a hill with sweeping coastal views.

Margaret River is slightly further south and inland, and has a main strip with cafes, boutiques and a supermarket.

Accommodation options in each town range from hotels/ motels, B&Bs, villas, serviced apartments, AirBnBs and campgrounds.

Margaret River has the largest range of accommodation, but is slightly further (5-10 minutes drive) from the beach.

If you are struggle to find available or cheap accommodation, also consider staying in Busselton and driving a bit further to the main sights in the Margaret River Region each day.

Dunsborough & Yallingup

  • Budget – Lanterns Retreats
    Quaint accommodation in the heart of Dunsborough, and a 10-minute walk away from the beach
  • Mid-Range – Club Wyndham Resort Dunsborough
    With a beach right on your doorstep, you might not even want to use the pool in this resort with immaculate gardens! Also has an on-site restaurant with outdoor patio.
  • Luxury – Pullman Bunker Bay Resort
    You can’t beat the location of this beachfront resort with pool overlooking the tranquil Bunker Bay. This luxury resort has an award-winning spa and each villa comes with a kitchen.
  • Best for Families – Seashells Yallingup
    I’ve stayed here multiple times and love the self-contained apartments. You can walk to Yallingup Lagoon and the property is right next door to Caves House hotel which has live music on weekends.
  • Boutique – Barn Hives Yallingup
    Cute eco pods located in the middle of a vineyard! Only a 5 minute drive from Canal Rocks.

Margaret River & Surrounds

  • Budget – Margaret River Resort
    Older style resort, but a great location 10 minutes from the center of Margaret River town.
  • Mid-Range – Riverglen Chalets
    Chalets nestled in the middle of the forest, but still only a 10 minute walk from Margaret River town.
  • Luxury – Burnside Organic Farm
    I was lucky enough to have a tour of this beautiful property, and their luxury chalets look stunning! They even have outdoor bathtubs.
  • Best for Families – The Villa Margaret River
    I’ve stayed at this beautiful light-filled 3 bedroom villa, located in the middle of town and walking distance to the best Margaret River cafes.
  • Glamping – Olio Bello Lakeside Glamping
    Luxurious, unique lakeside glamping on an olive farm in the heart of the Margaret River Region

Day 2: Exploring the Margaret River Region

Start the day with a coffee from the Yallingup General Store to fuel you for a busy day of exploring ahead.

Dunsborough Beaches

Head to Meelup Beach near Dunsborough to check out the long stretch of protected, calm beach. This popular spot also has SUP and Kayak hire during the summer months. There are BBQ facilities for those wanting to spend the day here.

For those wanting to avoid the crowds, Castle Rock Beach is only 5-10 minutes drive away and is equally (if not more) stunning as Meelup Beach.

Yallingup Coastline

Injidup Natural Spa

It wouldn’t be a visit to Yallingup unless you checked out the popular Injidup Natural Spa! Located at the end of Wydaup Rd, the natural spa is created by waves overflowing rocks into the pool.

Warning: Be very careful of the strong tides and waves that can occur here. Unfortunately, lives have been lost. You can read more about visiting this unique natural attraction in my guide here.

Another spectacular swimming spot nearby is the Natural Aquarium. This requires a short hike, which you can read about in my guide here.

After a morning of sand and sun, spend the afternoon wining and dining at one of the many wineries or breweries in the region.

Looking for more things to do in the Margaret River Region? Check out my detailed guide with 35 ideas for things to do here!

Wineries of Margaret River & Yallingup

Is it a trip to the South West of WA without a visit to at least a winery or two?

Some of my personal favourites are:

  • Windance Estate: one of the first wineries you’ll come across on Caves Rd as you set off from Yallingup. Windance is a small family own and run vineyard with a stellar line up of wines. When we first came here a few years ago tastings were done in a little tin shed. These days they have a beautiful open farmhouse style cellar door with sweeping views across the vineyard. They have a beautiful range of rich reds, and we always leave with at least a few bottles!
  • Stormflower Vineyard: One of the region’s certified organic wineries! Stormflower has the cutest cellar door set in a thriving garden where you can have your wine tasting outside. The Sauvignon Blanc is our pick.
  • Xanadu Wines: driving through the sweeping estate near Margaret River town, this winery impresses on first entrance and then later again when trying their wines. Our favourites are the Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon.
  • Voyager Estate: Highly acclaimed as one of the oldest wineries in the region, Voyager Estate certainly lives up to the hype. Come here for a (paid) wine tasting or a degustation in their restaurant. You can learn more about the wine-making history of the region as you taste prized Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon wines with a paired wine flight and cheese tasting. Enquire here about availability. Make sure to check out the beautiful estate gardens too before leaving.

Leave the car at home and book onto a local wine tour to make the most of a day exploring and sampling at the amazing wineries in the region.

Recommended Margaret River Wine Tours

  • Margies Big Day Out Beer & Wine Tours: go on a gastronomic adventure on this full-day tour with a food-loving guide. Visit three wineries, two breweries and sample chocolates and cheese. Includes pickup and drop-off from accommodations around Margaret River.
  • Margaret River Wine Adventure: One for the wine lovers and aficionados. This small-group tour begins with a visit to 3 award-winning boutique wineries, before getting hands-on in an exclusive Wine Blending experience. Create your own wine to enjoy with lunch! The day ends with a visit to a local brewery and the chocolate factory. Pick up available from Margaret River, or from Dunsborough/Busselton

Breweries

There are so many options for local craft breweries these days in the Margaret River Region.

Some of our favourites include Wild Hop (Yallingup), Beer Farm (Metricup) and Eagle Bay Brewing (Eagel Bay).

Go for a Hike

If the weather is suitable, I’d also highly recommend hiking a section of the Cape to Cape track. The “access for more” trail starting at Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse to Sugarloaf Rock is a gentle paved trail with stunning ocean views!

Another scenic hike is the trail to reach Quinningup Falls, one of Margaret River’s waterfalls.

Boranup Karri Forest & Viewpoint

While you are on Caves Rd make sure you check out the Boranup Forest Viewpoint.

The Boranup forest of towering Karri trees is located about 25 minutes south of Margaret River. There is an area to park and take in the forest in all its peaceful glory.

Alternatively, take the Boranup Drive tourist drive along an unsealed road which is located in a loop off Caves Rd.

Visit Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse

At the end of 2022, the Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse reopened after being renovated for the last few years. Cape Leeuwin takes the title of tallest lighthouse of mainland Australia, and watches over the point where the Southern and Indian Oceans meet.

Cape Leeuwin is near the town of Augusta, 30 minutes south from Margaret River.

You can join a 30-minute guided tour to the top of the tower for a spectacular 360-degree view of the surrounding coastline.

Go Whale Watching

Between late May and August, it’s not uncommon to see whales splashing in the distance as you explore the coast. For an up close and personal view of these majestic creatures, join a whale watching tour.

Tours run from Busselton, Dunsborough and Augusta. Check prices and availability here.

Day 3: Margaret River to Denmark

There are quite a few towns you could visit in the Southern Forests region between Yallingup and Denmark. I’d recommend stopping by at least two to break up the 4-hour drive.

Our first stop was Barrabup Pool, located near the quaint town of Nannup. This natural pool was a great place to stop for a snack and a quick dip, or for a walk along the nearby forest trail.

We then set off for the small town of Pemberton, about an hour’s drive away.

Other quaint country towns to stop by at include Bridgetown and Manjimup.

Pemberton

Pemberton is a quaint town with a few different attractions, making it a great place to stop for a few hours or spend a night or two here.

Pemberton is a great lunch stop. On the main street you have the bakery, Source Kitchen and Wild At Heart Cafe which are all great options.

One of Pemberton’s main attractions is the Gloucester Tree, an old fire lookout tree from the 1940s.

Standing over 53 metres tall, visitors can climb to the top of the tree and experience the views from the lookout on top. Note there are no safety harnesses, so it’s definitely not one for the faint hearted!

As the Gloucester tree is located in a National Park, you’ll need to pay a fee to enter or use a National Parks Pass.

If it’s warm, check out the beautiful man made swimming pool nestled next to the forest. It’s one of my favourite Unique Swimmings Spots in Western Australia.

Beedalup Falls

Jumping back into the car, drive 20 minutes to the nearby Beedalup Falls. Again, a national park ticket is required so keep your day ticket from your earlier visit to the Gloucester Tree.

The Falls feature a short walking trail which allows you to do a loop around the falls and across a suspension bridge. You can take a longer hike and visit the unique Walk Through Tree too!

If you have time up your sleeve, you could spend a night in Pemberton or the beautiful Karri Valley Resort just 20 minutes away.

Where to Stay in Denmark

Continue on your south west Western Australia road trip with a 2.5 hour drive into Denmark.

Denmark is so beautiful, with so much to do and see! If you are arriving during the week, I would recommend to plan cooking some dinners as there isn’t as many restaurants open mid-week, compared to the weekend.

Denmark accommodation is mostly chalet and self contained holiday units, some highly rated options are included below.

  • Budget – Koorabup Motel
    A short drive from Denmark town centre with comfortable and spacious rooms.
  • Mid-Range – Karri Aura 
    Clean and cosy units with kitchenettes and scenic views
  • Luxury – Chimes Spa Retreat
    An adults only retreat with stylish suites. Treat yourself to a spa bath after completing the challenging Bluff Knoll hike!
  • Best for Families – William Bay Cottages
    A range of cottages with full kitchen. Close to Greens Pool and Elephant Rocks too!
  • Boutique Luxury Cabin – Upland Farm
    Luxury accommodation with high end amenities on a sprawling farm (adults only)

Day 4: Exploring Denmark

Start the day with a coffee and checking out the little town of Denmark, located by the river. Our favourite coffee stops are Mrs Jones or Ravens Coffee. The bakery here also has excellent pies if you feel like stocking up for lunch later or a cheeky breakfast pie.

The main attraction in Denmark is the stunning Greens Pool and Elephant Rocks. Luckily, both are located in the William Bay National Park (no fee required for entry).

Denmark Wineries

The afternoon in Denmark can be well spent by visiting some of the local wineries. I recommend Rockcliffe, Forest Hill Wines and Singlefile Wines.

Boston Brewing Co is also worth a visit for a beer tasting paddle or meal.

Another great activity near Denmark is the acclaimed Valley of the Giants Tree Top Walk. Time permitting, visit here to walk amongst the tops of the tall tingle trees.

Other Things to Do in Denmark

  • Denmark Animal Farm: pet and feed the range of friendly farm animals, including guinea pigs, alpacas, goats, highland cows, chickens and more!
  • Dine at the Lake House Denmark, a picturesque winery situated by the lake.
  • Hike Monkey Rock: for a panoramic view across Denmark from the top
  • Taste Cheese and Wines: At Duckett Mill Wine and Cheese restaurant
  • Try the Range of Ciders at Monkey Rock Cidery

Day 5: Denmark to Albany

Today is your shortest day of driving, with Albany only 45 minutes from Denmark. Start the morning with a trip out to scenic Lights Beach off Ocean Beach Rd before hitting the road.

On the way to Albany, I would recommend making the detour through West Cape Howe National Park to visit Shelly Beach and the scenic lookout platform located here.

Just before you reach Albany township you can stop in at Wilson Brewing for a craft beer and lunch stop. The portion sizes here were massive, with food made and served out of the built in food truck at the brewery.

Where to Stay in Albany

During our time in Albany, we stayed at the cutest accommodation, Jeffries Cottage. This little blue cottage has been beautifully renovated.

Some other options in Albany include:

After checking in, we jumped back into the car to check out Little Beach in Albany.

Little Beach & Two People’s Bay

I had seen so many photos on Instagram of Little Beach, a south west road trip icon! Particularly famous for the unusual shaped boulders in the middle of the beach. The water was also impossibly turquoise in real life.

Best of all, when we visited in late October in the afternoon we had this beautiful beach almost all to ourselves!

We spent an hour or exploring the beach, taking drone photos and enjoying the views.

While walking along Little Beach, at the end there is a short uphill trail to a hidden beach, Waterfall Beach.

To the left of Little Beach across the boulders there are some rock pools that are worth exploring too.

Cocktails in Albany

Albany has a lot of food and drink options (definitely more than Denmark) at night.

I’d recommend checking out Liberte for a cocktail. The bar is very quirky, with Parisian inspired interiors and the restaurant comes highly recommended.

Day 6: Albany & Torndirrup National Park

Some might be tempted to keep moving through Albany, but I’m glad we decided to spend two nights here!

With another big day ahead, start the morning with coffee from Bred Co. It is then a 20 minute drive from Albany to Torndirrup National Park. This National Park is incredibly varied with lots to see and do here.

Torndirrup National Park

In summary, make sure you visit the key attractions in the park outlined below (a National Park fee is required to be paid once for the day unless you have that Park Pass);

  • Salmon Holes beach
  • Frenchman Bay beach
  • Jimmy Newell’s harbour
  • The Gap & Natural Bridge
  • Bald Head Trail hike

You can explore the park self-guided, or join a guided tour that includes transport to explore the sights of Torndirrup National Park whilst learning more about this history of these sights.

Albany Wind Farm

After spending a few hours exploring the National Park, head to the Albany Wind Farm.

A free attraction, we were mesmerised by how close we could get to these giant turbines!

There is a short 20 minute walk trail starting at the carpark. Here you can see the turbines up close and learn more about the science behind them.

Great Southern Distillery Visit

On the way back from the wind farm, stop at the nearby Great Southern Distillery.

Enjoy a a whisky tasting (for a small fee) or lunch at the Cellar Door. They also have a gin cellar door back in Margaret River that’s worth checking out too when in town.

National Anzac Centre

Albany is home to the National Anzac Centre. This award-winning museum overlooks the harbour from which over 41,000 men and women departed Australia for World War 1.

After exploring the interactive displays and media at the museum, explore the fortifications and large coastal guns at the heritage listed Princess Royal Fortress, one of Australia’s oldest coastal military sites.

Other Fun Things to Do in Albany

  • Hop Aboard a Scenic Wildlife Cruise: Sail the sheltered waters of Albany’s Kalgan River on this half-day scenic cruise aboard a glass-bottom vessel. You’ll learn about Albany’s history and wildlife, with the chance to spot hawks, eagles, pelicans and kangaroos.
  • Join a wine-tasting tour: This tour explores the Mt. Barker wine region, best known for its cool climate varieties including riesling, chardonnay and my favourite, pinot noir. Wine tastings and lunch are included on this full-day tour. More information and booking details here.
  • Explore the Granite Skywalk at the Porongorups: you can join a guided tour departing from Albany. Explore new heights from the Granite Skywalk, with a lunch and wine tasting at a local winery on the way back to town.
  • Whale Watching: From June to September the magnificent humpback and Southern Right whales can be seen in the water of King George Sound near Albany. Learn more here.

Dinner & Drinks at Rats Bar

Our last dinner was over the other side of Albany in Middleton Beach.

Rats Bar caught our attention with its delicious sounding menu and great range of local wines. Notably, the risotto was one of the best I had ever had. Rats Bar is recommended for drinks and dinner while in Albany.

Glass of wine and risotto at Rats Bar

Day 7: Albany to Perth

Head over to Naked Bean, touted as one of the best coffee shops in Albany before hitting the road for the long 5 hour drive back to Perth.

You’ll pass nearby the Porongorup National Park, where you can hike up to the Granite Skywalk. Another option would be to do the Bluff Knoll hike in Stirling Range National Park. You can read all about it in my Bluff Knoll guide.

That wraps up your week long road trip exploring the beautiful South West region of Western Australia. There is so much to see and do, but this one week road trip South West WA itinerary gives you time to explore the main sights without feeling too rushed!

You can head further along the south coast and visit Esperance, home to some of WA’s best beaches. Allow at least an additional four nights to your journey. From Albany, it’s a further 5 hour drive to Esperance.

TRAVEL PLANNING RESOURCES
My tried and tested recommendations to make your next trip easier

🛡️ Travel Insurance: For my fellow Aussies, I use CoverMore for domestic and overseas travel insurance and they've been great to deal with. Travel with peace of mind knowing you're covered for unexpected events, ensuring a worry-free journey.

🌐 Stay Connected: After trying an eSim for the first time when travelling Japan & Europe for over 4 months in 2023, I'm officially converted! Thanks to Airalo, gone are the days of needing to physically swap plastic sim cards every time you enter a new country. Stay connected wherever you go by easily and affordably purchasing an eSim for all your travel destinations.

🚗 Easy Car Rental: Enjoy hassle-free car rentals on DiscoverCars with a wide range of options, competitive prices, and excellent customer service. I often find it's cheaper than booking direct, and I can compare a large range of suppliers to make sure I'm getting the best price.

💱 Access Local Currency: I've been using Wise in my business and on my travels to save on currency exchange and it's been a game changer! Wise provide a transparent and cost-effective way to access and manage local currency, with minimal fees and the best exchange rates compared to the traditional travel cards which sneakily charge extra fees and usually give you a poor exchange rate. Find out more here.

🏨 Accommodation: I book all my accommodation through booking.com. Discover their vast selection of accommodations worldwide, with great deals and flexible booking options. Plus, if you join their Genius Loyalty program, you get special benefits and discounts on selected stays.

🌟 Attractions & Tours: GetYourGuide is my preferred platform as they make it super easy to compare different tours, book experiences and get the best prices for tours across the world. I've downloaded their mobile app to have all my bookings in one place to easily pull up details when I've got multiple tours booked.

📸If you're wondering what I've used to capture the photos in this article, you can see what's in my camera bag here.

☕ Finally, if you found this free guide useful, you can buy me a coffee to say thanks :)

Just a quick note to let you know this post may contain affiliate links. At no extra cost to you, I receive a small commission on purchases made through these links. By doing so, you are supporting this blog and allowing me to continue providing you with free high-quality travel guides. Thank you!

30 thoughts on “Best of South West WA: One Week Road Trip Itinerary”

  1. Wait, there is such a thing as underground yoga in a cave?! No way!!! I am adding this to my bucket list right now. That was so cool to learn and realize was a thing out there somewhere. And that name of the bar…Rats Bar. This would catch my eye too. Literally laughing out loud. The food did look delicious and will have to try it one day if I ever make it over. Thanks for sharing this!

    Reply
  2. I was booked and about to head to Aus for three months right before borders started shutting down, so reading Aus posts is so hard lol! But this road trip sounds and looks so amazing, I’m saving it for later. I definitely want to visit for more than three months now!

    Reply
  3. I’ve only been to WA once, but that was more of a romantic trip with my partner (it was our first international trip together), so we didn’t really go around much. Only chilled out in Perth and Fremantle. The next time I visit, I’d love to go on a road trip like this one!

    Reply
  4. Thank you so much Tess !!
    We are going to use this Itenary as a rough guide for my Fiances first trip to Australia !!!

    Theres some locations in here I had never even heard of !! Yoga in Caves sounds really grounding and relaxing and I love Pemberton so much !!
    thanks for all you included.

    Weve been under the pump lately and were sure what route to take through the south west thanks for including accomodation ideas . this was such a time saver instead of writing our own itinery down so we stay on track and not waste any time in our short holiday period.

    Reply
  5. Hi Tess,

    This is great, but Texas isn’t the largest state in the U.S.! Continental maybe, but Alaska is actually 2.5 times bigger than Texas.

    Reply

Leave a Comment