Perth - Exmouth
Western Australia is an epic road trip destination and one of the best ones is definitely Perth up to Exmouth- there is so much to see, so below I have listed all the places we have stopped and recommend along the way.
Your first stop is only about 40 mins out of Perth – here you will find a beautiful lagoon – perfect for swimming and snorkelling.
If you’re interested in wildlife head to Yanchep national park where you can see western Australia’s only population of Koalas along the Koala boardwalk – these koalas were brought over from Victoria many years ago as they are no longer found naturally in WA but they seem to be pretty happy here and can be seen lounging or munching on leaves. There is also plenty of kangaroos and birdlife to be seen in the park
Lancelin is a small town on the coast which offers the opportunity to drive on some epic sand dunes if you have a 4x4 – if you don’t you can rent dune buggies or join a tour.
The Pinnacles desert
You can either do a self-drive or a hike through this beautiful natural wonder – make sure you stop by the discovery centre after to ponder how they were made and learn a little about the area and wildlife
If you want to spend money on any activities on this road trip make it the sea lion tour in jurien bay- It costs 120 dollars for a morning with these puppies of the sea and it is so worth it! Watch as they twirl around you and try to entice you to play if your lucky one might even give you a kiss- they are truly amazing and curious animals and being in the water with them is an experience like no other. If you have a little spare time after this then check out sandy cape recreational area, which is a great little camp spot with beautiful beaches – and if your looking for even more beach action on your way up to the next stop check out green head or leeman which both have beautiful coastline and more sealion spotting opportunities.
4.5 - Make a stopover at Hut Lagoon to admire the pink hues of this lake.
Kalbarri is a mix of coastal cliffs, inland gorges and beautiful beaches meaning there really is something for everyone. Some of the must spots include: Blue Holes Beach for blue water and snorkeling opportunities, Red Bluff beach to see the rugged waves against the red rocks, Z bend trail to take in the views of the river and Pot Alley gorge to see the beautiful coastal cliffs.
The colours of shark bay are really something to behold, those red sands contrasting against the turquoise waters are truly magical. Shark bays most famous residents despite its name happen to be dolphins who have visited the beach of Monkey Mia since the 60’s – it may be something of a tourist trap but you can’t deny it is an amazing feeling seeing a wild dolphin up close in knee high water. If you’re wanting to see its namesakes animal instead head to Eagle Bluff – there’s a boardwalk here where you can watch out for marine animals and if you take left from the carpark and drive down the unsealed roads you can walk along the edge of the cliffs giving you a great vantage point for shark spotting. Other spots to not miss include Shell Beach and Little Lagoon. To get to the end of the peninsula aka Francious Peron national park you will need a 4x4 but if you have one then head in and camp at one of the designated camp grounds – it’s a rough ride but you’ll be rewarded with pristine beaches and red cliffs and plenty of sea life spotting opportunities from land and in the water- we spotted dolphins, sharks, rays and even a dugong.
Quobba/ Gnaraloo stations
This is the start of the Ningaloo reef but much less busy than the likes of Coral Bay and Exmouth where you’ll end up. If you don’t have a 4x4 you will only be able to access point Quobba but even this is worthwhile – you can see some amazing blow holes and then swim in the crystal-clear waters of the aptly named ‘aquarium’. If you do have a 4x4 its time to head out onto the unsealed road towards Red Bluff and Gnarloo- make sure you’ve filled up with fuel at Carnarvon ( who also have a very cute little cactus garden for photos ops) and possibly have a jerry can too plus lots of water as its quite a way and you then have to come all the way back as there’s no through road continuing along the coast. We camped at Red Bluff but there is also 3 miles campsite at Gnaraloo which has a few more facilities if you prefer. Red Bluff is a beautiful long stretch of sand flanked by a red cliff – it has a big surf scene but it also has beach caves and rock pools to explore at low tide and plenty of sea life. Make sure you take a day trip out to Gnaraloo bay for pristine blue waters and great snorkelling.
This is where we spotted our first manta ray which happens to be my favourite animal so it holds a special place in my heart – here you can camp directly on the beach with the Ningaloo reef right on your doorstop, you can access a portion of it by 2wd but a 4wd would be required to fully explore – out favourite spot was the lagoon.
Coral bay is a small town that can get extremely busy but for good reason – it has extremely easy access to the beautiful Ningaloo beach – the snorkelling here is incredible and just metres of the shore- the main beach is a perfect spot to spend the day snorkelling and lazing on the sand and I wouldn’t blame you for spending your whole time there but if you fancy a bit more exploring head to Skeleton Beach where in the right season you can see tons of baby sharks swimming in the shallows and after you’ve finished with that head to Five Fingers Reef either with a 4x4, or quite a substantial walk from the boat ramp here you can swim with turtles and dolphins if you’re lucky. Turtle cliffs which is further along this road offers a beautiful view over the sea.
And you’ve finally made it – make sure you spend some time in Exmouth as it has so much to offer. Check out the Jurabi coastal park where you can see turtles either laying eggs or hatching if you’re here at the right time of year but if not don’t worry the beaches are beautiful anyway. After that head into Cape Range national park for more beautiful beaches and great snorkelling opportunities- the amount of life in the water here is amazing and you’re basically guaranteed to see a turtle- if you feel like lounging on the beach head to turquoise or sandy bay if you’re in the mood for more of a snorkel head to Oyster Stacks or Lakeside. And last but not least and what I’m sure many people have come here for book yourself on a whale shark tour to experience swimming with these gentle giants.