The south western corner of WA is one of the most idyllic places in Australia. Here, the glorious turquoise blue water of the Indian & Southern Oceans meets white sandy bays that you can enjoy with only a handful of other people. Whilst the distance between Perth & dreamy Esperance is long, there are plenty of stops to make along the way and if you join a tour you can enjoy the company of your travelling companions as you go. Turn the journey into an epic adventure with Untamed Escapes and join their best selling Margaret River and Esperance Adventure Tour to discover some of the most incredibly beautiful places in Australia whilst camping out under the stars in a classic Aussie swag. This is an experience you’ll never forget!
1. Busselton Jetty
It’s around two and half hours drive to the first stop at Busselton so if you’ve joined the tour then you might want to catch up on some sleep after the early start or watch as the bus rolls out of Perth and the cityscape turns into fields and bushland. Alternatively, it’s a great opportunity to start getting to know your travelling companions. Busselton is a rather lovely little town which is most well known for its jetty which juts a long 1.8km into the ocean. This length makes it the longest timber-piled jetty in the Southern Hemisphere so walk out to stretch your legs and enjoy the ocean breeze. If the timing is right you can jump on the little train to take you along and back. Back on the shore there are plenty of coffee shops around to fuel up for the next drive.
2. Ngilgi Cave
The next place to stop is the fantastic Ngilgi Cave near Yallingup. In my group, none of us were prepared for how spectacular and sprawling this cave system is so an hour easily passes in Ngilgi. There are a remarkable number and size of stalactites, stalagmites and shawls to admire around the cave which have developed over thousands of years. Head down and down to the depths of Cupid’s Corner which is the deepest point in the cave and marvel that this was the first tourist destination in WA and was a popular honeymoon destination! In the amphitheatre you can see why this epic space is sometimes used for concerts.
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3. Canal Rocks & Injidup Natural Sp
All along this section of coast there are some incredible rock formations and after lunch we stopped at a couple of these. Canal Rocks is a stunning section of the Leeuwin-Naturaliste ridge where the churning water of the Indian Ocean has crashed into the granite rock to chisel away dramatic edges and shapes. Traverse the boardwalk around the rocks and as you walk over the channel that’s been carved through feel the force of nature rushing beneath your feet.
Around the corner we stopped at one of the most Instagrammable spots in south western WA, the beautiful Injidup Natural Spa. We didn’t have time (and it was probably a little chilly) to stop for a dip but it looks like it would be lush on a warm day! At this lovely spot, the waves of the Indian Ocean are slowed in their tracks by the rocks that create a natural waterfall and “spa” falling down into the pool. Just look at the colour of that water!
4. Margaret River
If you’re planning for a trip to WA then there’s a very high chance you’ve heard of the Margaret River area and if you’re a fan of wine then an even higher chance that it’s on your agenda. Whilst the Margaret River Wine Region is fairly young, it is home to nearly 100 cellar doors and has plenty of international recognition already. It’s not just wine that you can taste in the area but there are gin distilleries, chocolate factories and cheese shops to eat your way around. The great part about being on a tour is that there’s an automatic designated driver!
The first day is pretty packed so once you’ve had your fill of degustation then it’s time to stop for the night. On the Untamed Escapes tour it’s time to set up swags for the first night under the stars at a nearby campsite.
5. Cape to Cape Walk
Another fab stop on the journey is to enjoy a section of the stunning Cape to Cape Walk which is a 125km coastal hike and typically takes around a week to complete. If you don’t have the time to complete it all then stop and enjoy a shorter section. What’s great about joining the Untamed Escapes tour is that your tour guide will meet you at the opposite end so you don’t need to think about picking your vehicle back up again!
The gorgeous section that we walked was from Condos Beach to Redgate Beach and it was around 6km in length. The perfect short walk to start the day! As you can see the views were pretty stunning and walking along the cliff tops, up above the water you could see how brilliantly turquoise it was. We even spotted a kangaroo hopping across the path at the start of the walk 🦘
6. Bicentennial Tree
Continuing the drive south, the next epic stop is at the Bicentennial Tree in Warren National Park. The tree has previously been used as a fire look out but today you can test your fear of heights by seeing how far you can get up. The highest lookout platform is 165 ‘steps’ above the ground. I’ll be honest with you. I made it up approximately 10 steps before chickening out.
7. Giant Tingle Tree
Sticking with the ‘very big tree’ theme, there’s another spot to stop off here and that’s at the Giant Tingle Tree. Our group of 8 could eeeeasily fit inside the hollowed out trunk of the tree which makes you seem very small indeed. This red tingle tree was hollowed out by a fire (you can see the burnt charcoal of the inside of the trunk like thick tar) to leave behind the skeletal shape you can now walk through.
8. Peaceful Bay
Peaceful Bay is a fabulous place to set up camp at Peaceful Bay Caravan Park and where the tent pitches are so close to the ocean you’ll fall asleep to the gentle sound of the waves rolling into the bay. Wake up early and enjoy a quiet stroll along the beach to understand where the name comes from, before you get ready to set off on the journey again.
9. Elephant Rocks & Greens Pool
After a stroll along Peaceful Bay head towards Denmark where the next stop on the list is to one of the most popular Instagram spots in WA. Elephant Rocks & Greens Pool are two stunning coves in William Bay National Park and Elephant Rocks you’ll have undoubtedly spotted on IG if you’ve been looking up WA. Sadly there aren’t any real elephants here but the granitic rock formations certainly do look like elephants trundling into the water. Around the corner, Greens Pool is a great spot for a swim. The water is so crystal clear and sheltered so it’s a nice safe spot to enjoy.
10. The Gap & Natural Bridge
Before getting to Albany for some lunch, there’s a fabulous stop that you’ll need to make in the Torndirrup National Park. The Gap and Natural Bridge rock formations sit right next to each other as exceptional lookouts over the Southern Ocean. Even on a day that’s not particularly windy you can feel the sea spray and hear the roar of the ocean as it crashes into the rocks beneath you. The lookout over The Gap has been designed with nature in mind so that you can both experience and be amazed at the soaring cliffs around you.
11. Castle Rock
Take a forty minute drive from Albany to reach the start of the walk up to Castle Rock in Porongurup National Park. The start of the walk is through a shady forest and makes a nice break from the hot sun and lack of shelter around the beaches. The walk to the top of Castle Rock is just under 5km return but it is steep in places – especially towards the top. Look out for the Balancing Rock and not long afterwards you’ll meet the start of the Granite Skywalk. This is not for the faint hearted or anyone scared of heights! I’m generally not too bothered by heights but getting up onto the Skywalk did give me the fear! The views are incredible from up here and you can see so far across the landscape so if you can make it up without jelly legs then go for it!
12. Twilight Bay
Make a stop at enchanting Twilight Bay for lunch. You actually get two beaches in one stop as on the other side of the car park from Twilight Bay is Picnic Cove. The water here is unbelievably clear and the sheltered bay at Twilight means the waves are relatively calm so it looks even better! With gorgeous white sand and a spectacular view out to the granite rock island directly in front of you. The beach and the rock formations are reminiscent of a tropical Seychelles island – perfection 🏝
13. Lucky Bay
One of the absolute highlights on a journey from Perth down to Cape le Grand National Park is arriving at breathtaking Lucky Bay. We arrived late in the afternoon and enjoyed watching the sunset as we had a bbq dinner. This far into the wild there is no power so make sure to charge everything before you arrive and bring a torch! The lack of artificial light means this is an epic spot for stargazing as the sunset colours fade and the stars begin to twinkle.
Lucky Bay itself is a gorgeous sweep of bright white sand that stretches in a crescent around this coastal edge of Cape le Grand. The biggest draw to Lucky Bay, however, is probably those photos you’ve seen of kangaroos hopping across the beach. You do have to be pretty lucky (as the name suggests) to actual see any of the bouncy marsupials but your best bet is early in the morning or just before the sun sets as they make their way down to snack on the washed up seaweed. They seem to prefer when there’s less people around and they sleep in the harsh sunshine so you’re pretty unlucky to see them around midday. Unfortunately I didn’t spot any on the beach but there were a number hopping around the campsite and some even came right into our camping spot to say hi! Remember don’t feed or touch them – they’re wild animals!
14. Thistle Cove
From the Lucky Bay campsite there are plenty of walks that mean you don’t even need to get back on the bus! A lovely short walk is from the campsite round to Thistle Cove with amazing views out to the ocean and taking in the rugged landscape. Just before reaching Thistle Cove we stopped at the Whistling Rock which funnels the wind so that it ‘whistles’.
Cape le Grand National Park has a string of gorgeous beaches and Thistle Cove is a beauty. The sand is so white it looks like salt and the water so turquoise. We were lucky enough to spot dolphins playing in the water here which was such a highlight of the trip 🐬
15. Frenchman Peak
The last activity in Cape le Grand and impressive place to see is Frenchman Peak. The mountain was said to be shaped like the hat of a Frenchman and the name has stuck. It’s a fairly short walk up the granite peak but that doesn’t make it easy. The rock is steep and slippery (made worse in wet weather) so you need shoes with good grip and it’s super important to follow the route markers up and down. Those that can put in the effort will be rewarded at the top with spectacular views across the national park! Notice the epic cave as well which naturally frames the view and acts as a short reprieve from the elements on a windy day!
16. Wave Rock
The last day of the tour has the most driving because it’s time to head all the way back to Perth and there’s around 750km of ground to cover. This is definitely one of the moments that you’ll be glad if you booked the tour! With a tour guide to drive you, you don’t need to pay attention to the road and you’ve got time to crack on through that novel you still haven’t opened yet or watch the Netflix series you downloaded (probably to watch for the third time 😉).
After a couple of toilet / coffee / fuel stops we arrived at Wave Rock in time to eat our packed lunch and have an hour to wonder at this fantastic natural marvel. Wave Rock was formed over 2,700 million years ago and the granite structure is marked by swathes of colour running down its 10m height and along its 100m length. It’s so called because of its appearance much like a giant surfing wave and so you’ve got to take that iconic surfing pic!
17. Rabbit Proof Fence
You’ve probably heard of the rabbit proof fence and it’s not hard to guess what it is! Although you may have heard of it because of the film with the same name released in 2002. On the tour you’ll make a very brief stop to see one of the longest fences in the world and snap a photo. As you can guess the fence was built to try and keep the rabbit population of Australia under control when the number of rabbits very rapidly grew from just a few to millions…
One last stop before heading back to Perth is in the fantastic oldy worldy town of York which has some fabulous facades along its Main Street. Take a step back in time as you visit the Motor Museum, Penny Farthing Sweet Shop and the book shop!
I hope you’re feeling inspired to book your trip to south western WA. There are so many fantastic experiences to enjoy here with beautiful landscapes and epic adventures to be had. So. What are you waiting for? It’s time to book that tour!