All travel requires some planning but the level of detail varies. This trip required enough that I thought it would be useful to write this post as a place to store links to sites with details about the places we might visit. Much of it will be little more than bookmarks with comments.
Majella had been wanting to see the Western Australian wildflowers and we first started planning this trip for her 70th birthday in September 2020. We had spoken about it with Lynne and John Nunan and they decided to join us. COVID-19 interfered in 2020 so we planned again for 2021. Majella and I were to drive a rented camper van across the Nullarbor, meet Lynne and John in Perth, switch to a rental car, and continue around the southwest. WA kept its borders closed for COVID-19 and we had to abandon that plan. Now in 2023 the borders are open and we are booked to fly to Perth on 10 September.
When we first started planning for this trip I found a set of itineraries developed by Tourism West Australia. Among those, a 12 day itinerary for the South West Edge seemed to suit us best so we adopted that with the addition of a diversion to New Norcia and a day or two in Perth at either end. Lynne kindly worked through that plan and booked accommodation for our 2021 trip before COVID intervened. For 2023 we used that as a base and Lynne once again booked the accommodation but could not match exactly what she had booked in 2021, especially in smaller places where accommodation is scarce.
Because New Norcia is north of Perth and the balance of our itinerary is south, that diversion fitted best at the beginning or end. Contact confirmed that accommodation was available for the first two nights of our trip so we booked that. Later we discussed Lynne’s suggestion of visiting The Pinnacles while in that area and found room in our itinerary to do that.
The South West Edge itinerary identifies towns for overnight stays and suggests things to do enroute from one town to the next or in the local area. It does not suggest a sequence of activities or even how much time should be allowed. Getting the most out of the available time was going to need more detailed planning based on information I could glean by searching the web for things mentioned in the outline itinerary. What follows is a day by day plan with links to sites with information about the places and activities I managed to squeeze into our more detailed itinerary in Tripit. I attempted to fit daily activities between 9:00 am and 5:00 pm with suggestions for times but they may change and there will be flexibility to drop something if we are not interested or add something that seems more interesting at the time. There is a Google Map showing the planned route embedded below.
(Driving: 124 km, 1.5 h)
We will arrive at Perth Airport in the middle of the day and collect our rental car. It’s 1.5 hours to New Norcia where we have ensuite accommodation booked for 2 nights in the monastery guesthouse with meals included. On Monday we can visit the museum and take the afternoon guided tour. There will be time to relax and look around independently.
(Driving: 520 km, 6 h)
We will drive about 2 hours to The Pinnacles and follow the drive trail around the loop. From there we will drive about 4 hours south to our accommodation at Bunbury with stops for refreshment and sightseeing along the way.
(Driving: 160 km, 2.5 h)
- Drive about an hour south and west to Busselton Jetty for morning coffee and local exploration
- Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse, about 40 minutes west, might be a good spot for a picnic lunch
- Ngilgi Cave about 30 minutes south seems worth a look
- From there it is about an hour south to our accommodation for 2 nights at Margaret River.
(Driving: 100 km, 2.5 h)
- It’s a 15 minute drive to Prevelly to see the surf beach and a segment of the Cape to Cape Track. There should be morning coffee there.
- Boranup Karri Forest Viewpoint is about 30 minutes south through Karri forest but might take longer with sightseeing
- Nearby Pies & Ale might be good for lunch
- Vasse Felix winery is a 45 minute drive north via a different road
- The Tom Cullity Food & Wine Trail ends at Vasse Felix but we can do it in reverse and end at the Margaret River Chocolate Company
- Cowararamup is on the way back to Margaret River and has a variety of attractions
(Driving: 225 km, 3.5 h)
- Nannup is about an hour east
- We would pass Kondil Park just before reaching Nannup but we might want coffee in Nannup before we spend an hour to walk the Wildflower Wander Trail
- The Four Aces (Karri trees) are near Glenoran, about 30 minutes east
- Fifteen minutes further east is King Jarrah near Manjimup, which might be a lunch stop
- It’s a bit more than 30 minutes drive south and west to Beedelup Falls
- There may not be much to see at Snottygobble Loop but it’s not far and the name seems irresistible
- Dave Evans Bicentennial Tree is on the way to Cascades closer to Pemberton
- A short deviation on the way to our Pemberton accommodation will take in the Gloucester Tree
(Driving: 320 km, 4.75 h)
- Great Forest Trees Drive is about 30 minutes toward Denmark. It is a 48 km loop on gravel road, though it crosses the highway midway so it should be possible to do half (or none) if that seems better
- It’s about 45 minutes further on to Walpole where, depending on time, we might want coffee and/or an early lunch
- From Walpole to Mount Frankland Wilderness Lookout is 30 minutes, mostly on sealed road
- Valley of the Giants Tree Top Walk is 45 minutes further on
- Elephant Rocks is in William Bay National Park just short of Denmark
- If we time it right we should reach Denmark Chocolate Factory near our accommodation before it closes at 4:30 pm
- Our accommodation is next door to Monkey Rock Winery & Cider and just down the road from The Dam restaurant
(Driving: 200 km, 3.25 h)
- The Granite Skywalk in Porongurup National Park looks amazing but the trails site suggests 1 to 3 hours for the 4.7 km (return) Grade 5 walk. Some of us might prefer to walk just part of it or simply look at it and move on.
- The National Anzac Centre at Albany is about 45 minutes away. There should be lunch there or nearby before taking a look around.
- The Historic Whaling Station is about 30 minutes away near Torndirrup National Park.
- We can see the Blowholes and Sharp Point Lookout on the way back to Albany and our accommodation.
(Driving: 560 km, 6 h)
- It’s 2 hours to Jerramungup which might be a coffee stop
- Hopetoun is almost 2 hours further on and a likely lunch stop
- From Hopetoun it’s only 15 minutes or so to East Mount Barren in Fitzgerald River National Park
- Esperance is a little more than 2 hours further
(Driving: 140 km, 2.5 h)
- For our day around Esperance the Scenic Wildlife Cruise looks like a good way to spend the morning around islands in the Recherche Archipelago
- After lunch Esperance Stonehenge can be seen on the way to Cape Le Grand National Park
- Back at Esperance there is the 40 km Great Ocean Drive Tourist Loop to fill out the day
(Driving: 560 km, 6 h)
- Ravensthorpe is 2 hours out of Esperance and a likely coffee stop
- Another 2 hours will get us to Hyden and Wave Rock where we should find lunch
- Mulka’s Cave is just 15 minutes away and worth a look
- The Tin Horse Highway near Kulin may be worth the slight deviation on the road to Corrigin where we stop for the night
(Driving: 230 km, 3 h)
- The Corrigin Dog Cemetery is just out of town on the way toward Perth
- A stop for morning coffee at York would allow for some sightseeing of heritage buildings
- Depending on time along the way we may be too early for our Perth hotel so a short deviation to South Ledge and Golden View Lookout may be appropriate
Days 13 & 14
There will be time to explore Perth and surrounds.
Our itinerary includes visits to several national parks. For some of those access is free but for others there is an entry fee. Our best strategy may be to buy and print an online pass that will allow access to any park over a 2 week period.