Want to make your way north from the WA capital towards the rugged landscapes of the Kimberley? It is hard to think of a better way to enjoy this part of Western Australia than with drive along the Coral Coast from Perth to Broome. It is the ultimate getaway; full of white sandy beaches, wildlife encounters and epic scenery.
Perth is home to some truly spectacular coastline and its beaches are world-class, and it would be an opportunity missed not to spend some time exploring all of this bounty – and more – before you set out on the open road. Much of Perth can be enjoyed outdoors too, meaning you won’t need to break the bank to experience the treasures of Western Australia’s capital. Ahead, we plan out an itinerary for those wanting to tick off this great road trip, but feel free to add in any extra days or stops that take your fancy along the way!
Days 1 – 3: Perth
Perth has everything, from stunning hiking trails and nature walks, to great museums, galleries, restaurants and more. For the family, spend a day at Adventure World, which is set in a beautifully landscaped botanical garden and has more than 25 rides to enjoy. Thrill-seekers can take a turn on Goliath, a giant pendulum swing ride that will have your heart pumping. There are also roller coasters, water slides and wildlife encounters. The theme park is close to the city centre (only 25 minutes away by car) and entry is free for kids under four years..
For the curious-minded, plan a visit to Scitech, an engaging science centre located in the city centre. The centre features six interactive galleries, live science demonstrations, an interactive laboratory, and Australia’s largest planetarium. Scitech is a great experience for all ages, not just the kids. Another great activity for the family is a trip to Herdsman Lake Regional Park, located a 10 minutes’ drive from Perth’s centre. The park has an abundance of things to do, including walking and cycling tracks, playgrounds and a wildlife viewing centre. If you’re a bird lover, test you skills at spotting any of the more than 100 species of birds that have been recorded at the lake, some of which have travelled from the other side of the world.
Perth is filled with cultural experiences and has a year-round calendar of musical performances, theatre, dance and art. Be sure to see a performance of the West Australian Symphony Orchestra, or check out the program for live entertainment, music and sports at the RAC Arena.
Days 4 – 5: Geraldton
The drive from Perth to Geraldton takes about four-and-a-half-hours direct, but the stretch of coastline you travel along is so scenic you will definitely want to make a stop or two along the way. One possible stop is Yanchep National Park, approximately 45 minutes’ drive from Perth. The park is well-known for its 240-metre-long koala-viewing boardwalk. It’s also home to the western gray kangaroo, which you can spot in abundance early in the morning and late in the day. There are a staggering 400 caves recorded in the park and there are many ways to see this network. Crystal Cave is just one cave, filled with stalactites and other incredible limestone creations. Take a tour to learn about the geological processes and how the formations evolve to this day.
Continue the drive and make your next stop two hours north at Jurien Bay, the ideal spot for a dip in the water. After admiring the coral and colourful fish, drive through Dongara for a quick bite to eat. This quaint seaside town offers healthy lunch options that will fuel you up for your drive to Geraldton.
From Dongara, it’s 40 minutes’ drive to the coastal city of Geraldton. The Esplanade, located at the southern end of the foreshore, has plenty of grassy areas for a picnic or to chill out and relax. West End is a go-to place for coffee, breakfast and anything in between. If you find yourself in town on a Saturday, don’t miss the Geraldton Greenough Farmers Market at Maitland Park, from 8am to noon. This is a great opportunity to fill the car with produce directly from the local farms and kitchens.
Back on the road, your next must-see location is the pink lake at Hutt Lagoon, about a 90-minute drive from Geraldton. Although you may not be familiar with the lake by name, chances are you may already recognise it from Instagram, billboards and postcards. This saltwater marine lake is a popular backdrop for fashion shoots and tourist campaigns, and it gets its striking pink hue from a type of algae in the water.
Days 6 – 7: Kalbarri
It’s a two-hour drive to Kalbarri. On arrival, make a beeline for the recently opened Kalbarri Skywalk, which is set to become a major tourist attraction. The Skywalk includes two twin decks, which are built 100 metres apart, project 25 metres and 17 metres beyond the cliff, respectively, and 100 metres above the Murchison River. The Kalbarri National Park is home to exceptional wildflowers, which will now become even easier to enjoy from the Skywalk. While in Kalbarri you also won’t want to miss the largest parrot free-flight aviary in Australia at the Rainbow Jungle. The Rainbow Jungle is a world leader in the breeding of endangered species and has the largest flock of Purple Crowned Lorikeets in the world! Spend an afternoon at The Rainbow Jungle and even catch a screening at the outdoor cinema, Cinema Parrotiso. Sit back and relax with a movie and snack on a wood-fired pizza from the bar.
If you find yourself in Kalbarri from June to November, then day seven of your road trip might be spent whale-watching. During season, you might be lucky enough to see one or two of the migrating humpback whales travelling along the coastline between Antarctica and Camden Sound. Other species of whales can also be spotted, as well as the occasional dolphin.
Days 8 – 9: Shark Bay
From Kalbarri, make your way to Shark Bay. The drive takes about four-and-a-half-hours and there are a handful of opportunities for pit-stops along the way. Shark Bay is a nature-lover’s oasis, and was the first location in Western Australia to be listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The area is covered in rare flora and fauna, and is home to five of Australia’s 26 endangered mammal species. You can learn more about Shark Bay by visiting the World Heritage Discovery Centre. Entry into the museum will give you a two-day pass should you need more time to explore. If you missed the chance to spot a dolphin in Kalbarri, make sure you visit the Monkey Mia Dolphin Experience between 7:45am and midday. Arrive as early as possible so you don’t miss the dolphins being fed by the rangers.
Spend the afternoon walking along the boardwalk at Eagle Bluff Lookout and keep your fingers crossed for sightings of sharks, rays and turtles. Other things to see and do in Shark Bay include snorkelling around Little Lagoon and swimming at the well-known Shell Beach. Shark Bay is one of only two places in the world where living marine stromatolites exist. These ancient structures were formed by the first living creatures on Earth, more than three billion years ago. See these sights from Hamelin Pool Marine Nature Reserve, a 200-metre boardwalk complete with signage to explain these intriguing organisms.
Days 10 – 11: Exmouth
It’s time to start the drive to Exmouth, but not before first stopping in Carnarvon. Shark Bay to Exmouth will take you slightly more than seven hours and Carnarvon is the ideal place to stretch your legs, as it is located about halfway. It is also known as the ‘salad bowl’ of Western Australia, so is the perfect place to stock up on fresh fruit and vegetables. The best way to do this is to travel along the Gascoyne Food Trail where you can meet the growers and buy produce directly. Every Saturday morning from May to October, the Carnarvon town centre hosts the Gascoyne Growers’ Markets, featuring stalls offering a diverse range of fruits and vegetables, eggs and seafood. Remember to pack your own bag, as the markets are a plastic-free zone! With a full tummy and boot full of local produce, make your way onto the highway to continue towards Exmouth.
Exmouth is a small friendly town. On your first day, plan a tour and swim with whale sharks, or kayak in Mangrove Bay where you might be able to spot fish and other marine life beneath the water surface. The most famous attraction in Exmouth is Ningaloo Reef, home to around 300 species of coral and 500 species of fish. You can swim and snorkel with sea turtles year-round in the Ningaloo Reef inner lagoon, where six of the world’s seven species of sea turtle can be found. Tick off an experience worthy of a documentary by seeing turtle hatchlings scurrying from their nests to the water during season, between December and March. It’s recommended to book a night tour with the Jurabi Turtle Centre so you don’t miss out on the action. Refuel from the busy days at any of Exmouth’s good local diners, including Whalers Restaurant, Mantarays, or even the Nashville-themed Cadillacs Bar & Grill.
Days 12 – 13: Point Samson
Next stop: Port Samson. The drive to Port Samson takes about six hours, so be sure to pack lots of snacks and plan to stop along the way at Nanutarra, Karratha or Dampier. Nanutarra is the approximate halfway point and has a service station, truck stop and a fully licensed restaurant where you can recharge and refuel for the three-hour drive ahead.
The long drive rewards once you arrive on the Point Samson Peninsula: some of Western Australia’s best beach and fishing spots can be found here. Point Samson can be accessed via the Roebourne – Point Samson Road, off the North West Coastal Highway in Roebourne. This town was once a bustling port, but today it has a more relaxed vibe. Take a stroll along John’s Creek and Honeymoon Cove at sunset, or cast a line in the water to see what bites. A dinner of fresh and chips on the beach is the perfect way to wind down the day.
Day 14: Eighty Mile Beach
Your next drive is the four-and-a-half-hour journey to Eighty Mile Beach. Named for its spectacular coastline, this stretch of white sand is also known for fishing and bird watching. Eighty Mile is the longest uninterrupted beach in Western Australia, extending for 220 kilometres. Spend a day soaking up this pristine beach and relaxing on the sand, or stay active with a swim and hike. For accommodation, there are various options of self-contained cabins or caravan parks.
Days 15 – 16: Broome
It’s time to make for your final destination; Broome. Broome has a lot to offer, from renowned beaches, to wildlife experiences and incredible outdoor activities. Spend a day visiting the world-famous Horizontal Falls via fast boat, or book a flight over the scenic Buccaneer Archipelago. See some of the largest dinosaur footprints in the world, made more than 130 million years ago, on the Dinosaur Coast at Dampier Peninsula. These dinosaur tracks are the most diverse in Australia and a must-see.
Every Saturday morning there is a great vibe at the Broome Courthouse Markets, with delicious treats on offer as well as local arts and crafts. If you’re feeling like a pamper session, visit the Bali Hai Spa for a relaxing massage at Cable Beach. The spa also has accommodation options. Finally, it is hard to visit Cable Beach without mentioning one of its most iconic experiences: a camel ride along the sands.
Start planning your road trip through Western Australia today with flights to Perth, accommodation and car hire. You can also save by booking your airfare and accommodation together with one of Webjet’s holiday packages.