Australia is the world’s sixth-largest country by total area and the smallest continent. In Australia there are 6 states: Western Australia, South Australia, New South Wales, Queensland, Tasmania and Victoria, and two major continental territories Northern Territory (NT) and Australian Capital Territory (ACT).
In this article, we recommend to you a 2-week itinerary to Western Australia, the largest Australian state.
To get the most authentic experiences, the best option is to drive through Western Australia.
One of our passions is to observe the animals in their natural environment, and in Western Australia we encountered many emu families, eagles, lizards, and several hundred kangaroos.
Before we visited Australia, we spent a few days in Asia. From Kuala Lumpur, we flew with AirAsia to Perth – the capital of Western Australia. The tickets cost 120 AUD / person.
More details about how to get the visa and about the budget can be read here.
We bought a sim card from the airport, we chose an option with a lot of internet traffic from OPTUS for the price of AUD 30.
The coverage was ok except in Western Australia, where the network worked only in the larger cities.
The best way to discover Western Australia is from the campervan
We hired a small campervan from Apollo.
Apollo is about 2 km away from Perth Airport. The small distance is a great advantage considering that there is no free transfer from the airport.
We paid 77 AUD / day including insurance plus 100 AUD deposit/ bond, which we received back after returning the car.
Staff at Apollo was very kind, they showed us how the car worked. In less than 30 minutes we got the car keys and we began our journey.
Our camper had a double bed, a TV and a fully equipped kitchen: fridge, sink, hob and cooking utensils.
Since we were about to spend the next few days in less populated areas in Western Australia, where there were no restaurants, we went shopping in a supermarket before leaving Perth. Here we bought everything we needed to cook for the next few days, and plenty of water.
Applications we have used in Western Australia:
Can I Fly There? – is an application we’ve used to check where we were allowed to fly the drone and where not.
Uber: – taxi from the airport to Apollo.
Fuel Map Australia: – shows you all the gas stations on the route, their schedule, the prices they have, and the distance from you to them.
Wikicamps: – is an app that shows you all the campsites, rest areas and car parks on your route, as well as details of the price.
What should you take with you in Western Australia?
- Light walking shoes or good trail runners
- Sunscreen lotion
- Waterproof backpack
- Insect Repellent
Our Western Australia road trip plan:
From Perth you can reach Karijini National Park on two routes, we have chosen to go via one route and return via the other.
We took the Great Northern Highway to Karijini (a road that takes you through the less inhabited regions of Australia) and we returned to Perth via the coast.
We recommend that you take at least 2 weeks for this itinerary.
Karijini National Park:
You can find more information about Australian parks on this website.
The road from Perth to the Karijini National Park:
The first tourist destination we visited in Western Australia was the Karijini National Park. The distance from Perth to Karijini on the Great Northern Highway is 1390 kilometers, and we covered this distance in 2 days.
Because you have to drive a lot between two towns in Western Australia, especially on the Great Northern Highway, we advise that you refuel every time you find a gas station on the way. We almost remained out of gas because we underestimated the distance between the towns.
We were not allowed to drive the rented car after dark, probably because there were many animals on the road at night.
On the first evening, we arrived in Meekatharra, which is almost halfway between Perth and Karijini.
Because we chose to book the accommodation in Western Australia directly on arrival, we used the Wikicamps application to look for the closest camping, but unfortunately, when we arrived there, the camping was already closed.
24-hours rest area:
Given the situation, we used the Wikicamps application to get to the nearest 24-hour rest area and we spent the night there.
Such places are very common in Western Australia, they are a kind of free camping, where you can stay overnight. They have picknick areas and toilets, but they do not have showers.
This is a good option, especially when you travel on a budget.
We spent 2 nights in such campsites and there were always caravans, tents or Road Trains in the campgrounds. The campsites were very well maintained and very clean.
When is it recommended to visit the park?
The best time to visit the park is between April and October, as this is the dry season, and the temperature isn’t so high.
We visited the park in October, and the temperature was perfect.
In the winter months there are lots of flowers in the park, offering, together with red rocks and sand, a spectacular view.
During the summer (December – February) some trails may be closed due to the rains, and the temperature often exceeds 40 degrees.
Entrance fee for the park:
Western Australia’s parks have an entrance fee, which, when we visited the park, was 12 AUD / car.
You can buy the pass online and print it, or you can buy it directly from the first park you visit in Western Australia.
Where can you stay at Karijini National Park?
Tom Price is the nearest town to Karijini National Park. The city is 100 kilometers away from the Karijini Visitor Center.
In Tom Price, you can find a gas station, supermarkets, restaurants and accommodation facilities.
It is advisable to fuel here because there is no gas station within Karijini and the distance between the trails in the park is quite large.
Tom Price Tourist Park:
We stayed for two nights at the Tom Price Tourist Park.
The park is clean and has a kitchen, a laundry room, toilets, showers, and a swimming pool.
If you have a camper, you can choose between powered caravan sites (42 AUD / 2 adults) and unpowered caravan and camping sites (16 AUD /adult), where you can camp under the stars and enjoy serviced caravan parks.
The sockets and the fridge in our campervan only worked if the car’s engine was running or if the car was connected to a power source, so we opted for a powered site.
Where can you stay inside the Karijini National Park?
On the last night we stayed inside the Karijini National Park at Dales Campground, where we paid 12 AUD / person for an unpowered site.
The camp is situated in a good area, a 10-minute walk from the Fortescue Falls and the Three Ways Lookout.
Here just unpowered caravan and camping sites are available.
There are no showers in the camping site, only toilets, but you can use the showers at Karijini Visitor Center, which is 10 kilometers away from the campsite.
Karijini Eco Retreat Camping:
It is located in the Weano Gorge area, about one hour away from the Dales Campground.
There you can find several accommodation options: powered and unpowered caravan sites, tents or private cabins.
In the campsite, there are toilets, showers, a restaurant, and a café.
The roads in the park:
Some of the roads in the Karijini National Park are sealed and some unsealed, but well-maintained and accessible with a 2WD vehicle.
For more details, we advise you to buy a map of the park from the Karijini Visitor Centre or to study the map panel at the entrance to the Visitor Centre.
We were not allowed to drive the rented car on unsealed roads for more than 12 kilometers (only to get to the recognized campgrounds).
On unsealed roads, we drove the campervan on short distances, very slowly and carefully, but whenever possible, we chose the sealed roads even if the distance was longer.
We spent 3 days in the Karijini National Park, and we had time to see everything we had planned to visit, but we would have liked to spend another 2 days there, because the park is huge and there are many interesting trails.
Next to each trail, there is a parking lot, toilets, and picnic areas.
Day trips in Karijini
Some of the sights we visited can only be reached on unsealed roads, and if you are not allowed to drive the rented car on such roads, it is good to know that there is a company that organizes adventure tours in the park.
They have access to some gorges with more difficult trails, where access is restricted for other visitors.
Trails we think you shouldn’t miss:
The Karijini Visitor Centre
This is the best place to start your visit of the Karijini National Park. There you can buy souvenirs, ice cream, refreshments or park maps.
From here we bought the Park Pass. The Pass costs AUD 60 and allows you to drive through all Western Australian parks for a 4-week period.
The staff can answer your questions about the park trails, road conditions and park history.
There is also an exhibition inside, where you can learn about the geology, plants, and animals in the park, as well as the history and culture of the aboriginal people.
Dales Gorge: Fortescue Falls, Fern Pool and Circular Pool
The Dales Campground is located 10 kilometers away from the Karijini Visitor Center.
It is situated about a 10-minute walk away from the Fortescue Falls. If you aren’t staying in the camping, there is a parking lot next to the trail.
We thought this was the easiest trail we hiked in Karijini. It took us about 3 hours to visit the Fortescue Falls, Fern Pool, and Circular Pool.
From the parking lot, you have to descend many metal stairs to get to the Fortescue Falls.
At the end of the stairs, there are the Fortescue Falls and a natural swimming pool. We did not swim in this pool, but there were a lot of people who were swimming there.
If you turn right at the Fortescue Falls, you will reach the Fern Pool in about 10 minutes.
If you turn left, you can hike the 2-kilometer trail to the end of the Dales Gorge, where the Circular Pool is located.
The section from the Fortescue Falls to the Circular Pool was our favorite one. On this route, we encountered different kinds of birds and amazing landscapes:
It took us an hour to reach the Circular Pool, the natural pool located at the end of the trail.
From the Circular Pool, we climbed the stairs to the Circular Pool Lookout (a platform from which you have a beautiful view of the Circular Pool), and the Three Ways Lookout from which you can admire the Dales Gorge from above.
We returned to the car on another trail – the Gorge Rim Track. This trail takes you above the gorge and is much shorter and easier, we arrived at the car in 20 minutes.
Weano Day Area
How can you get there?
Weano Day Area is 12 kilometers of unsealed road away from Karijini Eco Retreat. We went there with the rented car, and the road was in a very good state.
From Karijini Visitor Center, you can reach Karijini Eco Retreat either on a shorter, but unsealed road, or on a sealed road.
Both roads are accessible via a 2WD car, but the unsealed road is harder to drive on with a 2WD car, and it can take a long time to travel, so if you do not have much time, we recommend that you choose the sealed road.
From the same car park – the Weano Day Area – you can access 3 trails: the Weano Gorge, Oxer Lookout, and Hancock Gorge trails.
The Weano Gorge Trail
The trail starts with an easier part, then comes a section of the route where you can choose to go through the water, or you can choose to climb the rocks.
When the route becomes a little more difficult, it becomes more beautiful and exciting. We did not find it hard to get to the end of the trail. We met families with 5 or 6-year-old children, who hiked the whole route.
At a certain point, you get to a section where the space between the walls of the gorge become narrower. Here you can make a kind of Spider Walk.
At the end of the Spider Walk section, there are some stairs that are very easy to descend to reach the Handrail Pool. This is a huge natural pool surrounded by the tall walls of the gorge.
From the Handrail Pool, you can choose to return to the parking on the same route or continue to the end of the trail.
However, in order to continue, you have to be prepared to get wet, because on the last part of the trail you have to swim or walk through deep water.
We put our stuff in our waterproof backpacks and continued through the water. On some sections, we swam, and on other sections, we just walked through the water.
The trail from the Handrail Pool to the end is spectacular and it takes about 20 minutes return.
At the end of the trail, you reach a section of the gorge that is closed and you must return to the parking area on the same route.
We hiked the whole trail in 2 hours.
The Hancock Gorge trail starts from the same parking as the Weano Gorge trail – the Weano Day Area. The route begins by descending a rather steep metal ladder.
The Hancock Gorge is famous for the Spider Walk section, but we liked the whole route. To cross some sections of the route we had to walk through water, and other sections we chose to hike by climbing the cliffs.
After a spectacular route, you get to the famous section – the Spider Walk, which you can only cross with a foot on a wall and with the other foot on the opposite wall of the gorge.
After crossing the Spider Walk you reach Kemit’s Pool, a beautiful natural pool located between the high walls of the gorge.
From here you return to the parking area on the same route. We hiked the whole trail in 2 hours.
The Oxer and Junction Pool Lookouts
It can be reached from the same parking as the Weano Gorge and the Hancock Gorge trails.
This is a short 800-meter trail that offers a spectacular view of the place where 4 gorges meet: the Weano Gorge, the Hancock Gorge, the Joffre Gorge, and the Red Gorge.
The distance between Tom Price and Hamersley Gorge is about 70 kilometers, and it took us an hour and a half to get there because part of the road was unsealed.
From the parking lot, you must descend some stone stairs to get to the river where you can swim along the gorge and admire the beautiful colors of the rocks.
To the right of the river there is a cascade, that did not have much water when we were there.
Hamersley Gorge is famous for the Spa Pool, a natural pool, bordered almost entirely by walls of colorful rocks. The best time to visit this place is early in the morning.
Unfortunately, the section of the trail containing the Spa Pool has been closed for an indefinite period, due to the many accidents that happened on this route.
To get to the Spa Pool, you have to climb the rocks next to the waterfall and pass by another natural pool.
The Spa Pool is at the end of the route, the pool is quite small, but the waterfall that flows into the pool and the beautifully colored walls around it make it truly special.
It will take you 20 minutes to get from the parking area to the Spa Pool.
Before you drive all the way up to the Hamersley Gorge just to see the Spa Pool, check if the trail from the river to the pool has been reopened.
How do you get from Hamersley Gorge to the Karijini Visitor Center?
There are two ways to get from the Hamersley Gorge to the Karijini Visitor Center. A shorter way (but on an unsealed road), which we do not recommend, unless you have a 4WD car or enough time to drive a 2WD car.
The second option is to go back to Tom Price and from there the road to the Karijini Visitor Center is sealed.
Other trails in the Karijini National Park:
The Joffre Gorge
The gorge is a 5-minute walk away from the Karijini Eco Retreat. If you are not staying at the Karijini Eco Retreat, there is a parking lot at the entry of the trail – the Joffre Falls car park.
Above the gorge, there are 2 platforms, from which you can see the waterfall.
The cascade trail is 1.3 kilometers in length and can be done within an hour.
The trail looks pretty much like the Weano Gorge trail, and at the end, there is a natural amphitheater on whose walls a waterfall flows into a beautiful natural pool.
The Kalamina Gorge
The gorge is halfway on the unsealed road between the Dales Gorge and the Karijini Eco Retreat.
The trail is 3 kilometers return, and can be covered in about 2 hours. It is an easier route, and given its more isolated location, it is less crowded.
The Knox Gorge
The entrance to the gorge is between the Kalamina Gorge and the Karijini Eco Retreat. At the intersection of the Banjima Dr and Joffre Rd choose Joffre Road, the road passes by the Joffre Gorge car park and ends at Knox Gorge.
It is a difficult but spectacular trail, with many challenges. It is a 2-kilometer return trail that can be done in 2 hours.
The route from Tom Price (Karijini) to Coral Bay
The distance between the two cities is 610 Kilometers. Here at first we went on the route that the GPS showed us, and arrived on an unsealed road leading to Nanutarra.
We returned to Tom Price, the only place where our phones had coverage near the Karijini National Park, to look for another route with a sealed road.
From Tom Price, we took the road to Paraburdoo, and from there the road to Nanutarra was sealed.
Since we spent a lot of time searching for the sealed road option, we were not able to get to Coral Bay before dark, and overnight we stayed in a 24-hour Rest Area between Nanutarra and Coral Bay.
Early in the morning, we continued our journey and we arrived in Coral Bay just in time for breakfast.
Ningaloo Marine Park:
The Ningaloo Marine Park stretches over a distance of nearly 300 kilometers in Western Australia, from the Exmouth Bay to the north of Carnarvon.
Over 500 species of tropical fish and around 200 species of corals live here.
The Ningaloo Reef is often visited by whales, dolphins, turtles, manta rays, and giant whale sharks.
Between April and July, you can take a day trip from Coral Bay, to swim with the whale sharks, which are 4 to 12 meters long.
What can you do in Coral Bay?
Walk on Coral Bay Walk Way
As soon as you get to the car park you have a wonderful view over the entire bay, where the water has an unreal blue color.
From the parking, the trail leads down to a beach, and then the route continues 2 kilometers along the Ningaloo Reef, which borders the bay making the water look even bluer.
The water is crystal clear, so there are high chances to see dolphins, manta rays or turtles.
Bill’s Bay – a snorkeling paradise
We spent most of our time in Coral Bay in this place. Bill’s Bay is a bay with a white sandy beach and it is very close to the city center.
The beach is 4 kilometers long and the water has a blue-turquoise color.
What most impressed us here is that the Ningaloo Reef is very close to the beach, you only have to swim a few meters to get to the reef.
The visibility underwater was good, the corals were very beautiful, and bigger than we had expected. Most of them were blue, and many colorful fish swam around them.
This was our favorite spot for snorkeling in Western Australia.
We spent a whole day in Coral Bay, but we would have liked to stay longer. Although there are many accommodation options in Coral Bay, we chose to stay in Exmouth, which is 150 kilometers north of Coral Bay.
Here you can swim with some of the biggest creatures in the ocean: Whale Sharks and Manta Rays
Between April and July you can take a day trip from Exmouth to swim with the whale sharks, which are 4 to 12 meters long.
Manta Rays are present throughout the year near the Ningaloo Coral Reef, but the best chance to see them is from mid-May to mid-September when their number around the reef increases significantly.
We advise you to choose a one-day trip from Exmouth where you can swim with both manta rays and whale sharks.
Where did we stay?
We chose to stay at RAC Caravan Park in Exmouth. We arrived there around 9 PM and the camp reception was closed.
It’s very easy to get an unpowered site for your campervan, even if the reception is closed, you have to fill in a form with your bank details, insert the form into a mailbox, and take an access card to enter the park.
Based on this completed form, you will be charged for the accommodation.
What did we visit near Exmouth?
How can you get there?
It is 18 km away from Exmouth, and the road leading there is sealed.
We left very early in the morning to Turquoise Bay and we drove for about an hour to get there.
On this road, we saw a lot of kangaroos and emus. They stared at us from the edge of the road, almost asking us to stop for another photo session.
Turquoise Bay is a bay with tranquil, blue water, and a white sandy beach. The beach is amazingly beautiful, one of the most beautiful beaches we have visited in Australia.
Since we had arrived early in the morning, we spent a few hours alone on the beach. The coral reef is just a few meters from the beach and you can go snorkeling.
We saw several reef sharks very close to the beach, and we saved a sea star that had been forgotten by the waves on the sand.
From Turquoise Bay you have to drive a further 17 kilometers to get to Sandy Bay, another particularly beautiful bay.
At the entrance to the beach, there are picnic areas. This is an ideal place to enjoy breakfast, admiring the spectacular views.
Some people were kitesurfing here.
We snorkeled here as well, but there was a strong current compared to Turquoise Bay and we did not swim very far from the shore.
On the way to Sandy Bay, we saw several roads leading to various beaches, and we chose to visit some of them on the way back.
This is a place specially designed for bird watching in a small lagoon between the mangroves on the beach.
Jurabi Turtle Centre
Here you can learn many things about the types of turtles that live around the Ningaloo Reef. If your visit takes place between November and April, then you might see the turtles coming to the beach at night to lay their eggs.
Shark Bay Marine Park and Monkey Mia
From Exmouth we headed to Denham, the distance between the two locations is 620 kilometers and we drove for a whole day to get there.
What can you visit on the Exmouth – Denham route?
Hamelin Pool – 130 kilometers from Denham
The Hamelin Pool stromatolites are the oldest and largest living fossils on earth. To get there, you do not have to go far from the main road, and the visit takes about an hour.
Shell Beach – 45 kilometers from Denham
This beautiful white beach is one of only two beaches in the world made entirely from shells.
Eagle Bluff – 23 kilometers from Denham
We decided to visit this place at the last moment, and we are glad that we did. There is a platform located above a bay with very clear, blue water.
We recommend that you take binoculars and a great zoom camera with you and spot some manta rays, turtles or sharks.
Little Lagoon Denham – 5 kilometers from Denham
It is a lagoon with light blue water that communicates with the ocean. It is located 20 kilometers from the Monkey Mia.
The lagoon is visible from the main road, and it’s very easy to get there by car. You can drive down to the lagoon and if you have a 4WD car, you can circle the lagoon by car.
It is a perfect place for relaxation, picnicking or swimming and there are also barbecue and picnic areas.
We planned to visit Monkey Mia early in the morning, but unfortunately, we woke up too late.
Almost every morning dolphins, in numbers of 4 to 7, come to the shore in Monkey Mia to be fed by humans. Dolphin tours take place between 7:45 a.m and 12:00 p.m.
We missed this activity because we arrived too late, but we saw two dolphins swimming in the bay, one of them was very small and sweet.
The ticket price is 15 Aud / person. More details about activities and prices can be found here.
The beach is very long, and it is divided into several areas. In one area you are not allowed to swim (the area where dolphins are feed in the morning), but you are allowed to swim in another area.
During our stay on the beach, we saw a dolphin come very close to a girl who was swimming.
This means that if you’re lucky, you can swim very close to the dolphins, but you have to be careful to follow the rules in case a dolphin approaches you in the water as you are not allowed to touch them.
We stayed in Denham, a very nice city on the ocean coast, where it is very pleasant to walk along the seafront in the city and look at the blue water in the bay.
Here there are many possibilities for accommodation and several restaurants.
Where can you stay in Dehnham?
Our choice was Shark Bay Caravan Park.
Kalbarri National Park
The distance from Denham to Kalbari is 377 kilometers.
The park was much greener than Karijini, and there were plenty of flowers on both sides of the road, in a spectacular display of color.
In Kalbarii you can see kangaroos, birds and many different types of vegetation.
Nature’s Window and The Loop Trail:
The route to Nature’s Window is 1-kilometer return.
From Nature’s Window, the Loop Trail begins, which is about 9 kilometers long and you can walk the trail within 3 hours.
The route is very spectacular, it is basically a loop that follows the Murchison River.
Hawks Head Walk
It’s a short 200-meter return trail.
Pink Lake – Hutt Lagoon
The Pink Lake Hutt Lagoon is located 50 kilometers away from Kalbarri. The lake has a length of 14 kilometers and a width of 2.3 kilometers.
When you head for Port Gregory, you drive on a road which is very close to the lake.
There are many car parks on both sides of the lake where you can leave your car and walk to the lake.
Where to stay in Cervantes?
We stayed overnight in RAC Cervantes Holiday Park. It is a very elegant and clean camping, and it offers a variety of accommodation options.
Nambung Național Park/ Pinnacles Desert
It is located 20 kilometers south of Cervantes.
We visited the park early in the morning. When we arrived we were alone in the park.
You can drive through the park among the thousands of limestone pillars that give you the impression that you have stepped into an unreal world, from another universe.
You can also choose to walk along the trail, but we drove and the road was in a very good state.
We spent an hour here, enough time for pictures and short trails.
Pinnacles Desert is 190 kilometers from Perth. We visited it on our last day in Western Australia, and from here we drove straight to Perth.
Between Pinnacles Desert and Perth there are several places where you can stop and try sandboarding.
The white sand dunes are visible from the main road.
Kings Park and Botanic Garden
Kings Park is one of the world’s largest inner-city parks.
It is located close to the Perth city center and offers a spectacular view over the Swan River and the skyscrapers near the river. In the park, you will find many types of vegetation, 80 bird species and very interesting trails.
It is the most famous beach in Perth and it is a 15-minute drive from the city. It is a perfect place to relax and swim.
Cohunu Koala Park:
Forty kilometers south of Perth lies Cohunu Koala Park.
There are many places in Australia where you can encounter koalas, but this is one of the few places where you can also cuddle them.
We chose to visit Cohunu Koala Park where we took a souvenir photo with a koala.
The entrance ticket costs 15 AUD, and if you want a koala souvenir photo, you still have to pay 30 AUD / person.
You are allowed to take as many pictures as you want with the koala, using your photo camera or personal phone.
In this park you can see other animals from Australia as well.
This is where our trip to Western Australia ended. It was the time to return the campervan and take an Uber to the airport.
From Perth we flew with Tiger Air to Sydney.
In Western Australia we had some amazing experiences and we left it convinced that we were going to return soon.
On our next visit, we want to:
- swim with sea lions in Jurien Bay
- visit Broome and ride a camel on Cable Beach
- visit Kimberley National Park.
- Take a day trip from Perth to Rottnest Island, to meet the locals of the island – Quokka.
- take a tour from Perth to Albany.