Regional Drives From Perth
The pick of the Regional Drives From Perth ... in which getting there is truly half the fun.
Travel east over the Darling Ranges for a leisurely drive to the three major towns of the Avon Valley - Toodyay, Northam and York. The oldest inland towns in Western Australia, all are farming towns and all are rich in Australian colonial architecture. Distance: 250 km. Leave Perth via Gt Eastern Highway. At Midland, take Great Northern Highway and then Toodyay Road to the little country town of Toodyay. The whole place has a quaint, almost alternative-lifestyle feel to it. The town's Old Gaol Museum tells the story of WA's only bushranger - Moondyne Joe.
The drive from Perth and Darwin, of which Great Northern Highway forms the major part, is the longest capital city to capital city drive in Australia. At 4,042 km it is 100 km more than Perth to Sydney; 1,200 km more than Melbourne to Cairns; 1,015 km more than Adelaide to Darwin; 1620 km more than Darwin to Brisbane. A sealed road from start to finish, it passes through some of the most isolated areas on the Australian continent - if not on the planet - and only two towns along the way have a polulation of over 4,000 people - Newman and Port Hedland. After the drive from east to west across the Nullarbor Plain, it is without the question Australia's ultimate road trip, taking in every kind of terrain, landscape and vista that Australia has to offer.
The coast of Western Australia between Cape Leeuwin and Shark Bay has been known to be dangerous to shipping ever since Dutch seaman Frederick Houtman marked his charts 'Abri voll olos' - meaning 'watch out' in 1719, after having came across a group of rugged islands off the recently discovered coast of New Holland (Australia). Over the next century, at least three Dutch trading vessels came to grief on this coastline and many more followed over the ensuing centuries. This drive follows the coast to Kalbarri, then returns via an inland route through the central wheatbelt, an agricultural region known for its spectacular wildflowers in Spring.
Follow the coast north from Perth, visiting its northern beaches, before reaching one of Western Australia s oldest national parks and a string of isolated coastal fishing and holiday settlements. This is where the locals go for some peace and quiet, to catch a fish or two, swim or canoe in the river or ocean and generally do as little else as possible. Distance: 260 km.
A holiday destination known and loved by West Aussies for decades, the beauty of the south-west corner of Western Australia - and Australia - only came to the attention of the rest of the country with the development of the Margaret River wine region in the 1980s. Here there are surf beaches, rocky headlands, forests of giant karri trees, limestone caves, wineries, timber milling towns and farming communities. Close to Perth, the drive is ideal a week away.
The first half of the trip follows the route of our South West Corner Drive (above), initially taking in the resort town of Busselton, Geographic Bay, the Margaret River wine region. From Albany we continue travelling east to Esperance, then north to the goldfields city of Kalgoorlie. The return journey to Perth is through the Goldfields ghost town of Coolgardie and the town of Western Australia's Eastern Wheatbelt.
The coastal region of Western Australia's Great Southern is well known to the people of Western Australia as an area of natural beauty. For many it is their summer playground, with clean beaches, beautiful coastal vistas that extend to the horizon and beyond, and rugged outcrops of granite dotting both the picturseque coastline and the hinterland. Travellers who cross the Nullarbor Plain by road on their way to Perth have the option at Norseman to travel north via Kalgoorlie or south via the South Coast and the towns of Esperance and Albany.
You can experience the striking beauty of massive granite outcrops rising impressively across the landscape of the rolling farmlands in a little visited part of Western Australia - the Wheatbelt. An abundance of natural vegetation around these unique rock formations includes wandoo, salmon gum, dense honey-myrtle and tea tree thickets giving way to flowering granite Kunzea, with their gnarled shapes. The journey, starting and finishing in Perth, is a memorable contrast of picturesque farmlands, rocky granite outcrops, vibrant floral displays stretching into the distance, tranquil picnic spots and a profusion of bird and animal life.
Follow one of the great engineering feats of a century ago - a water pipeline from outside Perth all the way to Kalgoorlie 500 km away. The Trail passes through the historic towns of Toodyay and York in the Avon Valley, the vast open spaces of The Wheatbelt and the towns of the Eastern Goldfields. The Golden Pipeline Heritage Trail begins in the town of Mundaring in the Perth Hills and follows the route of the Golden Pipeline built more than 100 years ago it is still the longest fresh water pipeline on Earth.
This is a long trip - 4,331 km - that's like driving from Los Angeles to New York and halfway back again, but through some of the most inhospitable and isolated country in the world. Eight days is also a relatively short time to cover such a vast distance; in reality it will very much be a flying visit unless you at least double your time away and enjoy it all at close range. Along the way you'll see Monkey Mia (Shark Bay); Charles Knife Canyon, Cape Range; Python Pool, Chichester Range; the coastal towns of Karratha, Dampier and Roeblourne; the iron ore mines of Tom Price and Paraburdoo, and Karijini National Park.
A good drive from Perth for anyone desirous of some time out, it incorporates the Swan Valley - with Whiteman Park and its numerous transport-related museums, and the Swan Valley wine region, the closest world-quality wine producing area to the city of Perth - and some picnic spots and walking trails in the Darling Ranges that are favourites among the people of Perth. Distance: 160 km
Driving across the Nullarbor Plain is for many the quintessential experience of the Australian Outback. It is the ultimate Australian Road Trip and one every Australian should do at least once in their lifetime. It travels along one of the safest outback roads in Australia, with accommodation, cafes and vehicle repair facilities at regular intervals along the way.
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