Ten-day South West road trip from Perth to Esperance and back. Searching the South West for the best beaches in Western Australia. From Timouroundtheworld
“If you leave Western Australia without visiting the South West, then you haven’t really visited Western Australia“
Well, that’s what some Australians told me anyway.
I thought I had already seen the most heavenly beaches after living on Rottnest Island for four months. However, I decided to take action, and spend 10 days in search of the most beautiful beaches in Western Australia. After that, I decided that I would stop swimming for a while.
Since Australia is the country of road trips, I needed to conquer the roads by car. Or rather, by minibus. When you live on an island, like I did on Rottnest, you always meet the same people. So the problem is that ultimately, you don’t meet a lot of people. By the time I left Rottnest Island, I had not found the essential travel companions to share the good times with (and costs) on a road trip.
The South West Road Trip
I didn’t want to invest in buying or renting a vehicle on my own. However, I came across the concept of Share Bus. The company offers a shared rental of a minibus and trailer equipped with all the necessary camping equipment. Everyone reserves their place individually. Then a dozen people (at most, we were nine) meet on the day of departure. Everyone gets to know each other by traveling together. The idea does not seem bad and I let myself be tempted.
These ten days took me from Perth to Esperance along the coast that borders the Indian Ocean. Then back to Perth via Wave Rock. Share Bus calls this the “South West Loop“. I should note that I did this trip at the end of January. At that moment it was the end of the school holidays in Australia and therefore the end of the peak tourism season. Summer and winter are inverted compared to the northern hemisphere, so the school year is too.
The First Day and Busselton
Barely seated in their seats, everyone was already excited about the first stop of the trip: the supermarket! Of course, before leaving for ten days camping, we needed to stock up on food (and beer too.. for the nights in the middle of nowhere without internet connection). The Share Bus representative advised us to send two to three people to do the food shopping to avoid chaos. However, we didn’t do this at all. Ultimately, we took three hours to do the shopping. Even then we needed to go back the next day to pick up a few more things. This is all adventure.
On the first day on our South West road trip adventure, we only end up visiting Busselton Jetty. Aside from the beach, here you can find the longest wooden pier in the world. Aside from the satisfaction of going 1.8 km above the Indian Ocean, it was not too interesting. The bigger adventure was setting up the camp for the first time that evening.
The Ocean Rocks and Wine: Near Margaret River
Waking up the next morning was hard after a short night of sleep. There were many reasons for the lack of sleep. We were getting used to the discomfort of inflatable mattresses, the cool nights in tents, and a new sleep cycle. One based on the rise and fall of the sun more than ever before. This is to make the most of the day, but in any case, it is also better not to drive at night in Australia to avoid crushing a wild animal…. However, the lack of sleep did not impact the motivation of the group! We packed up camp, and continued on to Margaret River where we would spend two nights.
Wine lovers will be delighted to learn that the Margaret River area is one of the most famous wine regions in the country. For non-wine lovers (like myself) or to explore other activities between wine tastings, several rocky curiosities also border the coast. The Sugarloaf Rock is particularly interesting. Not far from Margaret River, there are also several caves. I found the Lake Cave quite impressive. Although nice, I believed that the beaches here were not the best beaches in Western Australia. So we continued to search.
Almost Domestic Rays: Hamelin Bay
After leaving Margaret River we refocused on the original objective: to find the most beautiful beaches of Western Australia. Arriving at Hamelin Bay, I decided it did not claim a place in the sun on the short list of best beaches. However, I felt that we were getting closer to the goal.
Hamelin Bay is an amazing spot to visit due to a surprising meeting. Stingrays seem attracted to people’s feet in the water and come to rub against them. These are curious flatfish, some almost two meters in length and they almost seem to seek human contact. They are like a pet euphoric about discovering new visitors. Everyone was caught up in the game and tried to stroke the rays. A worthwhile stop for a roadtrip in the South West. There are not only kangaroos and koalas in Australia.
We finished the afternoon by climbing the 58m tall Gloucester Tree at Pemberton. To climb the tree, you have to use the metal stakes which are planted about every thirty centimetres or so. It seems dangerous. There isn’t much real security.
We watch our feet as we climb up, to reach a platform at the top of the tree. We didn’t enjoy the scenery so much. As we reached the top we didn’t see much except the branches of the neighbouring trees. What was the point of climbing so far? Adrenaline?
For the night we set up camp in the middle of the forest. There wasn’t much in terms of facilities and no network available, but we still had to pay $7 per person. This was the price of location, as it was the only camp available in the region. A joy of adventure
In the Valley of the Giants (Walpole)
Everyone claimed to have had a good night sleep. However, after hiking and driving for hours the day before without being able to take a shower, we feel dirty. Even, if we pretend otherwise. But this does not prevent us from a new excursion to the top of the treetops. Adventure, always adventure!
A suspension bridge forty metres high offers a pleasant view of the Valley of the Giants, named after the huge trees that make up the forest. As soon as we finish the walk we head off to lie in the sun.
Denmark: finding the best beaches in Western Australia
This time, the region with incredible beaches justified its reputation. We went to the Elephant Rocks on the Denmark side (the Australian city, not the European country). Dozens of rocks emerge from the turquoise and bluish shades of the ocean. They look like the backs of elephants immersed in water. We were not sure if the rocks warrant the name of the beach, but it’s the only one we’ve been given. Whatever, it’s beautiful. This one made the list of beautiful beaches in WA.
Albany, more precisely The Gap, was one of the essential points of interest on this route. In this little gap, waves crash violently against immense cliffs. On paper, it looks great. The problem is that in reality, the place is above all, a giant tourist attraction. Hundreds of visitors from all over the world pile up on a small platform to contemplate the hustle and bustle of the ocean a few dozen meters below. The view from the platform is nothing short of incredible. However, I wonder a bit why all these people must take a picture of themselves in this place.
Regardless, the quest for the most beautiful beaches in the South West continued. The problem was that the days until the end of the trip were numbered. We needed to complete the journey from Albany to Esperance during the day, a six hour drive. There was no time to hang around. We only planned one stop in Little Beach, Two People’s Bay Reserve. Not far from Albany, it is supposed to be one of the most beautiful places to swim in Australia.
Little Beach deserves its reputation. Corals colour the water all different colours, and hills sculpt the outline of the bay. The two rocks placed on the white sand add originality to the place. We wished we could stop longer.
Esperance: among the best beaches in Western Australia
Esperance attracts tourists mainly for Lucky Bay, the place kangaroos enjoy resting. What could be more incredible than a beach inhabited by kangaroos?
Except that for us, we visited mid-summer and the temperature was around thirty degrees. At this temperature, the kangaroos only go out to the beach to sunbathe at sunrise. They’re not crazy marsupials. Well, it was near the end of the trip, and we had no desire to wake at five in the morning. At least not to see the animal that can be seen absolutely everywhere in Australia.
However, just bathing in paradise was enough. The beaches of Esperance do not envy their neighbours. Turquoise water, some colour gradations, fine white sand, and rocks. The recipe is known and it works.
Wave Rock (Hyden)
The omnipresence of flies struck me as soon as I entered this desert region. As well as their aggressiveness. They landed quietly on faces, undisturbed by people moving their hands, trying in vain to chase them away. Spraying insecticide from head to toe barely disturbed them. Once we completely gave up getting rid of these parasites, we set off to explore this famous Wave Rock. There is nothing else to see in a 300 kilometres radius and yet, there is a huge campsite right next to it. There must be a reason.
And indeed, the unusual wave-shaped rock impressed me. Dozens of tourists try to photograph themselves by mimicking to surf the rock wave. Original. However, it’s not easy to pretend that you’re alone in the picture among the crowd. The ascent of Wave Rock is just as worthwhile, but far fewer people do it. From the top of the rock, the view of the surroundings is breathtaking. It’s desert, but it’s still impressive. Additionally, the sunset enhances everything. It is magnificent as is often the case in Australia.
After dark, we go on a climb to admire the starry sky far from any light pollution. It was a perfect conclusion to the road trip. Ultimately, the most beautiful wave in South West Australia did not come from the Indian Ocean, but from a rock lost in the desert. Once again, we ignore the flies. Adventure.