A road trip across the great Southern Forests
A road trip to South West Australia had been on my list for the last 3 years. Finally a couple of weeks ago I made it. After a lay-over in Singapore I was back to Perth, which is, together with Melbourne my favourite Australian City.
I booked online a rental car with Europcar through DriveNow, as usual. With a dozen of road trips over the last 6 years I can say that my experience with DriveNow has always been very positive.
My 10 day-road-trip across South West Australia has been an amazing trip. It was one of longest and also one of the most challenging solo road trips I had in Australia. Unfortunately due to bad weather I had to re-arrange my driving schedule a few times to be able to see as much as I could of the region in the time I had.
In less than 10 days I drove on my own for over 1600 km and stayed in 6 different locations. I walked along some of Australia's prettiest beaches and most ancient coastline landscapes. Ate the finest food of Australia and camped alone in a remote national park. Climbed huge sand dunes by four-wheel-drive and joined locals on a moving Anzac Cruise. Met friendly and welcoming people!
It has been a truly amazing solo adventure and I am proud of myself
On this blog post I am going through the main activities and give you an overview of my road trip to the amazing South West Australian destinations. I hope this would be helpful for your future Itinerary Trip Planning in Australia.
Why choose a Road Trip To South West Australia
I set off in Perth and drove on the Albany Highway, for about 6 hours including 2 stops along my way. I would recommend driving instead of flying to Albany, as flights are very expensive. Unless you get a good flight deal you are better off with renting a car in Perth and driving in a loop back to Perth. In total is about 1000km but with all detours plan 1200-1400 km. When you look it up on the Western Australia Map it may look as a short trip, but you indeed need at least 10-14 days to tour the whole Southwest region.
To travel alone can be tiring. If you have a travel companion then it's a no-brain road trip. If you decide to fly from Perth to Albany, you will then need to hire a car locally to be able to explore Albany and its surroundings.
Here is a wrap up of my road trip across the Southern Forests also known as the Kwongan, home to some of Australia's most iconic species and ancient landscapes. Some may not know that the Southwest region formed when India broke away from Gondwana 120 million years ago. Since then it had a very stable climate for ten of millions of years which allowed to develop a botanical richness like no other part in the world.
Albany – the jewel of South West Australia
Albany is truly a jewel of the rugged South West Australian coastline. I was not prepared for this wealth of natural beauty and was overwhelmed with all the things to do in Albany. The place is surrounded by national parks, a wondrous harbour with many little bays, small island and inlets. While the natural treasure is what makes Albany stand out, its historic heritage site with the best interpretative Anzac Centre of Australia, its excellent food and wines, its fantastic fishing spots make of Albany the pearl of South West Australia.
I only had 2,5days, though I could check out most of Albany attractions. Here is a recap of my trip.
Albany South Coast – The Gap – The Bridge and Whaling Cove
The South Coast of Albany a.k.a. as the Torndirrup National Park is home to some iconic Albany attractions. I had planned half day but I would recommend a whole day here, as there are too many interesting places to visit and a few walking trails too. The Gap and the Bridge are the most visited landmarks.
The Gap is a suspension platform (completed in April 2016) that allows visitors to peer through the sheer drop carved into massive granite boulders overlooking the ocean.
It was literally a breathtaking moment to stand on this platform. I was stunned watching these massive rock formations.
The Natural Bridge, close by, is a bridge-shaped rock formation linking two main massive plateau. All around it's all a massive rocky platform, it looks like an unreal astounding landscape.
Whaling Cove is another iconic destination on Albany's South Coast peninsula, it's 6km off the main road, really worth a visit. From the car park there is a 6km return walking trail to Possession Point and Lookout. I couldn't make it to the top but this is a must-do thing when visiting Albany as the view from this lookout is probably the best vantage point to get a 360° panoramic view of Albany's city with Princess Royal Harbour, King George Sound and the islands on the South and North Channels.
There are many hills and outlooks in town, the best Albany lookouts are from the Anzac Centre and Mt Clearance and Padre White. For the complete guide about my Albany Trip check the Rocky Travel blog page as there will be a special coverage about this South West Australian destination.
Denmark Australia – Greens Pool and Elephant Rock
Denmark lies 30 minutes drive from Albany and 45 minutes to Walpole and the Tree Top Walk. As the weather was not good, I had to change my plan and made an extra trip to Denmark, so as to make the most of the last sunrays before the storm. The extra drive was worth it, as I could see the two gems of this place which are Greens Pool and Elephant Rock. They are adjacent in the Williams Bay National Park, about 10 minutes north of Denmark. I also did a beautiful loop-drive on the hills, where you can stop at wineries, eateries, farmers. Again a special place for food & wine in the South West region.
Walpole WA – Tree Top Walk
I had heard a lot about Walpole and the Tree Top Walk. I liked the Giant of the Valley and the ancient Empire walk among giant Karri Tree and Tingle Tree forests (unique to this region) is very inspiring.
The best part of this trip was the WOW Wilderness Eco-Cruise of the Walpole Bay that I did early morning. I have been on a few eco-cruises in Australia but this is something unique. The wealth of information and the entertaining way Gary has to tell about the place's heritage and its untouched eco-system is something you will not find on any book or travel guides of the place. Gary's knowledge and passion about Walpole was inherited through 7 generations. His eco-tour is awesome and incomparable. He's truly embodied the living legend of the place. So don't miss out on his morning eco-cruise of the Walpole bay.
A Pemberton Discovery Tour
I was not prepared for Pemberton's phenomenal landscape either. As I drove into town it reminded me of Margaret River as the landscape slowly turned into golden sweeping vineyards peppered by trees and and a rich vegetation. Pemberton to me was a true revelation. Surrounded by ancient National Parks Pemberton is a great place for camping and a four-wheel-drive adventure. To make the most of your explorations in Pemberton you need a 4WD car though. And even if you with a 4WD car you might not be able to climb the huge Yeagarup sand dunes, a striking landmark of Pemberton.
I was very happy to join Graeme in his Pemberton Discovery Tours to the Warren National Park and the Yeagarup Sand Dunes. I also had the chance of trying out his glamping spot in a wet and cold night. While at the beginning I was a bit scared, this was a great opportunity for me to get out of my comfort zone and learn something about myself. 🙂
Re-discovering Margaret River
My discovery tour of the South West Australia did not end in Pemberton. I had planned a re-visit of Margaret River. While I spent a couple of days visiting new places in town and on a self-guided-tour of Margaret River Wineries. I also revisted Cape Naturaliste and Dunsborough.
I loved touring the region by myself although there was a lot of driving involved. If you are alone and don't feel like going on self-driving trip, then check out this 4-day-tour to Albany from Perth.
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A Trip Planning Guide to South West Australia
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