Perth to Exmouth: One of the best Australian holidays
If you’ve never visited West Australia’s Coral Coast, it’s time you took a real Australian road trip and saw some of our most impressive landscapes. The Perth to Exmouth drive is one of Australia’s best road trips – especially if you have a 4WD. Here we’ve suggested a seven-night adventure, with the driving times between each town indicated in brackets. Western Australia’s secrets are slowly spreading, so there’s never been a better time to book a WA holiday.
Perth to Geraldton (4h 30m)
Head three hours north of Perth, and your first stop is the Pinnacles in Nambung National Park. Wander among these ancient limestone formations as they rise out of the desert, and enjoy swimming in the pristine waters of the beaches nearby. Head on to Geraldton, where you can stop for the night by the sea.
Geraldton to Denham (4h 20m)
After a short morning drive, you’ll stop at Kalbarri National Park where you can take in the amazing Murchison Gorge and Nature’s Window formation. You can swim in the Murchison River before walking through the gorge, marvelling at the spectacular colours and rock formations. Between July and October, the landscape really comes alive with the colours of 800 wildflower species. Here you can see banksias, grevilleas, kangaroo paws and red-blossomed eucalypts across the landscape. From Kalbarri, drive north to Shark Bay and stay the night in the town of Denham.
Denham to Coral Bay (5h 40m)
In the morning, meet Monkey Mia’s famous bottle-nosed dolphins. They’re friendly with humans after years of being fed by fishermen, so you’re welcome to swim with them or feed them too. You can swim, snorkel or dive at some incredible spots in Shark Bay which, along with dolphins, is home to whales, manta rays, turtles, sharks, a huge array of fish and a tenth of the world’s dugongs. On your way north to Coral Bay, make sure you stop at the remarkable Hamelin Pool Stromatolites – home to the oldest and largest living fossils on earth.
Coral Bay to Exmouth (1h 40m)
Spend the day in Coral Bay, which is right on beautiful Ningaloo Reef. Snorkel, dive, swim, and enjoy some time on the beach or visit the shark nursery. When you’re done relaxing, it’s a 1.5-hour drive to Exmouth.
In the morning, head down to Cape Range National Park where you’ll explore spectacular rugged limestone ranges, incredible canyons and 50km of pristine beaches. Go for a walk, enjoy the beach or go snorkelling at stunning Turquoise Bay before heading back to Exmouth.
Exmouth to Kalbarri (8h 20m)
Get up early and hit the road back to Kalbarri. The eight-hour drive will take a big chunk of the day, but at the end of it make sure you visit the beautiful Kalbarri cliffs and the ocean gorge, Pot Alley, or relax at Chinaman’s Beach.
Kalbarri to Perth (6h 10m)
In the morning, drive on to Greenough Wildlife Park where you can see some amazing native wildlife up close, then settle in for the four-hour drive back to Perth.
When to go
Depending on what you want to see, there are plenty of good times to go:
April to May – Enjoy blue skies and pleasant, warm days. May is the start of the whale shark season. Despite its name, the whale shark is actually a gentle giant that can reach up to 12 metres in length and you can swim with them in Exmouth at this time. This is also when corals spawn, and on a moonlit night you can see more than 200 species of coral expel their colourful polyps into the ocean. Each May, scores of humpback and southern right whales make their way up the coast of Western Australia. It’s possible to view them from vantage points on the shore, or take a special whale cruise for a closer encounter.
September to November – Enjoy clear, warm weather and, best of all, it’s spring. The wildflowers are out, which makes it an exceptional time to visit. The wildflower season begins in June in the most northern plains, and slowly the outback becomes blanketed in vivid reds, purples and every colour in between. Western Australia is home to more than 12,000 different flower species, of which 60% are found nowhere else on Earth.
December – This is turtle season on the Coral Coast. Green and loggerhead turtles make their way up the beaches around Shark Bay, Carnarvon and Ningaloo Reef to lay their eggs. It’s a magical experience for onlookers, who are permitted to watch from a safe distance.
Avoid the Christmas-January period, as it’s very hot and busy, and prices are high.
Enjoy the road trip and explore! This truly is a special, sacred country.
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