With its stunning beaches, surreal pink lakes and wildlife-filled islands, Esperance is one of Western Australia’s tourism gems. It’s an understandably popular road trip destination from Perth, with the direct route a little under 700 kilometres and doable in a day or two.
But with so much to discover in the southwest corner of the state, it’s worth taking a little more time to appreciate everything this region has to offer.
In this guide, we’ll share with you our recommendations for a two-week-long trip from Perth to Esperance, taking in the magnificent wine country of Margaret River, the karri forests of Pemberton and historic Albany.
Clocking in at just over 1,900km for the round trip, this adventure will immerse you in Western Australia’s dramatic coastal landscapes and introduce you to the colonial towns of the vast Wheatbelt.
Short on time? We’ll also share our mini 7-day Perth to Esperance road trip itinerary, with all the best bits included!
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Perth to Esperance 14-Day Road Trip Itinerary
Day 1-2: Perth to Eagle Bay 256km
At just three hour’s drive from Perth, the beautiful coastal town of Eagle Bay is the ideal first stop on your Perth to Esperance road trip.
Along the way, you can stop at the Bunbury Dolphin Centre to get up close to intelligent bottlenose dolphins or stretch your legs along the Busselton Jetty. This 19th-century landmark extends 1,841 metres into the Indian Ocean, making it the longest timber-piled jetty in the Southern Hemisphere.
While staying in Eagle Bay, you’re just a stone’s throw from the Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse, a charming whitewashed tower that dates from the early 20th century. Learn about the ships that were wrecked off this coastline and climb the 59 stairs that lead to its observation balcony for sweeping views across the region.
Eagle Bay is also on the doorstep of one of Western Australia’s most popular swimming spots, Meelup Beach, which boasts blindingly white sands and crystal clear waters.
Where to stay in Eagle Bay
If you are looking for a cheaper alternative, be sure to check out Dunsborough Beach Lodge. This budget-friendly beach lodge offers shared dormitories and private doubles (some with ensuite bathrooms), right in the heart of Dunsborough.
Day 3-4: Eagle Bay to Margaret River 54km
It’s only a short drive from Eagle Bay to Margaret River but with so much to do in the area, it’s not a leg of the journey that you want to rush. Famed for its rolling vineyards and rugged surf beaches, Margaret River has also well and truly established a reputation as a foodie destination.
Favorite Places to eat in Margaret River
Along the way, be sure to stop at the Injidup Natural Spa, a hidden rock pool complete with its own waterfalls.
Further are the Wilyabrup Sea Cliffs, which rise to 40 metres above the pounding ocean below. You can abseil down the cliffs with the Margaret River Climbing Company or watch whales breaching just offshore during the migration season.
If you’re keen to surf, you could easily spend an entire day at Gracetown, which offers big open barrels at North Point, as well as a more protected break at South Point.
For those who are just keen to watch, there are plenty of good vantage points to watch the pros in action. Hugging the coast is Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park, which is renowned for its spectacular caves and impressive stands of karri and jarrah.
No visit to Margaret River is complete without a day spent wine tasting at one of the region’s 150 cellar doors, many of which also boast gourmet restaurants.
Sample the chardonnay at Vasse Felix, learn about the sustainable practices used at Blind Corner or experience Margaret River history at Moss Wood.
Where to stay in Margaret River
If you are on a budget, Surfpoint Resort is a great option. Take your pick from the family, triple, double or twin rooms at this coastal property, which is just 10 minutes’ walk from Gnarabup and Prevelly beaches. There’s a communal kitchen for guests to use, plus a games room and an outdoor swimming pool.
Day 5: Margaret River to Pemberton 135km
From Margaret River, it’s a largely inland journey to Pemberton, which is located in the heart of karri country. But it’s worth making a detour to Hamelin Bay to admire its historic jetty or snorkel amidst the wrecks submerged beneath its waters.
Once in Pemberton, you can delve into the local saw-milling history at the Pemberton Museum or refresh with a swim in the waters of Big Brook Dam. Be sure to climb one of Pemberton’s famous fire lookout trees, with a highlight being the 60+-metre-high Gloucester Tree. In Greater Beedelup National Park, you can hike to its rocky cascades, which are watched over by an impressive suspension bridge.
Rising from the karri forests surrounding Pemberton is the Yeagarup Dunes, the largest land-locked mobile dune system in the Southern Hemisphere. Aside from sandboarding down the dunes, you can join an adventurous 4WD trip with Pemberton Discovery Tours, passing through old-growth karri forest en route to a deserted beach at the mouth of the Warren River.
Where to stay in Pemberton
A budget-friendly option in the heart of Pemberton, The Pemberton Hotel is a historic hotel that offers double, triple and family rooms with ensuite bathrooms. Meals are served throughout the day at Café Mazz.
Day 6: Pemberton to Walpole 120km
After a night inland on your Perth to Esperance road trip, hit the coast again near Walpole. This quiet coastal town nestles within a spectacular wilderness area that encompasses more than 363,000 hectares of national parks, reserves and forest conservancies.
Walpole is famed for the Valley of the Giants, a tract of endemic red tingle trees that are best appreciated along the 600-metre-long Tree Top Walk. It’s also home to a community of adorable quokkas, which can often be sighted around sunset.
At Swarbrick, you can explore the art exhibits that pepper its old-growth karri forest and marvel at the 39-metre-long Wilderness Wall of Perceptions. Alternatively, picnic beside the photogenic Circular Pool or hike to the Fernhook Falls within Mount Frankland National Park, which are particularly impressive after the winter rains. Also not to miss near Walpole are the Conspicuous Cliffs, which rise dramatically above a white sand beach.
Where to stay in Walpole
If you are looking for a cheaper alternative then the Tree Top Walk Motel is a great option. Offering basic but affordable accommodation, this comfortable motel has ensuite rooms, an outdoor swimming pool and an optional breakfast delivered directly to your door.
Day 7-8: Walpole to Albany 120km
It’s only 120 kilometres between Walpole and Albany but the route takes you through charming Denmark on the doorstep of William Bay National Park.
With its pristine beaches and huge granite rocks, Denmark is a natural destination you don’t want to miss on your Perth to Esperance road trip. The park’s main attractions include Greens Pool, which is the perfect spot for a swim, and the aptly-named Elephant Rocks.
If you have time in your itinerary, stop off at a luxury farm stay or stay overnight in one of Denmark’s luxurious retreats.
Located at the southern tip of Western Australia, Albany was founded in 1826 as a military outpost of New South Wales. Its rich history is on display at the National ANZAC Centre, which overlooks the spot where 40,000 Australians and New Zealanders left for World War I. At Discovery Bay Albany, you can explore Australia’s last operating whaling station, or jump aboard a whale-watching cruise to see these majestic creatures with your own eyes.
A short drive east of the city is Two Peoples Bay Nature Reserve, home to the breathtakingly beautiful Little Beach, while a short drive south of Albany is Torndirrup National Park. It’s one of the most visited national parks in Western Australia, with dramatic rock formations, easy bush walks and impressive blowholes to discover.
Where to stay in Albany
If you prefer to stay in hostels the 1849 Backpackers Albany is the place to stay. Just three minutes’ walk from the beach, this well-equipped hostel features double, twin and family rooms with access to shared bathrooms and laundry facilities, plus a communal kitchen.
Day 9-10: Albany to Hopetoun 342km
One of the longest drives on your Perth to Esperance road trip takes you from Albany to Hopetoun, which overlooks the shores of Mary Ann Haven. If you depart early, you may even have enough time to visit Porongurup National Park to the north of Albany. Dotted with massive granite rocks, it is famed for its 670-metre-long Granite Sky Walk.
The Albany to Hopetoun drive skirts the edge of Fitzgerald River National Park, a botanically significant protected area that is home to more than 20% of all Western Australia’s floral species. A sealed driving route accesses many of the park’s main attractions, such as Four Mile Beach, Barrens Lookout and Cave Point. If time allows, stretch your legs on the trail that climbs to the summit of East Mount Barren or tackle the short Point Ann Heritage Trail.
On the southwestern edge of Fitzgerald River National Park is Bremer Bay, a local’s favourite for swimming, fishing and diving. On the other side of the park is the magnificent Ravensthorpe Range, which is best appreciated on the Archer Scenic Drive.
Where to stay in Hopetoun
A short drive from the centre of Hopetoun is Wavecrest Village & Tourist Park where you can bunk down in one of the multi-bedroom residences, refresh in the outdoor swimming pool and dine on modern Australian cuisine at the holiday park’s restaurant.
Day 11-12: Hopetoun to Esperance 192km
Favorite Places to eat in Esperance
You can easily complete the Hopetoun to Esperance drive in a couple of hours, giving you plenty of time to explore the stunning beaches and national parks that surround this south coast town.
One of its biggest drawcards is Lucky Bay, a wide stretch of unbelievably white sand within Cape Le Grand National Park that’s frequented by friendly kangaroos. The park’s rolling heathlands are home to colourful wildflowers and showy banksias, which are ideally admired along Le Grand Coastal Trail.
Just offshore from Esperance is the Recherche Archipelago, which provides a haven for fur seals, sea lions and sea eagles. Jump aboard a boat cruise to explore this “Bay of Isles” or take to the skies for a joy flight above the bubblegum pink Lake Hillier on remote Middle Island. Closer to Esperance’s town centre is Twilight Bay, which will have you clicking your camera like crazy on clear days.
If you’re interested in the local history, pay a visit to the Esperance Museum, which showcases local artefacts, arts and crafts. A short drive away is the world’s only full-size replica of Stonehenge, which was built from 137 locally quarried slabs of pink granite.
Where to stay in Esperance
Our Top Pick
This modern farm-stay nestles amidst bushland on the outskirts of Esperance and boasts three bedrooms that make it well suited to families. Cook up a feast in the fully-equipped kitchen, then relax on the wraparound verandah while watching the emus roaming free.
Located opposite Esperance’s main beach, the Jetty Resort is an affordable option that features rooms and apartments, some with spa baths and balconies. Onsite is a children’s playground and an outdoor swimming pool.
Day 13-14: Esperance to Perth 698km
Over two days, make your way back to Perth through the Wheatbelt, stopping to admire the 2,700 million-year-old natural rock formation known as Wave Rock. As its name suggests, the rock resembles a tall, breaking wave and is accessed along a short walking trail. According to the Ballardong People, the rock was created by the Rainbow Serpent while dragging her water-filled, swollen body across the land. Also nearby is the aptly-named rock formation of Hippo’s Yawn and The Humps.
Wave Rock is located near the Wheatbelt town of Hyden and there are a couple of places where you can bunk down for the night. Hit the hay in one of the atmospheric guest suites at the Wave Rock Hotel or book a self-contained cabin at the Wave Rock Caravan Park.
From Wave Rock, it’s a 2.5-hour drive to York, which is the oldest inland town in Western Australia. It’s clustered with heritage-listed colonial architecture, many of which line the main street of Avon Terrace. Admire the Edwardian town hall and see the mid-19th-century cells of the Courthouse, then get up close to vintage cars and motorbikes at the York Motor Museum. If you just need to stretch your legs, there are several scenic trails to explore, including the Avon River Walk that begins at the town’s historic suspension bridge.
Perth is less than 100 kilometres from York, with the route passing John Forrest National Park where you can stop for another short walk to see its scenic cascades.
Where to stay in Perth
Our Top Pick
If you’re flying out at the end of your Perth to Esperance road trip, then these self-contained apartments are the perfect place to stay overnight. They feature full kitchens, ensuite bathrooms and flatscreen TVs, as well as offering a complimentary airport shuttle service.
If you are on a budget try Spinners Hostel. This Northbridge hostel receives rave reviews for its recently refurbished rooms and dorms, which include personal charging stations and access to a shared communal kitchen.
Short on Time? Follow this 7-Day Perth to Esperance Road Trip Itinerary
Day 1-2: Perth to Margaret River 270km
Say goodbye to the city as you make a beeline south for Margaret River, spending two days exploring its sun-drenched vineyards and legendary surf beaches. Soak up the views from the Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse, swim at picture-perfect Meelup Beach and marvel at the towering Wilyabrup Sea Cliffs.
Day 3-4: Margaret River to Albany 344km
Make an early start for the inland journey to Pemberton, which is famed for its magnificent karri forests. Climb to the observation platform of the Gloucester Tree and fly down the Yeagarup Dunes before continuing to Walpole’s Valley of the Giants to walk amidst its endemic red tingle trees. The route then takes you through Denmark to Albany, which was founded in 1826 as a military outpost. Spend a full day exploring its beaches, nature reserves and museums, which include the National ANZAC Centre.
Day 5-6: Albany to Esperance 483km
En route between Albany and Esperance, stop to explore the botanically significant Fitzgerald River National Park or refresh with a swim at Bremer Bay. Alternatively, relax on the blindingly white sands of Lucky Bay within Cape Le Grand National Park, which is renowned for its friendly kangaroos. Once in Esperance, you can cruise to the wildlife-rich Recherche Archipelago, get a bird’s eye view of pink-hued Lake Hillier during a joy flight or delve into the local history at the Esperance Museum.
Day 7: Esperance to Perth 698km
Get an early start to ensure you complete the final leg of your journey during daylight hours, with the presence of kangaroos making it a dangerous stretch of road after dark. You can break up the trip with a short walk to see the ocean-inspired formation of Wave Rock or stroll through colonial York to admire its heritage-listed buildings.
Esperance Visitors Guide
When is the best time to go on a Perth to Esperance road trip?
January, February and March are the hottest months in southwest Western Australia and are ideal for enjoying the region’s beaches, with average highs around 26℃.
If you’re looking to get the most hours of light in your days, then December is the time to drive, as well as being the driest month of the year. It’s worth keeping in mind, however, that late December to early February coincides with the summer school holidays, so you can expect bigger crowds and should book your rental vehicle and accommodation well in advance.
By April, things begin to cool down as Western Australia heads into winter, with the coldest months from June to August. During this period, you can expect the heaviest rainfalls of the year, with average highs of around 17℃ or 18℃ and minimum temperatures of roughly 8℃. You may want to consider heading north to Broome for a beach holiday, where it will be warmer.
June marks the start of the whale migration season, which extends through to around October. September to November is an ideal time to visit if you want to see the wildflowers in bloom, with the temperatures most enticing for being at the beach in late spring.
How long should I stay in Esperance?
For most travellers, three days is enough time to spend in Esperance, allowing you to explore its museums and beaches, as well as the cruise to the Recherche Archipelago or take a scenic flight.
How to get to Esperance from Perth
If you’re driving direct from Perth to Esperance, it is roughly 700 kilometres and can be completed in 7.5 hours. There are petrol stations in most of the towns along the way where you can fill up, provided you are driving during the day. It is not advised to drive this stretch of road at nighttime due to the presence of kangaroos and the lack of mobile phone reception.
Recommendation: If you are considering renting a car for your Perth to Esperance road trip, be sure to check out rentalcars.com. They search and compare car rental prices Australia-wide, so you can be sure you’re getting the best possible price.
REX (Regional Express) offers regular flights from Perth to Esperance, with a flight time of roughly 90 minutes.
By Bus / Coach
TransWA runs coach services between Perth and Esperance via Kulin and Hyden. But if you really want to explore what this region has to offer, you need your own vehicle.