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A Guide to Perth’s Best Road Trips

This article is sponsored by UWA

Western Australia (WA) is an enormous, beautiful state. The capital city, Perth, is packed full of places to explore, including Matilda Bay and Kings Park.

If you’re ready to venture a little further out from the city and take a road trip, there is plenty of small towns dotted along coastal roads with some of the world’s most scenic beaches to discover. Further north, you can find long desert roads and ancient canyons.

As expressed by Enzo, a University of Western Australia (UWA) Master of Strategic Communication graduate, “I love the outdoors in Perth – the beaches, parks and camping experiences are great!”

While there are many exciting locations to explore, deciding on the ideal destination can be challenging. That is why we’ve created a list of the best spots to travel to as an international student, and roughly how much time you should allocate to your journey.

Somewhere close

Only have a few days? Consider some of these spots, just a few hours from Perth and the UWA campus, so you can make it back in time for class on Monday:

1. Lancelin

Lancelin is a coastal town only a 1.5 hour drive from Perth. One of the highlights of Lancelin is the unmissable sandboarding. Head to the dune area and rent a sandboard for only $12.50, then carve down the sides of enormous sandy mounds. Sandboarding is both thrilling and a little dangerous, so wear safety equipment including ski goggles and a bandana to ensure the best time.

2. Margaret River

The Margaret River region and its surrounds are famous for beautiful towering forests, world-class vineyards, and of course – sandy beaches. This getaway is about a 3-hour drive from Perth, perfect for quick a weekend away. 

If you enjoy camping and the outdoors, you’ll love checking out the Cape to Cape hiking trail. The journey explores limestone cliffs and remote beaches where both dolphins and surfers can be spotted from shore. You can do smaller, day-long hikes on this 123-kilometre track which takes 4-5 days of overnight hiking to fully complete. 

If you prefer to sit back and relax, Margaret River offers hundreds of wineries. Many wineries encourage guests to come and sample their wine while they talk you through the complexities of each bottle. You can join a wine tour bus with a local guide who will pick out the locations, or head to locations that most interest you, with options to explore including a natural wine, more traditional vineyards, or even a brewery! 

Somewhere in-between 

If you have a week or so during the mid-semester break, you could consider driving further along the south-west to one of these destinations.

3. Esperance 

Esperance and its surrounds claim to have the whitest sand and bluest water in the world. It takes about 7.5 hours to drive there from Perth, but the trip is worth it. On arrival, you will find the breathtaking Great Ocean Pathway. This 12km walking route takes you along some of the best swimming, snorkelling and look-out spots in WA. 

Whales, dolphins and sea lions can be seen either from shore or by taking a cruise out to see the various islands in the Recherche Archipelago.

4. Denmark

Beautiful Denmark boasts peaceful natural bays and showcases the very best of WA’s native Jarrah trees. A 4.5 hour drive from Perth, Denmark will enchant you with the Valley of the Giants Tree Top Walk, where you can walk above the ancient trees of the south-west – so long as you’re not too afraid of heights!

Further afield

If you have time over the longer holidays between your studies, you can consider these ultimate road trip locations!

5. Karijini National Park 

Karijini National Park is in Hamersley Range, in north-east Western Australia. It takes a two-day overnight drive to arrive from Perth, but once you do, it is well worth the effort. Spectacular hikes take you through canyons and waterfalls, where you can navigate ancient rock formations and explore a desert oasis.

During your stay, you will need to camp either in the public camping sites or on a privately owned site. Since this is a particularly long journey, it is important to come prepared. If you’re camping, you’ll need your own water to drink and wash with, plus food and extra fuel. There are no petrol stations inside the park, so plan your journey well and consider safety requirements for regional and remote driving.

6. Exmouth

On the way back from Karijini, stop by Exmouth to see incredible ocean life. Directly west of Karijini or a 12-hour drive from Perth, Exmouth is known for spectacular snorkelling adventures with gentle whale sharks and manta rays.

Things to consider

Road trips are unforgettable experiences – exploring new places over endless hours with friends can make the best memories. If you are new to WA or haven’t driven around the state much yet, you need to consider how you will organise yourself and keep yourself and your passengers safe.

Remember to follow visitor advice, including:

  • Stay within the speed limit
  • Avoid driving at dusk or early in the morning: this is when kangaroos are most often on the roads
  • Never overtake another vehicle before approaching any incline, or before a bend in the road
  • You can rent a car from providers around Perth, and we recommend hiring a four-wheel drive vehicle so you are prepared for any unexpected conditions. 

By being cautious and well prepared, you will have the most incredible time exploring beautiful WA!

There’s more to uni life at UWA than just study. Road trips are unforgettable experiences where you can explore new places and spend endless hours with new friends. 

At The University of Western Australia (UWA) you can enjoy an unparalleled student experience and seek new experiences, friendships, fun and even a helping hand if you need it. 

Learn more about studying at UWA now!