Western Australia help please?

Old Jul 23rd, 2018, 04:27 PM
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Western Australia help please?

My husband and I will be visiting Australia again, for approximately for 2 months, in 2019. We have spent a lot of time on the East Coast and around Darwin and Cairns, so this trip we want to spend much of our time in Western Australia. We plan to visit Margaret River area, Rottnest Island, Coorow area for the wildflowers (trip is scheduled for late September, October), a bit of time in Perth and north of Perth for the Pinnacles (using a different base than Perth so as to alleviate the driving time) and perhaps Kalbarri National Park. We do not want to spend long days in car, and prefer leisurely travel, rather than racing about. Can anyone suggest a possible route or a good way to arrange our time and travels in Western Australia? It is so vast and we realize that we can't see it all, but would like to visit the greatest places ( not necessarily the "known tourist spots") and experience the "WA" culture!! We figure on 3-4 weeks in WA, and weren't going to include the Kimberleys for this trip so no need to go that far north. Thank you for your help!!!
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Old Jul 23rd, 2018, 06:38 PM
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First off, let me congratulate you for spending a reasonable amount of time in WA! It is indeed vast, and difficult to see without many hours in the car.

We lived in WA for seven years and did our best to see as much of it as possible, but barely scratched the surface.

While I ponder a few itinerary suggestions, you might get some ideas of drive distances, attractions, possible routing, etc from my various trip reports posted here on Fodor's. They're a bit dated now - you'll need to scroll down a bit, but IME things don't change very quickly in country WA.
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Old Jul 25th, 2018, 09:15 AM
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Melnq8, thank you for your response! I enjoyed reading your trip reports....very informative and fun to read! What a wonderful experience to live in Oz for a time! The trip reports were quite helpful and gave me some ideas for various attractions that I hadn't considered. Sounds like you think Rottnest Island could be a miss? I did add Pemberton in as a stop per your advice. And I do like the idea of Norcia. I will reread the trip reports and look for others as well. I have always found the trip reports to be quite helpful in planning an itinerary. Any further thoughts you might have please do pass them on to me! Thank you so much.
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Old Jul 25th, 2018, 12:48 PM
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I think Rotto is one of those love it or leave it places. Many people love it, but damned if I know why. There are so many easily accessible beautiful beaches in WA, some of them near empty - there's just no reason to get on a ($$) rocking and rolling boat and go over there IMO. Rotto is where all the 'leavers' go to party (sort of like spring break in the US, but instead graduating high school kids). Could be an issue that time of year too with school holidays (Sept 22-Oct 7 this year, not sure of the dates for 2019.)

Are you set on Kalbarri? It wasn't a favorite of mine - not that that matters. Not a whole lot to do there unless you're a hiker (which is exactly what we did there). A long way to go too, some ~seven hours.

If you're looking for something uniquely WA (not that there's a shortage) you might enjoy the Pinnacles - I sure did. Cervantes is the closest town, and while there's not a whole lot there either, it's pretty fascinating IMO. Some people drive there as a day trip from Perth - I'd opt to stay overnight though, as the best views of the Pinnacles are at dawn and dusk - do be aware of the wallabies on the road - they're plentiful at night.

https://www.westernaustralia.com/en/...rvantes.aspx#/

New Norcia is an easy day trip from Perth and is also very unique, and you'll see wildflowers that time of year.

Any interest in Kalgoorlie? Long drive from Perth, but easy to incorporate in a long loop - unique with a capital U. From Kalgoorlie, you can drive down to Esperance - home of the most beautiful beaches I have ever seen - and then work your way back to Perth via the Southwest coast - which is the gem of WA - incorporating Albany/Denmark, Pemberton, Margaret River and all the beautiful places in between.

The Drive to Kal will take about eight hours - there's a lot of nothing en route, but it will give you a nice taste of the Outback. The drive from Esperance to Albany is a long haul too - probably another eight hours - but you'd get a good taste of WA.

Here are some WA photos just to whet your appetite:




I suspect you'll wish you had even more time!
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Old Jul 26th, 2018, 04:11 PM
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Melnq8.......thank you, thank you!! That is exactly the sort of information I was looking for, and it sounds like we are on a similar thought wave!! I know for sure we will wish we had even more time (as you suspect!) and that is precisely why this is our 4th trip to Australia. Well, that, and also we have several very dear, very long time, friends scattered on the East Coast and it is our turn to visit them!! (not that we are complaining!) In fact one of the couples will be joining us in WA. They've never been there either!! We were thinking to spend a night or two in the area of the Pinnacles so as to see the sunrise there. Our most favorite time in Uluru was at sunrise so I'm thinking the feeling might be much the same here!! Plus I grew up in the Mojave Desert (southern California) and we have wonderful pinnacles just outside of town so I do need to see the Oz version!!! I did find what appears to be a nice guided tour of a few of the wineries around the Margaret River and we were thinking to stay in the area for a few days before heading further south. Is there a specific place you would recommend for a stay....area, hotel, B&B inn?? I am taking copious notes from your comments and trip reports and referring to them as I work out our plan. They are ever so helpful!! Please do keep your thoughts and suggestions coming.....the guidance is invaluable!!!
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Old Jul 26th, 2018, 04:19 PM
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Melnq8....forgot to mention that your photos are amazing and whet my appetite, for sure!!
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Old Jul 26th, 2018, 05:45 PM
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Happy to help.

As for where specifically to stay in MR - we preferred staying in the country, but, we had trouble finding good accommodation - and believe me, we tried. Our favorite accommodation was near Yallingup, but last I heard they were no longer in business (I'll try to verify that). We also stayed at a nice studio on a small vineyard south of MR - I will try to find the name and post back. It was strictly for two people, though, so may not work for you.

We found it strange that in a place like MR, good accommodation (particularly accommodation on vineyards) was so hard to find. It seems to me that they could print money there. Things might have changed in the three years we've been gone though.

We stayed in MR town on two occasions - we had a good experience at Vintages:

Stylish Margaret River Accommodation - VINTAGES MARGARET RIVER ACCOMMODATION

The advantage of staying in town is that you're within walking distance to restaurants and cafes. The disadvantage is that it's a town, and therefore not nearly as peaceful as staying a bit further out.

We stayed at a lovely B&B in Cervantes - the town closest to the Pinnacles - they have more than one room so could accommodate your group. I'll have to find the name and post back.
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Old Jul 27th, 2018, 07:43 AM
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I checked, and as suspected the place we stayed in Yallingup no longer provides accommodation, although their wine is probably still good:

https://www.windance.com.au/

The studio I mentioned above is still around, but only accommodates two:

https://www.vrbo.com/9070972ha

The B&B in Cervantes is still operating though:

Cervantes Windbreak Bed and Breakfast

Here are some other links that might help you in your planning (SW coast):

https://www.denmarkwesternaustralia.com/

https://www.pembertonvisitor.com.au/attractions

https://www.australia.com/en-us/plac...ret-river.html

I think you'll find you're spoiled for choice.
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Old Jul 30th, 2018, 07:53 AM
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Melnq8....."spoiled for choice", yes, for sure! Also overwhelmed by choices!!! Your information is so spot on, and so invaluable. We are trying to sort out an itinerary for our portion from Perth to Margaret River, etc etc and will use every bit of the info you have provided. Your photos are amazing....simply makes us more excited to begin this trip!! And to add more stops! Luckily we have some time to work it out and some time there for all (or some at least!) of the incredible places you have mentioned. At this point we are thinking to do at least 10 days in the southern area....the loop from Perth to Esperance and Kalgoorlie. A few days in Perth, and a few days north to the Pinnacles with perhaps 2 or 3 nights there. We were planning on a total of about 3 weeks in WA so that gives us days left over. I'm not sure it's easier to have MORE time allotted since it means we add on more places and then aren't sure that's the best .... "Maybe we should add time here, not there!!" LOL!! Quite a project at the moment!! So much to see, so much to do!! Thank you so much for all the suggestions.....and do keep them coming if you think of anything else!!! I will post a tentative itinerary for you to examine and comment on when we have it a bit more worked out!! But there's always room for adjustment and more confusion!!
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Old Jul 30th, 2018, 07:00 PM
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Glad to be of some help dodi66 - I shall give it a think and perhaps post more later.
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Old Aug 1st, 2018, 02:15 PM
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, Here I am back again, this time with a very tentative itinerary! I'm not sure if I have amount of time allotted in the best way and it definitely needs some adjustment, but not sure where yet. What do you think?
Perth.....3 nights
Fremantle/Rottnest Island....2 nights (probably 1 night each??)
Cervantes.....2 nights
Wave Rock....1 night
Kalgoorlie...2 nights
Leonora.....1 night for Gwalia and Lake Ballad
Esperance....2 nights
Albany.....4 nights
Pemberton....2 nights
Margaret River/Dunsborough...4 nights
**Albany seemed a good base for the lower end and perhaps the Fitzgerald Natl Park and the beaches etc. Not sure if 4 nights is too much though. I'm trying to work in all the lovely places mentioned with us having a base!! Any thoughts or input would be appreciated!!
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Old Aug 1st, 2018, 05:08 PM
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Perth and Freo are only about a 30 minute train ride apart - personally, I'd stay in the Perth CBD and take the ferry to Freo and the train back to Perth as a day trip. Same with Rotto - I'd just take the boat over for the day, maybe rent a bike and see the island - a day there will allow you to see pretty much all there is to see.

Speaking of transport - do you plan to rent a car or rely on public transport while in the Perth area? What you plan to do will dramatically affect which you should choose. For instance, if you want to get to Freo, Rotto, South Perth (Zoo, etc) Cottesloe, Kings Park, and even parts of Scarborough Beach, all can be done by train/bus, although all will also involve a bit of walking.

If you want to get out to the Swan Valley, the Perth Hills, some of the lovely regional parks, etc, you'll need a car. Keep in mind that parking in the Perth CBD is limited and expensive.

Do be aware that the drive from Perth to Kalgoorlie is about eight hours - with a whole lot of nothing in between. You'll want to gas the car at every opportunity - don't pass up a petrol station - and take food and water with you.

You'll probably also need to pay a surcharge on your car rental to take it beyond a 500 km radius of Perth. This was standard practice for rental companies when I lived there, I assume its still the case.

Not sure about the stop in Lenora -it's only a four hour drive from Kalgoorlie to Esperance, so I'd just push on, unless you have a specific reason for staying overnight. I don't remember there being much at Lake Ballard either, but it's been awhile.

Wave Rock is a spot in the road and possible as a side trip on the way to Esperance - I'll check the distance and get back. I'd personally not allocate a night there. There's just not much there - keep in mind this is the Outback - lots of red dirt and shrub. It'll take you all of 10 minutes to see the rock. I'm not sure how it would work with Lenora, I'll pull out my WA maps (WA is so big it needs three maps!) and take a closer look.

Two nights in Esperence is giving it short shrift - especially considering the time it takes to get there and back from Perth. There are some lovely National Parks in the vicinity, all a bit of distance from town. I'd allow at least three nights, four even better. Yes, it's a small town, but there's a lot to see in the area IMO.

Fitzgerald River National Park is best seen on the drive between Esperance and Albany/Denmark. It will add time to an already long drive day, but it's interesting. As I recall, there aren't any services there. It's 180 km NE of Albany - you'll pass right by as you drive from Esperence to Albany, although it is off the road a bit.

Albany is a good base, as is Denmark. Albany is a bigger, busier town, but close to several nice national parks and some fabulous beaches (Two Peoples Bay comes to mind) and easy enough to get to Denmark for a day of forests, wineries, etc. All depends on what you like.

You can visit Walpole on your way towards Pemberton/MR. Be sure to leave plenty of time to make a lot of stops en route.

I think your break down for Albany/Denmark, Pembie and MR is about right (although I love Pembie and could easily fill a week there).

Last edited by Melnq8; Aug 1st, 2018 at 05:17 PM.
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Old Aug 2nd, 2018, 12:23 PM
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Great input, Melnq8!! I so appreciate your taking the time to help me with this confusing itinerary!! I accidentally reversed the order of Kalgoorlie and Leonora....should be Leonora after Hyden, then Kalgoorlie, then Esperance. We would be hiring the car when we leave Perth or Fremantle, doing public transportation while in the city. Our Sydney friends mentioned a preference for basing in Fremantle and the overnight in Rottnest. In fact, since I posted the itinerary on Fodor's, the time in Perth has been cut to 1 night (our flight from Cairns won't arrive until very late) since we all prefer smaller cities (or villages) and there seems to be more in Fremantle that everyone is interested to see. So now it is Perth...1 night, Fremantle...2 nights, Rottnest...1 night. It was suggested that we move Fremantle and Rottnest to the end of the trip for more chance of good weather....that's a real possibility. We may cut out Leonora altogether, but for now Wave Rock is a must. I will need to check distance from Cervantes to Kalgoorlie, but that is perhaps too far for 1 day travel (??) We also wanted to stop in New Norcia on the way from Cervantes....perhaps an overnight there?? Thanks for the heads up on the surcharge on the car rental....I will check into it, but there's really no way around it, unless we wanted to do tours everywhere, which we do not!! It does appear to be better to do Wave Rock on the way from Esperance so that may be adjusted. I think we added the night there as a break between Cervantes and Leonora, I don't remember why we have the overnight!! If we dispose of Leonora (on our itinerary, not actually!!), we could add another night to Esperance...we did want to visit some of the parks and were planning to go to Fitzgerald on way to Albany. I should have been clearer with Albany as the overnight....Denmark was the other location that I was looking into. Albany has an Anzac Center that my husband is very interested in...and Albany would be a stop, but perhaps not the base for 4 nights. From what I am reading and hearing...we could spend several months in this area and love it all!! So our measly 3 weeks is just a small taste!! Thank you for your help and input......so valuable!!
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Old Aug 2nd, 2018, 04:48 PM
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Melnq8....I did figure why we had planned Hyden between Cervantes and Leonora (Leonora has been eliminated now!)...it was to break up the long drive. It is only 5 hours between Cervantes and Hyden and 5 hours from Hyden to Kalgoorlie. That was the reasoning there. I did check with AutoEurope (the company I usually use when we travel internationally). They have no surcharge for 500+ km in Western Europe....it is unlimited km with no restrictions (except dirt roads!) so we are good there, but thank you for mentioning it so I could check. I added our extra night , from cancelling Leonora, to Esperance per your suggestion. Again, thank you for all your help!!!
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Old Aug 2nd, 2018, 05:20 PM
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Do be aware that gravel roads in WA are everywhere - including access to many national parks, such as Fitzgerald River as I recall. With local rentals in WA, there is a clear distinction between 'unformed roads' and unpaved roads. You'll need to clarify this with whomever you rent from. Unformed roads are 4x4 roads, unpaved (gravel, dirt) are almost impossible to avoid in many places in WA.

Some rental companies in AU also have restrictions on driving after dark in country WA - be sure to check on that as well.
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Old Aug 3rd, 2018, 07:33 AM
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Thank you again, Melnq8!! You have been extraordinarily helpful and I so appreciate all your input. Will make a note to clarify road types with rental company!! It sounds as if you have lived many places in the world. Where are you now, if you don't mind my asking?
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Old Aug 3rd, 2018, 08:03 AM
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dodi - we're now in Colorado - retired.
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Old Aug 4th, 2018, 07:42 AM
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Melnq8.....and still traveling, I presume?!! Again, thank you so much for all your input!!
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Old Aug 4th, 2018, 09:32 AM
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dodi - absolutely still traveling.
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Old Aug 18th, 2018, 06:15 PM
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I agree with Melnq8 no need to change hotels for Perth/Fremantle they are super close. A night on Rottnest island could be nice though if you want to explore the Island. I personally dont feel comfortable going to Rottnest being that it was a prison for Indigenous people and there are mass graves everywhere and the place kinda gives me the creeps, but the quokas are cute and I understand why tourists like it.

September/October has a lot of wildflowers around the Perth hills with a lot of nice day bush walks if you are interested in that kind of thing.
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