Self-driving in Australia's South West in 7 days
Explore Western Australia
Book an Air New Zealand return fare to Perth. Pick up a rental car and explore the city and then head south to Australia's South West region to discover world-class food and wine, beautiful beaches, surfing, cave systems, tall tree forests, whale-watching7 days
Drive south from Perth for two and a half hours and you'll arrive at the town of Busselton, which has the longest timber jetty in the southern hemisphere. From here, it's about another 30 minutes to the towns of Dunsborough and Yallingup, located at the doorstep of Cape Naturaliste.
Things to see and do in Busselton, Dunsborough and Yallingup
- Take the 1.8km jetty walk or ride the train and take a tour of the Underwater Observatory
- Visit gorgeous Meelup Beach for a swim and sunbathe
- Take part in an indigenous tour at the Cape Naturaliste lighthouse. Discover why the past is ever present in Aboriginal culture
- See spectacular Ngilgi Cave in Yallingup, which is just dripping in stalactites and stalagmites
Margaret River is about 40 minutes' drive from Yallingup, so you'll be deep in wine country before you know it. This region produces outstanding wines, particularly cabernet blends, shiraz, sauvignon blanc, chardonnay, semillon, and merlot.
Wine-inspired things to see and do
- Hop between the cellar doors, sipping and tasting. Pick up some gorgeous wines to take home, or arrange to have them shipped
- Visit gourmet produce stores and stock up on tasty treats for breakfast and snacks
- Find a winery restaurant for lunch, where every course is perfectly matched to a local wine
- Brewing is big in Margaret River, so check out the local craft breweries
There's more to Margaret River than food and wine, so keep a day spare to devote to nature - on land, in the water and under the ground.
Nature-inspired things to see and do
- Explore limestone caves - Mammoth Cave, Lake Cave or Jewel Cave. They're all magnificent
- Check out the gorgeous waves at Gnarabup Beach. There are some great cafés here, perfectly positioned for breakfast or lunch with a view
- Go hiking at Hamelin Bay - it's a one to two-hour adventure, depending on your pace
Visit Eagles Heritage and see raptors doing their thing. Australia's largest collection of eagles, hawks, falcons and owls lives here.
On the fourth day of your adventure, you'll head south-east on the Vasse and South Western highways. Pemberton is your first port of call, then Walpole and Denmark. This area of Western Australia was settled for farming and forestry in the late 1800s, and these activities are still very much in evidence today. Keep an eye out for farm gate stalls and shops selling local produce.
Things to see and do in Pemberton, Walpole and Denmark
- Pause in Manjimup to taste and buy black truffles. This area is the world's biggest producer of these black nuggets of culinary gold
- Near Walpole, do the Valley of the Giants Tree Top Walk for a toe-tingling encounter with 400-year-old trees
- See the Elephant Rocks on the coast near Denmark. They really do look like elephants
Have a swim at beautiful Greens Pool in William Bay National Park.
It's just a short drive to from Denmark to Albany, a port city with a fascinating history and an even more fascinating coastline. Local attractions are either marine or military. Make sure you save time enough to cover both topics.
Things to see and do in Albany
- Visit the National ANZAC Centre - it honours the ANZACs of WW1 and features multimedia and interactive displays to recount the stories of those who did so much for the war effort
- Go to The Gap and Natural Bridge in the Torndirrup National Park. You'll look down into the churning seas from a cantilevered viewing platform. You can also see blowholes in this park
- Find the ANZAC Desert Corp Memorial the top of Mount Clarence. The views are stupendous from up here
- See the replica of the sailing Brig Amity in the Albany Historical Precinct
Walk the sands of Little Beach in Two Peoples Bay Nature Reserve. It's too beautiful for words.
Today you'll drive back to Perth, a trip of about five hours. Depart after breakfast but plan a stop at the Porongorup Skywalk, as well as a potential winery visit or two in Mt Barker. To break up the drive, stop off at Bunbury. Arrive in Perth in time for your evening flight home to New Zealand.