White sand beach in a small horseshoe shaped bay surrounded by heavily forested slopes

Road Trip from Perth to Esperance

Updated by Pat Dorri on January 31 2024

The southwestern tip of Australia is packed with stunning beaches, outdoor adventures and unforgettable views. A road trip from Perth to Esperance checks all the boxes for the perfect combination on an exciting journey, whether you'd like to spend some time under the sun or explore the region's history.

The 1,250 km road trip from Perth to Esperance will take 14 hours and 20 minutes to cover, taking you past Eagle Bay, Margaret River, Hamelin Bay, Elizabeth Quay, Lucky Bay and Albany on the coast or Wave Rock, Corrigin, Ravensthorpe inland.

With so many amazing places to visit along the way, read on to discover how to make the most of your journey between white sand dunes, national parks, caves and cliffs.

How to drive from Perth to Esperance

The map below shows two great route options for your road trip from Perth to Esperance. Click on the star icons for headline details, and scroll down for much more information below.

* Always remember that drive times can be impacted by traffic, closures, weather and other conditions. It's best to double-check while planning and before starting out on your trip.

Comparison of inland and coastal routes between Perth and Esperance
RouteDistanceDriving Time
The Coastal Route1,250 km14 hours 20 minutes
The Inland Route720 km7 hours 50 minutes

How far is Esperance from Perth, and how long will the road trip take?

If you drove directly, you could get from Perth to Esperance in around seven and a half hours. However, we'd recommend taking a longer route to get the most out of this road trip.

This route is significantly longer than traveling directly. At 14 hours, 20 minutes, and 1,250 kilometres, the Coastal Route is a more serious undertaking. But if you have the time, it's well worth it.

Alternatively, you could travel inland via Wave Rock, which will take you around 7 hours and 50 minutes. This route is much shorter, at only 720 kilometres.

Kangaroo faces the camera while standing in profile on a white sand beach with turquoise sea, waves breaking behind
You might not have the beaches of Western Australia entirely to yourself.
John Krux/Shutterstock.com

Best road trip route from Perth to Esperance

As you'll see, you have two really different options for your road trip between Perth and Esperance. Your choice of route will most likely come down to how much time you have available, and whether you prefer to travel via the ocean or through Australia's iconic Outback.

This route takes you to some truly stunning beaches and the varied landscapes of this beautiful part of Australia. As a bonus, you can even see dolphins and whales making their way along the coastline if you travel at the right time of year.

If you don't have time to make such a long drive, the shorter Inland Route makes a great alternative.

The Inland Route doesn't have as many stopping points as the Coastal Route, but you will get to visit the majestic Wave Rock on this route. Although you won't get to spend as much time by the water, you'll be able to experience the striking Outback landscape.

Whether or not you've already decided which route to take, read on for information on which roads to follow, when to travel, and what you can see along the way.

White sand beach with wooden structure in the foreground, turquoise sea and blue sky
Hamelin, on the Coastal Route, is well worth visiting.

The Coastal Route

To get started on your road trip, leave Perth on State Route 2, the Mitchell Freeway, which joins up with National Highway 1. As you travel south, you'll pass Yalgorup National Park and Myalup State Forest before reaching Bunbury, where you might like to visit the Bunbury Dolphin Centre.

From Bunbury, take State Route 10 to follow the coast towards Busselton. Turn right at the roundabout onto Causeway Road to visit Busselton, with its beautiful white sands and famous jetty.

Afterwards, you will drive through the beautiful Eagle Bay and then Margaret River. As you leave Margaret River via State Route 10, turn right at the roundabout onto Boodjidup Road. This takes you past a selection of wineries before turning left onto Caves Road toward Augusta.

From here, you can make detours to Blackwood River National Park, Milyeannup National Park and Hilliger National Park before arriving at Pemberton.

Keep following the shore through Mount Frankland National Park and you will soon arrive at Denmark and then Albany. From here, aim for Fitzgerald River National Park. Continue following National Route 1 to arrive at Esperance.

Wooden jetty stretches into the distance over the ocean with three wooden buildings in the foreground, under a vivid pink sunset sky.
Busselton Jetty is an impressive structure that stretches way out into the ocean.
Sahil Malhotra/Shutterstock.com

The Inland Route

Leave Perth via State Route 8 and head towards Karragullen, but instead of driving straight through the town, we'd recommend heading out to a couple of interesting sights.

As you approach Karragullen, turn left onto O'Meagher Road, right onto Illawarra Road then left onto Dale Road to enter Korung National Park.

You'll turn right and then left again to continue along Dale Road, which takes you to Mount Dale Lookout for some spectacular views across the National Park. We'd recommend paying close attention to the map as you navigate along this short detour, as there's very limited signage.

After your visit, return to the route and keep following State Route 40 through Corrigin and Kondinin to reach the inspiring scenery of Wave Rock.

Here, you can admire the spectacular rock formation or follow one of the trails to explore the nearby area with its lakes and views across the Wheatbelt.

When you're ready to continue your journey, simply return to State Route 40. You'll now follow it past Lake King Nature Reserve and into Ravensthorpe, before turning left onto National Route 1 which takes you to Esperance.

Aerial view of wheat fields in Western Australia, which are lit up golden green in the bright light
The mesmerising Wheatbelt scenery will be a real feature for you if you take the Inland Route.
Ric Jacyno/Shutterstock.com

Best places to stop between Perth and Esperance

Whichever route you take on this road trip from Perth to Esperance, you'll probably need to make at least one overnight stop in order to enjoy the sights along the way - or more if you plan on taking your time to explore the beaches along the Coastal Route.

Ride the waves at Margaret River

3 hours out of Perth on the Coastal Route, you'll find Margaret River, a beachside town known for its vineyards, walking trails, and some of the country's best surf breaks.

You can easily spend a day or two here, enjoying the water or heading to Margaret River Wine Estates for a tasting; the region is best known for its cabernet sauvignon and shiraz.

If you have time for some rest and relaxation, Indijup Natural Spa is a fantastic option in the area. Or if you're in the mood for a little more driving, Hamelin Bay's historic jetty is a beautiful place to head to.

Red dirt road with dry grass and gum trees on either side and a bright blue sky
Head up to Cape Naturaliste after your stay in Margaret River.

A short walk out of the centre of Margaret River, you'll find Heritage Trail Lodge nestled among beautiful gardens on the edge of the forest. You'll be able to enjoy breakfast to the sound of birdsong, before heading out along the walking trail that starts at the property.

The friendly and welcoming staff at Heritage Trail Lodge can also book whale-watching tours for guests or even arrange for spa treatments on-site.

Explore the maritime history of Albany

Albany, located another 4 hours 30 minutes from Margaret River on the Coastal Route from Perth to Esperance, is perfectly located to split the driving into manageable sections, as well as being close to some places you'll definitely want to spend some time at.

As you'd expect from its location right by the ocean, Albany's maritime history has played a key part in shaping this town and nearby area. Nearby you can enjoy the fresh air at Torndirrup National Park, before heading to Little Beach, Elephant Rocks and Greens Pool.

This is also an excellent place to take a whale-watching tour, especially if you're traveling between June and October when whales regularly pass along this stretch of coast.

Only a short distance from the beaches, and with free parking, Quality Apartments Banksia Albany is a fantastic option for an overnight stay in Albany.

The rooms here are spacious and comfortable, and you'll have cooking facilities if you'd prefer to self-cater. If not, there's an on-site restaurant, or seeing as you're right by the ocean, you could head out into Albany to enjoy a seafood feast.

Check out Wave Rock

If you're taking the Inland Route, the obvious place to stop is near Wave Rock, which is roughly halfway along the route and its main attraction. Stopping here gives you plenty of time to explore the amazing rock formation, nearby trails and Lake Gounter Nature Reserve.

Accommodation options are limited along the quiet State Route 40, but check out Erindale Apartments, a short drive off the main route at Kulin. Follow signs towards the town as you head through Kondinin on State Route 40.

Spectacular wave-shaped rock formation crosses the image, with a vivid orange and pink sunset sky
Wave Rock is the must-see destination along the Inland Route.

The apartments are newly renovated, with everything you need for a comfortable overnight stay, and you'll get a glimpse of life in this rural community during your stay.

Kulin also has a fantastic waterpark, which is well worth a visit if you want to cool down and relax on your drive across regional Western Australia.

Chill out in Esperance

Esperance, a breathtaking coastal town in Western Australia, is renowned for its pristine white sandy beaches, crystal-clear turquoise waters, and a naturally beautiful archipelago.

Esperance is special for its untouched coastal scenery, the spectacular Pink Lake, and the nearby Cape Le Grand National Park, where kangaroos sunbathe on the beaches.

For your stay, we recommend the charming Esperance Coastal Retreat. You can choose between different types of comfortable apartments that suit your need the best, all equipped with a kitchen with a dining area for the homey comfort you might be craving for after spending time on the road.

The best way to call it a day after admiring all the scenery that Esperance has to offer, you can return to the hotel and enjoy a delicious home-cooked barbecue, which you can find in the garden of the property for your use.

Afterwards, you can relax by the outdoor fire with your a glass of your favorite vintage in hand.

Aerial view of white sand bay with turquoise sea
Make your way to Esperance to enjoy sparkling seas and white sand beaches.
Matt Deakin/Shutterstock.com

Things to see on a road trip from Perth to Esperance

Although this drive from Perth to Esperance is far from the longest road trip you could take across Australia, it's still packed with plenty of things to do. Whichever route you take, you'll be able to enjoy coastal views, craft brews and some unforgettable attractions.

Coastal Route

  1. Bunbury Dolphin Centre - Learn about these fascinating and intelligent mammals at this great attraction in Koombana Bay.
  2. Busselton Jetty - Stretching out a magnificent 1.8 km in beautiful Geographe Bay, you can walk or take the miniature train to the end of this jetty to enjoy views along the coast.
  3. Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse - Take a guided tour up to the top of the lighthouse for more views across the cape, then enjoy the nearby beaches before continuing your road trip.
  4. Dunsborough Bakery - Pack a picnic for the next part of your trip at this bakery, which is reportedly one of the best in the region.
  5. Eagle Bay Brewery - Enjoy craft beers, regional wines and locally produced food at this brewery with a view.
  6. Meelup Beach - A fantastic place to swim or enjoy the beach, with walking trails right off the beach.
  7. Wilyabrup Sea Cliffs - This section of the Western Australia coast is rugged and rocky, with stunning views. If you're lucky you might even spot migrating whales from the clifftop.
  8. Indijup Natural Spa - This fantastic beachside retreat is a must for lovers of natural treatments and relaxation.
  9. Gracetown Beach - Surfers should be sure to check out Gracetown, where you can catch some world-class waves. There are a couple of options in the town - South Point is recommended for an easier ride.
  10. Sugarloaf Rock - Hike up to this interesting rock formation near Margaret River, part of Leewin-Naturalise National Park.
  11. Hamelin Bay - Another beautiful beachside stop-off, where you can also enjoy a fantastic range of restaurant choices.
Historic lighthouse on Cape Naturaliste in Western Australia with blue skies and partial clouds.
Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse is a historical place to visit if you're taking your time exploring the Coastal Route.

Inland Route

  1. Brookton - A charming country town located in the Wheatbelt region of Western Australia, serving as a gateway to the beautiful Avon Valley. The town boasts a rich agricultural heritage, scenic countryside, and is a popular spot for picnicking.
  2. Wave Rock - This 2,700 million-year-old rock formation is the main attraction on the Inland Route. While you're here you can also check out the nearby nature reserve and hiking trails.
  3. Hippo's Yawn - A rock formation near Wave Rock, resembling a yawning hippopotamus, it's a short walk from Wave Rock and offers a fun photo opportunity.
  4. Mulka's Cave - Near Wave Rock, this site contains ancient Aboriginal rock paintings and is associated with local Indigenous legend.
  5. Lake King Nature Reserve - A serene destination known for its diverse birdlife and wildflower displays in spring. The reserve offers tranquil spots for nature walks and bird watching, making it a peaceful escape into nature.

Both Routes

  1. Fitzgerald River National Park - If willing to venture a bit off the direct route, this national park is one of the most botanically significant parks in Australia, with numerous species of plants and wildflowers, especially vibrant during the spring.
  2. Ravensthorpe - A small town in the heart of the south coast region of Western Australia, surrounded by natural beauty, including the Fitzgerald River National Park. It's renowned for its spectacular wildflower season and the nearby Ravensthorpe Range.
Straight, empty paved road with golden fields and gum trees on either side
You'll pass along a road less traveled if you take this trip from Perth to Esperance.

Best time to go on a road trip from Perth to Esperance

It never gets really cold in this part of Australia, so one of the best things about a trip to Western Australia is that you can enjoy the region all year round.

You'll find significant variation in temperatures and rainfall along different parts of the route, though, so your decision about when to travel will probably be based on the route you take and how much you enjoy the summer heat.

Perth is known for its summer heat, with temperatures around 30 degrees Celsius between December and February. You'll also occasionally experience short but heavy rainstorms. It's a similar picture along the Inland Route, but with much less chance of rain.

The Coastal Route is a little cooler in the summer, but still perfect for enjoying the beaches and ocean scenery you'll pass by along the way. Temperatures usually sit comfortably in the mid-to high-20 degrees Celsius from November to April.

Eagle Bay Epic Adventure Race takes place in Naturaliste on Eagle Bay every November, so if you are looking to stay on the move and meet some people who love running, then this is the event to keep an eye out for.

If you'd prefer to avoid the hottest months, there are some benefits to taking this trip at other times of year. You will also avoid the bushfire season this way.

June to October is whale watching season in Esperance, so if you don't mind the cooler weather and a higher chance of rain, then this could be a great time to travel.

You could even time your trip to catch the Esperance Wildflower Festival, which runs in late September.

With temperatures along both routes sitting at roughly 8 to 18 degrees Celsius during this period, this won't be every traveler's first choice, especially if you're planning on spending time at the beach.

Whatever time of year you choose to travel, the road trip from Perth to Esperance has plenty going for it and will be a fantastic experience to remember for a lifetime.