Perth is the perfect city to visit for an awesome getaway, even more so for Malaysians because it is only 5 hours 30 minutes by flight. A 12 day trip was perfect us for us because we spent a few days in Perth, and had an epic road trip by traveling down to the south western regions to towns such as Albany, Denmark, Pemberton, Augusta, Margret River, Dunsborough, Mandurah, then back up to Perth again. We also got to see a little bit of Coral Coast by visiting the Pinnacles that’s north of Perth. We travelled during the winter, which means that sightseeing activities were more limited than summer because days are short and it rained a little more often than we would have liked.
Here are some useful information that might come in handy when you are in Perth and Western Australia.
– Accommodation – For accommodation, we mostly just stayed at YHA as they are the most affordable, though no views and all. If you are looking for great views and great stays in Perth, explore this blog on 15 Popular Waterfront Hotels in Perth by HotelsCombined.
– Car Rental – I surveyed carefully when looking for which company to rent the car from. At first glance, most of the companies seem to offer the same rate, but once you add on the car hire excess insurance, it makes a lot of difference. We went with Bayswater because their daily insurance was only AUD 8 per day, and it covers everything with a AUD 100 deposit. I’ve seen other companies charging AUD 23 per day for a fully covered insurance. Every company has their own way of terming this insurance so it was a bit confusing at first. But basically, there are three types of coverage, full coverage, medium coverage and no coverage. If you opt for full coverage, you pay nothing when there’s an accident. If you opt for medium or no coverage, you are required to put down a liability bond. For medium coverage you would probably have to put down a liability bond of AUD 1200, and a liability bond of AUD 2500 if you choose not to buy this insurance.
– Food – For our meals, we either ate in restaurants or prepared our own food. Meals in restaurants typically cost AUD10 – AUD13. If you prepare sandwiches by buying your own ingredients from the supermarket, you can expect AUD 2-3 per meal.
– National Parks – There’s an entrance fee of AUD 12 / vehicle for most national parks in the region. The ticket that you get is a day pass which will cover the entrance fee for other national parks that you visit within the same day.
– Navigating – There is no signal at certain parts when you are driving. You might get a little lost if you are relying on Waze or Google maps. While I heard that there are some apps like maps.me that can help you navigate without signal, but I didn’t really look into that. We did get lot lost but we found our way eventually. A trick you can use is during the night before you travel, key in your location on Waze when there is wifi, then hit go. This way, the destination is already recorded in Waze and you don’t need wifi / signal for Waze to work. Waze will still function without signal.
Our trip was RM 5875.90 per person, see below for breakdown.
Expenses in AUD
Car Rental (8 days) : AUD 442 / 2 = AUD 221 Per Person
Petrol : AUD 165 / 2 = AUD 82.5 Per Person
Food (estimate only) = AUD 347 Per Person
National Park Pass & Entrance Ticket = 141 Per Person
Transportation Fee in Perth = AUD 140 Per Person (Taxi, Train, Ferry to Rottnest)
Accommodation = AUD 909.6 / 2 = AUD 454.8
YHA Card = AUD 11.85 (worth it if you are staying more than 5 nights per year in YHA)
12 GB Sim Card = AUD 25/2 = AUD 12.5
Total in AUD = AUD 1410.65 Per Person
Use Exchange Rate AUD 1 = RM 3.28, AUD1410.65 = RM4626.90
Expenses in RM
Flight Ticket : RM 950 (MAS)
Insurance : RM274
Visa : RM 25
Total in RM = RM 1204
Grand Total = RM5875.90
See below for my 12 Day Itinerary for Perth and Western Australia !
Perth & Western Australia ItineraryDay 1 – Perth CBD, King’s Park, Cottesloe Beach. Accommodation : Perth YHA
We started the day by visiting Perth’s CBD, visiting popular shopping streets like Hay Street and Market Street. Perth is very easy to get around by using free buses that roam about the city. It’s not that big really so you can even walk on foot to get around the city.
Next was visiting Kings Park & Botanic Gardens (by bus, too far on foot). It’s the best to see Perth city and Swan River from afar. Besides the stunning view, the 400 acre park is also a beautiful place to walk about with its manicured gardens, giant trees and eucalyptus-tree-lined avenues. The pinkish baobab tree is impressive as it was removed from Northern Australian to make way for a new bridge. The tree travelled a 3200 km journey to Perth, replanted at Kings Park in 2008 and it is now estimated to be 750 years old ! There’s a nice restaurant at the park if you wish to eat lunch there.
Perth is pretty small so we decided to go outskirts to Cottlesloe beach to see sunset ( by bus 102). Another popular destination that we saw along the way was the blue boat house on Matilda Bay. We thought about coming back to this one again when we pick up our car in the next few days but we never got to visit it !
Day 2 : Fremantle Market, Fremantle Prison, Elizabeth Quay (Perth)
We took the train to Fremantle on Day 2. If you have two or more people travelling together, you can buy the Family Ticket (AUD 12.40) which will cover the ride for your party to and fro Fremantle.
Fremantle is a really gorgeous town to walk about with many pretty 19th century buildings, cafes and boutique stores. The Fremantle Market is a popular attraction where you’ll find fresh produces, local handmade crafts and of course lots of food ! While we enjoyed the food at the market but the market was cramped with people, while chairs and tables are limited. I think maybe it might be a better idea to go to E Shed Market for food (which we went on day 3) if you are looking to sit down and have a good meal.
The Fremantle Prison was an interesting place to see (AUD 20). This UNESCO World Heritage Site was built by the convicts in the 1800’s ! The prison has an evolution of prison cells, from tiny little rooms with hammocks which eventually improved with bigger space and proper beds. Some of the prison cells had paintings too, drawn by the convicts. If you are fascinated by prisons, you could even stay in one because there’s a another prison nearby that’s been converted into a hostel !
We then ended the day by visiting the Bell Tower and Elisabeth Quay.
Day 3 : E Shed Market & Rottnest Island.
There are three ways to get to Rottnest Island; you can either take a ferry from Barrack Street Jetty at Perth (AUD 99), or take the ferry from B Shed & Northport in Fremantle (AUD 79). See the Rottnest Express Timetable here to plan as the ferry is not too frequent. While purchasing the ticket, I also hired a bicycle as a package at AUD 20; if you decide to hire the bike when you get onto the island, it is AUD30.
While waiting at B Shed for the ferry, I also walked around the E-Shed Market that was just next door as I had some time to kill. The market is different from the Fremantle market. This one doesn’t sell any fresh produces, but mostly generic souvenirs. There’s a decent food selection here and the best part is you get proper tables and chairs to sit on while you eat.
Before this trip, I kept reading blogs that said people had such a great time cycling so I thought that was the only way to go around the island. It was only when I got onto the island I realised that cycling is not the only to get around ! The other way to get around is by a hop-on-hop-off bus on the island (AUD 20). I think if you are not a cycling enthusiast, taking the bus would be a better option because the island is huge! I cycled for about 3 hours, with stops in between to see sceneries and quokkas. I’d only cycled about one third of the island and already I was a little tired. My muscles ached a little too the next day because I hardly ever cycle. The plus point on the bicycle would be that you would be able to stop at any time, spend sometime at a particular spot, then start riding again. If you were on the bus, you might have to wait longer than you wanted for the next bus to come around. Anyway, pros and cons about taking the bus or using the bicycle to go around the island.
The highlight of the island would definitely be meeting the quokkas ! (Pristine beaches would have been another highlight, but I never got around to cycle there besides the beach at the jetty that I landed at because I was too tired, lol!) I always thought quokkas are just mouse-like creatures but they are more like mini kangaroos since both are in the macropod family. They hop around and have a pouch to nurse their babies, just like the kangaroo ! I wouldn’t say the quokkas are all over the island, but you’ll definitely see one if you are spending a day there.
Day 4 : Raeburn Orchard & Travel from Perth to Albany (420 km, 4 hours 30 minutes drive). Accommodation : Sleepwell Motel in Albany.
Raeburn Orchard is about 30 minutes drive from Perth and it’s on the way to Albany. I’ve seen stunning pictures of the orchard during autumn, when the (persimmon?) trees are in their full glory with red leaves. By the time we visited all the leaves have fallen but we still found the orchard beautiful, just in a different way. It’s AUD 3.50 to enter the orchard.
We had a late start as Gary had to go to the hospital in the morning, otherwise there would be enough time to visit the Granite Skywalk in Porongurup National Park just 30 minutes before reaching Albany.
Day 5 : Granite Skywalk (in Porongurup National Park), Dog Rock, The Gap & the Natural Bridge, Albany Wind Farm. (Add in Whaling Station if you have time)
We started the day by going to the place that we were supposed to visit the day before – Granite Skywalk. If you are coming from Perth, there’s signage that’ll ask you to turn right into the national park. But if you are going from Albany towards the park (in the direction of Perth) and you are relying on Waze or Google Map, the route doesn’t work ! We used google map, only to get to a sign that said ” Google map does not take you to Granite Skywalk”. Eventually we realised we turned left too early. We came out to the main road, drove a little further (5-10 minutes), and the turning there was the right turning !
I underestimated the time required for the hike. I thought it’ll only take less than 30 minutes to get to the top, but in fact it took us more than one hour to get to the top. When we “almost” reached the top, it was rainy and so cloudy that all we could see was fog ! Luckily it cleared up a little so we were finally able to see the vast farmlands of the region.
The reason that I say “almost” reached the top is the you have to climb up the steep rock to get to the absolute top, where the highest viewing platform is. There’s a ladder and hand railings to help you get there, but we decided not to do it as it was slippery and I thought it might be difficult for me to get down.
We then went back to Albany to get lunch and to see the Dog Rock. No brainer for why the rock has this name right ? By the way, the region of Albany and surrounding towns is also known as the Rainbow Coast so expect to see beautiful rainbows when you are in the area !
The Gap & the Natural Bridge at Torndirrup National Park is where you get to view the Southern Ocean. There is a viewing platform at The Gap, which allows you to see all the soaring waves that’s 25 meters beneath you. The Natural Bridge is basically a big giant rock bridge that was formed by the forces of nature.
There were some tracks that would allow you stroll around the Albany Wind Farm but we only visited for a very short time as it started to rain and it was getting dark.
Day 6 – Drive from Albany to Pemberton, visiting Green Pools, Elephant Rocks, Tree Top Walk, Giant Timgle Tree, Nornalup Inlet along the way. The drive was around 3 hours, 250 km. Accommodation : Pemberton YHA. ** You might want to pack your own lunch because not much things to eat along the way.
Our first stop of the day was Green Pools (William Bay National Park). Our jaws dropped when we saw this place ! The water was so blue ! The waves here were super fearsome, but at the same time, there was an area sheltered by the rocks, resulting in a calm area perfect for swimming ! OK, we didn’t swim because it was too cold but there were people that braved the cold and went for a swim !
Not too far from the Green Pool is the Elephant Rocks; you could just walk over without driving. These rocks look like elephants don’t they !
Next stop was Tree Top Walk in Walpole, which is also known as Valley of the Giants. The 600 meters walkway takes you through the canopy of a magnificent tingle tree forest with the highest point at 40 m (entrance fee AUD 21 per person).
There are also many tingle tress around the forest. These tress are hollow in the middle as a result of being set on fire by lighting. The tree in the picture though is not the one from the Tree Top Walk, it is THE giant tingle tree, there’s a separate location for it about 15 minutes drive from Tree Top Walk. It’s the largest in the region and it’s simply called “Giant Tingle Tree”; you can find it on waze.
The Nornalup Inlet is about 10-15 minutes drive from the Giant Tingle Tree. Follow the road signs that indicate Knoll Drive.
Day 7 : Drive from Pemberton to Augusta, visiting Gloucester Tree, Cape Leuwin Lighthouse, Jewel Cave and Hemlin Bay along the way. Accommodation : Augusta Hotel. The drive was around 1 hour 30 mins, 125 km.
More giant trees for day 7 ! There are many climbable karri trees around Pemberton area – Gloucester Tree (52 m), Diamond Tree (51 m)and Dave Evans Bicentennial Tree (75 m). These trees are specifically pegged for climbing and are used as fire lookout trees. Dave Evans Bicentennial tree is the tallest but we didn’t go to that one as we couldn’t find it on waze ! Plus the Gloucester Tree was just 2 km away from where we stayed so we went to climb the Gloucester Tree (AUD 12 National Park Day Pass per vehicle).
We only climbed like 10 steps because we are scared of height and there’s no netting and no safety precaution so it’s not good if you fall. We did watch one lady who climbed all the way up and down in 15 minutes. We really admired her courage !
Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse is located in Augusta, where the Indian and Southern Ocean meet (but not that we could see the meeting point of the sea :p An audio guide is provided for a self guided tour (AUD 8); add on AUD 12 to climb the light house.
There are a lot of caves in the Margret River Region. In fact, many of them are easily identified over a 100 + km Cave Road. Popular ones include Jewel Cave, Lake Cave and Mammoth Cave. We just went to Jewel Cave ( one hour guided tour, AUD 22.50) as it is the biggest of them all and the caves do seem somewhat similar. The cave was indeed just like what its name suggests – the entire cave was jewel-studded with delicate stalacites and straws; this cave is also where one of the world’s longest straw is !
Hemlin Bay was about 15 minutes drive from Jewel Cave. I read on blogs that friendly stingrays appear at the shore at Hamelin during early mornings (8, 9 am) or late afternoon (4,5 pm), so we visited the bay but no luck with the stingrays ! I guess it was probably too cold that the stingrays would rather stay deep down in the sea !
**We finished the day earlier than expected, so there was more time to perhaps visit another cave (Lake Cave, Mammoth Cave). That’ll bring you much closer to Margaret River than Augusta so if you do that, it’ll be better to stay in Margret River than Augusta so you don’t have to backtrack to Augusta, then head towards the Margaret River again the next day.
Day 8 : Drive from Augusta to Dunsborough (passing through Margret River), stopping at Haemlin Bay, Boranup National Park, Cheeky Monkey Brewery, Gabriel Chocolate, Sugarloaf Rock, Naturaliste Lighthouse & Meelup Beach. Dinner at Palmer’s Winery in Dunsborough. Accommodation : Dunsborough YHA. The drive was about 1 hour, 80 km.
We tried our luck again in the morning at Haemlin Bay, but still no luck with the stingrays ! The are different routes to get to Margret River; take the route through the Boranup National Park which has a beautiful karri tree forest. There’s also a small area by the road for you to park your car to enjoy the scenery.
Lunch was at Cheeky Monkey Brewery & Cidery. The Margaret River region is full of wineries and since we’ve tried wine tasting elsewhere so we decided to go for the brewery instead. There’s also a vineyard on the compound (and wine of course), so it was best of both worlds ! It’ll be useful to get a map from the tourist office of the region because there are just many hidden spots that you can’t find without the map, like this brewery and Gabriel Chocolate in Yallingup that we went to next. Gabriel chocolate brings in their own cocoa beans, and process it at the factory, a concept known as bean to bar concept. We tried the chocolate orange ice cream there, and it was HEAVENLY !!
For the rest of the day we just drove along the coast, visiting the sugarloaf rock, Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse and watching people surf at Meelup beach.
For dinner, we simply found the restaurant that was the closest to us – Palmer’s Winery & Restaurant. The restaurant is Tuscan-style and the food was great, and so was the suggested wine pairing !
Day 9 : Drive from Dunsborough to Perth, visiting Busselton Jetty, Lunch at Brighton Restaurant in Mandurah, Strombolites at Lake Clifton, souvenir shopping in Perth . About 3 hours drive, 250 km. Accommodation : Perth YHA.
Day 9 was not a good day for travelling. It rained non-stop for the whole day from Dunsborough to Perth. Our first stop was the Busselton Jetty, the longest wooden jetty in the world. The rain was quite heavy such that we had to wait for the rain to stop and eat breakfast (again!) at The Goose Cafe that was right next to the jetty. We could have taken the mini train ride, walked the jetty or visited the underwater aquarium but due to the rain we just took some photos and left. Lunch at Brighton Restaurant in Mandurah was great, they have value deals during weekdays too. We made a quick stop at Lake Clifton to see the thrombolites (still raining). They look like stones but they really are living micro-organisms that are the earliest life forms on earth. They are too small to be seen, but as a result of photosynthesis and a built-up of production of calcium carbonate, we see them as these rounded stones.
If the weather is good, here are a few activities you might want to consider on this drive – Penguin Island Tour at Rockingham or Dolphin Tour at Bunbury.
Day 10 : Day trip from Perth to Cervantes and back (via Indian Ocean Drive), visiting Lancelin Sand Dunes, Pinnacles, Lobster Shack (lunch)， Treegrass Valley and Yanchap National Park. Around 2 hours 30 minutes drive, 260 km for one way.
The sand dunes were super gorgeous ! There are boards available for sand boarding at AUD 10, but the weather was just freezing cold (I didn’t even want to take my hands out of my pocket!) and it started to rain so we didn’t spend too much time there. Luckily, by the time we got to the Pinnacles Desert (AUD 12 per vehicle), the weather was much better and we got to spend as much time as we wanted there ! The Pinnacles Desert was much bigger than I expected. There was a 4 km drive through the desert it took us about an hour plus to get through with photo stops. It’s one of the most amazing landscapes on earth that to me, it could very well be the kind of landscape you would expect on Mars or other planets !
For lunch, definitely go to Lobster Shack. The lobster was grilled, lightly flavored with salt and pepper, and absolutely fresh fresh fresh !
On the way back to Perth, we stopped by Treegrass Valley and Yanchep National Park. We saw the funny looking treegrasses while we were on our way to the Pinnacles and decided to get a closer look at it on the way back. Treegrasses are also known as “black boys”; as you can see , the trees appear burnt with a green bush. Some people say it looks like an ostrich as well ! Some travellers have suggested the area might have poisnous baits and snakes around but there was a small car park in the area and a explanatory signboard about what a treegrass is, so we felt it was fairly safe to walk a little deeper into the valley. However, along the Indian Ocean Drive, there ARE other areas with signboard with poisonous bait and snake alerts, so just be careful.
At Yanchep National Park, there are koala bears in their natural habitat, wild kangaroos and caves (the caves were closed during our visit). The park itself has a lovely scent, I am guessing it’s from the eucalyptus trees the koalas live in ! The kangaroos were fairly used to humans as we could get quite close to them, but of course the ones at Caversham are the friendliest as they’ll just walk up to you for food.
Day 11 – Caversham Wildlife Park, Wine Tasting Lancaster Winery (in Swan Valley), Return Car
The Caversham Wildlife Park is THE place to go if you love animals (AUD 28 for adults). The park has Australia’s native animals such as koalas, wombats, kangaroos, penguins and more. Upon entrance, you’ll receive a schedule to meet different animals. We started with the farm show at 10 am. The show was pretty fun where we watched how to shear a sheep, how to use a whip and how to milk a cow. These are pretty much very daily things for a working farm in Australia but it was definitely entertaining for us.
We had to queue a bit to see the koalas and the wombats but that was ok because we didn’t have to wait too long. We were allowed to touch the animals , though we had to follow the staffs’ instructions on specific places to touch. For the kangaroos, we could touch them all we want and they wouldn’t bother ! I think they are very used to humans and they would even come really close to you to look for food !
Since the park was right within Swan Valley with wineries in every corner, so we visited one of course ! The Lancaster Vineyard was the prettiest one we saw. There were two different types of grapevines on the compound, one was the shorter kind that grows wine grapes and the other one was the taller type that grows table grapes. We thoroughly enjoyed the wine tasting session because it came with a small plate of cheese, the wine was great (we bought 2 bottles !) and the staff was awesome !
By the time we returned the car at Bayswater, we had driven 2044.2 KM, and that marked the end to our road trip !
Travel Home !