Road trips from Perth are an adventure along beautiful coastline providing views of stunning beaches and remote open spaces. Within a few short hours (short by Australian standards!) you’ll be far away from the metropolitan lifestyle and transported to blue ocean views and wineries galore. Here is our 2 day South West Australia road trip from Perth as we go Cape to Cape!
While spending time in Fremantle, just south of Perth, we wanted to get out and about in the countryside and get a taste of what this great landscape has to offer. While the Cape to Cape track is popular amongst keen walkers and hikers, Caves Road is an ideal tourist route to take down South Western Australia.
We planned just a one night stop off in Yallingup, spending the first day driving down and visiting the southern cape in Leeuwin and spending the second day exploring the north cape at Naturaliste before heading back to Fremantle.
How to get to the South West?
From Fremantle or Perth take the Forest Highway (state route 2) heading south and eventually join national route 1. At Bunbury you’ll join state route 10 taking you through Bussleton, where you should follow the signs to Tourist Route 250 (Caves Road) and this will take you towards Cape Naturaliste, past Yallinup & Margaret River (offering great places to stay, food and drinks, and daytime activities), all the way towards Augusta and finally Cape Leeuwin.
How long is the journey?
The drive from Fremantle to Yallingup took us around 3.5 hours with no stops. Driving time from Yallingup to Augusta varies depending on the route taken, as Caves Road offers a more scenic but longer drive. The fastest route takes just over an hour, and Caves Road taking around an hour and a quarter.
Where to stay in Yallingup
We adored our lodge just off Caves Road and right on Canal Rocks Road which can take you to Canal Rocks & Smith’s Beach within just a few minutes. We stayed at Sienna Estate Lodge And Winery which offered the most gorgeous cottage building, rich wooden interiors and views overlooking a beautiful garden. There are a few rooms in the lodge however it was roomy and with thick walls so we didn’t hear a squeak from the other guests.
We stayed in a queen room which came to $159 AUD for one night – usually a little over our budget but we wanted to treat ourselves and it was totally worth it! Checking in and out was a breeze, with the owners leaving room keys and instructions in the event they weren’t there on arrival. The room was spacious and clean, with a comfy bed and all the facilities you’d need. Best of all, the room came with a complimentary bottle of the neighbouring winery’s tipple! It certainly made the visit more special and it was a really appreciated touch from the hotel.
If we’d had the chance, we would have loved to stay longer at the lodge as the adjoining Barnyard1978 winery restaurant looks amazing, as did the lodge estate!
Where to eat in South West Australia
Being a remote part of the country, options can be limited so it’s worth checking ahead for the nearest restaurants and supermarkets close to your accommodation. Smith’s beach and Margaret River both have wonderful dining opportunities, catering to all budgets, and a quick Google search will show you all the options in your area.
Our hotel kindly provided us with a list of the nearest eateries (and their distance) so we could easily plan our evening meal. It’s worth noting that some restaurants are closed at points in the week, so it’s recommended to bear this in mind for the days you’ll be visiting to avoid getting caught out. As we wanted to stay close to Yallingup for our meal out (to avoid the nighttime kangaroos on the road!) we chose to visit Little Fish for a delicious dining experience only 1.5km away. Family friendly but extremely classy, we loved the relaxed atmosphere here. I’m not usually a sea food lover, so I opted for penne chorizo which was deliciously creamy and satisfying for sure!
For a light bite or breakfast, the Cape Lavender Teahouse offers a unique experience for visitors to enjoy quaint tea and scones, cakes, and biscuits complete with all things lavender, in colour and taste! The cafe was right next door to our hotel, which was a great convenience for us (and another reason to love Sienna Estate!). We chose the scones which certainly set us up for the day, and provided us with a first-time taste of lavender jam!
Cape to Cape Road Trip from Perth 2 Day Itinerary
8.30am Depart Fremantle
We left Fremantle early in the day to ensure we got to the hotel and made the most of the gorgeous weather in the afternoon. The drive was painless (if a little dull at times) as the routes are pretty straight and simple to navigate. When passing through the towns we made sure to check where we were going but other than that it was all smooth sailing!
We listened to a favourite podcast on the drive, something I really recommend for long journeys! I previously wrote up a few of my favourite podcasts if you’re looking for some inspiration.
12.30pm Arrive in Yallingup & beach time
In the scorching heat of the day we’d made it to Yallingup! As we couldn’t yet check in at the hotel, we headed straight to the beach for lunch and a walk along the golden sands.
After a tasty burger and chips, we took to the beach. The views are just amazing from the lookouts, and as a small tourist town popular with mostly campers and walkers, there weren’t many people around so we had the beach largely to ourself.
The wind is especially strong in this part of the country, and Yallingup was no exception! While the paragliders were pleased for it, we were debating on whether to brave the cooler waters or not… They’re just so clear and inviting! Eventually we did (briefly) and dried off on the sunny beach while sheltering from the wind behind the rocks.
2pm Check in at Sienna Estate
We drove on from Yallingup a little further into the countryside and away from the camp grounds along Caves Road and arrived at our hotel. The location was so perfect, it was easy to spot and not far from plenty of amenities!
We quickly freshened up and had that “I’m in a hotel so I’ll open every drawer and cupboard” moment, and headed straight back out to drive south towards Cape Leeuwin.
3.30pm Arrive at Cape Leeuwin
After driving through beautiful countryside and spotting more wineries than I thought possible, we arrived at Cape Leeuwin. We had a little walk around towards the lighthouse, but as the skies clouded over we decided not to bother with paying to go inside.
We walked along the coastline a little to take in the views and enjoy being at the most south-westerly point in Australia! Having previously been to the most eastern point in Byron Bay a couple of years before, it was pretty fun to tick off another compass point!
We left Cape Leeuwin just as the weather began to turn, busting that myth that it never rains in Australia! Fortunately as we headed north the skies cleared and it was a beautiful drive back through the forest. We did take a short stop at a sign that seemed just for me… My name was on it!
6pm Dinner at Little Fish
After a little time to relax we headed out to Little Fish for dinner. Overlooking a lake, we got there just in time for a beautiful calm evening with the sun slowing lowering as we ate our dinner and reflected on the day.
After practically inhaling our meals (we were very hungry!) we went for a short walk around the restaurant grounds to let our food settle. The restaurant adjoins a small art gallery, and outdoors there were some modern sculptures that we enjoyed exploring.
Best of all, as we walked a little further around the lake we spotted a large group of kangaroos casually hanging about not to far from us! We slowly and carefully continued our walk, determined not to disturb them and as we made our way back to the car we kept spotting more and more. It was quite the end to the day!
We made our way back to our hotel and had a brief walk around the garden and ponds there, only to be greeted with more wildlife. We heard the repetitive croaks of a less iconic but very loud frog, which continued to make its presence known all evening!
Once back in our cosy room we cracked open our complimentary wine, popped on some tacky TV, and felt satisfied with a great day out.
10am Breakfast at Cape Lavendar Teahouse
With gorgeous natural light flooding the room we packed up our belongings and said our goodbyes to the Sienna Estate. Popping just next door for breakfast, we enjoyed all things lavender from the crockery to the food at the Cape Lavender Teahouse. Set up for the day, we planned to take a couple of detours on our way back to Fremantle later that afternoon.
11.00am Arrive at Canal Rocks
Heading to the coast along Canal Rocks Road from our hotel and the teahouse, we reached the Canal Rocks for a short walk.
Dramatic crashing waves greeted us as they moved through the space between the rocks, it was strangely mesmerising to see! We walked along the bridge over the clear waters (when is it not in Western Australia?!) and scrambled over red sands and rocks – it really did feel like we’d landed on Mars. We took some fun photos and enjoyed the views, and as the weather began to get a little cooler we felt the impending rain about to arrive so quickly returned to the car for shelter.
Determined to still see the second cape on our way back, we drove north towards Cape Naturaliste where the sun began to reappear once more.
12.30pm Arrive at Cape Naturaliste
After a brief stop at Smiths Beach we made it to the northern cape. A short walk from the car park and we were at the lighthouse, however at the time of our visit it was currently closed for refurbishments, but the idea was there and we could easily imagine the great views gained from visiting the top!
1.30pm Lunch at Bunker Bay
Not far from Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse, we stopped off at one of the many gorgeous bays along the coast. Bunker Bay was quiet and gave us a chance to refuel our stomachs in preparation for the long drive back. We walked along the beach and enjoyed skipping stones into the calm waters. If we’d had more time, there are some great short walking tracks in the area to take and really enjoy even more of this incredible coastline. This time however, we perched on rocks and just enjoyed watching the gentle waves of the ocean.
5.30pm Arrive in Fremantle
Following the same route back as we had taken on the way down, we finally made it back to Fremantle. Traffic was a little heavier the nearer to the city we were, but this was largely bad timing on our part due to peak rush hour!
Back safe and sound with the rest of the evening to enjoy, we were pretty pleased with how much we’d managed to fit into just a couple of days, especially considering the drive there and back!
If we were to visit again there are still plenty of places to visit and things we could do, however for a taste of the South West we couldn’t have asked for a better trip.
Tips for a South Western Australia Road Trip:
- Pack snacks for the drive – you can’t be too careful about how hot you’ll get, or how often you’ll be able to stock up.
- Remember your sun cream – just like the rest of Australia, the sun can be really strong so you must protect your skin.
- Prepare for changeable weather – as you can see we experienced a mix of weather from sun to wind to rain, so consider all the possibilities!
- Plan ahead – know the places you’ll want to visit so you can know the route and the order to do things in.
- Bring road trip entertainment – we chose Podcasts to listen to, but you might prefer audiobooks, music, or a fun game to pass the time, but don’t distract the driver!
Have you visited South West Australia? Where would your favourite places to visit be? Let me know if you’ve got a story to share!
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