Exploring beyond the Western Australian capital on short breaks
If there’s one overwhelming observation to make about Western Australia, it’s big. Really big. In fact, if it was a country in its own right it would be the 10th largest in the world. This fact alone can make it a little intimidating to visitors trying to plan a Perth trip into an Australian itinerary.
The good news is, a lot of exploring of the state can be done from Perth, either as day trips or short breaks. We have an extensive guide to Road Tripping Western Australia here, but this page focuses on places that can be reached within 3 hours drive of Perth (in Aussie terms, not far at all!).
You may also like to check out our guide to road tripping just the south-west corner of Western Australia, we’ve managed to consolidate this into a 9-day itinerary for those who may only have a week to explore.
This post is part of our series Discover Australia – come and see all our Australian adventures with kids
Before you go – planning short breaks from Perth
- School holidays and long weekends will naturally be a busier time to travel, and at many of these destinations, you will want to book well in advance for overnight stays. You can check when Western Australian holidays will fall here.
- The best way to get about beyond the city is by car. We recommend comparing the best car rental prices on rentalcars.com.
How Far: 31kms from Perth off the coast of Fremantle. It’s 90 minutes by ferry from Perth taking the beautiful Swan River route, stopping in Fremantle or only 25 minutes from Fremantle terminals.
What to Do: “Rotto” as it’s locally referred to is most renowned for its beautiful soft white sandy beaches and aqua water. Slip on your flippers and snorkel for some exploring, or pedal your way around the island. Other activities include archery, mini golf, and an aqua park, or get to know the local resident quokkas!
Where to stay: Whilst the island and its attractions can be fairly well covered in a day, it also makes a spectacular weekend away, so close to the city but so far removed. There’s a wide variety of accommodation choices on Rottnest from ultra-budget to luxury lodges – try Hotel Rottnest.
Learn More: Visit the official Rottnest Island page to plan your visit, or check out this guide to Rottnest by West Australian Explorer. Several ferry operators run the daily route to the island – try Rottnest Express or Rottnest Fast Ferries
Margaret River Region
How Far: The Margaret River Region covers a vast expanse from Geographe Bay and Busselton in the north to Augusta in the south. The township of Margaret River itself is 270kms south of Perth – an easy 3-hour drive down the Bussell Highway but give or take depending on where you’re staying.
What to Do: The choices really are so extensive you need far more than a long weekend to do the Margaret River Region justice! Most famous for its abundance of fresh produce – foods and wines beyond belief! But equally well known for its magnificent beaches, stunning cliffs, limestone caves and wildlife.
Family-friendly breweries and wineries are a big feature but equally, I would plan some water activities, walking the longest wooden jetty in the southern hemisphere, maybe even whale watching into your adventure.
Have you tried a rope and ziplining course before? It’s a great fun activity that all the family can get into together. We recently tried Trees Adventure in Dwellingup, about 1 hour south of Perth. You make this a day trip in itself, or book early in the day and make it your first stop on a road trip down to the Margaret River Region.
Related reading: Australia’s best animal encounters
Where to stay: There’s a huge variety of choices from luxury lodges to family resorts. There’s everything from holiday parks to cabins or motels depending on your group size. We like to use Stayz as a holiday home finder for larger groups.
For a superb family-friendly holiday park, check out our review of Big 4 Beachlands in Busselton. Or, top pick for staying central to Margaret River township is Margaret River Resort with the option of villa sized rooms for families.
Learn More: The Margaret River Region tourism board has a lot of information on their website and are ever so helpful to speak to in person – tell them exactly what you’re looking for to fill your weekend and they’ll help you plot a plan. A great app to download to help you on your adventures down south is “Find the Fun”.
The Swan Valley
How Far: Only 25 minutes from the city, this is the ultimate short break! Starting from Guildford and taking you up to Bullsbrook further north – you can cover this in a half-day cruise from Perth up the Swan River or make it a long weekend on a self-drive tour.
What to Do: As famous as Margaret River for their fresh produce, wineries, microbreweries, arts and crafts and antiques. For families, there’s the Caversham Wildlife Park, Supagolf and The Maze, home of Outback Splash. Or why not organise a girls weekend away with wine tasting and pampering spa?
Where to stay: There are holiday parks and camping through to luxury lodges and cottage to base yourself while enjoying the region. Discovery Parks in Swan Valley comes well recommended.
Learn More: Based in the Historic Guildford Courthouse, The Swan Valley Visitor Centre is your best place to start.
The Pinnacles, Cervantes & Jurien Bay
How Far: 198kms north of Perth, you’re looking at a 2+ hour easy drive via State Route 60.
What to Do: This laid-back fishing village is the perfect place to base yourself for exploring one of Western Australia’s more unusual spectacles, the Pinnacles in Nambung National Park. Visit in spring to also experience the wildflower spectacular, and recommend you head inland to Mount National Park for a real wildflower spectacle. You can find a great detailed guide to the Pinnacles region here.
Learn More: Visit Australia’s Coral Coast website to learn more about what’s on in the region. You can also learn more about Western Australia’s native flora and best drives from the Wildflower Society of Western Australia.
This post is adapted from an article that first appeared on Smart Steps to Australia – your guide to relocating to Australia
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Want more on Western Australia?
Don’t miss these handy guides we have for exploring more of WA:
- How to Road Trip Western Australia
- A 9-day South West Road Trip itinerary
- Family Guide to Exploring Broome
- Fun things to do in Fremantle with Kids
- Exploring Walpole and the Southern Forests
- Family Guide to Albany WA
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