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Road Tripping: Perth to Margaret River

Planning a road trip from Perth to Margaret River or vice versa? We've laid out a road trip plan of the must-do activities along the way.

Whether you're planning a quick jaunt from Western Australia's capital, a moderate multi-day drive, or an epic road trip around the expansive landscape of this beautiful nation, the Perth to Margaret River road trip is a welcome addition to any traveller's route. Clocking in at three and half hours on the road, it's an easy, relaxing drive dotted with attractions, activities and stunning scenery.

Perth to Margaret River itinerary

Start in Perth
30 minutes drive to Fremantle
45 minutes drive to Penguin Island
35 minutes drive to Serpentine Falls
35 minutes drive to Mandurah
30 minutes drive to Lake Clifton
45 minutes drive to Bunbury
40 minutes drive to Busselton
30 minutes drive to Ngilgi Cave
35 minutes drive to Margaret River
People enjoying brunch at a cafe in Fremantle
Grab brunch at a cafe in Fremantle before continuing from Perth to Margaret River Image via Tourism WA

Grab Breakfast at Fremantle

Located just 30 minutes from Perth, Fremantle is a quaint, cosy port city known for its maritime history, heritage architecture, and of course, its namesake AFL team the Fremantle Dockers. It's also home to the perfect breakfast spot for road trippers. Affectionately known as Cappuccino Strip due to the range of cafes and breakfast spots, South Terrace has everything you need for a tasty pitstop on your way to Margaret River. 
Check out Kerfuffle for a quintessential Fremantle cafe experience, dotted with rustic wooden seating and quirky decor, slinging locally made coffee, cakes, sandwiches, salads and breaky cups, as well as some of the best croissants in the city!
Penguin Island, WA. Image credit: Tourism Australia
Penguin Island, WA. Image credit: Tourism Australia

Stop in at Penguin Island

Located just 15 minutes drive further south from Fremantle lies Penguin Island, where you'll swap four wheels for one of the ferries leaving hourly from 9am-3pm to take you to this astounding island located within Shoalwater Islands Marine Park. Enveloped by a crystal clear ocean, the real stars of Penguin Island are (of course) the wildlife. Join one of the seasonal cruises to see wild dolphins and rare Australian sea lions, or try getting up close with the world's smallest penguins. You can swim, snorkel, picnic, and explore the island, or visit Pengo's cafe for a well-earned break. 
Please note that Penguin Island is currently closed for the winter Penguin breeding season from 6 June to 15 September 2022, so please ensure to check local operating times when planning your road trip.

A person swimming at Serpentine Falls
On your way to Margaret River, cool off with a tip or just enjoy the scenery at the falls Image via Tourism WA

Visit Serpentine Falls

Located about 30 minutes drive directly east and inland of Penguin Island lies the beautifully picturesque Serpentine Falls. Found in a naturally created reservoir at the foot of a steep rocky embankment, Serpentine Falls is best visited during the colder months, when the Serpentine River is full enough to cascade down the sheer cliff face into the shimmering pool below. The area also pops in spring due to blooming wildflowers in the surrounding bushland, where you can expect to see western grey kangaroos coming down to the grass lawns in the afternoon to feed, mostly unconcerned with their human visitors. 
Serpentine Falls has been one of the area's focal points for hundreds of years. With a sealed loop road, car park, a grassy picnic area, shaded picnic tables, gas barbecues and toilets with access for people with disabilities, it's got everything you need for a bushland visit.
If planning to swim, remember, inland waterways should be treated with caution. Learn more and plan for a safe swim.

Check out Mandurah

Next up on our list of stops is the town of Mandurah, Western Australia's largest regional town. Originally known as Mandjoogoordap, meaning "meeting place of the heart", Mandurah is littered with serene beaches and surrounded by the 134 square kilometre Mandurah Estuary that is twice the size of Sydney Harbour. 
Enjoy the expansive aquatic surrounds with a bit of kayaking or stand-up paddle boarding, or go for a bit more comfort with a chartered cruise or self-driving boat hire. If you're looking for something a bit more cultured, try one of the Mandurah Art Trails, or skip the planning and check out Mandurah's best Instagram spots for a quick flick before getting back on the road.
The pier over the Thrombolites at Lake Clifton
Enjoy the picturesque and unique scenery as you approach Margaret River Image via Tourism WA

Marvel at the Lake Clifton Thrombolites

Whether you're carrying some curious little ones with an interest in ocean life or just looking for a unique nature experience, then Lake Clifton should be your next stop. Littering the bottom of Lake Clifton are the Thrombolites. These extremely rare, living rock-like formations are created by microorganisms invisible to the naked eye and are thought to represent one of the first forms of life on Earth, with an existence that dates back over 500,000 million years. Combining these living fossils with Lake Clifton's pleasing backdrop and lack of light pollution makes for a breathtaking evening visit.
Mojo's Caf©, Bunbury, WA. Image credit: Tourism Australia
Mojo's Caf©, Bunbury, WA. Image credit: Tourism Australia

Breeze through Bunbury

Another port city along the southbound route from Perth to Margaret River is Bunbury. Affectionately known as Western Australia's second capital city (despite having a population of just over 31,000 people), Bunbury is also known as the City of Three Waters. This nickname comes from the fact that Bunbury sits on a peninsula surrounded by the mighty Indian Ocean, the tranquil Leschenault Inlet, and the calm waters of Koombana Bay. Animal lovers will delight in knowing that Koombana Bay is home to around 40 wild bottlenose dolphins who live in the Bay year-round, as well as Australia's $12M premier Dolphin Discovery Centre
Check out the Bunbury Regional Art Gallery for the most extensive public collection of art found in regional WA, head to Bunbury Farmers Market for a more down-to-earth way to experience the local vibe and produce, or try Taffy's, Bunbury's authentic salt-water taffy store situated along the marina waterfront, and be mesmerised as this American treat is pulled and wrapped the old-fashioned way.
Busselton Jetty. Image credit: Tourism Australia
Busselton Jetty. Image credit: Tourism Australia

Hustle to Busselton

Sitting amongst the beautiful Geographe Bay lies the laid-back city of Busselton, along with the must-visit Busselton Jetty. This 19th-century wooden pier stretches nearly 2km long, spanning from the ivory shores and turquoise ocean all the way to the Busselton Underwater Observatory, where life amongst the coral reef is on full display for lucky visitors.
Busselton is also home to the towering Tuart Forest National Park, which protects the largest remaining pure forest of tuart trees in the world, with some trees that are more than 33m high and 10m wide, as well as the newly opened Origins Market, which is a great spot to hang out, meet the locals, and discover unique produce directly from the makers and growers of Western Australia.
Ngilgi Cave. Image credit: Tourism Australia
Ngilgi Cave. Image credit: Tourism Australia

Ngilgi Cave

Our last stop before we make it to Margaret River, but definitely not the least, Ngilgi Cave has been exquisitely decorated by mother nature, boasting a stunning array of stalactites, stalagmites, and helictites that litters the cave from top to bottom. Be treated to stories of the cave's early exploration, visit the junior explorer's tunnel for little ones, handle some real cave crystals at the touch table, and learn more about the remarkable surroundings as the cave lighting illuminates both hidden features and educational signage. 
With a constant temperature of 20°C, Ngilgi Cave is a great spot to visit all year round!
Cape to Cape Explorer Tours. Image credit: Tourism Australia
Cape to Cape Explorer Tours. Image credit: Tourism Australia

Margaret River

You made it to the final stop of your epic WA road trip, and now it's time to relax, and enjoy your final destination - Margaret River. A small town located in the south of Perth, Margs is well-known across both Australia and the world for its stunning coastline, quality surf breaks, and award-winning wineries. 
Margaret River is certainly one of Australia's most desirable destinations, so if you need any more inspo, check out our article on The Best Things to Do in Margaret River and plan your stay at the stunning Pullman Bunker Bay Resort Margaret River or boutique Grand Mercure Basildene Manor.

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