Australia is the country of amazing road trips and a trip from Perth to Kalbarri is one of the best ones – especially if you only have a limited amount of time.
After all, following this route will allow you some of the most stunning sites in Western Australia. This route trip combines impressive sand dunes, unique geological features with an otherworldly appearance, pink lakes, and an incredible national park. And during the wildflower season, it also includes some of the best wildflower spots!
So prepare to hit the road and have a great time exploring this area. This Perth to Kalbarri itinerary includes all the best spots for outdoor lovers, so you are bound to have a great time.
Summary: Perth to Kalbarri Road Trip
This Perth to Kalbarri road trip itinerary splits the trip into 4 days full of activities that are perfect for outdoor lovers and those that love seeing wildlife. It includes the best things to do at the individual stops, the individual distances as well as where to stay depending on your mode of transportation.
As you start your trip by following the coastal route of the Indian Ocean Drive, this 4-day road trip itinerary from Perth to Kalbarri will allow you to see sand dunes, unique geological features, a pink lake, and more before arriving in Kalbarri National Park.
Day 1: Perth – Lancelin Sand Dunes – Pinnacles Desert – Cervantes [224 km – 2 hours 45 minutes]
Day 2: Cervantes – Jurien Bay – Geraldton [223 km – 2 hours 25 minutes]
Day 3: Geraldton – Hutt Lagoon – Coastal Kalbarri [177.3 km – 2 hours 12 minutes]
Day 4: Inland Kalbarri [110.1 km – 1 hour 38 minutes]
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Perth to Kalbarri Day 1: Lancelin & the Pinnacles Desert
Total Distance: 224 km– Driving Time: 2 hours 45 minutes
During the first day of your road trip, you get to visit some of the best destinations for day trips from Perth and see a lot of sand. It is a day full of exploring different landscapes and adventures like sandboarding or quad tours.
Lancelin Sand Dunes
Distance: 126 km – Driving Time: 1.5 h
The Lancelin Sand Dunes are the biggest dunes of Western Australia, and a must-see while on a road trip from Perth to Kalbarri. Their sand is very soft and therefore, these dunes are an amazing place to go sandboarding. So be sure to stop there for an hour or two so you can have some fun.
You can easily hire sandboards at the ‘Have a Chat Store’ in Lancelin. 2.5 hours cost 12.50 AUD and 3 hours cost 14.50 AUD. You can rent sit-down and stand-up boards, which makes it a suitable activity for all ages.
Read more: Sandboarding Lancelin Sand Dunes
You can also join a quad bike tour, go dirt biking in the dunes or explore them with your 4WD.
Distance: 79 km – Driving Time: 50 min
The second Perth to Kalbarri road trip stop of the day is also sandy, but that is where the similarities end. Unlike the Lancelin Sand Dunes, the sand of the Pinnacles Desert is a deep yellow, which only adds to the otherwordly atmosphere of this area full of limestone pillars.
The Pinnacles Desert is located in Nambung National Park, which happens to be one of the best Australian National Parks.
You can explore it by walking along the 1.5 km walking track, or by following the 4 km long driving loop. Be sure to stop at the viewpoints from where you can marvel at the surrounding area and visit the Discovery Centre where you can learn more about the area.
Read more: Pinnacles Desert in WA
If you want to wait for the sunset or are looking for some time at the beach, you should check out the nearby Hangover Bay or the thrombolites in Lake Thetis.
Additionally, you could also leave the Pinnacles Desert and explore the more remote dune areas of Nambung National Park. Just ensure that you inform the Ranger Station of your plans.
The Pinnacles Desert is the most beautiful during sunset when the Pinnacles cast long shadows and the fading sunlight paints the sand in deep hues. However, this is also the time when animals become active, so I recommend staying in the nearby town of Cervantes, so you can avoid driving in the dark.
Distance: 19 km – Driving Time: 14 minutes
The town of Cervantes also offers some highlights including the Cervantes Art Trail, which features 23 artworks, and Lake Thetis. Therefore, this town is a great place to stay at the end of your first day on the road.
The best places to stay during your Perth to Kalbarri road trip are the Pinnacles Edge Resort and the RAC Holiday Park. The RAC Holiday Park offers everything from villas, to caravan sites and campsites, so you will find something suitable regardless of your preferences.
Perth to Kalbarri Day 2: Jurien Bay & Geraldton
Total Distance: 223 km– Driving Time: 2 hours 25 minutes
The second day of your Perth to Kalbarri road trip will take you to two towns that happen to be ideal destinations if you love nature and if you want to learn about the areas Aboriginal history.
Depending on what you want to do in each town, it might be a good idea to split this day into two days. Otherwise, you will definitely have to choose what you want to do the most or skip one town.
Distance from Cervantes: 27 km – Driving Time: 20 minutes
Jurien Bay is a great stop along the way from Perth to Kalbarri if you want to have always dreamed of swimming with Australian sea lions and want to go hiking. It is also a great town to visit if you want to go snorkeling, kayaking, or skydiving.
If you want to spot marine animals and a scenic view, you can explore the 14.5 km long Turquoise Way Trail by renting a bike. It is a sealed track along the coastline all the way from the Jurien Bay Marina to the Hill River Estuary.
Swimming with sea lions is the highlight of a trip to Jurien Bay, and the best way to do it is to join a boat tour to the Essex Rocks Nature Reserve a few kilometers off the coast. The tours usually last 2 to 2.5 hours, and you can stay on the boat or snorkel with the wild sea lions. Do not feed them.
While in the area, you can also explore Lesueur National Park by driving along the 18.5 km sealed one-way road or by hiking. There are over 1100 different plants in this national park, and it is the most beautiful during the wildflower season from August to November. If you want to hike through the park, there are 3 walking trails ranging from a short 2.5 km loop to a moderate 7.1 km loop.
Sandy Cape, 13 km north of Jurien Bay, is a great place to stop if you want to go snorkeling during your Perth to Kalbarri road trip. There is also a campsite where you can stay if you want to spend more time in and around Jurien Bay.
Distance: 196 km – Driving Time: 2 hours 5 minutes
Geraldton’s city center is full of cafés, galleries, and street art, and the one place along the route from Perth to Kalbarri, where it is easy to get a Slurpee. The latter might not be that important to you, but if you happen to be like me and think that Slurpees are a crucial part of Australia road trips, this is where you make a Slurpee stop.
While in town, you can also visit the HMAS Sydney II Memorial. There are daily free tours that start at 10:30 AM.
There are plenty of beaches that are great for snorkeling and windsurfing. Geraldton is the Australian windsurfing capital, so rent some gear in town and have fun. The best beach for windsurfing is Coronation Beach 30 km north of Geraldton.
Geraldton is also the starting point of the scenic flights over the pink Hutt Lagoon, Kalbarri National Park, and the beautiful Abrolhos Islands. So be sure to book a scenic flight if you have ever dreamed of seeing one of these places from above.
The 122 islands of the three Abrolhos Islands groups are a real highlight and can be considered a hidden gem in Australia. Therefore, visiting them and seeing them from above is a rather unique experience.
The Abrolhos Islands are located 60 km off the coast of Geraldton, and unless you charter a liveaboard, you can only visit them as a day trip. Hereby, you can take the Abrolhos Islands Fast Ferry which takes 1.5 hours each way. The all-day tour costs 299 AUD per adult and 249 AUD for children under 12. You have to board the boat at 7:30 AM and will be back in Geraldton around 5:30 PM, so this is the only thing you can do that day.
Alternatively, you can book a scenic flight over the Abrolhos Islands and spend some time on East Wallabi Island. Hereby, you can choose between scenic flights with 30 minutes on East Wallabi Island and 3:30 hours.
Another great thing to do in and around Geraldton is the Yamaji Drive Trail. This 60 km long drive trail is a great way to learn about the Aboriginal heritage before and after the Europeans arrived in the area, and includes the Ellendale Pool. It takes around half a day to visit all 14 locations of local Aboriginal significance.
There are a lot of great accommodations in Geraldton. If you want to stay in a hostel, the Geraldton Backpackers is great. And if you want a hotel room, the Gerald Apartment Hotel and Zebras Guesthouse are great.
Freecamping in Geraldton
Free camping If you doing this Perth to Kalbarri road trip in a caravan or campervan, there are two free camping places within the town. There are 6 bays for non-self-contained campervans right at the Point Moore Lighthouse. There are toilets, cold showers, picnic tables, and a bbq on site. However, camping in tents is not allowed (unless it is a rooftop tent).
If you have a self-contained caravan, you can right at the Esplanade at the Francis Street Carpark.
Both free camping sites have a 24 hours limit. In case you want to stay more than one night or prefer a paid camping site, you can stay at the Belair Gardens Caravan Park.
Perth to Kalbarri Day 3: Hutt Lagoon & Coastal Kalbarri
Total Distance: 177.3 km – Total Driving Time: 2 hours 12 minutes
Your day 3 itinerary on the road from Perth to Kalbarri begins with a stop at the stunning pink Hutt Lagoon before you explore the coastal cliffs of Kalbarri National Park. You do not have to pay any national park entry fee to explore the coastal cliffs of Kalbarri National Park.
Distance from Geraldton to the Pink Lake Lookout: 97 km – Driving Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Hutt Lagoon is a marine salt lake with bubblegum pink water, so visiting it is a must when on a road trip from Perth to Kalbarri. It is one of the best and most amazing pink lakes of Australia because it retains its unique coloration year-round.
It is undeniably one of the best photo spots in Western Australia and looks best around midday (10 AM to 2 PM) when direct sunlight hits the lake. Therefore, it is the ideal first stop on your third day on the road from Perth to Kalbarri.
The best viewpoint is the ‘Pink Lake Lookout’ on Port Gregory Road, but you can also stop at some points along George Gregory Drive.
This pink lake receives its color thanks to naturally-occurring beta-carotene that is produced by algae that use it to protect themselves from the sunlight.
Read more: Visiting the Hutt Lagoon Pink Lake
Kalbarri: Natural Bridge to Island Rock
Distance to Natural Bridge: 60 km – Driving Time: 40 minutes
The Natural Bridge and Island Rock are must-sees if you visit Kalbarri and an ideal first stop within the national park. Park at the parking area near Castle Cove and then explore these two sites by walking along the boardwalk. A return trip is 1,2 km long and accessible for everyone.
Island Rock once used to be part of the stunning cliff front, but thanks to erosion it is now a picturesque pinnacle standing on its own. Meanwhile, the Natural Bridge is an arch around which the waves crash. Both of marvelous sights, so be sure to walk the entire boardwalk.
If you want a longer walk, and do not mind backtracking or have someone that can pick you up, you can also walk along the entire Bigurda Trail that follows the cliffs. This great 8 km long trail includes the boardwalk between the Natural Bridge and Island Rock and ends at Eagle Gorge, which happens to be the next stop of day 3 from Perth to Kalbarri.
Kalbarri: Eagle Gorge Lookout
Distance: 8.7 km – Driving Time: 9 minutes
Eagle Gorge is another picturesque location in the coastal part of Kalbarri National park, and therefore it is well worth a stop. There is even a secluded beach which you can reach by walking down a path from the viewpoint.
Kalbarri: Red Bluff
Distance: 5.3 km – Driving Time: 6 minutes
The last stop on day 3 of your Perth to Kalbarri itinerary is Red Bluff. There is a parking lot that is only a short 1.1 km return walk away from the highest elevation of the national park.
If you still have time for a nice hike, you can do the 1,4 km long Red Bluff to Beach Trail. It is a steep class 3 hike with loose ground, so watch your step. Be sure to bring swimwear and a towel so you can go for a swim.
Accommodation: Kalbarri (town)
Distance: 6.3 km – Driving Time: 7 minutes
The best place to stay on your third day is in the town of Kalbarri. The Kalbarri Edge Resort and the Kalbarri Palm Resort are great accommodations. The Eco Haven Retreat is an amazing place to stay with a private pool. And if you are traveling with a group of friends, River Retreats Kalbarri is a great option.
There are several caravan parks and holiday parks in and around Kalbarri including the Murchison Caravan Park and the Kalbarri Tudor Holiday Park.
If you want to stay close to your last stop of the day, you can stay at the Kalbarri Red Bluff Tourist Park.
And if you want to camp in nature and be surrounded by wildflowers, you can camp at the Murchison House Station. It is open from April to October, and prices depend on your exact mode of transportation.
Perth to Kalbarri Day 4: Inland Kalbarri
Total Distance: 110.1 km – Total Driving Time: 1 hour 38 minutes
On your fourth and last day of your Perth to Kalbarri road trip, you get to explore the River Gorge area of Kalbarri National Park. This day is all about hiking and stunning views from lookouts and the Kalbarri Skywalk.
If you do not want to see everything that the inland river-gorge part of Kalbarri has to offer or if you want to spend more time in the area, you can also spend some time at Blue Holes. It is a Fish Habitat Protection Area and an amazing snorkeling spot.
Kalbarri Skywalk & Nature’s Window
Distance: 37 km + 2.5 km – Driving Time: 33 min + 4 min
The Kalbarri Skywalk opened after I visited Karijini National Park as it was still under construction, but based on the photos I have seen, it is more than a worthwhile stop. There are two platforms that respectively arch 17 meters and 25 meters over the 100 m high cliffs edge, and grant its visitors a spectacular view.
If you want to avoid the crowds and see the river gorge below in stunning light, you should visit the Kalbarri Skywalk during sunrise.
The next stop is the insta-famous Nature’s Window. It is a stunning natural rock formation that frames the Murchison River down below. It is a 1 km return hike of class 3, so expect unaltered uneven terrain.
Be prepared to wait a while if you want a photo of you sitting in Nature’s Window, as this spot is quite popular. It might take around half an hour.
If you are up for a bigger adventure, you can continue onwards after reaching this scenic spot and do the 8 km long Loop Hike.
It is a class 4 hike, so expect rough terrain and only tackle it if you have experience and the right gear.
Z Bend Lookout & River Trail
Distance: 12 km – Driving Time: 14 minutes
Day 4 of your Perth to Kalbarri road trip continues with the Z Bend Lookout and the Z Bend River Trail.
While the lookout is a 1,2 km return hike away from the car park, the River Trail is a 2,6 km return walk. Be sure to visit both.
As class 3 and class hikes, both require a certain level of fitness. The trail includes parts where you have to climb down some rocks, but with stable footwear, it is a great hike that ends right at the river.
The car park is also the starting point of the 6 km return Four Ways Trail, which is also a class 4 hike.
Hawks Head & Ross Graham Lookout
Distance: 54 km + 4.6 km – Driving Time: 42 min + 5 min
Your day of exploring the river gorge area of Kalbarri and your Perth to Kalbarri road trip ends with two viewpoints that a located further inland than the parts of Kalbarri you have already seen.
Stop at the Hawks Head Lookout to take in the view. It is a short 200 meters return walk.
Afterward, you should stop at the Ross Graham Lookout. The hike there is 700 meters return trip and is rated as class 3. It is a great stop to end your Perth to Kalbarri drive.
And if you still feel up for a short hike, you can hike down to the river. It is a 1,4 km return hike on uneven terrain and quite pretty as the sun is setting.
By ending your Perth to Kalbarri road trip with a stop at the Ross Graham Lookout, you are in the perfect position to continue onwards to Exmouth or to return to Perth. As the day is likely about to end by that point, I either recommend staying another night in the town of Kalbarri or at the Motor Hotel in Northampton.
If you want to free camp, you can stay at the Galena Bridge North and Galena Bridge South campgrounds near the town of Ajana and at the banks of the Murchison River. Both have toilets, picnic tables, and bins and are suitable for tents, campervans, and caravans. It is not allowed to stay more than 24 hours, but I guess you could always check if the other side of the river is nicer by staying there for a night.
If you prefer a paid camping site en route to Perth, you can spend the night at Northbrook Farmstay. Unpowered sites cost 20 AUD and powered sites cost 25 AUD. You have to reserve a spot in advance, so give them a call or send them an email.
Onwards from Kalbarri
Once you have explored Kalbarri, you will either head back to Perth or continue your road trip. If you are planning a road trip in either direction, my road trip planning guide will help you make the most of your time on the road.
Back to Perth
If you head back to Perth once you have explored Kalbarri National Park, you can drive back via the inland Brand Highway instead of the Indian Ocean Drive.
Choosing this route is amazing if you are traveling sometime between June and September, as you get to experience the wildflower season of the region.
Both the Indian Ocean Drive and Brand Highway are part of the Everlasting Trail, so driving both roads allows you to see the best of the wildflower season.
Also contemplate a stop in Mullewa, east of Geraldton, where you will find giant carpets of Everlastings. Go for a walk along the Mullewa Wildflower Way and be amazed.
If you are traveling from October to December, you might be interested in exploring Moore River National Park as this is when the ‘Western Australian Christmas Tree’ (also known as Nuytsia floribunda or Moogjar) blooms.
Onwards to Exmouth
If you have more time and want to use it to see more of Western Australia, you should head onwards to Exmouth. The road trip from Perth to Kalbarri might be amazing, but driving further north will allow you to see more of what the state has to offer.
If you travel all the way from Perth to Exmouth and do not end your trip in Kalbarri, you can explore the Shark Bay area where you can meet the Monkey Mia dolphins, dive in the Ningaloo Reef off the coast of Coral Bay and Exmouth, and explore Cape Range National Park with its stunning snorkeling spots and canyon.
Planning a longer road trip in WA? Check out the road trip itinerary from Perth to Broome (21 days)!
How to get from Perth to Kalbarri?
The best way to get from Perth to Kalbarri is to drive there. This is especially the case if you want to turn it into a Perth to Kalbarri road trip with several stops along the way. However, it is also possible to do this road trip by bus. Just know, that your trip will be a lot longer than 4 days if you want to visit all the stops listed in this itinerary.
The best mode of transportation for a Perth to Kalbarri road trip is a car, campervan, or caravan. You do not need a 4WD as every stop is accessible by a normal car. As you leave Perth, you follow the Indian Ocean Drive north until it joins Brand Highway (Highway 1) north of Arrowsmith. From there, you follow it to Geraldton and then Northampton, where you drive towards the coast by following Port Gregory Drive.
Leaving Brand Highway at this point allows you to see the pink Hutt Lagoon en route from Perth to Kalbarri, and allows you to explore the coastal cliffs of Kalbarri National Park first. After spending a day exploring the coastal part, you then follow Ajana-Kalbarri Road to the two Kalbarri River Gorge entry points.
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If you cannot do this road trip with a car, you could also do it via bus by using the Hop-On, Hop-Off option of Integrity Coach Lines. There are stops in Perth, Lancelin, Cervantes, Jurien Bay, Geraldton, and Kalbarri, so you would be able to visit most places on this Perth to Kalbarri road trip itinerary.
However, the trip would take more time, as there are only 3 buses per week. The buses leave Perth in the evening of Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday, and reach Geraldton just after midnight, so the following bus connection technically departs on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.
The 1500 km Pass for the Hop On / Off service is more than enough and costs 269 AUD. The 1500 km are valid for 12 months, so you could also plan another trip.
If you want to visit the Pinnacles Desert, you would have to take a taxi from Cervantes. Additionally, you have to organize a shuttle bus or take the TransWA bus to get to Kalbarri, as the Kalbarri dropoff is in Ajana, which is around 70 km east of the town of Kalbarri. The TransWA bus runs on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.
Where should I stop between Perth and Kalbarri?
There are several worthwhile stops between Perth and Kalbarri including the Lancelin Sand Dunes, the Pinnacles Desert, Jurien Bay, and the pink Hutt Lagoon. All of them offer several great things to do, so be sure to plan a road trip from Perth to Kalbarri that allows you to visit them.
Best Time for a Perth to Kalbarri Road Trip
Generally speaking every stop on this Perth to Kalbarri itinerary is a great and worthwhile destination year-round. Bit given that this road trip includes a lot of hikes, it is best not to do it in the summer months from December to February. While the nights average at a pleasant 19°C, the daytime temperatures can reach 45°C, which would make it too dangerous to hike in Kalbarri or the more remote areas around the Pinnacles Desert.
Autumn (March to May) is a nice time for a Perth to Kalbarri road trip, but it is often the most popular time which means that it is better to book in advance.
Meanwhile, the winter months from June to August ring in the wildflower season of the region, and the average daytime temperature in Kalbarri is around 22°C, which makes it the ideal time for hiking. Just know that the nighttime temperature tends to be around 10°C, so bring a warm sleeping bag if you are camping in a tent or campervan without heating.
Spring (September to November) marks the end of the wildflower season, so plan your trip from Perth to Kalbarri no later than October if you want to see the regions’ colorful flower carpets. It is also the best time to spot whales off the coast. Kalbarri sees fewer visitors in November as temperatures are already on the rise, but most days it is still cool enough for longer hikes, which makes it the ideal time for a road trip if you want to avoid the crowds.
Get a WA Holiday Park Pass
The 5 Day Holiday Park Pass grants you unlimited entry to all national parks in Western Australia for 5 days and is valid for everyone traveling in one vehicle with up to 12 legal seats. The 5 Day pass costs 25 AUD. And if you plan to spend more time on the road between Perth and Kalbarri, you can get the 2 Week Holiday Pass for 40 AUD.
Entering national parks in WA costs 15 AUD per day, so you getting the pass will help you save money if you follow this Perth to Kalbarri road trip itinerary. It also has the bonus, that you will not have to stop every time you enter a national park, as you already have your entry permission on you.
Roundup: Perth to Kalbarri Drive
If you are planning to drive from Perth to Kalbarri and love the outdoors, this 4 days itinerary is ideal for you. After all, it includes plenty of stunning stops along the way as well as what to do in Kalbarri National Park.
Hit the road and have an amazing time! And be sure that your camera never runs out of battery, as every single stop has the potential to take your breath away.
More about Western Australia
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