This self drive trip from Perth to Karijini and back again isn’t for the faint of heart. While it will require some long hours of driving I can assure you that it will be well worth it. If you wish to opt for the easier route I would suggest flying into Karijini National Park, but then again, where is your sense of adventure? Gather a group of friends, pack up the car and get ready for an awesome road trip with long lasting memories and good times.
Start: Perth, Western Australia
Finish: Perth, Western Australia
Style: Self Drive Adventure
Day 1: Perth to Kalbarri
Time: 6 hours
Stock up before you leave on energy drinks, beef jerky and other delicious road trip snacks while you take this 6 hour journey from Perth to Kalbarri. Two hours into your trip will be your first attraction at the Pinnacles in Namburg National. Situated near the Cervantes these large spires of rock are numbered in the thousands and have been here for millions of years. The drive is well worth a visit and shouldn’t take more than an hour for a good visit.
After the Pinnacles stop into the town of Cervantes for some lunch and refresher before setting off again. If you have time on your way out take a trip past the Stromatolites at Lake Thetis. This lake is one of the rare places in the world where you can view the Stromatolites which are the oldest living fossils in the world dating back 3.5 billion years ago. While the site isn’t the most interesting it is a nice quick 15 minute stop along the way.
4 hours of driving later and you will find yourself in Kalbarri. Find your accommodation, grab some dinner and drinks (if that’s your style) then settle in for the night.
Day 2: Kalbarri
Today you will have a full day to explore Kalbarri. Kalbarri is a resort town known for its beautiful beaches, national park and wildlife. The beaches are home to dolphins and migrating humpback whales which can be seen off the coast of Kalbarri from June through to November. It is highly recommended to check out the national park and undertake one of the many hikes on offer. The most popular hike is Natures Window which is short 800m return walk from the car park that offers stunning views over the gorge.
You likely won’t have time to experience all of these amazing adventures Kalbarri has to offer but here is a list of activities you can enjoy while you are in the area. Now you just need to narrow the list down to your favorites.
- Pink Lake
- Blue Holes
- Red Bluff
- Kalbarri National Park
- Whale Watching
Day 3: Kalbarri to Coral Bay
Today is a long drive from Kalbarri to Coral Bay which will take about 6.5 hours. Start out early and stop off at Carnarvon for some lunch. You can check out the Carnarvon Blowholes or the One Mile Jetty while you are in this small country town.
- Carnarvon Blowholes
- One Mile Jetty
Day 4-5: Coral Bay
Once you hit Coral Bay you can spend two full days relaxing and hitting up the beaches and local snorkeling spots. It is highly recommended to take a day trip up to Exmouth. Exmouth is a 1.5 hr drive from Coral Bay and the snorkeling / beaches are amazing.
Turquoise Bay is one of the amazing snorkeling and swimming spots in the area. When you reach the beach from the car park head left to where the sandbar sits out from the beach. Walk into the water and you will feel the current pulling you back around to the main part of the beach. Put your snorkel on a drift with the current to view the topical fish, turtles, sting rays and reef sharks and enjoy the spectacular marine life on offer. The drift isn’t recommended for young children or those who aren’t a confident swimmer.
There are also some great tours running from Coral Bay as well as some fishing charters for those fishing enthusiasts.
- Exmouth day trip
- Coral Bay beach snorkelling
Day 6: Coral Bay to Karijini
Another long day of driving will get you into Karijini National Park where you can setup camp for the evening. There isn’t much on the road from Coral Bay to Karijini so be prepared to stock up with lunch before you go or you can stop by a road house for lunch along the way.
Day 7-10: Karijini
You’ve finally made it to the main stop on your trip, Karijini National Park. You will have four full days to explore this beautiful national park so be sure to check out the recommendations of activities below or get off the beaten track and explore the national park on your own accord.
- Dales Gorge
- Hamersley Gorge
- Joffre Gorge
- Weano Gorge
- Hancock Gorge
Things to know
- During summer the national park gets incredibly hot. Be sure to bring plenty of water with you, even if you are just taking a short walk and don’t just wear sunscreen but remember to reapply. Most importantly, keep an eye out for signs of heat stroke as it occurs quite often in this hot, rugged environment.
- Some of the hikes can be rather tough and include climbing over slippery or steep rock faces. A decent level of fitness is recommended.
- You can complete this trip in most car types however a few gorges do require a 4×4 to access.
Day 11: Karijini to Cue
It’s time to head back on the road again and make the 8 hour journey from Karijini to Cue. Cue is an interesting small outback town with a population of about 300 people. The majority of buildings were abandoned after the gold rush however the buildings are open for viewing to the public. You can visit the abandoned mine, old shops and the crematorium. People have reported that shadows and strange sounds have been heard during the night.
Day 12: Cue to Perth
Back on the road to Perth today. You should be well exhausted from the 2 week adventure from Perth to Karijini. The final leg of the drive is estimated to take about 7.5hrs.