Perth to Exmouth Road Itinerary: 2024 Driving Guide

Are you ready for an adventure of a lifetime? If you’re craving breathtaking landscapes, pristine beaches and a taste of true Australian wilderness, hop in your car and prepare for an unforgettable road trip from Perth to Exmouth. 

Western Australia’s Coral Coast is a region brimming with natural wonders, vibrant marine life, and cultural experiences that will leave you awe-inspired.

This epic Perth to Exmouth drive is not just a journey; it’s a passage through some of Australia’s most remarkable landscapes. As you hit the open road, you’ll be treated to an ever-changing panorama, from Perth’s cosmopolitan charm to Exmouth’s rugged, untamed beauty. Whether you’re a seasoned road tripper or a first-time explorer, this route has something for everyone.

Our comprehensive guide will take you through every aspect of your Perth to Exmouth road trip. From planning your route and choosing the best time to travel to highlighting the must-see attractions along the way, we’ve got you covered. 

Whether you’re interested in outdoor adventures like snorkelling in the world-famous Ningaloo Reef, exploring the ancient landscapes of Cape Range National Park, or immersing yourself in the rich Aboriginal culture of the region, we’ll provide all the information you need to make the most of your journey.

What is the Distance Between Perth and Exmouth?

The Perth to Exmouth drive covers a distance of approximately 1,250 kilometres along the most direct route of the National Route 1. However, remember that road conditions, detours, and side trips to explore attractions can significantly add some variability to the total distance travelled.

DriveDistanceEstimated Drive TimeWhere to Stay
Perth to Nambung National Park188 kms (167 miles)2 hours 20 minutesNambung National Park
Nambung National Park to Kalbarri393 kms (244 miles)4 hours 16 minutesKalbarri
Kalbarri to Denham374 kms (232 miles)3 hours 52 minutesDenham
Denham to Carnarvon328 kms (204 miles)3 hours 23 minutesCarnarvon
Carnarvon to Ningaloo292 kms (181 miles)3 hours 21 minutesNingaloo
Ningaloo to Exmouth130 kms (81 miles)1 hour 40 minutesExmouth
Estimates only; times will vary based on traffic and road conditions

Overall, this road trip offers a fantastic opportunity to experience the vastness of Western Australia, with wide-open roads and stunning scenery stretching out before you. Whether you complete the journey in one go or break it up into several days, if you want to drive Perth to Exmouth, the trip promises an adventure filled with natural beauty and unforgettable experiences.

How Long is the Drive from Perth to Exmouth?

If you were to drive Perth to Exmouth non-stop, it would take about 13 hours to complete the journey. However, we highly recommend taking your time to explore the incredible attractions and scenic spots en route.

Many travellers opt for a 3 to 7-day Perth to Exmouth itinerary, allowing them to fully enjoy the diverse landscapes, charming towns and natural wonders that make this road trip so special.

  • Most of your journey you will be following Highway 1, the Brand Highway through to Geraldton then joining the North West Coastal Highway
  • We’d recommend detouring to take State Route 60 from Perth if you want to take in Yanchep national park and coastal towns such as Lancelin, Cervantes, and Jurien Bay
  • The last 250kms or so of your journey will be off the main road, along the sealed Minilya-Exmouth Road.

So, while it’s entirely possible to leave Perth at sunrise and arrive in Exmouth in time for dinner on the same day there are some extremely long distances involved in this journey. Take your time to savour the journey and make the most of this epic west coast adventure.

Best Time of Year to Drive from Perth to Exmouth

The best time of year to embark on a Perth to Exmouth road trip is during the dry and mild seasons, typically from April to October. This period offers ideal weather conditions, with pleasant temperatures and minimal rainfall, making driving and outdoor activities comfortable.

The winter months of June to August are especially popular, as temperatures are mild, and the wildlife and landscapes are at their vibrant best. However, it’s important to note that this is also the peak tourist season, so accommodations and attractions may be busier.

If you prefer a quieter journey, consider visiting in the shoulder seasons of April-May or September-October when the weather is still pleasant. At this time, the crowds have thinned, allowing you to relish the beauty of the Coral Coast in a more peaceful setting.

What Sort of Vehicle Do You Need Driving Perth to Exmouth?

The vast majority of this journey can be completed using a standard 2WD vehicle or a campervan on sealed roads.

A four-wheel drive is NOT essential driving Perth to Exmouth, but would give you the added flexibility of adding in some beach drives and more remote routes. Just check if you are hiring a 4WD what off road limitations you may face (counterintuitively, not all 4WD rental companies will allow off roading…)

Use a price comparison search engine such as discovercars.com to see available rental options from Perth.

  • Beware any offers including limited mileage. If you’re taking on the vast distances of outback Australia, you’ll want the flexibility of unlimited mileage.

It is possible to fly from Perth to Exmouth (Learmonth Airport) and pick up a one-way hire car there, tackling this itinerary in reverse, though the range of vehicles at this small airport can be somewhat limited.

Best Stops on a Perth to Exmouth Trip

When planning your Perth to Exmouth road trip itinerary there are so many different places you can stop at it can be overwhelming! This journey could easily take you several weeks, but assuming you only have a week driving Perth to Exmouth, we have you covered!

  • If you are seeking out a few more stops, don’t miss our guide to Perth road trips where we explore day trips to multi-day journeys from the WA capital
  • Plus, we have a detailed guide to fun family things to do in Perth before you set off on this west coast road trip adventure

Here is our hand-picked selection of five must-visit destinations to stop at along the Western Australia coast.

1. Nambung National Park

Nambung National Park is a natural wonderland that promises a unique and captivating experience for visitors of all ages. This extraordinary park is best known for its otherworldly Pinnacles Desert, where thousands of limestone pillars rise from the golden sands, creating a surreal and mesmerising landscape that sparks the imagination.

Nambung National Park offers a range of child-friendly activities for families travelling with children that blend education with adventure.

AU Road Trip From Perth to Exmouth - Nambung National Park

One of the park’s highlights is the Pinnacles Desert Discovery Centre, an excellent starting point for your visit. Here, interactive displays, informative exhibits, and friendly park rangers give children a deeper understanding of the park’s geology, flora, and fauna.

The kids can even become junior rangers and participate in educational programs, including guided walks and hands-on activities.

Exploring the Pinnacles Desert itself is a thrilling adventure. You will be captivated by the towering limestone spires that seem like something out of a science fiction movie. The park’s well-marked walking trails offer a safe and exciting opportunity to get close to these natural wonders while enjoying a leisurely stroll.

If your family enjoys wildlife encounters, Nambung National Park is also home to various bird species and small mammals. Bring a pair of binoculars, and the kids can have a blast birdwatching or trying to spot some of the park’s resident kangaroos and wallabies.

2. Kalbarri

Kalbarri, nestled along the rugged coast of Western Australia, is the perfect place to visit for families seeking adventure and natural beauty. 

  • It is a long drive from the Pinnacles to Kalbarri; you may want to add an overnight stop at Geraldton, a great place to stop for the night with plenty of dining and accommodation choices for families.

One of the main draws is Kalbarri National Park, a wilderness wonderland that boasts dramatic gorges, towering cliffs and winding riverbanks. Families can embark on hikes suitable for all ages, such as the easy walk to the famous Nature’s Window, a natural rock frame that frames picturesque views.

The park also offers opportunities for picnicking and swimming at serene spots like the Murchison River, perfect for a family day out.

kalbarri national park natures window

For a fun educational experience, head to the Kalbarri Pelican Feeding, where kids can watch these magnificent birds up close and learn about their behaviour and conservation. It’s a daily ritual that children find both entertaining and informative.

Another must-do activity is taking a cruise along the Murchison River. Kids will be enthralled by the chance to spot dolphins, turtles, and various bird species in their natural habitat. Some tours even offer the option to try fishing or crabbing, adding an extra layer of excitement.

Kalbarri is also renowned for its pristine beaches, ideal for family outings. Children can build sandcastles, swim in sheltered bays like Blue Holes, or enjoy the sun and surf.

3. Denham

Denham, a charming coastal town in the heart of Western Australia’s World Heritage-listed Shark Bay region, is somewhere you must check out on your road trip from Perth to Exmouth.

AU Road Trip From Perth to Exmouth - Shark Bay

Visitors to Denham are in for a real treat as it provides proximity to three iconic attractions – Francois Peron National Park, Monkey Mia and the stunning Shark Bay.

Francois Peron National Park is a must-visit destination for nature and adventure lovers. The park’s striking red sand dunes and crystal-clear turquoise waters create a breathtaking contrast. 

Families can embark on a 4WD adventure through the park’s rugged terrain, where kids will be fascinated by the opportunity to spot various wildlife, including emus, kangaroos and even the elusive thorny devil lizard. Don’t miss the chance to soak in the natural hot tubs of the Little Lagoon, a delightful experience for all ages.

A short drive from Denham, Monkey Mia is a world-renowned destination where you can get up close and personal with bottlenose dolphins. These friendly marine mammals have been visiting the shores of Monkey Mia for decades, and daily feeding sessions allow visitors, including children, to watch these incredible creatures in their natural habitat. It’s an unforgettable experience that offers valuable insights into marine conservation and wildlife preservation.

Shark Bay, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is an ecological wonderland that encompasses diverse habitats, including seagrass meadows, stromatolite formations, and pristine beaches. Families can explore the Marine Wonders Interpretive Centre in Denham to learn about the unique ecosystems of Shark Bay. Additionally, water-based activities such as snorkelling, kayaking, and swimming in crystal-clear waters provide endless entertainment for kids and adults alike.

Denham itself is a delightful town with a relaxed coastal atmosphere, offering a range of accommodation options, restaurants serving fresh seafood and friendly locals eager to share their love for this pristine corner of Western Australia.

4. Carnarvon

Nestled on the stunning Coral Coast of Western Australia, Carnarvon boasts an idyllic coastal setting, rich agricultural heritage and a vibrant community.

AU Road Trip From Perth to Exmouth - Carnarvon

One of the town’s most renowned features is the Carnarvon Space and Technology Museum, where space enthusiasts of all ages can delve into the fascinating history of the nearby Carnarvon Tracking Station. This station played a pivotal role in NASA’s Apollo moon missions, making it a must-visit for those curious about space exploration.

Elsewhere, The Oases Family Fun Park is a delightful destination for families, offering a range of activities such as mini-golf, water slides, and paddle boating. It’s the perfect place for kids to burn off energy and have fun times.

Additionally, nature lovers will be captivated by the region’s rich biodiversity. And if you’re a seafood fan, Carnarvon’s thriving fishing industry ensures you’ll savour some of the region’s freshest and most delectable seafood.

Carnarvon is also famous for its abundant fruit and vegetable farms, where you can taste locally grown produce at its finest. Make sure to visit the Gascoyne Food Festival if you’re in town during this delightful culinary celebration.

5. Ningaloo

Ningaloo, situated along the remote and untouched coast of Western Australia, is an aquatic paradise that attracts those seeking unspoiled natural beauty and remarkable marine encounters. 

AU Road Trip From Perth to Exmouth - Ningaloo Reef

At the heart of this pristine destination lies the world-renowned Ningaloo Reef, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that promises an exceptional blend of underwater wonder and terrestrial beauty.

The crown jewel of Ningaloo is, without a doubt, its spectacular reef system. Stretching for over 260 kilometres, it is one of the planet’s most extensive fringing reefs and boasts some of the clearest waters you’ll ever encounter. 

Snorkelling and scuba diving in Ningaloo are like stepping into an aquarium with an astonishing diversity of marine life. From coral gardens teeming with vibrant fish to graceful manta rays and the gentle giants of the sea, the whale sharks, every underwater moment is a breathtaking revelation.

Ningaloo is particularly famous for its unique and exhilarating whale shark tours. These docile giants, the world’s largest fish, visit the reef between March and July, providing a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to swim alongside them. It’s a mesmerising experience suitable for all ages and leaves an indelible mark on anyone lucky enough to partake.

For families, Ningaloo offers much more than just underwater wonders. Cape Range National Park, a rugged wilderness backdrop to the reef, is fantastic for land-based adventures. Kids can spot kangaroos, emus and birdlife against the stunning backdrop of limestone ranges. The park also features beautiful gorges and tranquil waterholes perfect for cooling off on a hot day.

Ningaloo’s allure doesn’t end with the reef or the national park. The surrounding landscapes, characterised by stark desert meeting the azure Indian Ocean, create a mesmerising contrast. The tranquil beaches of Turquoise Bay are perfect for relaxation and family-friendly snorkelling, with gentle currents allowing even young children to explore the underwater marvels.

Essential tips for a Perth to Exmouth Drive

  • There are several state parks mentioned in our itinerary that you will need a Park pass to visit; Save yourself time and money and buy your Parks Pass in advance from WA Naturally (NB you will get a e-pass online that you must print out and display).
  • Be respectful of Indigenous land: Remember, much of the land you will be driving on and visiting is indigenous land. So it is important to be respectful of the places you visit. Some areas may require permits for entry. All will require you to dispose of rubbish responsibly.
  • Fuel Up regularly: Fuel stations can be scarce in some areas along the route, so fill up your tank whenever you have the chance. Download the Fuel Map Australia app from the Google Play and Apple stores to guide you to where the nearest petrol station is. Additionally, carry extra fuel containers for emergencies.
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