From the ever-changing hipster city of Perth, embark on one of Australia's most diverse road trips where you journey deep into the outback to mining towns packed with gnarly history, before returning to the coast to experience crazily stunning beaches, forest thrills and marine wildlife adventures that will make you feel like Jacques Cousteau. All along the route, expect to be sustained by excellent Western Australian food, beer and wine.
Perth, the dynamic capital of Western Australia (WA) is definitely a city on the rise. From atop Kings Park, secure a view of the new Elizabeth Quay development linking the Swan River to the CBD, and don't miss negotiating the Federation Walkway, an elevated 200m-plus glass and steel bridge coursing through eucalyptus trees. Ask at the park's visitor centre about tours with Perth's indigenous Noongar people, and down the hill at Elizabeth Quay, look forward to the best of Perth's food trucks parking up for al fresco eats.
From the collection of food trucks you can partner Texan barbecue or a Vietnamese banh mi sandwich with lucent southern hemisphere light while you consider how you could move here for good. If you’re visiting Perth in March, make sure you time your stay to coincide with the food truck rumble. Paired with displays of local street dance, DJ’s and a pop up bar - special “rumble” cocktails, this is a great fun festival with a fabulous - and delicious - vibe.
Next head to Northbridge. Whiskey, gin and rum – specialist bars and secret late night assignations abound around this happening Perth neighbourhood – but to gain access through unmarked laneway doors you'll need some local knowledge. Discover the weekly secret password for Sneaky Tony's on their Facebook page. Experience Alabama Song's dive bar rock and roll vibe, just follow the guys wearing trucker caps past el cheapo Chinese diners and vintage clothing shops. For the inevitable late night munchies, order a Flipside burger. And have it delivered upstairs to partner Aussie craft beer at Mechanic's Institute. Of course the unmarked bar has no sign. Welcome to Northbridge.
Heading east through the Avon Valley, the historic town of York is definitely a hipster-free zone after grungy Northbridge, but there's plenty of interest for an extended lunch stop. Heritage pubs sit on several corners, the sleepy main street is wide enough to accommodate 19th-century bullock trains, and the cafes are filled with a laidback ambience that's quintessentially Australian. Ask the friendly locals about riverside walking tracks, and seek out York's century-old suspension bridge before grabbing an organic smoothie from the funky Jules Cafe.
The lustrous 19th-century promise of gold also drove the impetuous growth of nearby Kalgoorlie, but unlike Coolgardie, the southern outback's biggest city is still a big and booming mining centre. On the edge of town, the stupendous Super Pit is the end result of more than 120 years of continuous gold extraction. From the edge of one of the planet's biggest opencast mines, massive trucks descending into almost 600m deep resemble mere Matchbox toys, and heading down on a Super Pit tour could be the most interesting two hours you'll ever spend in an old school bus. And unlike the Great Wall of China, the 3.5km-long Super Pit really can be seen from space.
Get ready for another long road trip south to Esperance - a playlist of Perth bands like Tame Impala and The Triffids should make the 400km go faster – but at least there's some of Australia's finest coastal scenery to look forward to at the end of the drive. Journey east to Cape Le Grand National Park. Yes, the silica-white sand at beautiful Hellfire and Lucky Bays really does squeak when you walk on it. And the sea is the most gorgeous turquoise clear blue you’ll be dashing headlong into the surf. Keep your fingers crossed as you might get to see the occasional marsupial sunbathing on the park's beaches.
From Esperance west to Albany is around 500km – by now you'll have worked out Western Australia is probably the BIGGEST destination you'll ever explore – and our recommendation is to make it even longer with a 120km round trip back to the coast at Bremer Bay. This is the remote Aussie beach you've been dreaming of, so spend a couple of days just chilling staying at the local campground.
And if you're visiting from January to April, Bremer Bay Canyon Killer Whale Expeditions can take you 60km off the coast into the wild Southern Ocean to see majestic pods of Orca. If your trip brings you here from July to October, however, you can see Southern Right Whales who come to the calm waters of the sheltered bays to calve.
The beaches around the national park are fabulous for swimming and depending on conditions, the surfs great at Peppermint Beach, Blossoms Beach, Bremmer Beach or Native Dog Beach (though there is a big rip here so please be mindful!). And from September to November a most glorious display of wild flowers blossoms into show.