Road Trips | Pinnacles, Lucky Bay, Kalbarri National Park, Margaret River, and the others in West Australia

December 2019 – January 2020:

We went around West Australia for eight days during the New Year holidays from December 2019 to January 2020. We purchased a SIM card at Optus which is located near the exit area of Perth International Airport. We had reserved a rental car in advance.

West Australian map

 

Itinerary
Pre-trip day: Leave from Haneda International Airport
1st day: Kuala Lumpur International Airport – Perth International Airport – Hyden
2nd day: Hyden- Esperance
3rd day: Esperance – Walpole
4th day: Walpole – Margaret River
5th day: Margaret River – Rockingham
6th day: Rockingham – Kalbarri
7th day: Kalbarri National Park – Pinnacles – Fremantle
8th day: Fremantle – Rottnest Island – Swan Valley
Return home day: Perth International Airport – Kuala Lumpur International Airport – Haneda International Airport

 

Pre-trip day: Tue, December 26
My husband left from Narita Airport at noon to meet with his parents, and I left from Haneda International Airport at midnight.

 

1st day: Wed, December 27
After arriving at Perth International Airport, we went to Hyden.

I transited at Kuala Lumpur International Airport and arrived at Perth International Airport at noon. My husband waited for me at baggage claim. After leaving the arrival gate, we purchased a SIM card at Optus.

When we left the Perth Airport by rental car, it was around 4 P.M. We continued to drive on the paved road through the meadow. We saw traces of old bushfires many times on the way. The evening sun that shone on the meadow was so beautiful, but we wanted to arrive at our hotel before sunset. Driving on rural roads at night in Australia is dangerous because wildlife comes out.

We arrived at Hyden Hotel Motel around 7 P.M. The restaurant in the hotel next-door was still open, so we had dinner there. We barbequed our ordered meats by ourselves, and the side dishes were buffet style.

09:30 Left Kuala Lumpur International Airport 
15:00 arrived at Perth International Airport
19:30 Arrived at the hotel
20:00 Dinner

 

2nd day: Thur, December 28
After walking around Wave Rock, we saw wild kangaroos in Lucky Bay, Cape Le Grand National Park.

When we got up in the morning, we went to Wave Rock to see the sunrise. The only other person was a Swiss woman, so we spent a lot of time taking photos. 

Map of the Wave Rock area
Sunrise from Wave Rock
Surfing on Wave Rock

When we talked to the Swiss woman about going to Lucky Bay the next day, she told us that we might not be able to enter because of bushfires. Her next campsite was also at Lucky Bay, so she had checked on it.

We returned to our hotel and checked out, and went to Lake Magic nearby Wave Rock. It had turned into a salt lake because it dries up during this season.

Lake Magic
Lake Magic
Lake Magic

We parked in Hippo’s Yawns park and hiked on the trail, The Rock Falls. We hiked on the lower trail  to Wave Rock on the way and hiked on the upper trail of the rock on the way back.

Hippo’s Yawn
Upper trail of The Rock Falls

After that, we planned to go to Buckley’s Breakaway, but we went the wrong way. Instead, we went to Esperance. Then, there was a kangaroo by the road and we stopped our car.

We followed the kangaroo and we found a joey that was not able to move because its ankle was entangled with the wire fence. When we looked at it closely, the wire had dug into its ankle because the joey had struggled a lot, so it was not easy to remove it without pliers or something.

When we returned to the nearest village and asked a villager, he said there was a police station in the town. However, the town was farther than we thought, and we were worried about the joey, so we went back. When we approached the joey, it repeatedly threatened and frightened us, but I wrapped it in my shirt so it wouldn’t struggle and lifted it up, and my husband tried to remove the wires with his hands. While he did this, he was kicked in the stomach twice.

He removed the wires and I put the kangaroo down on the ground, but it wasn’t able to move right away. It tried to threaten us, so we left immediately. Then, we felt relieved and could continue our travels without any worries. 

We planned to go to Lucky Bay the next day, but we decided to go on this day because if there were no entry, we would have to take a lengthy detour to go to the next destination. However, the entrance of Cape Le Grand National Park was open unexpectedly, and black smoke was rising from the far-right mountain, so Lucky Bay, on the left, looked likely to be safe.

Lucky Bay is a bay where the gradations of the sky and the sea and the beach were beautiful. Kangaroos that were familiar with humans were here and there.

Lucky Bay
Kangaroo under the bench
Approaching joey
Parent and joey by a car
Indifferent kangaroo
Lucky Bay and a kangaroo
Lucky Bay and a kangaroo

We stopped by Whistling Rock and Thistle Cove on the way back. There were a few people on Thistle Cove Beach because it was a short walk from the parking lot.

Thistle Cove Beach

After we checked in at Esperance Clearwater Motel Apartments, took a shower, and threw our clothes in the coin laundry, we had dinner at Loose Goose Bar & Restaurant. The crispy pork dish was especially delicious.

Appetizer
Grouper dish
Crispy pork dish

05:00 Wave Rock sunrise
07:00 Check out from the hotel
07:20 Lake Magic
07:45 The Rock Falls trail
09:00 Leave from the Hippo’s Yawns parking
09:15 Find parent and joey
10:00 Rescue of a joey
14:30 Arrive at Lucky Bay
19:00 Check in at the motel
20:15 Dinner at Loose Goose Bar & Restaurant

 

3rd day: Sun, December 29
We went sightseeing at Bremer Bay and Valley of the Giants, then went to Walpole.

We went to Bremer Bay, where we hadn’t planned to go initially, to find marine mammals because our travel plan had changed. We went to Rock Cairn Cuneo Drive, which was at the end of the unpaved Cuneo Drive, and looked around for marine life, but there was nothing. We guessed that it wasn’t the time or the season for marine mammals.

Bremer Beach

We went to Valley of the Giants, where we had planned to go the next day. We got lost many times when we were driving, but we arrived there during business hours.

When we walked on the Tree Top Walk (A$21/adult), which was 40 meters above the ground, we could see the tall karri eucalyptuses. When we walked on the Ancient Empire Walk, which was on the ground, we could walk through the big roots of the red tingle eucalyptuses. 

Tree Top Walk
Red tingle on the Ancient Empire Walk

We checked in at Tree Top Walk Motel and had dinner at Top Deck Cafe. The mushroom and fresh pepper sauces on the beef dishes were especially great. The red wine from the local winery had a rich taste and was delicious too.

06:30 Check out from the motel
10:30 Bremer Bay
16:00 Valley of the Giants
17:30 Check in at the motel
19:00 Dinner at Top Deck Cafe

 

4th day: Mon, December 30
We went sightseeing at Busselton Jetty and then we went to Margaret River.

After a while, we left the motel and drove into the eucalyptus woods. When I opened the window, the good aroma from the eucalyptus came in. We arrived at Busselton Jetty after getting lost many times.

We didn’t ride the jetty train, so we walked on the jetty to the end and back for about an hour.

Busselton Jetty
Half way on the jetty
Head of the jetty

After that, we went to a limestone cave in the area of Margaret River. There are several featured caves, so we thought about where to go, and we chose Lake Cave. When we arrived there at 1 P.M. and went to the reception area, we found there was a reservation system. The tours were reserved till 4 P.M., so we reserved the first tour of the next day.

After that, we went around the wineries in Margaret River.

The first was Voyager Estate. We purchased a 2017 Chardonnay (A$50) and a 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon (A$85), which won James Halliday awards. We also purchased a 2016 Shiraz, which we tasted and liked. The tasting fee for two glasses (about A$4/glass) was waived.

Voyager Estate

The second was Leeuwin Estate. We purchased a 2017 Siblings Shiraz (A$24.5), and the tasting fee (A$25/3 glasses) was waived. This winery is famous for its deluxe chardonnay, but we didn’t try it.

Leeuwin Estate

The third was Cullen Wines. This winery is famous for biodynamic farming, which is one type of organic farming.

The tasting fee was basically free. We purchased a 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot (A$39)

Cullen Wines

Last, we went to Moss Wood, but to have a tasting, you needed to use a reservation system, which we didn’t know. We purchased a Ribbon Vale 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon (A$63).

After that, we checked in at Heritage Trail Lodge and went to Margaret River Brewhouse.

Margaret River Brewhouse
Margaret River Brewhouse

After that, we strolled through the town of Margaret River and entered Elkamo, which had a nice atmosphere.

The terrace in our room was nice, so we planned to have dinner at our lodge. We bought a Xanadu shiraz at a supermarket and a pizza from a pizza restaurant, and went back to our lodge.

07:00 Check out from the motel
10:15 Busselton Jetty
13:00 Lake Cave
13:30 Voyager Estate
14:00 Leeuwin Estate
15:00 Cullen Wines
15:40 Moss Wood
16:00 Check in at the lodge
16:30 Stroll in Margaret River
20:00 Dinner at the lodge

 

5th day: Tues, December 31
We went sightseeing at Lake Cave, Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park, and Dolphin Discovery Centre in Bunbury, and then went to Rockingham. At night, we went to see the New Year’s Eve fireworks.

We checked out from the lodge and took part in the Lake Cave tour (A$22.50/adult), which we had reserved the previous day. We could see karri trees at the entrance of the limestone cave. The limestone cave, which was reflected on the lake surface, was mysterious.

Limestone doline
Karri trees

Lake Cave
Lake Cave

After that, we went to Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park, but we realized that we left our camera set, so we had to return to get it, which was a three-hour round trip.

We walked on the trail and went to Whale Watching Platform, but it looked like it wasn’t the season to see whales.

After that, there was time, so we stopped by Dolphin Discovery Centre in Bunbury. It looked like there was a chance to see dolphins for free in the morning.

We checked in at  Hotel Clipper and took a shower, and then went to Churchill Park. The restaurants were crowded everywhere. After the meal, we went to the bar and waited for the New Year’s Eve fireworks.

Little Hanoi Restaurant
Bar
New Year’s Eve live
New Year’s Eve fireworks

08:45 Check out from the lodge
09:20 Lake Cave tour
14:30 Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park
17:00 Dolphin Discovery Centre
19:30 Check in at the hotel
21:00 Dinner
24:00 New Year’s Eve fireworks at Churchill Park

 

6th day: Wed, January 1
We stopped by Pink Lake in Gregory and went to Kalbarri.

We had to go a long distance, so we continued to drive earnestly. We didn’t go to Lancelin Sand Dunes, but we could see little sand dunes several times while driving. I wanted to see a pink lake at least once, so we stopped by Pink Lake Lookout in Gregory.

We checked in at Kalbarri Seafront Villas and swam for a while in the mouth of the Murchison River, which spread in front of our villas.

After that, we spent time at  Finlay’s Kalbarri having a light meal till sunset.

When we went to Chinaman’s Beach to see a sunset, kangaroos were playing, so we observed them for a while.

Though we hiked the Chinamans Rock, we weren’t able to see the sunset because there were a lot of clouds.

Mouth of the Murchison River
Sunset from Chinamans Rock

We had dinner at the restaurant in Kalbarri Motor Hotel.

08:00 Check out from the hotel
14:30 Pink Lake
17:30 Check in at the villa
18:15 Light meal at  Finlay’s Kalbarri
19:30 Watching the sunset from Chinamans Beach
20:00 Dinner at Kalbarri Motor Hotel

 

7th day: Thurs, January 2
We went sightseeing in Kalbarri National Park and Nambung National Park, then went to Fremantle.

Kalbarri National Park is located in the lower reaches of the Murchison River, and we can enjoy a viewing of the red and white banded sandstone formations, which have been cut by the river.

At first, we went to The Loop. The park fee was A$15. We arrived there before 8 A.M., but the sandstones had already been heated by the solar heat. Even a short walk made us exhausted because of the strong sunlight and the geothermal heat. We were not allowed to start hiking The Loop after 7 A.M. in the summer. Instead, we strolled around Nature’s Window, which was about a five-minute walk from the car park.

Nature’s Window
The Loop
The Loop

We went to the Z Bend area. After about a five-minute walk from the car park, there is a lookout platform, and we were able to see the Z Bend, part of the Murchison River which flows in a Z shape.

Z Bend

We went to Ross Graham lookout. There were many wildlife footprints and droppings around the waterside, so we thought that we might see something depending on the time of day.

Ross Graham lookout
Ross Graham lookout

We went to Meanarra Hill Lookout. We could look out at the mouth of Murchison River.

Meanarra Hill Lookout

The coastline views are also great in Kalbarri National Park, so we can enjoy a viewing of the contrast of the red sandstone formations, which have been cut by the wind and the waves, and the blue ocean.

Eagle Gorge Lookout
Eagle Gorge Lookout
Natural Bridge Kalbarri
Kalbarri Castle Cove

After that, we drove to the Pinnacles in Nambung National Park. We stopped by Cervantes Bar & Bistro in Cervantes on the way and had lobster, which was the local specialty.

Cervantes Bar & Bistro

The Pinnacles was a mysterious area like another planet, and thousands of limestone pillars were standing on the dunes. We had looked forward to the sunset and the starry sky, but we couldn’t see either because there were a lot of clouds.

Drive course of the Pinnacles
Pinnacles
Sunset of the Pinnacles

After looking at the sunset, we drove to Fremantle. It took about three hours to get to our hotel, Esplanade Hotel Fremantle by Rydges, so we were very tired from driving at night. It is better to stay close to the Pinnacles to avoid driving at night if you want to see the sunset and the starry sky in the Pinnacles.

07:00 Check out from the villa
08:00 The Loop
09:00 Z Bend
10:30 Ross Graham lookout
11:30 Meanarra Hill Lookout
12:00 Eagle Gorge Lookout, Natural Bridge Kalbarri, Kalbarri Castle Cove
17:00 Meal at Cervantes
18:00 The Pinnacles
00:30 Check in at hotel

 

8th day: Fri, January 3
We went to Rottnest Island in the morning, strolled in the Fremantle Markets in the afternoon, and then went to Swan Valley.

We had reserved the first ferry which departed from Northport Fremantle.

Rottnest Island map

After arriving on the island, we walked to The Basin till the rental bicycle shop opened. On the way, there were many quokkas in the golf course shrubs. 

We rented electric bicycles because there were many ups and downs on the island. We went to the Wadjemup Lighthouse by riding bicycles on Parker Point Rd, and went halfway around the island by taking Defence Rd and Geordie Bay Rd.

Quokka on Rottnest Island

Sea around Rottnest Island

We returned to Fremantle, then we had lunch and bought souvenirs (honey and tea) in the Fremantle Markets.

We arrived at Swan Valley in the evening, so we were not able to make it on time to the winery where we wanted to buy wines. After we checked in at Quest Midland and took a shower, we went to Mandoon Estate by Uber. We were able to have a meal with wines in this winery. 

 

Return home day: Sat, January 4
We left Perth International Airport on an early flight and went back home.

 

Impressions
Our main goal of this trip was to see kangaroos in Lucky Bay and quokkas on Rottnest Island, and we were able to see both, so we were satisfied. It was a pity that we were not able to see the sunset and starry sky in the Pinnacles, so I think that I will find a place with beautiful stars on our next trip.

As the tourist spots in West Australia were sparse, we had to drive for a long time every day. There were few accommodations around the tourist spots, so it was hard to reserve them. The restaurants closed relatively early, so it was hard to make travel plans. There were many travelers using RVs, and the camp sites were usually annexed to the tourist points and had enough equipment, so camping is more convenient for travel.

We were not able to hike much because we had to drive for a long time, but West Australia is also an area where we can enjoy various wildflowers, so we want to walk next time during the wildflower season.

The rental car shop which we used this time stopped renting car navigations because smartphones were spreading. We suddenly had to use my smartphone as a car navigation, but we were not able to charge it well because the charger port wasn’t working well, so we got lost many times and wasted a lot of time. I realized that we would probably have difficulty finding rental car navigation, so I bought a new smartphone and a phone holder for a car. 

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