Perth to Esperance is a long journey, but it’s by no means the longest journey you could make in the vast, empty expanse that is Western Australia.
Esperance, in the south-west of the WA, is a remote holiday town that’s home to some of the best beaches in Australia. You can explore the rugged Cape Le Grand National Park, go off-roading at Cape Arid National Park, or just sit back and drink a few beers at the Lucky Bay Brewery.
The Perth to Esperance drive is a minimum of 8 hours, but there are several routes you can take across Western Australia to get there. Travel via Albany and take the coastal route, or drive across the red Outback via the mining city of Kalgoorlie. If you don’t have a car though, then you can fly or take the bus from Perth to Esperance.
I road-tripped all across south-west Australia, and here’s my guide to travelling from Perth to Esperance!
The Best Time of Year to Travel From Perth to Esperance
While Perth is known for its excellent year-round weather, Esperance isn’t quite in the same situation as the state capital. Located on the southwestern coast, Esperance has a much milder climate and the winters can be cold and rainy.
Summer, from December through to February, is the best time of year to travel from Perth to Esperance. The weather is hot, but cooler than Perth, with temperatures averaging around 25 degrees celsius. It’s a great place to escape the heat further north when summer is in full swing. It’s also the busiest time of year to travel to Esperance though, and campsites and accommodation can be limited, particularly within the popular Cape Le Grand National Park. There’s no better time to lounge on the beaches of Esperance than summer though!
If you want to avoid the worst of the crowds, then consider travelling in Autumn, between March and May. The weather won’t be quite as good, but you will get some sunshine and warm temperatures.
Winter is the worst time to visit Esperance, because from June through to August the coast is lashed by storms. Temperatures average around 15 degrees celsius (at best!), and you can expect a lot of rain.
Rainfall can carry through into Spring, but by October, you should be seeing good weather again, and this can be another great time to visit if you want to avoid the crowds too.
Storms can cause havoc so always check the weather forecast if you are driving. Just before I made the drive from Albany to Esperance a few years back, heavy rain and flooding swept away an important bridge on the main highway, cutting everyone off for days.
If you are looking for a winter road trip, then Esperance won’t be the best idea. A better route is to travel north and to road trip from Perth to Broome, where the weather is perfect this time of year.
Perth to Esperance Flights
If you aren’t down for a long drive, or if you’ve only got a few days to spare, then it’s still easy to travel from Perth to Esperance, you just need to fly. There are several Perth to Esperance flights each day, and several return flights from Esperance to Perth too.
Only one airline operates scheduled flights. Regional Express, or REX, operates flights from Perth to Esperance, with a flight time of approximately 1 hour and 35 minutes. Esperance airport is located 20 kilometres away from the town centre.
Just bear in mind that if you do fly, it can be tricky getting around Esperance without your own vehicle. You can explore the town and the nearby beaches, but Cape Le Grand National Park is a good 40-minute drive away, and there’s no public transport. You could join a local tour, rent a car when you arrive in Esperance – you can do this at the airport – or as a last resort, hire a taxi for the day.
The Bus From Perth to Esperance
As with anywhere in Western Australia, long-distance bus schedules are unfortunately very limited. There are 6 departures a week from Perth to Esperance with TransWA and travel time is around 10 hours.
You can also take the bus from Albany or from Kalgoorlie to Esperance. With limited departures, you’ll need to plan your bus travel in advance, and if you can, book tickets in advance too.
As with flying, when you arrive in Esperance there won’t be any public transport to get you around, so you’ll be stuck in the town unless you can hitch rides around or make a few friends.
Perth to Esperance Road Trip Itinerary
The best way to travel from Perth to Esperance is on a road trip. This is perfect road-tripping country, and there are plenty of great stops to make on the way.
From Perth to Esperance, and vice versa, from Esperance to Perth, there are a few different routes that you can take. You can drive the quickest route in just one day, but depending on the amount of time you have then there are several road trip itineraries you can consider. You can take anywhere from one day to two weeks!
Travel via Kalgoorlie if you want to see the Outback, or travel via Margaret River and Albany if you want to experience coastal South West Australia. Here are the best Perth to Esperance road trip itineraries.
The Quickest Route via Wave Rock
The quickest route from Perth to Esperance takes you straight through Western Australia’s Wheatbelt. The shortest drive covers 714 kilometres, and if you don’t stop will take around 8 hours.
From Perth, head south-east and join Route 40 towards Hyden. On the map, Hyden looks like it’s in the absolute middle of nowhere, and it really is. This small town is about halfway between Esperance and Perth and it’s famous for being the home of a giant, wave-like rock.
If you want a break – and after four hours of driving, you probably will want a break – then take an hour or so to visit Wave Rock. This unique rock formation literally looks like a wave, thanks to thousands of years of geological erosion.
From Wave Rock and Hyden, hit the road again and head south to Ravensthorpe, still following Route 40, from where you head east along Highway 1 to Esperance.
Distance From Perth to Esperance via Hyden and Ravensthorpe – 714 Kilometres
Perth to Esperance Via Kalgoorlie
The drive from Perth to Esperance via Kalgoorlie can be done in around 10 hours, but unless you’re really in a rush, you’ll want to at least overnight somewhere. Kalgoorlie is about 600 kilometres from Perth, along Highway 49, and it makes for a good stop off.
The road from Perth to Kalgoorlie passes through the Wheatbelt, a vast area where there is just endless farmland. The farmland then turns to semi-arid desert as you enter the Goldfields, where there’s nothing but red dust.
There are few stops of interest along the road to Kalgoorlie and even less on the road from Kalgoorlie to Esperance. this is a journey that’s more about experiencing remote Australia, than seeing sights. Personally, I found it fascinating and I’ve given a few suggested stop-offs below.
Distance From Perth to Esperance via Kalgoorlie – 978 Kilometres
You can also take the TransWA bus from Perth to Kalgoorlie, then from Kalgoorlie to Esperance.
Stop 1 – York
Just 100 kilometres and one and a half hours of driving from Perth, is the town of York. This is the oldest inland town in Western Australia, as it was the first place to be colonised by the British when they began to expand from the Swan River Colony in the 19th century.
Found on the River Avon, it’s a charming if uneventful place. You can visit the historic museums and the old gaol, to learn about the darker side of York, and the Aboriginal prisoners that were held in the cells. There’s a great lookout on the hill above the town too.
Stop 2 – Merredin
From York, head east towards Merredin. This is an equally uneventful place, around 3 hours from Perth. This is the heart of Wheatbelt country, and in Merredin, you can see what goes on in small-town WA. The answer is, not a lot.
Merredin makes for a good stop-off point before you tackle the rest of the highway because from here things will begin to get really monotonous. There’s a military museum and a railway museum where you can learn more about the town’s history.
Stop 3 – Coolgardie
From Merredin, carry on along the highway for another 3 hours and you’ll reach the old mining town of Coolgardie.
Coolgardie is a fascinating stop on the way from Perth to Kalgoorlie because this was once a booming mining town. This was the centre of the 19th-century gold rush that saw mass immigration to WA and the development of the Goldfields.
Today though, Coolgardie is somewhat of a ghost town. It’s run down and much of the high street is empty. Coolgardie was once the third-largest town in WA, but the glory days ended long ago when more gold was found up the road at Kalgoorlie.
Stop 4 – Kalgoorlie
Kalgoorlie is just half an hour up the road from Coolgardie, but it’s a world away. This is the fourth largest city in Western Australia and the largest Outback city in the country, with a population of 30,000 people.
Kalgoorlie makes for a good place to spend the night and to break up the journey from Perth to Esperance. In fact, you might even want to stay longer, because there are quite a lot of things to do in Kalgoorlie.
Kalgoorlie is built on gold, and you can see the enormous Super Pit and visit the mining museums. You can see the tin shack where the famous Aussie game Two-Up was supposedly invented, and you can get drunk in the pubs and bars along the infamous Hannan Street.
Stop 5 – Norseman
From Kalgoorlie to Esperance, it’s a distance of 392 kilometres. Just head south along Highway 94, before joining Highway 1 when you reach the crossroads at Norseman WA.
Norseman is around halfway between Kalgoorlie and Esperance and is another fascinating place to stop off. Norseman is the last town before you hit the Nullarbor Plains if you were to carry on east across the Outback.
Like Coolgardie, Norseman has seen better days. This was also a big mining town when gold was discovered here in the 19th century. Things didn’t last though, and today Norseman is a shadow of its former self
Perth to Esperance Via Margaret River and Albany
The most popular multi-day Perth to Esperance road trip itinerary will take you through the best of the South West of Western Australia. From Perth, you can travel along the coast towards Margaret River, and from here you can carry on through the forests towards Albany, the oldest city in Western Australia. From Albany, it’s a straight ride along the coast to Esperance.
This road trip is all about the scenery, and it’s in stark contrast to the highway that leads to Kalgoorlie. There are huge forests filled with enormous Karri trees, while along the coast there are white sand beaches and turquoise bays.
It’s a distance of over 1000 kilometres, and you can travel as fast or as slow as you desire. While you can cover the route in a few days with plenty of stops, you might want to take longer if you can to enjoy the scenery!
Here are some of the best places you can visit on the road from Perth to Esperance via Margaret River and Albany.
Distance From Perth to Esperance via Margaret River and Albany – Approx 1200 Kilometres, depending on exact road trip itinerary
Stop 1 – Busselton
From Perth, head south along Highway 1 towards Bunbury, then continue following the coastal road towards Busselton, which makes a good first stop on the road from Perth to Esperance.
Busselton has some fabulous beaches, and it’s home to the longest wooden pier in the world. The Busselton Jetty stretches for almost 2 kilometres out into the Indian Ocean and is somewhat of an iconic sight in south-western WA.
Stop 2 – Margaret River
Next, drive an hour south to reach Margaret River, one of Western Australia’s most popular small towns. It’s not the largest place in the world, but it has a charm that captivates travellers and keeps some here for months.
Margaret River is gourmet central and you’ll find plenty of craft breweries, local cafes and great eateries in the town. The surrounding farmland is beautiful, but even more spectacular are the nearby beaches.
Carry on along the coast to Hamelin and Augusta, and you can even find friendly Sting Rays which make their way to the shallows along the beaches, for a unique wildlife interaction.
Stop 3 – Pemberton
Head inland and follow Highway 10 to the town of Pemberton. This is a town built on logging because Pemberton is surrounded by giant Karri trees. These huge trees are unique to south-west Australia and they can grow up to almost 100 metres in height.
Today, much of the forest is protected, and the best place to visit to see the tallest trees is Gloucester National Park. Here you can find enormous Karri trees, many of which were used as fire watching lookouts in the past. For that reason, several trees have platforms built high up, and you can actually climb the harrowing ladders that lead to the viewing areas for incredible views over the forests.
Stop 4 – Walpole
Walpole is an hour south-east of Pemberton, and it’s found along Highway 1 which leads to Albany. Walpole is where the forests meet the ocean, and you’ll find that here you can lounge around on the beaches or you can explore the inland wilderness.
Like Pemberton, there are giant Karri trees in Walpole, and the town is best known for the treetop walk you can join. The Valley of the Giants is an experience that allows you to walk amongst the trees, as the walkways are suspended up to 40 metres above the ground in the forest.
Stop 5 – Albany
The next stop is the city of Albany, which has the distinction of being Western Australia’s oldest city. Founded in 1826, 3 years before Perth was first settled by colonists from the United Kingdom, Albany is one of the most historic destinations in the state.
There are a lot of things to do in Albany, from visiting the local museums to climbing the hill to see the ANZAC Centre and Memorial. Coastal walks lead along King George Sound, while out to sea, you can often spot whales in the bay.
You can walk the Bald Head Hike for dramatic, windswept views, and you can explore the Torndirrup National Park to see the area’s best beaches and coastline.
In the city, there are great pubs, breweries and restaurants, and Albany is easily a destination where you could spend a few days if you have the time.
Stop 6 – Porongurup and Stirling Range National Parks
From Albany, you can simply drive along the coastal highway to reach Esperance. In fact, you can be there in 5 hours. A detour that’s well worth your time though, is a visit to the Porongurup National Park and to the Stirling Range National Park.
Both are found inland, and at the Porongurups, you’ll find ancient granite rocks that dominate the landscape, some balanced in precarious locations.
The Stirling Range National Park is one of the most mountainous areas in Western Australia, and the highlight here is the Bluff Knoll Hike. At just over 1000 metres in height, this is not just one of the tallest mountains in WA, but it’s also the only place in the state that ever sees snowfall.
Stop 7 – Bremer Bay
From the Stirling Range, drive back towards Highway 1 which runs along the coast from Albany to Esperance. From the Stirling Range, Bremer Bay is just over an hour away, or if you are coming straight from Albany, it’s around 2 hours to Bremer Bay.
This is a small town, but Bremer Bay is in a fantastic coastal location and is found next to some excellent beaches. It makes for a great lunch stop with a view.
Stop 8 – Fitzgerald River National Park
The next stop on the way from Perth to Esperance will be Fitzgerald River National Park. This large area of wilderness spans the coast and cuts inland too, providing a diverse area of forest and beaches for you to explore.
There are some excellent hiking trails through the park as well as a few camping spots too if you want to spend the night here before heading off on the last leg of your road trip to Esperance.
From the Fitzgerald River National Park, it’s around 3 hours to Esperance, depending on where exactly you are in the park.
On the last stretch, there’s little to see, but you can consider stopping in Hopetoun or in Ravensthorpe.
There are a lot of great things to do in Esperance, and you can easily spend a few days exploring the area. Visit the local museum to learn about the NASA satellite that crashed to earth here, travel to Cape Le Grand National Park to see the famous kangaroos that live in Lucky Bay, and road trip the Great Ocean Drive to see the best beaches in Esperance.
Distance From Perth to Esperance via Margaret River and Albany – Approx 1200 Kilometres, depending on exact road trip itinerary
Perth to Esperance Via Albany
If you don’t have much time for your Perth to Esperance road trip, then you can simply skip out the Margaret River section of the drive and head straight down to Albany.
Just take the Albany Highway all the way from Perth to Albany. It’s a distance of 400 kilometres and will take around 4 or 5 hours. There isn’t much to see on the way, apart from small towns and villages in the countryside.
From Albany, take the same route as in the itinerary above to reach Esperance by following the coastal road.
Distance From Perth to Esperance via Albany – 897 Kilometres
Where to Next?
Esperance is remote, but you have a few options for onward destinations. If you are road tripping around all of Australia, then from Esperance you can travel up to Norseman, before turning east and crossing the Nullarbor. This is a long and empty stretch of road, but it will bring you across to South Australia, from where you can then connect with the east coast.
If you are just travelling to Esperance from Perth though, then you can take an alternative route back. If you travelled via Albany, spend the return journey travelling via Kalgoorlie, or vice versa.