How To Travel From Perth to Kalgoorlie
My definitive series of Western Australia travel guides continues with the latest instalment on the blog as this time I explain the best ways to travel from Perth to Kalgoorlie.
There are plenty of ways to get from Perth to Kalgoorlie – trains, flights and road trips -and here’s my definitive travel guide on getting across the great outback space that divides these two cities.
The Best Time Of Year To Travel From Perth To Kalgoorlie
Kalgoorlie is way out in the desert. In fact, it’s the largest ‘Outback’ City in the entirety of Australia. That means the summer months are burning hot, while the winters can be sort of chilly, especially at night. The best time to visit Kalgoorlie from Perth is at the beginning of the summer season- around September and October – or at start of the winter season – March and April. Year round though, it’s perfectly possible to visit if you can deal with the extreme temperature fluctuations.
Flying From Perth To Kalgoorlie
Kalgoorlie is almost 600 kilometres away from Perth. That’s at least a six hour drive if you drive it straight. If that long car journey isn’t for you, then there are regular flights linking Perth to Kalgoorlie.
Flight time is only around 1 hour and both Qantas and Virgin Australia have domestic routes flying multiple times per day.
Kalgoorlie Airport To Kalgoorlie City Centre
The airport is just outside of the city, but unfortunately there is no public transport between airport and city. The only options are taxis or rental cars to get from Kalgoorlie airport to Kalgoorlie city centre.
Is There A Bus From Perth To Kalgoorlie?
TransWA are the main transport company is this part of Western Australia, however they unfortunately do not run a bus route from Perth to Kalgoorlie. The only way to travel by bus would be to first get to Esperance, then transfer to a bus going to Kalgoorlie. This however would take much longer and cost much more than simply taking the train…
Taking The Train From Perth To Kalgoorlie
If you aren’t driving the route, then by far the most exciting way to travel from Perth to Kalgoorlie is on the Prospector train. This journey takes 7 hours, and the train departs daily from East Perth Train Terminal. Return tickets currently cost 90 AUD and can be booked in advance online.
The Prospector is a scenic ride across the country, and an historic journey too.
Ride Shares From Perth To Kalgoorlie
If you enjoy travelling with strangers then there are plenty of ride shares available on the road from Perth to Kalgoorlie. These are generally advertised in Facebook Groups or occasionally on Gumtree and if you are flexible and willing to share costs they can be a great way of getting from Perth to Kalgoorlie.
There’s usually someone driving all the way to Kalgoorlie, although you could make it an adventure and ride share from town to town.
Renting A Car To Drive From Perth To Kalgoorlie
It’s possible to rent a car or campervan to drive from Perth to Kalgoorlie, some companies will even allow one way vehicle rentals. You can drop it off in Kalgoorlie, or go even further afield..
It’s best to do a lot of research before choosing your rental company, as each has different rules, types of vehicle and packages available.
The following companies offer campervan hire from Perth to Kalgoorlie and there are plenty more car rental places available too.
Driving From Perth To Kalgoorlie: The Definitive Road Trip Itinerary!
Perth to Kalgoorlie is a 593 kilometre journey with awesome sightseeing opportunities on the route, and the recommended way to travel to really enjoy the changing landscapes and small country towns is on a self drive tour.
The quickest route is across the Great Eastern Highway, but there are many- short and long- detours available. The route passes through the scenic Wheatbelt, and then into the harsh, desert landscapes of the Goldfields. It’s an impressive journey and one of the most underrated road trips in Australia.
The main route is sealed the whole way, however some detours are on gravel roads, but these are generally navigable by two wheel drive vehicles, just check conditions first. You can do that via Main Roads WA.
Here’s a breakdown of a road trip route from Perth to Kalgoorlie!
The Perth To Kalgoorlie Road Trip
The City of York should be the first stop heading east of Perth. York was in fact the first settlement to be founded by Europeans inland of WA’s coast, and this quaint little place was founded in the spot it was because the river and the valley reminded the settlers from England of their home country. There are heritage listed buildings and importantly, it’s one of the few places I visited in Western Australia that actually acknowledged the local Aboriginal people and the crimes committed against them at the local museum, and former courthouse.
Distance From Perth to York: 99 Kilometres
Distance From York to Kalgoorlie: 494 Kilometres
Corrigin is just a small farming community in the Wheatbelt, a vast area of land where huge quantities of – you guessed it! -wheat are grown. It’s a bit off the main highway, but it’s also on the way to Wave Rock if you fancy taking a detour (see below). Corrigin is different to the rest of the little farming towns you’ll pass on the way from Perth to Kalgoorlie, because Corrigin is home to a humbling cemetery for dogs. This loving plot of land is a tribute to the town’s much loved pets, and it’s a moving place for animal lovers to visit.
Distance From York to Corrigin: 136 Kilometres
Distance From Corrigin to Kalgoorlie: 450 Kilometres
Wave Rock is the most unusual and unexpected sight to see in the middle of Outback Australia. It’s a long, overhanging rock that’s been slowly shaped over millennia by rain and winds. It looks spectacular, and it’s strangely colourful feature in an otherwise monotone landscape. It’s a bit of a detour from the main highway, but it’s definitely worth it for this rock
Stay the night at Wave Rock Caravan Park, it’s right at the base of the rock, but make sure to book ahead.
Distance From Corrigin to Wave Rock: 112 Kilometres
Distance From Wave Rock to Kalgoorlie: 491 Kilometres
There’s not much at Southern Cross, but it’s a solid stop off point on the way to Kalgoorlie for fuel and delicious, home made pies from the local bakery. This is where the Wheatbelt ends and the Goldfields begin. To get to Southern Cross from Wave Rock, you can take the sealed road the long way, via Merredin, or take the unsealed road for a shortcut through beautiful countryside. The shortcut saves a lot of kilometres, but the road is gravel, although in very good shape generally.
Distance From Wave Rock to Southern Cross: 320 Kilometres via the sealed road, 200 Kilometres via unsealed roads
Distance From Southern Cross to Kalgoorlie: 225 Kilometres
Coolgardie is the original Kalgoorlie. This was once one of the largest city’s in the state and one of the first places where gold was discovered. Soon though, everyone had moved just 40 kilometres down the road to Kalgoorlie, where there was even more gold under the ground and Coolgardie shrank to a fraction of its former glory. Now it’s an interesting historical stop off, not exactly a city anymore, but more of a ghostly old mining town.
Distance From Southern Cross to Coolgardie: 187 Kilometres
Distance From Coolgardie to Kalgoorlie: 38 Kilometres
On the outskirts of Kalgoorlie is Lake Douglas, and in a land devoid of water, the lake is a beautiful sight. It’s a favourite with Kalgoorlie locals on the weekend, and it’s a great spot to camp out and stay the night before heading into Kalgoorlie.
Distance From Coolgardie to Lake Douglas: 31 Kilometres
Distance From Lake Douglas to Kalgoorlie: 15 Kilometres
The Best Things To Do In Kalgoorlie
Once you are in Kalgoorlie itself there’s plenty to do and to see to keep you around for days before making the return journey back to Perth or heading onward to Esperance, or even further into the Outback.
Kalgoorlie was one of my favourite cities in Australia, and I firmly believe it is one of the most under rated destinations in the country. It’s had a hard time shaking its Wild West image, a result of its mining and gold rush history, but Kalgoorlie really is an intriguing place, with an interesting past and a bright future.
Here’s a run down of the sights to see, but for a more comprehensive guide then check out my Ultimate List Of Things To Do In Kalgoorlie.
- The Kalgoorlie Super Pit – One of the largest open cut gold mines in the world, the Kalgoorlie Super Pit has to be seen to fully understand the vast scale of this operation.
- The Museum of the Goldfields – An interesting look at Kalgoorlie’s mining history and the future of this city.
- Mount Charlotte Water Reservoir and Lookout – This is end of the pipeline that delivers water all the way from Perth to allow Kalgoorlie to even exist in the desert.
- The School of Two Up – Kalgoorlie is one of the only places in the country where it is legal to play the gambling game of Two Up throughout the year, and not just on ANZAC day.
- Gold Fossicking – Get a permit and get out gold prospecting.
- Walk Down Historic Hannan Street – This is the main street in Kalgoorlie, where it all began and where it all happens today.
- Explore the Craft Beer Scene – Head to Boulder for a burgeoning and unlikely craft beer scene way out in the Goldfields.
- Drink at the Historic Pubs and Hotels – Kalgoorlie’s Wild West reputation stemmed from its wild pubs and hotels. The historic pubs and hotels are still there, but they aren’t so wild west once you are inside. At least most of them aren’t anyway.
- Take a tour of Australia’s oldest brothel – Seriously, it’s an actual museum, I assure you!
- The Nullarbor Links – Tee off at the Nullarbor Links, the world’s longest golf course.
Driving Advice On The Road From Perth To Kalgoorlie
Driving from Perth to Kalgoorlie can be a challenge for those unused to the long roads and remote nature of Western Australia. Here are a few handy driving tips to help you along the way:
- Do not drive at night. As soon as the sun begins to set, if not earlier, then you should be off the road, because this is when the wildlife begins to emerge. Australian animals like the kangaroo will throw themselves across the highway mercilessly and their ability to cause carnage should not be underestimated. Hitting a kangaroo is potentially deadly, or at the very least will end your road trip from Perth to Kalgoorlie.
- Stock up on supplies when you can. When you see a petrol station, fill up. When you see a supermarket, stock up on supplies. When you can fill your water container, fill it up. You never know when you will find somewhere else to stock up on supplies. Always carry extra if you have the space, just in case!
- Don’t underestimate distances. Western Australia is huge. Don’t underestimate how far somewhere is. Locals might say it is down the road, but it is still a long way. Make sure you have adequate fuel and water and a rough idea of where to spend the night.
- Check the weather and check the road conditions. Western Australian weather, especially in the north, can be extreme and unpredictable. Roads are subject to flash floods, bush fires, crashes… if a road is closed, there’s usually no alternative but to wait or go a very long way around. If it’s an unsealed road, always check conditions with locals before heading off into the unknown.
- Roadside Assistance. It can always be handy having roadside assistance, but check you are covered before you head off anywhere really remote. RAC tend to have the best deals and coverage.
- Get a Telstra SIM Card. Telstra have the best coverage across the state, so it’s worth getting one of their SIM cards.
How To Find Accommodation On The Road From Perth To Kalgoorlie
- Camping – The first and best piece of advice when it comes to camping anywhere in Australia is download the Wikicamps App. This awesome mobile app will only cost a few Aussie Dollars but it gives you access to every single camping spot along the way, even a few sneaky bush camps. You get up to date reviews of sites and prices from users, and the number of hidden little gems I found through Wikicamps was incredible. There are plenty of free camping spots along the route, however the law varies from Shire to Shire, and in some places you can be fined by Rangers if you are not in a designated camping or overnight spot. The more popular the destination it seemed, the stricter the rules were on camping – yet another reason to keep up to date on Wikicamps.
- Hotels and Air BnB – In most towns you will find hotel rooms and Air BnBs available, although the quality and prices will vary. The more remote, the more expensive and the worse value it will be.
- Road House Accommodation – If you aren’t set up or prepared to camp then in between the larger towns accommodation is even more limited. If you find yourself stuck out, with dusk closing in, then sometimes the only option is a Road House. I found most of the Road Houses along the way from Perth to Kalgoorlie had accommodation, but it is not cheap and generally the quality is very much lacking. It is the middle of absolute nowhere, so don’t expect too much.
All Words and Photos by Richard Collett