The largest Outback city in Australia and occupying more than half of Western Australia, the Golden Outback is a living treasure of amazing natural sights, white-sand beaches, and historic sites. Tourism Western Australia has drawn up a comprehensive 7-day self-drive itinerary that takes you to the very best of the Golden Outback.
Following the tracks of gold rush pioneers reveals unique riches of the Goldfields – from the famous Wave Rock, Lucky Bay and Kalgoorlie’s Super Pit, to the world’s largest outdoor art gallery, longest golf course and biggest collection of spring wildflowers – all set against a backdrop of the most dramatic desert landscapes.
Best time: September to November (for wildflowers)
Morning: Perth to Wave Rock
Joining the Brookton Highway heading south east from Perth, you’ll see the forests of the Darling Range give way to the wide-open spaces of the Wheatbelt. In less than two hours, you’ll reach the historic town of Brookton. Stop for refreshments and admire its lovingly restored heritage. Or, continue on to Corrigin, where you’ll find the most touching tributes to man’s best friend at the Dog Cemetery. You can also take a detour to see one of the quirkiest of sights in the Wheatbelt – the Tin Horse Highway of Kulin. From here, it’s just over an hour’s drive to catch one of Australia’s biggest breaks – Wave Rock, near the Wheatbelt town of Hyden.
Afternoon: Wave Rock and Hyden
Spend your afternoon exploring Wave Rock’s 160-hectare nature reserve, gazing in awe at this 15-metre-high cresting wave of solid granite that’s taken shape over the last two billion years. Venture into the nearby Mulka’s Cave and you’ll discover over 450 ancient rock paintings, telling the story of a local Aboriginal legend. If you’re visiting in spring, after good winter rains, you’ll also see the surrounding desert transformed into a sea of colourful wildflowers.
Morning: Hyden to Stokes National Park
Pick up water and picnic supplies in Hyden and journey through epic pastoral and salt lake landscapes to Stokes National Park. Here, in 10, 000 hectares of wildlife-rich coastal heath and long sandy beaches, you’ll find some top spots for swimming, fishing, birdwatching and back-to-nature bush camping.
Afternoon: Stokes National Park to Esperance
Continuing east on the South Coast Highway, you’ll reach Esperance within two hours. This gives you plenty of time to catch dinner, fish from Tanker Jetty, or enjoy a sunset stroll.
Morning: Esperance and Cape Le Grande
Just half an hour east of Esperance, in Cape Le Grand National Park, lies one of the most dazzling coastal jewels – Lucky Bay, Australia’s whitest beach. Walk, relax, fish, or take the bushwalking trails beyond the beach and enjoy sweeping panoramas of the beautiful islands of the Recherche Archipelago.
Afternoon: Cape Le Grande to Esperance
You can choose to spend your whole day in the national park, or return to Esperance and take the Great Ocean Drive Tourist Loop to a string of stunning white-sand beaches. Enjoy an afternoon swim or snorkel in the calm, clear waters of Blue Haven Beach and Twilight Cove.
Morning: Esperance to Norseman or Lake Lefroy
Golfing enthusiasts may want to get an early start and play a hole on the longest golf course on Earth – the Nullarbor Links. Or you can break the four-hour journey from Esperance to Kalgoorlie with a visit to Lake Lefroy and watch the land yachts sailing on the vast white salt lake.
Afternoon: Norseman to Kalgoorlie
On arrival in Kalgoorlie, take a walk down Hannan Street for an introduction to the lively pubs, bars, nightclubs and restaurants of Australia’s largest outback city. Search the Australian Good Food Guide for dining ideas. For the best sunset views in town, head up to Mount Charlotte.
Hop on a scenic flight or pull on a hard hat for a tour of one of the world’s largest open-cut mines. Part of the famous Golden Mile, the Super Pit is a colossal 3.5 kilometres long and 1.5 kilometres wide, producing 900, 000 ounces of gold each year. Dig a little deeper into gold rush history at the Kalgoorlie-Boulder WA Museum. Learn how prospectors searched for gold, discover the hardships they faced, and gaze wide-eyed at the State’s largest collection of gold bars and nuggets. Other riches can be found at the Goldfields Art Centre and Kalgoorlie’s boutique galleries, where many fine works of the Goldfields’ Aboriginal and contemporary artists are on display.
Morning: Kalgoorlie to Lake Ballard and Menzies
Leave Kalgoorlie early and make the one-and-a-half-hour journey to Lake Ballard, via Menzies on the Goldfields Highway. The last 55 kilometres to Lake Ballard are on unsealed road, leading you to the vast, stark-white salt bed where 51 Antony Gormley sculptures create the most striking outdoor gallery.
Afternoon: Menzies to Kalgoorlie
Return to the historic gold mining town of Menzies and stop for lunch at the hotel. Reminders of the gold rush glory days are everywhere you look, including the famous Town Hall that stood without a clock for 100 years. Return to Kalgoorlie on the Goldfields Highway, hit the Golden Quest Discovery Trail to the quirky gold rush ghost towns of Broad Arrow, Ora Banda, Siberia and Goongarri.
From mid-July to late October, after good winter rains, you’ll also see the outback is coloured with the blooms of one of the greatest wildflower collections on Earth.
Morning: Kalgoorlie to Merredin
Follow the Golden Pipeline Heritage Trail and let Western Australia’s great engineering feat lead you back to Perth. In three and a half hours, you’ll reach the Wheatbelt town of Merredin. With its colonial and 1920s heritage and seasonal spring wildflowers of Tamma Parkland, it’s a good spot to stop for lunch.
Afternoon: Merredin to Perth
At the Military Museum, history buffs can discover the significant role Merredin played in WWI and WWII as the second line of defence. Or take a detour to the Merredin Railway Museum to view the extensive collection of railway memorabilia, including a beautifully preserved 1897 steam engine. From here, it’s three hours to Perth, with Northam offering a good option for late afternoon refreshments.
IMPORTANT TRAVEL INFORMATION
Be Sun Smart. Always apply sunscreen (at least +15 SPF), wear a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses and drink plenty of water. If you’re visiting in the warmer months (December to March), seek some shade between 11am and 3pm. See Cancer Council WA for more advice.
Be aware that drivers are subject to alcohol limits that are strictly enforced. Moderation is always advised.
For more itineraries, visit the Tourism Western Australia website here.
13 Jan 2017