Driving down Western Australia’s South Coast, I realised there’s so much more in Australia’s largest state that needs to be seen! If I’m being really honest, whenever I’ve thought of travel around WA, outside of Perth, I’ve only ever thought of travelling around the Kimberley and Broome – what a naive thought!
Travelling from Perth to Denmark, I was constantly in awe of the natural landscapes. This region is so diverse, you go from barren desert, to crystal clear surfing oasis, to dense giant tree canopies in a matter of minutes!
The direct route from Perth to Denmark takes about 5 hours, however if you have extra time, it’s definitely worth making a few pit stops along the way (or overnight stops to allow for maximum exploration). Here are some of my favourite sites from WA’s South Coast that you need to include on a roadtrip of the area:
Just 2.5 hours south of Perth is the relaxed coastal town of Busselton. Known as the ‘gateway to the Margaret River region’, Busselton is a luscious area where sun, surf, gourmet food and craft beer are a way of life.
With over 30km of coast, Busselton is a dream come true if you’re a lover of water sports and activities. From snorkelling and diving, to water-skiing, kayaking, fishing and wind-surfing, these are just some of the activities that are available year-round!
Of course, the major drawcard for Busselton is its famous jetty. Measuring 1.8 kilometres in length, the heritage-listed jetty is the longest timber-piled jetty in the Southern Hemisphere. You can stroll down the jetty and admire the turquoise waters beneath you, or if walking isn’t your thing, there’s a passenger train. If you catch the train, you’ll disembark out the front of the underwater observatory, where you can see what lives beneath the surface without having to don on a wetsuit and diving gear. Just remember to walk a little bit further to the end of the jetty so you can snap a few selfies ‘out at sea’.
The Margaret River region in WA is most well known for its wine production. In fact, 15% of Australia’s premium wines are produced from grapes in the region. You’d need at least a week of hardcore winery-hopping to make a dent in the 100+ wineries in the area. Or, if you’re not much of a wine-o, there are plenty of restaurants, boutique beer breweries, art galleries and fresh produce stores (think fresh cheeses and chocolates – yum!).
When you’re not over-indulging in all of the food, wine and beer, you can burn those calories on one (or many) of the adventure sports available. With a coastline that spans over 100kms (the Margaret River wine region is the only area in Australia where you can hop from winery to beach to forest to ancient rock dwellings in a matter of minutes), there are plenty of top notch surf beaches for you to choose from. Other popular sports and activities in the region include rock-climbing, abseiling, mountain biking, canoeing and whale watching.
If you’re unsure of where to start your wine-adventure, I would recommend the Evans and Tate Winery. My opinion may be biased – they’re my favourite wine-makers AND they have the cuuuutest wine labels!
An hour and a half southeast of Margaret River is Pemberton; the town of towering timber. Set in Karri Tree Country, Pemberton is home to the world’s tallest fire lookout tree – the Gloucester Tree. If you’re feeling game, you can climb the tree and take in the awesome forest view from the top!
Just over a two hour drive southeast of Pemberton is Denmark; a seriously underrated town on WA’s south coast that hasn’t quite yet reached the radar of tourists. If you’re into Aussie films, you might recognise the scenery in Denmark from the 2017 film ‘Breath’, the movie adaptation of Tim Winton’s book of the same name.
I had no idea what to expect of Denmark, but upon arrival I immediately fell in love. The small coastal town is super chill, popular for surfing, but also many other activities sports and nature enthusiasts will enjoy. If you’re tight for time or not sure where to start, these are my top recommendations of not-to-miss activities:
Elephant Rocks and Greens Pool
Just 15km west of Denmark, you can find Elephant Rocks and Greens Pool – and let me tell you, they are absolutely stunning!
As the name suggests, Elephant Rocks got its name from the rocks that look like a herd of elephants paddling in the shallow waters. Getting to the rocks is easy, it’s a short 10-minute walk from the Greens Pool car park and is signed all the way. You can also follow the staircase down to Elephant Cove to view the rocks from a different perspective.
Adjacent to Elephant Rocks is Greens Pool; a perfect little ocean oasis. It’s the perfect place to spend the day floating in the crystal-clear waters, as the waves of the Southern Ocean are completely blocked off by big rocks. It’s also great for snorkelling, as there are lots of fish around the coral that surrounds the rocks.
I was surprised by how many wineries there are in the Denmark region. Although, it makes sense – the Mediterranean-like temperature is perfect for grape harvesting! Again, it would take a couple of days of hardcore-hopping to visit all the wineries, however a standout for me was Castelli Wines. A bit of an underdog in comparison to other big name wineries near by, Castelli’s produced a great cab sav and one of the best sparkling wines I’ve ever tasted!
While the roads around Denmark are lined with many different sweet treat type stores, a unique standout for me was Bartholomews Meadery. This family-run store specialises in all things honey: skin care, mead, ice cream and of course honey. There’s a glass beehive where you can spot the queen bee and watch as the rest of the bees do their thing. While I was told the chocolate honey ice cream is the best flavour, my pick was the passionfruit honey ice cream – sooo good!
Of course, beyond Denmark there is still a further 1500km of coastline to explore in WA, but for a short 3-5 day break from Perth, a trip to the state’s South West Coast is a must!