Perth to Kalbarri Road Trip Itinerary

The West Australian coastal town of Kalbarri is located 570km north of Perth.  Whilst the town does offer a small airstrip there are no commercial flights available to Kalbarri, meaning that Kalbarri is a road trip destination.

Officially it takes six and half hours to drive the distance, however, in reality, the Perth to Kalbarri drive time is closer to eight hours allowing for stops.  Stops are extremely important for long-distance drives.  They provide the opportunity for the driver and all passengers to stop and revive.  This is achieved by going for a short walk in the fresh air to stretch your legs, have something to eat and visit the toilet.

So let’s plan your Perth to Kalbarri road trip itinerary with these ideas for rest stops and things to see at places of interest.

In this Article Discover Perth to Kalbarri Stops:


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Travel and border restrictions are constantly evolving.
Please ensure you check all official government and tourism websites for openings and availability before making final arrangements and bookings.
Hutt Lagoon nick named Pink lake as it is pink, one of the stops on a Perth to Kalbarri road trip
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Preparing for the Road Trip

When preparing for a road trip it is worth taking a little time to:

Planning the Route

When planning your road trip from Perth to Kalbarri there are two route options available, the Indian Ocean Drive or Brand Highway.  With the new Northern Link Tonkin Highway extension there is now only about a five-minute difference in time between the two options. 

Choosing which route will largely depend on your departure point.  If you are close the Kwinana and Mitchel Freeways, then you would opt for the Indian Ocean Drive.  Whereas if you are in the eastern suburbs closer to Tonkin Highway you may opt for the Brand Highway.

A map of the Perth to Kalbarri road trip choices
Perth to Kalbarri routes

However, be mindful if choosing the Brand Highway option as there are fewer stops available between Perth and Geraldton.  If your departure point is closer to Tonkin Highway and wish to travel on the Indian Ocean Drive (as there are more stops and the scenery is prettier) turn off at Reid Highway for a 15-minute detour to the Mitchel Freeway. 

Perth to Kalbarri Stops

Indian Ocean Drive WA Itinerary

To reach the Indian Ocean Drive, drive to the furthest northern exit on the Mitchel Freeway, turn right onto Hester Avenue, left onto Wanneroo Road and then just keep driving.  The Indian Ocean Drive starts after Yanchep, but it is all on the same road so you won’t get lost.

Top Trip Tip: This stretch of road has seen some horrific accidents.  Please be patient, wait for overtaking lanes, don’t speed and remain alert.  If you are getting tired stop and revive, there are some lovely spots to soak up the coastal scenery.

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Cervantes and the Pinnacles

It will take approximately two and a half hours to reach the Pinnacles Desert, the town of Cervantes is a further 15-minutes off the Indian Ocean Drive.

Just prior to the Pinnacles Desert there are a couple of road stops with sheltered picnic tables overlooking the ocean.  Perfect if you have included a picnic lunch.

If you have left Perth early you will have plenty of time to spend an hour in the Pinnacles Desert exploring the 4km loop of fossilised limestone formations.  Or as an alternative make Cervantes and the Pinnacles an overnight stop and stay at the RAC Cervantes Caravan Park.

Limestone formations at the Pinnacles Desert Western Australia
Pinnacles Desert
If you are considering making this an overnight stop learn about more

Jurien Bay

Half an hour further north from the Pinnacles is the beachside town of Jurien Bay.  This makes a great stop for lunch.  The town is on the main road (you don’t have to turn off for a further 15-minute drive like Cervantes), there are cafes and bakeries for food, a large green park on the waterfront with playground, toilets and BBQ’s.

Then it’s back on the road driving north for one hour to reach the turnoff onto Brand Highway.

Brand Highway Option Before Indian Ocean Road Turnoff

If you have chosen to take the Tonkin Highway route, there are not a lot of stops between Muchea (where Tonkin Highway exits to Brand Highway – just follow the signs) and Geraldton.

Badgingarra and Eneabba are two towns you drive passed on your way to Geraldton.  Both are off the highway, so you will need to stay alert for the exit signs.  These two towns are also surrounded by several national parks that have beautiful wildflowers blooming in the Spring.

West Australian wildflowers grevillea
Grevillea

The West Australian Main Roads Department has also created three rest stops with picnic table and toilets, again keep your eyes peeled or you will miss them.

Alternately there are a couple of roadhouses.  We stopped at Halfway Mill Roadhouse which is about halfway between Geraldton and Perth.  The toilets are clean, there are lots of flies if you are eating outside and the takeaway food is very ordinary.

Top Trip Tip: This brochure by Main Roads Department lists all the rest stops in Western Australia, pack a picnic and stop at one of these locations.

Brand Highway Stops

Prior to reaching Geraldton before the coastal town of Port Dension (a beachside town) the Brand Highway detours in a bit of a dog leg, but just follow the signs.

Greenough

A photo opportunity stop before Geraldton is at the windy town of Greenough famous for the trees that grow on an angle due to the wind blowing them over.  There is a small rest stop to pull over and take photos of these trees.

tree leaning over onto the ground with sign explaining
Greenough leaning tree

Geraldton

Four and half hours from Perth you will reach the port city of Geraldton.  Geraldton is a big country town/city.  You can skirt the city by staying on Brand Highway or take a little detour (follow the signs) to the city centre and foreshore.

Tourism wise Geraldton previously was never that popular, however, they have been trying to improve.  There is now the Museum of Geraldton, the foreshore has been revamped with pretty parks, walking paths, sheltered picnic tables, BBQ’s and lots of art sculptures.  We stopped to check out the newest addition the Big Marble located on Chapman Road, which re-joins Brand Highway.

big glass ball with reflection of ocean upside down
Big Marble Geraldton

Northampton

Forty minutes further north is the historic town of Northampton.  The turnoff left onto Port Gregory Road for Kalbarri is just as you enter the town.  If you’ve got time, continue into town and check out the old buildings, the town square park and the colourful sheep.

Lots of sculptures of sheep painted with lots of colour

Hutt Lagoon (Pink Lake)

Port Gregory Road winds through pretty pastures for over an hour before reaching Hutt Lagoon, a salt lake famous for being pink.  The pink is caused by the presence of the carotenoid producing algae called Dunaliella salina.  The depth of the pink hue in the lake varies depending on the time of the day and the weather.

For example, we first arrive at Hutt Lagoon late in the afternoon and dark cloud hovers above – the lake is such dark violet it is almost midnight blue.  However, a few days later in the middle of a very sunny day we return, the lake is baby pink.  Then as we head home after our seven days in Kalbarri at mid-morning the lake is pretty bubble gum pink.

A pink coloured lake
Hutt Lagoon (Pink Lake)

Each time we visit, we stop at the photo opportunity bay and make our way down onto the white sandy edge of the lake.

Kalbarri

It is now the final stretch.  Turn back to George Grey Road for the last 45-minute drive into the town of Kalbarri.  With the final 15-minute drive through the coastal part of Kalbarri National Park.  You may be tempted to stop at some of the Kalbarri Coastal Cliffs as they do offer some stunning scenery.  But if you are planning a stay of several days or more, come back another day and explore the region at length.

scuplture of boy fishing and boy on surf board with dog
Near Kalbarri

For now, just settle into your accommodation and enjoy.  There are so many things to do in Kalbarri we easily filled in an entire week of activities and attractions. Keep reading to find out more:

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Sally-Ann
Hi, I'm a Perth born and bred travel tips blogger/writer with 20+ years experience in airlines, hospitality and tourism. I love sharing my travel lessons learned to help you plan for your travel dream with my travel tips for trips. Please follow along to receive all my travel planning tips, packing lists and destination inspirations.
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