Perth to Geraldton Road Trip

The rugged and often beautiful coastal region between Perth and Geraldton is one that features plenty of attractions along the way. It’s a popular route, and it’s often the first leg of a much longer trip to Shark Bay, Broome, or even Darwin. While many roadtrippers will pass through in just a day with a quick detour to the Pinnacles, others will take their time to explore the area. After spending a few days in the area, many visitors discover it’s one of their favorite parts of Western Australia. Read on to discover why the area is so unique, the best things to see, and some of the different road trip routes.

Distance From Perth to Geraldton

It’s 419 km from the center of Perth to the center of Geraldton by taking the fastest direct road route. Almost the entire journey between the two cities is along the Brand Highway, part of Australia’s National Highway 1. The journey typically takes 4 to 5 hours to complete, depending on road conditions and traffic. The straight line distance between the two cities is 373 km.

Aerial and panoramic view of Geraldton
Destination Geraldton, an important stop on the journey to Northern Australia.

Best Road Trip Routes Between Perth and Geraldton

There are several road trip routes between Perth and Geraldton, and they’re like chalk and cheese. The direct inland route is the fastest way to get between the two cities, but it’s bereft of attractions and meaningful stops. The coastal route, the Indian Ocean Drive Route, is considerably slower but has abundant attractions and reasons to stop. In fact, you’ll likely have to make some tough decisions on what to miss out on rather than what to see. That’s unless you’ve got a week or longer to complete this road trip.

The Direct Route

The Direct Route between Perth and Geraldton is about as straightforward as road trips get. You exit the center of Perth using State Route 4 before joining the Brand Highway (National Highway 1). You then continue along this road for 415 km before exiting onto Cathedral Avenue in Geraldton. The length of the entire journey is 419 km.

This is the quickest and most direct route between the two cities, so all freight services use it. Don’t be surprised to see plenty of land trains on this stretch of road at all times of the day and night. 

Best Things to see on the Direct Route Between Perth and Geraldton

As highlighted above, the direct route between Perth and Geraldton lacks many attractions. That being said, there are still a few decent stops along the way.

Outback Splash – Situated just a 30-minute drive outside of Perth, this fun water park is popular with families and youngsters alike. The park has six waterslides, a pool, and a large kids’ splash area. There are also several other attractions here, including several mazes, crazy golf, a kids’ playground, and some animals. 

Badgingarra National Park – This underrated national park is located 190 km north of Perth and is right next to the Brand Highway. The park is a mixture of hills and sandplains, mostly covered with low scrub. The best time to visit is during the spring when the park comes alive and the wildflowers erupt in a collage of color. There are some excellent trails to see the best of the park, including the Badgingarra Nature Trail and Vern Westbrook Loop Walk. You can grab maps and a hot meal at the nearby Badgingarra Roadhouse.  

Greenough Wildlife & Bird Park – This small and friendly wildlife sanctuary is located just outside of Geraldton and is well worth a stop on the way. It’s home to many native species of animals, birds, and reptiles. It’s open every day of the week except for Wednesdays.

Sample Direct Route Itinerary

While you could cover the 419km route in a single day, we’d recommend stretching the direct route out over a few days. This allows you plenty of time to stop at a number of the attractions along the way, as well as factoring in some comfort breaks. Here’s our suggested itinerary:

Day 1 – Depart Perth in the morning and drive north on the Brand Highway towards the Badgingarra National Park. After 200 km and 2 hours and 30 minutes of driving, you’ll get a well-deserved rest at the Badgingarra Roadhouse. Stop here for lunch and to pick up a map of the Badgingarra National Park. In the afternoon, explore the Badgingarra National Park, taking in one or more of its trails.

Continue north on the Brand Highway for a further hour, covering the 80 km to the small town of Eneabba. Stay overnight here at the clean and good-value Eneabba Roadhouse. Grab a cold one and some dinner at the highly-rated Whereaway Tavern across the road.

Day 2 – After breakfast, continue north on the Brand Highway for an hour, covering the 80km distance to Port Denison. Stop in town to look around and find a good place for brunch or lunch. There are a few good options. After you’ve eaten, continue north on the Brand Highway for 40 km to Greenough Wildlife & Bird Park. Spend the afternoon here before driving the final 25 km into Geraldton to complete your road trip.

The Indian Ocean Drive Route

Similar to the Direct route, the Indian Ocean Drive Route is relatively straightforward and follows a continuous northern direction. You begin by exiting from the center of Perth using State Route 2, which forms the first part of the Indian Ocean Drive. It takes you through the northern Perth suburbs, and you can turn off here to head to the coast if you want to take in one or more of the pleasant beaches of north Perth. After 20 km on State Route 2, you exit onto State Route 60, which continues north along the coastal strip. 

State Route 60 forms the second part of the Indian Ocean Drive. It continues 283 km along the coast before joining the Brand Highway just north of Arrowsmith. Along its length, you’ll pass many popular stops, including Yanchep National Park, the Gravity Discovery Centre, Lancelin Sand Dunes, Wedge Island, Cervantes, Nambung National Park, Jurien Bay, and Dynamite Bay. These are all excellent places to visit, and we’ll cover each in detail below.

Once on the Brand Highway, you’ll follow the same path as the Direct Route. Therefore, you’ll need to continue for a further 95 km along the Brand Highway before reaching your final destination of Geraldton. 

Best Things to see on the Indian Ocean Drive Route

The Indian Ocean Drive Route is blessed with abundant great things to see along its length. From beaches to national parks and places of interest, there’s something for everyone along this stretch of road,

North Perth Beaches – The beaches of northern Perth are an excellent place to start if you’ve not already visited them. Cottesloe and Swanbourne Beach are both close to the Swan River and the center, while further north, you’ll find stunning Mullaloo Beach as well as Trigg Beach and Scarborough Beach. Our favorite is Mettam’s Pool, with excellent snorkeling right off the beach. 

Yanchep National Park & Beach – Just over 50 km north of Perth is the Yanchep National Park. The park boasts wetlands, bushland, and an extensive network of caves. People come here to see the abundant birdlife, walk the various nature trails, and see the stalactites and stalagmites of Crystal and Yonderup Cave. The nearby town of Yanchep is also an excellent place to visit, and Yanchep Beach boasts a long stretch of beautiful white sand. 

Gravity Discovery Centre and Gingin Observatory – This excellent not-for-profit attraction is a real treat for families and science lovers. The site is set in bushland an hour north of Perth. During the day, there are various galleries, exhibits, and hands-on activities to get involved in. At night, the observatory comes to the fore, and the evening tours come highly recommended. These include a laser tour of the night sky and the use of the observatory’s telescopes and equipment. 

Lancelin’s Sand Dunes – An hour and a half north of Perth are Western Australia’s largest sand dunes. Stretching out for 2 km, the sand dunes close to Lancelin are a popular destination for those in pursuit of adventure activities. Sandboarding, dirt biking, quad biking, and 4WD off-roading are all popular here. The dunes are particularly colorful and atmospheric at sunset.

Wedge Island – Tiny Wedge Island is a popular summer destination between Lancelin and Cervantes. It’s located just 200 meters off the coast and is accessible by 4WD or on foot when the tides are out. This quirky little island is home to over 300 beach shacks used by visitors and local cray fishermen. On the mainland, Wedge Island Point Beach is one of the finest in the area, stretching out as far as the eye can see with few visitors. There’s a quirky beach-loving community next to the beach that lives in various tin shack houses. This is undoubtedly one of the more eclectic places along the west coast!

The Pinnacles of Namburg National Park at sunrise
The Pinnacles are most magical at sunrise and sunset.

Cervantes / The Pinnacles – The town of Cervantes is the gateway to the Nambung National Park, home to the famous Pinnacles. It’s a lovely small coastal town with a big lobster fishing industry, making it a great spot to enjoy fresh lobster. It’s also a popular overnight stop for visitors to the adjacent Nambung National Park. The park is home to thousands of ancient limestone pillars known as the Pinnacles. They are one of the most remarkable geological sights in the country and one of Western Australia’s most iconic images. There are various walking trails you can take within the park, and it’s accessible by 2WD vehicles. The area is particularly evocative at sunrise and sunset, so try to visit during this time.

Jurien Bay – 220 km north of Perth and a 2-hour 30-minute drive is the seaside resort of Jurien Bay. This great spot is home to an excellent stretch of beach, which offers exceptional fishing. There’s a large population of Australian Sea Lions in the area, and boat tours to see these lovely creatures are very popular. The local gastronomical scene is excellent, with seafood, particularly, a specialty. 

Dynamite Bay – The beautiful and sheltered Dynamite Bay is one of the best stops along the Coral Coast. Located in Green Head, the bay is protected by a low-lying rocky cliff. This creates the perfect conditions for swimming and snorkeling in the bay’s calm turquoise waters. A pristine white sand beach compliments the calm sea. The bay has some good facilities with toilets and showers and a shaded picnic and BBQ area. 

Aerial view along the coastline of Jurien Bay
Jurien Bay's huge stretch of pristine coastline is becoming increasingly popular.

Sample Indian Ocean Drive Route Itinerary

The Indian Ocean Drive Route can be done as quickly or as slowly as you choose. It’s possible to get a good feel for the area and see the top sites within a few days. Likewise, you can easily spend a week or more here moving at a more leisurely pace.

We’ve based our itinerary on a 4-day trip, and we’ve assumed you’ve already enjoyed Perth’s beautiful northern beaches.

Day 1 – Leave Perth and head 50 km north to Yanchep National Park. Take a tour of the caves and take in some of the walking trails. Head to Yanchep town for lunch, with the afternoon spent on the glorious Yanchep beach. In the late afternoon, head to Gravity Discovery Centre to enjoy the exhibits before enjoying dinner at the onsite restaurant. Take an evening tour of the Gingin Observatory before returning to Yanchep to stay overnight.

Day 2 – Head an hour north to the spectacular Lancelin Sand Dunes. Explore the area, and if you’re feeling adventurous, why not hire a sandboard from one of the local vendors? Have lunch in Lancelin before heading 50 km up the coast to Wedge Island. Explore the island and the spectacular Wedge Island Point Beach. Head a further 45 km north to Cervantes for a lobster dinner and overnight stay. 

Day 3 – Wake early to see the Pinnacles in Nambung National Park at their magical best at sunrise. Explore several of the park’s four trails to get different views and perspectives on these unique structures. Head north to Jurien Bay to spend the rest of the day relaxing on the beach or exploring the local area. 

Day 4 – The fourth and final day sees us head 30 minutes north to beautiful Dynamite Bay. Spend the morning swimming, snorkeling, and relaxing in this spectacular setting. Enjoy lunch in the nearby town of Green Head before completing your road trip with a 2-hour drive north to Geraldton. 

Best Time for a Road Trip Between Perth and Geraldton

The best time to take a road trip between Perth and Geraldton is late spring or early autumn. During these times, you’ll enjoy warm sunny days without the crowds and congestion of the summer or winter rain. Both seasons have their merits, with the spring season offering a kaleidoscope of wildflower colors, while autumn benefits from much-reduced winds and autumn colors. 

A visit outside of the late spring or early autumn is also rewarding. Western Australia’s fine year-round climate makes this road trip enjoyable throughout the year. While the winter is cooler and wetter, there are still plenty of bright days to enjoy the national parks and coastline. The summer months are also enjoyable, and you’re never far from a beach to cool off if things get too hot. 

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