Have two weeks to spare? This 1,000km loop takes you from Perth to some of the best sights in Southwestern Australia and back again to the state capital. From stunning coastal views to tranquil back country roads, from kangaroos to wine tastings, this tour is full of variety.
We felt this area was among the best cycling we’ve done on our trip. The roads are good, the traffic is mostly light, there’s accommodation to suit all ranges and the people are incredibly friendly.
The route outlined here goes at a fairly fast pace (no rest days) but if you can spread it over 3 weeks or a month then you’ll have more time to relax and to extend the tour further east to places like Albany and Esperance.
To make the most of the region, bring a mountain bike or touring bike with wide tires. Some roads in the National Parks and in rural areas aren’t paved. A racing bike would do the job if you’re willing to take a room sometimes instead of camping and do an occasional detour to avoid unpaved roads.
The Munda Biddi Trail is an alternative to parts of this route. It runs from Perth to Collie and is being extended further south. Suspension is a good idea for this gravelly track. You’ll also want camping gear to take advantage of the free huts on the trail.
Duration: 2 weeks
Terrain: Flat along the coastline between Perth and Busselton. Rolling hills as you head south to Augusta and back north towards Harvey. Climbs are never very long or steep.
Accommodation: Everything from free camping to paid sites in National Parks and Caravan Parks. Plenty of backpacker hotels, B&Bs and fancier places if you have more cash to splash.
Highlights: The beautiful National Parks. The coastal views in Yallingup. Wine tasting around Margaret River. Cape Leeuwin lighthouse. Gloucester Tree in Pemberton.
Lowlights: Busy roads around Bunbury, Busselton and returning to Perth. Sometimes narrow with no shoulder. Thankfully these stretches aren’t common or lengthy.
Tips: Take the train in and out of Perth. The cycling isn’t very exciting (busy roads through urban sprawl) and a new train line will take your bike for free. It’s cheap and easy, saving you more time to explore more exciting parts.
Section 1 – Perth to Serpentine (75km)
Hit the Tonkin Highway to leave Perth (south to Armadale). It’s bland and traffic is fast-flowing but there’s a cycle lane and it’s straightforward. About 25km into the ride, the cycle path becomes totally separated from the road. It’s quite pleasant from here on in.
(Alternative route: Go to Armadale using cycle paths through the suburbs. The Perth tourist office has free maps for this but even so, it’s a more fiddly option.)
Lunch supplies can be found when the Tonkin highway ends. Take a left turn, following signs for the Southwest Highway and Byford, where you’ll find an IGA supermarket, a bakery and a few other shops.
From the IGA, look for Soldiers Road. It’s the road at the end of the parking lot that turns right, off the main road. Follow this across the train tracks and then take the first left immediately after the tracks. This leads to Mundijong, another small town with another IGA and a Telecentre (internet access: 30 minutes/A$3.65).
From the end of Mundijong, turn left to rejoin the relatively busy but direct Southwest Highway until you reach the large brown sign for Serpentine Falls National Park.
(Alternative route: From Mundijong, avoid the highway by picking your way among the back roads to the entrance of Serpentine park. You can follow signs for the tractor museum much of the way but really you need a map or plenty of directions from locals. It’s quite a zig-zaggy route.)
Serpentine National Park is a wonderous place. You’re virtually guaranteed to see kanagaroos, cockatoos and all kinds of other wildlife. There are barbeques, toilets and water. Camping isn’t officially sanctioned here but we had no problem spending the night for free, pitched up beside a picnic table. Otherwise, there is a caravan park nearby.
Section 2 – Serpentine NP to Lane Poole Reserve (65km)
Return to the Southwest Highway, which continues at a busy pace but at least there’s a shoulder. After 20km, look for the Dwellingup turnoff on your left. From here, traffic is almost non-existent. There are no shops either until you reach Dwellingup.
The road climbs a few moderate hills. You’ll cross the Mundi Biddi Trail on this road (go right for Dwellingup if you want to take the trail). A dam with a picnic area appears 8km from Dwellingup. It’s a great spot for lunch, with BBQs, toilets and water.
Dwellingup is little more than a crossroads but there’s a large general store, a caravan park, a hotel and a friendly visitors centre with free maps and information on the Lane Poole Reserve, just 7km away.
We recommend camping in the reserve (A$6.50/person). The best shaded sites for tenting are near the southern end, like the Nanga Townsite. The Chudditch site isn’t as nice for tenting but does have a camper’s kitchen. Some of the roads in the reserve are dirt but they’re quite manageable on a touring bike. The Murray River runs through the park so take a dip after your day on the road.
*GPS data logged with the QSTARZ BT-Q1000
Section 3 – Lane Poole Reserve to Yalgorup NP (75km)
Today’s riding is a joy. It’s almost all on very quiet roads. Follow signs for Waroona out of the reserve. The town is about 28km from the Chudditch campsite in the reserve.
Leaving the park, the dirt road returns to bitumen after 8km and becomes Nanga Brook Road. A few small hills lead to a good descent for the last 5km into Waroona. Watch for kangaroos. One might cross your path!
Go left on to the Southwest highway when the road ends in Waroona. After a short distance you’ll pass a petrol station and, a bit further on, an IGA. There’s a hotel here too and a few cafes.
Just before the IGA, a right turn puts you on Coronation Road, leading to Preston Beach, 35km away. It’s flat and tranquil riding until you reach the Old Coast highway. Take water because there’s not much out here.
Bear left on the busy Old Coast highway for just 2km, then escape the traffic again by taking the Preston Beach turnoff. Just before you reach the town, a sandy road on the right and a sign marks the way to Martin’s Tank Lake campground. Go past this to visit Preston Beach town, where you can dip your toes in the Indian Ocean, pick up food at the general store and use the BBQs, toilets and cold showers.
Once you’re done at the beach, double back and take the 6km track to Martin’s Tank Lake campsite, in the national park. It’s difficult in parts, with some deep sand and a rutted surface, but we made it even on our heavily loaded bikes. Go slow and you should manage fine. Take a swim in the warm, salty waters of Martin’s Tank Lake. It’s not quite the Dead Sea but it is pretty easy to float here! There are pit toilets at the campsite and rainwater.
If you don’t fancy Martin’s Lake, see the next section for other options.
Section 4 – Martin’s Tank Lake to Bunbury (75km)
Today there’s traffic but there’s little alternative, short of retracing your steps inland.
From the campsite, return to the Old Coast Highway and go right towards Bunbury. You’re on this for a little over 30km until you see the turnoff for Leschenault National Park.
In between are a couple roadhouses with gas and basic provisions and a third shop selling emu meat and fresh oranges – local specialties. You’ll also pass 2 side roads leading to campgrounds by the water, in case the Martin’s Tank Lake option didn’t appeal – one at Myalup Beach and another at Binningup Beach.
Fun fact: Binningup means ‘place of mosquito’ in the aboriginal language!!
Get off the highway where signs mark the entrance to Leschenault National Park, to your right. Now you can either cut the day short to enjoy the park (there’s camping on the narrow peninsula that forms the park) or carry on a bit further.
To continue cycling, take Cathedral Road on your immediate left. It’s tranquil until you get to Australind and then traffic picks up considerably into Bunbury. There are plenty of caravan parks in both towns (A$15-30).
The very helpful tourist office in Bunbury town centre (at the bus station) can outline all the sleeping possibilities for you. They also photocopied maps for us showing the quiet roads to Busselton! There’s an internet cafe next to the tourist bureau.
Wild camping can be found in a forest on the edge of town. Make your way to Ocean Drive (on the Bunbury seafront) and follow this for quite a few kilometers until the road ends and cars are forced to go left. Straight ahead is the Tuart Forest Walk, a paved bicycle and walking path linking Bunbury and the next community. There are many good places to discreetly pitch a tent for the night, far from homes and with drinking water on the path. Be gentle in the forest and take your garbage with you.
Even if you don’t want to free camp, the Ocean Drive/Tuart Forest Walk route is a good, quiet route out of Bunbury.
Section 5 – Bunbury to Busselton (65km)
If you have a good map (either your own or photocopies from the Bunbury tourist bureau), it’s possible to follow back roads most of the way to Busselton. Doing this, you only need to use the Number 10 Highway for short stretches and these bits have wide shoulders so it’s not a problem.
It’s hard to describe in text but the basic gist from the end of the Tuart Forest Walk is a right along Minninup Road, through residential suburbs and then a right turn onto the highway for a few kilometers. Take your first road on the right which leads back to a second part of Minninup Road and becomes Fishermans Road as it does a 90 degree left turn back to the highway (optional loop to cut out a few highway kilometers – longer but quieter).
Now you’re on the highway again for a few kilometers but watch for Roberts Road on your right, veering onto Mallokup Road and then signs for Peppermint Grove Beach. From here you can ride on quiet roads, past farms, all the way into Busselton. Don’t take the final turnoff for Peppermint Grove Beach but carry on towards Forrest Beach. It’s nothing short of gorgeous – stop for a swim!
Busselton is a major tourist town. The longest wooden pier in the southern hemisphere extends out into the ocean and if you’re British, you might think you’ve just cycled to Brighton! The town centre is filled with shops and restaurants. Busselton’s population triples with tourists flooding in. Make a reservations if you plan to stay around Christmas or through school holidays.
Accommodation in Busselton is quite spread out. It’s worth stopping at the tourist bureau to narrow down the options before you start hunting because you can easily cycle 10km just checking out campgrounds. From the town centre, a seaside cycle path extends quite a distance towards Dunsborough. It’s a nice way to get around.
See detailed notes on Busselton and Dunsborough.
Section 6 – Busselton to Yallingup (35km)
Ride the seaside cycle path out of Busselton as far as it goes. After it ends, you’ve no choice but to revert to Caves Road. It’s busy up to Dunsborough and there’s no shoulder so be careful of the traffic.
Dunsborough is a smaller cousin to Busselton but still with a lively feel to it. The tourist office has plenty of maps and information about the town and wider area. There’s an IGA and Coles supermarket, a post office and plenty of internet cafes (A$6/hour). Free internet is available at the library, a 5 minute ride away from the town centre.
From Dunsborough, it’s a pleasant ride out to Cape Naturaliste, although the best views can only be seen from a walking trail. Alternatively, follow Caves Road (now quieter) the short distance south to Yallingup.
The Bushshack Brewery is a great stop en route, midway between Dunsborough and Yallingup. It’s just off the main road and is well signed. Sample their beers (we liked the chili beer) and use their free BBQs or eat in the restaurant. The plates of nachos are huge!
Returning to Caves Road, continue on to Yallingup. There’s a good downhill into the town and the beach views are spectacular. Give yourself time to soak it all in. To stay the night, there’s a caravan park and plenty of B&Bs. You could also free camp on the Cape-to-Cape walking trail. We found it very isolated and little used, although this was mid-week in the shoulder season.
Section 7 – Yallingup to Conto National Park (75km)
After a few days of mostly flat roads, things get a bit hilly today through the wine-growing region of Margaret River. There are plenty of tasting opportunities to compensate for the extra calories lost!
Start by climbing out of Yallingup to the main road and continuing towards Margaret River. Soon Wildwood Road appears on your left. This is the start of a little-trafficked route to Cowaramup and Margaret River, passing many vineyards, chocolate factories, breweries and other delights on the way.
A few kilometers down Wildwood Road, Thornton Road appears on the right. Take this, past Amberley Estate vineyard. Go right at the end of Thornton Road onto Abbey Farm Road and left soon afterwards onto Pusey Road. Clairault Wines are on this road.
After stopping at Clairault, continue down Pusey Road, which changes into Harmans Mill Road and leads to the Bussell Highway and Cowaramup.
Don’t miss the stop at the Margaret River Chocolate Factory, just before the Bussell Highway Junction, and the Margaret River Dairy Company. The tastings are delightful! Try the dark chocolate and the creamy yogurt.
Cowaramup is more a village than a town, with a glut of shops catering to the tourist trade. The Candy Cow does fudge for your sweet tooth. There’s also a general store and post office here. A park run by the Lion’s Club makes a good lunch stop, with BBQs and toilets.
From Cowaramup, it’s just 13km down the main road to Margaret River, the biggest town in the region. There’s an IGA and a Coles here, a large tourist bureau and a backpacker’s hostel, as well as a range of other accommodation and shops.
A further 20km takes you to the Conto National Park campground (A$$6.50/person), with rainwater, pit toilets and a camper’s kitchen. Ranger Alan is friendly and full of tips on the best spots and roads for bikers.
*GPS data logged with the QSTARZ BT-Q1000
Section 8 – Conto NP to Augusta and Alex Bridge Campground (75km)
Return to Caves road and go right towards Augusta, 35km away. The rolling hills continue but after a few short climbs a cruising downhill begins. Flying through the tall, silvery forest of Karri trees is nothing short of beautiful.
The seaside town of Augusta has an IGA supermarket, tourist bureau, several caravan parks, a backpacker’s hotel and a Telecentre (internet A$6/hour).
Augusta isn’t so interesting on its own but the 9km ride to Cape Leeuwin is stunning. Clear aqua waters border the road and you can easily see dolphins and rays in the water. The lighthouse at the tip marks the confluence of the Indian and Southern Oceans (guided lighthouse tours A$12, self-guided A$5).
Retrace your steps to Augusta and out of the town, this time on Route 10 towards Kudardup. Just before the Kudardup town, watch for Kudardup Road on your right. Take this quiet country road and follow it all the way through to the Brockman Highway. A right turn when you reach the highway brings you to a large river a few kilometers later. After you cross the river, you’ll see the turnoff for Alex Bridge Campground on the left (A$5/adults, toilets, water, firewood provided).
Section 9 – Alex Bridge Campsite to Pemberton (100km)
It’s a long, desolate run to Pemberton. Take plenty of water. Aside from one small general store (5km after Alex Bridge campsite), there’s nothing until you reach Pemberton. The route, taking in both the Brockman Highway and the Stewart Highway, is entirely paved and hilly in parts. It’s very quiet so you shouldn’t have much trouble with traffic.
About 10km into the day is a protest against logging. The protesters are camping out and are happy for you to join them for a coffee or even to stay a few nights. With a veggie garden, a tree house and a playground, their protest camp is better equipped than many campsites!
The turnoff for the Stewart Highway comes around the 30km mark. Don’t miss it as you’re flying downhill! It’s 27km on this road to the next T-junction, where you turn right for Pemberton.
If your legs start to falter before you reach Pemberton, it’s now just 17km to the National Park campsites at Carey Brook. Sites are rustic (draw water from the brook) but little-used and very peaceful. Otherwise, there’s a resort hotel shortly after Carey Brook campsites.
If you choose to carry on, the last 25km into Pemberton has 3 moderate climbs. In Pemberton, there’s a caravan park, a backpacker’s hotel and chalets available as well as several upmarket hotels.
You’ll also find a Tourist Bureau and a Telecentre.
The Crossings Bakery makes the best sweet treats in the area and they do a top-notch coffee too. Skip the general store though unless you’re desperate. It’s very expensive. Better grocery shopping is found in Manjimup.
Don’t leave Pemberton without going to see the Gloucester Tree. It’s a thrilling climb to the top on a ladder of iron rods stuck into the tree. Once you’re up there, a fire lookout platform gives the most amazing view over the surrounding area.
Section 10 – Pemberton to Manjimup (30km)
More rolling hills take you to Manjimup (you gain about 100 meters between the two towns) but even on a hot day it’s not too taxing. The trees give a nice shade to most of the road.
Just over halfway is Diamond Tree, another fire lookout tree to climb if Gloucester Tree wasn’t enough for you.
Manjimup is at the heart of the local fruit growing area. It’s a slightly bigger town than Pemberton, with two supermarkets: Coles and local competitor, Alf’s Continental Grocery. Alf has surprisingly good deals on fruit and veg so give him a try.
There are a few caravan parks around town and a backpacker’s hotel and tourist bureau on the main street.
Section 11 – Manjimup to Boyup Brook (75km)
The ride to Bridgetown on the Southwestern Highway starts out fairly level, with a downhill run into the town itself. What you will want to watch is the fast-flowing traffic. Although it’s not terribly heavy, there are plenty of trucks and they don’t always leave a lot of room for cyclists.
Bridgetown is a reasonable size, with most things lining the main street that’s also the highway. You’ll find an IGA supermarket, a post office, a tourist information centre, a Telecentre (internet A$2/15 minutes or A$10/5 hours) and plenty of cafes and little shops. There’s also a caravan park.
With your errands done, head for Boyup Brook on quieter back roads, leaving the busy Southwestern Highway behind. Look for the turn-off in Bridgetown itself but if you miss this, there’s a second possibility 4km out of town, on a road signed for the village of Hester. This right turn will connect you with the road to Boyup Brook.
This second-half of the day does take you gradually downhill, although it won’t always feel like it as the road bobs up and down a few times. The campground in Boyup Brook is run by the council. It’s cheap at A$15/night for a tent and the showers are properly hot. Alternatively, there’s plenty of potential for bush camping in the area.
The downtown core of Boyup Brook is tiny but you will find an IGA supermarket, an ATM and a tourist information centre.
Section 12 – Boyup Brook to Wellington National Park (85km)
Today’s route bypasses the former coal-mining town of Collie in favour of a shorter route to the camping in Wellington National Park. It does involve dirt roads though so if you don’t fancy a bumpy ride, it’s equally easy to stay on the main road and spend the night in Collie.
Do your shopping before leaving Boyup Brook as there’s only one small general store on the route.
Return uphill from the campground to the main road and follow signs for Collie. The road continues the rolling-hill theme of the past few days but it’s not very strenuous. Usually the momentum from the last downhill is enough to get you up the next slope.
After 45km of fields and farmhouses, there’s a right turn for Collie. Take this, but before you do, stop at the general store if you need anything. It’s your last chance to stock up.
The road goes steadily upwards for most of the 5km before Best Road appears on your left. Just before the turn, there’s a dam with picnic areas and toilets – a good lunch stop. Best Road isn’t signed but it’s the first road after the dam. It’s a dirt road.
From this point on, you’ll see almost no traffic and the road will be all dirt until just before the campsite in Wellington National Park.
The first 9km of riding on Best Road is reasonably hard packed and quite manageable, even on a loaded bicycle. When Best Road ends and you turn left onto Mungalup Road, things get more challenging. Here the road has deeper gravel and some sand and rutted areas. It’s easy to slide around and you’ll have to concentrate for the next 10km.
Just as some pavement appears in front of you, the unpaved Falcon Road appears to the right, along with a sign to Wellington Dam. Grit your teeth through the last 5km of bumpy dirt road and then collect your reward with a fabulous 5km paved road down to the Honeymoon Pool campsite. It’s almost all downhill and beautiful, set beside the Collie River.
Section 13 – Honeymoon Pool to Logue Brook Dam (75km)
There’s plenty of traffic today but a good shoulder throughout and the first and last 10km are tranquil. Just grit your teeth through the middle!
Leave Honeymoon Pool campsite for the main Bunbury-Collie Road. Take water from the campsite as there’s none on offer before Brunswick Junction, about 30km into the day.
The road out of Honeymoon Pool is dirt for the first 4km, then a left turn puts you back on smooth pavement. A second left turn about 6km later brings you onto the main road to Bunbury. You’ll climb to about 250 meters and then, around the 20km mark, you’re treated to a glorious ocean view and a screaming downhill run.
At the junction at the bottom, go right for Harvey and Perth. You’re on the busy Route 20 but it’s manageable with the shoulder. Brunswick Junction is your first town, with a few small shops and a bakery for that morning snack. If you can wait another 20km, Harvey is a bit bigger.
Just before Harvey, don’t miss the free tasting at the cheese factory! It’s well signed and worth the stop. They do great ice cream too. The whole area is known for its dairy farming so you can hardly pass up the chance to try some of the local produce.
Take the first exit for Harvey and follow the signs for downtown. A couple small parks in the centre have picnic tables, good for a lunch break. There are two IGA supermarkets across from one another (we don’t know why), a bakery, banks and a Telecentre (internet A$4/hour) all within a block of each other.
Returning to the main highway, go left and you’ll see the tourist bureau shortly on your right. They have maps and general information on the area.
It’s just another 7km to the Logue Brook Dam Road and a steep 6km climb up this road brings you to the dam itself. Here, you can either take a night in the caravan park or free camp anywhere along the dam’s edge. If you’re really keen, the Hoffman Mill Campsite is a further 12km up a dirt road.
Section 14 – Back to Perth
The best of your tour of Western Australia is done now. All that’s left is to retrace your steps to Perth, either the same way you came down or along the coast via towns like Mandurah and Fremantle. The coastal option is very heavy on traffic from just south of Mandurah onwards
With a good map, you can use quiet farm roads between Harvey and Waroona and most of the way to Mandurah. Caravan parks in Mandurah tend to be overpriced so consider stopping earlier.
From Mandurah, we recommend getting the train back into Perth. It’s cheap, efficient and very bicycle friendly – a much more appealing option than the busy highways.