Melbourne to Perth road trip recorded on Polarsteps travel tracking app.
Melbourne – Perth part of the route recorded on Polarsteps travel tracking app.

Table of Content

It has been well over a year since we embarked on this trip. I finally had the courage to open the footage and replay all the pieces of memory. Our last stretch in the Australia Lap to Perth, WA, turns out to be an emotional episode on my YouTube memory lane. Exactly 15 months after our trip, 1 year since “shit hit the fan”, I picked up my tired heart and came clean with myself and my Overland community online.

Stories aside – you can get the general idea from my sad voice in the video, not going to focus on the pain too much – this post is dedicated to sharing the journey and sights along the route.

Day 1- Melbourne to the Grampians | Melbourne to Perth Road Trip

Melbourne to the Grampians.

Our day 1 started in the afternoon since we still got some errands to run around for in the morning. J’s Prado had a locker issue in the front diff on our way back from Brisbane. So we left his rig at ARB Headquarter in Kilsyth and took my Landcruiser together.

We have visited Great Ocean Road and Great Otway National Park many times. And have each visited the Grampians and Warrnambool on our own. So this time we chose the fastest straight route towards WA. Otherwise, the southern coast of Victoria is worth visiting if you are not short on time.

camping in Rhino Rack awning and arb swag in the Australian outback

Our first night camp at Taylors Lake campground. Couple of camp spots along the lake overlooking the Grampians.

Day 2 – Grampians to Adelaide | Melbourne to Perth Road Trip

Grampians to Adelaide

The morning we woke up, it was pouring rain. Putting swag on the roof in rain was not pleasant but we didn’t have a choice. Luckily, we got a Rhino-Rack Batwing 270-degree awning on the cruiser just before this trip. It at least allowed us a shelter for sleep.

There’s an award-winning Silo Art in the town of Coonalpyn that’s worth taking a pit stop for some photos.

Coonalpyn silo art with Toyota Landcruiser 100 series
Coonalpyn silo art by artist Guido van Helten

Other than this stop, we headed straight to Adelaide and checked in at the hotel I had booked on Expedia… And a little episode happened that made me stay away from certain hotel chains forever. Ways to add “highlight” for a traveler.

 
 
 
 
 
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We spent the rest of the evening relaxing. J booked an in-room massage at Pullman as we wind down for the day and get ready for the trip ahead.

If you are not in such a rush, taking the coastline through Beachport and Robe is a great option. J and I each did our own separate trips through this area.

Day 3 – Adelaide to Minnipa | Melbourne to Perth Road Trip

image 13 | Overland Lady by Monique Song

We skipped the Eyre Pennisula due to a tight schedule. The rugged coast deserves an in-depth visit on its own.

Instead, we went through Kimba, SA, which marks the half way point across Australia from East to West.

Half way across australia | Overland Lady by Monique Song

One street up the main road, there’s also a silo art in Kimba, by artist: Cam Scale. I explored the Mallee silo art trail and was fascinated by the giant painting on these grain silos. Back when Vancouver started its mural art initiative, I went out in my Z4 at night to find all the murals hidden in the city. There’s something special about giant art that almost looks out of place. Yet tell so much story behind the colors and shades.

Wudinna-Australian-Farmer-Sculpture

Another 100km after Kimba, we passed by Wudinna, SA. The giant Australian Farmer statue on our left caught our eyes. We looped around to check it out. My work in Melbourne was directly related to the farming industry in Australia so anything farming would spark an interest in me. This granite sculpture symbolizes the sun, grain, and sheep.

Our camp tonight at Minnipa is Tcharkulda Rock. We got a clear sky above us so I took out the camera for some star trail photography.

Day 4 – Minnipa to the Nullabor Cliff | Melbourne to Perth Road Trip

Minnipa to Bunda Cliffs

This was a long stretch of driving. We stopped by Ceduna Oyster Barn for the signature oysters. Ceduna, SA, marks the beginning of rural Australia. As we entered Nullabor Plain, the Great Australian Bight, the landscape flattens.

Nullabor in Latin means “no tree”. As the name suggests, this area is a plain of no tall trees. You can see pass miles away above the short brushes.

Ceduna Oyster Barn baked oysters

Stopped by Nullabor Roadhouse. Their website and the physical station have heaps of travel information for sightseeing spots along the Nullarbor plain. Here are some of our favorites:

We camped at a site called Penong 10k peg rest area campsite. Wikicamp is a great app to use for finding facilities and campsites in Australia. This site is close to Bunda Cliffs. As the temperature changes after sunsets, airflows from the ocean to land. So the cliffside can get windy at night. We experienced it first hand and learnt a lesson on how how to deploy the Rhino-Rack 270-degree awning in windy situations (watch the video on top).

Day 5 – Nullabor Plain to Twilight Cove | Melbourne to Perth Road Trip

Bunda cliffs to twilight cove | melbourne to perth roadtrip

Coming out from cliffside camp, soon we reached the border crossing between SA and WA.

I took a shower at the roadhouse while J chatted with one of the girls working at the checkout counter. She’s from China and is on her working holiday VISA as well. What a pleasant surprise! You rarely see Chinese out here doing work travel. And I didn’t know China has a working holiday policy with Australia since the country gave me a very closed-up impression in terms of education and culture.

Before crossing to the WA side, had to go through a quarantine checkpoint. Quarantine used to mean throwing away your fruits and vegetables. After 2020, the word takes on a new level of seriousness.

After another long and somewhat boring drive, we reached Cocklebiddy. We turned North to check out Cocklebiddy cave which has been a destination for numerous diving expeditions.

A short stop at Cocklebiddy roadhouse, the temperature in December is reaching over 40 degrees celsius. We checked our map book and pointed to a closeby campsite called Twilight Cove.

We carefully followed the track trying to find the beach. From here we can already see that the sea level is not far away as we descend. There wasn’t any new tyre track in the sand so we had to go with GPS direction and take an educated guess.

Eventually, we turned around the last dune in our way and the horizon opened up in front of us. We were both cheering as we spin the cruiser from soft sand to the ocean line.

This beach turned out to be the best camp spot in my entire life. I explained the special attachment I grew towards this beach in the video above.

Day 6 – Twilight Cove to Mt Ragged | Melbourne to Perth Road Trip

We drove along the coast for a little more until it gets too narrow and brushy. The line we were on used to be an old telegraph line with the cable still remaining on the ground.

australian red diret outback

As we steered away from the cliff, it’s amazing how the landscape changes from white sand to red.

We decided to come out of the cliffside and return to the pavement. Just before the longest straight road sign.

If your vehicle has perfect wheel alignment, technically you can drive with your hands off the steering wheel. Over an hour later, we reached the end of 90 Mile Straight.

90 mile straight australia's longest straight road 146.6km with Toyota Landcruiser 100 series Overland Lady

We turned South into the bush again after Balladonia. Spending a night halfway at Mt Ragged before reaching Israelite Bay.

Day 7 – Mt Ragged to Esperance | Melbourne to Perth Road Trip

It was the end of 2019 when the Australian outback was on fire across many states. The morning we got up, packed, and explored a little around Mt Ragged, we started driving South towards Israelite Bay. At one point we reached a sign that points to the opposite of us – the direction we were going to. The sign indicated do not enter. We were confused.

The ranger who set up the sign was still there and came to talk to us. He was surprised how we got into here. There was a fire not far from Mt Ragged and the whole area should’ve been closed since 6 pm yesterday. The road ahead of us, however, was safe. We were caught in shock. This would’ve meant that we could’ve been burnt in our sleep if the wind was right. Fire is no joke.

The ranger moved the sign aside to allow us pass through. We continued

The tracks in this area is tricky. Washouts right by the driving route can be deep.

Israelite Bay was truly amazing. White sand beach with clear turquoise water. One thing to watch out for, however, is the dried seaweed on the ground. In the video, I showed the clip of our almost disaster – under the 40-degree sun, that dried seaweed can be very flammable. We got stuck on top of a little “hump” covered in seaweed. Our exhaust heat lit them up on fire instantly. After half hour of recovery in a combination of digging, fire extinguishing, and using Maxtrax, we were able to reverse the cruiser out of the bog.

This was the point when J ordered to take all valuable belonging out of the car as well as the safety beacon. At one point I really thought we would get helicoptered out.

Luckily only the rubber around transmission wires was burnt. If it had burnt any longer, we would’ve lost gearing and needed rescue.

This episode marked our end to offroad explore for now. We both agreed that after such a level of adrenaline, we could use some rest. From there, we headed straight West to Esperance, WA.

Day 8 – Esperance to Albany| Melbourne to Perth Road Trip

esperance to albany

A pretty straightforward drive along highway 1. We took a detour to Porongurup for Granite Skywalk Castle Rock. A short hike to the top to enjoy the view and stretch our legs after days of long drive.

The town of Albany has a mid centry vibe to it. Lots of cute stores to explore.

Day 9 – Albany to Margaret River | Melbourne to Perth Road Trip

Albany to Margaret River

We spent the morning walking around Albany, exploring their local market at the pier. Then headed towards Magaret River. I had two options at the time: arrived at Perth one day early or explore a little more around the Southwest. The recommendations I received on Instagram suggested Margaret River for some wine.

Margaret River Landcruiser | Overland Lady by Monique Song

One good thing about not having a firm plan is that we could change on the fly. After a sunny patio dinner at the city center of Margaret River, we explored the beach at Margaret River Mouth. There was a Chinese travel tour. The “normal” travel vibe reminded us we are safe. The shock from almost burnt down the car was still shaking us. It’s nice to be back to civilization for a while.

surfer point Margaret River WA

While J was driving, I searched up a place to camp – a permaculture farm!

Fair Harvest is a self-sufficient permaculture farm that’s open to campers. Their farm area is open for visitors to explore and feed the animals. There are also signs introducing what permaculture is and how the technology is applied around the farm.

Day 10 – Margaret River to Perth | Melbourne to Perth Road Trip

margaret river to perth

It’s only a 3-hour short drive from Margaret River to Perth. So we took our time exploring the surrounding attractions – did something normal travelers do.

The Margaret River Dairy Company and Margaret River Chocolate Company are only 2 minutes drive away from each other. Along the road, there are also other wineries and farm food spots to explore.

A little north from here, there’s a tiny tea house with the theme of lavender – Cape Lavender. We ordered everything lavender, including drinks and baked goods. They also sell lavender products like skincare and plush bear.

Headed towards the Ocean, we arrived at Canal Rocks – a series of granite formation with ocean water flowing through its narrow channel.

We checked in at our hotel in Fremantle and explored the Victorian architecture in this port town.

Day 11 – Rottnest Island | Melbourne to Perth Road Trip

In the morning, we hopped on the Rottnest Express cruise ship to Rottnest Island.

You can only get onto the island in these cruise ships and hire a bike to ride around. The island is known for its quokka population. These fuzzy creatures only exist on this island of the earth.

We did a little snorkeling and rode around the whole island.

Day 12 – 14 Perth | Melbourne to Perth Road Trip

We switched our hotel from Fremantle to South Perth. Just a bridge away from Perth city center, the park right in front of Peninsula Riverside Serviced Apartments overlooks the buildings. So peaceful.

We walked to the restaurant on the pier – Mister Walker Restaurant- to have brunch. The Christmas decoration and the heat under 40-degree sun somehow don’t connect in our minds. Christmas has always been related to snow in our land!

We dropped off the cruiser to ARB Welshpool for airbags install and got ourselves a car hire. With off-roading out of plan – not that we we didn’t have enough in the past few days – we explored the city surrounding area.

Perth City in December feels like California
Perth City in December feels like California
Mundaring Dam Sawyers Valley
Mundaring Dam Sawyers Valley
wave rock
Wave Rock

The night before our departure, we did our Longranger Fuel Tank install in the parking lot of our hotel. Luckily no one came to bug us and we didn’t make a mess. The ARB store only had time to install airbags so we had to take it into our own hands. Laying down on the ground in my summer dress and leaving the groud marks all around my back was one night to remember!

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