Road trip tips for Western Australia’s South West

A while ago I wrote a few tips for the drive to Albany and from our recent trip along the South Western highway to the great southern forests I’m sharing some general knowledge for a seamless enjoyable ‘down south’ drive. This post covers the towns along Forest Highway and the South West Highway all the way to the great southern forests area of Pemberton, Northcliffe, Manjimup and Walpole.

It’s a decent length drive from Perth and we’ve had our fair share of run ins over the years, also stopping to help a few people out. There was one time when we were on a road, without phone reception and basically in the middle of nowhere that we pulled over to check on a family gathered around the boot of their car. As it turned out they had a flat tyre and weren’t too sure how to change it, nor how to remove the tools that sit under the mat in the boot. The culprit would you believe was a bit of wood to the side of the tyre. Although it was good that they had a spare tyre, however it would have been a lengthy drawn out drive back to their accommodation with the speed limit of 50km. So this draws me to tip number one…..

Road Trip Tips

Know how to change a tyre or if you do not know, Outback travel Australia do a handy write up here

We like to leave home in the morning, avoiding the traffic to Bunbury, also giving us some time to stop for coffee at one of the small towns along the South West highway

Not that the roads are unsafe however driving tired (also known as driver fatigue) can lead to errors and misjudgements which result in some serious accidents. To avoid this, try not to have ambitious driving plans, drink plenty of water and stop along the way for fresh air. Also try swapping drivers

Break up the journey by incorporating a few places to check out, that’s the beauty about the area – there is plenty  of attractions within close proximity to the highway.

Pack a picnic and stop at one of the basic pull over bays to the left of the road, some offer shade with rubbish bins and picnic table

All towns have a central park area with picnic and toilet facilities, suitable for camper vans

There are a couple of overtaking lanes that open up along the highway, stay left unless you are confident and have the driving power to overtake, and in that case go into the right lane

RAC roadside assistance is handy to have

Tune into Triple JJJ on 94.1

We generally pack food in an esky for the first night and breakfast the next day so that when we arrive we can explore and settle in. However, in saying this, there are supermarkets along the way within easy reach.

Food and Drinks

Dual travel centres on either side of the Kwinana freeway between Mundijong and Safety Bay Roads with petrol, a truckers/travellers foodcourt with McDonalds and Red Rooster. Free wireless internet, kids play area, ATM, garden area with a BBQ. Clean toilets too!

The popular Miami Bakehouse is located off Forrest Highway on Paull Road after Mandurah in West Pinjarra

Free City of Waroona rest area on Forrest Highway/Dorsett Road with toilets and shade

Crooked Carrot Cafe on Forrest Highway in Myalup with an electric car recharge station

Settlers Roadhouse in Myalup for petrol and snacks

Old Coast Road Brewery and Function Centre in Myalup

Ideas for tacking on destinations and sights

Binningup Beach

Tuart Forest National Park, scenic drive through the largest collection of Tuart trees in Australia

Golden Valley Tree Park, Balingup

Kondil Park Wildflower walk in Boyup

King Jarrah Tree in Manjimup


Towns to explore along the South West Highway

If you are interested in picking up some local produce along South West Highway, check out the Harvest Highway website.


Town known for its Apple produce! Fruitbarn supermarket open from 7am to 7pm, IGA open from 7am, Patchworks Cafe, two bakeries, Apple fun playground park (huge!), Old Goldfields Orchard & Cider Factory located off Upper Capel Rd, fruit picking at  Spring Valley Orchard, The Quilters Needle , Oak Tree planted in 1842 near the tourist bureau. Boronia Farm, certified organic farm. Transit Park for vehicle and tent camping.

Events to check out – Donnybrook Apple Festival


Home of some cool scarecrows! Cute town actually. Antique stores. Natural beauty and home products at Tinderbox store. 60 Ha arboretum – Golden Valley Tree Park for walks and picnics, art galleries, alpaca clothes, the Packing Shed Cafe (also has the cellar outlet for Birdwood Park Fruit Winery), nice breakfast and coffee at the Mushroom Cafe, try a Tathra Tiger Port from Tathra winery. Balingup Lavender Farm. Transit park for vehicle and tent camping.

Events to check out – Medieval Carinvale, Country music festival, Balingup Ghost Walks


Tavern. Bakery. Newy’s Vege Patch Store.


Take a detour to Donnelly River Village for Munda Biddi and Bibbulmun track or to see the Kangaroos and Emus. Barking Cow Cafe do great coffee and breakfast. Stock up on meat from the two butchers in town. Pub. Foodworks supermarket. This town is good for trinket shopping. Check out the Christmas shop at Wag Walters Emporium. Walk around the old bridges. The Cidery. Levanda Grove.

I wrote a post about the Bridgetown here.


Tall Timbers do a great long black coffee. Farmers markets on a Saturday. Woolworths supermarket. The Truffle and Wine Co after exiting the town. Check out the King Jarrah tree.


Diamond tree before Pemberton. The Karri Discovery drive after Pemberton, there is a small wine centre and beautiful scenic drive through the trees. Keep an eye out for farm stalls selling fruit and vegetable. Lavender Berry Farm. The Cascades. Bicentennial tree located off old Vasse road. Find the Marianne North Tree (Warren National Park), where a young girl and buddy of Charles Darwin came out to WA in 1880, and during her holiday painted the scenery, of which one was a large unique Karri tree. The most remarkable thing is in 1880 the tree was gigantic according to her painting, how old could this tree be!?


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