The best thing of all about the weekend trips from Perth on this page is that they’re all only an hour or two away from the city so for the most part they don’t involve too much driving or fuss and bother. Rather than write an obvious article covering the usual popular tourist destinations, I’ve decided to focus a bit more on some of the smaller, quieter places.
A short break away from the city is the perfect way to spend some quality time with friends and family, and to relax after a long working week.
The emphasis here is on relaxing, discovering somewhere new that you’d never thought to visit before. Or maybe returning to somewhere familiar from a long time ago when holidays were simpler, and more about getting away from it all rather than racing around trying to squeeze as many sights and attractions as possible into one weekend.
It’s my hope that this list of weekend trips from Perth will provide you with some travel inspiration and maybe even a few new ideas for easy and super-relaxing weekend trips from Perth.
Note: Most of the places on this list are more relaxing and enjoyable to visit on a weekend trip from Perth, but are totally doable as a day trip instead if time is limited (perhaps with the exception of the last three).
1. Guilderton / Moore River
Guilderton by the beach on the mouth of the Moore River is a fun and cheap day or weekend trip from Perth. This small beach holiday town is only a 1 hour drive from the centre of the city!
The beautiful beach at Guilderton is long and spacious with big waves and great fishing. If you have little kids with you or just happen to prefer calm water, then on the other side of the sand bar there’s the Moore River where you can also go for a swim or a kayak. The river meanders inland past the town (and some tall sand dunes!) through natural bush and farmland.
Accommodation options are camping in the caravan park by the river bank, or renting one of the many shacks & holiday homes in the quiet hilly streets.
2. Avon Valley – York, Toodyay and Northam
The Avon Valley towns of Northam, York and Toodyay are located not far beyond the outskirts of Perth, a leisurely 1 – 1.5 hour drive away to where the Perth Hills meet the Wheat Belt. There is a lot to see and in this historic and scenic area – more than enough to fill in a romantic weekend getaway or a fun family escape.
Walk around York (one of the oldest towns in WA) or Toodyay and admire the beautiful old buildings, step back in time in a museum, dine at good country restaurants and bars, and go treasure hunting in the antique shops. You can also go for bush walks, picnics and country drives. The landscape with its rolling hills is very pretty, especially in winter and spring when the fields are green rather than yellow.
For something extra special, book a hot air balloon flight and watch the sunrise and early morning mist while floating high over the Avon Valley.
3. New Norcia
New Norcia is a Benedictine monastery town (quite unique in Western Australia!), located about 1.5 hours drive north east from Perth. With its history, grand Spanish mission architecture, museum and art gallery and peaceful lawns shaded by tall gum trees it is an interesting and restful place to visit for the day.
But staying there overnight is another experience completely, and is incredibly relaxing. You can park your caravan for the night at the roadhouse, or else book a room in the grand yet tired old New Norcia Hotel next door, where you can relax out on the big verandas and try the local abbey ale at the bar.
The most unique-to-New-Norcia option though is to sleep over in the monastery guest house. The cost to stay there is a donation (suggested $80) and guests are fed 3 meals a day. Visitors to New Norcia are welcome to join the monks in prayer in the chapel.
4. Ledge Point
Ledge Point, a small fishing town just 20 minutes further up the road from Guilderton, is great spot for a simple old fashioned beach holiday. If you have a boat or 4WD and enjoy fishing or wind surfing then there’s plenty to do, and if not then what a perfect opportunity to laze around all weekend reading books, walking on the beach and swimming. There are plenty of holiday homes available ranging from old-fashioned fibro beach shacks through to large spacious modern houses.
Lancelin is a similar type of simple beach holiday to Ledge Point but it’s a bigger town with lots more to do. The number one reason to visit is the huge sand dunes on the northern edge of town that you can sand board on or drive around in a 4WD or off-road bike.
It’s also a fantastic spot for fishing (from the beach, jetty or a boat), kite & wind surfing, beach 4WD’ing, boating and easy surfing. There’s a good variety of calm and wavy beaches at Lancelin, but the main bay tends to be a bit seagrassy so head north or south to find the best swimming spots.
These days Mandurah is practically part of Perth and feels quite suburban but that’s not to say you can’t enjoy a relaxing seaside holiday there anymore.
If you enjoy swimming at the beach, boating or fishing then you can have a fun time in Mandurah. It’s especially fun for families with kids as there are plenty of things to do to keep the little ones entertained. Swim at the beach and in the estuary, cruise the canals and estuary, go on some rides at the fun park, and visit Pinjarra or the Yalgorup Lakes for the afternoon. Crabbing with scoop nets in the shallow estuary is a fantastic way to spend a few hours in summer that will yield a scrumptious feast!
For a more relaxing and old-fashioned Mandurah holiday book a shack south-west of the town centre by the estuary – just be sure to bring lots of insect repellent because the mozzies can be quite bad.
7. Wellington National Park
The Wellington National Park near Collie is a beautiful area to camp and explore and is one of my favourite camping weekend escapes from Perth, although it is further to drive than Dwellingup (see below). Camp in the jarrah forest at Honeymoon Pool by the Collie River or Potters Gorge next to Wellington Weir.
Scenic drives, walking tracks, mountain bike trails and 4WD tracks will take you to many beautiful spots in the forest and along the Collie River and Wellington Dam. If you feel like getting out and about a bit more, venture south out of the dense forest and into the rolling hills of the Ferguson Valley, a pastoral area with lots of wineries and scenic drives and a few good B&B-style accommodation options.
8. Dwellingup, and Camping in the Lane Pool Reserve
Dwellingup, and more specifically the camping area along the Murray River in the Lane Poole Reserve, is a time-honoured favourite for so many Perth people who like to head Down South into the forest to escape the city for a weekend, but don’t necessarily want to go on a massive long road trip.
Any time of year is nice during the day: go for a swim if it’s hot or a bushwalk if it’s cold and rainy! Just be prepared with plenty of warm clothes, blankets and sleeping bags for camping in the colder months of the year.
Dwellingup also has a few touristy things to do including some wineries and the Hotham Valley steam train rides. Plus there are lots of lovely picnic spots, bush walks and scenic drives in the surrounding area.
9. Cervantes/Jurien Bay and The Pinnacles
The Pinnacles in Nambung National Park 2 hours north of Perth is one of Western Australia’s most well-known tourist attractions. Many people choose to go up there for the day, but if you’ve got a weekend to spare the trip is so much more enjoyable. Stop in at Guilderton and Lancelin on the drive there or back, and base yourself in one of the two towns close to The Pinnacles: Cervantes or Jurien Bay.
In addition to The Pinnacles there are also spring wild flowers and some beaches that are great for swimming and fishing, plus some good snorkeling spots too when it’s not too windy. When it is windy, this is yet another great spot along the Turquoise Coast to go for wind surfing and kite surfing.
Harvey is a small town on the Darling Range escarpment about an hour and a half south of Perth. It main claim to fame in Perth is the “Harvey Fresh” brand of milk and orange juice in the shops, but there’s more to Harvey than just orange orchards and dairy farms.
Extensive jarrah forest, rivers and dams, wineries, 4WD tracks, bush walks and camping is just some of what the area has to offer. You can also easily drive down to Myalup not far away on the coast for beach fishing and swimming.
11. Preston Beach and the Yalgorup Lakes
Preston Beach is another simple and relaxing beach escape similar to Guilderton and Ledge Point, but this time south of Perth beyond Mandurah.
The main activities are swimming, fishing, 4WDing and beach walks but you can also explore the surrounding Yalgorup Lakes National Park. Yalgorup Lakes has several great bush walks through tuart and jarrah forest and banksia and paperbark woodland, down to the lakes. Wildlife is plentiful in the area, especially emus and birds. See the Lake Clifton Thrombolites. If you’d rather camp than stay in a villa or beach cottage then there’s a campsite among the trees inland from Preston Beach called Martin’s Tank.
Don’t overlook the Perth Hills for a fun outdoorsey weekend. Rather than visiting the Gidgegannup area for the day, consider staying there overnight for a Perth “staycation” in the bush. There are several B&B’s around Gidgegannup or alternatively you could stay the night in Mundaring or Chidlow to the south.
As for things to do, there are some great bushwalks on the southern side of Walyunga National Park, swimming and paddling in the Avon River, Lake Lescheanaultia and at Noble Falls (more like tiny cascades). The fantastic wild life sanctuary Karakamia is reason enough to stay at Gidgegannup overnight. Go for a walk there in the evening and spot nocturnal marsupials. Paruna Sanctuary is also close by and is open to bush walkers during the cooler months of the year. In spring the forests around Gidgegannup are a great place to go wild flower spotting, especially for bright blue leschanaultia flowers.
Rottnest for me is the ultimate in relaxing escapes from Perth. Although I’d really prefer to have a whole week on Rottnest to properly relax and get into the Rotto frame of mind, a weekend on the island is better than a day trip!
Relax and unwind, ride bikes up the big hills and into the wind, and swim at a few of the beaches (which in my opinion include some of the most beautiful in WA). After dark go for a night walk and watch the light from the lighthouses arc across the sky, and spot lots and lots of nocturnal quokkas!
14. Mundaring and the Bickley Valley in the Perth Hills
The Mundaring area is another destination in the Perth Hills where you could easily spend a few days. Mundaring is only half an hour out of the city, so it is very easy to get to.
Have a picnic and bush walk in the John Forrest National Park then stay the night at the Mundaring Weir Hotel or some other accommodation tucked away in the bush. The next day you could check out the Mundaring Weir and museum and visit a couple of wineries in the Bickley Valley east of Kalamunda.
Families with young kids might like to see this write up by Amanda Kendle on camping at the Perth Hills Discovery Centre near Mundaring Weir with her four-year-old: Travelling close to home: Camping in the Perth hills with kids.
Bunbury is not necessarily my first choice of weekend trips from Perth because in many ways it’s just another city… but there are some things there that are pretty cool, and if you’ve only got a couple of days it’s a very relaxing city to visit, only 2 hours drive south from Perth.
The main tourist draw is the dolphins that come into Koombana Bay, and the associated dolphin-watching and -swimming tours that have sprung up around it. If you’ve never had the chance to interact with wild dolphins before, then this is reason enough to make the trek down to Bunbury for a night – many people say it’s a better experience than the more famous Monkey Mia dolphins.
Other things to do in Bunbury include wandering around the harbour and Victoria Street in the centre of town, which has some nice old buildings and a couple of decent cafes and things. There are also some good beaches (Koombana Bay is good if you like calm water but the back beach is better if you prefer some waves), nature walks, and galleries & museums. Head out of town for wineries and more bush walks and picnic spots.
16. Dryandra Woodland and the Narrogin Area
Drive down via Wandering or Williams, or take the Brookton Highway via Pingelly, to explore the Darling Range and Wheat Belt areas south-east of Perth.
The highlight of this part of W.A. is the Dryandra Woodland, a nature reserve rich in native wild life and flora, home to lots of cute furry marsupials, birds and beautiful trees and wild flowers. Barna Mia sanctuary in the middle of the woodland protects endangered animals including numbats. You can only visit the sanctuary and spot the animals on a night-time tour – stay the night in one of the towns nearby (Wandering, Williams or Narrogin) by free-camp at Congelin Dam.
Other things to do in the area include wine tasting and bush walks around the town of Wandering, and checking out historic buildings, lakes and nature reserves around the towns of Narrogin, Williams, Wikepin and Wagin. At Wikepin you can visit the house where Albert Facey (who wrote an autobiography called “A Fortunate Life” that’s well known in W.A.) lived as a child.
17. Goomalling-Wongan Hills Area
A weekend is a nice amount of time for a road trip exploring some of the north and central Wheat Belt, within 2.5-hour radius north-east of Perth (although if you want to keep it relaxed and leisurely you won’t be able to see it all in one trip).
Head out to quaint and dusty old towns like Goomalling and Wyalkatchem, and other strange and historic places such as Meckering (site of a massive earth quake) and Minnivale. Wongan Hills and Wyalkatchem in particular have some beautiful nature reserves best visited in spring for the wild flowers. But at any time of the year you’ll be able to see the salmon gums, white gums and gimlets in the Wheat Belt nature reserves – these are in my opinion some of the most beautiful trees in W.A. If you do head out as far as Wyalkatchem or Tammin, be sure to visit Yorkrakine Rock, which is probably the closest to Perth – and therefore easiest to get to – of all the Wheat Belt Granites.
Most of the towns in the area have country pub hotel accommodation, B&B’s and caravan parks. There are also some great free camping sites (with no or minimal facilities) such as Minnivale near Dowerin or Lake Ninan near Wongan Hills.
Last Updated: 2nd June, 2015.
First posted on 11th May, 2015 by Bonny.
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