At 417 kilometres, a road trip from Western Australia’s capital city Perth to Albany on the south coast can be completed in roughly five hours. But there’s no need to beeline when you’re travelling through a region as rich in local stories as this one. There are plenty of rest stops and detours to help you discover this underrated pocket of the state. So, as you make your way towards Australia’s Great Southern region, slow down and savour the experience.
Sullivan Rock (73 kilometres)
Sullivan Rock is an ideal first stop for a stretch in the fresh air. It’s a popular day hike location, and is also used as an entry point to the Bibbulmun Track – a 1,000-kilometre hiking trail from East Perth all the way to Albany! The terrain is a mix of granite rock and shady forest. Be extra careful not to walk on the moss; it’s super sensitive. You may not have the time to walk to Monadnocks Hut (a 15-kilometre return trip) as many day hikers do, but this is still a great spot to have morning tea and stretch your legs.
Williams (95 kilometres)
Williams is a classic Australian country town, known for its sheep and wool industry. It was a popular rest stop and watering hole for travellers heading to Albany on horseback in the pioneering days. Pop into the Williams Woolshed for tourist information, gift shopping, a decent coffee, and well-appointed washrooms. Be sure to wander through the small shearing shed museum out the back to learn more about the town’s fascinating history.
Wagin (62 kilometres)
Keep the sheep theme going with a detour and break from the Albany Highway to see one of Australia’s famous ‘bigs’. At Arthur River, take Arthur Road to Wagin – home to Bart the Giant Ram. Since 1985, tourists have travelled to this tiny town to see the anatomically impressive sheep located at Wetlands Park. Wagin’s sister city in New South Wales – Goulburn – is home to the Giant Merino (aka ‘Rambo’). Double points if you’ve ticked them both off during your travels!
Katanning (55 kilometres)
Head south along the Great Southern Highway to Katanning for a lunch stop. The Daily Grind Cafe serves an Australian-Malay fusion menu, alongside cakes and coffees. Afterwards, take a stroll around the town in search of wall art, which is part of FORM’s PUBLIC Silo Trail. Here, you’ll see amazing commissioned murals by Mel McVee, Brenton See, Chris Nixon, Darren Hutchens, and Karim Jabbari featured on walls, buildings, and power boxes. The Silo Trail ends in Albany with Ruby the sea dragon spread across four silos at the port.
Kojonup (40 kilometres)
From Katanning, take the Kojonup Katanning Road to The Kodja Place and Kojonup Visitor Centre. Inside, meander through the Storyplace to hear the entwined stories of European settlers and the Noongar people – the traditional landowners. They’re tales of heartbreak, but also of great courage. You’ll also have a chance to meet Elder Jack Cox, who still likes to spin a yarn over a campfire and billy tea.
Porongurup National Park Granite Skywalk (134 kilometres)
On your final stop before reaching Albany, take a hike up to the Granite Skywalk. The two-kilometre uphill trail begins at the Castle Rock car park. Although the walk through the jarrah, karri and marri forest is not incredibly difficult, it is steep and rocky, and there is some scrambling and ladder climbing involved. But the reward is worth every careful step. Think far-reaching views across the countryside with the Stirling Ranges in the northern background. Allow two hours for the return trip and take plenty of water. Don’t forget your camera!
Albany (47 kilometres)
Your last stretch of highway is an easy one. In less than an hour, you’ll be entering the Albany city limits. Welcome to the Great Southern!
Need a place to stay? Check into Quality Apartments Banksia Gardens, which is centrally located and an easy drive from everything Albany has to offer. Climb to the nearby Mount Melville Parklands lookout for yet more amazing views.
About the writer
Jennifer Morton is a freelance writer and photographer. The Canadian expat has lived all over Canada, New Zealand and Australia. When Jennifer is not writing about travel, you may find her lounging on the beach, fishing with her son, sipping coffee at a cafe, reading a book or zooming in on a beautiful scene. She’s also likely to be boarding a plane – or jumping out of one.
Cover image: Melissa Findley, PUBLIC Silo Trail, Katanning. Image courtesy of FORM