5D4N Self-Drive Roadtrip from Perth to Albany
October 19, 2016
Australia is the sixth largest country by total area, with its capital in Canberra. There are so many beautiful beaches, picturesque scenery, food, shopping and entertainment options available no matter which part of Australia you visit. Last year, I went on a self-drive road trip with my family from Perth to Albany. The journey took us 5 days 4 nights and it was so interesting to stop by at gas stations and convenience marts for a break as there were a few fruit sellers who set up tents outside these pit stops and we managed to buy fresh and juicy fruits to snack on. Without further ado, this is my 5D4N itinerary for your reference.
Day 1 : Sunset Dinner along Scarborough Beach and Shop at Karrinyup Mall
We took a 9.30am flight from Singapore and arrived in Perth at approximately 2.40pm. If you need to purchase SIM cards, there are a few telecommunication shops you’ll see upon exiting the Customs and we used Vodafone. You can also get SIM cards from the convenience mart but we recommend the former as the sales staff will activate the card for you immediately, rather than you having to call or SMS some codes to activate the SIM card you get from convenience marts.
We rented cars from Hertz and collected our keys from the counters located on the left hand side upon exiting the Customs. If you require child booster or GPS, let the counter staff know and you have to pay on the spot. After collecting your car keys, head outside and turn left. There are signs guiding you to the lot where your car is parked. The very first thing you should do when you finally get to your car is to check for scratches or any damages that have already been inflicted on the car. Take a photo of these damages and head back to the counter to let the staff know so that he/she would log it in the system. This would ensure that upon returning the car, there would be no disputes on charges over these damages that are not inflicted by you. You should also check if your car is functioning properly (eg. the brakes are working, headlights are working etc.)
By the time we settled in our apartment at Northbridge, it was already 4pm. We stayed at Verandah Apartments which was of walking distance from many cafés and restaurants, one of which we really enjoyed was Chocolateria San Churro. We’ll get to this later on. We drove for about 20-30 minutes to Scarborough Beach (depending on traffic). This pristine white sand beach is always packed with surfers but we were there in the evening in November when the weather is quite chilly so we didn’t manage to catch much action in the waters. The sunset here was gorgeous but due to the strong wind, we decided to find an indoor café for dinner.
Thankfully for us, it was a Thursday night so Karrinyup Mall opens till 9pm. The mall usually opens around 9am, with the exception of Sunday at 11am, and closes around 5-5.30pm. We heard that late night shopping for suburb malls are on Thursday nights while late night shopping in the city is on Friday nights so, lucky us! Being shopaholics, my sister-in-law and I were ecstatic to see Australian brands like Bardot, Dotti, Forever New, Seafolly and Sportsgirl, just to name a few. There are other stores for men and children as well. Woolworths supermarket is also located in the mall if you need some groceries. If you’re going on a self-drive road trip, you should probably get some snacks to munch on during your journey.
We were back in our apartment around 10pm and here comes the part on Chocolateria San Churro. It’s about 5 minutes’ walk from our apartment and opens till 11pm from Sundays to Thursdays and till 1am on Fridays and Saturdays. Besides being famous for their churros and hot chocolate, they also serve cakes, truffles, macarons and other desserts, so for those with a sweet tooth, this is a must-go café! As it was just my boyfriend and I, we shared Churros for One ($8.95 AUD; $9.52 SGD) and Hot & Cold Chocolate ($7.45 AUD; $7.92 SGD). The former consisted of 3 churros that are crispy on the outside yet fluffy inside and comes with a pot of melted couverture chocolate and strawberries. The latter boasts a steaming classic hot chocolate cooled down with a succulent scoop of white chocolate ice cream. This is the ultimate sinful indulgence! What a great end to our night!
Day 2 : Fremantle and Albany
We started the day at 8am, checked out of Verandah Apartments and made our way to Fremantle. It takes about 30 to 40 minutes’ drive to Fremantle Markets. There are two parts to the Market, mainly The Yard and The Hall, and these markets are only open on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. There are many stalls springing surprises on you, from fruit and vegetable sellers, artisan coffee shops, stalls selling food, clothes and accessories, children’s toys and even a mini petting ‘zoo’ for kids. You’ll be able to get fresh local produce, indigenous and independent products, as well as, basking in the vibrant and lively atmosphere. With more than 150 stalls at Fremantle Markets, there’s bound to be something for everyone. As it can get quite crowded, it’s better to sling your valuables in front and be more cautious of your surroundings.
Details on Fremantle Markets
Address: Corner South Terrace & Henderson Street, Fremantle, Western Australia, 6959
Telephone Number: 0432 244 867 / 08 9335 2515
Opening Hours: The Yard – Fri 8am to 8pm and Sat&Sun 8am to 6pm. The Hall – Fri 9am to 8pm and Sat&Sun 9am to 6pm.
If you have more time, you can explore Fremantle on foot and check out Fremantle Arts Centre, Leisure Centre, Fremantle Prison, Puppet Theatre, Ferries Wheel or you can even take a day trip from Fremantle to the Pinnacles or Rottnest Island. You can check out http://www.visitfremantle.com.au/ for more information on Fremantle. We could only manage half a day at Fremantle before continuing on our drive down to Albany. Hence, after exploring the markets, the jetty and one of the beaches, we had a seafood lunch feast at Kailis’ Waterfront Fremantle Restaurant. We had Western Australian King Prawns, Western Australian Lobster Mornay, Chilli Mussels, BBQ Scallops, oysters, smoked salmon and their traditional fish and chips. Typing this while relieving the taste of these scrumptious seafood feast is making me drool now, oh gosh, so torturous!
Details on Kailis’ Waterfront Fremantle Restaurant
Address: Fremantle Fishing Boat Harbour, 46 Mews Road, Fremantle, Western Australia
Telephone Number: 08 9335 7755
Opening Hours: Café & Fish Market opens from 8am till late daily while Restaurant, BBQ & Bar opens from 10am till late daily.
After our satisfying lunch, we carried on with our journey to Albany, which took about 5 to 6 hours, depending on how many pit stops you make and how long your pit stop breaks are. You’ll be awed by picture-perfect landscapes on both sides of the road during your drive to Albany. We arrived at our Albany Harbourside House at around 7pm in the evening before heading out for dinner. My parents are very traditional Chinese people so they already started craving for Chinese food on our second day. I don’t remember the name of the Chinese restaurant but it’s located at a corner and it’s hard to miss due to its very attractive red decorations. This restaurant serves really good Chinese food.
Day 3 : Exploring Albany
We started the day enjoying a 30 minutes scenic drive along Frenchman Bay Road to our destination – Discovery Bay – where you can learn about the history of whaling at the Historic Whaling Station or get up close to the Australian wildlife or take in the flora and fauna at the Botanic Garden. There are wombats, bandicoots, possums, rare white kangaroos, flying foxes and their resident koala, Frank! This cute koala looks so cuddly you can’t resist going, “awwwww”. Remember to purchase your entry tickets from the Visitor’s Centre before heading to the enclosures. As for the Botanic Garden, it’s the best time to go in the month of October when spring is in full bloom.
After exploring, pop by the Whaler’s Galley Café for lunch. You get an amazing view overlooking the King George Sound if you’re up for alfresco dining. If the weather’s too hot, you can choose to dine indoors as well. Our tastebuds felt a little adventurous and we had their daily special which came in the form of either battered or grilled gummy sharks! As compared to the usual steamed fish we have back in Singapore, the meat of gummy sharks feel tougher and not as sweet but it was a unique dining experience for us.
Details on Discovery Bay
Adress: Whaling Station Road, Frenchman Bay, Western Australia 6330, Australia
Telephone Number: +61 8 9844 4021
Opening Hours: Historic Whaling Station 9am to 5pm daily. Wildlife Park & Botanic Garden 10am to 5pm daily. Whaler’s Galley Café 9am to 4.30pm daily (Lunch is only available from 10am to 3pm).
After lunch, our initial plan was to explore the Natural Bridge and The Gap but unfortunately, it was closed for maintenance. Just a caution if you get to visit these spots – keep within the boundary of the viewing area as it can get slippery and very dangerous due to the huge waves if you get too close to the ocean. The change of plans brought us to Salmon Holes Beach, which takes its name after the salmon fish which rest in the calmer waters close to the shore. A steep climb down to the beach via wooden steps reveals a magnificent view of the coastline. If you’re observant enough, you’ll also notice the difference between a black hill that is severely burnt by forest fires beside the usual green hills.
Besides Salmon Holes Beach, we also visited Frenchman Bay and Little Beach. Both feature clear blue waters and clean, sandy beaches. Now, we know why the Australians love spending a good portion of their weekend at the beaches when the weather is good. We drove back to our apartment and had an early home-cooked dinner before our night adventure began. It started with a short drive to Middleton Beach just to catch the sunset but we were told that it’s more spectacular to catch the sunrise from that spot, so we headed to the jetty beside Albany Entertainment Centre for a better sunset view. Although the temperature dipped to around 8-10 degrees Celsius, we continued our epic night adventure – fishing at the jetty! My nose was freezing to the extent I thought it might fall off any moment! I guess we were really lucky to have caught two small fishes, what an experience!
Here’s some advice
Apply plenty of sunscreen lotion, especially during the day as the sun can get scorching hot, which makes it bad for your skin. Always check the weather forecast if you’re planning to spend an afternoon or a day at the beach.
Day 4 : Albany to Denmark and back to Perth
Albany’s Boatshed Markets are only open on Sundays from 10am to 1pm so we checked out from our apartment and headed there for breakfast. The Market features local growers and producers of fresh and gourmet foods and Great Southern wines. The aromatic scent of baked pastries lingers in the air, whetting your appetites the moment you enter the market compound. We really loved the jam products and were impressed by artistic products made by talented local artisans. There is even local live music every week and very interesting cooking demonstrations.
Details on Albany Boatshed Market
Address: Albany Boatshed Markets, PO Box 29, Albany, Western Australia, 6331
Telephone Number: Karen Petty 0458 433 248
Opening Hours: Only on Sundays from 10am to 1pm
After having breakfast at the Boatshed Markets, we took about 45 minutes to an hour’s drive to Denmark, a charming little coastal town, located on the banks of Denmark River. We explored Denmark Berry Farm, Valley of the Giants Tree Top Walk and stopped by Denmark Bakery for their superb pies and pastries. They offer both sweet and savoury pies and we loved both versions! The Berry Farm allows you to pick your own red and yellow raspberries, blueberries and other locally grown berries at a price, depending on how much you want to bring home. We tried a few berries on the spot and they burst with refreshing juices in our mouths! As the shrubs will only bear fruits during some season, do check whether Denmark Berry Farm is open during your visit to avoid disappointments.
Details on Denmark Berry Farm
Address: 61 Lantzke Road, Denmark, Western Australia, 6333 Australia
Telephone Number: 08 9848 1226
Opening Hours: Open from December to April, weekends and school holidays (except Tuesday and Wednesday), 11am to 5pm.
Details on Valley of the Giants Tree Top Walk
Address: Valley of the Giants Road, Nornalup, Western Australia, 6333, Australia
Telephone Number: (08) 9840 8263
Opening Hours: 9am to 5pm daily. Extended hours from 26 December to 26 January 8am to 6pm daily.
Note: There are free guided tours of the Ancient Empire offered daily at 10.15am, 11.30am and 2pm, outside the school holidays but are subject to weather conditions. Entry to the Ancient Empire and Discovery Centre is free. As for the Tree Top Walk, admission pricing is as follows: Adult 16 years and above $21 AUD. Concession card holders $15.50 AUD (Australian Seniors, Age Pension, Department of Veterans’ Affairs, Centrelink Carer, Disability Support and Companion cards). Child between 6 to 15 years old $10.50 AUD. Family consisting of 2 adults and 2 children $52.50 AUD. Children 5 years and younger enter free.
Details on Denmark Bakery
Address: Fig Tree Square, Strickland St. Denmark, Western Australia
Telephone Number: (08) 9848 2143
Opening Hours: 7am to 5pm daily
After our mini exploration of Denmark, we drove about an hour to Thurlby Herb Farm for a late lunch. Besides serving delectable food amidst the lush green farmland, surrounded by blooming flowers during spring in their gardens, Thurlby Herb Farm also manufactures and sells high quality handmade herbal products such as soaps. You can detect the aromatic herbal blends upon entering this quaint cafe-shop. Sometimes, it’s nice to disconnect with the world and just enjoy a tranquil afternoon with a cuppa good coffee.
Details on Thurlby Herb Farm
Address: Gardiner Road, Walpole, Western Australia 6398, Australia
Telephone Number: +61 08 9840 1249
Opening Hours: Mon-Fri 9am to 5pm (Kitchen closes at 3pm for lunch orders). Closed on weekends and PHs.
We began our 5-hour drive back to Perth after this fulfilling lunch and only checked into our apartment around 10pm. We bought roast chicken and some groceries from the supermarket and dined alfresco at the balcony of our apartment. It actually feels very homely.
Day 5 : Breakfast in Perth and last-minute shopping before flying home
When you’re in Australia, it’s a must to have coffee and brunch at a café and since Sapore Espresso Bar is highly recommended with numerous good reviews, we decided to give it a try. Our favourites were the Brioche French Toast ($16.90 AUD) and Spanish Baked Eggs ($17.90 AUD). The former consists of banana, caramelized bacon, maple syrup, mascarpone and pistachio. We liked the crunch from the pistachio nuts and we felt that the savouriness from the bacon manages to balance out the sweetness of the toast and maple syrup. So much flavours in one dish! The latter, on the other hand, is heartier and features tomato concasse, spinach, feta, chorizo (pork) and sourdough toast. Dipping the crisp sourdough toast into the warm runny eggs in the morning is a great start to the day! We also had a flat white, cappuccino, chocolate-peanut-butter shake and watermelon juice. Generally, the brunch items served here are very tasty and complement the beverages really well. We would return to this café again if we happen to travel to Australia in future.
Details on Sapore Espresso Bar
Address: 4/275 Belmont Avenue (corner Fulham Street), Belmont
Contact: (+61) 8 9478 1615
Opening Hours: 7am to 4pm daily
If you still have some last-minute shopping to do, just walk over to Belmont Forum Shopping Mall that’s about 5-8 minutes away from Sapore Espresso Bar caf└. Need to bring back some souvenirs for your friends? Just head to Coles, Big W and Kmart! With their wide range of product lines, you’ll definitely find something suitable for everyone. There are also local fashion brands like Lovisa for you to get accessories or Colette for bags. Our flight back to Singapore departs at 5.30pm so we started driving towards the airport around 2.45pm as it only takes 10 minutes from the shopping mall.
Details on Belmont Forum Shopping Mall
Address: 227 Belmont Ave, Cloverdale WA 6105, Australia
Contact: (08) 9478 2152
Opening Hours: Mon-Wed & Fri 8am to 5.30pm. Thu 8am to 9pm. Sat 9am to 5pm. Sun 11am to 5pm.
Upon reaching the airport, just return your rented car to the designated area where you see the car rental company’s sign. An officer will be present to check your car’s condition before you sign off and return the car keys at their main office. That’s the end of our 5D4N self-drive road trip to Perth and Albany. Hope you’ll find this article useful.