The coastline south of Perth, WA is littered with fantastic places to stay and explore.
You could literally spend months checking it all out, and you’re only 3-4 hours from Perth.
This is probably why so many people move here or why travellers end up staying for extended periods of time.
In fact, there were a few places we fell in love with and even went so far as to check out a mix of properties for sale online to see how affordable the area was.
Unfortunately, most spots had already boomed, which was understandable given their proximity to Perth and what they had to offer.
Interestingly though, a lot of the boom was driven by people buying holiday houses.
Which, if you can afford it, is great but means accommodation becomes very expensive.
Thankfully, we were set up for free camping, though this can also be a bit of a challenge in WA.
There’s a saying among travellers and it is ‘in WA you pay’ – which we found to be the case most of the time.
However, there are a few ways to minimise your spend and one is to get a Park Stay Pass, which you can get at a discounted rate if you are a member of RACQ.
If you’re planning on heading to this part of the world, Yallingup, Eagle Bay and Dunsborough are well worth checking out, plus a host of small towns nearby.
This was our base camp when we day tripped to the above-mentioned places.
Situated right on the beach in Geographe Bay, Camp Grace was a clean and quiet campground that we really enjoyed.
As with several of the camps in this area, there was a strong focus on church groups, but you don’t have to be a churchgoer to stay at Camp Grace.
On the beach, there was a volleyball net set up permanently, which kept the kids occupied while the better half and I relaxed watching the sun set over the water.
Our stay here coincided with a full moon, which rose before the sun set – meaning you had the sun setting over one side of the bay as the moon rose over the other – quite spectacular.
After originally visiting Busselton in 1996 when I was 21, I was keen to see how much had changed or stayed the same.
Well, hadn’t this sleepy little fishing village evolved.
Aside from the jetty, which is the longest wooden jetty in the southern hemisphere, not much else was recognisable.
It still had its beautiful beaches and clear water, however the population growth was staggering.
I guess when there’s a piece of paradise such as this on offer, people will flock to it.
Unfortunately, when we were there, it was a little overcast, so not perfect beach weather.
We did however do the train ride out to the jetty and checked out the underwater observatory.
It was cool to descend 8m and see the coral structure and fish life change.
The abundance of marine life was staggering, with the old pylons providing the perfect structure for coral to grow on and for fish to call home.
Despite being told by a few WA locals and fellow travellers to give Bunbury a miss, we made the call to check it out and were glad we did.
Bunbury is a little different to several of the other small coastal towns in this region – its coastline is unique because the large spit was made into a port.
This means there is surf one side and a protected waterway on the other, which also has a small marina-like area.
In some ways, it reminds me a little of Surfers Paradise – before the high-rises.
Hopefully Bunbury doesn’t fall victim to the same growth and expansion, as it would lose its small coastal town feel.
Our accommodation here was in a car park, where you could stay for up to 48 hours as long as you were fully self-contained.
That probably doesn’t sound too inviting, however the car park was next to a park that was next to a beach where, once again, we ended the day watching the sun set over the water.
Mandurah really ticked several of my wish-list boxes as a place to visit or live.
Situated on the coast with traditional beaches, Mandurah has a large estuary system called Collins Pool.
From a fishing prespective, there are heaps of options both inshore and offshore.
Unfortunately, I didn’t get the opportunity to wet a line, yet I could see myself here, venturing for extended periods of time, once I eventually retire.
One thing we did do was to check out the Giants of Mandurah.
These are free outdoor exhibits hidden throughout Mandurah that are found by working out the clues in the Travellers’ Companion, which you can download or get from the tourist centre.
Searching for these sculptures was a great way to explore most of the town and to see what’s on offer.
Another spot worth visiting is the War Memorial, where the sculptures are meant to represent soldiers on the beaches where they fell.
The seaside town of Rockingham is one of those places that you could easily immerse yourself in for an extended period of time.
This town has it all – cafes, restaurants, white sandy beaches, fishing, swimming, exploring and relaxing.
Plus, it offers a host of wildlife activities you can enjoy on the small neighbouring islands.
If you’re into walking, as we are, the walking trails expose you to the sheer beauty of this bustling fishing village.
Alternatively, you can kayak with sealions, swim with dolphins or head to Penguin Island.
We didn’t allow enough time at Rockingham unfortunately, so only scratched the surface of what was on offer.
Rottnest Island WA
Home of the quokka, Rottnest Island is another must-do spot.
Unfortunately, it was totally booked out when we were there, which meant a day trip was our only options of checking the place out.
Apparently, it is getting harder and more expensive to stay here, and you find out why once you visit.
Even though we jammed as much into a day as we could, a long weekend or a longer stay would be better.
Our plan of attack, after catching the passenger ferry over from Freemantle, was to hire bikes and cycle around as much as possible.
Since we had a lunch booking back at the town centre, this did limit how far we rode.
While not overly big, Rottnest is a little hilly, so you need a certain level of fitness to cycle around.
Rottnest also boasts a host of private beaches and snorkelling locations.
We didn’t bring the snorkels, though they will be packed next time we go – if we can stay longer.
Thankfully, we also booked a bus tour for the afternoon, which allowed us to see more of the island.
The bonus of the tour was that we learnt about the island’s history – very interesting… even staggering.
If you’re into history, definitely give it a search online.
Interestingly, there is a small school on the island that caters to the kids of employees who are permanently stationed on the island.