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Sunday, September 25, 2022

8D7N Perth Family Road Trip Itinerary - The only guide you need for Western Australia

Ever since the border measures have been relaxed, many of our friends start to fly overseas. As frequent travelers ourselves before the whole covid situation, our butt starts to itch. We were thinking where could we go with our soon-to-be 4 year old daughter. And to be honest, Sydney was our first choice. We even started to plan the places we wanted to go. But then the air tickets become really crazy at over $1,000 per pax. So we decided to ditch that and see what other budget-friendly options were there in Australia. Perth. $700-800 on Singapore Airlines sound great. 

And thus, marks the start of our Great Western Australia Journey.

Lady M had been to Perth several years back, but missed on travelling out of Perth. So we decided to rent a car for a little road trip in Western Australia on September 2022. If you still don't know, we absolutely love road trips (still missing New Zealand and Iceland)! And this time, we will be bringing our third-wheel  daughter along. 

Trip Summary

We are going to start our trip at Perth itself, going to Rottnest Island to have our quokka selfie checked. After we collect our car, we will be travelling up north to Geraldton and Hutt Lagoon (or better known as Pink Lake), stopping at Lancelin for a sandboarding session. After which, we will be going south to Cervantes, passed by Perth, Bunbury, Busselton, and finally Margaret River, where we will have our long awaited farmstay. We will head back to Perth before flying home the following day.

The Weather

Now if you still didn't know, this beautiful continent has all the opposite seasons. For example, May was supposed to be hot in most countries, but it's their coldest winter. So yup, you guessed it right, Australians spend their Christmas in hot summer. September is one of the best months to visit, it's spring with a nice temperature ranging from 10C to 20C. As compared to the winter months, rainfall is greatly reduced. Here's a glimpse of their weather throughout the year:

Our Packing List

Cold-weather essentials are a must - Jackets, pullovers, sweaters, and handwarmers if you wish. It was Olivia's first overseas trip so we need to make sure that she's not getting a cold. Being a coastal city, the wind was strong but the cold was bearable. So make sure you are prepped for that. Obviously if you're travelling during hotter seasons, you can opt for sleeveless and swimsuits. One thing I learnt - don't overpack. If you are staying at an apartment, chances are, there will be washing machines and dryers to wash your clothes every other day. 

Road-trip essentials - licenses (Singapore driving licence is eligible, you don't have to apply for anything else), car accessories, such as humidifier, shades, and of course, something to keep the young one entertained. For this, we printed some coloring pages and packed it inside a mini art bag (from IKEA) with lots of coloring materials. 

Meal essentials - We know that we ain't gonna eat bread and chips all day, and eating out could be expensive (about $25-30 per pax). So a mini 2L rice cooker came in really handy. I made porridge for breakfast and rice for dinner almost daily. Don't worry. Australia has a great variety of fresh ingredients and it's comparatively cheap as compared to Singapore. 

Our homemade brekkie almost every morning

Photography essentials - Mavic Air 2 for some really great drone shots. You can pretty much fly the drone everywhere outside of Perth with no license (excluding commercial). However, certain limitations still apply, such as flying near airports, flying not more a certain height and distance, etc. For more information, you may visit CASA drone rules here.

Our First-aid box comprises of plasters, alcohol wipes, paracetamol, and medications for diarrhea, flu, etc. Hopefully you wouldn't have to use it. But better be safe than sorry. To save luggage space, you can also choose to buy it at Australia. Don't worry, Australia is not a third-world country so there's plenty of pharmacies around.

Before the trip

Yes, you need a visa even with a Singapore passport (unfortunately). Days before the trip, please download the "Australia ETA" app and apply your visa (about SGD$20). Get your physical passport ready. The process is VERY EASY. You can fill up within 5 minutes and get it approved within 15 minutes or so.

Please download a copy of your vaccination certificate (via for your flight back to Singapore. 

Note: As of July 2022, there is no need to apply for PDT (vaccination status for Australia).

Is there any quarantine needed?

No quarantine to Australia and back to Singapore, if you're fully vaccinated (as of September 2022). Yay. However, just to play safe, please check country regulations. 

Tip: Before the trip, if you're not renting a car directly from airport, I highly recommend that you download and register with the following private car services - Uber, Didi, and OLA. That way, you don't have to fumble around when you need these apps. 

8D7N Itinerary

Day 0: Singapore > Perth

We decided not to go with a redeye flight, as it may be too taxing for Olivia, so we opted for a 6pm flight. Flight time is approximately 5 hours so we arrived only close to midnight. And yay, Olivia didn't make a fuss on the flight! It was raining crazily when we arrived, but thank God we got an Uber albeit waiting for more than 20 minutes. 

Tip: Get a SIM at the airport. Skip Changi Wi-Fi (which would amount up to $100), and get a SIM card from their airport for a mere $20+ dollars. We got one from Vodafone and it comes with 30GB data. Simply turn on your personal hot-spot to make your phone into a mobile router. How easy!

Check-in: Novotel Langley (Perth City)

Price: $160/night for Standard Double

Rating: Awesome receptionist (shoutout to Mason for his heartwarming service at 1am). Room has basic amenities, but close to city center. Bus stops are within 1-2 minutes walk. It's within the Free Travel Zone, so basically you can just board the bus without paying anything! 

Day 1: Rottnest Island

Due to unexpected weather, our ferry rides got brought forward to 10am and 3pm (from 12pm and 4.30pm). This meant that we had to wake up early for breakfast before heading to B Shed at Fremantle where we are taking the Rottnest Express to the island. Unfortunately for us, weather was crazy and the waves were extremely choppy, so the 30-minute roller coaster-  ferry ride ended with more than half of the passengers puking. Lady M and Olivia included.

Tip: If you're prone to motion-sickness, prep some meds (look for one called "Kwells" in their stores) beforehand. 

Rottnest Island, home of the quokkas, was beautiful. If you're not renting their bicycles ($70/pax) or bus tours ($100/pax), you can only explore the areas near to the ferry terminal. Which we did, mainly because to rent a bicycle is like what? 70 freaking dollars? And it was raining, so we wouldn't expect to see much on the bus.

And of course, gotta tick the "Quokka Selfie" off our bucket list. 

They are really shy creatures, so it might take a few tries. Please make sure to respect the distance!

We spent our hours at the Dome Café, where they served really nice seafood platters and hot soups. A quokka even walked in on us while we were dining. There are a few playgrounds, general store and souvenir shops within walking proximity from the ferry terminal. Like I said, weather was erratic, so we actually ran back and forth between the playground and café, at least 3- 4 times.

The ferry back to Perth wasn't that bad, and we spend the night roaming the almost empty streets (most stores are closed by 7pm), so we got our dinner fix from their supermarket, Woolsworth, and munched it in our hotel.

Day 2: Lancelin > Geraldton

Rice and shine. Literally, as I started to utilise my rice cooker to make some congee. We packed up and collected our car at No Birds Car Rental. The entire process was real quick as we have booked online prior to collection.

First stop was at NP Supermarket, a Vietnamese supermarket where you can get a heck lot of Asian groceries. Here we bought small bottles of condiments (soy sauce, oyster sauce, pepper, etc.) and some sauces for our dinner prep. Having said that, other supermarkets such as Woolsworth and Coles do sell Asian ingredients too (although very limited).

Lancelin was a 1-hour drive from Perth. We had a quick bite before heading to collect our prebooked sand boards (approx. SGD$13 for 1 board, 2.5h) for a session of sandboarding at their famous sand dunes. This place is literally a vast desert so you could choose various heights to slide down. 

Tip 1: Get your shades and windbreaker ready. Their sand are very fine so they could get into your eyes easily.

Tip 2: If you're not driving a 4WD, please please be aware where you drive. Your insurance most probably wouldn't cover any damage or towing if you accidentally drive your 2WD into the sand.

After our sandboarding, it was getting late  so we had to hurried to Geraldton, which is a 3-hour drive away. We took a short break at Jurien Bay and topped up our gas before heading to Geraldton. The roads get really dark at night without any street lights. But I'm not complaining. When we got out the car and see a SKY FULL OF STARS (you could even see the milky way!) 

Check-in: Nesuto Geraldton Apartment

Price: $160/night for Premier Studio

Rating: Spacious apartment with living area, bedroom, kitchenette and laundry area. We even have a dedicated parking lot within a secured compound. Absolutely love this apartment. There's swimming pool facilities as well, but since the weather was cold, we had to skip that.

Day 3: Hutt Lagoon

After a grueling 5-hour drive yesterday, we took a relaxing day by heading only to one place - the famous Pink Lake, a mere 1-hour drive away from Geraldton. Yes, that's the one Jay Chou and his cute little son sang about.

Here's a fun fact: The natural pink color is caused by an algae, which is also used as a coloring agent for cosmetic and food. 

There wasn't anything much besides the lake, but if we were to head there again, I'll definitely pack some lunch along. We headed back to Geraldton for Macdonald lunch and visited their iconic HMAS Sydney II Memorial, which commemorates the loss of a ship and its 645 men. 

Tip: Kalbarri, which is famous for its Nature's Window is just a short drive away from Hutt Lagoon.

Day 4: Cervantes > Perth

What goes up must come down. This day we were going back to Perth. But before that, we passed by this leaning tree. Legend has it that the big bad wolf huffed and puffed this tree. Just kidding. 

And of course we had to make a lunch stop at Lobster Shack, Cervantes. This place is absolutely gorgeous, where you munch on lobsters while enjoying the sea views.

Definitely try their famous Lobster Shack Roll (AUD$30) and one of those delicious critters (AUD$40 for half lobster). Despite being spring with average temperature of 18C at noon, the sun was blaring, so the Iced Chocolate w/ Ice Cream (AUD$7) was a life-saver. They hold tours in their lobster factory too - for you to consider if you have spare time.

Actually, we were planning Caversham Park and Margaret River Chocolate Company here at Swan Valley. However we arrived absolutely too late. But it's alright, there will always be a next time. To compensate her, we stopped by a huge playground for Olivia to explore with some new founded friends.

Check-in: Airport Apartments by Vetroblu

Price: $120/night for One Bedroom Apartment with Balcony

Rating: Extremely spacious with all the necessities too. Exterior may look creepy at night, carpark is quite a walk from the apartment, especially if you've lots of luggage. But for the price, you get what's worth. Super love the spacious kitchen.

Day 5: Bunbury > Busselton > Margaret River

Travelling southwards, we found ourselves in the quiet town of Bunbury. It was raining so we had to give their weekly farmer's market a miss. But their Bunbury market was beyond awesome, with loads of fresh produce, about 3-4 times the variety of Singapore's and even cheaper! It's so fresh that you can take a bite off the shelf. But please don't do that.

We stopped by VAT2 for a nice lunch, huge portions of steak and chips, with a great sea view. We even saw dolphins in the water, and not to mention those nasty seagulls again.

As a coastal city, you can get really pretty shots beside the seas nearly everywhere.

Busselton Jetty is one of the most insta-worthy spot that you would come across. Featuring more than 2km of boardwalk. Needless to say, I had to fly my drone here. Got threatened here because someone got freaked out by the drone, but it's alright, life moves on. Plus I already got my shot. 

Yes, you can try to do your 2.4km run here (good luck running back though). Evening is a greattime to head there as you get some sunset scenery.

There's also a touristy train ride to and fro the boardwalk but we missed it, so I guess we are not walking all the way. In fact, along the boardwalk there are places where you can jump into the water.

One of the best playgrounds here at Busselton, so if you are bringing children, please let them enjoy for a moment or two here.

We arrived at Margaret River around 7pm and checked into our farm-stay for the next two nights. They had a cute campfire that they light on Saturdays, but since it's late and drizzling, we had to give it a miss. 

Check-in: Margaret River Holiday Cottages

Price: $325/night for 2-Bedroom Timber Family Cottage

Rating: Probably one of our favourite stays. It has a living and dining area, full kitchen, laundry area, and two bedrooms (can fit 6 pax). This was the only cottage left during our dates so we took it anyway.  The main attraction is probably the lovely animals that roam freely around the compound. 

Day 6: Margaret River > Yallingup > Naturaliste

We woke up early just in time for their animal feeding where we can meet the friendly residences, ranging from kangaroos, alpacas, sheep, cow, chickens, and many others. 

We also get to ride a decommissioned military truck around the farm.

But to see Olivia having so much fun is still our greatest joy as parents. 

Had a great talk with the owner Andrew, who was an expat in Singapore for 6 years before moving to Margaret River to set up this awesome place. According to him, he would rather have his children look at animals rather than screens. This made me think - isn't that beautiful to bask in nature rather than indulge in TV shows and whatnot?

With Andrew, owner of MR Holiday Cottages

Margaret River is a cosy, quaint town. It has pretty much your essentials within their most vibrant street, it's small but the vibes are strong here. Everybody is just so chill and relaxed here. I can totally imagine us retiring here. Just beside the road at Kevill Road, there's a small waterfall. Unlike most waterfalls where you have to hike for hours, this is literally just beside the road. Perfect if you have children or hate walking.

Back at the town center, we had a non-pretentious lunch at Squid Lips. Probably one of the most worthy fish and chips here at less than AUD$15. You could choose from a wide variety of fishes and we just gotta try the gummy shark. Squid bites are super flavourful as well. Highly rcommended.

Next up, we had a short 30-min drive to Lady M's most anticipated place - Cape Lavender at Yallingup, where they are famous for their lavender-infused desserts and high-tea. It's no wonder that so many people make it their favourite hangout spot. 

We highly recommend their Lavender ice cream ($7), which is the creamiest and concentrated ice cream you would would ever taste. Needless to say, we need to get some lavender-infused souvenirs here.

Tip: Please take note of the store's closing time. When we leave, a couple of groups were still arriving but their kitchen was already closed. You wouldn't want to be disappointed after driving to this region (and especially if you're coming just for this).

There wasn't much in Dunsborough, so we headed to Cape Naturalise Lighthouse to catch a glimpse of the sunset but the entrance seemed closed and the skies gloomy. Nevertheless we stopped by Sugarloaf Rock as well. Although it rained heavily for a few minutes, thank God we stayed on when all other cars left. The skies cleared shortly and we were rewarded with a picturesque landscape of the entire coast.

And of course, another drone shot.

Day 7: Mandurah > Perth

We drove up to Dolphin Quay at Mandurah where we had a nice lunch amidst the seas, yachts and not to mention those nasty seagulls. Think of Sentosa Cove and Quayside Isle. It looks something like that.

We bade farewell to our trusty Corolla as we checked into our last hotel for the trip - Fraser Suites. It's our habit to end every trip with a bang, so we splurged on their most premier suite (which to be honest is still worth it). We wanted Ritz Carlton initially, but was turned off immediately at the $1k pricetag. Perhaps next time.

For dinner, we headed to Oyster Bar at Elizabeth Quay. I mean, how could we skip on oysters when in Western Australia? We had four mixed flavours (total 12 oysters for AUD$35) and had great pleasure slurping every single one down. Our favourite was the Thai - sour with a tinge of spiciness.

To be honest, price wasn't that expensive, we got the Beetroot Bruschetta (AUD$15), Chicken Tenders - super awesome btw (AUD$12), Prawn Taco (AUD$10) and a beautiful cocktail (AUD$20). Total bill was only around AUD$90.

Check-in: Fraser Suites Perth

Price: $350/night for Premier Suite w/ Balcony

Rating: Definitely the best we have stayed for this trip. Comes with a huge living and dining area, a full kitchen, and full height windows of the city. But seriously, we had so many luggage and there wasn't any bellboy to help out.

Day 8: Perth > Singapore

Since our flight is in the late afternoon, we decided to do so last minute sightseeing at Perth's highly acclaimed King's Park. It boasts of so many variety of flowers, and since it's spring-time, many has bloomed. There's also a full, unblocked scenery of the harbour.

Olivia was so fascinated with this fountain that shoots out really high every 3 minute or so. Psst, please stand at a distance if not you will get drenched.

Tip: If you have not yet get your souvenirs, KMART is absolutely, hands-down the best place to get them. Australian-made products at a fraction of a cost, their house brands are even cheaper than Singapore. If you're looking at food stuff, head to their local supermarkets, like Coles, Woolsworth or ALDI, where you can get your manuka honey and chocolates. 

And that it is. Our 8D7N itinerary. It is merely 4 days since we were back from the trip at the time of writing. I still can't get over how amazing this trip was. We did cover a heck lot of places in 8 days (although Lady M did felt it's too rushed). If we had to plan again, we would probably choose a few key places and stay there for 3 nights at least. 

Looking forward to my next. Until then, my passport sits in my drawer.