Virtually every pit stop on the South West Edge road trip features an Insta-worthy sight, but these five spots are truly photogenic from every angle. Cameras at the ready…
1. Sugarloaf Rock
Is it real, or a simulation? Rising above the ocean like a tessellated pyramid, Margaret River’s famous Sugarloaf Rock draws an open-mouthed audience each day as the descending sun sets into the ocean, framing the enormous rock formation with a clear, rose-hued light. You may also wish to follow the lead of other clever picnickers and bring your own champagne hamper; there’s plenty of space to find your own snuggly viewing spot within the wildflower-dotted scrub nearby. After the light show, make your way into nearby Dunsborough for an appropriately beautiful meal: Peko Peko does fantastically fresh and colourful soups, teriyaki meals and noodle bowls, and you can BYO from the bottle shop across the road, too.
2. Greens Pool
Caster-sugar sands and water like liquid mint: the warm, flat expanse of Greens Pool should belong on a dazzling tropical postcard, but – shh! – you’ll find it in William Bay National Park, just twenty minutes by car from the centre of Denmark. A hop, a skip and a jump down the short walking track and you’ll reach your reward: postcard-perfect views that are even prettier in three dimensions. Thanks to a shore-break of smooth boulders, this shallow-bottomed body of water is protected by the ocean’s normal current, creating a giant natural pool of water in hues of pastel peppermint. Join the locals and kick out a few morning laps across its top, or make do with a splash in the shallows and relax on the flat, sun-warmed rocks. Local tip: small multi-coloured coral communities have sprung up underwater around the base of the boulders; pack your snorkel for a close-up look.
3. The Gap
Whooosh… BANG! What was that? As you ease nearer the edge of The Gap, in Torndirrup National Park, the booming oceanic rumblings will intensify until – CRASH! – suddenly the spectacle reveals itself. A slice between rock-hewed sea cliffs, The Gap is embroiled in an endless dance with the ocean: watch as it sucks in giant pockets of air with each receding wave, then brace as the water returns with a head-first slam into the walls. The viewing platform overhead – high enough to make you dizzy – is the ultimate spot to watch the show; the scale of the cliffs and the force of the ocean put things in humbling perspective. Admire the surrounding coastline, aflame with native wildflowers, and check out The Gap’s equally beautiful counterpart, the rock formation known as Natural Bridge. Afterwards, head into nearby Albany for a meal (try Oranje Tractor or Lime 303), or check out the curious sight of Albany Wind Farm – its 12 turbines line the coast in a silent, eerily beautiful ever-moving formation.
4. Great Ocean Drive
Could this be Australia’s most beautiful stretch of road? Don’t answer till you’ve traced Esperance’s famous route for yourself: one dazzling beach after another unfolds along the Great Ocean Drive, while the horizon is splashed with some 105 islands of the Recherche Archipelago, making the route feel a little like island hopping by car. Though it’s only 40 kilometres end to end, you could easily spend a day exploring the many beaches and hidden inlets of this gorgeous drive; stop at Nine Mile Beach to watch colourful windsurfers float across the water’s glassy top, and make time to see Twilight Cove, where you’ll spot spectacular rock formations that curve and loop out of the water. When you finally arrive back in town, head to the Rotary lookout for a view back across the coastline before taking yourself to Taylor St Quarters for a celebratory gin: after all that tough work sightseeing, you’ve earned it.
5. Lake Hillier
How pink can a pink lake be? Soar past Lake Hillier and you’ll soon have your answer: there’s no chance of missing this natural spectacle on a scenic flight with Goldfields Air Services (you’ll see famous Lucky Bay from above, too). The lake’s hard-to-believe hue is a natural phenomenon resulting from bacteria found in the waters, turning the water a fluorescent pink shade you’ll snap again and again. It’s located on Middle Island, off the Esperance coastline – a spot you can actually explore on foot, if you choose instead to take a helicopter tour with Goodwin-McCarthy Helicopters. Land by the beach and take the short walk to admire its gem-coloured tones from the on-ground viewing area, cordoned off to protect its precious pH balance. There’s plenty more to see and do – picnic on the beach by an almost 100-year-old shipwreck, spot dolphins and sea lions playing by the foreshore, or hunt for the grave of Matthew Flinders’ right-hand man, said to be buried here. There’s even a set of ruins to be explored, thought to be left by Australia’s first and only pirate, Black Jack.
Want to know more about the South West Edge?