A motorhome is a good choice for exploring a large area and moving every night. It combined three important factors for us: transport, accommodation and ability to move on a daily basis. Two weeks seemed a reasonable amount of time to follow the coast south through the Margaret River region then east to Albany.
Recently when my wife Samantha had to fly to Perth for a work trip, we decided to take our kids Erin, then aged 13 and Lachlan, then 9, and turn it into an extended holiday. We had two weeks, so driving our rig from Melbourne to Perth simply wasn’t an option.
A motorhome is a good choice for exploring a large area and moving every night. It combined three important factors for us: transport, accommodation and ability to move on a daily basis.
We’d heard great things about the Margaret River area and south coast of Western Australia. Two weeks seemed a reasonable amount of time to follow the coast south through the Margaret River region then east to Albany.
A Streamline Set up
Our setup for sleeping was easy; the kids had the top double bed over the driver’s cabin and my wife and I had the rear double bed. That meant the centre table could stay up all the time for meals and general relaxation. The kids were happy to spend downtime up in their beds, reading or watching TV, and in a small space it kept them from getting underfoot, especially while cooking dinner.
A place for everything and everything in its place holds true for motorhomes. Things can get messy, and fast. We had a ‘washing bag’ that sat behind the passenger seat to reduced clothing clutter. Everyone had their own cupboard area for clothes and personal items.
Pre-drive checks are also a good idea. We’ve all seen people pull out of caravan parks with vents up! So my nine-year-old son did up a checklist of things to do before driving. He loved doing it, and took ownership of checking the list to make sure we were road-ready.
Busselton to Eagle Bay
There is lots to see and do in WA’s south east. Families are particularly well catered for with great beaches, caves, lighthouses and the famous Busselton Jetty – one of the highlights of the trip. At 1.8km long it is the second longest in the world. But the crowning glory for the kids was the jetty train and aquarium.
The jetty train tour we planned on taking was full. We had an hour to wait for the next tour but this would make for a very late lunch and hungry kids. So we went back to the motorhome, turned on the gas, fired up the cooktop and made lunch early. Having everything 50m away in the parking lot allowed us to rearrange things to suit.
The following day, heading back from the beautiful Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse, we wanted to stop somewhere with a view for lunch. Turning down a side road on a whim, we arrived at Eagle Bay. A long, white-sand beach that the kids instantly fell in love with. We quickly decided to spend the afternoon here.
The motorhome’s adaptability really shone through at this point. Parking next to the beach, we had million-dollar views. The kids played on the beach, I pottered around taking photos and Samantha spent the afternoon reading and knitting in the motorhome, all the while overlooking the beach. When the kids got hot, tired or hungry they simply came to the motorhome for a while.
Caves, Trees and Whales
Jewel Cave is arguably the most magnificent cave on show in the Margaret River region. Our guided tour lasted about an hour and comprised 250 steps down, and 250 back up! The pace through the limestone cave was leisurely and broken up with numerous stops in the cave’s three massive chambers to marvel at its crystalline wonders. Lachlan was particularly excited to hear about the Tasmanian tiger skeleton discovered and that allowed us to have an educational discussion about extinction and how it occurs.
Scary but enjoyable was the Dave Evans Bicentennial Tree, near Pemberton. The largest tree climb of its kind in the area, the Bicentennial Tree is a magnificent Karri tree that stands more than 60m high. A good level of fitness, a healthy disregard for your own safety and a love of heights would all help make this climb more fun.
Along the south coast from Walpole to Albany, Greens Pool has turquoise waters, white sand and imposing boulders. The old whaling station at Albany was also a hit with the kids. The guided tour enthralled them with stories of blood and adventure, but also held an important environmental message about the impact of whaling.
Finally, Little Beach just outside Albany is one of the most beautiful beaches we saw. White sand, granite boulders and azure water greeted us as we pulled into the carpark. As a Queensland boy, I’ve got to admit, WA has some great beaches.
Tips for a fun family motorhome holiday
· Give the kids important jobs – like checklists for driving
· Use an app to find cheap, local fuel
· Don’t be too prescriptive about what you want to see
· $1 and $2 coins for laundry
· Stop and smell the roses
· Try to eat before going into attractions – food is expensive in museum cafes
Travelling from Perth to Albany is a comfortable trip to accomplish in two weeks with stopovers in Busselton, Yangalup, Prevelley, Cape Hamelin, Augusta, Pemberton, Walpole, Peaceful Bay, Denmark and Albany.
Where to stay
Busselton: Busselton Jetty Tourist Park (http://busseltonjettytouristpark.com.au/)
Prevelly: Prevelley Caravan Park (http://prevellycaravanpark.com.au/)
Augusta: Flinders Bay Caravan Park (https://flindersbaypark.amrshire.wa.gov.au/)
Pemberton: Pemberton Caravan Park (https://www.pembertoncaravanpark.com.au/)
Denmark: Denmark Ocean Beach Holiday Park, Ph: (08) 9848 1105
Albany: BIG4 Emu Beach Holiday Park (www.big4emubeach.com.au)
Busselton Jetty: www.busseltonjetty.com.au
Cape Naturaliste: https://parks.dpaw.wa.gov.au/site/cape-naturaliste
Jewel Caves: www.margaretriverattractions.com/caves/jewel-cave/
Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse: www.margaretriver.com/attractions/lighthouses/
Dave Evans Bicentennial Tree: https://parks.dpaw.wa.gov.au/site/dave-evans-bicentennial-tree
Albany Historic Whaling Station: http://www.discoverybay.com.au/historic-whaling-station