Each year at the end of winter the deserts and grasslands of Western Australia spring to life with a dazzling display of native wildflowers. This vibrant natural wonder is one of the states top attractions, yet you don’t need a fancy 4-wheel drive, boat, or bulging wallet to appreciate them. You can find spectacular displays in and around Perth, especially Kings Park, but just a short drive up the coast will take you into the heart of wildflower country and deliver you a floral feast for the eyes.
When to visit
Wildflower season in Western Australia starts at the end of winter – June to August – in the north. This is the best time to visit the Pilbara; Exmouth, Karijini and Millstream-Chichester National Parks. The wildflower season in Exmouth conveniently coincides with the humpback whale migration. You can sit up by Vlaming Head Lighthouse enjoying the sun set over acres of flowers with humpback whales splashing in the distance. You may even spot a turtle crawling up onto the beach.
Moving south along the coast to the Geraldton-Perth area the flora comes to bloom slightly later between late June and September. Home to the Wildflower and Midland Route, this region is known as Wildflower Country. This is the area we explored on our road trip described below. We started our trip in Kalbarri in early September and spent the following two weeks driving around the coast, inland to the heart of the Murchison, and down through the heart of Wildflower Country.
The Perth Hills and Wheatbelt come alive late-August to November. A drive through the sweeping fields and around massive granite boulders is accentuated by blooming plant life. Wave Rock at Hyden is a fascinating landform; a curved undercut granite monolith the shape of a wave about to break.
The southern forests and spectacular beaches of Esperance and Albany are best explored right at the end of wildflower season from September to October. The Stirling Ranges National Park is home to a great number of fauna found here and nowhere else.
Wildflower Road Trip
The great thing about the wildflowers is that you can enjoy so much of it from your car, making them accessible and child-friendly. Most tracks are paved but even the unsealed tracks were in good condition and suitable for 2-wheel drive vehicles.
There were times when we would arrive somewhere spectacular to find that Maddie had fallen asleep but could still enjoy the splendour of the springtime without having to wake her.
There are several dedicated routes from Perth and you can pick up several brochures in any Tourist Information Centre.
The two main drives are:
- The Wildflower Route from Dalwallinu just north of Perth to Geraldton
- The Midlands Route starts in Moora and ends in Geraldton
There are many suggested routes around Western Australia, from exploring the red banded-iron gorges of Karijini in the north, to foraging through the Marri, Karri and Jarrah trees of the Southern Forests. The Western Australia site has a list of suggested itineraries and you can download the wildflower brochure here.
We planned our trip around our two camping destinations so didn’t follow any specific route. Having the luxury of time, a car full of fuel and camp trailer packed with supplies, we were able to make up our route as we went along.
We booked planned to spend 5 nights in Kalbarri camping on a friend’s rural plot, exploring the coastal walks and the famous red sandstone gorges of Kalbarri National Park. The second half of our trip would be spent exploring Wooleen Station, a remote cattle station along the Murchison River. Around these two bookings we had complete flexibility, and I think that’s the best way to experience the wildflowers of Western Australia.
- Read more: Family Fossil Hunting at Kalbarri National Park
- Read more: Conservation and Land Regeneration at Wooleen Station
Etiquette and laws
Wildflowers are protected by law in Western Australia. Picking the wildflowers is strictly prohibited. It turns out our darling little girl is a rebel and would grasp at the stems, yanking the delicate flowers from the ground at every opportunity. For this reason we didn’t linger long in the fields of bright blooms. We love everything about Western Australia, particularly the flora and fauna, and as such want to leave it undisturbed.
Maddie was so excited by all the colours and smells and the fairytale scenes made for some wonderful photo opportunities. However, we always tried to redirect her curious hands to more suitable play things after a short time.
A good friend of ours invited us to stay on their vacant plot of land just outside the town of Kalbarri, bordering the national park. We could not believe our luck when we pulled up to find the paddock absolutely bursting with flowers. We struggled to find a spot to pitch the tent for fear of crushing any of these little colourful wonders. Our joy at finding wildflowers around every turn continued throughout our stay.
Walking along the dramatic coastal cliffs we wandered past small bushes with bright purple blossoms, and tiny little pink and yellow flowers growing from every nook and cranny. Hiking through the gorges in Kalbarri National Park was akin to stepping into some fantasia world. Flowers grew on every exposed ledge of the layered red sandstone, blossoming the gorge walls. The small grassy verges were so abundant with yellow flowers that you could barely see any green grass in some places.
Otherwise known as the Pink Lake (although not officially called The Pink Lake, that name refers to another blushing body of water down near Esperance), Hutt Lagoon is a whimsical sight on any day. Add the decoration of a thousand little bouquets and it is transformed into something extraordinary. We were so impressed with our brief stop over at Hutt Lagoon that I have dedicated a special gallery post that you can find here.
Leaving Kalbarri we faced a 6 hour drive to Wooleen Station so being in no rush we decided to stop to camp somewhere along the way. There are plenty of free camps in Australia, every one listed in the Camps Australia Wide road atlas. We decided to just drive until Maddie became unsettled and then stop at the nearest convenient camp. This turned out to be Tenindewa Pioneer Well (Woolya) and we sure did strike lucky with this find. The campsite is nothing more than a few clearings at the start of The Northern Circuit – one of two wildflower routes from the town of Mullewa – but between each site were acres of dense flowering grasses. We were blown away. I had never seen anything quite like this.
Everlastings stretched as far as the eye could see, creating a gentle carpet of whites and yellows swaying gently in the breeze. Maddie was transfixed, partially because of the fascinating new floral world she was exploring, and partly due to the elation of no longer being strapped into her car seat.
We wandered for hundreds of metres along the paths, stopping to take photos and point out various birds to Maddie.
Sunset delivered us another wonderful feast for the eyes as the clouds parted just enough to bathe us in that golden hour light. I danced around the flowers, crouching into all sorts of funny positions to try and get the best angle for my photos – and yes, my husband did take a bunch of unflattering photos of me doing this. He is threatening to make a coffee table photo book of pictures he has taken of me taking pictures. Thanks, honey.
Our stay at Wooleen Station was one filled with fascination, learning about station life and sustainable agriculture, finding a new love for bird watching and, of course, admiring the fields of wildflowers.
The region had received a lot of rain over the winter and the vegetation was flourishing. Again, we were treated to a blooming campsite. The wildlife, especially the bird life, was so abundant and engaging, and the scenery so colourful and dramatic that I sometimes felt I was in a Disney movie.
Driving around the station was like driving through a series of movie sets, from the serene oasis of Yewlands Pool to the whistling grasses of Wooleen Lake.
Leaving Wooleen we retraced our steps back down the red dirt road to Mullewa. From here it is a short drive to the tiny community of Pindar and some of the most quizzical flowers I have ever seen. Scattered along the roadside were these circular, low-lying little bushes, encircled with bright pink flowers. These wreath flowers (lechenaultia macrantha) are aptly named as they resemble a wreath you would hang from your door at Christmas.
Coalseam Conservation Park is an abandoned coal mine-turned wildflower haven. Wandering through fields of everlastings you can enjoy the fauna as well as a little history as this was the first coal mine in Western Australia. Standing at the river looking up at the cliff face opposite – probably 30m high – you can see the different coloured rocks of the Highcliff Sandstone and Irwin River Coal Measures formations. These two bodies of rock comprise the source and reservoir rocks for the local oil and gas production and are just slightly younger than the Tumblagooda Sandstone we can see at Kalbarri.
Driving Back To Perth
We stopped in Dongara and stayed in a hotel for the last night, treating ourselves to Thai take out and a long, hot shower.
We stopped many times on our drive back down the Midlands Route towards Perth, stopping frequently to take photos. Sprawling fields of canola crop were in full bloom creating vast fields of yellow contrasting vividly with the bright blue skies.
Exploring Wildflower Country had been a phenomenal experience, and one that we all enjoyed. Surprisingly, and a little disappointingly we didn’t see a single other child on our two week trip, except in the town of Kalbarri and the more popular spots in Kalbarri National Park.
This is such a great trip for children. There is just so much to see and so many wonderful and safe places to explore. I hope to see more families enjoying the wildflowers in the school holidays and closer to Perth. For now, I love that my daughter is so inquisitive. By the end of the trip we managed to teach her not to pull on the flowers. Instead she would crouch down and gently cup the flower head in her hand and smell the scent.
Supporting Regional Communities
The great thing about visiting the wildflowers in Western Australia is that it is mostly free. The only place we visited that required a fee was Wooleen were we paid AU$30 a night for the campsite, and Kalbarri National Park (usually $13 a day per vehicle but we already have the annual national parks pass). So many of the best sites are just beside the road or at free road-side rest stops or campsites. Even Coalseam Conservation Reserve has no entry fees. Our only big expenditure was fuel which totalled approximately AU$500 for almost 2000km. We kept our costs down by bulk buying all our dry stores food at home, buying only perishables on the road. So all in all, that was a pretty cheap two-week family holiday!
However, we did always try and spend a little in the towns we visited. Each town has a Tourist Information Centre with helpful and enthusiastic staff, and free leaflets and brochures. A lot of these small towns rely on tourist dollars so buying a coffee or stopping for lunch makes a big difference. We love seeing the work of local artists and creators. We found a wonderful little pop-up coffee-shop in Mullewa selling beautiful canvases and prints by Helen of Mulla Mulla Designs (check out her Instagram here. There is nothing better than sitting for a morning coffee chatting with a local about their art and what inspires them.
We plan to make this trip a yearly tradition – but the best part is that our trip in September was still fairly early in Wildflower season … we still have the inland and southern blooms to come.