On the shortest road route from Perth, the capital of Western Australia, to Albany on the state's Rainbow Coast, it would take nearly five hours to cover the 417-kilometer distance via the Albany Highway.
This is the inland route which bypasses the coastal cities and towns of southwestern Western Australia, and the visiting traveler may prefer the longer routes which take in Fremantle, Rockingham, Mandurah, Bunbury, Margaret River, and Augusta.
The coastal route follows the Old Coast Rd (Highway 1) south until Bunbury where it branches off into Busselton Highway to Augusta and Jewel Cave. From Augusta, you'd need to backtrack on Busselton Highway until Karndale to find the turnoff to Brockman Highway which leads east and eventually joins South Western Highway all the way east to Albany.
The first coastal city just southwest of Perth city center is Fremantle, Perth's seaport, which is virtually a Perth suburb. If you're traveling south from Perth and take the Kwinana Freeway, you'll completely bypass Fremantle.
If you do pass through and stop at Fremantle you may want to see what Fremantle activities and attractions, including Fremantle Prison, which is part of the World Heritage-listed Australian Convict Sites, are there.
The Fremantle visitor center is in Kings Square at the corner of William and Adelaide Sts.
The city of Rockingham, fewer than 50 kilometers (31 miles) south of Perth, is often considered the southernmost border of the greater Perth metropolitan area.
Fine beaches, a variety of watersports and environmental parks contribute to making Rockingham a Perth "suburban" holiday and day trip destination. Water activities that may interest you include snorkeling, sailing, and surfing.
Dolphin watch cruises get you close to the dolphins off the Rockingham coast. Take a ferry to nearby Penguin Island, home to more than 1200 little penguins.
The Rockingham visitor center is at 19 Kent St.
Mandurah, south of Rockingham on the Old Coast Rd, is some 72 kilometers (44 miles) from Perth. It is Western Australia's second largest city.
Mandurah's foreshore and coastal waters are home to dolphins, pelicans, shags (a cormorant-like bird) and the blue manna crab for which Mandurah's Peel River estuary has become famous as a crabbing destination.
As with many Australian coastal areas, beaches and water activities are a major attraction.
The Mandurah visitor center at 75 Mandurah Terrace is open daily except for Good Friday, Christmas Day and Boxing Day.
Some 175 kilometers (108 miles) south of Perth, Bunbury is Western Australia's third largest city after Perth and Mandurah. It is located near the mouth of the Collie River at the southern end of the Leschenault Inlet.
Not only does Bunbury have several fine beaches but yachting facilities, diving sites, dolphin and whale watching cruises, and beach and sea fishing add to the city's many attraction as a coastal visitor destination.
If you wish to bypass the Margaret River region, the South Western Highway to Albany starts at Bunbury.
The Bunbury visitor center at the old railway station, Carmody Place is open daily except for Good Friday, Christmas Day and Boxing Day.
Probably best known for its two-kilometer-long wooden jetty, said to be the longest wooden pier in the southern hemisphere, Busselton is some 220 kilometers (136 miles) south-southwest of Perth. It is located at the northeastern end of the Margaret River wine and surfing region.
At the end of the popular Busselton jetty, the Underwater Observatory brings visitors face to face with one of the country's best artificial reefs and the variety of colorful marine life.
In Geographe Bay, fishing, water skiing, snorkeling, scuba diving, windsurfing, and sailing are among the many aquatic activities visitors can indulge in.
The Busselton visitor center at 38 Peel Terrace is open daily.
Margaret River is a town, river, and region. The town is some 277 kilometers (172 miles) from Perth, the river is where the town got its name, and the Margaret River region from Busselton to Augusta is arguably Western Australia's premier wine region. It is as well a place of fine surfing beaches with a collection of nearby surf breaks, particularly Margarets Main Break, also known as Surfers Point, at the mouth of Margaret River.
Art and craft galleries, fine restaurants, forests, bush and beach, and yes, underground caves are among the attractions of Margaret River. For a taste of adventure, try rock climbing, abseiling, windsurfing or canoeing. Or you can take it easy whale watching or casting a line for the local fish.
The Margaret River visitor center at 100 Bussell Highway is open daily except for Christmas Day.
Some 310 kilometers (192 miles) from Perth, Augusta is on the southwest coast of Western Australia near Cape Leeuwin which is the farthest southwest corner of the Australian continent. It is at the southern end of the Margaret River wine region.
A fishing town at the junction of the Indian and Southern Oceans, Augusta sees whales traveling through Flinders Bay in the whale migration season of June to September. Whale watch tours are available, or you can spot the whales from Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse which is open to the public.
Blackwood River, which runs through Augusta, offers a range of aquatic sports which include waterskiing, fishing, and boating.
The Augusta visitor center at 75 Blackwood Ave is open daily except for Christmas Day.
Some 417 kilometers (259 miles) from Perth via the inland Albany Highway, the port city of Albany lies at the northern edge of Princess Royal Harbour in King George Sound.
Historically, Albany was the last Australian city seen by the soldiers who were to be known as the Anzacs as they left for Europe in 1914 during World War I. The Albany Anzac Peace Park is dedicated to the Anzacs of that war.
Convict jails, old taverns, whaling ships, an old whaling station, and settlers' cottages bring an air of the past into today's Albany. Gone are the days of hunting whales, replaced in the present day by whale watching and whale watching cruises.
Fishing, sailing, diving and hiking opportunities abound.
The Albany visitor center at the Old Railway Station, Proudlove Parade is open daily except for Christmas Day.