The 4400km drive up Highway 1 from Perth to Broome, across the Kimberley and on to Darwin in the Northern Territory is one of Australia’s great road journeys. Contrary perhaps to expectations, the Batavia and Coral coasts, Central Midlands region, the Pilbara and the Kimberley all have distinct personalities that become evident as you rack up the kilometres. On some days it’ll seem like all you’ve seen are road trains, road kill and roadhouses, but to compensate there are innumerable places en route whose beauty will take your breath away, and even more that give an insight into Australia that you rarely get on the east coast.
If any single trip across Australia benefits from independent mobility it’s this one: a car will allow you to explore intimately and linger indefinitely. If you want to discover the wayside attractions, allow at least four to five weeks for the journey from Perth to Darwin. Three weeks will whizz you through the highlights; anything less and you may as well fly. Highway 1 is sealed all the way, but to really experience northern WA you’ll need to get off the beaten track and explore, as towns en route are almost without exception lacking in charm. A glance at a map shows the long distances between roadhouses, let alone settlements; plan your next petrol stop and make sure your vehicle is in sound condition, particularly the tyres and the cooling system, both of which will be working hard.