The South West region of Western Australia is abundant with the idyllic scenery Australia is famed for. It also has a fair share of charming towns. Here are nine of the best to consider for your next trip.
The coastline of Western Australia’s South West features some of the most beautiful beaches in Australia, while the forests are a perfect place to check out the local wildlife. The South West region is home to award-winning wineries and restaurants that make use of the delicious local produce.
Although the South West features popular tourist destinations like Bunbury and Margaret River, there are plenty of small towns dotted along the coastline that provide visitors with a memorable experience. We’ve rounded up the most charming towns from the region, as well as the best wineries, restaurants and attractions in each area.
Augusta is situated at the extreme south west point of Western Australia and holds the record for the tallest lighthouse in mainland Australia. Luckily, the rest of the town is just as illuminating as a trip to the lighthouse, with plenty on offer for those looking for a slice of Australia’s famous outdoor scenery. Nature lovers can try the 13km Cape to Cape walking track, where you might be lucky enough to spot a whale or two. Visitors also have the opportunity to venture down the Jewel Cave to view the stunning crystals on display and hear about the now-extinct Tasmanian tigers who once inhabited the caves.
Bridgetown is a slice of serenity, surrounded by lush green karri and jarrah forests. It’s particularly dazzling in the colder months, with locals claiming that Bridgetown is ‘the winter capital of Western Australia’. The town holds an annual Winter Festival, providing locals and visitors with craft fairs, exhibitions and cozy winter food. The town is also regarded for the Blues at Bridgetown, with the music festival attracting thousands of blues lovers each year. It’s the only town in the South West that has been granted Historical Town status by the National Trust of Australia, cementing its status as one of the hidden gems of the South West.
There’s no better way to see the beautiful surrounds of Busselton than by taking a stroll (or tram) along the Busselton Jetty. At 1.8 kilometres long, it’s the longest wooden jetty in the Southern Hemisphere. The Underwater Observatory at the end of the jetty offers visitors the opportunity to see more than 300 marine species in their natural habitat, albeit in an artificially created reef. As well as its famous surfing spots, Busselton offers myriad activities, including mini golf, archery, and skydiving. At the end of the day, visitors can relax at The Goose restaurant, known by locals for providing modern Australian cuisine with local produce.
The quiet shire of Donnybrook is the centre of Western Australia’s apple production. It’s home to orchards that produce some of the state’s best wine and cider, which are available to try at Oakway Estate or Barton Jones wineries. Donnybrook is an ideal destination for families, boasting the Apple Fun Park and the annual Apple Festival, which gives visitors a look at the town’s environmentally friendly ways of production. The town also features the quirky Policeman’s Way Museum, hosting police memorabilia from all over the world.
Dunsborough’s history dates back 40,000 years – it’s one of the oldest continually occupied habitats in the world, originally home to the Wardandi tribe. Visitors to the town can see Dunsborough’s important relationship with the Aboriginal people at sites like Caves Road, where artefacts up to 12,000 years old have been discovered. The Cape Naturaliste lighthouse may be a little younger by comparison, but still has a rich history dating back to the 1800s. Visitors willing to climb up the 123 metres to the top of the lighthouse will be rewarded with a spectacular view of the Indian Ocean and Geographe Bay coastline.
The forests that surround Dwellingup are filled with trails perfect for running, biking or four wheel driving. Try the Nanga Brook walking trail for a relaxing stroll through the picturesque Nagna region. For the more adventurous, there’s the Trees Adventure, giving visitors the opportunity to complete an obstacle course 25 metres above the ground. History buffs can take the Hotham Valley Tourist Railway, riding a historic steam hauled picnic train into the heart of the Darling Range forest.
While Harvey may be famous for its beef production and for providing the majority of milk in Western Australia, there’s more to the town than the herds of cows that can be seen every couple of hundred metres. You can take a cheese-making class at Ha Vee Cheese or just spend the afternoon sampling their products; stopping at the award-winning Miami Bakehouse for one of their creatively flavoured pies is a must. Previous flavours have included seafood paella, chicken scallopini, and beef and Guinness. Harvey is also home to renowned wineries Fifth Estate (open by appointment only) and the Harvey River Estate.
It might sound odd to visit a town just to climb a giant tree, but that’s certainly one of Pemberton’s most famous attractions. The Gloucester Tree, a Karri tree standing at an impressive 58 metres tall, is open for visitors brave enough to attempt the climb – only twenty percent of climbers make it all the way to the top. Once you have your feet on solid ground again, steady your nerves with a Karri Pale Ale from local brewery Jarrah Jacks, or take a visit to the Pemberton Fine Woodwork Gallery and try some of the gourmet regional produce on offer at Holy Smokes café.
Walpole is home to the Valley of the Giants tree top walk, the first of its kind in Australia. Visitors walk through the tingle trees of the Walpole-Nornalup National Park, forty metres above the ground. The tingle trees, a kind of eucalyptus, can only be found in this region, making for a truly unique experience. Mandalay Beach is known to the locals as an excellent fishing spot, but even those without a rod and bait can enjoy the stunning sunsets. Mandalay Beach also offers historical artefacts from 1911, when the Norwegian barque The Mandalay wrecked on the beach.