South West Region

May 1st, 2001 Features, Scoop Traveller

Things to do

Drive or hike around the southern forests, where you’ll see some of the densest foliage in WA and among the tallest trees anywhere. Don’t miss the awesome Valley of the Giants Treetop Walk at Walpole for a completely new perspective on the grandeur around you.

Take some comfortable shoes or hiking boots and follow the many trails or just drive slowly through the karris. There’s a real atmosphere of peace to be soaked up while moving through the forest.

Search out and browse the many galleries, woodworking studios and art & craft stores in the forest and take a piece of the local flavour home.

For the fit and the brave, climb the Gloucester Tree on metal spokes spiralling up the 60 metre height to the viewing platform at the top.

Hit the coast at Bunbury, and wile away the hours at the trendy cafe strip or explore the maritime history of the town. Take all your beach gear if it’s summer and see if the dolphins are swimming at Koombana Bay.

Walk, cycle or take the train out to sea along the Busselton Jetty — the longest wooden jetty in the world at almost two kilometres — and go fishing from above or scuba dive below, particularly when the weather is warm.

The Wine Region is lined with beaches, so be prepared during summer to water ski, surf, scuba dive, parasail, or just dawdle along the sand and listen to the waves. If you’re there during winter, watch out offshore for whales on their annual trek.

Sample and buy locally produced wines, which are among the most highly regarded in the world. Buy the local jams and condiments, boutique beer, seafood and game — all available at village stores and fine restaurants, hotels and guesthouses.

Poke around the historical heart of the area, where you’ll find everything from milling to farming, decrepit towns from the timber industry’s golden age and the cheese and fruit producers that still thrive.

Meander along the back roads that lead through hilly green farmland and stay at a farmstay or bed & breakfast for the real country experience. For the home horticulturalist, the gardens and flowers of the area are beautiful.

About the Region

The South West region is as picturesque to get to as it is to stay at — a nice drive down the highway just two or three hours from Perth. Despite jutting out into the sometimes frigid waters of the Indian and Southern Oceans, the area enjoys some of the most agreeable climate in WA. Don’t expect to swim or surf too much during winter — not just because the water isn’t too warm, but because there’s just so much else to occupy you.

Some of the prettiest beaches line the edge of a land of rolling hills and deep forest. This is certainly the greenest part of the state, and food and drink producers have used the climate and fertility of the land to create a region world renowned for its wine. Even though we produce only 1% of Australian wine in the South West, it constitutes 20% of the country’s premium wine. The grapes love it down here and so will you.

Perth’s European settlers had a choice — north and west lay desert harsher than they could imagine, let alone had seen. South was a land just like home, wooded, cool, pleasant, and fruitful. So long before anyone ventured into the Mid West, Goldfields or Pilbara, the South West began to grow, generating vibrant industries that most of the cities, towns and villages of the area are founded upon.

Timber and farming took off in the mid 1800s and as the population grew and people realised the beauty of the area, the finer things followed and the desire to share and sell them progressed from there. The South West is a paradise for holiday makers and lovers of fine produce and the fruits of the earth.

Down here you’ll find every kind of accommodation there is, from camp grounds to five star luxury, and everything in between. It’s a place to pamper yourself and relax, no matter how active your stay. There’s so much to do you’d need more than one trip, and that’s why so many Perth dwellers (and increasingly other Australians) come back to the South West so often.

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Ask most Western Australians to describe the South West in one word and most will chorus ‘wine’. And because of the reputation of our local vineyards right around the world, that consensus would be fair enough. Go to the South West region for so much more than the wine and food, but whatever you do, go there for the wine and food.

But if you aren’t a wine drinker and a burger at a beachside take-away or a frothy cappuccino at a village teahouse is your idea of a good time, don’t think there’s nothing there for you. There are sights, history and culture to be found everywhere.

Nowhere else in West Australia are there so many moods and colours in the land. Rousing surf and calm beaches lie beside pristine sand and coastal bush. Thick forest creates a tranquil haven down south. The vineyards and farms roll over the hills and plains and spirit away some of the highest quality food production in Australia.

And nestled in among them all is a very well appointed tourism and holiday industry, and every style of traveller is catered for. The South West is an playground for stressed Perth dwellers or sand baked northerners, with activities and things to see from the beaches to the lush farms inland.

There’s a guesthouse with a huge fluffy bed and roaring fireplace around every corner, a spa to look out over the trees from on every hill, and a quaint village packed with art and produce on every lazy back country dirt road.

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