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Lovely undulating hills, forests and farmlands flank the eastern side of
Geographe. Water surrounds it on all other sides, with the cosmopolitan
city of Bunbury nestled on the western coast. Just 90 minutes from Perth,
Geographe has a number of great national parks that dominate the
landscape, together with beef and dairy farms, vineyards and orchards.
The Geographe wine region is fast becoming known for its fabulous
wines and picturesque landscapes. Foodies are flocking to the area for its
excellent dining options in the wine country, and also in Bunbury itself.
A vibrant city with cafes, wine bars and restaurant strip, Bunbury has
several top hotels, serviced apartments and holiday parks. Fun farm stays
and chalets, lakeside or forest resorts, and bed-and-breakfasts can also be
found out in the countryside.
BLACKWOOD RIVER VALLEY
Steep, imposing hills dominate the landscape of this valley, bisected
by the winding Blackwood River. This is the region of colour, vibrancy
and quirkiness. Themed landscaped gardens flourish, with many private
gardens open during spring and autumn. Quaint country towns are the
order of the day, their streets decked with window boxes and artworks,
while high-jinks country events are the norm. The steep hills offer
outstanding views across valleys, with gorgeous cottages, chalets and bed
and breakfasts, some situated down by the river. Historic country hotels
and lodges in town also provide fantastic country charm.
Big national parks have long been the attraction of the Southern Forests,
with fantastic walking trails, scenic drives and camping grounds among tall
karri forests, wildflowers, and pristine waterways. Awesome mountain-bike
trails, canoeing, tall climbing trees, and sand-dune tours offer adventure
bait. With excellent cool-climate wines and local produce, the forests
have become an outstanding food and wine destination. Chalets, farm
stays, resorts and hotels all take advantage of the stunning landscape of
woodland, wine country and farmlands.
by anyone other than the locals
and savvy visitors. Amazing fresh
waterways abound and make great
retreats, while natural waterholes
and cascading waterways are found
in the stunning Wellington National
Park near Collie.
Western Australia’s longest
continually flowing river, the
Blackwood, winds its way through the
valley, the bushland wilderness and
towns. Enormous dams, perfect for
stillwater sports, are found just out
of Harvey, while others that are ideal
for swimming can be found all the
way through the lush green region.
Pemberton also has a fantastic natural
swimming pool, as well as the Warren
River. If you’re planning to swim,
canoe, kayak or even cast a line, check
the current conditions and licensing
requirements at the visitor centres,
and heed the warning signs.
The South West’s jarrah and marri
forests are well worth a look, but it’s
the soaring karris and tingles that will
have you in awe. See them at their
most spectacular, skyscraping glory
in the Southern Forests. Manjimup,
Pemberton, Northcliffe and Walpole
are the places to go for karri, and the
Valley of the Giants, just outside of
Walpole, has amazing tingle trees.
In true adventurous Western
Australian style, where ’one must
conquer all’, rungs have been
hammered into trees, so you
can climb to the top of three of
Pemberton’s karris (the highest is
72m). A suspended walkway has been
erected not far off, so you can walk
through the forest canopy (albeit in
a much more civilised fashion) at the
Tree Top Walk. The views and sense
of achievement are worth the effort.
One of the South West’s biggest
drawcards is the abundance of
wildflowers blooming across the
fertile ground in spring. The forest
floors come alive, carpeted in coral
vine and native wisteria, dotted
with lovely orchids and bright fungi.
Woodlands are also fantastic viewing
areas and usually full of orchids and
kangaroo paw. Down by the coast,
the colourful heath and shrub land
provide romantic walkways.
For sporty types, this region
offers adventure thrills, fantastic
golf courses, horse-riding and rock
climbing. The off-road Bibbulmun
Track and Munda Biddi Trail are great
for scenic treks or rides, traversing
the countryside through forests,
farmland and alongside rivers. Each
is about 1000km long and stretches
through the region from Mundaring
(in Perth’s Hills) to Albany (in the
Great Southern). Rather than going
end to end, most people walk or ride
sections of the track, all of which are
found in these regions.
No matter your taste or holiday
style, the sheer diversity of WA’s
South West ensures a magic and
Manjimup (photography Elements).
Lake Ballingall, Collie.
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