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The South West - From Caves to Waves
The South West region of Western Australia is an extremely diverse holiday destination. Travellers can spend one day lounging on white sandy beaches and the next indulging in Margaret River’s fine wines. The day after that, discover forests of majestic proportions or head underground to tour famous caves. While natural attractions make up a considerable part of South West getaways, do not skip the cultural opportunities in Albany, where you can visit an old whaling station or delve into Anzac history. Holiday rentals in the South West are as varied as the region’s activities, ranging from luxury waterfront villas to sweeping estates overlooking vineyards.
South West Beaches and Coastal Attractions
The South West offers a combination of safe swimming and surfing beaches. Families tend to prefer Meelup Beach, with its fine white sand. This protected bay is backed by a lush nature reserve interwoven with coastal trails. There are BBQ areas in the shade, just beyond the waterfront.
Bunker Bay is another family-friendly beach which provides numerous snorkelling and diving opportunities, as well as great fishing. This part of the coast is especially scenic, so bring your camera.
The Margaret River area features over 40 surfing hotspots. One of these is the well-known, aptly named Surfers Point, setting of the yearly Margaret River Pro. If you visit during the championship, you will be able to watch professional surfers from around the world show off their skills.
South West Marine Life Encounters
The waters lining WA’s South West are well-known habitats for a number of aquatic species. If you are staying in Bunbury, head to the waterfront early in the morning for a chance to spot wild dolphins. To learn more about these friendly creatures - and even swim with them - visit the Bunbury Dolphin Discovery Centre.
Travelers to Busselton can get a glimpse of the colourful reef life beneath the ocean surface at the underwater observatory, set at the end of the Busselton Jetty. From September to December, visitors to many parts of the South West can participate in whale watching tours to see southern right whales and their humpback cousins up close.
Fine Wine and Gourmet Dining in the South West
WA’s South West harbours several internationally recognized wine regions, notably around Margaret River. Caves Road is lined by wineries, where you can stop for a meal overlooking the vines.
Head into the town of Margaret River and browse the main street’s gourmet shops. Treat yourself to dinner at one of the award-winning restaurants showcasing creations made from local ingredients.
Pemberton is another wine producing region in the South West, specialising in cool climate wines. Sample some of Australia’s leading chardonnay or stock up on premium produce at one of the town’s many gourmet shops.
South West Natural Attractions
One of the most visited natural attractions in the South West is the network of Boranup Forest caves, close to Margaret River. Take a self-guided walk through Mammoth Cave, see the planet’s largest straw stalactite inside Jewel Cave or admire the crystals as you join a tour of Jewel Cave.
Head to the Valley of the Giants to experience the Treetop Walk. This is a pathway suspended 40 metres off the ground, allowing visitors to stroll at canopy level, taking in the 400-year-old tingle tree forest from a completely different angle.
The South West boasts countless opportunities for hikers and cyclists to get their fix. The Bibbulmun Track runs for roughly 1000 kilometres, linking Albany to the towns east of Perth. This walking trail leads through national parks, affording prime views of the region’s changing scenery.
The similarly long Munda Biddi Trail, consisting of a network of paths across the South West, is designed for cyclists. Ride through through valleys, forests and past old railway tracks to see native flora and fauna unique to the region.
Art and Culture in the South West
While on holiday in the South West, delve into the region’s human heritage. Discover local Aboriginal traditions and art at the Kodj Gallery, where you will be able to view Noongar artwork and purchase a number of handcrafted artefacts, from pottery to boomerangs.
Alternately, go museum hopping in Albany to learn all about the South West’s European history. Visit Discovery Bay’s once operational whaling station, now turned into a museum, or pay homage to Anzac troops at the National Anzac Centre, where you can learn all about Australian involvement in the last century’s wars.
Getting around the South West
WA’s South West begins 2.5 hours from Perth. The region covers over 20,000 square kilometres, so the best way to cover multiple destinations in one trip is to drive. However, public transport departing from Perth will take you to the South West’s main towns - Busselton, Bunbury, Margaret River and Dunsborough. You can also fly to Albany from Perth.