South West Western Australia offers fantastic landscape scenery and wonderful beaches, with plenty of small towns offering accommodation and a number of attractions.
This region offers some of the most varied travel experiences in Western Australia. Discover towering forests to whale watching, fine food and wine to world class surfing.
Despite being first settled by the British, the Western Australian coastline was no stranger to a number of other nations. The Portugese came in the 16th century, followed by the Dutch and close behind were the American whalers and the French. Many of the region’s coastal features were named in honour of these early explorations.
Heading south from Perth the first major town you will come across is Fremantle, a relaxed and historical city offering plenty of places to visit. From Fremantle you can head east the small town of Hyden and the famous Wave Rock. It is quite a distance, although worth it to see this amazing rock formation. Continuing south along the coast are several pleasant coastal holiday resorts. Rockingham offers a number of good beaches, as well as various boat cruises.
You can join a cruise out to Penguin Island as well as go swimming with dolphins between September to May, which is an unbelievable experience.
South again is Mandurah, which is situated on the Mandurah Estuary and offers good fishing and often dolphin sightings. There is a good city tour on the Mandurah City Tram, which tells you about the city and the areas history. You can also join a boat trip within the Estuary, where you are likely to see plenty of birdlife. More birds can be seen (as well as fed) within the Parrots of Bellawood Park.
Continuing south is historic Pinjarra where there was a large battle between Aborigines and the white settlers. There are a number of buildings worth visiting, as well as a fantastic steam train journey through the beautiful Western Australia wildflowers just west of Pinjarra at Dwellingup.
South of Pinjarra is Harvey, which is a great setting for bushwalking and close to the unique Yalgorup National Park. Continuing along the highway you can turn off towards Collie which is the only coal town in the whole of Western Australia, and another great place for bushwalking. There is an interesting coal mining exhibition and offers tours around the Muja Power Station.
South along the coast is Bunbury, which is a busy port and popular holiday destination. From Bunbury, you can either head through the Western Australia's wonderful South West Forests or continue along the coast. Further along the coast at Geographe Bay is Busselton another holiday destination, and further around the bay, Dunsborough. From Dunsborough you can continue to the scenic Cape Naturaliste and the pleasant beaches which surround the cape, including Bunker Bay, Eagle Bay and Meelup. The views from here are fantastic, and you may be lucky enough to spot the Humpback or Southern Right Whales during their migration.
More great beaches continue around Yallingup, which is the spot to go if you are into surfing. From here you should also visit the Ngilgi Cave. Once you reach Prevally Park you can head across to the beautiful Margaret River which hosts more fantastic surfing beaches and gives access to some wonderful wineries. It is well worth making the short detour before continuing south to Augusta, another great holiday resort.
From Augusta you will need to head inland before joining one of the main highways south to the southern coastal towns. You will pass the Shannon National Park and the Mt Frankland National Park on the way, before you reach the town of Walpole and the surrounding Walpole-Nornalup National Park which is home to the Valley of the Giants.
Continuing west you will pass Bow Bridge, Parryville and the coastal William Bay National Park before arriving at Denmark, which is also known as Koorabup meaning 'Place of the Black Swan'. There are some good beaches around Denmark including Elephants Rocks and Green's Pool for swimming, and Ocean Beach for surfing. There are also a couple of great walking trails around Denmark, including the Mokare Trail and the Wilson Inlet Trail.
Continuing east you come to Albany, from where you can head north to Mt Barker and the Porongurup and Stirling Ranges, or continue west to the fishing town of Bremer Bay which is situated at the Western end of the Great Australian Bight and a great place from where to spot Southern Right Whales. East again you will reach Ravensthorpe which is an old copper mining town. South of Ravensthorpe is Hopetoun, hosting several pleasant beaches and giving access to both the Fitzgerald River National Park and the Frank Hann National Park.
The Frank Hann National Park offers a range of flora, although the Fitzgerald River National Park is much more beautiful hosting over 80 different species of Orchid, Royal Hakea, Quaalup Bell and plenty of other plants and many birds. There is a fantastic bushwalk through the park from Fitzgerald Beach to Whalebone Beach, although you will need to carry all supplies (including water), and make sure you wash your shoes every day in an attempt to avoid the spread of Dieback. West along the coast is Esperance a beautiful coastal town a short distance from the Eyre Highway, leading to South Australia.
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