South West of Western Australia
The densely populated Perth conurbation is surrounded by the South West region, which extends in the north to Jurien Bay and in the south to the southwest corner of the continent and round it to just east of Albany. Among the tourist attractions in the northern part of the region are the curious Pinnacles in Nambung National Park - limestone columns up to 4m high which rise out of the flat sandy desert near the sea - and New Norcia, a mission station founded by Spanish Benedictines in the mid 19th C, with fine buildings in Spanish colonial style. To the south the coastal region beyond Mandurah (with Bunbury, Busselton, Margaret River and Augusta as the principal towns) and the hinterland, with the huge karri forests round Pemberton, offer great attractions to nature lovers, water sports enthusiasts and walkers.
Walpole-Nornalup National Park
18,000ha.This National Park in the rainy South West was established in 1910 to protect its majestic karri trees and other giant eucalypts. The park also takes in a 40km long stretch of coast on the Southern Ocean, with granite promontories, wide beaches, dunes, heath-covered slopes and sheltered inlets. The central feature of the park is the long Nornalup Inlet, into which the Frankland and Deep Rivers flow. Beyond the Nornalup Inlet is the smaller Walpole Inlet at the mouth of the Walpole River, with the holiday settlement of Walpole. There are tracks and walking trails running along the beaches. The park also offers areas for fishing and water sports.Between the Deep River and the sea is the trackless expanse of Nuyts Wilderness, ideal for bush walkers. The ruggedest part of the National Park with its rock-covered hills, coastal dunes, deep wooded gorge and rocky coast has a rich flora (orchids) and fauna. It is reached on a footbridge over the Deep River at Tinglewood Lodge.In spring (between September and November) the wild flowers in the wooded areas put on their finest show. In summer (December to February) it is warm and dry (danger of forest fires), but even in summer the nights can be cold.The Bibbulmun Track, which runs north for over 500km to near Perth, starts from Walpole.Cars are not allowed in the Wilderness Area. From the South Western Highway and South Coast Highway side roads run through beautiful scenery to waterfalls, karri forests, huge tingle trees (Valley of Giants) and the coastal lagoons on the inlets.
Address: South Western Highway, Walpole, WA 6398, Australia
Useful tips: Best time to visit: spring and summer. Access from South Western Highway northwest of Walpole, or from South Coast Highway east of Walpole (turning off at Bow Bridge into road to Peaceful Bay). Warning: Beware of sudden giant waves and slippery rocks!
Yalgorup National Park
11,800ha.Yalgorup National Park takes in a string of coastal lagoons and swamps between lines of dunes and limestone ridges which provide nesting places for countless numbers of water birds. It is a region of eucalyptus woodland with dense undergrowth; on some hill slopes there are expanses of coastal heath vegetation. There are short walking trails round some of the lagoons, and it is also possible to walk along the fire-breaks. On the coast are excellent beaches for a variety ofwater sports.
Busselton (pop. 7780) is one of the oldest settlements in Western Australia. It was founded by the Bussell family at the mouth of the Vasse River in the 1830s. It is now the commercial center of the surrounding agricultural area (dairy farming, beef cattle), a timber town (jarrah forests) and a popular holiday resort with a good surfing beach to the west of the town and sheltered inlets for swimmers.Two handsome old 19th C buildings are St Mary's Church in Peel Terrace (1844; fine timber roof) and Prospect Villa in Albert Street, a mid-19th C brick building, now a government office. Opposite, in Victoria Park, is Ballarat, the oldest steam engine in Western Australia. On the banks of the river is an old butter factory with its original equipment. There is also a film museum.
Excursions in the area surrounding Busselton are best done in all-terrain vehicles.
Leeuwin-Naturalist National Park
16,100ha.This 120km long coastal park on the southwest coast extends from Bunker Bay in the north to Augusta in the south. The landscape is very varied, with wide beaches, dunes, rocky coasts, tall cliffs, small islands and reefs. The edges of the cliffs are crumbling: care required. Inland, water has carved out interesting caves in the limestone.
The port town of Bunbury (pop. 23,000) has developed in recent years into a popular tourist center. From here are shipped the agricultural produce of the fertile hinterland and the mineral sands which are worked in the surrounding area.Among the town's fine old buildings are King Cottage (1867-80), a brick-built house at 77 Forrest Avenue which is now a museum (historical collections, Victorian furniture); the Leschenault Homestead on the Old Coast Road, an early settler's house built of clay bricks and timber, with a beautiful garden; the Rose Hotel (1865) at the corner of Victoria and Wellington Streets; and the Eagle Towers Restaurant at 192 Spencer Street, in a former farmhouse (1877) in the style of an Indian bungalow.
From Boulter's Lookout and Marlston Hill Lookout there are good views of the town of Bunbury and surrounding area. 11km north of Bunbury is Australind, another popular holiday center.
Australind (pop. 3670) is a popular holiday resort (water sports, fishing) on the Leschenault Estuary. It was the scene of a large-scale but eventually unsuccessful settlement scheme in 1841, when land on the south side of the estuary was allotted to 500 British settlers, but the scheme failed because of the poor quality of the soil.St Nicholas's Church in Paris Road is the smallest church in the country; it was originally built in 1840 as a worker's cottage. Opposite the church is Henton Cottage (c 1841).
Mount Frankland National Park
30,800ha.There is a spectacular view of this national park - the great forests (karri, jarrah and tingle tree, with a profusion of wild flowers in late spring) and the catchment area of the Frankland River - from Mount Frankland (422m).An easy walking trail through karri forest runs round the foot of this granite hill, with steep paths leading up to the summit.
Address: South Western Highway, Walpole, WA 6398, Australia
Useful tips: Best time to visit: spring and summer. Access via the Beardmore Road, a scenic (unmade) road, which branches off Highway 1 90km south of Manjimup and runs east by way of Fernhook Falls to Mount Frankland. Mount Frankland can also be reached from Walpole on the North Walpole Road; most of the road is asphalted but the last section is gravel, though in normal weather conditions negotiable by an ordinary car.
Scott National Park
3200ha.Scott National Park lies on the east bank of the Blackwood River and on the Scott River, which flows into the Blackwood. Expanses of marsh and wetland; wooded slopes with jarrah, karri and marri trees and dense shrub undergrowth that blossoms in spring. In the wetlands there are many nesting places of water birds.The park also offers good places for water sports and fishing.
The fishing village of Augusta (pop. 460) is the most southwesterly point in Australia. Founded in 1830, it is the third oldest settlement in Western Australia.There is an interesting Historical Museum (Blackwood Avenue).In Turner Park are 150-year-old fig trees.
Visitors can travel to Northcliffe (pop. 210) from Pemberton on the Timber Tramway, originally built to transport timber but now a tourist train running through magnificent scenery, with forests of majestic karri trees up to 1000 years old.
Margaret River, Australia
Margaret River (pop. 1280) lies a few kilometers from the coast on the river from which it takes its name. It was founded in 1921 by a commune.
The main attractions of the area surrounding Margaret River are the beautiful coastal scenery and impressive caves (Mammoth Cave, 20km southwest, with fossil remains of prehistoric animals; Lake Cave). Near the mouth of the river is the Wallcliffe Homestead (1865), a two-story house built by the Bussell family and still in the family.