Western Australia Great Southern Holidays
A region that starts at the border with South Australia and follows the coastline of the Great Australian Bight westwards before taking in the south west coastline and finishing at the Indian Ocean in the west. This is a diverse area, full of surprises, that range from desert landscapes to Mediterranean beach fronts.
Long stretches of flat, semi-desert flank the Eyre Highway as it follows the southern edge of the Nullarbor Plain and culminates in the very attractive coastal, agricultural and tall timber forests in the south west corner of the state.
The Eyre Highway, which extends westwards from Eucla at the South Australian border across the Nullarbor Plain to Norseman, was once considered to be a drivers worst nightmare.
Things have improved with the advent of sealed roads but the basics of safe driving are still a priority in this part of the world. Carrying emergency spares, good tyres, a plentiful supply of water, knowing how far to the next petrol and having a sound roadworthy vehicle are all essential for this journey.
Places Of Interest - Great Southern Region
Eucla to Norseman - the Eyre Highway as it parallels the Great Australian Bight. Eucla is one of the highway roadhouse stops where visitors can stop to look at the old telegraph station ruins and the nearby sand dunes. Experienced cavers can visit the Koonalda Cave. More highway stops are the roadhouses at Mundrabilla, Madura and Cocklebiddy which boasts the Cocklebiddy Cave, the site of the worlds deepest cave dive. A 4WD access runs south to the coast at the Eyre Bird Observatory. Travel further west through the stops of Caiguna and Belladonia before the final sector reaches Norseman at the end of the highway.
Norseman - the crossroads for the Eyre Highway to the east, the Coolgardie Highway to the goldfields in the north and the Esperance Highway to the coast in the south. A gold mining history with visits available to the School of Mines and a guided gold mining tour. Nearby dry Lake Cowan is worth a visit.
Esperance - in recent times the town has developed into a popular resort centre due to its climate, coastal scenery, white beaches and clear waters together with excellent fishing and diving. Esperance has a town museum and tours are available to the offshore islands with their land and marine wildlife. Adventure tours are also available for off the beaten track 4WD safaris, fishing trips and tours of the nearby national parks.
Albany & surrounds - the major town of the south coast area with a history as a whaling centre and situated on the excellent natural harbour of King George Sound. Some of Australia's most rugged coastal scenery is to be found in the Albany region. Several fine colonial buildings are on display in Stirling Terrace; the Old Gaol, Patrick Taylor Cottage the restored Post Office.
Mt Clarence and Mt Melville provide good lookouts and the restored Princess Royal Fortress is a testament to the days of empire. Southern right whales pass offshore and several whale watching tour operators are based here for the season which is July to September. Nearby Porongurup National Park has large karri hardwood trees, granite outcrops and some excellent views.
Further inland is the Stirling Range National Park jutting abruptly from the plains with its changing colours at sunrise and sunset. The flats around the range are popular in spring for the wildflower displays. Mt Barker on the Perth -Albany Highway is the centre for many local wineries with cellar door visits available. The coastal township of Denmark boasts 3000 year old Aboriginal fish traps at Wilson Inlet, has some popular beaches and is a good jumping off point for visits to the tall timber forests of the nearby Walpole-Nornalup region.
Manjimup - the major centre of the south west corner and a wood-chipping town. Nearby Pemberton is dwarfed by the surrounding karri timber forests and the very adventurous with a head for heights can attempt the Gloucester Tree lookout. The Pemberton Tramway is a popular attraction. Nearby Bridgetown sits among karri forests and farmland and provides access to the flora reserve at Boyup Brook, the rock formations at Norlup Pool and the vintage engines of the Wilga mill.
Margaret River - a popular holiday destination boasting excellent surf and beaches, coastal scenery and world class wine from the local vineyards. For some excellent coastline around Margaret River try the old coast road when travelling south to Augusta or north to Busselton. There are several limestone caves in the region with the best known being Jewel. Caving adventures are available in the area. Nearby Augusta is another popular coastal holiday town adjacent to Cape Leeuwin with a rugged coastline and a lighthouse providing views of the surrounding area.
Busselton - another popular holiday centre. Known for the southern right and humpback whales that visit the area. Busselton is home to a 2km long wooden jetty and the restored, historic National Trust listed Wonnerup House. This is the jumping off point for the many fine beaches in the Cape Naturaliste area.
Bunbury - a port, industrial town and holiday centre all rolled into one. Bunbury is well known for its visiting dolphins and a heck of a lot easier to get to than the more publicised Monkey Mia far to the north. Local wildlife is on display at the Big Swamp Wildlife Park. Nearby Donnybrook is an apple growing centre, while Collie is a coal mining town and Harvey is at the centre of the fruit bowl north of Bunbury.