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The South West
Western Australia Regions
the bottom-left corner of the Australian continent packs in a huge variety of fantastic travel experiences into an easily manageable area,
ranging from huge vast areas of pristine wilderness and national parks, hiking trails, forests of giant trees, imposing ancient rocks, caves, remote camp sites, wild surf beaches, cliffs and sheltered natural ocean pools...
...to top restaurants, classy wineries, cosy country towns, luxurious villas and pampering spa retreats.
Being close to Perth and relatively compact (that is, you don't have to drive 500 hundred kilometres from one town or tourist attractions to the next), it's a lot more manageable than other regions of Western Australia.
Areas to Explore in the South West of Western Australia
Margaret River Region
The Margaret River Region encapsulates the very best of the South West Region.
It's most well-known for being a world-class surfing destination and for the top quality wines grown and produced in the region
It also has beautiful scenery, fantastic beaches, dramatic rocks and cliffs on the coast, rivers, limestone caves, and jarrah and karri forest.
Whether you want a nature-based holiday camping, bush walking, canoeing and surfing - or an indulgent and romantic escape to a luxury spa retreat with outings for wine tasting and long lunches at fancy restaurants - you will love the Margaret River Region. It's a destination with something for everybody.
The South Coast of Western Australia
On Western Australia's south coast, about 4 - 5 hours drive from Perth, you can stand on the edge of the massive granitic cliffs and experience the power of the ferocious southern ocean, or swim at some of the most picture-perfect, heavenly beaches sheltered from the waves by rocks and tall headlands.
Inland, rolling green hills, karri forests, massive granite outcrops and serene coastal estuaries make for incredibly scenic drives and bush walks.
The weather on the south coast is moody and bleak for much of the year (well, only compared with elsewhere in WA), but grey skies, rain and mist add to the dramatic beauty of the landscape and seascapes.
The one really big town on the South Coast is Albany, which was Western Australia's first settlement. Albany has some beautiful old buildings and an interesting history from the colonial days.
The Karri Forests
In the cool south of Western Australia grows the third tallest tree in the world, the karri tree. These massive giants of the forest tower over you, reaching heights of up to 90 metres into the sky.
Vast areas of tall forests, heathland, rivers, inlets and a wild, rugged coast are protected by a series of national parks and nature reserves.
The karri trees grow tallest near the old logging town of Pemberton. Not far from town, the old-growth forest protected by the Warren National Park has the most awe-inspiringly beautiful tall karri trees. The main attraction for tourists are the three fire lookout trees. Metal rungs hammered into the trunks form ladders that spiral all the way up to treehouse platforms high up in the canopy. If you're brave enough to climb all the way up, you'll be rewarded with the most amazing views across the treetops!
Whilst the karri trees are tall, the Tinglewood Trees - the other giants of the forest - a massive in girth. This unique and incredibly ancient tree species that is only found in a small area around the town of Walpole in the very south of the Forests region is a top tourist attraction of the South West region of WA.
Just at the edge of the city to the east and south of Mandurah, the Down South countryside begins. For Perth people, this area is the beginning of the South West of Western Australia.
If you're living in Perth or Bunbury, it's a great area to escape to for a few nights in the forest, or even a daytrip to somewhere like Dwellingup and the Lane Poole Reserve, or Preston Beach and the Yalgorup Lakes.
The natural bushland is jarrah forest, the very best of which is to be found down around Collie and the Wellington National Park.
Blackwood River Valley
The Blackwood River meanders its way east from the wheatbelt, then south to where it reaches the ocean at the town of Augusta.
The land where the river flows through is a pretty area of jarrah forests (and some karri in the south), quaint country towns, orchards and the most scenic farmland in Western Australia.
Picnic or bushwalk along the banks of the Blackwood River, or hire a canoe for the day or even several days. Go for a hike through the forests, or browse through the shops, galleries and cafes of the pretty little towns.
The Great Southern
This is the southernmost part of the West Australian Wheat Belt, inland from the South Coast and Blackwood River Valley.
The landscape is mostly monotonous (but not unpleasant to look at) farmland of wheat, sheep and canola. There are a few travel gems off the beaten track - in particular, the Stirling Range and the Porongurup Range.
Mount Barker, Frankland and Porongurup some of the best wine, with good quality, but smaller more personal wineries and cellar door tastings than you'll find in more touristy up-market places like Margaret River or Denmark.
A Map of the South West Region of WA
Areas on the Map:
- Orange - Peel-Geographe
- Red - Margaret River Region
- Green - The Karri Forests
- Light Blue - Blackwood River Valley
- Dark Blue - The South Coast
- Purple - Great Southern
View South West Region in a larger map
South West WA Towns
The South West region of Western Australia was once a typical agricultural region, but in more recent times some of the more touristy towns have been heavily influenced by surf culture, hippies, environmentalists and alternative life-stylers.
Some towns in the South West, particularly the Margaret River Region, have a classy, upmarket feel to them - the main streets lined with art galleries, organic cafes, exclusive homeware stores and sophisticated wine bars. Others, like Balingup and Denmark have more of a greeny/alternative lifestyle feel.
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