Margaret River – a gorgeous spot for a quick break from Perth.

Margaret River in the south west of Western Australia needs no introduction. It’s the big hitter destination that most people head to. It’s no wonder, with it’s lovely restaurants and wineries as well as plenty of gorgeous coastline and nearby natural attractions. We had a lovely al-fresco lunch outside at the Brewhouse. They were most welcoming for humans and canines. Doggy friends who come to this buzzy pub are quickly supplied with a water bowl (actually faster than humans were served with some cool water!)

Octopus Dish at The Brewhouse, Margaret River. This was a delicious dish!!!
Layla by Russell Sheridan – sculpture symbolizing protection for all the surfers lost in the waves!
Kevill Road Waterfall – a hidden local gem!
Kevill Road Waterfall

When visiting Margaret River, the sleepy town of Augusta is only a 40 minute drive south and worth a visit. On route, stop in at Hamelin Bay.

Hamelin Bay – famous for sting rays but we didn’t see any on this overcast day!
Historic Water Wheel near Augusta. This used to supply the Cape Leeuwin lighthouse keepers with water

Beautiful Bush Camping in the South West of Perth

For people who like to be surrounded by the serenity of bush, there are plenty of really lovely bush camping spots in the south west of Perth. Not too far from Perth, near Dwellingup is Lane Poole Reserve. It’s a lovely place to camp with trees, a river for swimming in, clean pit toilets, fire rings and picnic tables. There are many different areas to camp in. Some camping areas have lovely sites which are private and surrounded by trees, while other camping areas are just a large bit of bare earth.

Walking Trail at Lane Poole Reserve
Lane Pool Reserve – Charlie’s Flat Campground
Lane Poole Reserve Walking Trail

Not too much further south from Perth than Lane Poole Reserve is Logue Brook Dam. Camping by Logue Brook Dam is possible facilitated by the Lake Brockman Tourist Park. For those who like more amenities, there is a normal caravan park facility. For those looking for a bush camp experience, there are sites which only have a communal pit toilets but are surrounded by lovely bushes and trees. Swimming, kayaking, jet-skiing and all manner of water activities are allowed in the Logue Brook Dam.

Logue Brook Dam
Logue Brook Dam – delightful bush camps available at Lake Brockman Tourist Park

Closer to Margaret River, near the Blackwood State Forrest is Canebrake Pool. There is 6km of unsealed road to get in there but it’s a lovely location with clean toilets, fire rings and swimming.

Canebrake Pool near the Blackwood State Forrest – great spot for swimming if the weather is warm!

Other lovely bush camping sites we passed include Honeymoon Pool and Greenbushes Pool. Interestingly after being through most of the states, it can be said with confidence that West Australian pit toilets are the least offensive and confronting. Unfortunately, either due to the design, the remoteness or the humidity, pit toilets in the Northern Territory are the worst!

For people who enjoy a hot shower and flushing toilets but do appreciate sleeping amongst the trees, Coalmine Beach Holiday Park in Walpole ticks all the boxes. It feels like a bush camp with all the sites set amongst the trees but is has all the mod cons of a caravan park.

How do you like to camp?

Inland areas of the South West of WA

There are plenty of lush green rolling hills and beautiful countryside to be seen in the inland areas in the south west region of Western Australia. A must visit sight is the massive 8000 square metre art work that is the Wellington Dam Mural. The Wellington Dam is the second largest dam in in Western Australia, second only to the dam at Lake Argyle. The artist, Guido Van Helten is no stranger to painting giant murals and has done so worldwide including inside a nuclear cooling tower in Chernobyl! This is his biggest work to date.

Due to the difficulty in accessing the large curved wall for painting, the artist had to use a custom built floating platform and split the work up into grid blocks, painting to final completion one block at a time. This article tells the story of how it was done. Realistic paintings are difficult enough to do, but to do it on this scale and to be only be able to work on one small area at a time in isolation must have been particularly challenging. The result is very realistic and mind bogglingly huge!

Wellington Dam Mural
Wellington Dam Mural

About 15 minutes from the Wellington Dam is a roundabout where there are thousands of garden gnomes! Pull over and stretch your legs as you peruse the thousands of garden gnomes at Gnomesville. This is one of those attractions that invite public participation and one-upmanship! What started as a few gnomes has grown quite out of control with thousands of gnomes now dotting the area. It’s a kitschy attraction but a bit of fun especially if you have a cheeky gnome to add to the collection.

Gnomesville – ….because these are irreverent Aussie gnomes!
Gnomesville – because even gnomes keep up with the times!! Wear your mask and stay at “gnome!”
Gnomesville – where do people buy these gnomes?!

Not far south of Gnomesville is a lovely arboretum called Golden Valley Tree Park. An arboretum is a botanic garden comprising of trees. This one was broken into two parts, one section for Australian trees and another for European trees.

A chestnut tree in flower at the Golden Valley Tree Park

There are some people in the charming small town of Nannup who love roses! Beautiful, plentiful rose bushes are blooming everywhere in this cute town. It has a small, delightful market on some weekends, a comprehensive free app for tourists and a nice walking trail by the Blackwood River.

Red roses by the bowls club in Nannup
Roses in Nannup
Roses near the Shire Building, Nannup

There are stunning displays of flowers along the Blackwood River walking trail but was saddened to find that most of these are invasive weeds, garden escapees.

Climbing plant, pretty but alas, a weed
Also a weed!
Watsonias, a garden escapee, an invasive weed choking out native species. Blackwood River Walk Trail, Nannup

Busselton/Dunsborough – a real contender for best beach in Australia!

There is a beautiful long strip of spectacular beach that stretches from Busselton to Dunsborough. I had previously claimed that Turquoise Bay in Exmouth was the best beach in Australia but this beach might be better! It’s very long so there is no need to deal with crowds. There is plenty of stunning beach for everyone and it’s easy to find a spot for yourself! It’s also very close to amenities whereas Turquoise Bay is a fair drive from Exmouth which is in itself a fair drive from any big city. The Busselton to Dunsborough beach is very close to houses, restaurants, roads and is only 2.5 hours from Perth. It’s a calm beach, perfect for families and there are plenty of vacation rental accommodation nearby. The only thing Turquoise Bay has which is superior is the snorkeling. Australians are totally blessed with so many beautiful beaches and a huge number of gorgeous blue sky days that many forget that this is not the norm in other countries.

Busselton / Dunsborough Beach – best beach in Australia? quite possibly!
Busselton / Dunsborough Beach
Deep Sea Pool, near Busselton Jetty

There is a lovely shared walk and cycle path that stretches from Bussselton to Dunsborough. This is a lovely well maintained facility which is not hilly at all. It makes a very pleasant cycle ride with view of the stunning coast. You can also cycle along admiring the expensive and varied beachfront properties as you go! Whilst cycling along the path, we saw 5 bobtail lizards sunning themselves on or beside the bike path.

Bobtail Lizard by the Busselton to Dunsborough walk/bike trail. The warm path must seem like heaven to these cold blooded reptiles!
Shares Walk / Cycle Path that runs from Busselton to Dunsborough – thoroughly recommend cycling or walking part or all of this!

Cycling does make a person ravenous. We had a lovey authentic French lunch at Bistro Breton in the centre of Busselton.

Buckwheat crepes from Bistro Breton, Busselton

Whilst in the region, check out the spectacular sights and beaches around Cape Naturaliste.

Sugarloaf Rock, near Dunsborough
Injidup Natural Spa, near Yallingup

Bunbury – an oft overlooked city.

Many Perth locals and travelers alike race right past Bunbury in a mad dash to go “down south”. Bunbury is not without it’s charms and is worth a look. It has some cool lookouts, pretty spots and a bustling farmer’s market!

Marlston Hill Lookout
View of Bunbury from Marlston Hill Lookout
View of Bunbury from Marlston Hill Lookout
Koombana Bay Lookout, Mangrove Boardwalk Bunbury

Bunbury is a big city and sometimes they can lack the charm of small towns but with any and every place, there are always hidden gems to be found!

Big Swamp Parkland cycle trail