South West Australia was rightly chosen by Lonely Planet as one of the world’s Top 10 Regions in 2010. With boutique food and wine, towering forests, impressive wildlife and world class surfing, the South West offers immensely varied travel experiences. It’s definitely worth a trip, so here are DirectAsia.com’s insider tips to help you plan.
The Margaret River Wine Region
Covers the area between Cape Naturaliste, Cape Leeuwin and east to Busselton, containing a cluster of towns, each with a distinct personality. The region has won international recognition for premium wine-production with nearly 55 square kilometres (21 sq mi) under vine and over 138 wineries as of 2008. The principal grape varieties in the region are fairly evenly split between red and white; Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Sauvignon blanc, Shiraz, Merlot, Chenin blanc and Verdelho.
Margaret River also forms an ideal summer playground for surfing, or you can also find calmer waters at Meelup, Eagle Bay and Bunker Bay. Perth based locals also head here in winter for the lure of cosy log-fires, brisk walks along the impeccable coast path, horse riding trails and mountains of delicious local produce.
Blessed with sheltered beaches and beautiful forests, scenic walk trails are easy to find around Dunsborough. Kids will enjoy Simmo’s amazing ice cream, endless sand and waves, wild Kangaroos and Emus, feeding baby lambs, crazy golf and great play parks. You can even join the local library for the duration of your stay!
A huge draw for scuba divers is the HMAS Swan Dive Wreck, which is also visible to snorkellers from above the ocean surface. The Busselton Jetty and Underwater Observatory are home to Australia’s greatest artificial reef and is host to a dazzling forest of vividly coloured tropical and sub tropical corals, sponges, fish and invertebrates. In Albany, there are more fascinating diving experiences including the HMAS Perth Dive Wreck. In season, whale-watching boat trips are a must.
Towering forests are a hallmark of the South West. Walpole is home to the famous Valley of the Giants Tree Top Walk, suspended 40 metres above the forest floor. Around Pemberton you can even climb to the top of some of these beautiful giants – try the Gloucester Tree (61m) or Dave Evans Bicentennial Tree (75m). Not for small children or anyone who prefers the ground to the sky!
The Bibbulmun Track is a walk trail that stretches more than1,000 kilometres from Perth to Albany, an adventure in itself it draws thousands of visitors each year. There are plenty of easy camping spots along the trail.
South West Australia: Weather Watch
The climate can best be described as humid Mediterranean. With an average annual rainfall of around 1,130 millimetres (44 in), most rain falls between May and August. Summer is very warm, though there are usually sea breezes. The hot dry summers, coupled with strong winds, mean there is always a high risk of bush fires. Winter can be cold (though not freezing) and rain frequent with warmer dry spells in between the cold fronts.
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