Enjoy Looking and Feeling Amazing in Great Southern Coastal Towns WA
Esperance is a town in the Goldfields-Esperance region of Western Australia, on the Southern Ocean coastline approximately 720 kilometres (450 mi) east-southeast of the state capital, Perth. The urban population of Esperance was over 10,000 as at the 2016 Census. Its major industries are tourism, agriculture, and fishing. The Shire of Esperance is home to 13,477 people. Esperance offers the kind of natural beauty that borders on overwhelming, and a slow simplicity that will remind you that sometimes, the Earth’s treasures are all you need. It’s a 7 1/2 hour drive or 1 1/2 hour flight south-east of Perth.
Scientific tests have ruled that Esperance has some of Australia’s whitest sand. Its countless sugary beaches are best seen via the 38 kilometre (24 mile) Great Ocean Drive– plan to stop and stare every few minutes. Along the drive, Twilight Bay is a firm favourite for its translucent, turquoise waters, sculpted rock formations, picnic tables and showers. Out of town, Lucky Bay has sand so fine, it squeaks when you walk on it.
Stumbling across Stonehenge isn’t exactly what you’d expect outside a remote coastal town in Western Australia. The world’s only full size replica, made of 2500 tonnes (2755 tons) of local pink granite, was created as a quirky attraction on a cattle property in 2011. Open Thursday to Monday (entry AUD$10), it is 15 kilometres (9 miles) east of Esperance. So if you’ve never been to the original in the United Kingdom, stop in here – especially if your visit coincides with the summer or winter solstice, when the sun and the rocks align.
Albany is a port city in the Great Southern region of Western Australia, 418 km SE of Perth, the state capital. Albany is the oldest colonial settlement in Western Australia, predating Perth and Fremantle by over two years. Impossible not to be entranced by a city where the view down the main street, York Street, is straight out into the deep blue waters of Princess Royal Harbour. This historically important city on the wild south coast of Western Australia not only offers the visitor magnificent views over King George Sound (one of the country’s great deep water harbours) but it is rich in elegant public buildings, historic homes, store houses and wharves, and gracious churches. It is Western Australia’s oldest European settlement.
Also, and this a vital element that makes it so special, the coastline to the south is dramatic and seductively beautiful. The huge rocky outcrops, the violence of the Great Southern Ocean when it is wild and windswept, the unforgiving monotony of the infamous Albany Doctor (a wind that is supposed to blow in the afternoon but often is howling by 7.00 am), the beauty of the beaches with their pure white sands, and then, as if by the magic of nature, the quiet waters of Princess Royal Harbour which is entered through a narrow channel between Point King and Point Possession. Albany, unlike so much of Western Australia, is cool and wet. The city centre of Albany is located between the hills of Mount Melville and Mount Clarence, which look down into Princess Royal Harbour. Many beaches surround Albany, with Middleton Beach being the closest to the town centre. Other popular beaches include Frenchman Bay and Muttonbird Island.
Katanning is a town located 277 km south-east of Perth, Western Australia on the Great Southern Highway. The meaning of Katanning is unknown but it is thought to be a local aboriginal word that is ‘Kart-annin’ that literally means “meeting place of the heads of tribes”, ‘Kartanup’ that means “clear pool of sweet water”, or ‘Katanning’, which means “spiders on your back”. Others suggest that the place is named after a local aboriginal woman.
Katanning features a unique playground of oversized structures named the “All Ages Playground”. The town has many other attractions, including a state of the art recreation, leisure and function centre. The town has a castle-like structure which was built as a winery. The town’s entrance features an antique truck loaded with imitation wool bales, a windmill, and several sculptures of sheep made from corrugated iron. The town has become a regional service centre for the Great Southern and services the nearby towns of Broomehill, Tambellup and Woodanilling plus several more.
Narrogin is a large town in the Wheatbelt region of Western Australia, 192 kilometres (119 mi) southeast of Perth on the Great Southern Highway between Pingelly and Wagin. In the age of steam engines, Narrogin was one of the largest railway operation hubs in the southern part of Western Australia. Narrogin is an Aboriginal name, having been first recorded as “Narroging” for a pool in this area in 1869. The meaning of the name is uncertain, various sources recording it as “bat camp”, “plenty of everything” or derived from “gnargagin” which means “place of water”.
Narrogin’s previous role as a major railway junction has acted as an attractor for agricultural service industries as well as government departments and agencies. The town has accumulated significant public infrastructure – mainly in the health and education areas. This infrastructure serves as the base for the modern regional centre that Narrogin has become today. The Old Court House Museum is a major attraction for tourists. The building was designed by the architect George Temple-Poole and constructed in 1894. The building served as a Government school until 1905, when it became the local courthouse. A local branch of the Agricultural Bank was housed in the building between 1924 and 1945, but in 1970 it was converted again into the local courthouse. Since 1976, the building has been used as a museum, exhibiting displays of regional memorabilia. The surrounding areas produce wheat and other cereal crops. The town is a receival site for Cooperative Bulk Handling.
The town also acts as a hub for sporting competitions in the surrounding regions. Facilities were improved in recent years with the development of the Narrogin Leisure Complex, which houses a 50m outdoor pool, 25m indoor heated pool with leisure pool, gymnasium, café, squash courts, basketball stadiums as well as a world class wet synthetic hockey turf.
Manjimup is a town in Western Australia, 307 kilometres (191 mi) south of the state capital, Perth. The town of Manjimup is a regional centre for the largest shire in the South West region of Western Australia. Surrounded by lush pastures and some of the most productive soils in Australia, Manjimup is fast becoming known as the Food Bowl of WA. A diverse range of high quality produce surrounded by a pristine environment makes Manjimup a must do on anyone’s culinary bucket list.
Tall, temperate forest surrounds Manjimup which include the majestic Karri and Jarrah trees. Wildflowers are abundant in Spring all through the forest. Australian wildlife also inhabits the forest including Western Rosellas, Lorikeets, Port Lincoln Parrots as well as Possums and Kangaroos. There is also a very pretty swimming and picnic area on the delightful Donnelly River with barbecues, shade, walk trails and toilets provided. A walk trail links the pool and nearby historical One Tree Bridge and the Four Aces. In season, fish the river for Leaping Rainbow Trout or Marron.
Manjimup has a Mediterranean climate with mild summers and cold winters. Rainfall is plentiful during Winter which provides ideal conditions for the tall trees to flourish and surrounds the town with temperate forest. Rivers and streams are also continually flowing all year round. In Summer (December to February), the average maximum temperature is 38°C with an average minimum temperature of 24°C. In Winter (June to August), the average maximum temperature is 10°C with an average minimum temperature of 4°C.
Bridgetown is a town in the South West region of Western Australia, approximately 270 kilometres (168 mi) south of Perth on the Blackwood River at the intersection of South Western Highway with Brockman Highway to Nannup and Augusta. The town has rustic charm with a unique wooded backdrop and an enviable array of eating houses. Once the apple growing centre of the state, Bridgetown is now famous for its rolling hillsides, scenic drives, jarrah forests, starry nights and the longest continually flowing river in the state, the mighty Blackwood.
Bridgetown is situated inland from the coast in Australia’s South West tourist region. Bridgetown is in the centre of the Blackwood River Valley which surrounds the town and undulates to the southern coastline. Bridgetown is one of the largest towns in the area. One of the best ways to get to Bridgetown is to hire a car from Perth Airport. Enjoy the fruit fresh from the farms, taste local vintages or wander through antique village shops. With the Blackwood River at it’s heart, the valley will immerse you into a country setting where you can escape to lush farmlands and see undulating hills with streams and waterfalls. The area surrounding Bridgetown can be explored with different drives varying from 3km to 113km in length which lead to interesting locations such as Orchards, Galleries and Historical Buildings. The roads meander past rivers and farmlands and pass through stunning Jarrah forests.
Collie is a town in the South West region of Western Australia, 213 kilometres (132 mi) south of the state capital, Perth, and 59 kilometres (37 mi) inland from the regional city and port of Bunbury. It is near the junction of the Collie and Harris Rivers, in the middle of dense jarrah forest and the only coalfields in Western Australia. Historically Collie has been Western Australia’s most important coal mining town. It has grown to become a major centre with a population of 9,500 and wide range of services to meet the needs of a growing population. It has, for example, five primary schools. The appeal of the town lies in its historic role as a coal mining centre. It has a replica coal mine which allows visitors to experience what life was life underground (all the coal in the area is now mined by open cut) and there is a particularly interesting Steam Locomotive Museum beside the modern visitor centre.
Located beside and behind the Visitor Centre is an impressive collection of old Steam Locomotives and a bright yellow Mechanical Shovel. The Steam Locomotive Museum has ‘F’, ‘V’ and ‘W’ class locomotives all superbly restored. Each steam loco and the shovel have detailed descriptive panels.
Wellington National Park is located 18 km west of Collie and comprises 17,0009 ha of jarrah, marri and blackbutt forest. The centrepiece of the park is the Collie River Valley and the Wellington Dam with the dam’s picnic area being 29 km from Collie. The park is ablaze with wildflowers (there are over 300 varieties in the park) in the spring and the Collie River, which forms deep pools and tumbles over granite boulders, is ideal for swimming or canoeing. Two places of particular appeal aare Honeymoon Pool and Potters Gorge both of which are ideal for picnics. The park is home to rare and unusual native animals including the chuditch, quenda, quokka, brushtail possum and woylie or western ringtail possum – most of whom are nocturnal. One of the most interesting areas in the park is around Honeymoon Pool which is situated on the lower Collie River. It is a popular camping and picnic area where visitors can go swimming, bushwalking, picnicking, canoeing, fishing and camping. Facilities include wood and gas barbecues, picnic tables, toilets and a viewing platform. There is a 9.5 km (or 5 km return to the lookout) loop walk (or mountain bike ride) known as the Kurliiny Tjenangitj Trail.