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kiwi_rob Nov 9th, 2010 05:58 PM

A wee driving tour of Southern W A. Your thoughts Melnq8 and others?
I am planning a short stay in Southern W A for just after Easter next year -- late April into early May. The primary puposes are to explore the area, drink some wine, eat some nice food and relax -- that just about covers it, I think. I have re-read your trip report on your Denmark getaway, Mel, and note your comments about the length of your first day. With that in mind, I am considering:

Day 1. Perth to Bridgetown (or thereabouts). Stay overnight in, or around, Bridgetown.

Day 2. Bridgetown to Denmark or Albany for 3 nights. Is there any point in splitting the 3 nights between these two places (e.g. 1 in Denmark and 2 in Albany, or vice versa), or are the attractions in the area equally accessible from both? If we are to stay put in just one, is there a clear preference? We would like to enjoy some fresh seafood, and Albany sounds like a good place to do that.

Day 5. Drive to Margaret River for 4 nights

Day 9. Back to Perth for overnight stay before heading back home.

Do you think that this would enable us to fulfil the primary objectives? Should I be looking at more intermediate overnight stops?


Melnq8 Nov 9th, 2010 07:40 PM

Hi Rob -

Good idea to split up the first day, especially if you're taking the longer route as we did. You can get to Albany from Perth in 5 hours (a bit less to Denmark) if you take the most direct route, the Albany Highway, but it's not as pretty a drive IMO, and if you're not in a hurry...

However, if you take this longer route and then head up to MR afterwards, be aware that you'll be backtracking from Albany until about Shannon - I suggest taking the turn off at Shannon and making the side trip to Northcliffe and Pemberton if you have time, then working your way to MR. Loads to see around these areas and you'll appreciate the SW even more after exploring them.

I'd suggest spending that first night in Balingup instead of Bridgetown. I have nothing to back this up other than my personal impression of the place - I loved Balingup at first sight - it's a cute little town with a surprising number of attractive cafes. I found myself wanting to stay there a few days to explore (and eat!) so, it's on my radar for next time.

Some info here:

Denmark and Albany are only about 40 minutes apart, so you can base yourself in one and explore the other without having to switch accommodation.

The hard part is deciding which one... both areas have so much to offer and there's plenty to distract you along the way.

For what it's worth, most of the wineries are closer to Denmark than Albany, so if you plan to explore more than a couple, you might want to stay closer to Denmark or let someone else do the driving. You should have no trouble finding plenty of seafood in either location. Albany offers more beach accommodation than Denmark; it's also quite a bit bigger than Denmark. You can't go wrong with either though.

I've been tempted to say in between the two. There's a few nice looking cottages around Bornholm and West Cape Howe.

I'm not helping much, am I?

You might have already found these, but I have a few other SW WA trip reports posted here. Twice we based ourselves in Albany.

It's all good.

I think you're on the right path...good allotment of time, not too much moving around, realistic itinerary.

Enjoy WA, I sure do!

kiwi_rob Nov 9th, 2010 07:54 PM

Thanks. We have cribbed an extra day as well, so I'll see where best to slip that in.

peterSale Nov 10th, 2010 03:23 PM

If you stay at Albany you will be closer to the Stirling Range National Park for some great walks.

The distillery at Albany has some lovely Scotch and liquers.

Canal Rocks near Margaretriver are well worth a look. As are both lighhouses. The caves are good too.

There are several breweries around Margaret River as well. This is the one we went to.It adds things like chillies or strawberies to is fermentation mixed. Sounds strangebut does produce some lovely beers. Their Ginger Beer and Sarparilla are aslo quite good. You can get 6 small glasses to try for $12.

Swimming with the dolphins at Rockingham is fantastic. The Underground tour of Fremantle Prison is great. The Batavia is breathtaking at the Freemantle Shipwreck museum along with the Hartog and Vlamingh Plates.

I too have a trip report of sorts if you are interested. We went in September this year.

There is absolutely NO shortage of things to do or see in that corner of Australia.


stormbird Nov 10th, 2010 04:32 PM

Hi Rob,

I second the vote for a visit to Pemberton. We had a wonderful time there - I'm sure you would enjoy it.

BTW Rob, are you heading up to Cairns for the GTG in May? It wouldn't be the same without you.

kiwi_rob Nov 10th, 2010 04:58 PM

Thanks, Peter. I have read (and printed) your wonderfully laid-back trip report and taken your comments onboard, particularly those about dressing up to look like a seal and then swimming in shark-infested waters!

We will not be spending any time in the immediate Perth area, just passing through. We stayed in Perth a few years ago and were somewhat taken aback by the drunken groups populating many of the city streets from about mid-afternoon each day. They caused us no trouble, but we found having to walk around or through them, particularly when they were becoming argumentative amongst themselves, a bit off-putting.

We will certainly have a look at Pemberton. Is it worth a one-nighter, or too close to MR to warrant that? As indicated, we have cribbed an extra night to spend somewhere.

We may not be able to make the GTG in Cairns, Stormbird. As you know, we are dealing with a medical issue which is causing a few problems at present, and we are trying to work around follow-up dates and treatment, etc. The WA trip may be all that we can manage at that time of the year.


Melnq8 Nov 10th, 2010 06:16 PM

Pemberton is well worth a night, more if you've got the time and interest. Be sure to do some research beforehand; we missed out on quite a bit our first time through as we'd not done any research.

Be sure to check out at least one of the climbing trees and Gloucester National Park. Lots of nice wineries and lunch venues...Silkwood and Salitage come to mind. If you're after seafood, you'll want to try the trout and marron too.

peterSale Nov 11th, 2010 12:52 AM

Thanks Rob - does that now mean I am a published travel writer?

The tramway is good at Pemberton, a leisurely trip through the forest. I climbed all three trees, but unless you are really interested, the Glouster tree in Pemberton has the best view.

The Shamrock Restaurant/cafe/boarding house on the main street of Pemberton has Waygu beef for about $30-35. It was very quite when we went. Two couples and a take away.

Mandalay beach near Walpole is well worth a look. The Tingle Tree top walk at the Valley of the Giants is great. There is also a couple of Giant trees about ten kilometres off the main highway as you head toward Margaret River.

We stayed one night in Pemberton. It is close to other places but is saves a bit of driving.

There is a brewery just out of Pemberton. It was closed for a private function when we went, so might be an idea to ring ahead.

Melnq8 Nov 11th, 2010 12:55 AM

That's be Jarrah Jacks, one of our Pembie favs.

peterSale Nov 11th, 2010 12:59 AM

What is their beer like? After climbing the three trees I was ready for my reward and they were closed.

Melnq8 Nov 11th, 2010 01:25 AM

My spouse loves their wheat fact, he once said "Jarrah Jacks has the best wheat beer outside of Germany." I kid you not.

This proclamation was made while we were visiting WA from Indonesia though, so let's keep things in perspective. Unfortunately, they were out of it last time we went through there. Guess we'll have to go back and try again.

The man's current favorite is Hoegarten if that helps.

I hear ya on the tree climbing. We did all three, two on the same day. I rewarded my efforts with wine. Salitage in fact.

peterSale Nov 11th, 2010 04:39 PM

I like a good wheat beer. Pity I missed it. Thanks.

But, I shall return.

stormbird Nov 11th, 2010 07:12 PM

Melnq8 on Nov 11, 10 at 7:55pm
That's be Jarrah Jacks, one of our Pembie favs.

Mel I could almost hear your adopted Aussie accent there - look out you'll be one of us before you know it!!!

Melnq8 Nov 11th, 2010 08:34 PM

Nah, I still talk like a Yank.

kiwi_rob Nov 15th, 2010 12:23 PM

Just back from a few days in Sydney. Wheat beer and I mix rather well. Something else to look forward to!

stormbird Nov 15th, 2010 03:25 PM

No matter Mel - we still love you regardless of your accent!

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