Perth south

Old Feb 22nd, 2016, 12:43 PM
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Perth south

first part of the trip planned 1 week in N Queensland then we will fly to Perth for about 2+ weeks. Apprx Dec 8-24
Initial plan:
4 days Perth
2 days Bausselton (or less, or skip?)
3-4 days MR
2 days Pemberton
3 days Albany (is this a good base for Denmark area?)
then back to Perth
OR is it worth the visit to Esperence?
There are several routes back to Perth - which is best for sights/stops?

Appreciate comments, accommodation recommendations/ not to miss sights etc etc
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Old Feb 22nd, 2016, 01:52 PM
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Do keep in mind that you're traveling at a busy time of year down south in WA - school holidays begin Dec 15. You will want to book as soon as you have firm plans, and good on you for planning so far in advance.

Esperance is a haul - it took us eight hours to drive the 498 km from Esperance to Denmark, and I personally wouldn't do it in December - I'm a bit of a wimp when it comes to Aussie summer - you may not be. September is a great time - wildflowers - but if you do go, don't miss at least driving through Fitzgerald River National Park, it's a world Biosphere Reserve with UNESCO. AND, Esperance has the best beaches in Australia IMO - white sand like compacted salt and the ocean views are something else. But you need plenty of time to fully experience it.

To give you an idea of what you might see on the trek from Albany/Denmark, I have a detailed report here:

Yes, Albany is a good base from which to see Denmark, but IMO it's just a town, a busy little one at that, and Denmark is a better place to base. That's coming from someone who prefers quaint small towns, peace and quiet, forest walks, towering trees, beautiful coastal areas (I can point you in the direction of some gems) long laid back winery lunches, leisurely flat whites at local cafes, etc. Your style may differ.

Albany does have it charms and offers some of the above, but its a bit busy for my tastes.

Busselton is easily seen en route to MR - you can walk out to the jetty and have a nice lunch along the way. It never was an overnight stop for us, not because it's not a nice town, but because there's just so much to see and do in the MR region (which is a huge sprawling area of some 100 km if memory serves) that we just preferred to spend more time there. That's my long-winded way of saying that two nights is plenty.

Pemberton - my personal favorite - two nights there only gives you one full day to explore, and that's short shrift IMO. I'd plan at least three nights there, especially if you like what I like - long forest walks, towering trees, great food and wine, beautiful landscapes, etc. Yes, it is a tiny town - don't stay IN town - there are some gems tucked away in countryside. Two days would also give you time to drive down to Northcliffe and on to Windy Harbor and D'Entrecasteaux Nat'l Park for deserted beaches, coastal cliffs and some spectacular scenery that most people never see.

Two full days in Pemberton would give you sufficient time to get a taste of what's on offer. Do not make the mistake of thinking Pemberton is just about the town, or you will be underwhelmed for sure. I say this, because that's exactly what I did on our first drive through Pemby.

Happy to help with accommodation and food suggestions.

As for routing - my least favorite route also happens to be the fastest - the Kwinana Freeway. I much prefer the slower, more scenic and less busy SW Highway. It will take you through several small towns, including Pinjarra, which is worth a stop at the Pinjarra Heritage Tea Rooms for a coffee and scones. There's also a Tasmanian Devil breeding program at the Peel Zoo in Pinjarra. Unfortunately, I never made it there. So much to do, so little time!

The SW Highway rejoins the Kwinana at Bunbury, which enables you to then shoot down to Busselton, or you can continue along the SW Highway to the apple capital of Donnybrook, and through the fruit growing areas of Bridgetown and Manjimup before continuing on to Pemby.

This is a long route, made even longer by frequent stops to explore, but it's my personal preference.

Perhaps take the long way down, and then return via the Kwinana.

Oops, but then you'd miss out on the Golden Triangle, which connects Balingup, Nannup and Bridgetown - this is a very pretty route, but not-so-much in summer when it's a bit brown. It's a glorious route in the winter though, incredibly green after rain.

Okay, so now that I've sufficiently confused matters...let's just say you have many options, but it really comes down to time and your particular travel style.
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Old Feb 22nd, 2016, 02:22 PM
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Thanks Melnq8 - I like your style so enjoyed your comments.
Based on them I think we will do:
3 days Perth
stop at Pinjara, Bunbury Dolphin centre and I think I saw mentioned a winery restaurant that could be good for late lunch
2 days Dunsborough -arrive late, explore for 1 day, ck out beach
4 days MR - seems there will be lots to do?
3 days Pemberton - forest walks/nature etc all sounds good
2 days Denmark (or 3 days?)- ck out Albany area from there

Decide on route back to Perth -have 2 nights remaining - Probably do the Mt Barker, Arthur River route - any highlights on that route? -
OR route via Walpole-Manjimup-Donnybrooke-and retrace back to Perth.
We could always be back in Perth for 2 nights and catch any sights there that we missed earlier.

MR, Pemberton and Denmark accommodation recommendations?
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Old Feb 22nd, 2016, 03:57 PM
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I've never driven the Mt Barker-Arthur River route - assume you're referring to Muirs Highway? If so, I'd enquired about that route from several WA locals and was told it was pretty dull. You might ask the locals over on Trip Advisor, just in case I'm confusing it with something else.

Several wineries around Bunbury, particularly in the Ferguson Valley - nice cheeses and beer too.

I'd give Denmark three days if you can spare it.

I'd take the Walpole route if you can - Valley of the Giants, Greens Pool, William Bay - spectacular.

MR accommodation - stayed lots of places, kind of hit and miss, most were private rentals. My favorite place is no longer operating as accommodation (Yallingup). We prefer to stay in the countryside, but on our last visit there, we really enjoyed our stay in MR town at Vintages. We also liked a place about 15 minutes from MR town, I can look up the name if you like, but it's not a place I'd stay in December - no air con.

Pemberton - We've stayed at Rainbow Trail Chalets several times - highly recommend. On our most recent visit we stayed at Kangaroo Creek Chalets, which we absolutely LOVED.

Food options in Pemby are quite limited, plan well. Do not miss Foragers - fabulous - book well in advance.

Denmark - stayed lots of places, includingKarma chalets and several private rentals. Will look up the names and get back, as my mind is like a sieve these days.

Need any restaurant and/or suggestions? If you've read my reports, you know I like my food and wine
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Old Feb 22nd, 2016, 04:44 PM
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Thanks for the info. Giving Denmark the extra day. MR must be very popular in Dec as Vintages is totally booked. Any recommendations welcomed as I should book asap. I will search some other sites also.
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Old Feb 23rd, 2016, 06:55 AM
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Wow, already booked for December in February? FYI, as the date approaches, you'll want to book your meals too. As I said, the place is very busy that time of year.

You might have more luck with privately owned accommodation that's not right in town - lots of options and some gorgeous countryside. MR Town will be very busy, but IMO, the best of MR is in the surrounding region. The advantage of staying in town is that you can walk to dinner, etc, but otherwise, it's just a town.

These sites might help, just make sure you know where you're booking (as in proximity to a town if that's a priority for you).

Here's a list of more conventional lodging, most right in or very near town. I suggest you avoid Heritage Trail Lodge (right on the main street and very noisy). When we last stayed at Waterfall Cottages (nice location) we were very disappointed with the cottages, but they might have been upgraded since then.

The sad part about MR is that it's so popular that many accommodation owners don't even have to try, hence some rather disappointing accommodation. The more you pay, the better the lodging generally, but prices in MR at peak periods are quite dear.

Whatever you do, I strongly suggest you find a place with air con. Even though MR is usually cooler than Perth, it still gets very hot.

You can download a map of the MR region here.

I suggest you take a look at it before you book accommodation. I've found this regional map (at the bottom of the page) invaluable when planning our trips to MR. Because its such a sprawling region and the days there are so short (opening times generally from 10 to 4 or 5) it helps to plan the logistics in advance, to efficiently fit in all that you want to do.

Some accommodation sites for Denmark:

Of these, we've stayed at Hillview Chalet and Karma Chalets. Both were okay.

Another site:

We also stayed here once, in the studio, really enjoyed it:

This is our favorite place - when I last checked for ourselves it wasn't operating as accommodation, but I just googled and it seems that they're back in business:
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Old Feb 23rd, 2016, 07:22 AM
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Another website for Denmark accommodation:

On our last visit to Denmark we stayed near Young's Siding, in Tennessee Hill Chalets, thinking it would make a good compromise between Denmark and Albany (but finding we just spent more time in the car). The accommodation is owned by the people who own the Bush Food Factory (she's Swiss and quite interesting). We really enjoyed our stay here.
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Old Feb 24th, 2016, 03:02 AM
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While in MR definitely do Movies at the Vineyard at Cape Mentelle.
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