SW Australia

Dec 31st, 2018, 08:29 AM
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SW Australia

We are planning to spend nearly 3 weeks in SW Australia next October/November and would appreciate advice on places to visit and places to stay. We will start our trip with 2 nights in Perth and then either take a day trip to Pinnacles or stay there for 2 nights. After that we intend to travel south, staying in Yallingup; Margaret River; Pemberton; Albany and return to Perthvia Fremantle. Have we allowed enough time or too much? Are there other places we should stay?
We are looking forward to wonderful inland and coastal scenery; whale watching; magnificent trees and beautiful flowers; great food and wine; hiking (short trails, 5 - 10km; sunsets over the ocean and good weather. Coming from the UK, at that time, it will be cooling down for winter.
We prefer small but fairly luxurious hotels or B&B's. We would also like to stay at a winery.
Finally should we be worried about insects, spiders and snakes at that time of year?
lynny2 is offline  
Dec 31st, 2018, 12:07 PM
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Dec 31st, 2018, 12:52 PM
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Hi lynny -

Three weeks is a decent amount of time to dedicate to Western Australia's beautiful SW coast.

If possible, I'd suggest a night at the Pinnacles (Cervantes) not because there's a huge amount on offer, but because the Pinnacles are best viewed at dawn and dusk. Having said that, do take care driving there from Cervantes - wallabies and 'roos are nocturnal and can be pretty thick at dawn and dusk. They can wreak some serious havoc to cars (and the people within them).

There's quite a lot to do in/around Perth as well, so you may find that two nights is giving it short shrift. The Swan Valley is a short drive from the Perth CBD and don't forget to allow some time for Kings Park, Cottesloe Beach and perhaps the Scarborough Beach area.

I lived in Perth for seven years and have several detailed trip reports posted here - we seem to like the same things, so you might find them helpful - I've posted a few of the links below. Others can be found by clicking on my screen name and scrolling through my trip reports - they're getting a bit dated now, but the basic information should still be useful.

We love the SW of WA - you've made a good choice!

October/November can be surprisingly warm in WA - as for those snakes, spiders and insects....well, yes, they'll be quite active (especially the dugites as Oct/Nov is mating season - they're venomous). And the black flies can be pretty awful that time of year, but at least they're harmless.

Don't worry too much about spiders and snakes, just be aware that they're there, and take care when hiking - if you step over a log for example, look before you step - and stay on cleared paths if possible. Also take care around lakes, etc.
Melnq8 is offline  
Jan 6th, 2019, 08:33 AM
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Thanks so much melnq8. I’ve enjoyed reading your reports with all the useful suggestions. We are looking forward to visiting wineries and enjoying good food. The creepy crawlies and snakes sound troublesome! Not heard of dugites before and hoping not to meet one. I hear the area can be very windy; are some parts always windier than others or is it just changeable?
lynny2 is offline  
Jan 6th, 2019, 09:11 AM
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Hi lynny -

Don't worry about the crawlies - just take care when out in the bush - they're more afraid of you than you are of them.

The closer to the coast, generally the windier it gets. Perth is home to the Freo Doctor, which is a welcome friend in the summer months. The wind also keeps the black flies away, so it's a good thing!

From Wiki:

Named after the city (now within Perth suburbs) of Fremantle, which is the direction the wind comes from to reach central districts of Perth; called the "doctor" for the relief it brings on hot summer days.

Last edited by Melnq8; Jan 6th, 2019 at 09:15 AM.
Melnq8 is offline  
Jan 7th, 2019, 02:13 AM
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I'm getting the route planned now -
2 nights Perth
2 nights Pinnacles
1 night Mandurah
2 nights Yallingup
2 nights Margaret River
1 night Pemberton
2 nights Albany
2 nights Freemantle
We could spend another 2 nights somewhere along that route. Any suggestions? Either stay an extra night in one of those places or fit in another stop somewhere after Yallingup. Stays before Margaret River are fixed so anything after that.
Also which would be the best route back to Freemantle from Albany and which of the National Parks is a must see?
lynny2 is offline  
Jan 7th, 2019, 07:10 AM
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Mandurah is nice enough, but it's not a place I'd personally choose for an overnight (but makes sense if you're trying to break up your drive day, which sounds like you are). It's a good sized city, although there are some nice coastal views and plenty of restaurants to while away a few hours. My favorite West Aussie artist has a studio there (Emma Blyth, you might want to check out her work - http://emmablyth.com.au/.

Busselton would be another option instead of Mandurah, but perhaps you have a specific reason for Mandurah?

Yallingup and MR aren't that far apart - yes, MR is a large region, but if you plan well, you really don't need two bases. MR is more central than Yallingup, and basing there would allow you to explore both north and south of MR without too much driving on a given day and not having to change accommodation. Having said that, Yallingup is a beautiful area (and I seem to remember it having the most expensive real estate in Western Australia - just a bit of trivia).

And keep in mind that the best bits of MR are not in the town, but in the surrounding countryside and along the coast, so you will need to do a bit of driving on a daily basis if you hope to see a good chunk of it.

I would definitely add at least one night to Pemberton - one night doesn't even give you a full day to explore the area, and there is a lot to do in the vicinity - again, the best bits aren't in town, but the surrounding areas. The first time we passed through Pemberton, we thought it was just a sad little town. But then we really looked, and began exploring, and were amazed at how much is on offer. It turned out to be one of our favorite places in WA.

I highly recommend you make the drive down to Northcliffe and visit D'Entrecasteaux National Park if you can squeeze it in (from Pemberton). The cliff lined beaches down there are pretty spectacular (you might even have it to yourselves if you're lucky).

Freo is just a suburb of Perth and while many people like it, I've never found the attraction. It's also not a place I'd go out of my way for, but most first time visitors want to see it (we did on our first visit to WA many moons ago, so there you go).

I think I'd add that extra night to MR - or even Albany - loads to see and do in the area. If you hope to see some of the lovely national parks around Albany, you'll need more time there - the parks will need a bit of driving to get to.

About Albany - you might look into staying in/near Denmark instead and making a day trip to Albany. Nothing wrong with Albany if you use it as a base for exploring some of those national parks, but in the end it's just another town (with whaling center) so unless you're tied to it you might give Denmark a look.

There's so much to see in WA's beautiful SW - you will be spoiled for choice. I assume you've run across Walpole and the Valley of Giants? William Bay National Park, some 14 kilometers west of Denmark (home to Elephant Rocks)? Gloucester National Park? Warren National Park? Tourist Road 251 (considered one of the most scenic drives in the southwest)?

So much to see and do, so little time.

Last edited by Melnq8; Jan 7th, 2019 at 07:15 AM.
Melnq8 is offline  
Jan 14th, 2019, 12:38 AM
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Thanks again for your suggestions Melnq8. We have added another night in Pemberton and one in Denmark.
lynny2 is offline  
Jan 17th, 2019, 02:06 PM
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I agree with just about everything Mel has said except Albany, so much has been developed in this charming southern city over the last few years and it is just beautiful. The Anzac museum is well worth the stop, it has great food experiences and a burgeoning Arts/Craft scene plus all its natural assets. Don’t forget to stop in at the Treetop walk on the way just near Walpole. On the way to Yallingup call into Bunbury’s famous farmers market to stock up on beautiful local produce, This place is great and draws top chefs from all over Australia and the world and if you have time the newly opened Dolphin Centre is actually great, Bunbury is not a tourist destination but it is trying and the new Koonbana foreshore and Dolphin centre is a good start. Don’t forget to call into Busselton, their redeveloped foreshore is amazing and that time of the year shouldn’t be to busy. The shed markets are also a great stop small but quirky with great burgers.

Freo in in its heyday was lovely however it has lost its charm in recent years, that said I still enjoy it and there are some great attractions like the jail, maritime museum and jetty area.

Dont stress about the slithery creepy crawlies, really they’re no big deal. Enjoy your trip
Charnley is offline  
Jan 20th, 2019, 02:02 AM
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Fwiw in the reading department I'd highly recommend -

The Way It Was; a History of the Early Days of the Margaret River Wine Industry


Not a wine book as a co-author says, but imo a very interesting and nicely written regional/local and social history.

Likely to be over that way in the not too distant future myself as my last trip to the West was over thirty years ago and the LSO (Long Suffering One) hasn't been at all (despite nine trips to Hawaii WYB); when we do, we'll be drawing on Mel's excellent trip reports.
farrermog is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2019, 07:17 AM
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Fremantle is a major harbour and has lots of beaches so is worth at least an afternoon. But unless you plan to stay too late at night in the many pubs, you can just ride the easy suburban train from your hotel in Perth rather than shifting accommodations.
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