WA Choices - North, South, Both?

Old Oct 23rd, 2006, 12:06 PM
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WA Choices - North, South, Both?

We decided Perth and some part of WA were a must-do and are now confronted with choices. We are a couple in our early 70s who derive much of our travel pleasure from the comfort of the car as I no longer am able to walk distances due to multiple joint replacements. Being from California longish days in the car don't bother us a bit.

Our plan continues to evolve. Initially it was to fly to Perth from Adelaide (where we'll be visiting friends), spend a few nights, then head down to Margaret River or Busselton for a few nights, then home to CA. Then some friends of ours went to Monkey Mia and loved it. We decided we could spend an overnight (Geraldton?) getting there, a day there, and an overnight (Geraldton again? getting back.

We've evaluated getting a camper but decided that wouldn't really suit us.

Our plan got modified to have us drive to Busselton immediately on arrival in Perth, two nights there, two nights in Perth, then Monkey Mia, and, finally, home.

Now Albany begins to take on some real interest because of posts here and other reading. Perhaps we could drive to Albany the day we arrive in Perth, go along the coast to MR and Busselton, then up to Perth and MM.

Yes, lots of driving but done at a slow pace and in no great hurry. So the questions really have to do with is the time spent getting to and from MM really worth it and is Albany worth the time and effort to get there and back or are we better off concentrating more time in both the Margaret River and Busselton as well as the Perth-Fremantle areas?

Thanks in advance for your comments.
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Old Oct 23rd, 2006, 06:49 PM
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I'm not familiar with Monkey Mia (just looked it up though - 850 kms from Perth!), but I am familiar with the other places you've mentioned.

The drive from Perth to Albany takes at least 4.5 hours. For me, the attraction of Albany was all the National Parks in the area. We enjoy hiking though, so most of our time was spent exploring the parks on foot. That's not to say you won't enjoy the area without hiking though - the scenery is gorgeous, especially along the coast. Being from CA, that might not be a big draw for you though (?)

There are also some very interesting granite rock formations along the coast such as The Gap, and Natural Bridge (Torndirrup National Park). Greens Pool and Elephant Rocks in William Bay National Park is also an interesting stop, but involves a short walk to the water.

And the trees - SW Australia has some of the biggest trees I've ever seen (not sure how they compare to Redwoods though). The Karri and Tingle tree forests are incredible. If you're in the area, be sure to visit Valley of the Giants. If you're able, you should visit the Tree Top Walk (600 meters long) and the Ancient Empire through 400 year old Tingle Forest.

The Wind Farm in Albany is also very interesting, but does involve some walking.

Pemberton is also a good stop (between Albany and MR). You might want to stop at Gloucester Tree National Park and watch the crazy people (like myself) climb the 60 meter high Gloucester Tree. Pemberton is also home to a lavender farm, several wineries, arts and crafts studios, a brewery, etc.

Margaret River can easily fill a few days, as can Perth/Fremantle. Lots to see and do no matter where you choose.

Not sure if any of this appeals to you, but it should give you an idea of what's on offer anyway.

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Old Oct 23rd, 2006, 07:21 PM
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Forgot to mention that it took us eight hours to drive from Albany to Margaret River, which included stopping in Pemberton for a few hours. The most direct way of getting to Albany from Perth is inland via 30 (this is the route we took at 4.5 hours) Alternatively, you can drive down along the coast, then cross over. If you take the coastal route, suggest stopping in Busselton to visit the underwater observatory and stopping in Augusta to visit the lighthouse.

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Old Oct 26th, 2006, 09:41 PM
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I answered your MM question first before seeing this question. First a bit about us; we are active and in our mid-50's. We like outdoors, wildflowers, wine and eating.

I would recommend the south only. We did both (Perth-Kalbarri-Albany-MR) mainly to see the wildflowers and bush. But unless you are going to snorkel, swim, see the wildflowers in early spring or do sometype of outdoor adventure, I wouldn't recommend the North. It is very different and has a stark beauty but I found sections of it (wheat and farm land) somewhat boring. Also it will be long drive back from MM to Albany. We went from Kalbarri - Jurien Bay - Narrogin (long day) - Albany.

I really liked the south a lot. I used Melnq8's two trip reports and they are great for planning a trip to the area. (BTW, a big thank you to Melnq8 for the trip reports). There is a lot to do and see. I found the beaches more accessable and beautiful turquoise color is incredible. The eucalyptus forests are beautiful. It is somewhat similar to Northern California but yet different. They are different types and much taller.

We spent 4 nights in Perth, 2 in Kalbarri, 3 in Albany and 3 in Margaret River. We felt we could have spent much more time in both Albany and Margaret River.
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Old Oct 26th, 2006, 11:42 PM
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travel4flowers -

Glad to hear that at least one person was able to wade through my trip reports and that they helped - sorry we missed the wildflowers - maybe next time.
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Old Oct 27th, 2006, 12:28 AM
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When are you planning to travel to WA because I have to tell you that we are experiencing particularly dry conditions (drought) and I read somewhere that as a result the wildflowers are not as good or not expected to be as good in the coming year. I could be wrong. I also think you might need to consider the weather.
My tip- stick to the south west.Go down the coastal road and wind your way through Busselton, Margaret River/Dunsborough, Pemberton,Denmark and then Albany and then make your way back to Perth along the quicker inland route (about 4 1/2 hour drive back)
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Old Oct 27th, 2006, 09:42 AM
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albaaust - yes that is correct. We did just return from WA and the drought is taking a significant toll on the wildflowers. Few everlastings were in bloom so there were no large fields of wildflowers in bloom. But married to a botanist, we can always find something of interest. We were able to find areas of the bush in bloom to keep our interest. We even found a few orchids in bloom. The SW area did get more rain and there was more in bloom in the Albany/MR area.

But if this drought and unusual spring heat continues, I would expect another poor bloom next year. If you are planning on a wildflower trip in the future, watch to see what cyclones/storms the Midwest receive in the winter.
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