The Golden South West
|Take a Tree Top Walk at Walpole|
TheState of Western Australia comprises almost half of the land mass ofthis continent, although it is very sparsely populated. It has avariety of exciting natural and man made wonders to delight tourists,but it should be remembered that many of these special features arehundreds of kilometres apart and therefore enough time should beallowed to get around comfortably.
State has a great many pleasant surprises and the good news is thatthey can all be accessed by reasonable roads with average family carsin good condition. For those arriving from overseas by air, PERTHis the State capital and it is here that you will have a wide choiceof vehicle hire companies - cars, campers, motorhomes etc, or you maychoose one of the coach companies and tour in luxurious comfort whilesomeone else does all the driving. There are tours availablefrom 1 - 10 days, take your pick. Australians arriving from theeastern States via the Nullabor Plainwill be able to tour the south west very easily before they arrive inPerth.
Thisarea offers world class vineyards, some of the tallest trees in theworld, one of the largest gold mines in the world, an old whalingport, historic buildings galore, a grand tram ride over trestlebridges through pristine forests, geological wonders such asintriguing Wave Rock, mountain ranges, aspectacular harbour, lonely light houses and superb beaches, tomention but a few of its delights.
Drivingsouth from Perth will take you into the MARGARETRIVER region, famous for its acclaimed wineries such as LeeuwinEstate where, a decade ago, Dame Kiri Te Kanawa gave a concertin the outdoor entertainment shell to thousands of entranced concertbuffs. The coastal scenery of the LeeuwinNaturaliste National Park is breathtaking and there are plentyof bed and breakfast properties about, so it's a good place to spendthe night. For beach lovers there's PREVELLYand YALLINGUP, both keen surfers' Mecca's - then there's the clear and tranquil waters of DUNSBOROUGHand BUSSELTON, seaside towns that arevery popular with Perth residents.
Outof WALPOLE you can take the TreeTop Walk through the canopy of massive red tingle trees, some40 metres above the forest floor. Located in the Valleyof the Giants, these trees have a girth of up to 16metres. The Ancient Empire is an old growth forest with aboardwalk through trees up to 400 years old.
Butfurther inland, near PEMBERTON, are themighty karri forests, reputed to be as tall as California's sequoiatrees. One of the tallest has a ladder to climb to the top, ifyou enjoy that sort of thing. The remains of the base of anotheris large enough to drive a small car inside. There are some goodforest drives to be enjoyed here, as well as excellent picnicfacilities, several camping parks and fine bed and breakfastaccommodation.
Oneof the nicest places to stay is the Karri ValleyResort, which welcomes caravanners and campers and which haswonderful, fully equipped and self contained timber cabins to rent bythe day, some built out over the beautiful, bush encircled lake andall with lake views and two or three bedrooms to suit various sizedfamilies.
Dotake the PEMBERTON to NORTHCLIFFEtrestle train/tram ride aboard a really quaint vehicle that is veryrelaxing and great fun for all the family. It travels over rockycreeks via ancient timber trestle bridges through serene bushland,providing many photographic opportunities.
Theold whaling township of ALBANY wouldprobably be your next stop. Visit the whaling museum, see theold ships and the cauldrons in which whale oil was extracted fromgreat chunks of blubber. This, Western Australia's oldest town,is set on magnificent King George Soundand Princess Royal Harbour, with itsspectacular views from the restored old cliff top fort, which is wellworth a visit for the views over the Sound, as well as to experiencethe life of the 19th century soldiers stationed there. Whalesand dolphins can also be spotted at times from these cliffs.
InAlbury, you can visit historic Strawberry Farm,or go swimming in Ellen Cove at MiddletonBeach. You can also take side trips into the StirlingRanges or the Porongurups, orsample the wines of the Mount Barker areaif you have the time to do so.
Stillon the south coast there's ESPERANCE, asmall town set in the Bay of Isles andreputed to have one of the best, unspoilt beaches in the world. Thepanorama of the offshore islands of the RechercheArchipelago has many people reaching for their cameras and thedense salt water Pink Lake is anothervery popular local attraction.
Movinginland again there's 15 metres high, 27 million years old WaveRock, out of HYDEN, which is aquite spectacular natural wonder. There is a good campground andcabin accommodation right there for tourists who wish to stayawhile.
Furthernorth is KALGOORLIE, way out in a semidesert area, but world famous for its fabulous gold mines, still verymuch in operation. Kalgoorlie is a desert town that has a verydistinct character all its own. There are some really quaintbuildings to be seen and some truly grand old 19th century pubs, stillvery much operational - then there's the famous red lightbrothel area, one stretch of which is known as The Stables and is verypopular with camera toting tourists. There's a TwoUp School as well, where people may gamble on that simple oldgame, beloved of veteran servicemen, but illegal across the rest ofAustralia.
Thistown alone produces a tenth of the world's gold and the current worldgold price is flashed across a screen in the main street at all times.Naturally there are mine tours and town tours to be taken and out inthe bush you can fossick for gold to your heart's content, if youobtain a miner's license first. Just out of Kalgoorlie is COOLGARDIE,a well preserved, ghost gold town, with many historic buildings tophotograph and a tree outside the police station to which prisonerswere once manacled, a century or so ago.
WesternAustralia is famous for its spectacular wildflower displays inSpring. Many of these flowers are unique to the region and inAugust and September people flock from all over the country by car andcoach to see this colourful spectacle because, as yet, the region isso very sparsely populated and is therefore relativelyunspoilt. However, the southern region of WesternAustralia is well worth visiting all year round, even if you can't getthere during its mantle of brilliant floral beauty. (For moreinformation on this area, or any other part of Western Australia, logon to www.discoverwest.com.au).