10 things to do in South West Australia

Happy #traveltuesday! Here is my buddy and fellow monkey, “A lil Fat Monkey” to excite you with a Travel Tip on his TOP 10 things to do in South Western Australia.

Let me start by declaring that I love, love, LOVE the Australian South West region. Now that’s out of the way, let me tell you why. Every now and again, whenever I find myself highly strung out as a result of built up stress, I find myself booking the next flight out to Perth. There’s nothing better than taking a long drive through the 6 beautiful wine regions of the Great Southern, Geographe, Blackwood Valley, Pamberton, Manjimup and the internationally renown Margaret River, to clear up one’s head. It’s no wonder that the people at Lonely Planet named this stunning region in their world’s Top-10 regions to visit in 2010, a well deserving title in my opinion.

To thoroughly kick back and enjoy the entire region, you’ll need about 8-14 days. Having been here a couple of times, I’m going to share with you a list of the 10 Most Memorable Australian South West Moments from my latest excursion there last month.

1. Cellar-brating Freedom (Margaret River)

Let’s get this one out of the way. No trip here is complete without a visit to the wineries. With so many good cellar-doors open for tasting and a meal, it’ll be a pity not to stop by a few to un-wine and uncork. If you’re a non-drinker like myself, just visit them for the spectacular landscaping. This vine in particular caught my eyes as it was defiantly trying to get out of the grid. In so many ways, it reminds me of myself. Cheers!

2. Being Karri-ed Away (Augusta)

A scenic drive through the Boranup Karri Forest, somewhere between Cave Road and the coast, creates a powerful contrast against the rest of the rugged coastline. Karri is the third tallest tree in the world and the pale barked tree, reaching 60 metres or more, dominates the hilly slopes and valley. It’s a wonderful place to feel lost, especially amongst these 100-year old gigantic trees. Right at the end of the 5km drive is a lookout of a sweeping valley leading out to the ocean. God is indeed magnificent with his hands.

3. Catch a Break (Prevelly)

The coastline here is the stuff that legends are made of. Established near the meeting of Margaret River and the ocean, this seaside settlement is one of the most consistent and scenic surfing  destinations in the world. But if peace and quite is what you’re looking for, come here in the late evening as we did, just right before the sun sets. With the surfers riding off home, we sat idyllically and watch the sun go down behind massive reef breaks. It’s also interesting to note that there are only very few places in Australia where the sun sets over the ocean. This is one of them.

4. Meet The Two Oceans (Cape Leeuwin)

Cape Leeuwin is a picturesque area located at the most south-westerly mainland point of Australia. At the tip of its peninsular is where the Indian and Southern Oceans meet. Surrounded by green rolling hills, rocky coastal outcrop and wildflowers, the best vantage point to marvel at the ocean’s beauty and power is right at the top of the historic 114 year old Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse – the tallest in mainland Australia.

5. Breakfast in the Woods (Margaret River)

There’s nothing like waking up to chirping birds and greeted by freshly picked wild flowers in the morning – especially when served with a warm plate of egg, bacon, roasted tomatoes with fresh herbs, locally made muesli with fresh yogurt and milk, and toast with preserves like Shiraz Jelly and Apricot Brandy Jam. Whenever in Margaret River, I highly recommend that one stays in a bed & breakfast for a different kind of holiday experience. It’s so much more personal and cozy. My favourite thus far has to be Loaring Place Bed and Breakfast, a quaint modern and eco-friendly B&B set in the karri forest. Oh, did I mention that each of its 8 rooms are installed with a huge jacuzzi that looks out to kangaroos feeding in the woods?

6. Conquer The Giant (Pamberton)

Steeped in history from the pioneering timber industry, Pamberton’s scenic variety consist of green pastures and acres of rolling vineyards and crystal clear streams. The one you’d have try is climb a dizzying 61-metres up the Gloucester tree and find yourself perched up on an old fire-watch lookout. If you’re really feeling like Tarzan, there’s another taller tree for you to climb – the Dave Evans Bicentennial Tree is a towering 75-metres high.

7. Scream for Ice Cream (Dunsborough)

The best cure for the “Are we there yet?” syndrome is a scoop of Simmo’s Delicious Dilemmas. Born, bred and frozen in this region, this old time Irish ice creamery spoils you with over 44 award winning flavours on display, which you won’t find elsewhere. This place is famous for their Whiskey Soaked Prunes with Mascapone Cheese and Strawberry Cointreau Cheesecake with ribbons of thick chocolate, but it was the beautiful Chunky Monkey and Spicy Candied Ginger that got my vote.

8. Where Mother Nature Meets Father Time (Walpole)

Have you ever wandered through a forest of towering trees, look up through its tapestry of leaves and branches towards the sky and felt as if time has stopped? Have you ever stepped inside a living tingle tree and listened to the silence or set foot in a wilderness area larger than the size of a small African nation? Don’t leave the South West without a visiting the Valley of the Giants Tree Top walk. At 40-metres above the forest floor, the 600-metres tree top walk offers a breathtaking birds eye view of the forest. When you are that high, you can see your shadow projected on top of these giants. Then when you decent from the top, walk through a meandering boardwalk through the grove of veteran tingle trees called Ancient Empire. Nothing you’ve read about will prepare you for this awesome experience.

9. Have a Whale of a Time (Albany)

Our guide recalled her childhood days with an almighty stench in the air. The vile smell created by the boiling and melting of whale blubber and streams of blood spilled into the waters around the Cheynes Beach Whaling Station. Albany’s history is scared by the gruesome whaling industry where local whales were hunted, harpooned and dragged to shore to be cut open and boiled – until their closure in November 1978 under immense international and financial pressure. Today, one can come face to face with a harpoon gun and whale chaser, walk the flensing (cutting) deck and massive whale-oil tanks (which holds several 3-D gore spattered movies) with a free guided tour as this whaling station has now cleverly been transformed into the quite Whale World Museum.

10. Surreal Solitude (Albany)

The Albany Wind Farm is the newest wind farm in Australia. The wind farm’s surreal walk trails offers spectacular views of the twelve eco-friendly turbines along the Torndirrup peninsula. The turbines lower WA’s greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 77,000 tonnes per year. With windy mid-Autumn conditions, large clouds and huge overcast, and the soft whirring sound of the giant fans, I could have sat here looking out the coast for hours. It was probably the most peaceful point of the entire trip. I’m sure if I sat there any longer, I would have achieved nirvana too.

Footnote: Western Australia occupies the entire western side of this country-continent, facing the Indian Ocean. Blessed with a Mediterranean climate and a warm ocean current sitting off its coast, most of Western Australia and its capital city, Perth, is graced with long summers and mild winters. With nice weather like these and virtually blue skies most of the year, it’s no wonder that I love to spend my days out and about whenever I am in town.

One of the 5 ways to experience Perth (recently featured on my blog) , was to ‘get out of the city’. Far, far away from the city. I remember my fondness for the South West region grew right after I returned from my very first road trip there as a student. That trip was blessed with kilometers of white sandy beaches, turquoise lagoons, evergreen Karri forest, and an endless stretch of delicate wildflowers – just like the ones they’ve shown in the travel brochures. Since then, I’ve returned to the region 3 other times.

However, one thing you need to keep in mind is that though beautiful, the coastlines can be treacherously dangerous. The Great Southern Ocean coastline is prone to surges, and has very large waves. DO NOT go near the ocean along the Torndirrup Peninsula unless you are an experienced rock fisherman or climber. Always keep your eyes on the ocean. Your safety is your own responsibility.

About this week’s Guest Writer:
jonJon, is one of a kind. When I say this, I mean it with the greatest respect. You see, there is only one comical foodie/blogger that I know of in KL and he is Jon, a.k.a. A lil Fat Monkey. No one I know is as passionate about art and design as Jon, nor as good at packaging or conveying the ‘moment’ in one single drawing/collage. This is a skill that I have seen in no other. When asked why his name is “a lil fat monkey” Jon always replies, it is because I am neither ‘little’ nor ‘fat’.. just ‘a little fat’, at least for now, anyway!
From food, travel and music, this monkey with an expanding waistline is known to have an insatiable appetite for all good things in life. His talent is obvious. Just take a look at his work on his website and you will see why. Jon is a close friend and we are so proud to host his “10 Things to do in South West Australia “article here on Cumi & Ciki! (We love you Jon!)
Follow Jon in twitter @alilfatmonkey
See more gorgeous art on his website A lil Fat Monkey


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