Words: Erin Hardie | Pics: Ryan Platten | Bunbury has in recent years undertaken a marketing campaign branding itself as “the Gateway to Australia’s South West”. As slightly cynical WA residents we had previously scoffed at this claim as Bunbury has unfortunately always been the poorer cousin to more famed southwest destinations like Margaret River and Busselton.
|$AUD12 per pint of Guinness
*$9AUD per pint of local beer (Swan Lager)
Although Bunbury is the third largest city in the state of Western Australia many people heading south typically skip Bunbury as a destination on their itinerary due to the generally held opinion that there isn’t much to see. However on a recent trip to Australia’s South West we stayed two nights in Bunbury and saw the accuracy and relevance of their gateway slogan claim, it certainly gives a new appeal to Bunbury.
As a refutation to there not being much to see in Bunbury we discovered on this trip that Bunbury has (in my opinion) one of the most beautiful beaches in WA: Back Beach. This beach is a pristine stretch of flat golden sand, flanked by erosion protection planted dunes. Also alongside the beach is a wide footpath for those who like a run/walk with a view and a cafe (The Back Beach Cafe: with excellent coffee and brunch) for those who like to sit and take things in, sheltered from the elements. We visited by morning and by golden hour/sunset one evening – a fantastic location for classic beach sunset photography! If dolphins are your thing Bunbury also boasts a resident population of 190 of them next door to Back Beach at Koombana Bay.
2. Cheaper Camping
The swaying argument for us this trip in favour of a stay in Bunbury came for us in the pricing. Whilst the cost of private double room accommodations in the cheapest motels/hostels came in roughly equitable at $70-$90 across Bunbury, Busselton and Margaret River, camping sites were significantly cheaper in Bunbury being $28 per night as opposed to $44 and $50 in Busselton and Margaret River respectively! With Busselton less than an hours drive from Bunbury and Margaret River less than two hours away Bunbury was indeed the gateway to Australia’s southwest for us at the right price for our limited budget.
Locavore to the uninitiated is a new dietary trend that has the whole of Australia’s South West in it’s trendy grip right now. And with the amount of amazing produce to be found in this region, it is little wonder why. Yes you guessed it, locavorism means to eat only locally sourced foods. You will find many a pub, cafe and restaurant menu proudly proclaiming its locavore following ethos throughout WA’s southwest but for probably the most interesting conceptualisation on this foodie trend do not miss the Bunbury Farmers Market. This supermarket has sprung out of what was originally your more traditional version of a farmer’s market and has evolved into an IKEA style showroom of locally sourced produce. Although a bit pricier than most supermarkets you do recoup some value on all the free samples on offer. The cheese section is truly unmissable. Stop in for a coffee, roadtripping, picnic or dinner supplies. You won’t be disappointed!
4. Geographe Wine Region
Been there and done the Margaret River Wine Region thing? Ok I’m sure it’s next to impossible to say you have well and truly “done” Margaret River what with the new offerings that are opening up every year after year. But if you have done Margaret River many a time why not try something a bit newer? The Geographe Wine Region is only 20 minutes drive from Bunbury with four main producing wine districts: Harvey and Donnybrook as well as the quite well known and renowned Capel and Ferguson Valley districts. In addition to wines there’s microbreweries, cheese producers and a few added extras! Pick apples in Donnybrook, the apple capital of the South West. Or oranges in Harvey, where they also produce excellent dairy and beef for export throughout Western Australia and internationally.
5. Attractions near and far
As the “Gateway to Australia’s South West” there are of course attractions near and far, as well as well-known and lesser known. On the lesser known list, if you’re a fan of dams head 40 minutes inland to find great hiking around Wellington Dam. You can also start your Bibbulmun track hiking trip from near Bunbury. If staying in Bunbury to take advantage of its cheaper camping why not head forty minutes (driving) down to the record holding Busselton Jetty: at 1.841km long it is the longest timber piled jetty in the southern hemisphere and on clement days has an underwater observatory 8m under the sea! Or head past Busselton to the famous natural attractions Smiths Beach or Canal Rocks approx an hour and ten minutes drive from Bunbury city centre.
Do you generally miss Bunbury on your way Down South, or have you took the time to explore it’s many attractions? Let us know in the comments below?