Again and again, the south-west of Western Australia will surprise you…with new experiences, awesome adventures and diverse destinations. Located 450 kms south of Perth, The Great Southern Region is off the beaten track for most tourists, but you don’t want to miss it. Besides, there’s a smattering of gay owned and LGBT welcoming accommodation, restaurants and wineries along the trail.
Recently, my destination was the Stirling Range in the shadow of the Porongurups – the oldest mountains in the world at 1,400 million years young. I saw them in photo books and on a TV travel show and had to get there with my new Olympus Stylus.
Yes, I was enchanted, despite being from The Rockies where big cliffs and mountain peaks are omnipresent. The rugged peaks, which rise to more than 1000 metres above sea level, feature stark cliff faces, sheltered gullies and magnificent views over to the Porongorups. From its highest point, Castle Rock, you will marvel at the surrounding forest of giant Karri trees and at brilliant displays of wildflowers during spring and early summer. All you have to do is get up there.
Not afraid of heights or rock climbing? You can climb to the summit via the engineering marvel skywalk; it’s a mere scramble around the huge granite outcrop aptly called Castle Rock. If you are queasy on a suspended bridge, the walk to Balancing Rock and the lower outlook spot is worth the 2.2 uphill trek from the carpark.
I made endless discoveries with my camera and hiking boots over the week-long, self-drive getaway. For starters, a story-telling rose maze in a historic pioneer town, a flock of feral camels begging for samples at the Harvey cheese factory, a rare banksia plant, an authentic 16th Century replica Dutch Windmill and adjacent accommodation in a WWII vintage DC 3 aircraft-turned-B&B.
My driver allowed me to navigate us to wines cellars near our Mt. Barker base and to pristine beaches close to (the other) Denmark. We sampled medal-wining drops from highly praised Duke’s and Old Trent River vineyards and enjoyed pit stops at Ocean Road Beach and Greens Pool (just voted best treasure in the state for picture perfect postcards).
If like me you are always looking for incredible beaches, you must add Greens Pool, Elephant Rocks and Waterfall Beach in William Bay National Park to the bucket list. Rounded rocks form much of the coastline between Greens Pool and Madfish Bay and Elephant Rocks, and inside the reef, pools, channels and granite terraces create a seascape that’s perfect for beachcombing.
On the Road Again
The Rainbow Rambler did a five-day loop from Perth to Albany for walks, wines, wildflowers and a whole lot of wilderness and wildlife viewing. Her road trip encompassed the Great Southern region – one of nine distinctive touring areas of Western Australia. Yep, the state is gigantic. Her photos confirm her belief that the Great Southern coast is the most extraordinary and diverse destination of them all. Appealing not only to holidaymakers, anglers, trekers and surfers, it is nirvana for foodies, beer and wine lovers, and wildflower photographers.