Mount Barker WA – The Best of What the Town Has to Offer

Mount Barker is the gateway to Western Australia’s South Coast and a popular stop for visitors travelling between Perth and Albany. The small agricultural town, known as Pwakkenbak to the local Noongar People, is a great base for wildflower walks, hikes, and wine tasting. Mount Barker is also home to several historical buildings.

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Mount Barker Location

Mount Barker is a town in the Great Southern region of Western Australia. It is about 50 kilometres north of Albany and roughly 370 kilometres southeast of Perth.

Denmark is about 55 km by road, and Manjimup is 160 km from Mount Barker.

Denmark & Albany to Mt Barker

The journey time from Mt Barker to Albany and Denmark is the same, about 40 minutes.

Things to do in Mount Barker WA

The town has a variety of things to do for visitors. There are some excellent hikes nearby which offer spectacular views of the region. Wildflowers bloom in springtime and there are beautiful vineyards to visit as well as historic buildings.

Old Mount Barker Police Station

Built in 1868, the old Mount Barker Police Station is a type of building prominent in WA’s major towns with a unique appearance. It was built by convicts and is a good example of colonial architecture, in the Victorian Georgian style using local ironstone and timber shingles.

The original police station fell into disrepair, including the removal of the original flooring and verandah boards. The building has undergone major restoration since, including a new roof. Despite this, the property is a good example of shape, style, and finishes and is a reminder of the early European settlement.

Notice the security bars on the kitchen timber windows, which was used as a gaol for overnight prisoners.

Daniel O’Connell was the first constable at the station, who had come to Western Australia as an Enrolled Pensioner Guard in 1863.

In 1908, work began on a new station adjoining the original, retaining only the Coach-house and stables. A courtroom was added in 1919, with a third police station being built in 1957. The second station was then used as accommodation for the high school staff.

The Plantagenet Historical Society became involved in retaining and restoring the building when the first station was threatened with demolition. The building opened as a museum in 1971, displaying Mount Barker’s heritage.

There is a range of other buildings on the site, including a small timber-framed schoolhouse built by the district’s early settlers.

Fully guided tours allow visitors to see how people lived in the past and learn about the area’s history.

The museum is open on weekends and public holidays from 10.00 am to 2.00 pm or by appointment. Check their Facebook page for any closures. The cost was A$10 per adult.

old white weatherboard timber building
Mount Barker Old Police Station Complex by Tourism Western Australia

St Werburgh’s Chapel

St Werburgh’s Chapel is temporarily closed – see Mount Barker‘s site for up-to-date information.

St Werburgh’s Chapel is a beautiful building built in 1873 by George Edward Egerton-Warburton and is a fine example of Victorian Rural Gothic architecture. The walls are made from chopped straw and clay, and woodwork from local jarrah. It is believed to be the only surviving church in WA originally built on private property by the landowner.

The Chapel was the only place of worship in the Mount Barker area until 1900, and the cemetery is still used today.

St Werburgh’s Chapel is open to visitors interested in this historic structure.

Opening Hours: Daily from 10.30 am to 4 pm. Donations are greatly appreciated.

Access is via scenic gravel roads in the middle of agricultural land.

Mount Barker Post Office and Telegraph Station

Built in 1892 and in operation until the 1960s, the old post office building is now called ‘Mitchell House’ and houses the local art society and gallery.

George Temple-Poole designed this building.

Plantagenet Hotel

The pub was built between 1912 and 1914 and is still open today. Look for apple motifs on the verandah, celebrating the local apple industry.

old pub with white verandah around upper floor
Plantagenet Hotel

The Railway Building

The Visitor Centre is housed in the old railway building, built in 1923. It is open daily and provides up-to-date information and maps.

Mount Barker Hill Lookout/TV Tower

For views over the rolling hills to the Stirling Ranges, the Porongorups, and even the coast on a clear day, head up to Mount Barker Hill Lookout.

The 184-metre-high telecommunications tower was once the tallest free-standing tower in the southern hemisphere. It opened in 1966 to provide ABC television to the area and now includes ABC FM Radio, SBS, GWN, WIN and Ten West Television, Hot FM and various telecommunication companies.

Mount Barker Murals

The murals throughout Mount Barker were part of the 2019 Mountains and Murals Festival. Sgt David “Johnno” Johnson, a local police station officer, had the idea and organised a collaboration between the Shire of Plantagenet, Mount Barker Police, Department of Justice, Plantagenet Arts Council, Great Southern Emerging Leaders Group and the town community.

Johnno is a part-time “Walldog” (a group of sign painters who meet once a year in the US to capture a town’s history in large-scale murals) and convinced them to come to Mount Barker.

Fifty artists from the local community, America, and Canada created five murals over a weekend, depicting the human and geographical history of the area. Inmates from Pardelup Prison Farm prepared the exteriors for painting and the Emerging Leaders Group had input into the theme of Reconciliation.

a large sign mural on the wall of a building in mount barker
One of the murals in Mt Barker

Mount Barker Playground

Wilson Park has play equipment and toilet facilities and is pet friendly. The shade shelters and tables are ideal for picnics, and kids love the red tractor and boat.

Wine Tasting

The Mount Barker wine region is known for its high-quality cool climate varieties (Riesling, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir), with Riesling and Shiraz the specialties.

The Great Southern is one of Australia’s largest wine regions accounting for 37% of Western Australia’s wine production.

It all started way back in1859 when George Egerton-Warburton planted grapes on his property in St Werburgh and produced his first wines two years later.

Signage at the Poacher's Ridge Vineyard Mount Barker
Signage at the Poacher’s Ridge Vineyard, located near Mount Barker by Tourism Western Australia

Plantagenet Wines

Plantagenet Wines began in 1968 when Tony Smith planted trial vineyards of Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon on his Bouverie property. The vineyard produced its first vintage in 1974, and the brand was registered.

The cellar door and café are open for food, wine, and tastings.

Wine Tastings from 10 am to 4.30 pm daily
Café from 11.30 am to 3 pm, daily during the WA school holidays
Closed Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year’s Day, Australia Day, Good Friday, and Anzac Day.

West Cape Howe Wines

West Cape Howe produces award-winning wines known for their balance, structure and flavour. They also incorporate sustainable practices into their winemaking and vineyard.

The cellar door is open Monday to Friday from 10 am until 5 pm and on weekends from 11 am until 4 pm. 

Other wineries in the region include Arcadia Wines, Galafrey Wines, Gilbert Wines, Poacher’s Ridge, Hawker Ridge, Zarepath, Dukes Vineyard, and Castle Rock Estate.

bottle of zarephath chardonnay and a glass of wine
We enjoyed the Zarepath Chardonnay

Wildflowers

Visit Mt Barker from late August to November to see wildflowers on the mountains and farmlands. The local area, including Stirling Range National Park and Porongurup National Park, are one of the best places to see wildflowers in Western Australia.

Mondurup Reserve has an easy wildflower trail, with orchids and other floral species marked.

Orchids are often small, delicate, and secretive, but they are a great reward to find. Recently burnt bush areas are the best for orchid visibility, but please watch where you tread. As always, look but do not touch – picking and removing any plant material is illegal.

Dieback warnings must be adhered to and stick to the footpaths or marked trails to avoid spreading the disease.

Banksia Farm, owned by Kevin and Kathy Collins, is the only place in the world to find every species of Banksia grown. They have collected all 77 known types and 22 subtypes of Banksia, with some reaching a metre in diameter and twenty metres tall.

rare bronze flowered form of the Banksia menziesii
rare bronze flowered form of the Banksia menziesii, at the Banksia Farm Mt Barker by Tourism WA

Scenic Drives

The local scenic drives offer stunning mountain ranges and lookouts.

Horsepower Highway

The 90 km Horsepower Highway trail features roadside displays of vintage and classic tractors through agricultural land and towns. All of the route is on sealed roads.

Treasures of the Great Southern

This 70 km sealed road trail takes you from the Bluff Knowl scenic lookout to Yongergnow Australian Mallee Fowl Preservation Centre.

Stirling Range Drive

Half of the 100 km circuit is on a gravel road but is accessible to 2wd vehicles most of the year. If you have a hire car, check with the rental company before travelling on unsealed roads.

This drive is spectacular as it takes you through the middle of the Stirling Range with mountains on either side.

a red dirt gravel road to mount trio
Stirling Range National Park (after a devastating fire)

Granite Skywalk Castle Rock Trail

4.7 km Grade 5 – allow 2 to 3 hours

One of our favourite Western Australian hikes is the Granite Skywalk, the most visited place near Mount Barker.

See the Balancing Rock, a massive granite boulder balancing precariously on another rock, on the way to the lower lookout.

You’ll need to climb some huge granite boulders and climb a 6 m enclosed ladder to access the upper lookout and the Granite Skywalk, a suspended walkway around the gigantic Castle Rock. However, the spectacular views across farmland to Albany are worth the effort, and it’s a great hike.

metal viewing platform on the top of agranite peak
Viewing platform of Granite Skywalk

Porongurup National Park

The Porongurup Range is one of the oldest mountain ranges in the world and has other hikes, as well as the Granite Skywalk.

This guide on Porongurup National Park provides ideas on what else to do and accommodation options if you want to stay in the Porongorups.

a long red gravel road in a forest
Porongurup Scenic Drive

Stirling Range National Park

Climbing Bluff Knowl in Stirling Range National Park is on most hikers’ lists, but there are six other well-known hikes in the national park.

For information regarding these hikes, plus hiking tips and accommodation options, see this guide on Stirling Range National Park.

view of green fields from mountain range
View climbing Bluff Knowl

Places to Eat in Mount Barker

Mount Barker has a few options for places to eat. The following are the top-rated ones.

Mount Barker Country Bakery

Mount Barker bakery has an excellent reputation with award-winning pies, sausage rolls, and sweet treats.

Nic’s Cafe and Catering

Nic’s Café & Catering is a country-style café offering great food at a reasonable price.

Little Bit of Barker

Little Bit of Barker has excellent service, food, and coffee.

Mount Barker Hotel

The Mount Barker Hotel & Bistro has a wide range of menu items, including pizzas and burgers. It’s a great option for families with friendly staff.

The Grocery Store

The Grocery Store is a great spot for coffee and breakfast. The friendly staff and delicious food make it popular with locals.

outside a mount barker cafe with visitors drinking coffee at a table
The Grocery Store gourmet café Mount Barker by Tourism Western Australia

Mt Barker WA Weather

Mount Barker typically has mild, dry summers and cold, wet winters. The warmest time of year is January and February, with maximum temperatures around 26°C, while July is the coldest when the temperature doesn’t go much above 14°C.

It rarely snows in Western Australia (apart from dustings on the peaks of the Porongurup and Stirling Range), but snow has been reported several times in Mt Barker.

Mt Barker WA Accommodation

There are few accommodation options in Mount Barker as most people tend to stay in the nearby towns of Albany or Denmark.

101 Oaklands has rooms for couples that are clean, comfortable, and well-priced.

The Sleeping Lady is situated on a 5-acre property with spectacular views of the Stirling Range. The 2-bedroom cottage offers couples an ideal romantic getaway but is also excellent for families. Electric blankets and the wood fire keep you warm in the cold months.

Thistledown Farm Cottage is at the foot of the Porongurup Range and has three bedrooms that can sleep up to eight guests.

These guides on the best accommodation in Albany and the best accommodation in Denmark can help you decide where to stay near Mount Barker.

view over vines in autumn with cottage in background
View across Mt Trio vineyard to the Sleeping Lady Cottage by Tourism Western Australia

Mt Barker History

I’d like to begin by acknowledging the Traditional Custodians of the land, the Menang Noongar People, and pay my respects to Elders past and present.

The Noongar word for Mount Barker Hill is Pwakkenbak, although I need help finding the meaning (if you know, please write it in the comments).

Mount Barker was first explored in 1829, nearly four years after the penal colony was established in Albany.

Dr Thomas Braidwood Wilson, the colony’s surgeon, led a small party consisting of two convicts, a First Nations guide named Mokare, a soldier, and Albany’s commissariat officer.

Wilson named Mount Barker after Captain Collet Barker, commandant of the garrison at King George Sound.

By the 1830s, a military barracks had been built, followed by the road from Perth to Albany in 1835.

Sir Richard Spencer, the Government Resident in Albany, was the first settler who bought land in 1835 from the Lieutenant Governor of the Colony of Western Australia, Captain James Stirling.

Lieutenant George Egerton-Warburton married Spencer’s daughter, Augusta, and took up land upstream in 1842, naming his property St Werburgh after an early English Saxon church.

The population growth continued through the 1890s, and The WA Land Company gazetted the townsite in 1893 (and again in 1899).

Apple orchards became one of the major industries in the region until the mid-1960s. Vineyards have mainly replaced these. Viticulture, wheat, canola, plantation timber, sheep, and cattle are the main agricultural activities around Mount Barker today.

historical building with slabs of stone concreted on wall
The Plantagenet Historical Society complex, located in the Old Police Station, Mount Barker by Tourism Western Australia

Recommended Reading

Other articles you may find helpful are:

Western Australia Travel Guide

Plan Your Trip to Mount Barker

Save money planning your holiday

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Mount Barker WA - The Best of What the Town Has to Offer

My Thoughts on Mount Barker

I don’t think Mount Barker is a destination in its own right, but it’s worth a stop on the way to Albany or Denmark. It also makes a great base for hiking the Stirling Range and the Porongurups.

The small rural town offers an insight into a country town with some fabulous wineries on its doorstep.

Mount Barker FAQ

Where is Mt Barker WA?

Mt Barker is part of the Shire of Plantagenet in the Great Southern region of Western Australia.

How far is it from Mt Barker WA to Denmark?

Mt Barker to Denmark is 55 km by road.

Is there a McDonalds in Mt Barker WA?

There isn’t a McDonalds in Mt Barker; the nearest one is Albany.

What time do fuel stations open in Mt Barker WA?

The fuel stations in Mt Barker usually open at 6 am but Mt Barker Fuel Services is available 24 hours a day.

What is the population of Mount Barker Western Australia?

According to the 2021 census, Mount Barker had a population of 2,855.

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