This guide is all about Western Australia’s South West regions. It includes excellent family-friendly activities, unique wildlife experiences, beautiful national parks and beaches, delicious foodie destinations, and more. The region has so many things to offer for everyone with a sense of adventure. You’ll find plenty of places to explore with your kids or enjoy on your own.
There are many options for accommodation in the area, too – from budget campsites through to luxury resorts. This post will ensure you come away with enough inspiration to plan your next trip there. So what are you waiting for? Read on for an insider’s guide on exploring the best parts of Western Australia’s South West region.
Disclosure: Some of my links are affiliates (of which I use), which means that I may receive a small amount of commission if you buy something through them. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. This does not cost you a cent, nor do you pay more; I get a little towards the cost of running this blog, so I can keep it going. If you are thinking of booking through any of these companies, I would be very grateful if you could use my links. I am appreciative of all your support.
How to get to Western Australia’s South West
International and domestic visitors will fly into Perth Airport. Find details about visas, prohibited items, currency, and safety in this Australia Travel Guide and tips on arriving into WA and other essential travel information in this Western Australia Travel Guide.
There are car hire booths at Perth airport, but it’s best to pre-book your car rental. Choose from Avis, Budget, Europcar, Sixt, Hertz, Enterprise, and Thrifty.
To compare rental car company prices, I use Discover Cars, an award-winning car rental comparison website. They offer competitive pricing in over 10,000 locations worldwide and are have a high rate of customer satisfaction.
From Perth, Western Australia’s South West is a leisurely few hours drive along main sealed roads, making it an excellent road trip destination.
TRANSWA runs a train and bus service to the South West region, stopping at the major towns.
Regional flights depart from Perth to Busselton-Margaret River Airport and Albany.
The Ultimate Western Australia’s South West Road Trip
This bucket list south west road trip takes in the very best of Western Australia’s South West region and is a must for first-time visitors to WA.
Map of South West WA
To see a south Western Australia map with destinations pinned, see my Google Maps.
When to visit Western Australia’s South West region
Western Australia’s South West is a year-round destination with always something going on and a different feel to each season.
Summer: The best time to visit for the beaches and water-based activities, although it’s a bit cooler than Perth. See Orcas in Bremer Bay.
Autumn: The colours of the trees and vineyards are one of the highlights of this season. A great time for country drives and walks.
Winter: An ideal time for visiting a winery and cuddling up beside a log fire. After heavy rains, waterfalls are at their best.
Spring: The prettiest time of year when the wildflowers carpet the ground in a bloom of colour. It’s the best time for hiking, especially with all the wildflowers. Whale watching tours are in full swing.
See the individual towns for weather temperatures or check the Bureau of Meteorology for a 7-day forecast.
The migrating whale season in Western Australia’s South West is one of the longest in the world. Here is when you can expect to see them:
Albany: May to October
Augusta: June to August
Busselton & Dunsborough: September to November
Bremer Bay: Orcas from January to April
Places to visit in Western Australia’s South West
Western Australia’s South West incorporates four sub-regions: Bunbury-Geographe, Great Southern, Margaret River region, and Southern Forests and Valleys. Each region offers you different experiences and landscapes, including pristine white sand beaches with turquoise ocean, spectacular coastal cliffs, green rolling hills, forests, picturesque vineyards, and mountain ranges.
The Bunbury-Geographe area is the closest to Perth, making it an ideal weekend getaway. It consists of seven sub-regions: Boyup Brook, Bunbury, Capel, Collie, Donnybrook-Balingup, Ferguson Valley, and Harvey.
Boyup Brook sits on the picturesque Blackwood River, a three-hour drive from Perth. This small quiet town comes alive when it hosts the annual Country Music Festival on the third weekend of February each year. You will also find some delicious food and great wine producers along with a variety of “collections,” including teapots, dolls, and a world-famous rare Jewel Beatle and butterfly collection.
Visit this coastal city for a chance to interact with wild dolphins at the Dolphin Discovery Centre and swim in the protected bays. The town also features street art and trendy restaurants and bars. You also have the opportunity to dive the Lena Ship Wreck or swim with dolphins.
A complete travel guide on the best things to do in Bunbury, when to visit, how to get there, and other essential information for your trip.
Recommendations where to stay in Bunbury including beachfront, budget, family and pet-friendly.
This country town lies between Bunbury and Busselton on the Capel River. It’s a short drive to the beach at Peppermint Grove, where you’ll find white sandy beaches with holiday homes backing onto them. A great place to watch the sunset.
Visit Capel Vale winery, nominated as 2018 Top 100 Wineries in Australia by James Halliday, and enjoy the local fresh produce matched with wines at the restaurant.
This regional mining town, two hours south of Perth, is ideal for a weekend getaway. It’s excellent for people who love the outdoors with beautiful hikes and lakes that you can swim or kayak in. Collie is also a great destination for mountain biking.
Donnybrook and Balingup are nestled amongst lush rolling hills and the Preston and Blackwood River valleys. They make an ideal stop on the way to the southern forests or Great Southern region or stay the weekend and explore what they have to offer.
The Golden Valley Tree Park is a must-visit any time of the year but is particularly stunning in autumn when the landscape turns into colours of gold and brown. Donnybrook and Balingup have some wonderful walk and mountain bike trails.
Ferguson Valley provides stunning views over the countryside and vineyards in-between majestic jarrah forests. It’s a wonderful foodie destination showing off its local produce, boutique wines, and craft beer.
For a weird but wonderful experience, visit Gnomesville, home to around 10,000 gnomes.
In the heart of dairy country, Harvey is renowned for its beef, high-quality orange juice, and, more recently, wine. If you take the inland route, you can stop at Harvey on your way to Bunbury.
Great Southern region
The Great Southern region is the largest and most diverse region in the South West with a stunning natural landscape. It consists of six sub-regions: Albany, Bremer Bay, Denmark, Mount Barker, Porongurup, and Stirling Range National Park.
Albany was the first European settlement in Western Australia and the departure point for ANZAC troops in WWI. This region is perfect for adventure seekers, gourmet food lovers, 4wd explorers, and nature enthusiasts.
Albany is a popular destination for families during school holidays as it is a safe, peaceful town with stunning natural beauty. This historic town is full of history, delicious food, and stunning beaches with a range of fabulous accommodation to suit everyone.
Find out all the very best things to do when you visit Albany along with essential information for your trip.
Recommendations where to stay in Albany including luxury, budget, family and holiday parks.
Bremer Bay is the ideal base to experience the Bremer Canyon and the Killer Whales (Orcas), who visit every year between January and March. Located 170km east of Albany and next to the Fitzgerald National Park, this small town is home to some of the most stunning beaches in Western Australia.
Read about the Bremer Canyon Orca Experience here.
This coastal town on Wilson Inlet boasts a spectacular coastline with natural attractions in abundance. This is where the forest meets the ocean.
Denmark has become a popular home for alternative lifestyles, spiritualists, naturalists, artists, people who like the peaceful country life, and retirees, which gives it a laid-back “hippy” vibe.
Things to do in Denmark
Find out all the very best things to do in Denmark along with essential information for your trip.
Recommendations where to stay in Denmark including luxury, budget, family and holiday parks.
Mount Barker is the gateway to the Porongurup National Park and close to Stirling Range National Park, making it an ideal base for hikers. It’s also home to award-winning wineries and vineyards, with an abundance of flora and fauna surrounding the town.
Porongurup National Park has some of the most beautiful landscapes on earth and features many natural attractions. The hiking trails allow visitors to explore this fantastic landscape, and although there are plenty of activities to keep you busy, it’s also a great place to relax and unwind.
Stirling Range National Park
Stirling Range National Park has the only significant mountain range within the southern half of Western Australia, with rugged peaks which rise to more than 1000m above sea level. The park is one of the world’s most important areas for flora, with an incredible 1500 species growing here, many of which don’t grow anywhere else. Bluff Knowl is one of the most popular hikes in Western Australia.
Margaret River region
The Margaret River River region stretches from Busselton to Augusta and features some of the best South West sights, attractions, and experiences. Head here for stunning beaches, world-class surf, award-winning wines, and nature galore. Plan your route with this Perth to Margaret River road trip itinerary.
Augusta is a beautiful area and known for its natural attractions and as a wonderful place to spend a holiday with family or friends.
Busselton has so much to do for any traveller, including beautiful beaches, incredible wildlife experiences, fun attractions for families, romantic settings for couples, and the historic Busselton Jetty. It’s also the gateway to the Margaret River region, which is easily accessed from Busselton.
Things to do in Busselton
Find out all the very best things to do in Busselton along with essential information for your trip.
Recommendations where to stay in Busselton including luxury, budget, & family accommodation.
Dunsborough is a great base to explore Cape Natualiste’s stunning beaches, trails, and lighthouse. You will have a variety of restaurants, cafes, and bars close by, with many of them being family-friendly.
Things to do in Dunsborough
Find out all the very best things to do in Dunsborough along with essential information for your trip.
Recommendations where to stay in Dunsborough including luxury, budget, & family accommodation.
Margaret River is one of the most popular holiday destinations for Western Australians and is known for its beautiful beaches, surfing culture, world-class wineries, fresh produce, and trendy craft breweries.
Things to do in Margaret River
Find out all the very best things to do in Margaret River along with essential information for your trip.
Margaret River Accommodation
Recommendations where to stay in Margaret River including luxury, affordable, family, pet-friendly and large group accommodation.
This coastal suburb is another popular place for Western Australian’s to holiday due to the trendy breweries and wineries, white sandy beaches, surf breaks, and beautiful national parks. The views of the Indian Ocean from the winding roads are stunning and an incredible place to see the sunset.
Things to do in Yallingup
Find out all the very best things to do in Yallingup along with essential information for your trip.
Recommendations where to stay in Yallingup including luxury, affordable, family, pet-friendly and glamping accommodation.
Southern Forests and Valleys
Bridgetown is the only heritage-listed town in Western Australia’s South West region. This quaint country town has forests, steep rolling hills, and the longest flowing river in the state and lies on the banks of the Blackwood River.
Manjimup is surrounded by state forests and was previously a timber town. It is now well known for its fresh produce, Pink Lady Apples, truffles, adventure playground, and walking trails.
Nannup is a cute country town on the banks of the Blackwood River. Known as the Garden Village, it’s famous for its magnificent blooms of tulips, daffodils, and native wildflowers.
Take a walk along the Heritage Trail, browse the arts, crafts, and antique stores, or have morning tea in a tea room.
Northcliffe is a quaint rural town, deep in karri tree country, about half an hour south of Pemberton. The Bibbulmun Track, which stretches almost 1,000 km from Kalamunda in Perth to Albany, passes through Northcliffe, making it an ideal place to walk a section.
Thirty minutes drive south of Northcliffe is D’Entrecasteaux National Park, known for its unusual botanical and geological features and lucky to have 131 km of stunning sandy beaches.
Pemberton, known for its giant karri trees, majestic forests, and beautiful scenery, is a wonderful place to get away for a long weekend or spend a week.
Walpole is famous for the Valley of the Giants Tree Top Walk, but it has so much more to offer visitors as the nature in this area is incredible.
This town has national parks, state forests, wide sandy beaches, picturesque picnic spots, calm rivers and inlets. It’s the perfect place for bushwalking, bird watching, fishing, canoeing, kayaking, boating, and four-wheel-driving on the beach.
Save money planning your holiday
Flights: We use different sites to get the best possible price for flights. Check matrix.itasoftware.com to get an idea of the cheapest dates, but you can’t book through this site. Compare the cost of flights with Trip.com and try different routes.
Accommodation: We mainly use Booking.com for accommodation as they consistently have the lowest rates with free cancellation on most properties. We also book through Stayz for private accommodation as they are usually cheaper than Airbnb.
Car Rental: To compare rental car company prices, we use Discover Cars, an award winning car rental comparison website. They offer competitive pricing in over 10,000 locations worldwide and are highly-rated.
Tours: We use third-party sites Viator, Get Your Guide & Klook due to their free cancellation policies, instant confirmation, price guarantees, and mobile ticketing. We occasionally book through Red Balloon too.
Travel Insurance: Cover-More protects the travel dreams and experiences of more than 15 million people worldwide every year (including us!). Part of Zurich Insurance Group, they cover 22 countries across five continents with leading positions in the USA, Australia, Brazil, Argentina, Ireland, India and New Zealand. Protect your trip against several COVID-19 scenarios during the current coronavirus pandemic.
If you found this Western Australia’s South West Travel Guide helpful, please consider booking through one of our links. It won’t cost you anything but will help towards the cost of running this site. Thank you.