Things to do in the Great Southern
There are so many reasons to pounce upon this unsuspecting corner of the world. A love of great food and wine is intrinsic to the culture. With the pristine seas delivering seafood, and the prime agricultural land acting as a food bowl for the state, the region’s chefs are serving up inspired fare. The Great Southern has been doing great wine for a lot longer than most realise, across five sub- regions, each with a distinct terroir. Mt Barker has celebrated 50 years of grape growing, and at the QANTAS.
Wine Show of Western Australia, Mt Barker wines were hot-ticket items. Connoisseur travellers are well rewarded with fantastic scenery and perfectly matched cuisine. The Great Southern’s spectacular coastline, forests and mountain wilderness are some of the most amazing you’ll see. Attractions like the Gap and Natural Bridge in Albany, and the Granite Skywalk in the Porongurup Range join the Valley of the Giants Tree Top Walk atop any nature lover’s bucket list.
Board a charter from Albany during whale-watching season. Humpbacks and southern right whales gather in sheltered bays along the south coast, visible also from sighting platforms along the cliffs. To the east of Albany in Bremer Bay, an enormous pod of killer whales congregates over a deep- sea hotspot in the early months of the year. A tour is not to be missed! The Great Southern region is big, so if you can, add a day or two to your travel plans, take a detour from the Albany Highway at Beaufort River and head on a journey through five of the Great Southern region’s Hidden Treasures – hinterland towns that include inland Katanning, and loop you back onto the highway at Cranbrook.
When to go
Locals will tell you their favourite time of year is autumn. The region has a stillness that sets the scene for alfresco winery lunches, mountain biking, bushwalking and coastal treks. Winter is spectacular, as the Southern Ocean unleashes all its fury. Whales are about in large numbers from June to October. Some days are gloriously still and sunny, and yes, others can be cold and wet. If a big front comes in, outdoor activities are delayed in favour of roaring log fires, big reds and hearty meals. Spring is the season for wildflowers, with thousands upon thousands of species blooming. Many birds, including the splendid blue wren, are in full song. Mild southern summers offer a lovely reprieve from the northern heat, and are great for a cool swim after hiking through shady forests, or mountain-biking the pristine trails.
The hidden treasures
Bloom Festival Sep – Oct
If you’re heading through the Great Southern in springtime, don’t miss the fabulous annual Bloom Festival. Comprising more than 40 colourful wildflower- and spring-themed events scattered throughout the Hidden Treasures towns, the festival offers self-drive trails through fields of flowers, and an array of secret wildflower and orchid beds. It’s a great chance to spot rare flowers endemic to the Great Southern region.
Top wildflower locations
- Myrtle Benn Flora and Fauna Sanctuary, Kojonup
- Farrar Dam Reserve, Kojonup
- Stirling Range National Park, Borden
- Fitzgerald River National Park, Bremer Bay
- Lake Magenta Nature Reserve, Pingrup
- Corackerup Nature Reserve, Jerramungup
- Chinocup Lake, Pingrup
- Banks of the Gordon River, Tambellup
- Broomehill Golf Club & Boot Rock Reserve
- Cranbrook Wildflower Walk
- (08) 9370 6895
See the students of Albany Senior High School, Great Southern Grammar and WAAPA's Contemporary Music School in this penultimate performance after their week-long workshop series!
- Dates:Aug 21
- Venue:Albany Entertainment Centre
- Hosted By:Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts
- Venue Address:2 Toll Place, Albany WA 6330
- Ticket Price FROM:$30
- Ticket price TO:$35
- Audience:Adults,Family-Friendly,Wheelchair Access
- Produced By:WAAPA: WA Academy of Performing Arts
- Event Venue:Albany Entertainment Centre
- Music:Popular Music
Radio Active Albany is a unique performance presented by the students of Albany Senior High School, Great Southern Grammar and WAAPA Contemporary Music. A week-long series of workshops run by the WAAPA Contemporary Music staff combining secondary and tertiary students culminates in a special, one-off performance in one of WA's finest theatres. The performance covers a wide musical base from pop to rock, R'n'B to soul and funk classics in a spectacularly produced concert with a huge cast of talented young musicians and singers.
One Fell Swoop Circus bring their much-lauded production, By a Thread, to Albany Entertainment Centre for 1 show only, bringing with them their trademark 30 metres of white rope.
- Dates:Sep 15
- Venue:Princess Royal Theatre
- Hosted By:Albany Entertainment Centre
- Venue Address:2 Toll Pl, Albany, 6330
- Ticket Price FROM:$25
- Ticket price TO:$39
- Type:Performing Arts
- Event Venue:Albany Entertainment Centre
- Performing Arts:Circus
Using no nets or safety harnesses, By A Thread offers rich visuals of inventive aerial acrobatics and spectacular skills from some of Australia’s best emerging and established circus artists. Seven performers combine dynamic acrobatic skills and poignant physical theatre in a choreographed exploration of tension; physical, emotional and relational.
By A Thread explores the relationship between trust and play on an innovative aerial apparatus—using long spools of white rope run through pulley sheaves and wrapped around bodies, explicitly connecting the artists’ movements above and off the ground.
The performers are hoisted and swung by one another to create striking tableaux and breath-taking dynamics. The actions of one acrobat affect and implicate the movements of others in a precise negotiation of cause and effect.
Coming out of intense physical training at the National Institute of Circus Arts (NICA), Australia’s elite-level circus training institute, the By A Thread ensemble emerges with a cutting-edge contemporary circus piece on an innovative aerial apparatus.
The rope is a physical manifestation of the trust implicit in any relationship, acrobatic or otherwise. The performers use this metaphor for connectedness to explore the give and take, balance, and dynamics of relating to one another.