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Things to do in the Great Southern


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Great in every way, this internationally renowned biodiversity hotspot is the region of soaring mountain ranges, massive seas, stunning beaches, ancient forests and edge-of-the-earth towns. As WA’s oldest port it is steeped in history and has since become the food bowl of the state producing world-class wines, whisky and locally grown and caught produce. Welcome to nature and adventure-lovers paradise. A visit to the Great Southern is not just about the region’s spectacular and unique natural environment, it is also about wine, food, history and indulgence.
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This region is that little bit further away along a slightly less-trodden track, but isolation has given the Great Southern an opportunity to develop its own niche, true to the unique soul of the ancient land. Its inhabitants range from the Noongar people, the mariners and fisherfolk, to the many hundreds of thousands of native animals who live in the forests, and the close-knit farming communities who work the land and spend summer on the shores of the Southern Ocean when the harvest is done, year after year, generation after generation.

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

  1. Myrtle Benn Flora and Fauna Sanctuary, Kojonup
  2. Farrar Dam Reserve, Kojonup
  3. Stirling Range National Park, Borden
  4. Fitzgerald River National Park, Bremer Bay
  5. Lake Magenta Nature Reserve, Pingrup
  6. Corackerup Nature Reserve, Jerramungup
  7. Chinocup Lake, Pingrup
  8. Banks of the Gordon River, Tambellup
  9. Broomehill Golf Club & Boot Rock Reserve
  10. Cranbrook Wildflower Walk

Guides

Guides


All at Sea Saturday

All at Sea Saturday is a fun filled family day held at the waterfront in and around the Boat Shed.

  • Dates:Jul 2
  • Time(s):From 10am
  • Venue:Albany Boatshed

Details

Description

There will a fabulous array of activities including the annual Build a Boat Competition and Regatta, water based Come and Try events and a whaling boat to explore. There will be fabulous array of activities including the annual Build a Boat Competition and Regatta, Wooden Boat displays to enjoy, a Whaling Boat to explore, cooking demonstrations, food vans and entertainment all day. Don't miss it! ?

HMAS ANZAC Open Day

Hop on board and find out what life is like for a sailor on the HMAS ANZAC!

  • Dates:Jul 2
  • Time(s):1pm - 4pm
  • Venue:Free Shuttlebus from Albany Boatshed

Details

  • Type:Community,Free
  • Ticket Price:Free

Description

Hop on board and find out what life is like for a sailor on the HMAS ANZAC! This vessel is the lead ship of the Anzac-class frigates of the Royal Australian Navy. Explore its armaments during this once in a lifetime Open Day and learn more about the ships vital role in Australia’s defence forces. Visitors will have the opportunity to speak with crew about day-to-day life in the Royal Australian Navy and even take part in some unique naval experiences! A free shuttlebus will be running from All at Sea Saturday from the Albany Boatshed. ?

Pirates and Mermaids Party

Join us at ALAC to celebrate all things nautical with a huge kids party aimed at 0-5 year old's.

  • Dates:Jul 14
  • Time(s):9.30am - 11.30am
  • Venue:Albany Leisure and Aquatic Centre

Details

  • Type:Kids
  • Ticket Price:$6pp

Description

There will be plenty to play with and discover - look for hidden treasure or walk the plank if you dare... Wear your favourite Pirate, Mermaid or ocean themed outfit!

Southern Art and Craft Trail

The Southern Art + Craft Trail will be in its 19th year, in towns Albany, Torbay, Denmark, Walpole, Mount Barker, Lake Grace, Borden, Kojonup, Gnowangerup, Hopetoun and more.

  • Dates:Sep 24 - Oct 9
  • Venue:Various locations across Albany

Details

  • Other:Arts & Crafts
  • Hosted By:ArtSouthWA

Description

Traditionally, 50+ different venues, including cafes, wineries, galleries, local businesses, community halls, libraries, art centres, studios and pop-up spaces will exhibit artworks. The variety of venues and range of professional Artists will show huge diversity. From textiles, painting, sculpture and jewellery, to printmaking, photography, pottery and woodcraft are on display. Artists will hold demonstrations and talks within their working studio context, incorporating an overall sense of welcome and community spirit. The ArtSouthWA website enables visitors to find artists geographically and read about their works. They can also interact through Facebook and Instagram. 15,000 copies of the professionally designed Art Trail Booklet will be distributed across an area as detailed above. It can be found in multiple locations throughout the Southern Regions from mid August 2022. You will find it in Visitor Centres, Libraries, Local Councils, Galleries, Cafes and other ‘arty’ outlets. It will guide you through the complete two weeks of the Southern Art and Craft Trail, showing you where and how to discover amazing artworks.

Rainforest of the Sea

The Vancouver Arts Centre’s main gallery will come alive during the July school holidays with an immersive art space, Rainforest of the Sea.

  • Dates:Jul 4 - 15
  • Time(s):10am - 3pm
  • Venue:Main Gallery, Vancouver Arts Centre

Details

  • Art Exhibitions:Sculpture,Craft
  • Ticket Price:Gold Coin Donation

Description

All ages are welcome to come, explore our oversized coral reef, and contribute with their own coral reef creation. Visitors are invited to play with arts supplies, upcycled items, and natural materials and explore their creativity. This is a non-guided art space and children must be accompanied by a responsible adult at all times.

G + B Exhibition

The inaugural G+B exhibition, which stands for green and blue, will be held at the Hilton Garden Inn Albany from 8 July 2022 to 24 July 2022.

  • Dates:Jul 8 - 24
  • Time(s):6.30am - 9pm
  • Venue:Hilton Garden Inn Albany

Details

  • Art Exhibitions:Painting,Sculpture,Other Visual Arts,Drawing
  • Ticket Price:Free

Description

This multi-media exhibition will see artists draw inspiration from Albany’s Akoya oyster and maritime environment to explore the colours of green and blue.