WILDFLOWERS BLOOM IN THE GREAT SOUTHERN
Australia’s South West makes up one of the world’s 36 biodiversity hotspots. With over 8000 species of flora in the south west, nature lovers visiting the Great Southern this spring are sure to receive a stunning display. The wildflowers are already in bloom, making the breathtaking natural landscapes all the more beautiful. Head to the local visitor centres when you’re in the region to get up-to-date information on wildflower walks and where rare species have been spotted. Below image, Bluff Knoll and the Stirling Range by Timothy Sargent Photography.
The annual migration of humpback, southern right and the rare blue whale brings these marine creatures to Albany waters from June until early October. Spot them breaching and playing close
to shore or join a whale watching cruise (tours depart daily, weather dependant) for a strong chance to get close to the gentle giants. Check tour times and availability with the visitor centre. You can also reflect on Albany’s whaling history at Discovery Bay, Albany’s historic whaling station. East of Albany
you can visit the Southern Right whale nursery at Point Ann, Fitzgerald River National Park, near Bremer Bay. Image below by Nigel Hardy with Albany Whale Tours.
HIDDEN TREASURES BLOOM FESTIVAL
The Hidden Treasures Bloom Festival, presented by Act-Belong-Commit is a month long festival celebrating wildflower season in the hinterland region of the Great Southern. Commencing on September 16, and running until October 16, there are over 50 events for visitors to participate in including wildflower walks, self-drive tours, exhibitions, garden tours and long table lunches. In this area, you’ll also find grand old homesteads and hotels from an era when the country relied purely on farming, award winning wineries, local produce, spectacular hiking in world class national parks and that warm sense of country charm. Visit www.hiddentreasures.com.au and follow the links to download the program of events, or pick one up from a regional visitor centre.
THERE’S MORE TO EXPLORE
The Great Southern is rich with gourmet experiences, with scenic drive trails through each of the five wine regions offering you the opportunity to join a food and wine tour or to hop from door to door, sampling produce, award winning wines, beers and spirits with your meals. The National Anzac Centre in Albany is also not to be missed. Honouring the Anzacs of the First World War, set within Albany Heritage Park, the centre offers visitors a deeply personal connection with the Anzac legend revealed through interactive multimedia displays, unique artefacts, rare images and film.
The southern coast ranges from tranquil bays and bright blue lagoons to rugged granite headlands. Spectacular views from coastal lookouts and adventuring the many walking and cycling trails is a truly memorable experience with endless options on TrailsWA. Ocean Beach in Denmark, the Albany Wind Farm, Shelly Beach in the West Cape Howe National Park and the Bald Head Walk in Torndirrup National Park are just some of the lookouts and trails on offer. Image below, the new lookout at the Gap in Torndirrup National Park, by WA Parks and Wildlife.
The Aboriginal people are believed to have had a connection with this land for almost 50,000 years. You can connect with one of the world’s oldest living cultures at Kodja Place in Kojonup, which showcases local indigenous heritage and culture and also tells stories of European settlers. Poornarti Aboriginal Tours (pictured below) offers deeply immersive and interactive experiences that connect you to this ancient culture and country in the spectacular setting of the Porongurup or Stirling Ranges.
There’s a misconception that getting to the Great Southern is hard and/or lengthy. In fact, it’s just a four hours’ drive from the Peel region. It’s still possible to do Albany or Denmark over a weekend, although there’s so much on offer in the region that a few extra days will quickly be filled.