There’s no one best time to visit Australia’s South West. Each season brings with it a raft of unique experiences, from huddling around the warmth of the fire with a glass of Great Southern shiraz to watching the annual humpback whale migration during spring.
But come summer, the South West’s natural landscapes shine. The cicadas create a chorus amongst the marri, karri, and jarrah forests, and the sparkling coastline beckons.
With summer just around the corner, we’ve rounded up some of the best seasonal activities in Australia’s South West.
Cool off at a hidden Pool
As temperatures soar, seeking refuge at any one of the South West’s beaches and bays sounds an appropriate thing to do. But the coast isn’t the only place you can find solace from the thick summer heat. Head deep into the St John Brook Conservation Park just outside of Nannup, and you’ll find the peppy and banksia-shrouded Barrabup Pool. Under the shadow of thick canopies, the still, deep river pool remains icy cold year-round.
Honeymoon Pool – another popular freshwater hole – sits on the Collie River, a few minutes’ drive from the Collie township. Here, you can swim, kayak, or float on your BYO lilo, whatever takes your fancy. Don’t own a lilo? Make the trip to Fonty’s Pool in Manjimup, where the use of all on-water accessories and toys is included with your $3 day pass.
Try your hand at some water sports
Feel the cool spray of the seawater on your face as you get a tow around Koombana Bay North on your water skis. It’s one of three official ocean-based waterskiing zones in the Bunbury Geographe area and just so happens to be a hop, skip, and jump from the Bunbury town centre for a post-ski feed.
If you’d rather skip the salt water (and subsequent boat clean), head to one of the South West’s large freshwater recreation lakes. There’s Lake Kepwari – a man-made lake 10km southeast of Collie – and Stockton Lake just a short drive down the road. Water skiing and tubing are also permitted at Harvey’s Lake Brockman and Logue Brook Dam, as well as Donnybrook’s Glen Mervyn Dam.
Get a good dose of culture
Summer is festival season in the South West.
The City of Bunbury plays host to a subsidiary of the global Fringe Festival in January each year. Over the course of the week, there are umpteen cabaret, comedy, and musical performances to get out and see. If your music taste leans towards Keith Urban and Leigh Kernaghan, hold out for the annual Boyup Brook Country Music Festival in February.
You don’t have to wait for a summer festival to get your art(s) fix; the Bunbury CBD Mural Trail, Outside the Box (Bunbury), and Collie Mural art trails are open year-round. Hit the trails early to avoid the harshest of the summer heat, picking up an iced coffee and croissant beforehand for a little sustenance on the go.
Sample some of the region’s best drops
Late in summer, the South West region’s vines are stripped of their fruit, and the year’s vintage begins. It’s an exciting time to be at a cellar door, with a flurry of activity both in the plots and in the winery. Watch it over a casual tasting, or sit down for a long lunch with a view.
Get stuck into a selection of the South West’s best beers at the South West Craft Beer Festival. Held on the 25th of February in Busselton, the festival brings all of the region’s pale ales, IPAs, and sours under one roof, making it that much easier to visit all of your favourite breweries in one go.
Not in the area in late Feb? A long afternoon spent pint-ing and dining on the grass of your favourite brewery is an indulgent way to while the last of the daylight hours away.
Seek out a secluded beach
It wouldn’t be a summer spent in the South West if you didn’t put in some time getting salty. But, finding a patch of real estate on the sand of the region’s more popular beaches can be challenging. Set your sights a little further afield than Meelup, and the shoreline will be free enough for you not to have to battle for space to lay out your towel.
Turn off Bussell Highway at Stirling Road and follow it down to Peppermint Grove Beach. The beachside town boasts a calm coastline, not unlike Busselton’s, but it doesn’t have the same kind of crowds. A little further south is Forrest Beach, where the swell-less water and long stretches of sand beg you to stay all day. If you’re lucky, you might even spy the local horses going for a swim, too.