The Hidden Treasures is a collection of eight hinterland shires within the Great Southern region of Australia’s South West. This inland region is full of grand old homesteads, farming and viticulture, remnants of a pioneering past and warm country hospitality. Below are some of the main towns and attractions within the Hidden Treasures. For a full list of attractions and towns, visit the Hidden Treasures website.
Experience Kojonup’s history by visiting the Kodja Place Interpretive Centre which showcases local indigenous heritage and culture and tells stories of European settlers. The town is home to one of the oldest surviving military buildings in Western Australia, the Military Barracks, which now houses a museum. Outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy the many walk trails, including the trails at Myrtle Benn Sanctuary.
Located just 15 minutes adjacent to the Porongurup Range and within easy reach of the Stirling Range, Mount Barker is a quaint small agricultural town, rich in history and heritage that has diversified into viticulture and wildflower cultivation and the only place you will find every species of Banskia grown.
The area around Mount Barker is significant for wine growing and award winning wineries with cellar doors that take in the picturesque views. Enjoy seasonal produce and discover specialist display gardens, craft galleries and wander heritage trails and scenic drives. Mount Barker Hill provides panoramic views across the ranges and back to Albany.
The Porongurup Range rises from the landscape like an island surrounded by a sea of giant Karri trees. The 12km long range is 670 metres high, formed of solid granite and is 1.1 million years old, making it one of the oldest in the world. A 1.5km walk trail leads you through spectacular forests on your way to the Granite Skywalk. Enjoy the breathtaking, panoramic views from the 38 metres, upper and lower lookouts atop Castle Rock, just 15 minutes from Mount Barker. Numerous bushwalking tracks cater to different skill levels. Bolganup Heritage Trail is an easy 600 metre stroll and Marmabup Rock Trail is a three-hour walk. The park also attracts rock climbers and bird watchers and is considered a mecca for botanists, wildflower enthusiasts and photographers with its unique flora (over 700 native species) and prolific bird life. Surrounding the national park are boutique wineries producing cool climate wines and accommodation offering lovely views over the range.
Cranbrook and Frankland River
Cranbrook is the gateway to the National Heritage listed Stirling Range National Park. A beautiful old station master’s house, the oldest building in town, is now home to the Cranbrook museum. With a great collection of local history items, it tells the story of the development of this lovely railway town. Be sure to visit Sukey Hill lookout for spectacular views of salt lakes, mountains and farmland.
The stunning Frankland River Region boasts the production of olive oil, organic produce, raspberries and some of the finest cool climate wines in Australia.
First settled in the 1850s, the busy regional centre grew with the arrival of the Great Southern Railway in 1889. Many original buildings line the main street reflecting the proud heritage of the town. Avid bird watchers should head to the Police Pools in Twonkwillingup Nature Reserve. Seventy-six bird species have been recorded in this 46-hectare reserve which forms part of the Dumbleyung Lake Catchment, the source of the Blackwood River.
- Take a tour of Kodja Place with Aboriginal elder Jack. He’ll share with you stories of his culture as you walk through the centre.
- Climb to the top of Castle Rock, where a metal walkway skirts the side of an impressive granite rock.
- Sip world-class wine while talking direct with the winemaker who made it in Mount Barker, Frankland River or Porongurup.
- Visit the Saint Werburghs Chapel in Mount Barker, which still conducts services by candlelight.
- Experience the hustle of Katanning Saleyards – WA’s largest sheep saleyards. Selling takes place on a Wednesday from 8am and there is a viewing platform for visitors to watch.