When the weather drops in Australia’s South West, things get a little cosy and a lot more intimate. Make the most of the cooler weather by feasting on hearty comfort food, exploring the vast landscapes with lots of space, and snuggling up to loved ones by the wood fire or at a tranquil winter retreat. Heading south? Here are our top picks of things to do for an immersive experience Down South and explore the region like you never have before.
Top 10 Things to Do in the South West in Winter
1. Go whale watching.
The South West has one of the longest whale migration periods in the world! During winter, humpback, southern right and blue whales come out to play. The whales first appear in Albany and can be seen here from May through to October. Then, visit Augusta from June to August and join a whale watching charter for an up-close encounter. The whales stick around in spring and can be spotted from September to November in Busselton and Dunsborough. At many vantage points throughout the region, you can spot these majestic beasts from the shoreline, or book to go on a whale watching tour for the ultimate ocean experience.
2. Do go chasing waterfalls.
Ignore what TLC said when they sang; "Don't go chasing waterfalls", because winter in the South West is a magical time to see our stunning waterfalls and cascades in full flow. So pull on your gumboots and get exploring to find the gushing waterfalls and cascades in the region this winter. Try Beedelup Falls near Pemberton, Fernhook Falls in Walpole and Quinninup Falls along the Cape to Cape Track in Margaret River for a wilderness adventure. Our inland rivers, lakes and creeks also really come to life in winter. An influx of water fills once-dry riverbeds, turning our waterways into a water lover’s playground ready for exploring. Hire a kayak or canoe and hit the water for a fun day in the great outdoors. Our tip: Head down the beautiful Blackwood River, where you’ll get a different view of the magnificent forest found in this part of the world.
3. Drink red wine.
Winter brings about the kind of weather that’s perfect for red wine. The favoured accompaniment to slow cooked lamb shanks and beef bourguignon, red wine is practically a dinner time staple for all South West foodies. It’s easy to see why – with five wine regions in the South West, you’re guaranteed a fine wine almost everywhere you go! With things being done a little differently this year, one of our favourite winter festivals Cabin Fever is going digital. Instead of the usual lineup of more than 40 food, wine and live entertainment events held each July, they’ll be bringing some of your favourite down south winter fun directly to you online! From mulled wine masterclasses to blind tastings as well as wellness activities, mixology masterclasses, a Friday arvo wine bar and plenty more! Make sure you’re following them on Facebook and Instagram for updates, as they’ll be bringing you the best of winter down south, wherever you may be.
4. Escape the city for a tranquil winter retreat.
Been cooped up inside your house for too long? Now’s the time to roam free, with plenty of open space in the South West. It’s as easy as booking a winter retreat beachside or treeside, ditching your phone, and getting back to nature. Look up Shinrin-yoku (forest bathing) for some inspiration!
5. Feast on nature's pantry.
The South West is nature’s very own pantry and its farmers markets, the fridge. No winter getaway is complete without a trip to one of the region’s farmers markets, where you’ll find the best of fresh produce. Stock up on fruit, vegies, meat and condiments before indulging on your market finds - pack a decadent picnic and enjoy with a view! Or, feast at one of the many winery restaurants or beach-side cafes.
6. Get crafty with a workshop or masterclass.
Ever wanted to know how to make your own gin, or melt glass into art? Winter’s the perfect time to learn, and the South West is the ideal place to start. We’ve got all sorts of workshops and masterclasses to try, including honey tastings, wine and nougat pairing masterclasses, pottery tutorials and much more, so head on down for a fun-filled crafty adventure designed just for you.
7. Hike to the top of Bluff Knoll in Stirling Range National Park.
There's nothing quite like a wintery hike. And with the Bluff Knoll walking trail recently reopened, you can once again explore the sweeping landscapes of the Stirling Range National Park atop the South West's highest and most spectacular peak. You best pack your puffer, as in the winter months there may be a chance of snow at the summit!
8. Snuggle up Down South.
Discover a fresh feel down south with one of the many unexpected and romantic accommodation options. In the South West, you can stay inside an old mill, a windmill, aboard a luxury vessel or houseboat, in glamping tents and beach houses. In winter, you can snuggle by a campfire, bonfire or indoor woodfire – there’s something oh-so-mesmerising about watching a fire’s flames dance. One of our favourite pastimes, chilling by the fire is made all the more enjoyable spent with loved ones, a couple of board games and a big bag of marshmallows.
9. Spend an evening stargazing.
The South West is blessed with areas free from light pollution, making it an ultimate destination for stargazing. Find a secluded spot and look up at the sky for a romantic and impressive astronomy display. Alternatively, join a unique range of astronomy based experiences for a chance to look through a 2.3m tall telescope for unparalleled views of our galaxy and beyond.
10. Hunt out truffles.
If we had to pick one piece of fresh produce to sum up winter in the South West, it would have to be the black Périgord truffle. This prized delicacy, known for its pungent smell and ability to bring the best out of all forms of dairy, sees droves of fungi enthusiasts heading down to Manjimup just for a taste. Find out what all the fuss is about by indulging in truffles at the many incredible restaurants throughout the South West. Book to join a truffle dog hunt with Australian Truffle Traders to discover where truffles grow and how they’re harvested.
For more winter inspo in the South West, visit Winter Down South.