Of the nine regions in Western Australia, the South West has become an Australia bucket list destination for global travellers looking to visit Australia. The South West – located just south of Perth – covers 23,970km squared from Bunbury to the border of the Great Southern region in Walpole, and is easily one of the best places to visit in Western Australia. If you’re thinking of travelling in Western Australia, this might be the spot for you!
While Australia may be one of the driest continents on earth, this corner of Western Australia with its Mediterranean climate of dry summers and wet winters is home to stunning biodiversity and outstanding natural attractions. This fertile land is also the perfect breeding ground for local produce and is a culinary traveller’s dream. Margaret River in particular has gained traction as a hub for world-class wineries, boutique breweries, and fine restaurants. Along with its heritage as a laid-back surf town, there are so many things to do in Margaret River and beyond in this Western Australia bucket list destination. Sure, if you’re travelling in Western Australia you might visit the likes of Exmouth and Perth first, or even take on a Western Australia road trip from Exmouth to Perth, but that doesn’t mean you should miss out on Margaret River and the South West.
Whether you’re looking to spot Australian wildlife, surf the perfect wave or feast on the wine and cheese this region is famous for – this region is a one-stop-shop for some of the best things to do in Australia. Let’s dive into all the incredible things to do in South West Australia (not to mention some of the best places to visit in Western Australia and the top things to do in Western Australia!), with this guide to the best things to do in Margaret River and the South West of Australia.
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The best things to do in Margaret River and the South West, Australia...
Bunbury is a coastal city only a short 2-hour drive from Perth. If you’re looking to tick off seeing wild dolphins off your bucket list of things to do in Western Australia, then be sure to stop by the Bunbury Dolphin Discovery Centre. This centre is one of the best places to visit in Australia if you want to meet and learn about these intelligent, sociable creatures. The volunteer team at the centre are incredible and are on stand by every weekend morning at the Interaction Zone as they wait for the resident dolphins to come into shore. If you’re travelling in Western Australia and you strike lucky you can meet Shanti, the matriarch of the pod, who has been visiting the centre since it opened in 1989! Aside from meeting the local wildlife, one of the best things to do in South West Australia is to visit Bunbury Farmers Market to stock up on the local produce this region is best known for.
Another 45-minutes south of Bunbury is the city of Busselton best known for the 155-year-old heritage-listed Busselton Jetty. This Western Australia bucket list attraction traversing 1.8km to sea, is the longest timber jetty in the Southern Hemisphere and ranks high on the list of the best places to visit in Western Australia. You can choose to take your time and walk the 3.6km return along the jetty for $4 per person.
If you want the full experience while travelling in Western Australia you can pay $15 per person to take the train, and at the end of the jetty, you will be guided below, into one of six underwater observatories in the world. With a 9.5-metre observation chamber, you have an opportunity to come face to face with over 300 species in their natural habitat. Once you have finished, quench your thirst (and hunger) at Shelter Brewing where you can try their local brews and seasonal bites.
Yallingup is one of the best places to visit in Australia for incredible natural attractions and is home to some of the top bucket list things to do in South Western Australia. Some of these Western Australia bucket list natural attractions include:
Swim at Injidup Spa – sit in the pool as the waves crash over the rocks to give the effect of jets spraying water in the pool below. Be aware, like many of the top things to do in Western Australia, this attraction is a top tourist destination. Try to get here early to avoid the crowds.
Watch the sunset at Canal Rocks as the water passes under the bridge, rushing past the 600-million-year-old granite – it’s a sight to see when travelling in Western Australia!
Go for a dip in the Aquarium – this secluded natural pool sits between Smith’s Beach and Canal Rocks, and is one of the best places to visit in Western Australia to swim in the iconic crystal blue waters of the South West.
Explore Ngilgi Cave – descend the 350 stairs down into the amphitheatre cave below, to marvel at the Stalactites hanging from the ceiling.
4. Margaret River
What was once a small-laidback surfer town, has since grown into Australia’s prime real estate for premium wine. It is often named as one of the best places to visit in Western Australia as well as one of the best places to visit in Australia – and for good reason. While the southwest Margaret River region is most famous for its wine, there are so many things to do in Margaret River. Come to Margaret River to enjoy surfing the Indian Ocean, the local mountain biking trails, stand up paddleboarding along the famed river, and as well as treating yourself to a tour of the premier wine and gourmet delicacies of this region.
If you enjoy games and a fun day out, then one of the best things to do in South Western Australia would be to spend a day at the Margaret River Maze. While you won’t often find this ranked on the top things to do in Western Australia, this hidden gem features Western Australia’s largest hedge maze as well as five hectares of beautiful gardens, an 18-hole miniature golf course as well as a host of other larger-than-life games throughout the gardens to keep you entertained. This really is an a’mazing time and is worthy of a place on your Western Australia bucket list.
5. Hamelin Bay
Hamelin Bay is located between Cape Leeuwin and Cape Naturaliste and has become famous for the stingrays that frequent its shores. It is one of the best places to visit in Australia to see these creatures in all their glory. If seeing stingrays is on your ultimate Western Australia bucket list, come here on a sunny day to marvel at these curious and friendly creatures, as they come close to the shore.
6. Cape Leeuwin
Cape Leeuwin is located at the southernmost tip of the Indian Ocean coast, where the Southern- and Indian- Oceans meet. The small towns on the edge of this coastline are a perfect contrast to the hustle of the Margaret River region, and a must visit if you’re travelling in Western Australia. Life feels simple here. If you want to experience the joys of a small coastal town in the South West, spend a day or two here to unwind, lapping in the ocean at Granny’s Pool, reading a book and enjoying the tranquility.
This peninsula is also home to the Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse – the tallest lighthouse on mainland Australia – an Australia bucket list attraction, and one of the best things to do in the Margaret River region. It is the perfect place to see the stunning surrounding landscape from above, as well as take a trip through maritime history. If you’re here between May and December, keep an eye on the horizon for the thousands of whales that migrate along this coastline each year. For nature lovers, seeing the Humpback Highway is one of the best things to do in Australia and one of the top things to do in Western Australia. If that’s you, make sure you plan a stop to Cape Leeuwin as it is one of the best places to visit in Western Australia to see this magical migration.
Pemberton is a quaint timber town located inland in the southern forests of the South West. A visit to this ‘green jewel’ of this region is one of the top things to do in Western Australia and is easy to see why. This lush green oasis is the perfect place to come mountain biking, hiking, and marvel at the giant karri trees. These are some of the tallest trees in the world, growing up to 90 metres in height. This is one of the only places in the Southern Hemisphere where they grow and as such, is regarded as one of the best things to do in Australia for anyone wanting to experience the magic of these ancient trees.
If you’re a thrill-seeker after a once in a lifetime experience, then one of the best things to do in Australia for you would be to climb the giant karri tree named the Gloucester Tree. This Western Australia bucket list experience was originally created as a fire lookout in 1947 and now is open to tourists to climb if they dare. The lookout at the top stands at a staggering 53 metres and isn’t for the faint of heart. There is a small wire netting around the beams that have been put into the trunk of the tree, but outside that, you’re free climbing. So be sure to wear enclosed shoes and hold on tight as you experience one of the best things to do in South Western Australia.
If you have ever wondered where the belly button of the earth is, wonder no more. Walpole’s slogan ‘North Pole, South Pole, WALPOLE! The belly button of the world’, is quite accurate in that if you look at a map, Walpole is conveniently located at the earth’s figurate ‘belly button’. Aside from its small-town humour, Walpole is best known for the Valley of the Giants. The ‘giants’ in question are the giant tingle trees best identified for their hollowed-out trunks. Seeing the sheer size of these trees in person is another one of the top things to do in Western Australia.
If you have the cash to spare when travelling in Western Australia, head to the Valley of the Giants to see these large trees in a forest display from a man-made bridge bringing you up to experience these trees from above. If you’re looking for more budget-friendly things to do in South Western Australia but still want to tick off this Australia bucket list item, you can head to Walpole to see a solitary giant tingle tree. Ask the information centre for directions to the tree, and I’m sure they will be happy to help, as well as recommend some of the other best places to visit in Western Australia on your travels.
What are your favourite places to visit in South West Australia?
What are the best things to do in Margaret River? Anything you’d add to this Western Australia bucket list?
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