Cedric and Melody are two Perth dwellers who’ve spent every chance they could wandering the south western corner of Australia, and yet they’re still surprised and amazed by the natural wonders they discover, and the ones they keep returning to. Here are a handful of spots that have stuck to them like sand to damp, salty skin.
With these 9 natural wonders we hope to whet your appetite and encourage you to explore south western Australia for yourself: take an unsigned road down to the coast; wander along coastal boulders just to see where they take you; or find a secluded spot along a river and make it your swimming pool.
Honeymoon Pool, Wellington National Park
The Blackwood River is the South West’s longest river, and the pinnacle of its beauty is at Honeymoon Pool, near the town of Collie. Fallen mossy branches cross the calm, green river, and families of ducks paddle in the water or curiously investigate visitors. There are a number of walks to take in the bush, which is particularly striking during spring when colourful native flowers are in bloom.
You can spend the night camping by the pool and be woken up in the morning by a chorus of birds. Campsites are spread out in the shady forest, each with access to a table and a fire pit — perfect for those colder months. A short way up the river there are two more campgrounds (Stones Brook and Gelcoat) that are slightly less popular, but more secluded and private.
Balingup To Nannup Road
The Balingup-Nannup Road is one of the best drives we’ve been on. It winds, like the Blackwood River it follows, through a beautiful hilly landscape that’s rich with all sorts of impressive trees. Pines and natives alike line the road; sheep and cows roam green pastureland; and quaint houses sit by bubbling brooks.
Driving along this road provides ample beauty, but if you want to stay longer there are plenty of places to stay. Recently, we camped at Wright’s Bridge for $8 an adult per night. Each campsite is tucked in the bush privately, with plenty of space, a firepit and a picnic table.
Cape Naturaliste Road
We’re cheating a little bit with this wonder because it’s actually a series of wonders all branching off Cape Naturaliste Road (beginning in Dunsborough). We like to take an afternoon or a whole day to work our way up the road and back.
Meelup and Castle Rock Beach are flat, brilliant blue spots to swim or snorkel. There’s a nice bushy walk at both, or we like to explore along the rocks at either end of the beaches.
Sugarloaf Rock is a popular spot for sunset. It’s an interestingly shaped rock out in the ocean, but the surrounding coastline is equally as impressive. We like to climb up the rocky cliff which is slightly north of the lookout, and enjoy a higher view.
Bunker Bay is a picturesque spot with rough, shell-laden sand. There’s a short walk we love to do that climbs up to a lookout where you can see the bay from a new perspective. You can also walk from here to Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse which takes a couple of hours and is worth doing.
Injidup Natural Spa, Yallingup
Along Caves Road, take Wyadup Road just south of Yallingup, following it as it bends right towards the coast and you will find this amazing natural wonder. It’s a spa, created by the foam of waves spilling into a little ocean lagoon.
The lagoon is a spot to marvel at: typically it’s completely transparent, with a bluish hue and a sparkling glassy look. Framed by the brown and rust coloured rocks that are so typical along the south western coastline, the spa is a sight to behold. At first it might be intimidating to climb in because the rumble of waves seems so menacing, but once you’re in, all your worries melt away.
Hidden down a nondescript road and then along a quiet walking track through farmland are these incredible cliffs. They’re a rusty orange colour, which makes them contrast with the deep blue of the ocean down below and, on a sunny day, the eternal blue of the sky.
The cliffs are even more dramatic on overcast or rainy days. Then the waves seem ferocious, and the wind chaotic. The cliffs reach about 40m above the ocean, but it varies in different places. We like to have one of us wander down a level while the other stays on the highest point, giving a sublime sense of scale.
Wilyabrup sea cliffs are used for abseiling, and it’s possible to go with a guided group if you’re up for it. Otherwise, we suggest exploring down to the beach which is lonely and wild. There aren’t many clear signs, but you’ll find the path towards the southern end of the cliffs.
The tall, slender karri trees of Boranup Forest are regal, and I find it hard to not move through them without a respectful silence. Listen closely and you can hear diverse bird calls, the soft rustle of leaves and, in spring, the hum of bees going about their work.
The forest can be explored in different ways. Most accessible is a viewpoint on the side of Caves Road about 20 minutes south of Margaret River. If you’re entranced by the forest and want more, go for a drive on the unsealed road called Boranup Drive, or better yet, camp among the trees at Boranup Campground. Maybe if it’s a little cold you’ll be lucky to see fog hovering between the trees in the early morning.
Cosy Corner, Hamelin Bay
At the top of tall cliffs as the waves buffet the rocks below and the wind buffets you, it’s hard to imagine what’s so cosy about Cosy Corner. After being exposed to the elements on the cliff face, if you head through peppermint trees down to the beach, it begins to make sense. Now there’s refuge from the wind. The beach is popular for swimming and snorkeling, but when we went, we were blessed with solitude. As far as we could see, it was just us, and the white sand and misty sea-spray.
It’s easy to spend time on the cosy beach, but we would also recommend putting a beanie on and braving the windy cliffs up the top too. If you’re up for it, head down where the coast begins to bend and you can look back up at the cliff where you started from. It gives you an incredible sense of scale, and a deep respect for the power of the place.
Find Cosy Corner down Cosy Corner Road, about 5 minutes drive out of Hamelin Bay.
Bonus Adventures – Further East
Torndirrup National Park
One of our favourite national parks in south western Australia is Torndirrup, just outside of Albany on the southern coast. Everywhere you go in this park is impressive and has a kind of power to make you realise how small humans really are.
Don’t miss the natural rock structures carved out by the ocean: The Gap and Natural Bridge. The best time to visit them is around sunset and just after, when the colours are all soft and pinky. Other amazing experiences in the national park include hiking Bald Head trail for stunning views; spotting whales in the Southern Ocean; and finding a place to relax on the pristine Salmon Holes beach.
Mt Toolbrunup, Stirling Range National Park
Western Australia is well known for its flat landscape, but down in the south western corner, the Stirling Range defies that norm. Its rugged, bushy peaks are great for challenging your fitness and rewarding yourself with magnificent views. The range is best known for its tallest peak, Bular Mial (Bluff Knoll) which stands 1099 metres above sea level. If you hike during winter, you may even spot snow up there – an incredible thought to us WA locals!
Cedric and I prefer the trail up to the second highest peak known as Mt Toolbrunup. It’s a more challenging, ‘hands-on’ kind of hike, which is part of its appeal to us. The track starts in a quiet little carpark and winds its way steadily up through thick bush. In the second half of the hike you must scramble hands-and-feet up slopes of boulders. From the peak of 1052 metres, you can see 360 degrees of muted green mountains rolling out to the horizon.
There you have it — our curation of 9 natural wonders of south western Australia. There’s only so much that words and photos can convey, so head over to south western Aus yourself, and get exploring!
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