Whether you’re into beach hangs, forest strolls, or chilling with the locals, Jono discovered that the South West is absolutely worth a visit!

We acknowledge that this adventure is located on the traditional Country of the Noongar Boodja people who have occupied and cared for the lands, waters, and their inhabitants for thousands of years. We pay our respects to them as the Traditional Custodians and recognise that sovereignty was never ceded.

Quick Overview

Australia’s South West region is a hidden gem that boasts world-class natural beauty and a diverse range of activities and attractions to see.

Internationally recognized as Australia’s sole biodiversity hotspot, WA’s South Coast showcases a dazzling display of flora and fauna found nowhere else on earth.

From the towering forests to the pristine coastlines, you can sip some of Australia’s finest wines or find solitude on the trails in this must-visit region in Western Australia.


About WA’s South West

Our trip covered both the Great Southern and the Southern Forests and Valleys regions of the Australia’s South West.  Technically, the South West stretches from the Harvey Region to Bremer Bay, encompassing Margaret River, the Bunbury Geographe, and the entire SW coastline along the way. This corner of the country is a foodie and adventurer’s paradise with as much to delight the taste buds as there is to see and do.

Though the South West Coast has been called by many names since it was first colonised, it was affectionately dubbed the Rainbow Coast in the 1960s due to how frequently you can spot rainbows in the region. Throughout autumn and spring, the rain dances with the sun to produce magic in the skies.


History of WA’s South West

Believed to have occupied the region for at least 45,000 years, the people of Noongar Boodja are the traditional owners of South West and are one of the largest cultural blocks in Australia. The Noongar people were nomadic hunter-gatherers who followed a six-season calendar that’s still in use today. Each season spanned the length of two moon cycles, helping them to establish where to find food and set up camp.

British settlers arrived in King George Sound in Albany in 1826, some 41 years after the First Fleet landed in Sydney Cove on the East Coast.



How Do You Get to WA’s South West?

The best way to see everything that the forests, valleys, and coastline offer is by driving down yourself. Depending on where you’re heading in the South West region, the drive south from Perth takes anywhere between two to five hours.

As with everywhere in Australia, aim to avoid driving at dusk and dawn when wildlife is most active.


Albany, WA

Where to Stay in WA’s South West

Summerstar Walpole Rest Point Caravan Park

Located on the banks of the Nornalup Inlet in the heart of the Walpole Wilderness, this Caravan Park is the perfect overnight stop. Mostly catering to visitors travelling in motorhomes and those pitching a tent, the park also boasts a range of self-contained cabins and units.

Say g’day to the local pelicans on the recently restored heritage-listed Walpole jetty and gazebo out the front. You can even drop in a fishing line and watch the sun set over the inlet.



William Bay Cottages

It’s no secret we’re fans of pitching a tent out in the wild, but who doesn’t love a touch of luxury on their road trip? This friendly, family-run operation offers a range of cottages dispersed across a 330-acre property right next to William Bay National Park.

We stayed in the Endeavour cottage complete with a wrap-around deck – the ideal tranquil place for our morning cuppa and a cheeky afternoon cheese board. From the cottage, a private walking track leading down to Parry’s Beach – still on the property – only adds to the seclusion and peace you’ll feel post arrival.

There’s nothing better than enjoying a glass of Vino by the fireplace, and that’s exactly what we did after our long day of adventuring.



Cosy Corner East Campsite

Fancy pulling up and camping with the beach at your doorstep? This campsite, just a 30-minute drive from Albany, has you covered.

Operating on a first-come-first-served basis and offering a total of 21 caravan sites and 15 tent sites, a night at this secluded beach will set you back $15 per night. You can expect staff that are friendly, informative, and easy to find around the campground. Recycling of cans and bottles you polished off the night before is easy with handy places to deposit them labelled ‘containers for change’. Drop toilets are also provided.

There’s a lookout area, just a short walk from the campsite, that provides expansive views over the entirety of dog-friendly Cosy Corner Beach. This is absolutely worth a visit. Watch the sun go down before you hit the hay with the sound of waves crashing in the distance.


Cosy Corner Beach

Where to Eat in WA’s South West 

Philippine Magic Café 

Serving up a menu packed with fusion Australian-Filipino food, this family-run restaurant is a must-visit while in Walpole. Having recently moved down the main street to upsize from their original spot in August 2023, the restaurant now has a relaxed outdoor deck where you can enjoy your meals.

Ron, one half of the husband-and-wife duo running the show, serves up great local tips for activities to hit in the region. He also tackled all of the renovations himself, including the lovely outdoor deck where we chose to chow down on our jalapeno parmi and the namesake magic curry.



Besides the pub down the road, they are the only other licensed restaurant in Walpole, so you can enjoy a frothy one at the end of the day. 

The Marron Tale 

Having started as hobby farmers 17 years ago, Debbie and the family have recently scaled up their crayfish operation by opening this lovely restaurant in 2022. With five ponds on the property where they grow their fresh marron (delicious crayfish!), you’ll get to sample some dishes featuring super fresh crayfish unique to the region. 

The cosy indoor dining area features some stunning pieces by local artist, Des Brennan, and it has sprawling views over the farmland. We had the marron spring rolls and butterfly marron, but there’s nothing wrong with spoiling yourself with a marron platter to share for the table. Crayfish merchandise is for sale and you can buy fresh marron to take home with you. 



Denmark Tavern 

Every town has a local watering hole and this tavern delivers the goods in Denmark. Open seven days a week with hours that extend later than most other local restaurants, the tavern is a safe bet if you’re in a scramble to find a meal in Denmark. Having chatted about having a Guinness on a day hike, I knew it was meant to be when we pulled up at the bar and they had it on tap. 

The tavern has a charming interior and plenty of seating space both outside and in. There’s a large menu on offer, including some chef specials. You can enjoy a game of pool while you listen to playlists blasting crowd favourites as you wait for your meal to arrive.  

Mrs Jones Cafe 

What was once the old butter factory has been transformed into this must-visit café in Denmark. With a menu derived from produce, most of which is grown in the cafe garden, there’s a calming rustic vibe here that’s hard to beat.

The baristas on the machine sure know how to whip up a coffee to match the appetising dishes being made out the back too! You can take your pick between the indoor seating area or by the garden out the front to dig into your meal. 



Bred co Micro Bakery 

Bred co bakery serves up locally made fresh sourdough loaves and pastries daily, with coffee from a local roaster to match. Sourcing grain from Goodies Farm, just 70 kilometres from the bakery, they mill everything onsite to create a product that tastes unique to the region.

I had a savoury danish topped with asparagus, bechamel, and parmesan with a pastry plait filled with lemon curd. I couldn’t leave without a coffee so I paired it with a long black, which was served in a handmade ceramic mug. It went down an absolute treat and was a great way to start the morning. 



Peaceful Bay Fish and Chips

Peaceful Bay, known as Kwallup, meaning ‘Place of Sand’ by the Noongar people, is a secluded coastal nook with a fish and chip shop that’s a hit with both locals and travellers passing through. 

Located just outside the Peaceful Bay Caravan Park, this family-run business has been serving up fresh, sustainable, and locally caught fish since 2008. The owners take pride in the fact that every fish prepared here is caught on a line straight from the Southern Ocean. And their menu changes based on the catch of the day so you’re always in for a super fresh treat. 

Find a spot in their seating area or better yet, wander down to the bay to devour your fish and chips while you bury your toes into the sand. Phone ahead to confirm current opening hours and what they have on the menu.

Essential Gear for the South West

Planning on a day hike? Check this out too: Packing List for a Day Hike


Things to Do in WA’s South West  

Lace Em’ Up and Take a Hike 

With over 3000 kilometres of trails, there are plenty of places to explore the land on foot, with access to some stunning unspoiled Aussie bush. Though tackling the iconic Bibbulmun Track or the Cape to Cape Track requires some planning, your choices for single day hikes are vast.



Take an immersive walk 40m above ground through the canopy of an ancient Tingle forest one day and experience the beauty of the rugged coastline out to Bald Head the next. There’s something for everybody in the South West! 

Read More: Australia’s South West: Come for the Coastlines Stay for the Trails 

Experience the Nornalup Inlet from the Water 

If you’re staying at Summerstar Walpole Caravan Park, swing by the reception and rent a kayak to explore Nornalup Inlet. The crew can conveniently drop them at the shore and kayaks are available for rent up until 5pm. Take in the sights of the Karri, Marri, and Tingle trees as you paddle along the banks of the inlet, and keep your eyes peeled for dolphins as you make your way across the water. 

For those not inclined to paddle, WOW Wilderness EcoCruise offers guided tours through the Nuyts Wilderness Area on their vessels specifically designed for Walpole’s waterways. Owner and operator, Gary Muir, is extremely knowledgeable about the region and you’ll definitely be entertained as you take in the breathtaking scenery on offer.  


Kayaking at Nornalup Inlet


Take a Dip at Nornalup Inlet Jetty

Though the Frankland River is a perfect place for a dip at any time of day, you’ll likely have the jetty area all to yourself if you head there for a swim in the morning. Be warned, the quaint town of Nornalup just oozes charm and you’ll want to float around all day! The accessible wooden jetty has a large inbuilt table, making it the perfect place to brew up a coffee or stay for a meal. 

Unlike the copious amounts of salty dips you’re sure to partake in on your road trip, the fresh water of the Frankland River is very refreshing and hits differently than the swims in the ocean. 


Relaxing in the Frankland River


Walk Amongst the Ancient Tingle Trees in the Valley of Giants 

Named after the Eucalyptus jacksonii trees that can only be found in the South West, this forest is home to two accessible walks that let you experience both the canopy level, and the forest floor. 

Set 40m above the ground, the Tree Top Walk is a unique and immersive experience. You’re unlikely to forget the sensation of the walkway swaying as you meander along, surrounded by the ancient tingle trees that call the forest home. 

The Ancient Empire Walk opened up alongside the Tree Top Walk in 1996 and was recently redesigned to create an accessible 540m loop track. The path snakes past some impressive tingle trees, including the Grandma and King Tingle, and even has some hollow red tingle trees that you can stand under and walk through. 


Australia’s South West: Come For the Coastlines Stay For the Trails, Jono Tan, Treetop Walk, WA, metal boardwalk, canopy

Tree Top Walk


Visit Elephant Rocks and Greens Pool 

These landmarks, nestled on the coastline of Williams Bay National Park, are a highlight for many travelling the South West, and are not to be missed. 


Elephant Rocks


Known for their uncanny resemblance to a herd of elephants ambling out into the Southern Ocean, these gigantic granite boulders scattered across this sheltered cove are a mind-blowing scene. The short walk from the car park at Elephant Rocks leads down some stairs and through two large boulders into Elephant Cove, where you can jump in for a swim or snorkel. Though the pristine turquoise waters are alluring, exercise caution as they are prone to surges and king waves. 

Read more: Staying Safe on Coastal Rock Platforms

Right around the corner, Greens Pool is a tranquil lagoon sheltered by a rock reef. It’s an ideal place to cool off. Find a spot on the beach for a picnic and don’t forget your camera. This slice of paradise is as picturesque as they come! 


Green Pool


Explore The Seaside Haven of Albany 

Located on Menang Country, Albany is alive with history and things to see. Being the last port of call for ships departing Australia in the First World War, the town plays a central role in the ANZAC legend. Pay a visit to the full-scale replica of the Brig Amity on the foreshore, and try to imagine the voyage of the first settlers to Western Australia in the 1800s.


Albany, WA


Middleton Beach is lined with Norfolk pines and is Albany’s most popular beach. As the beach is protected from swell by King George Sound, you’re likely to spot locals cutting laps inside the protection of the shark nets, and swimming out to the pontoon to jump off. While you’re here, why not take on the scenic 8.4km Ellen Boardwalk trail that wraps around the bay or stop off at Dog Rock, a granite outcrop near the town centre for a selfie?

What It’s Like to Visit WA’s South West 

You’ll feel a real sense of remoteness and tranquillity travelling through WA’s South West. The variety of landscapes found here cater to explorers of every kind. From the enchanted forests to the seemingly endless coastlines, whether you’re in search of a rolling wave or to disconnect on an empty trail, you’ll be spoilt for choice. 

I found the smell and sounds of the Southern Ocean to be steady and calming. There are heaps of opportunities for wa​​ter-based activities for those who feel at home in the ocean, and those that want to be. The chance to enjoy days filled with a constant supply of ocean dips, kayaking adventures, and coastal walks is one of the reasons I love our island country, and you’ll have all those opportunities in spades here. 

If you’re a foodie, you’ll thoroughly enjoy sampling the gastronomic delights in the South West with varied culinary experiences that are unique to the region. The vineyards in Margaret River produce some world-class drops and will add a touch of class to your journey. 


FAQs WA’s South West

I’m driving from Perth, where should I stop along the way? 

From the apple orchards in Donnybrook to the charming country hub in Bridgetown, you’ll be spoiled for choice along your drive. Bunbury’s Farmers Market is excellent for picking up some picnic supplies or fresh produce for your camp cookouts. I’d be remiss to not make special mention of the public toilets in Manjimup – they are definitely one of the nicest public toilets that I’ve stopped at across Australia. 

When’s the best time to hike in the South West? 

Temperatures in the South West region can soar over summer, resulting in extremely hot and dry days. Due to the increased fire risk and lack of water, it’s best to avoid hiking during this period. The best months to hike are between April to October, and during wildflower season when more than 8000 species bloom.

If you’re heading out during summer, try to avoid the hottest part of the day, opt for either the start or end of the day, and be sure to stay well hydrated during the walk. As always, don’t forget your sun protection and refresh your snake bite first aid management knowledge before you go.

Read more: Gear and Hacks to Beat the Heat 

How good is the reception in the South West? 

Reception is available in most areas of the South West but it can be patchy depending on your service provider. It’s best to plan ahead and grab a physical map and some local travel advice at one of the visitor information centres along the way.  

What’s the best way to get the inside scoop on the best things to do in the South West? 

Chat to the locals! Whether it’s a shop owner or the fella running the local fuel station, locals in the South West are friendly and always keen for a yarn. Ask them about what’s new in the area or what they’d recommend to do while you’re around. Who knows, what they suggest may just end up being the highlight of your trip. 

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