Geographe is one of the hidden jewels of the southwest, a Margaret River in the making, with the historic port town of Bunbury, complete with the resident pod of dolphins, the rolling hills of the Ferguson Valley wine region, orchards and green fields of Donnybrook, Harvey, Capel and the stunning Peppermint Beach. Starting just 60 minutes from Perth, it’s an awesome daytrip come long-weekend away.
Bunbury is just 90 minutes from Perth, one of the state’s largest regional cities, and the central hub of the Geographe region. Although the city oozes of a cosmopolitan atmosphere, with street art and funky cafes dominating the CBD, it’s the stunning coastline, waterways and resident dolphins that will take you by surprise. There is plenty of places to stay and unique attractions and things to do.
The surrounding country side is gorgeous. To the north, sitting in the foothills en route from Perth, is Harvey. The scenery is lovely here, dotted with orchards, dairy farms, natural bush and a couple of huge dams.
South of Harvey is the stunning Ferguson Valley, the closest thing WA has to the rolling hills of England, dotted with family-owned boutique vineyards, cottage food-producers, a few restaurants, farmstays and chalet-style accommodation. The scenery is stunning. This is the jewel of the region and worth spending a day or two to explore.
Just behind the Ferguson Valley is the Collie River Valley and the town of Collie, seemingly lost in time. A mining town with loads of history, it’s near Wellington National Park, where stunning waterways, natural swimming pools, white-water rafting, walking and mountain biking trails draw outdoor enthusiasts.
The historic Dardanup sits to the east of Bunbury. A quaint small town with fifteen heritage sites and gateway to the Ferguson Valley. Further south is Donnybrook, another idyllic little town situated in the midst of orchard and wine country. Capel is found to the south of Bunbury, on the way to Busselton. A farming community, this town has a great cafe and bakery. On the seaside is one of the South West’s pioneering wineries, and the stunning Peppermint Grove Beach, full of holiday houses and hordes of kangaroos.
The Forrest Highway will get you to Bunbury the quickest – it is 172km, or a one-hour-and-45-minute drive – but it certainly isn’t as pretty (or as interesting) as the picturesque South Western Highway, which is 186km or about a two-hour-and-ten-minute drive. Coaches run five times per day and there are two rial services from Perth to Bunbury.
Places to stay
Bunbury is known as the City of Three Waters with good reason – you’ll usually be on the beachfront or close to the beach when you stay in town. Out in the surrounding region, fresh country air and stunning views are plentiful. Lovely bed and breakfasts, bush retreats, cosy chalets and cottages blend well with the whole wine-region experience. The adventure camps and farm stays are awesome, especially if you are travelling in a group, or have kids in town.