The valley townships offer truly quaint main streets, complete with tearooms serving scones, perfect planter boxes bursting with seasonal blooms, and fascinating, ingenious and sometimes bizarre street art. That’s in addition to the classic country pubs, where the local characters meet, and plenty of charming antique stores.
Between towns, winding country roads crisscross green hills and stands of ancient jarrah forest to sidle up against the beautiful Blackwood River – the ribbon tying the patchwork region together.
Changing seasons have a truly beautiful effect here – you can experience enchanting misty mornings in winter, refreshingly cool summer nights, a blaze of colour through the deciduous trees in autumn, and bursts of pinks, purples and yellows in spring.
FACT: The Blackwood River is the longest continually flowing river in Western Australia, at 270km long.
1. Pack a picnic overflowing with local olives and cheeses, and a bottle of the region’s best, and throw the rug down beside the tranquil Blackwood River.
2. Drive the art trail through the region’s towns, and pick up
a unique treasure.
3. Don the walking boots and take a hike through native forests along the Bibbulmun Track.
4. Saddle up, and prepare for adventure with a ride on a part of the renowned Munda Biddi mountain bike trail.
5. See the blazing colours of thousands of tulips, or immerse yourself in a sea of purple with a visit to the lavender farms in Balingup and Nannup.
6. Paddle a canoe along the Blackwood River.
7. Get away from it all and enjoy a weekend in a secluded cottage, or take in the ambience at a bed and breakfast.
8. Wander at your leisure through the arboretum at the Golden Valley Tree Park.
9. Take a seat at one of the many quaint tearooms for some jam scones or a ploughman’s lunch.
10. Stop in at one of the charming local pubs for an authentic Aussie experience.
For more, visit scooptraveller.com.au/Blackwood.
DO AND SEE
Stroll the grounds
Wander through wonderfully romantic Monet-inspired gardens that are the essence of the Blackwood River Valley. In spring, two dozen gardens open across the valley for the Festival of Country Gardens, with several open in autumn as well. The private gardens of Holberry House are open all year round, and those at Sunnyhurst Winery, Bridgetown Library and Balingup and Nannup lavender farms (seasonally) are also worth a visit.
Take a drive
Known locally as the Golden Triangle, the 114km drive linking Balingup, Nannup and Bridgetown is one of the prettiest unofficial self-drive routes in the state, sprinkled with tempting cellar doors, restaurants and cafes.
Get ready for some colour and take a walk along the trails at the Golden Valley Tree Park in Balingup. Stunning from spring to autumn, and fabulously haunting in the winter, you’ll want to take your time and explore.
A canoe adventure along the Blackwood River has never been easier. You can hire canoes in town (complete with trailer if you need), meet upstream and paddle back down, or take a self-guided 50km wilderness canoe and camping adventure. Grab a canoe map from a visitor centre.
Get lost amongst the memorabilia at Harvey Dickson’s Country Music Centre. Roaming the grounds, you’ll discover ingenious Guitar Men sculptures standing 10m tall in the paddocks, plus rodeo yards, stages and bars. And when there’s a live show, it offers an authentic hoedown.
Arts and crafts
The region has a creative soul, expressed in public artworks such as Balingup’s bright and quirky scarecrows, Nannup’s chainsaw-carved totems, yarn bombers in Bridgetown and Boyup Brook’s fascinating Sculpture Stalk Trail.
EAT AND DRINK
This is the land of the classic country tearoom, where scones, jam and cream, and the ploughman’s lunch are the stars. Cafes and bistros feature Mediterranean and French fare made from premium seasonal produce, and artisans abound, from boutique beer and cider breweries, to cheese makers and fruit wineries. And if you’re interested in wine, get your fill of it here, with plantings of premium varieties in excess of 450ha.
DON'T MISS: Local producers man their stalls at August’s Taste of the Blackwood Festival; and you can meet winemakers at the Blackwood Valley & WA Boutique Wine Show in October.
COUNTRY MUSIC FESTIVAL
The four-day festival in Boyup Brook includes the WA Country Music Awards and the Ute and Truck Muster. Feb.
NANNUP MUSIC FESTIVAL
The riverside town comes alive and the streets are packed with performances, food stalls and activities. Mar.
BALLINGUP SMALL FARM FIELD DAY
Question local gardeners and growers for organic farming tips, while the kids pet the adorable animals. Apr.
FOR KIDS TELLING TALES IN BALINGUP
A weekend storytelling festival featuring workshops with children’s authors and illustrators. Jul.
Pack your armour and fancy costumes, and head to Balingup to delight in merry tastings of wine, mead and cider while being thoroughly entertained. Aug.
HARVEY DICKSON'S RODEO WEEKEND
Soak up raw country ambience at a rodeo, meet and dance with the cowboys at the saloon bar, and go camping, bush style. Oct.
NANNUP FLOWER AND GARDEN FESTIVAL
Enjoy amazing floral displays and fields ablaze with tulips, bulbs
and colourful plants. Aug.
BLUES AT BRIDGETOWN
Get your groove on for a weekend of blues and roots, a massive street party with staged entertainment, roving performances and food stalls. Nov.
FESTIVAL OF COUNTRY GARDENS
See Blackwood River Valley gardens at their very best. Nov.
Private log cabins, cosy bed and breakfasts, luxurious cottages, fun farm stays and authentic historical Aussie pubs are just a few of the accommodation options available in the valley. Many are perfectly situated to take in sweeping valley views, or enjoy the native bush and the walking trails down by the river. Book well in advance over event weekends.
TIP: The evenings in the Blackwood River valley can be rather cool, even in the summer, so be sure to pack
a jumper or two!
DON'T LEAVE WITHOUT… looking up! The stars, especially the Milky Way,
are absolutely amazing.
DROP IN ON THE LOCALS
Dariel Hodgins, Bridgetown Greenbushes Visitor Centre manager
"Bridgetown is the only heritage-listed town in the South West, so while you’re strolling down the main street, you’re also doing the heritage walk, past
art deco, federation filigree, inter-war classical and post-modern buildings, all nestled together and now boutique shops. Pick up a self-drive map from the visitor centre and take in a longer heritage trail or scenic drive."
From Perth, take the scenic South Western Highway to Balingup, and then Bridgetown, which is three hours drive from the city. To get to Nannup, take the Vasse Highway from Busselton or the new Mowen Road from Margaret River. Two coaches service the region daily.