Publisher David Hogan “If you are in the Margaret River region and want to mix a beautiful day out in the forest with some exercise, then you have to check out Dirty Detours. Don’t let age or inexperience put you off. Everyone in our 18-person group – aged from eight to 48 – had an excellent time. To start with, the Boranup Forest is full of towering karri trees – the place is absolutely stunning. The tracks are all maintained by Dirty Detours and include the expected range of obstacles and jumps, with easy pass-around options for the first timers. We had two guides and so the younger kids were well looked after; we stopped every 15 minutes or so to regroup. To give the more experienced riders some fun, we occasionally split into two groups, with rides tailored to capability. Tours included a guide, bike (in really good condition) and helmet. One of the best things I’ve done in ages.” Dirty Detours (08) 9758 8312.
Scoop deputy editor Renee Bergere “I’m a big fan of Saturday road trips – jumping in the car with friends, a playlist and a sense of excitement. My last driving adventure was through the Ferguson Valley, 10 minutes east of Bunbury. Why so few people have heard of it is a mystery. Tucked in endless rolling hills are art galleries, breweries, dairies, restaurants and wineries. As wine lovers, we spent the day flitting from one winery to the next. Between tastings, we explored the region’s other drawcards: the 500-year-old King Jarrah tree that towers 36m over the forest floor in Wellington National Park; the picnic-ready Honeymoon Pool; and, of course, Gnomesville, home to 3000 slightly disturbing garden statues. In winter, the valley was awash in vivid green but word has it spring is an even better time to visit since the wildflowers bloom from September to November. I’m already planning my return.” Ferguson Valley Visitor Centre (08) 9728 1551.
YORK FREE FALL
Web developer Brian Brushwood “A tandem skydive in York was a gift to myself and my mum, Maureen. At the airfield, we geared up and went through a video briefing with safety instructions. Then our tandem instructors checked our harnesses and took us through some further training. We learned how to position ourselves when exiting the plane and when landing. Suddenly it was time to go. Walking to the plane felt like walking to my own execution! Minutes later we were airborne and there was no turning back. The plane climbed to 14,000ft (4267m). It was a weird feeling to think we were about to jump and only the instructor would be wearing a parachute – connected to me by a few measly clips. The plane doors opened. Mum and her instructor shuffled along the plane floor, tilted forward and disappeared. It was my turn. Before I knew it, I was dangling from the plane door 4km above the ground. No time to panic. A second later we were falling through endless sky. It was hard to breathe, a fierce wind blasted and roared. Falling headfirst, the instructor corrected our position. He tapped my shoulder and I flung out my arms and got my first true sense of flying. Then we side-spun in the air; first one way and then the other. It was truly weird. The world was spinning beneath us, with York in the distance and endless fields turned brown. How to take it all in?
Our 60-second free-fall was over in a moment, the instructor deployed our parachute and the ascent was slow and serene. We floated through the sky for a good five to 10 minutes and came in for an easy landing. What a crazy, thrilling adrenalin rush.” York Visitor Centre (08) 9641 1301.
FLIGHT OVER THE DAMPIER PENINSULA
Scoop Traveller editor Jade Just “This air safari in the Kimberley was my best outing to date – a big call for a travel writer! Waking in Broome at dawn to catch a tiny plane, we flew over the Buccaneer Archipelago with rainforest-covered islands fringed by a turquoise sea and with a horizontal waterfall in the middle of it all (you need to see this to believe it). After checking out the scenery by air we landed at Kooljaman at Cape Leveque, an Aboriginal camp on the Dampier Peninsula where we enjoyed breakfast and a beach swim. Cygnet Bay Pearl Farm (the next landing point) was a chance to enjoy a heart-stopping giant-tides tour on a jet boat. Watching the sunset from the cockpit on the flight to Broome, I couldn’t wipe the smile from my face.” Broome Visitor Centre (08) 9192 2222.
WAVE ROCK WEEKENDER
Graphic designer Kara Smith “While it’s basically a big rock in the middle of nowhere (not everyone’s cup of tea, right?), the remoteness and rawness of Wave Rock in Hyden adds to its charm. The natural formation is shaped just like a wave (be sure to take some obligatory surfing snaps), its sheer size and its length on such flat terrain is awe-inspiring. At sunset, you can climb up to the top for a panoramic view of the surrounding area and the vastness of the landscape. Spend the night camping at the Wave Rock Caravan Park and you’ll have the opportunity to view the rock at different times of the day – the changing sunlight alters its colour and appearance. A short 1km walk from the caravan park is what the locals refer to as Lake Magic – a vibrant turquoise salt lake in the middle of the desert. The unusually high salt concentration creates natural buoyancy that means you’ll float effortlessly in the water. The therapeutic properties of the lake have been compared to the Dead Sea, and you find many tourists covering themselves in mud and taking buckets of it home. If you are into stargazing, set up your hammock on a cloudless night and view the constellations, incredibly bright so far from the light pollution of the city.” Wave Rock Visitor Centre (08) 9880 5182.
MANDURAH BY BOAT
Media consultant Andrew Gadd “My partner, Maria, and I wanted to get away for long weekend – somewhere not too far, with good food and sunshine. I had memories of teenage weekends crabbing in the tinny, and decades later it was still the same… but packed with surprises. We watched from our hotel-room balcony as dolphins corralled fish; long boardwalks bustled with cafes, and there were market stalls and public performances in the arts precinct. One morning, we had a three-hour brekkie at one of the newest restaurants in town – part of a day out on the water, courtesy of a boat-hire business. By water you see a side of Mandurah that’s invisible otherwise. It’s a whole other world.”
Mandurah Visitor Centre (08) 9550 3999.
SWIMMING WITH MANTA RAYS
Art director Tina Lessnau Martin “While it doesn’t quite meet the ‘do-it-in-a-weekend’ brief, swimming with manta rays in Coral Bay and Exmouth has to be the one of the most incredible experiences I have ever had. As soon as your toes hit the warm water, the 12 to 14-hour drive to get there is worth it. There are turtles, manta rays, whale sharks, dugongs, dolphins, starfish and coral gardens wherever you look (remember, no touching!). But the highlight is swimming with the mantas. These creatures, with wingspans beyond 3m, cruise through the waters with such serenity and beauty. They are captivating to watch, gentle and harmless. Moving surprisingly fast (up to 60km an hour) they are quite hard to keep up with, but the tour boat gives you many chances to dive with them, thanks to a spotter plane. The season runs from May until November, perfect when you want to escape the Perth winter chill – average winter temperatures up north range from 28-35 degrees.”
Exmouth Visitor Centre (08) 9949 1176.
NANNUP DAY TRIP
Sales director Kay Cohen “This was one of those day trips that takes you by surprise; I wouldn’t have thought to head to Nannup except that I was judging a house for the WA Royal Institute of Architects awards. It’s only a two-and-a-half hour drive from Perth – and a picturesque one – and when I got there I realised why you would actually want to build a beautiful house there in the first place. It is all lush rolling hills and forest. (The house turned out to be the award winner.) Nannup is a bit of a gem – it’s the settlement in the 1970s surfing movie Drift. The main street is gorgeous – it has that country town vibe where everyone is friendly and you know that when you buy the local food, it is great produce. The bakery had us gorging on artisan pies out in the sun.”
Nannup Visitor Centre (08) 9756 3022.