From strolling down the main street familiarising yourself with the area’s history to a guided stroll along the river, the beautiful town of Bridgetown lends itself to some spectacular autumn walks.
With its wide streets, charming historical buildings, abundance of beautiful gardens, and native flora and fauna, Bridgetown is known for being one of the prettiest towns in the South-West. As the weather cools from April through to June, the landscape changes and offers visitors a wonderful chance to get outdoors and enjoy the colours and milder weather.
The Bridgetown Visitor Centre is conveniently located on the main street of town, so make sure it’s your first port of call (after slipping on comfy shoes, grabbing a water bottle, hat, sunscreen and your camera). The centre’s staff can point you in the right direction for the type of walk that suits you, whether that’s an historical tour around the town or a bush-based walk through nearby forest. Maps are also available here for many of the local walks.
The self-guided walk around the town takes about an hour and a half at an ambling pace, allowing you to stop and enjoy the historic buildings and sites on the way. You’ll pass the old courthouse, the old jail (built in 1880), the post office, Bridgetown Hotel, town hall, site of the old school, Saint Brigid’s church (built in 1894), the Methodist church (built in 1899) and the railway station. A highlight of the walk is Bridgedale, the first home built in Bridgetown in 1864. If you’d like to take a look inside the buildings, keys to most can be collected from the Visitor Centre, and Bridgedale is open to the public every weekend.
If you’re keen to go on a guided walk, Autumn Delight, an event that’s part of the Festival of Country Gardens, will host a couple of free walks around the town during the festival weekend in May. Organiser Peta Townsing takes visitors on a serendipity-type town walk, showing off the beautiful gardens of Bridgetown in their fabulous autumn shades. “You get a nice mix of fascinating old places,” says Peta. Also pointed out along the walks are various plants species, including a group of ancient eucalypts located around the railway station – these blackbutts, marris, jarrahs and flooded gum are characteristic of the area and are well over 100 years old. The town walk leaves from the Visitor Centre at 8am on Saturday, May 7. All you need are good shoes and a love of gardens. The walk usually ends up at a cafe where you can enjoy a morning cappuccino.
On Sunday, May 8 the festival hosts a walk along the Blackwood or Geegeelup River. Again, walkers meet at 8am at the Visitor Centre and the tour takes about an hour. Your guide will point out various plants and animals – if you’re lucky you may even see a red-eared firetail finch along the banks of the river. These specky little creatures are a real find and are endemic to WA. Other gems you can expect to spot along this walk are early flowering gums, blue wrens, redtail black cockatoos, magpies, New Holland honeyeaters and fantails.
Other walks around the Bridgetown area include Walk Number Two, which is located 6km east of town and is good for spotting orchids in spring. Flatsmill Road, also east of Bridgetown is another good spot for spider orchids closer to October. The Jarrah Park between Bridgetown and Nannup is a very popular walking location, rewarding visitors with an abundance of jarrah, karri and blackbutt trees (plus the wonderfully named snotty gobble tree) and a variety of native blooms when in season. There are also a number of walks through the Greenbushes area (half way between Balingup and Bridgetown), so for more information on all of these options, go to the Bridgetown Greenbushes Visitor Centre, which is open all week and located in the centre of Bridgetown on Hampton Road.