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Bunbury Area - Western Australia

The first sunny weekend for a long time was approaching and we didn't want to waste it just sitting at home but it was going to be too short a time to get away in the Coaster.

The answer was to book some accommodation through AirBnB and we decided to head down to Bunbury. There was a place we had been told about many times but we had never managed to see, so this trip we would finally get there.

The weather and health issues meant that going away on our annual wildflower trip was becoming more and more delayed, so this was also a chance to have a quick look around for any signs of wildflowers.

We had until 3pm before check-in, so we took our time and just enjoyed the easy drive in the 'Plastic Fantastic' (the Prado).

The first place on our list of spots to visit was the Farmer's Market in Bunbury. It isn't exactly a bargain basement sort of shop but the range is amazing and the design is interesting as you follow a winding path from one end to the other, where you pay for all the goodies you have picked up along the way.


Farmers Market in Bunbury


After grabbing what we were going to need for the weekend (and a few things we didn't really need) we drove up to the newly renovated foreshore at Koombana Bay for lunch.

Bunbury has been vastly improved in the past few years and the foreshore development is just one area that has now become a real attraction.


Koombana Bay


I must admit that Bunbury was one of the places in the state that I used to avoid like the plague. Navigating around can still be frustrating because it seems that straight connecting roads, that easily take you from one place to another, just don't exist. Even so, Bunbury is now much more attractive and is quickly becoming a great place to base yourself for exploring nearby attractions such as the Ferguson Valley.

Our last stop before heading to our accommodation was Aldi, where we got the few remaining supplies we needed and then we drove a bit south of the main town to Dalyellup.

The house we were staying in (and we had the full place to ourselves) was really good value. It is in a modern housing development with access to a shopping centre just a short walk down the road.


The Holiday House


There was everything we needed for a comfortable stay plus a good selection of DVDs to keep us entertained when we weren't out exploring.

It wasn't too far from the beach, so before we settled down for the evening, we dropped off our gear and went down to have a quick look at the coast.

The beach wasn't exactly impressive but it was only a short drive and there is still beach access for 4wd vehicles - although it looked a bit on the boggy side to me.


Dalyellup Beach


We had two main destinations to see outside central Bunbury. The first was Dardanup Heritage Park which was one place we have been told over and over again that we should visit.

It isn't far from Bunbury and can be reached via the Outer Ring Road and then south into Moore Road. Watch for the sign as you drive south on Moore Road.


Stream tractor at Dardanup Heritage Park


The entry fee wasn't what I would call cheap but I soon came to realise why, when I saw the extent of the exhibits inside.

The park is probably the best single attraction in the area eclipsing even the wonder of Gnomesville. It is by far the best privately operated museum of its type that we have seen anywhere in W.A.

The collection of vehicles, machinery and memorabilia at the Heritage Park is really second to none. I would suggest that you don't go for a short visit because if you really want to enjoy this place, set aside at least two or three hours or even more.


Dardanup Heritage Park


The park opens on Sundays and Wednesdays from 9:30am to 4pm. I think it would be great if it was open more days in the week as I am sure many visitors miss out if they are not in the area during the opening times.

We shot plenty of footage at the park and will be producing a video showing you why you really should take the time to visit.

Most of the vehicles and machinery have been fully restored to working condition and it is great to see some of the vehicles being driven around. There are also live demonstrations of Tangye engines and for those who are interested in military history, the Bunbury RSL has a wonderful military collection housed in the drill hall.


Leopard tank


This was my favourite exhibit as I have always had an interest in military equipment and history. The curator, Gerry Tyrrell, is great to talk to. He has a wealth of knowledge about the exhibits and if I had time, I would have loved to stop and chat with him a lot longer.

The drill hall houses a Leopard tank and this is one of the very few in the world that you can actually have a look inside.


Dardanup Heritage Park


If you need a break during your visit to the park, I would recommend a coffee and cake or a lunch break at the café. You will probably need a bit of a rest at some stage as there is just so much to see. I honestly cannot recommend this place highly enough. If you are in the area make sure you are there either Sunday or Wednesday. If you aren't in the area, plan a trip and go!

Once we had seen all we could at the Heritage Park we headed to Dardanup for lunch.

The bakery in town is one of the best we have ever been to and the huge, tasty pies are our absolute favourites.


Dardanup Tavern


From there we went out to have a look at the Crooked Brook Forest. We didn't have the time (or the energy) to do any of the long walks, so we opted for the 600m loop walk to the dam.

There are toilets, shelters, seats, tables and BBQs which makes the area very popular with locals.

The walk was on a concrete, wheelchair accessible path and by the time we had finished, we were pretty much worn out from the day's events.


Crooked Brook Forest


We didn't manage to get on the road the next day until around 10am.

The first stop on the second day was Big Swamp, on Prince Phillip Drive. There is a good walkway at the north end (but very limited parking) and we found that there were some attractive wildflowers blooming near the water.

We had expected to see a few more water birds but only managed to see Pacific black ducks, black swans, musk ducks, Eurasian coots and a swamp hen. There were honeyeaters and wrens all through the bushes but nothing new to photograph.


Big Swamp


The next stop was Marlston Hill lookout but the wind was howling a real gale so the filming that we managed to do, was from the first platform not from the very top.

By this time we were ready for lunch but found that most of the car parks near the inlet had parking meters. In a country town this is just pathetic and is the one thing that really put us off Bunbury on this trip.

The story is that local residents have been lobbying the council to get rid of paid parking and have been partially successful as metered parking in the CBD was removed. We think it is time for the council to do the right thing and put an end to paid parking in all car parks.


Marlston Hill lookout


After a break for lunch we had a quick look around the op-shops then went to have a look at Maiden's Reserve and Manea Park. Neither were prolific in either wildflowers or birds and as time had run out, we had to head back to the house for our last night of the trip.

Although this had been a very quick trip, it was quite productive and at least we had finally got to see the Dardanup Heritage Park. That, on its own, made the whole trip worth while.


Updated August 2018

Go to the next blog installment Go to the next blog installment


Places to see in this area:


Ferguson Valley




Dardanup Heritage Park





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