Bunbury’s just two hours south of Perth if you take to the new highway, but many people choose to bypass the town on their way south, and in part this is probably to do with Bunbury’s reputation that has suffered from what I can only call an unfounded ‘iffy-ness’. It’s perhaps thought of as, ‘that place on the way to Busselton or Margaret River,‘ and people breeze past to Dunsborough or Albany instead. It is the second largest city in WA but retains a small town atmosphere and still offers an interesting mix of the more relaxed ‘country town’ things to do.
It’s well entrenched now on the Cruise Ship map, and the SW as a whole has been featured as one of Lonely Planet’s top 10 regions for 2010, so if you like a bit of peace and quiet, visit while it’s still reasonably laid back.
People have often asked me: “Why Bunbury?” In no particular order, here are 10 great things in reply.
1. Just down the beach from the swimming area at Koombana Bay is the Dolphin Discovery Centre. It’s committed to dolphin research and conservation and yes, you can go out on a discovery boat or stand knee deep in the sea to interact with the dolphins when they’re around. About 100 dolphins live in the bay.
2. Bunbury has some cool beach cafes with fabulous views. Here’s Extensions – right on the beach, and Dome is smack on the waterfront too.
3. Love cycling? There are loads of bicycle paths – you can choose between forest and coastal or both, from Dalyellup in the south to Australind going north.
4. Kayaking – too easy in Bunbury. Float your boat in the inlet near the Parade Hotel, paddle up the Collie River from Pelican Point, or just launch out to sea at any number of places. And you won’t have a problem with parking the Ute.
5. Fish n’ Chips anyone? Don’t you just love it when you can eat fresh fish right by the sea?
6. Horse Racing – yes, Bunbury has a race track and the major event is the Bunbury Cup held in March each year. Plenty goes on at other times and it’s not expensive to get in – so go watch the ‘Sport of Kings’ and all that thundering horseflesh in action.
7. The Trots, another ubiquitous Aussie sport. Donaldson Race Track is easily accessible in Bunbury and as long as you keep your betting wits about you, it’s another inexpensive evening out for the whole family, oh and it’s kid friendly.
9. Sailing … have to admit to being a recent convert, so gag me now, because it’s wonderful. Bunbury must be one of the best places ever to go sailing and the Koombana Bay sailing club currently welcomes new members.
9. Fancy a paddle? Outrigging, dragon boating and rowing are big in Bunbury and there are clubs to join if getting out on the water to keep fit rocks your boat.
10. Historical Bunbury – quaint and interesting old buildings still grace the streets of Bunbury. This is not a chain-store-shop-front kind of town. Expect the unusual.
Not a definitive list, and maybe you have other ideas about Bunbury. Well, let me know ….