Don’t you love road trips? The sense of freedom and discovery that’s inherent with life on the road is, for me, hard to beat.
Road Trips Western Australia
Taking off on road trips in Western Australia is wonderful because the roads are not yet too crowded, especially out of season and outside school holidays.
Yep, there’s not too much traffic (yet), the roads are often long and straight and there’s a kaleidescope of wild places and quiet spaces to visit too.
Road Trips Western Australia – Short Breaks in SWA
Even so, long stretches of driving need to be broken up with fun things to do which is why one of my favourite road trips is from Bunbury to Augusta in Western Australia, because there’s a tapestry of entertainment along the way and if you only have time for a short break, it’s do-able.
Heading south from Bunbury to Augusta without detours will take you about two hours, the trip itself is about 148kms with plenty of places to stop.
Bunbury is a city, but it’s not too big or busy to get around.
Start off by visiting the Big Swamp Parkland, Prince Philip Dr, South Bunbury which has over sixty species of Australian birds and mammals. You can hand feed kangaroos and walk into large aviaries, and I’ll lay a bet that you won’t leave without having had lots of laughs!
Then there’s The Dolphin Discovery Centre which is kid friendly and interactive. If there are no dolphins visiting the shallow waters on the beach at Koombana Bay then you’re more than likely to see some if you book an eco-cruise boat trip (or otherwise get friendly with a sailor at the Sailing Club – Twilight sails on Wednesday evenings are open to anyone wanting to have a go at sailing).
Bunbury itself is a bit deceiving because it’s a port, a city and a place for tourists which means you may not get away as quickly as you’d hoped.
Visit the cappuccino strip in Victoria Street, or perhaps head to the waterfront for a beer or a coffee before you leave and just enjoy the sea, the boats and the coastal environment.
If it’s around lunchtime, you might like to have a meal at Capel Vale Winery and Restaurant which is about 25 minutes from Bunbury. Alternatively keep on going because 20 minutes further south is Busselton, a family friendly holiday centre with 30kms of great beaches and the longest timber jetty in the Southern Hemisphere which is nearly 2kms long.
You don’t have to walk the length of the jetty because there’s a little train which kids love, and there’s an underwater observatory at the end of the pier. As encouragement for a bit of a walk back there’s always the treat of a Simmo’s icecream on the sea front afterwards, or perhaps a long lazy lunch at The Goose, a fine dining restaurant right on the beach.
The drive from Busselton to Margaret River goes through pretty agricultural land and at Vasse you have to make the decision to take Caves Road and travel along the coast perhaps taking in Dunsborough, or stay on the Bussel Highway and travel through Cowaramup where there are some quaint specialty shops; including a lolly shop called The Candy Cow, and Moon Haven Soaps Lotions and Potions, a soap shop specializing in aromatherapy and herbal potions.
And don’t forget to look out for The Rump on a Stump!
On the other hand, if you take Caves Road you’ll be driving on top of ancient limestone caves and be surrounded by vineyards and loads of wineries. There are some fabulous caves to visit on this road too – Lake Cave, Mammoth Cave, and Jewel Cave, to name just a few and if you duck off along forested by-roads you’ll come to some fantastic coastal locations with stunning views and long sandy beaches.
You’ll be spoilt for choice with wineries offering free wine tastings or liqueur tastings and even a winery that specializes in nougat. Many of the wine estates have top restaurants where you can lunch overlooking the vineyards which is a treat.
Caves Road is quite windy, so the straighter Bussel Highway is an option if you want to get to Margaret River a little quicker, or perhaps you’re in need of breakfast or lunch at The Bakery which is a local icon as you enter the town. Spend some time walking around the town and discover its quaint shops and boutiques.
Whichever route you take to Margs, as it’s fondly known, you’ll find plenty of non-alcoholic things to do along the way. There’s the Chocolate Factory and the Vasse Olive Oil and Soap Factory, there’s Annie’s Flower Emporium, and a Cheese Factory to name just a few attractions which are situated in the middle area on the map in between Caves Road and The Bussel Highway.
Then from Margs it’s on to Augusta, only about 43 kms to go now, with a whole lot of things to look forward to especially swimming in summertime – Granny Pool is great for young children – while in winter there are whales to spot, caves to visit and Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse to explore.
If you’ve holidayed in, or if you live in WA, what else would you suggest seeing or doing on a Road Trip from Bunbury to Augusta?