Things to do in WA’s big four towns: Bunbury, Geraldton, Kalgoorlie and Albany
We are all holidaying at home at the moment and have you noticed most hot spots are packed to the rafters. Rumour has it that many small towns are already booked up for the April school holidays. However, there are four towns we often overlook because they are the largest ones after Perth of course. But each of these towns have great spots to visit, explore, eat and stay.
Forget old reputations and give these towns a try.
Bunbury is the biggest town (or city) after Perth. At the northern end of Geographe Bay, Bunners is 170kms south of Perth, just two hours on Forest Highway.
Accommodation: Something for everyone from Quest Bunbury and Lord Forrest Hotel to beach side caravan parks.
Beaches: Back beach for surf beach, Koombana Bay for calm water swimming, Stratham Beach for 4WD beach driving
Food and Drinks: the hotspot for all things food and beverage is on Victoria Street: Bunbury’s Cappuccino strip
Nature experiences Swim with the dolphins at the Dolphin Discovery Centre
National Park to explore: Welling National Park is a beautiful jarrah forest just 40 kms east of Bunbury with Wellington Dam, walk trails and campsites.
Walk Trail: The five kilometre loop around the Leschenault Inlet including a couple of good café stops. The Happy Wife is good refuel spot.
Food Drive Trail: We all know the Margaret River Region wine trails but just north there is a separate style. Try the Alternative Geographe Wine Trail
Day drive: Ferguson Valley including Gnomesville is particularly green in winter and spring. Wineries, breweries and gnomes
Geraldton is the biggest town north of Perth. It’s about 420 kms north of Perth via Brand Highway or Indian Ocean Drive.
Accommodation: From the Mantra Geraldton apartments to beach side caravan parks.
Beaches: Geraldton Foreshore, Greenough River mouth at Cape Burnley
Food: Flow Cafe and Piper Lane Cafe have the vibe of trendy towns.
Drinks: Skeetas Restaurant for sunset views over the Geraldton harbour
Nature Experiences: Houtman Abrolhos Islands on a live aboard dive / fishing boat or scenic flight
National Park to explore: The inland and coastal gorges of Kalbarri National Park is the closest to Geraldton.
Walk Trail: Coalseam Conservation Park is a wildflower hotspot in spring. The plateau loop trail takes in many of the everlastings.
Food Trail One of the best ways to explore Gero is by following the food trail. You can walk this and stop for morning tea, lunch etc on the way.
Day drive: Driving north to Northampton and take the coastal drive to Hutt Lagoon at Port Denison. Its the Instafamous pink lake.
Kalg (Kalgoorlie / Boulder)
Kalgoorlie is the epicentre of the Eastern Goldfields 600 kms east of Perth. Gold was discovered there in 1893. With a pub on “every corner”, it has great architecture and fascinating history. The superpit is
Accommodation: Character hotels, apartments and caravan parks.
Beaches: Yes, the nearest ocean beach is at Esperance 390km south. But there is a beach at Rowles Lagoon, the only freshwater lake in the Goldfields. The beach is red dirt but we are in the outback.
Food: We love having dinner on the balcony of the Palace Hotel. Such history
Drinks: There are 25 pubs in Kalgoorlie Boulder so getting a drink is pretty easy. Just be aware of the different type of pub. There are family pubs, skimpy pubs and 20 something pubs. There are three pubs on the Golden Quest Trail worth the stop for a beer: Broad Arrow, Ora Banda and Kookynie Hotels. Iconic to say the least.
Nature Experiences and National Parks to explore: Great Western Woodlands, which is the largest remaining area of intact Mediterranean climate woodland left on Earth.
Walk Trail: Just out of town is Karlkurla Bushland Park with a nice 4km walktrail to the lookout.
Drive further afield: Golden Quest Discovery Trail: Explore the old gold mining areas including ghost towns, iconic old pubs, often the only thing left standing and a mine managers house in Gwalia, built for a US President.
Albany is the oldest town in Western Australia and 415 kms south of Perth. With the town on the hills around Princess Royal Harbour, it is a picturesque place. It is the first place to have an Anzac Day service in Australia
Accommodation: From the five star Beach House to beachside caravan parks, Albany has all accommodation styles.
Beaches: So many to choose from: Middleton Beach is a nice protected beach with shark net; Little Beach at Two Peoples Bay is idyllic.
Food: Garrison Restaurant at the top of Mt Clarence with the Anzac Centre, Liberte is great for food and drinks, Gourmandise & Co for a French style lunch.
Drinks: Due South is a popular pub overlooking the harbour.
Nature Experiences: Whale watching on a boat or from Marine Drive. Whale season is late May to early October. Albany’s history involves the last operating whale station. It is worth visiting to learn about how the whales have come back from the brink of extinction. .
National Park to explore: The Gap viewing platform and Natural Bridge are in Torndirrup National Park. It’s a rugged and spectacular coastline.
Food Trail: What better way to saviour the local produce by getting picnic food from the producers and having a picnic in one of Albany’s beautiful spots. Albany Picnic Trail