The Bottom Left-Hand Corner ... Australia's Greatest Outdoors; 6 THINGS YOU MUST DO IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA
Byline: GARETH HUW DAVIES
AUSTRALIA AUSTRALIA A LONELY PLANET survey listed Australia's South West among the world's top ten regions for 2010. GARETH HUW DAVIES picks out some of the finest attractions of the continent's convenient bottom left-hand corner, which is easily reached from Perth. They include whale-watching from dry land, an exciting treetop walk, one of the world's biggest wind farms turned tourist sight, and swimming with dolphins.
PERTH, the nearest major city, is the place to start. The Mint (www.perthmint.com.au) can be visited for the first time and is one of the world's oldest still operating from its original site. It began as a branch of Britain's Royal Mint, turning local gold into sovereigns for the empire. On the Kings Park Indigenous Heritage Tour, an Aboriginal guide explains his people's ancient links to what is now a green public space in the heart of a busy city (www.experience perth.com, www.australiasouthwest.com).
2...SWIM WITH DOLPHINS
AUSTRALIA is a land of vast distances. The Indian Pacific train takes three days to cover the 2,720 miles between Perth and Sydney. Compared to that, the trip to the South West region is a doddle. The Australind train is the green option, and the easiest way to travel - two hours for the 109 miles from Perth to Bunbury, which is set on a glorious peninsula in the blue Indian Ocean. Bunbury's Dolphin Discovery Centre lets visitors swim with some of the 90 dolphins that live in the bay (www.dolphins.mysouthwest.com.au). Another way to explore is to drive along one of the circular flower routes, such as the Southern Wonders Wildflower Trail, from Perth. Some of the best displays of wild flowers on the continent are here, with many unique species (www.wildflowerswa.com).
3...BRIDGE THE DISTANCE
THE mighty 625-mile-long Bibbulmun Track, starting near Perth, is the leisurely way to reach Albany. Broken up into convenient sections, the walking trail ends in a wonderful wiggle along the south coast (www.bibbulmuntrack.org.au). But most people take a more direct road trip (4hrs 30mins) to Albany, a handsome old city on the rugged coast of the great Southern Ocean. …