South West is a region of Western Australia. Chosen by Lonely Planet as one of the world's Top 10 Regions in 2010, The South West offers some of the most varied travel experiences in Western Australia.
The region covers about 24,000 square kilometres. It comprises the area south of the Perth and Wheatbelt regions and southwest of Goldfields-Esperance. It includes the Peel and Great Southern areas. To the south and west the region is bordered by the Indian Ocean. This beautiful corner of the continent boasts a rugged coastline, caves, wineries, and very good surfing.
Temperatures are influenced by the proximity to the Southern Ocean, and the distance from the coast. Significant regional variations are possible, and it is quite possible at certain times of year to be swimming at Bunbury at lunchtime, and sitting by an open fire in Albany in the evening. Check local guides.
- Albany - the oldest settlement in Western Australia
- Augusta - A wild bit of coastline with a famous lighthouse and waterwheel.
- Bridgetown - A friendly township known for its annual Blues music festival.
- Bunbury - A bustling port city with fine beaches, surfing and dolphins.
- Busselton -
- Collie - A historical coal mining town among the tall trees.
- Denmark - A historic timber town surrounded by boutique food and wine producers, and a bit of a hippy vibe.
- Dunsborough - A popular surf spot.
- Mandurah - a sprawling urban area on the coast.
- Margaret River - wineries, surf, forests, coastal scenery
- Pemberton - tall trees, wineries, forests
- Walpole - One of the wettest places in the state is close to surf and forest.
The main gateway to the region is the state capital of Perth. From here, just about everywhere within the region is within a day's drive.
Unless you are doing a long distance hike, or just hanging out on a beach somewhere, a car or an arranged tour is required to see all the highlights of the region. Bicycle touring, especially around the Margaret River region, is popular, but as always requires some preparation and route planning - the roads in the area often have no shoulder and have fast traffic.
A map can give you little indication of driving times, and even GPS and online mapping services can grossly misrepresent these times. Seek local advice.
A common loop around the Southwest is to start from Perth, and take the Albany Highway through Mount Barker to Albany, this is an reasonable half-day drive. You can then return via the coast, seeing the trees and wineries in Pemberton (Western Australia), before travelling back via the Margaret River, Busselton, Bunbury, and back up through Mandurah to Perth. If doing this loop, it is unusual to allow more than a day for the trip to Albany, as the road is featureless and the towns are small. Allow much more time in Albany, and for the return trip. The roads are slower, and there are many stopping opportunities, beaches, sights and diversions of the roads for parks and walks.