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A Diverse Paradise
Explore a natural paradise of lush forests and protected wetlands from this country hub, just two hours from Perth.
Words and Images by: Robyn Pitman-Williams

Picturesque scenery is plentiful

Looking to learn more about the history of what was once a typical South West timber town with links to a coastal lime kiln, or hoping for a holiday brimming with adventure? Perhaps you’re seeking a relaxing break, full of natural beauty and solitude. No matter what you’re after, Waroona has it all.

STANDING OUT FROM THE CROWD

The Shire of Waroona stretches from the Indian Ocean to the Darling Range and a short drive will take you from the peaceful jarrah forests and fertile farmlands to the pristine coast and the lakes of Yalgorup National Park.

Within the Shire, the localities of Hamel, Lake Clifton and Preston Beach, and the township of Waroona itself, all have something different to offer which makes this the perfect area for an all-in-one holiday. There’s plenty to keep you either on the go or relaxed depending on what floats your holiday boat. The diversity of Waroona and its outlying locales extends beyond its natural offerings. It’s perfect for art enthusiasts, history buffs, nature lovers and those seeking a relaxing break from their usual day-to-day routine.

Waroona is also the perfect base from which to explore the broader South West and Peel Regions of Western Australia. With several small rural towns nearby, the Shire is also close to the coastal cities of Mandurah and Bunbury, both just 45 minutes away. This central location in a quiet and welcoming country town, combined with a variety of short-term and longstay accommodation, provides you with an opportunity to rest up and to fan out to explore further afield.

Waroona and surrounds are known for their peace and beauty. Image: @my_vision_photography

AN ARTS HAVEN

Creativity is part of the DNA of Waroona, and local parks and buildings come alive with an eclectic mix of art including fun and colourful yarn bombing, fabulous murals and sculptures, mosaics and carved heritage bush poles that tell the cultural stories of a small close-knit community.

Several of Waroona’s talented artists have their studios open by appointment, and the Waroona Visitor Centre also houses an art and craft gallery representing over 50 local and regional creatives. The gallery is home to the iconic and much-loved Mooriel, a life-size fibreglass cow lovingly dressed in different ‘cowture’ each month.

NATURAL DELIGHTS

One of the biggest tourism draws of the area is the diversity and beauty of the unspoiled natural scenery. Tranquillity is guaranteed, whether it’s lakes, coastline, or rural landscapes you are seeking.

The cool forests of the ancient Darling Scarp are home to such gems as Lane Poole Reserve with its four wheel driving, cycling and walking trails, as well as numerous camping areas; Waroona Dam set in state forest and a favourite for skiing, fishing, and bushwalking; and the spectacular Cypress Farm & Gardens set in 160 acres of remnant forest with 12 acres of formal gardens that include waterfalls, fountains, ponds, and hundreds of magnificent tree ferns.

Set closer to town on the soft, rolling hills of the Darling Scarp is Drakesbrook Weir — a favourite spot for picnics and barbecues, swimming, bushwalking, and freshwater fishing. Annual releases of trout mean a feed is certainly on the cards. Both the Weir and the showgrounds in town have five 24-hour free stays for fully self-contained RVs.

Heading into the farmlands, Hamel offers visitors a taste of modern farming and agricultural history. Hamel Eco Park — WA’s first experimental nursery known formerly as Hamel Nursery — is now a popular picnic spot with its babbling brook and shady trees. The wide variety of tree and plant species means numerous birds make the area home. A short drive away, a limestone walk trail leads to ephemeral wetlands that hold water only after substantial rains. During these periods the wetlands are a nature lover’s delight with numerous frog and bird species to spy.

Travelling west to Preston Beach, visitors can enjoy miles of pristine coastline for fishing, swimming, and four-wheel  driving right on the doorstep of Yalgorup National Park with its walk trails amid an abundance of flora and fauna.

A birdwatcher’s paradise, the Ramsar-listed wetlands of the Yalgorup lakes system are the breeding and feeding grounds for thousands of endemic and migratory birds. Species include the amazing and tiny rednecked stint (weighing in at only 27g) which flies thousands of kilometres to nest in the Siberian tundra. Indigenous species on the lakes include Australian shelducks, banded stilts, redcapped plovers, Australian reedwarblers, pacific black ducks, and majestic black swans.

For golfers, an undulating and challenging course runs parallel to Yalgorup National Park where dozens of kangaroos sit quietly to watch and assess your talent.

Preston Beach has a 48- hour free-stay area for fully self-contained RVs, camping at Martins Tank amongst the peppermint trees, the Footprints Holiday Resort, and holiday homes for that authentic beach house feel.

A little further north in Lake Clifton, on the edge of the lake of the same name, is a colony of rare and ancient rock-like structures known as thrombolites. Built by microorganisms too small for the human eye to see, these living communities of diverse inhabitants were the only known form of life on earth more than 650 million years ago. A boardwalk for visitors protects the thrombolites. Nearby is Lakeside Loop, a 5km walk trail  running parallel to the lake.

Off Newnham Road is the historical Lime Kiln and Walk Trail that meanders from the original kiln used during a shortlived commercial lime venture in the early 1920s, through peppermint and melaleuca trees to the edge of Lake Clifton. This is a beautiful trail with interpretive signs to explain the historic, cultural, and environmental significance of the area, and a talking circle with artwork representing the six Indigenous Noongar seasons.

The perfect spot for a family holiday. Image: MAPTO & Russell Ord Photography

TOURIST ICONS

Tourism is an important part of the broader Waroona region and visitors are welcomed with open arms and classic country hospitality. There is plenty to see and do at every turn — not only with the historical and natural places and spaces but with some other offerings that should be high on any itinerary.

Drakesbrook Antiques and Collectables is the world’s largest Moorcroft retailer and has a stunning range that needs to be seen to be believed. Home is the 1935 Bank of NSW building where Charlie Bears, war memorabilia, kitchenalia, and a host of other collections are beautifully displayed throughout.

For wine lovers, Drakesbrook Wines grow seventeen varieties in the picturesque hills above Waroona. Guests can enjoy a glass or bottle in the licensed picnic area overlooking the lake and there are free gas barbecues with packs available for purchase. Drakesbrook Wines has a Halliday Four Star rating and is a Hipcamp site.

Nearby, Lake Navarino Holiday Park (a CMCA Dollar Wise Park) is the perfect base from which to explore. Situated right in the jarrah forest, with idyllic scenery a guarantee, it features cabins, cottages, glamping tents, and plenty of traditional sites for motorhomes and campers. Just a stone’s throw from Waroona Dam, it’s handy for those who ski, fish, and bushwalk. Lane Poole Reserve  is only 15 minutes away for adventurers who are looking for white-water rafting and mountain biking.

Closer to town and on the gentler slopes of the Darling Scarp is Langford Hill Riding  Farm. For horse lovers both novice and experienced, it’s a must. All riding gear is supplied for guided rides through farmlands and forest. Lessons and school holiday camps are also available.

Another great way to see the Waroona Shire is as part of Salt & Bush Eco Tours. Naturalist guides Sebastian and Jamie offer a multitude of ways to enjoy the region with salt (waterbased) and bush (land-based) tours. Visitors can explore from a kayak or can learn about flora, fauna, and geology on a walking tour. Night astrology and bush tours are also popular and provide yet another experience that must be lived as part of any Waroona adventure.

Martins Tank Campground. Image: @simonphillipsphoto

ACCOMMODATION & DINING

For the foodies, Pinjarra Bakery (Waroona Store) is always a favourite with its award-winning pies, wraps, baguettes, and mouthwatering sweets. Other dining and takeaway options  include DnD’s Lolly Jar & Tea Room, Hairy Lentil, Cafe Waroona, Waroona Roadhouse, Vibe, and Tom & Jerry’s. For accommodation in town there’s the Drakesbrook Hotel Motel and Waroona Hotel (both serve meals) or motorhome and camping sites at Waroona Caravan Ensuite Village.

ANNUAL EVENTS

  • Jan/Feb – Live@theWeir
  • August/September - Troutfest
  • September – Vintage Machinery Rally & Australian Car Day
  • October – Waroona Show

THE WAROONA SPRINGBOARD

While Waroona itself is the ideal tourist destination, it also serves as an important base for exploring nearby regions. Located just 83km from Armadale, 42km from Mandurah, 72km from Bunbury, and 77km from Rockingham, it really does make the perfect base from which to explore the South West region of Western Australia.

PACK YOUR BAGS

Waroona offers natural adventure, hospitality, solitude, rich history, and a vibrant arts and crafts scene. As well as being a popular destination itself, it also serves as a launchpad from which to explore.

While offering the tranquillity associated with rural towns, it is far from isolated. Town services  include banks, churches, medical facilities, a library, fashion boutiques, a supermarket, and more.

Located a convenient distance from Perth, it’s perfect for a weekend escape or a longer adventure. So, pack your bags and tick Waroona and surrounds off your Western Australia travel bucket list.

The vibrant arts scene characterises Waroona. Image: Josh Cowling Photography

CONTACT DETAILS

WAROONA VISITOR CENTRE & GALLERY

37 South Western Highway, Waroona, WA, 6215

Ph: (08) 9733 1506

W: waroona.wa.gov.au

E: visitorcentre@waroona.wa.gov.au


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Category: Features
Written: Fri 01 Jul 2022
Printed: July, 2022
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