Bunbury: The Gateway to the South West
Just a couple hours drive south of Perth you will find the gateway city to the South West. Also known as the City of Three Waters, Bunbury is situated on a peninsula that reaches out into the Indian Ocean. To one side you will find the rolling waves of the ocean, on the opposite side you will find the calm waters of Koombana Bay and further along there is the Leschenault Inlet. Over the past few years Bunbury has had a significant shift from an industrial port city into a bustling artistic hub of the South West. Now this little coastal town is overflowing with independent boutiques, cozy wine bars, and top-notch restaurants.
The artistic beat of this city is something that cannot be ignored. Although Bunbury has always had a significant art scene the city recently exploded with sculptures and street art from renowned artists. As you wander through various parts of the city you will encounter stunning murals in little alleyways as well as massive sculptures such as the Wardani Boodja, a 5.5 meter steel bust of a Noogar face that watches over the Koombana Bay. Bunbury also has the Regional Entertainment Center which features some of the best performing arts around. And if you are after even more of an art injection then a visit to the Bunbury Regional Art Gallery is a must.
After you have had your fair share of the arts it is time to explore the aquatic side of this coastal town. The stars of the Bunbury waters are undoubtedly the bottlenose dolphins that call Koombana Bay home. Here you can find anywhere from 100 to 150 bottlenose dolphins who come here regularly to rest and breed. Join the Dolphin Discovery Center if you are keen for an intimate swim with these playful creatures, or you can opt for a 1.5 hour dolphin eco cruise and keep your hair dry while still enjoying close up encounters.
The water filled fun doesn’t have to end there. If you are keen to try your hand at sailing hope on a boat with Ocean West Charters where you can enjoy the simple pleasures of boat life such as snorkeling, swimming, sailing, and simply soaking up the sun on the deck. You can also opt to hop on a twilight sail with the Koombana Bay Sailing Club on Wednesday nights. Other Bunbury water activities include diving some of the numerous shipwrecks around or hiring out a SUP to cruise around the bay.
Now it is time to dry off and start exploring the land based attractions. If you are into views, small walks and photography then you will most likely be headed to the various lookout points scattered throughout the city. First up we have Wyalup-Rocky Point which is a great spot for sunset and the best photo opportunity for the gorgeous black and white checked lighthouse that sits on top of the rocky point. Afterwards if you are up for a short walk and aren’t scared of heights then hop over to the Marlston Hill Lookout. Here you can climb to the top of the spiral staircase tower and enjoy 360 degree views of the city. Lastly is the newest vantage point of the city and a unique piece of art in and of itself. The Koombana Park Lookout overlooks Leschenault Inlet, the Mangrove boardwalk, as well as Koombana Bay.
Now for the nature and animal enthusiasts out there the highlight of this city will most likely be the Big Swamp Wetland and the Bunbury Wildlife Park. As you wander through the Big Swap you will be enveloped by a stunning canopy of Paperbark trees that eventually will open up to a small wooden bridge with a bird viewing platform. Here you can enjoy sightings of the 60+ species of birds that call these wetlands home. If you are lucky you might even be able to spot a long-necked tortoise which has adopted the area as a special breeding ground.
To finish off your tour of Bunbury a stroll down Victoria street is a must. This is Bunbury's most loved street and you will soon discover why, with cute independent shops, cozy wine bars, and restaurants that any foodie would drool over, this street will not disappoint. For dinner we recommend the Market Eating House which has a modern rustic vibe and the taste of true southern hospitality. For a quick treat while wandering down the street and enjoying the many street murals a stop in to The Bean & Cone is a must. With over 60 flavors of ice cream to choose from and the biggest selection of dairy free, gluten free, vegan, soy free, and sugar free options even the pickiest eater will fall in love with this place.
If shopping is your thing then Bunbury is definitely the place for you as well. Considered the shopping capital of the southwest, Bunbury is full of shopping centers, little boutiques, and a famous farmers market that even has Perth city dwellers coming down for fresh produce. This legendary farmers market is actually open all week long and features fresh produce from the many surrounding farms where most products you will find are organic and packed with farm fresh flavors. You can also find gourmet pies, local and French cheeses, as well as hand pressed juices to indulge in while completing your weekly shop.
If you are ready for a city escape from Perth then Bunbury should definitely be on your list. From artistic wonders, to marine and wildlife encounters this city has something to offer for everyone. Whether you are coming for a quick one day getaway or an extended stay you will find countless activities to keep you busy in this city of three waters, and the gateway to the South West.