From the mist-shrouded, sun-dappled and totally photo-ready hills of Balingup, the stunning Preston Valley, the produce-dripping Donnybrook to undulating hills of Kirup, you’ll find a place to reconnect with life in the Donnybrook-Balingup region. MUNCH AN APPLE OR TWODonnybrook’s known as the apple capital of the West, so you can bet your bottom dollar that your doctor will be pleased you’ve visited. In season, pick your own at Spring Valley Orchard or the Fruit Barn’s local orchard. Drive through the region and pick up other local produce straight from the farmgate or packhouse too. WALK ALONG THE PRESTONWalk the peaceful path alongside the Preston River. The Preston River Loop traverses through a lush riparian river ecosystem encompassing a suspension bridge, weir crossing and incorporates the Preston River Indigenous Walk Trail and the Waugyl Sculpture Park. As you walk along the trail tread softly and see how many different birds and animals you can see. (ED Note: check out our post Find the Best Walks in Donnybrook-Balingup) AUSTRALIA’S BIGGEST FREE ENTRY PLAYGROUNDTake the kids to Australia’s biggest free-entry playground. The Apple Fun Park in the heart of Donnybrook has totally been revamped and has play equipment for all ages – toddlers to teenagers. Climb to the top of the Apple Crate Tower and challenge yourself to climb through the skywalk and pods before sliding down the huge spiral slides to a wonderland of play opportunities. Little ones can explore the littlies and sensory zones by climbing, swinging, sliding and spinning their way through an imaginative adventure. Have a run in the hamster wheel, drive the farm ute and sell some fresh fruit and vegies in the roadside shop, ride the little donnybrook train, get creative with the sand factory, explore the nature trails, play some music, glide along the cableway, spin in the giant apple orb, and so much more. Relax beneath the shaded picnic areas, history walk and giant native animals and flowers mural. STONE HAVENIn Donnybrook, you will find beautiful Donnybrook Stone on fences, pathways, and as the foundation of many of its historic attractions such as the Soldiers Memorial Hall (1919) and All Saints Church (1906). However, due to its beauty and staying power, it also graces Australian landmarks including Federation Square in Melbourne, the WA Supreme Court, Claremont Teachers College, the chapel at Guildford Grammar school, St. Mary’s Cathedral, the General Post Office and the Commonwealth Bank in Forest Place to name just a few. Image: OK Media SIP AND SLURP WITH STYLEWith its Italian heritage, the region is home to some of the Geographe’s best up-and-coming wineries. Here’s a few to get you started…Barrecas was first established in 1994 by Fil Barreca after he worked on a Sicilian vineyard. Their reds steal the show; crowd favourite Barbera (aka ‘the monster’) consistently sells out. Next, venture to Coughlan Estate – a 4 Star James Halliday winery with an ultra-cool solar powered, straw bale cellar door only minutes from Donnybrook with stunning rural views. If you’re hungry, try a vineyard platter featuring artisan cheeses and a range of specially made pates and terrines. Continue to Oakway Estate. The property initially supported apple and stone fruit orchards before its potential for producing premium wines was realised by the present owners, Wayne and Ria Hammond, in 1997. Keep an eye out for their Cellar Door Long Table Lunches. The Vermentino is a BunGeo favourite or try a cheeky taste of their Ned’s Brew craft beer. Don’t drink and drive – take a Donnybrook Tour, Taste & Tapas Adventure with Mr Mustang Hire. PADDOCKS OF PINKIn springtime, paddocks comes alive with trees of magnificent pink and white apple fruit blossom. September and October is BunGeo’s favourite time of year and perfect for that cool selfie pic. And, you don’t have to look hard to find it with the entrance to Donnybrook awash with trees in bloom. GET SHOPPINGThe Donnybrook-Balingup region is bursting with handmade, quality gift items and curiosities. Stock up on handmade herbal products at the Tinderbox,: find pottery and timber products at the largest art and craft centre in WA, the Old Cheese Factory Craft Centre, ogle at Donnybook’s superb new and second-hand book collection, treat yourself to stunning handcrafted jewellery at Balingup Goldsmith or head to Hidden Treasures Preston Valley for antiques. Art and craft lovers should add Donnybrook Artisans and Balingup’s Village Pedlars to their list too! INHALE CRISP MORNINGSIn autumn and winter, seek accommodation in the hills of Balingup and Lowden. Close your eyes and inhale the crisp, fresh scent of the morning. If you are high in the hills, the view will be a blanket of white until the mist dissipates. At night, clear skies give stargazers an awe-inspiring view of the constellations. Sitting by the fire with a cuppa and sweet treat makes you feel hugged from the inside, and its super-romantic too. Balingup WESTERN AUSTRALIA’S LARGEST ARBORETUMWander through the Golden Valley Tree Park; Western Australia’s largest arboretum, with 60 ha of exotic and native trees. It’s a superb collection, recently named one of the top 5 locations in Australia to see autumn colours. Other attractions include a tree information gazebo, walk trails, lookout and the historic Golden Valley Homestead. The park is beautiful all year round, but we love spring and autumn! On the way, take a quick detour to Balingup’s beautiful Avenue of Honour, with its majestic oaks that honour the 154 local men and women of the region who enlisted for service during the First World War. TAKE A LEISURELY SUNDAY DRIVEThe Balingup–Nannup Road is one of the region’s most scenic, but beware – kangaroo and emu sightings are guaranteed. As you leave, stop at the Balingup Heights Scenic Lookout for stunning views of the town and orchards. A scenic drive in the country is not complete without lunch at a local pub – try the Mumby Pub in Mumballup or the Balingup Rib and Steakhouse (note: closed for renovations). DEVOUR LOCAL FOODIE DELIGHTSThe Donnybrook Hotel is back! After serious refurbishment the locals are thrilled this historic pub has re-opened and their pub meals are super tasty! Head across the railway line to The Park Cafe housed in the old Goods Shed. Enjoy their scrumptious cakes while enjoying the interior’s hip industrial vibe. Driving during the night? No problem! Drop into the Donnybrook Bakery which is open around the clock – yep 24 hours! In Balingup don’t go past the Great Aussie Pie winning creations from The Mushroom at No 61. Indulge in authentic Asian fare at Village Harvest (who did his apprenticeship with Neil Perry). Top it off with a tipple from the Balingup Fruit Winery. WILDFLOWER WONDERIn spring, seek out a couple of the wildflower hot spots including the Sandhills Walk Trail in Donnybrook which has got to one of the best sites in WA to view kangaroo paws in the wild. The Racecourse Flora Reserve in Balingup boasts a wide variety of native orchards. Bring your camera. Image: Perth Food Stylist & Blogger, Harriet Harcourt DO THE BIB BUCKET LIST WITH EASEWalk a section of the Bibbulmun Track. This iconic ‘bucket list’ walk trail passes through the Donnybrook Balingup region on its way to Albany. Balingup is a popular base and stopover for walkers with the Visitors Centre, Post Office, General store and many accommodation properties welcoming walkers with ‘refueling’ options and track drop-offs/pick-ups. Mumballup is another great rest point surrounded by Preston Virgin Forest. Grab a backpack and your walking shoes and discover the addictive appeal of this natural wonder. MTB MADNESSMountain Biking enthusiasts can hit the Munda Biddi Trail – a world-class, nature-based, off-road cycling experience. This unique 1000km trail has been built through an undeveloped natural corridor which stretches through unspoiled forest and bushland. Or stay at Cycletrek in Lowden or LingaLonga Bike Park (it’s WA’s best Enduro Park) near Balingup. With the full gambit of gentle to challenging terrain and year-round cycling weather, you have the ideal setting for an off-road cycling.