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24 February 2018

48 Hours in BunGeo

If you’re only in BunGeo for a short stay, you’re in luck. Here’s our super-charged itinerary for 48 Hours in BunGeo.

Lose yourself and unearth some of the region’s best-known sights as well as explore some lesser-known treasures.

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Day One – Perth to Bunbury

Say goodbye to Perth and drive south to Bunbury on Forrest Highway. Allow 1 hour, 45 minutes to 2 hours.

Where to Stay

Check into Mantra Bunbury. Located on the historic Bunbury Waterfront, forming part of the prestigious wheat silos development, with views over Koombana Bay, and only a five-minute walk of Bunbury’s CBD. It features 67 studio and deluxe studio rooms, two and three bedroom apartments, an indoor heated pool, tennis courts and the Hussh Body and Soul Day Spa.

Sundowners

Start your night with a cocktail at Sala Wine Lounge and Kitchen, the Best Regional Small Bar at the 2017 WA Small Bar Awards. The old maritime warehouse is now a cosy 1920s prohibition-themed bar with an impressive bespoke cocktail list and OMG tapas.

Table for Two

Your next stop is Market Eating House in Victoria Street, described as a ‘destination restaurant’ – it’s the sort of place you plan your weekend around. The food is sublime, the service sensational, and the atmosphere relaxed and cosy. Before returning to his hometown of Bunbury, co-owner (with his talented wife Bec) Brenton Pyke was the head chef of George Calombaris’ Little Press & Cellar in Melbourne, and Perth small bar Andaluz. Put your faith in the kitchen and order the Feed Me or Feed Me More menu – who doesn’t like a surprise?

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Day Two – Bunbury

Be at one with Nature

You have three options to get up and close to nature in Bunbury – the City of 3 Waters:

  1. Either welcome the day with an 8.30am SUP Bunbury PaddleBoard and Yoga class (by Treehouse Yoga) in Koombana Bay where you will have the opportunity to explore yourself through yoga and enjoy the healing aspects of nature. Bring sunscreen, hat and comfy clothes. Be reminded you may end up landing a pose in the water.
  2. Or get up and close with the dolphins of Koombana Bay on an 8am Dolphin Discovery Centre swim tour. Accompanied by an experienced guide and trained volunteers you will venture into the open waters of Koombana Bay. Depending on dolphin sightings you will be guided into the water where the dolphins may elect to initiate interaction with you and your fellow swimmers. As they are wild dolphins interaction cannot be guaranteed. You’ll be supplied a wetsuit, mask, snorkel and fins. Bring a waterproof camera.
  3. If you prefer not to get your feet wet, join the 10.30am Dolphin Discovery Centre’s Dolphin Eco Cruise tour in Koombana Bay. Dolphins can be seen frolicking, playing, sleeping and feeding. The informative commentary from the skipper of the boat will also keep you updated throughout the cruise.
    A group of around 100 to 150 dolphins are regularly seen in the bay and surrounding waters. Approximately 20 to 40 of these are considered residents of Koombana Bay, and there is a group of ve or six dolphins that regularly visit the public interaction zone, with as many as 16 dolphins known to have visited at any one time.
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Time for a Pit Stop

Seek out a turmeric latte, cold press juice or Mano a Mano coffee from boutique coffee house and cafe, Townhouse Bunbury in Victoria Street. If the sun is shining, head to their banging backyard featuring wall murals by local artists.

Shopping Time

Victoria Street is full of little boutique stores that are big on style. Start at Sabotage. You’re destined to do some damage here, with the leading Australian labels – think Assembly Label, Stevie May, Neuw Denim, One Teaspoon, and more. Life and Soul Boutique has some of our favourite brands (Auguste, Arnhem, Nobody Denim, Camilla & Marc, Thurley, nd Empire Rose, just to name a few), as well as talented up-and-coming designers to discover. Seek out their collection of ByHelo jewellery – Canadian born, now Bunbury local, Heloise Fitzpatrick makes superb architecturally influenced designer pieces.

For uber cool vintage finds, 3ciana is the place to go. Unearth pre-loved designer clothing, accessories, furniture and gifts. Next door is The Green Depot, a green jungle in the middle of the CBD. Owner Kim Rossiter has transformed an old workshop into an urban nursery. Green Depot is a wonderland of green with dozens of leafy plants cascading from the walls and ceiling. Behind is Maker + Co COLLECTIVE – a store with a difference. Local artists, artisans and ethical traders work together and exhibit their wares in an iconic CBD warehouse location. This store boasts an eclectic collection of art, clothing, designs, prints, creations and ethical products.

Just off Victoria Street, Essence Bunbury is also worth a visit. Next door, men aren’t forgotten at Brooklyn for Men which stocks everything from a Jimmy Stuart blazer to NanaJudy streetwear. Source beautiful children’s clothing, gift and toys at Kiss Chasee for babies to 8-year-olds. Emma, a mother of four, has created a divine collection with a strong emphasis on organic clothing and products. From Bebe, Coco and Ginger, to Melbourne-based brand Designer Kidz, you’ll be ooohing over the super-cute product.

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Late Lunch

Grab a quick bite to eat at Cafe 140 and while you’re there, take a swing. Their ramen with extra chilli on the side will cure any side effects from last night’s antics. Then slip through the side door for the best organic, hand-rolled donuts in the region from the Bread and Butter Wood Fire Bakery. Make sure you also pick up one of their organic wood-fired loaves with homemade creamy butter.

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Culture up

Pick up a copy of the Bunbury’s new ReDiscover and Out of the Box Street Art Map by Six Two Three Zero and discover the city from a different perspective. Bunbury is home to the largest collection of street and public art in regional Australia. Canvases are everywhere you look in BunGeo, which teems with vibrant street art. Spot everything from abstract, commissioned works, restaurant-themed façades and lots more in Bunbury. Find the whimsical characters painted by leading WA artists on 20 electrical boxes scattered through the CBD.  On your journey, stop at the BRAG – Bunbury Regional Art Galleries – housed in a very distinctive pink convent. It’s the perfect backdrop for an Insta pic. BRAG is home to the largest collection of public art in regional Western Australia and also offers a program of rotating art exhibitions.

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Coffee Time

Venture down Central Arcade to La Pause Miam, a Parisian café with Scandi style. Expect everything from Parisian croquet madame, to duck burgers, bacon and eggs, and stacked pancakes. The pastries are baked fresh and melt in your mouth. Locals vote their coffee as the best in the city! Or, if you are on a health kick visit Plant Organic Cafe & Market for a green smoothie with home-made almond milk and a famous choc spirulina superfood ball.

Pre-dinner Drinks

Start your night with a wine in Mojo’s streetside sea container. It has one of the biggest wine lists in the region, including local Geographe wines, and museum wines from their cellar. Two young sommeliers, Jake Atkinson and Samuel Sauvetre (affectionately known as the Wog and the Frog) oversee the selection.

Dinner

Small bar come restaurant, Yours or Mine serves incredible South American food with an eclectic wine list, craft beer and a knock your socks off espresso martini. Devour pulled pork tacos, grilled marron with chimichurri or, once again, we recommend saying ‘yes please’ to the Feed Me menu option. End your night at the ultimate hipster hang-out, Lost Bills – a tiny bar with a banging craft beer list, eclectic spirits, and some damn good wine.

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Day Three – Collie River & Ferguson Valleys

Get Outdoors

Time to go bush-walking in the Wellington National Park. Or if you are more adventurous, find a friend to drop you upstream from Honeymoon Pool and then float on a tube down the beautiful Collie River. You may encounter some rocky parts – dependant on rainfall and dam releases – but that just adds to the fun. Be prepared to be invigorated – even in summer the water is cool and refreshing. Honeymoon Pool itself is a wide pool in the river surrounded by graceful peppermints, and Jarrah and Marri forest. Sunbake on the wooden platform or find your inner child and try out the swinging rope.

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Lunch – Option One

For a fabulously lazy long lunch, head to Hackersley Estate. Low key and a little arty, Hackersley sits in a cute cottage overlooking a lake with cows grazing in the background. Aaron and Arie Devitt serve up a sensational 5-course degustation. Start with a glass of Verdelho but finish with the Merlot (a #BG favourite). Between courses chill out on the lake’s grassy bank with a glass in hand. (Open Thursday – Sunday from 10am to 4pm).

On the way, be sure to stop at St Aidan Winery for a quick wine taste. The name derives from the district’s historic church that sits on its boundary. Phil Smith, an anaesthetist, and his wife Mary purchased their 10-acre property in 1991.  Their Zena Liqueur Muscat is the Geographe’s Best Fortified. Enjoy it with a morning tea ‘sweet bite’ from their European trained chef in their rammed earth cellar door and function centre. In summer, don’t miss Films on Ferguson – a season of movie nights under the moon and stars with a full-screen open air cinema on the lawn adjacent to their cellar door.

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<div class=No trip is complete without a visit to the very quirky Gnomesville. It’s a special place where a gnome can join thousands of other gnomes to live happily ever after! Gnomesville is a community-driven gnome village with over three thousand inhabitants. Bring along a gnome and add it to the collection.

Lunch – Option Two

If you’re after something simpler, head to Ferguson Falls Wine Cafe, home to the Best Pizza in WA (Gold Plate Awards)! In a small, intimate venue run by the Giumelli family (of course, they are Italian-Australian with some American thrown in too), you will unearth mouth-watering stone-baked pizza topped with farmhouse cheese. They were also a finalist in the Gold Plate Awards Best Tourism Restaurant category. Savour while sipping a glass of their award-winning Chardy.

Next head to Green Door Wines along Henty Road for some of the best views in the region. Green Door produce Spanish and Italian wine varieties served in cute carafes. Don’t miss tasting the Tempranillo – it’s the best in the Geographe and The James Halliday Wine Companion 2018 rated it 95/100. P.S: their wines are preservative free = minimal hangover. Still hungry? Order their 100 Mile Platter with sheep’s milk cheese from Roelands, mixed olives from Boyup Brook, fruit loaf from Dardanup and much more.

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Find a Black Diamond

Take a drive through the forest to Black Diamond Lake, near Collie. Rated as one of WA’s Top 10 Instagram spots, a trip to to the lake is a must with its vibrant, crystal clear turquoise blue waters creating a photo frenzy. Black Diamond was formerly an open cut mine site that ceased operation in the 1950s – so check the water quality before diving in! Otherwise, it’s perfect for a dip, SUP, canoeing and kayaking. The lake has also become extremely popular with visitors bringing inflatable floats, because who wouldn’t want to lay back and enjoy the beauty?

Then it’s time to head home down the picturesque Coalfields Highway which boasts sensational views of the coast and the City of Bunbury. PS – if you need a coffee break: in Collie, visit Wagon 537, a pop-up cafe located in a heritage train wagon, that is reinvigorating Collie’s food scene. People rave about the coffee sourced from the Margaret River Roasting Co or try a cold-pressed juice, green smoothie, turmeric and beetroot lattes, and gluten-free cupcakes.

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Produce-driven Drive Home

On the way back to Perth drop into the Crooked Carrot near Myalup on Forrest Highway for a roadside stop oozing local quality produce. Try the trio tasting plate, venison pies and other delectable delights.

If you prefer a more scenic drive home, we suggest you take the South West Highway which follows the Darling Scarp and is dotted with historic farmland and equestrian properties. Pit stop at Ha Ve Harvey Cheese for great larder provisions and award-winning cheeses. Indulge in one of the Cheese Cellar tastings to help you decide. As you drive through Harvey, keep an eye out for roadside stalls selling oranges, mandarins and other local produce (in season). Surrounded by rich, irrigated plains on the banks of the Harvey River, Harvey is one of Australia’s prime producing regions with a rich Italian heritage. Stretch your legs with a climb up the Big Orange, nestled in the grounds of Harvey River Estate winery. Owned by the Sorgiovanni family (who established Harvey Fresh before recently selling), Harvey River Estate features a great cellar door for tastings and last minute gifts.

 

Images: Businesses as identified, plus Dixon & Smith, Ok Media, Johanna Resta Photography, Khanh Nguyen Photos (Honeymoon Pool), Jaime Harris of Forty Four Images (Dolphins), @piiasaara (Black Diamond)