WA Weekender: 48 Hours In Bunbury
Despite being Western Australia’s second biggest city, Bunbury is still considered a hidden gem. Just two hours south of Perth and an hour north of Margaret River, the city is often bypassed by visitors as they make their way down the coast.
But with delectable produce, thrilling nature adventures, and a burgeoning arts scene, Bunbury is most certainly worth a stop. In fact, it’s worth spending a solid 48 hours. Here’s how to spend them:
8am: Swim with the dolphins
Dive head first into your weekender with an exhilarating ocean dip alongside Bunbury’s local bottlenose dolphins. Hop on the 8am dolphin swim tour at the Dolphin Discovery Centre to spend a few hours with the creatures in their playground.
Watch them cruising alongside the boat and surfing the waves, before slipping into the water to get eye-to-eye with them. They’re known to come as close as an arm’s length to tour guests – they’re just as curious of creatures as we are.
12pm: Lunch at St Aidan Wines
After drying off, head out to St Aidan Wines, where the religious references are in more than just the name. Characterised by its arched windows and pitched roof, owners Phil and Mary Smith modeled the cellar door on the quaint community church next door.
Just a 20 minutes-drive from the CBD, St Aidan Wines is one of the best-known wineries in the region. Though the menu is small, it features comforting dishes like Mediterranean lamb and pearl barley, and salmon with a fresh Asian slaw on there and has won a loyal following.
1:30pm: Wine tasting in the Ferguson Valley
Make a day of it and spend the rest of your afternoon meeting the local wine makers, sampling your way around the cellar doors in the valley. Multi-million-dollar operations are far and few between out here. Instead, it is the small batch producers like Bakkheia and Hackersley that are driving the wine industry in the region.
Nominate a designated driver and follow the alternative wine trail yourself, or have Pop A Cork Tours show you around in their head-turning 1968 convertible Mustang. Prioritise stops at Willowbridge for their award-winning Gravel Pit Shiraz, and Green Door Wines to try their amphora pot trio with a gorgeous vista right back out to Bunbury.
7pm: Dinner at Market Eating House
Market Eating House was opened by one of George Colombaris’ protégés, Brenton Pyke, and his wife Bec. Their Middle Eastern-inspired share menu is one of the best in town, offering all sorts of interesting fare from Turkish dumplings and slow roasted duck with pomegranate, to almost any heirloom vegetable under the sun.
Housed in a lofty building just on the fringes of the CBD, the homely atmosphere inside is helped along with rustic décor and ambient lighting.
10pm: Stay at Peppermint Lane Lodge
If you want a solid night’s sleep in relative solitude, Peppermint Lane Lodge is the place to seek it. The boutique lodge holds a maximum of six guests at a time, and is tucked away from traffic on the banks of the Ferguson River in a valley.
Wake in a king-sized bed to views of the lush Peppi trees and kangaroo-covered lawn.
8am: Breakfast at The Townhouse
Rise and shine for breakfast at The Townhouse. Fuel up on a healthy Buddha bowl, or treat yourself to a decadent, ice cream-topped doughnut bowl. Coffee here is made with beans by Perth-based Mano A Mano and is rich and moreish.
After breakfast, stroll up Clifton Street to explore the rock pools along the basalt rocks on the beach.
10am: Walk through Wellington Discovery Forest
Pull on your walking shoes and enjoy the crisp morning air on a walk through the Wellington Discovery Forest.
Take any of the self-guided walking trails through the towering jarrah forest where you can see local fauna, the Wellington reservoir and, depending on the season, wildflowers.
12pm: Lunch at Café 140
After working up an appetite on the bush trails, head to Café 140 for lunch. A local’s favourite, the bright little caféon sits on the corner at the top end of Bunbury’s main street and is always buzzing.
Lunch here is a modest but tasty affair with poke bowls, rye ruebens and ploughmans boards, made with freshly baked bread from Bread and Butter Wood Fired Bakery next door, on offer.
Kick lunch up a notch with a jalapeno margarita, spiked caramel espresso or a glass of the elusive Bakkheia wines.
Call into the bakery on your way out for their famous doughnuts.
1:30pm: Follow the art trail
You wouldn’t know it unless you were looking, but the Bunbury CBD is home to around 31 different murals and public art pieces.
After lunch, download the art trail map and take yourself on a colourful visual journey with coffee in hand. Keep an eye out for Jerome Davenport’s historic mural behind the Bunbury Regional Entertainment Centre, and Beastman’s vibrant piece behind the iconic pink art gallery. If time permits, make sure you pop into the gallery too.
5pm: Pick up some souvenirs from Mojos
Before embarking on your two-hour drive back to Perth, make one last pit stop at Mojos. If you can’t stay for the Shark Bay scallops or confit salmon, at least pick up some souvenirs of your weekender from the Mojos Bottle Shop.
Though small, the bottle shop boasts an impressive selection of local beer and wine, natural wine and small-batch imported beers, expertly curated by head sommelier and beer lover, Jake Atkinson.
The writer travelled to Bunbury as a guest of Australia’s South West.
Published 03 May, 2019