Published on November 23rd, 2010 | by john.weir1
New things happening in Western Australia
Best of Australia
The Margaret River Discovery Company tours have been voted the “Number 1 thing to do in Australia” onÂ www.tripadvisor.com. Ranking higher than other Australian tourist experiences, such as visiting the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Great Barrier Reef, the Margaret River Discovery Company runs day trips including good food, great wine and an in-depth knowledge of the history and ecology of the region. Owner and operator Sean Blocksidge who has been described as “Al Gore meets Jamie Oliver”, designed his tours for “people who don’t do tours”.Â www.TripAdvisor.com reviews are by guests.
Margaret River, a three hour drive south of Perth, has been named amongst the world’s top 10 regions by Lonely Planet, thanks to its combination of boutique wineries, towering forests, amazing surf and rugged coastline. Tours such as The Best of The Best Wine Tour start from $205 per person.Â www.margaretriverdiscovery.com.au
New tours in World Heritage listed Shark Bay
Shark Bay on WA’s coral coast hit UK screens this month with a documentary on The Dolphins of Shark Bay on BBC 2. The area contains the world’s greatest concentration of bottlenose dolphins, as well as the largest population of dugongs, and is home to some of the most advanced dolphin behaviour seen in the world. The local dolphins have stunned scientists by learning how to use tools and the death-defying way in which they catch fish. While joining rangers to feeding the dolphins at Monkey Mia beach has long been the favoured way to get close to them, there are now two new tours which will allow you to see them from a different viewpoint.
Aboriginal operator, Wula Guda Nyinda, has a new ‘Saltwater dreaming’ tour, a kayak trip around Monkey Mia and Shark Bay, to get a taste of the Nhanda and Malgana Peoples deep spiritual connection to this Saltwater Country while spotting the resident dolphins and other marine life. The three hour kayak tour through crystal clear waters also includes hunting for fresh oysters and a lunch of freshly caught seafood on the beach. Wula Guda Nyinda also runs mediation and camp fire storytelling experiences. Tours cost $90 per adult, $50 per child. Visitors can book through the Monkey Mia Dolphin Resort.www.wulaguda.com.au
Nearby, Ocean Park Aquarium is now offering a 4WD tour to experience the best of Shark Bay. Full day tours in 4WD vehicles will take in the Shark Bay World Heritage Discovery Centre, Ocean Park, and exploration of the unique attractions that make up Shark Bay’s world heritage status. Tours cost $180 per adult, $110 per child and children under 5 join for free.Â www.allretreats.com.au/oceanpark/shark-bay-tours/
Red Dog – Hollywood returns to WA’s North West
WA’s Pilbara region, the ruggedly beautiful outback area in the state’s north west, will be showcased next year in a new film from the producers of Ned Kelly called Red Dog. The film is based on the best-selling novel, Red Dog, by British author Louis de BerniÃ¨res, best known for his novel Captain Corelli’s Mandolin and tells the real life story of a lovable and charismatic kelpie called Koko, who hitchhiked across the state and united a mining community in the 1970s and 80s. De BerniÃ¨res wrote Red Dog after seeing the statue erected in his honour in the pretty port town of Dampier. The film, which will be released in Australia in April 2011 and the UK later the same year, takes in the majestic Millstream Chichester National Park, a lush tropical oasis amidst the area’s scorched red outback and the area’s unspoilt coastline known for turtle nesting and whale migrations.
Hollywood superstar Josh Lucas (Sweet Home Alabama, A Beautiful Mind, Glory Road) will play the leading role of John and is joined by Rachael Taylor (Transformers), Keisha Castle-Hughes (Whale Rider) and Noah Taylor (Shine). To watch a clip of the film visitÂ www.reddogmovie.com
New Wilderness Getaways
Wilderness Getaways, a new partnership between Karma Chalets and Out of Sight tours, combines days of exploring the wilderness of WA’s Southern coast with nights of comfort in a forest retreat. Experiences include the best walks on the Bibbulmun Track, one of Australia’s greatest long distance walking trails, luxury 4WD tours in West Cape Howe National Park, wildflower tours or indulgent wine and wellness packages. The tours are run by guides with detailed local knowledgeable about fauna, flora and geology. The packages include accommodation at the peaceful Karma Chalets, nestled in the hillside under a canopy of eucalyptus near the town of Denmark.
A two day/three night Taste of the Bibbulmun Walking Package, is from $850 per person, including meals, accommodation, transfers and guided walks. A two day/three night wine and wellness package including massages and spa treatments, wine appreciation tours, chocolate tasting, meals and accommodation starts from $1,000 per person.Â www.wildernessgetaways.com.au.
Fremantle Prison receives World Heritage Listing
The Fremantle Prison has recently received a World Heritage Listing along with a number of other convict sites in Australia for their cultural and historical value. Take a torch-lit night tour through the cell blocks or paddle a replica convict punt through the labyrinth of ancient tunnels, which were the basis for many escape attempts. The prison attracts approximately 175,000 visitors each year and it’s expected the listing will further enhance Fremantle’s reputation as one of the world’s best preserved 19th century cityscapes. Tours start from $18.50.Â www.fremantleprison.com.au
Busselton Jetty and Underwater Observatory reopens
Busselton Jetty, the longest jetty in the southern hemisphere and home to The Underwater Observatory, will be officially reopened in late January 2011. The 1,841m-long jetty, first built in 1865, has been fully restored. Visitors can walk or take a train (which carries 45 people) to its Underwater Observatory, where they can descend to the ocean floor and view the marine ecosystem surrounding the Busselton Jetty, Australia’s largest artificial reef. The Observatory is one of only seven of its kind in the world and provides a window on to a unique plethora of marine life thanks to the Leeuwin current which brings a stream of warm water to the cooler southern coastline resulting in a rich mix of more than 300 different species of sub-tropical and tropical sponges, coral and fish. The marine life is not fed, nor is artificial light used to attract them. The jetty, which is a 2 hour drive south of Perth, was last fully open in 2005 when it attracted 450,000 visitors a year.Â www.busseltonjetty.com.au
Indian Ocean Drive opens
Opening this month ahead of schedule, the Indian Ocean Drive is a scenic drive route between Perth and Cliff Head, just south of Dongara. The new route allows reduced driving times to tourism icons such as The Pinnacles, the eerie moonscape of limestone pillars, whilst taking in the beauty and fresh seafood of small coastal towns such as Lancelin along the way.Â Â www.mainroads.wa.gov.au
DATES FOR YOUR DIARY
The Lancelin Ocean Classic, coral coast
Australia’s four day premier Windsurfing event attracts the world’s best athletes to the beautiful coastal town of Lancelin which has some of the best windsurfing conditions in the world. Watch the competitors trying to out manoeuvre each over with the highest aerials and high speed racing before feasting on the local crayfish while the sun sets into the Indian Ocean.Â www.lancelinoceanclassic.com.au
Australia Day, state wide
WA celebrates the national day more than any other state in the country, with the biggest celebrations taking place in Perth, as the sky explodes with the annual Lotterywest Skyworks. The free fireworks spectacule is known as Australia’s biggest Australia Day celebration. The foreshore in South Perth and leafy Kings Park are two of the best vantage points.Â www.ausdaywa.com.au
The Perth International Arts Festival, Perth
11 February – 7 March 2011
The Perth International Arts Festival, held ever February, aims to be one of the world’s leading arts festivals. Next year will be the biggest to date. The oldest annual international multi-arts festival in the southern hemisphere, it offers cutting edge theatre, music, film, visual arts, street arts, literature and free community events over three weeks.Â www.perthfestival.com.au
Winery concerts 2011 Leeuwin, South West
Described as the most extraordinary concerts held in Australia, the annual Leeuwin Concert Series has featured an eclectic mix of the world’s finest musicians and entertainers from Dame Kiri Te Kanawa to Ray Charles, Tom Jones and Sting. As the sun sets over a majestic backdrop of karri forest in the Margaret River wine region and music fills the natural amphitheatre, visitors in anything from top hats to t-shirts picnic on the sprawling lawns. Leeuwin’s famous kookaburras commence their cackling chorus to the amusement of guests and entertainers alike.Â Sip some of the region’s best chardonnays and Cabernet Sauvignon while soaking up the music. This year’s line up includes Bryan Ferry and his band Roxy Music on Saturday 19th and Sunday 20th February 2011. Tickets are $145 each.www.leeuwinestate.com.au
Sandalford concert venue opens in Margaret River with Buble gig
Canadian crooner Michael Buble will play concerts in Australia next year, with his Crazy Love tour visiting capital cities on the east coast before winding up with two intimate winery gigs in Western Australia. The 34-year-old singer will play at Sandalford Wines in Swan Valley, 40 minutes from Perth on 4th March and is the first big name announced to perform at the new venue at Sandalford Wines’ Margaret River winery two days later on 6th March. The Buble show will be one of six big gigs at the new Margaret River venue. Tickets are from $129 for general admission or $499 for VIP packages including complimentary Sandalford’s wine.Â www.sandalford.com