From the Granite Loop to the Great Southern, discover the romance of Western Australia’s native flowers, including a number of species which can be traced back 65 million years to the time of the supercontinent Gondwana.
THE GRANITE LOOP – THE WHEATBELT
The Granite Loop is so-named because it takes you on a tour of the wonderfully ancient and bizarre rocky granite outcrops that characterise Western Australia’s Wheatbelt, south of the Mid West region. Happily, this route just so happens to delve into some of the state’s wildflower hotspots.
Take off from Toodyay, tucked in the luxuriant hills of the Avon Valley just an hour’s drive north-east of Perth. Detour to the picturesque, quintessential Wheatbelt towns of York and Northam for a dose of local heritage and old-fashioned country hospitality, and take in panoramic views of romantic wild flower fields along the way. Each spring, everlastings, donkey and cowslip orchids, trigger plants, and kangaroo paws spring up from the Wheatbelt’s soils to brighten any drive in this corner of the world.
From Northam, the quaint and unassuming township of Tammin is just an hour’s drive east, and is nestled in the heart of wild ower country. Tammin is a serene nook of the Wheatbelt with a pleasant Mediterranean climate, and a host of cultural and historical sites on its doorstep, including Hunts Well and granite outcrop Yorkrakine Rock.
Journey an hour or so north-west from Tammin to Dowerin to reconnect with the Granite Loop, which weaves between remarkable rocky outcrops and kaleidoscopic expanses of wild flowers up to the Mount Marshall region, in the depths of the rugged Wheatbelt. Mount Marshall is home to flourishing outback communities and architectural remnants of its pioneering days, suspended in time. Today, the technicolour carpet of wild flowers breathes new life into Mount Marshall’s towns each spring, and attracts visitors from all over the world.
From the rugged Wheatbelt, follow the blooming wild flowers as they curl down into Western Australia’s Great Southern region. The Great Southern is truly Western Australia’s hidden treasure- trove, which hosts gems of both the natural and man-made variety: while tufts of bright, honey-hued wild flowers spring up across mountains, paddocks and coastlines each September, the region’s array of boutique wineries and its gourmet foodie scene prosper all year round.
Nestled in the Great Southern’s heartland, the Shire of Kojonup is the perfect base from which to uncover the region’s rich pastoral heritage, architecture dating from the early 19th century and, of course, the wealth of natural splendour on its doorstep, including the iconic wild flowers.
Head to the Kojonup Reserve to see patches of feather flowers, tinsel lilies, white spider flowers and bee cowslips, all blooming in the wake of winter rains. The white gums shelter much birdlife in springtime, and the avian chorus will make a soothing soundtrack to your strolls through the reserve. Nearby Birdwood Nature Reserve is an orchid-lover’s paradise: spring coaxes shell orchids, mantis orchids and the delicate rabbit orchid into blossom, while the pea flower, wattles and banksias put on an equally brilliant show.
To continue your spring fling with the Great Southern region’s spellbinding wildlife, venture south to the coastal township of Denmark, where a healthy dose of adventure awaits you. Just under two-hours’ drive south of Kojonup, the Valley of the Giants Tree Top Walk invites visitors to shift their perspective and walk for 600 metres among the treetops 40 metres above ground. The path winds through the canopy of a tingle tree forest, and is accessible to guests of all ages, as well as to prams and wheelchairs.
Journey north for two hours along the western coast to visit the devilishly indulgent Margaret River wine region for a tipple to toast the fading days of Western Australia’s wild flower season. Bunbury, an hour north of Margaret River, is recognised as one of 25 global biodiversity hotspots, and possesses the most concentrated and diverse variety of native plants in all of Australia. There are plenty of well-worn bushwalking tracks in outer Bunbury, including Tuart Walk, The Maidens Walk, Manea Park, the Leschenault Peninsula Conservation Park, and the obligatory Wild Flower Walk. To farewell your springtime wildflower expedition with all the fanfare it deserves, catch one of Bunbury’s famously theatrical springtime sunsets from the foreshore.