Today we went Full Throttle at the Collie Motorplex!

It’s Monday morning and the #visitcollie team are up and about early, we’re heading out to the Collie Motorplex to have a look at the facilities and in particular the track extensions and upgrades that are nearing completion.

Anna Farrell, Track Manager meets us and fills us in on what’s been happening at the track, up coming events and planned future upgrades. Coming off a huge weekend where the motorplex hosted the 2018 Ernie Hastie Memorial – the largest race meet in Western Australia outside of Perth. The track was buzzing with workers packing up and getting ready for the following weekends meet. Historic Motorcycle racing!

As we chat about the previous weekend and the ins and outs of managing a race track, we take notice of the massive  whiteboard calendar outlining what’s on for the entire 2018 season – Fully booked, right up until Christmas!

Anna offers us a tour and leads us through the club rooms, medical facilities, accommodation rooms and kitchen areas. We discuss upgrades to spectator areas that are on the horizon and Anna explains that the majority of the race events are free entry for spectators. Visitors are welcome to bring a picnic or enjoy food supplied by the onsite canteen. All funds raised are put back into the local race club and track.

 

Photo: D1WA - Matsuri 1 2018 - Collie Motorplex

Track Upgrades.

Recently visited by WA Premier Mark McGowan and our Sports and Recreation Minister Mick Murray to inspect the recent upgrades, made possible by a $2.97 million dollar commitment from the State Government. The funding allowed for the track to be extended from 1.6km to 2.3km and improve competitor and spectator facilities. More recently an injection of $314,000 brought the track up to national standards in order to create opportunities for major motorsport events to held in the South West. Other than Barbagallo, north of Perth, the Collie Motorplex is the only sealed race track in Western Australia.

Premier Mark McGowan was impressed with the upgrades and stated the Motorplex was fast becoming a true asset to the town and the South West.

“I’m pleased to see the Collie Motorplex becoming a huge tourism drawcard for the town, it’s great for motorsport enthusiasts and great for local businesses and great for Collie”

Collie Motorplex track extension from 1.6km to 2.3km

"Jump in, lets go for a drive"

Just when we thought our time visiting the racetrack had come to an end, our host rustled some car keys from her jacket pocket and motioned for us to jump in the tracks car. It must be said, it’s the first time either of us had actually been on a racetrack. Anna took us for a lap around the existing 1.6km circuit – giving us an insight into what its like to run the operation. After the lap we started another, this time veering off to access the new, almost completed section. With some equipment still working on the edges of the track Anna explains:

 “The last lot of rain a few months ago gave us a heads up that this section of the track required more drainage works. Part of the gravel run off area was washed out and that was a great clue that we needed to reassess the area and improve it, and that’s what the guys are doing now”

We are cruising around a sweeping left hand turn when we come to a stop, our host tells us this is her favourite part of the track, its on a slight elevation affording us a nice little view down towards a sharpish right hander and the track facilities in the distance. We stop for a few photographs and a look around. 

The #visitcollie crew would like to thank Anna for the opportunity to view the track upgrades and taking time out of her busy schedule to give us a peek into the fascinating world of running a racetrack. If you’d like to see what’s coming up for the rest of the 2018 calendar you can visit the Collie Motorplex’s website here.

Track extension, looking down towards the facilities.

Another great day out option in the Region

With a racing calendar packed full of events every weekend right up to Christmas, the motorplex is another great option for things to see and do in the Collie Region. With the majority of events free or some with a minimal charge it really is a great little day out. Located only 14km to the South-East of the Collie CBD it’s an easy, family friendly day out that’s really affordable. As an added bonus, the absolutely gorgeous Stockton Lake is right next door. The blue lake, famous for its water skiing, camping and that incredible azure colour, is a must see on the way.

You can read more about Stockton Lake here.

Stockton Lake - Photo by @_cjlp13_

A weekend get away with a difference!

The cooler months are right around the corner, further south it comes even sooner (and even more so for us up in the hills). Collie is famous for its chilly weather and misty mornings. Our first instinct is to hibernate for the winter months and look forward to those warm days once again. However the middle of the year is a great time to get out and explore our state. 

 The Bunbury Geographe region, of which Collie is a part, is home to some terrific destinations all ripe for discovery. The area, is yet to be busy with holiday makers so the roads are quieter and there’s far less crowds to deal with. The 7 regions that make up #BunGeo all have something unique to offer, whether its picking your own fruit off the tree in Donnybrook or rummaging around the antique and quirky stores in Balligup to lingering on Bunbury’s cafe strip. Below we’ll outline what #visitCollie reckons is a pretty good itinerary to start you off in the region that’s got something for everyone.

Those gorgeous Autumn colours are here...now!

The Collie River Valley is located just over two hours south of Perth, Western Australia and boasts some of the most stunning scenery in the South West. Your GPS or Google Maps will tell you to head south from Perth along the Forrest Highway then, just before Bunbury head east on Raymond Rd to link up with the Coalfields highway. This is the traditional way to go, its a scenic route up the mighty Roelands hill, looking back west you’ll be treated to a stunning view of the coast below. However, we’ll let you in on a little detour off the main highway which is actually quicker and arguably even more scenic.

 

 

The “Mornington Road Way” starts off the South Western Highway just south of Wokalup (just south of Harvey). You’ll notice the large buildings of the Harvey Agricultural School on the corner. This winding country road gently elevates you up over the same hills that you may follow all the way from Armadale in Perth’s south. The South Western Highway may well be WA’s route 66 in some respects. The newer Forrest Highway is a more direct way south from Perth however, the now almost forgotten parallel highway next door offers an alternative for those seeking something different and interesting to watch roll past on the drive. Patience must be practiced, it’s single lane in most parts but offering overtaking lanes often enough to pass when need be. If you do take Forrest Highway, there are several good roads to take to cross over onto South Western Highway. Pinjarra Road and Forrestry Rd \ Uduc Road both bring you across to the SW Highway at both Pinjarra and Harvey – these are well placed for a bathroom or coffee break as they are both roughly halfway points on the trip.

 

Once turned onto Mornington Road, enjoy the trip from here on in, you’ll encounter little in the way of traffic and the vista is stunning. Use caution though – it is single lane and (in that is classic country road style) its gorgeously winding. Steady steady, you’re almost at your destination now! Follow the signage to Collie. The final T-Junction will be a right turn to the town centre, a left will take you to Harris River Estate Winery and the Harris Dam. The Dam is worth a visit, a beautiful BBQ area in a bush setting is a nice picnic spot. More on the Winery later!

Acommodation Options.

The Collie River Valley is famous for its camping, however there are plenty of accommodation options available if those chilly mornings in a tent aren’t your thing! If historic old country pubs are your more your style, you’re in luck! Collie is loaded to the eyeballs with them. The Colliefields Hotel has been converted into a cafe / backpackers that offers clean single, twin, double and dorm rooms at prices you can’t go past. The cafe serves a great range of food and really, really good coffee. Seriously. Alternatively, The Federal Hotel just up the road has that classic country pub vibe, with a family friendly focus and a great alfresco area the meals are generous and both have the open wood fires roaring in winter. If a modern motel or apartment stay is more your deal you can’t go past the Collie Ridge Motel, at the western entrance to town you won’t miss it!

You can read up more about the Colliefields in our recent blog here.

Colliefields & Federal Hotel

What to do...

Now that the bags are unpacked and you’re looking to explore we’ve an itinerary that’s so jam packed you’ll be battling to fit it all in, maybe pick the items that best suit your situation and there’s always next time to tick off the rest! 

Known for its power generation, Collie is fast shaking off those past stereotypes and emerging as a tourism destination. Still slightly raw and edgy it lacks a little polish found in some long established tourist towns, but you may find that’s half the charm! A mix of 1900’s architecture and modern built buildings means there’s a real eclectic mix of styles as you wander the streets of the town centre. With a compact CBD you can leave the car at your accommodation and enjoy a stroll around town. Nosing in the quirky gift shops or visit the great Bakery in the main street. Central Park is a real delight, featuring a terrific kids nature playground, a water park and a vintage train carriage re-purposed as a cafe, Wagon 537 serves up awesome coffees, milkshakes for the kids and some truly delicious food in their own unique style. You can read more about Central Park in our blog post here.

Collie CBD

Award winning winery.

Harris River Estate Winery is set on 24 hectares of vineyard and is a vine to bottle producer which means they produce everything start to finish, in house. The cellar door offers gorgeous views over the vines, dam and state forest beyond. Enjoy their Tapas style menu on the verandah as you while away the afternoon. This family run operation has expanded to also produce their own cider and have an in house mircro-brewery. On-site accommodation in one of their two cosy cabins is also available.

Harris River Estate

Go deep underground and back in time!

Take a step back in time with a trip underground in the replica underground coal mine. Situated at the Collie Visitors Centre, you can enjoy a guided tour with one of their three very knowledgeable, now retired underground miner tour guides. Bookings available by calling the Visitors Centre on 9734 2051 and arranging a tour. The Visitors Centre is open Monday – Friday 9am – 4pm Saturday 10am – 3pm and Sunday 10am – 2pm. Guided tours take around one hour or you may prefer a self guided tour which is possible during the visitors centre opening times, no appointment necessary. 

Replical Mine tours

Its too cold to swim, but you've got to check out...

Black Diamond lake is now an instagrammers hotspot. Made famous in recent times due to those incredible images on social media, the abandoned mine void hasn’t been in use since the early 1950’s. Now flooded, the limestone bottom along with a clear sky combine to radiate a magnificent azure blue. Even with the cooler weather, the site is a must see and worthy of a selfie or family photo before making plans to revisit in the summer months for a swim!

You can find our more by visiting our Black Diamond blog here.

Black Diamond Lake

You may think its hard to beat Black Diamond. But what if we told you BD has a bigger and arguably better cousin?

Stockton Lake is found a few kilometers east of Collie. Also an abandoned mine its also one of a series of blue lakes in the Collie region. Black Diamond is under a rehabilitation program and may not be available for camping for some time it is a day visit area only. Stockton however is a brilliant campsite. Large open sites suit large groups. The water is used for water skiing in the summer months. Well worth a visit for that classic blue water shot!

You can find out more about Stockton Lake by clicking here.

Stockton Lake

Wellington National Park is a true gem and worth a day in itself. Home to the famous Honeymoon Pool, Potters Gorge, the Kiosk, Wellington Dam wall and Lennard Drive you’ll have a ball immersing yourself in all things “Welly Dam”.

Honeymoon Pool needs little introduction – part of the Preston River (which is fed from the Wier wall) Honeymoon Pool is famous for its stunning natural setting. Also famous for its freezing water, but this time of year that won’t bother us! Featuring free BBQ’s and picnic tables plus a convenient toilet block, HP is the perfect spot for a family picnic and nature time with the kids. Follow the path along the river or take a left before you leave the area towards Gelcoat rapids for an incredible bushwalk along the whitewater. See if you can find the massive granite boulder, climb it for an impressive family portrait! You can read more about Honeymoon Pool in our blog here.

Honeymoon Pool

Lennard Drive is a one way, sealed road that extends from the bottom of the Dam wall in the Wellington National Park to River Road. Along this gorgeous winding route you’ll come across four stunning locations, all well signposted and including a small area to safely park your vehicle. The Rapids, Little Rock, Big Rock and Long Pool are dotted along this drive. Each one is breath taking and well worth a stop and photo opportunity. Another one to remember for your return visit in the warmer months. Continue on Lennard Drive after your stop at Long Pool, turn right at the end and you’ll arrive back at Honeymoon Pool. You can read more about Lennard Drive at our post here.

The stunning Long Pool

Find that bit of Culture!

The Collie Art Gallery was officially opened in 2015. This incredible building celebrates Collie’s thriving arts scene. The building consists of 150 square meters of gallery space plus a 50 square meter studio, storage and working space. The gallery displays exhibitions of national importance as well as local arts and crafts. The lobby hosts a eclectic mix of local arts and crafts available to purchase and is a must see on your next visit to town. see https://www.collieartgallery.org.au/ for current and upcoming exhibitions.

Bring your Mountain Bike, its the Wagyl Biddi you see!

Collie’s newest mountain bike trail network, the Collie Wagyl Biddi, was officially opened recently, just in time for the Australia Day long weekend.

Hundreds of avid mountain bikers, as well as complete novices, have already had a go at the new nine-kilometre trail network with a series of connected trails built to beginner and intermediate level, including 4.5 kilometres of trails suitable for hand-cycles.

The Trail Head is located at Soldier’s Park on Lefroy Street in Collie and has toilets, water and parking, as well as a playground, skate park and barbecue facilities, making the trail a great all-round family experience.

You can read more about the Wagyl Biddi Trail in our blog post here.

On your way out of town...

So how did we do? 

We think that’s not a bad little weekend away in the region, there’s plenty more to see and do, so stay tuned for another suggested weekender in the near future. Once your bags are packed and you’re thinking of heading home, you may chose to head back via Mornington Road or for a change of scenery take Throssell Street heading west out of town to link onto Coalfields Highway and down the big hill back towards the South West or Forrest Highway. 

Alternatively if you’ve some time left and want one more adventure before you head back to reality, why not take a slight detour to visit our gorgeous neighbour, the Ferguson Valley. Fast becoming known for its jaw dropping scenery, micro breweries and wineries also, The Ferguson Valley is only 30 minutes away via Mungalup / Pile Rd and is home to the world famous Gnomesville! Now’s the perfect opportunity to stop by and visit this now iconic location. Don’t forget to BYO gnome to place amongst their new friends. The kids will love it!

#visitCollie Recommend the nearby Moody Cow Brewery for lunch!

Iconic Gnomesville

Today we ride the Karak Trail!

The Karak Trail (Noongar word for the red-tailed black cockatoo) is accessible to walkers, cyclists, families with prams, wheelchairs and gophers, with rubbish bins and seating dotted along its length. It is a 3.5km tarmacked path that starts west of the Collie Cemetery and meanders through the lovely state forest to end in Allanson on Ferguson Road.

It is a beautiful walk any time of the year with birds singing in the tall jarrah, marri and paperbark trees lining the path and in the Spring there is a wonderful display of wildflowers, especially the lovely kangaroo paw which is much larger and vividly coloured compared to it’s garden counterpart. 

http://www.collierivervalley.com.au/karak-red-tail-trail/

Karak Trail - Perfect for Families!

Perfect for Families.

Today we threw the MTB and scooter in the back of the ute and headed out to the trail. Convenient parking right at the trail head, means its super quick to get in the saddle and get going. At the Collie end of the trail there’s a bin and dog waste bags if our four legged friend was to join us. Also we take heed of the warning sign, keep an eye out for snakes in the warmer months.

As the introduction states, the trail is 3.5km long, it has however been extended recently to include the township of Allanson, home of Black Diamond Lake. The path is in great condition, it should be, its near on brand new. Dual use and well maintained it’s a leisurely cycle adjacent to Coalfields highway. A slight down hill ride west and the opposite when returning towards town.

The trail is perfect for all fitness levels and age groups. There are park benches dotted along the path every few hundred meters, ideal for a breather or a drink of water if need be.

Convenient Park Benches along the Trail

Towards the end of the trail, you’ll come across the turn off for the Scenic Drive. This 7km of unsealed road takes you past some gorgeous sections of the Collie River and terminates at Mungalup Rd. A stones throw from the gorgeous Minninup Pool. From here it is approximately 3km back into the Collie CBD.

Alternatively you may like to continue on and take the next left after the Scenic Drive (Ferguson Rd) and arrive at Black Diamond Lake.

You can find Our blog on the Collie River Scenic drive here.

You can find our blog on Black Diamond here.

Black Diamond

Introducing The Colliefields – Where friends meet

Great Food, Budget Accommodation and Trail Friendly!

Proprietor Michélè recently gave #visitcollie a tour of this magnificent old building and suddenly I was back in the late 1800’s. I was sure I could hear the swish of ladies in long taffeta skirts and see shadows of men sporting smart moustaches and braces along the upstairs corridors. If only walls could talk!

These days The Colliefields houses a smart café, serving hearty portions of scrumptious meals and decadent desserts, served with tea and coffee to match anything you will find in the city. In winter it’s the perfect spot to spend time with good friends, good food and great coffee in front of the big wood fire place.

Voted by Trip Advisor as the #1 place to eat in Collie for almost four years, they pride themselves on their outstanding customer service and strive to make your visit one that will keep you coming back for more. And come back they do, especially for the Spicy BBQ Ribs!

Are you looking for gluten free or vegan meals? They have that covered as well with a great range of gluten free, dairy free and vegan options available.

A warm welcome at the Colliefields - Those spicy Ribs

Trail Friendly Accommodation

A hundred years ago The Colliefields Hotel would have been “The Place” to stay when travelling through Collie and it still is today for the many mountain bike riders and bush walkers who visit every week. The Colliefields is a member of both the Bibbulmun and Munda Biddi Track Foundations and offers clean single, twin, double and dorm rooms at prices you can’t go past. With breakfast and secure bike storage included and trail transfers available, what more do you need? Maybe somewhere to have food and clothing parcels delivered to? No Worries, they can handle that as well. Just ring ahead to let them know!

Accommodation to suit singles, couples and groups - Guests Lounge, many a great trail story has been told here!

PET FRIENDLY

The Colliefields is also pet friendly and welcomes you and your well behaved pets. 

You will find the Colliefields at 91 Throssell St, Collie WA.

Weekdays they open at 7.30am to 3.30pm and weekends from 8am to 3pm for anytime breakfast and lunch.

Open late Thursday evenings  until 7.30ish except during school holidays.

They can be contacted on 9734 2052 or email them at welcome@colliefields.com

Today we walk the Bibbulmun Track!

The Bibbulmun Track is one of the world’s great long distance walk trails, stretching 1000km from Kalamunda, a suburb in the hills on the outskirts of Perth, to the historic town of Albany on the south coast. It passes through the heart of the scenic south west of Western Australia.

The Track is for walkers only and is signposted with yellow triangular markers symbolising the Waugal, the rainbow serpent of the Aboriginal Dreaming. Trail markers are spaced up to 500m apart. They are more frequent when there is an intersection with other tracks or when the Track takes a turn.

The Track takes walkers through towering karri and tingle forests, down mist-shrouded valleys, over giant granite boulders and along breathtaking coastal heathlands. It passes through many of the most beautiful national parks of the south west forests and coastline. The Bibbulmun Track offers a wide range of experiences, from a gentle stroll to enjoy the peace and beauty of the natural environment, to an epic eight week adventure. Those that walk every step of the way can be registered as end-to-enders.

You can make it a wilderness experience by camping out, you can join a guided group, a tour, or you can do it in comfort by staying in the towns along the Track and enjoying day walks in the area. The Track passes through Dwellingup, Collie, Balingup, Donnelly River Village, Pemberton, Northcliffe, Walpole, Peaceful Bay and Denmark. www.bibbulmuntrack.org.au

My Dad, brother Ian and I had done some hiking in the Albany region and decided to tackle the Collie – Balingup section. After some googling and trawling over maps we planned our trek. We would be dropped off just outside of Collie to meet up with the spur line which detours off the track, through Wellington National Park then back to the track. This is an easy starting off point from Collie. Best road is easily found off Mungalup Road. Turn at Collie Caltex petrol station and follow out of town for approximately 10 – 15 minutes. Keep an eye out for Best Rd on your left. A short drive brings you to the spur line.

Excited by the start of the adventure we bid our driver farewell and set off. Before long we reached the Yabberup campsite. After short rest, a few photos we then join the Track proper. Following the yellow Waugul markers we wander through the gorgeous Aussie bush. A good time for some banter and catch up with the old man and my brother.

Ian at the Yabberup Campsite

After our 8am start at the spur line, we estimated we should arrive at the Mungalup Tavern by lunch. We had arranged with the publican to leave our car there the previous night so we could easily return to Collie after our trek. He informed us the car would be quite safe and it was very common for people to do the same and they never had any issues in the past. 

The track winds through the bush, fairly flat in most places and doesn’t provide any difficulty to us. The trick is to keep looking for the yellow markers. Saying that – we never had a problem spotting or following them. They seem to turn up just as you start wondering where the next one is!

A true highlight on the walk is the sight of the shimmering Glen Mervyn Dam, it marks the 3/4 point of our journey and is popular with campers and water skiers. The dam is a welcome sight and provides a glorious setting for morning tea. A sandwich and a bottle of water were enjoyed and then we follow western bank of the dam south, towards the dam wall. It isn’t long until we reach the “Mumby Pub” where we are greeted with a cold drink and the lunch menu!

Glen Mervyn Dam wall
Final Destination - The Mumby Pub

The Collie – Mumbalup Tavern section is a great introduction to walking the “Bib Track” – It may become addictive as it isn’t long before you’re left wondering, what’s the next section you might tackle! Collie is well set up with services to cater for hikers. With multiple accommodation options to choose from, two laundromats, 7 day trading from both supermarkets, it’s an ideal stop over point for a longer Bib Track trip or a great spot to start your adventure.

A hundred years ago The Colliefields Hotel would have been “The Place” to stay when travelling through Collie and it still is today for the many mountain bike riders and bush walkers who visit every week. The Colliefields is a member of both the Bibbulmun and Munda Biddi Track Foundations and offers clean single, twin, double, ensuite and dorm rooms at prices you can’t go past. With breakfast and secure bike storage included and trail transfers available, what more do you need? Maybe somewhere to have food and clothing parcels delivered to? No Worries, they can handle that as well. Just ring ahead to let them know!

visitcollie.com.au thoroughly recommend hikers take some time to visit bibbulmuntrack.org.au and familiarise yourself with the Track prior to setting off. Safety advice can be found here – www.bibbulmuntrack.org.au/trip-planner/health-hygiene-safety/

You can plan your Bibbulmun Track walk here – https://www.bibbulmuntrack.org.au/trip-planner/track-sections/collie/