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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!