Trip for Spring 3 "Western Australia Wildflowers"
Western Australia is home to more than 12,000 species of wildflowers, most of which are not found in the wild anywhere else in the world. In November, wildflowers carpet the state’s south coast, known as the Rainbow Coast, home to more than a dozen national parks and reserves. Mountain bells, banksias, and orchids are among the more than 1,500 kinds of plants and wildflowers found in Stirling Range National Park alone. The Rainbow Coast port city of Albany is a convenient home base for bushwalks through the parks, where you could see wildlife—such as parrots, western brush wallabies, and gray kangaroos—along with the wildflowers.
How to Get Around: Rent a car at the Perth Airport then drive south via the Southern Wonders Trail, one of Western Australia’s designated wildflower routes. The trail follows the inland Albany Highway to Albany before heading west near the coast. There are 15 wildflower-viewing stops along the route, including Stirling Range, Porongurup, and West Cape Howe National Parks, and the Valley of the Giants Tree Top Walk. The steel walkway is 131 feet above ground and leads through a grove of 400-year-old red tingle trees, some towering as high as 197 feet. The Tree Top Walk connects to the ground-level Ancient Empire wooden boardwalk leading through and around the gigantic trees.
Cultural Tip: Picking wildflowers is prohibited, and stiff fines (about $1,900 USD) are enforced. Dried wildflowers can be purchased legally in local souvenir shops.
Where to Stay: Built in 1882 as the mayor’s residence, The Rocks Albany served as a maternity hospital and even a recreation center for United States military officers before being renovated and reopened in 2006 as a six-suite luxury bed-and-breakfast. Located on two lushly landscaped acres overlooking Princess Royal Harbour, the inn feels secluded yet is within walking distance of downtown shops and restaurants. Ask for a suite with both water and garden views. The Princess Royal has both (plus a vintage cast-iron claw-foot tub), and it’s the only guest quarters with direct access to the inn’s harborside porch.
Where to Eat: Picnic in the Paddock at Whitfield Estate in Denmark is only open for lunch on weekends and school holidays, so plan ahead. The menu—paired with Whitfield Estate wines—showcases local foods like marron (freshwater crayfish) and Dellendale Creamery cheeses. The café, which overlooks the vineyard and pastures, is casual, with a kid's menu and dogs welcome outside. For dog lovers, there's the added bonus of meeting resident Bernese mountain dogs Mac and Bud, inspiration for the estate’s Pawprint gourmet chocolates.
What to Buy: The Sunday Albany Boatshed Fisherman and Farmer Markets is a weekly celebration of all things local: produce, gourmet foods and chocolates, handcrafted woven and knitted items, and vintages from Great Southern Wine member wineries, such as Trevelen Farm Wines. In Youngs Siding, book a guided tour of the Bushfood Factory and Café to learn how gourmet jams, sauces, and chutneys are made from the plantation’s bush foods, such as lemon myrtle and wattle seed. After taking the tour (and trying the samples) shop for Bushfood’s Flavours of Oz products in the factory store. Closed Mondays and Tuesdays.