Right before a global pandemic forever changed life as we know it, Perth Is OK went on a little road trip. Literally the weekend before WA’s first lockdowns began, we spent a glorious 48 hours in Bunbury experiencing all there is to see, do, eat and play.
And now with Western Australians getting out there and exploring out state in lieu of interstate/overseas tourists, we’d like to make our (strong) case for why you should consider putting some serious time in around Bunbury:
Their Restaurant Scene Is Busy And Booming
We were fortunate to go out for a dinner a couple of nights in Bunbury, and both nights the main street was pumping, with most restaurants filled to the brim. Night 1 we ate Market Eating House, a cosy, welcoming restaurant offering some incredible share plates that knocked us out thanks to the “Feed Me” option, where the kitchen does the choosing for you. The following night we stopped in at Mojos Kitchen, served all night by Jake The Sommelier, who knew his way around some local wines and a couple of epic southwest brews to match the casual food offerings.
And these are just a couple of great options amongst HEAPS all within a short walk of each other.
And The Small Bar Vibe Is Right Alongside It
As their eats scene flourishes, so too does a bubbling little small bar scene. Along with a host of established pubs like the Prince Of Wales and Fitzgerald’s Irish Bar (who all know how to pull a pint or two), the (relatively) recently re-done The Rose Hotel & Motel served up excellent modern pub fare, along with a pumping late night scene. We’ll talk more about it later, but the Dolphin Discovery Centre now features a stunning upstairs bar overlooking Koombana Bay which made for a perfect sunset sip.
And finally a quick shout out to Lost Bills, a killer small bar that we definitely lost far too many dollar bills at thanks to some delicious cocktails and cool craft beers.
It’s Got An Exciting Up-And-Coming Arts Scene
Bunbury’s art scene is on the rise, and we were fortunate enough to catch a Stormie Mills exhibition launch at the vibrant, very pink Bunbury Regional Art Gallery. The following day we put in an incredible couple of hours exploring the city’s mind-blowing street art scene, thanks to a bike ride hosted by artist and Six Two Three Zero founder Andrew Frazer. The city is home to over 40 stunning large-scale murals courtesy of international, national and local artists like Anya Brock, Amok Island, Beastman and more.
The Dolphin Discovery Centre Is Like A Mini AQWA
Dolphins have been a big drawcard for Bunbury for years (over 100 cruise Koombana Bay and visit the shoreline most days), but now they can back it up with the world-class Dolphin Discovery Centre. Discovery Centre CEO David Kerr, besides being an absolute legend, took us through the centre’s new interactive exhibits, interpretive centre, expansive aquarium displays and turtle rehab area.
While the weather didn’t lend itself to a swim with the dolphins, our eco cruise around the bay was filled with up-close-and-personal moments and our fantastic tour guide waxing poetically with incredible lines like, “Watching a sperm whale breach is like seeing the fist of God come down on the water.” Thrilling stuff, and definitely worth setting aside an afternoon for.
Their Epic Farmer’s Markets Are Filled With Fresh Produce
No doubt on your drive south you’ve noticed the big Bunbury Farmer’s Markets – but do yourself a favour and actually pop in. Much of the produce is sourced from surrounding farms, mostly organic and some of the freshest you’ll find. We were also lucky enough to be in town for the fortnightly Queens Gardens Bunbury Markets, filled with fresh produce alongside a heap of awesome artisanal gifts, second-hand gems and delicious cheeses and chocolates.
There’s (Back) Beaches As Far As The Eye Can See…
In addition to being filled with bottlenose dolphins, Koombana Bay also makes for a lovely, sheltered spot to pull up to for a picnic and dip. On the south side you’ll find Bunbury’s Back Beach, which is good for the occasional surf, great for the regular kite surf. Always wanted to learn to surf, try lessons with the Bunbury Surf School.
…And Bloody Beaut Breakfast Spots With All You Can Eat
Bunbury is filled to the brim with epic brekky spots, including Corners On The Bay overlooking Koombana Bay and serving up tasty nasi goreng and Acai bowls. Benesse Bunbury, Melo Velo and The Townhouse all along the main Victoria Street strip also sling a mean coffee to go with big breakfast options, while Backbeach Café offers pleasant views of the above mentioned surf spot.
It’s An Area Rich In History And Culture
Along with killer street art the Bunbury streets are steeped in history, including Alan Bond going full Alan Bond architecture in the 80s and the impressive Koombana Footbridge, marking the 13 shipwrecks of Koombana. The Bunbury Museum & Heritage Centre also offers a comprehensive look back on the region, or if you want a first peoples experience local guide Troy Bennell runs expansive Ngalang Wongi Aboriginal Cultural Tours.
There’s Walking & Riding Trails Galore
With all the eating and drinking it was important to hit the pavement whenever we could, and after hiring bikes at Melo Velo we did just that. Bunbury’s Mangrove Walk is an impressive experience on its own, with the mangroves being the southernmost in Australia and actually not really supposed to be there! The small city is also littered with some epic lookout spots, including the Marlston Hill Lookout near the lighthouse and Boulters Heights.
Ferguson Valley to the east is also an up-and-coming mountain biking hotspot, with a list of trails that’s only getting longer by the day.
And A Heap Of Breweries And Wineries To Explore
Speaking of the Ferguson Valley, it’s only 15 minutes from the city and fast-becoming Bunbury’s answer to the Swan Valley or the Margaret River wine region. We were fortunate enough to spend a day sampling some of what they had to offer, including the beloved Bush Shack Brewery, Ferguson Falls, Green Door Wines and more. Each winery had its own personality and energy, and it was difficult to leave after sampling some beautiful wines and meeting owners both young and old.
Check our full Fergie wrap HERE.
To start planning your Bunbury getaway, head to visitbunburygeographe.com
This article first featured on PERTH IS OK and has been republished with permission.