Find it all in Bunbury
Just a 2hrs drive south from Perth will land you in the heart of Bunbury; a seaside city that offers protected beach bays mere minutes from budding local bars, trendy restaurants, boutique shops and alluring coffee houses and cafés dotting street art corners and hidden alleyways. One minute you can be walking down the main street, and in the next hit the water where wild bottlenose dolphins can be spotted close to shore.
The face of Bunbury has changed in an incredible way. Once seen as just an industrial port, the City has received an injection of edgy boutiques, intimate wine bars and top-notch restaurants, mostly thanks to a group of hip, young entrepreneurs who decided to transform their city into a place they wanted to work and play. Situated on a peninsula, Bunbury is known as the City of Three Waters, making it an aquatic playground. There’s rumbling surf of the Indian Ocean to the west, the calm waters of Koombana Bay and the tranquil Leschenault Inlet. Surfing, stand up paddle boarding, canoeing and boating are all very popular.
If you’re looking for a weekend getaway filled with adventure, indulgence, wildlife and more – you can find it all in Bunbury with this Bucket-List Itinerary.
Bunbury Bucket-List Itinerary
Hit the road and cruise into Bunbury, otherwise known as the coastal city of creativity and home to the largest collection of street and public art in regional Australia. Pick up the ReDiscover and Out of the Box Street Art Map by Six Two Three Zero from the Bunbury Visitor Centre and hit the streets on foot to discover the city from a different perspective.
As you wander the streets, absorb the history and mystery here. From a school attended by former WA Premier Sir Newton Moore, the family home of Western Australia’s most famous pioneering family, impressive buildings built by a convict’s son, 80s inspired Alan Bond architecture, to sacred sites of our Noongar first settlers. Make sure you stop at the Bunbury Museum & Heritage Centre too.
BRAG about it
It’s sacrilege to visit Bunbury without a pit stop at the Bunbury Regional Art Gallery (BRAG). Housed in a very distinctive pink convent, the exterior of the building makes the perfect backdrop for an Insta pic. Inside, BRAG is home to the largest collection of public art in regional Western Australia and offers a program of exceptional rotating art exhibitions in the Galleries.
Get ready for a feast at Market Eating House in Victoria Street, where their Feed Me menu at $55pp will serve up some of the most mouth-watering dishes going around. Described as a destination restaurant, it’s the sort of place you plan your weekend around. The food is sublime, the service sensational, and the atmosphere relaxed and cosy. Before returning to his hometown of Bunbury, co-owner Brenton Pyke was the head chef of George Calombaris’ Little Press & Cellar in Melbourne. Pair your meal with a glass of local Geographe Wine and get ready to indulge.
Befriend the wild dolphins
Did you know that Koombana Bay is home to wild bottlenose dolphins who live in the Bay all year-round? An estimated additional 100 visit throughout the year, making Bunbury a dolphin hotspot! Approximately 20 to 40 of these are considered residents of Koombana Bay and regularly visit the waters outside Australia’s $12M premier wild dolphin centre; Dolphin Discovery Centre. Start your morning with a Dolphin Swim (seasonally from November – April) for an unforgettable intimate experience with these playful marine mammals.
Not up for a swim? Get your legs wet in the disabled-access public Interaction Zone located in the shallows outside the centre, where you can learn about, spot and interact with the wild bottlenose dolphins who frequent the Bay. Afterwards, enjoy a beachside breakfast at the onsite café before heading inside to the Interpretive Centre to see the themed aquariums and rescue turtles. Year-round you can also hop on board a 1.5hr Dolphin Eco Cruise (weather dependent) to see the dolphins frolicking, playing, sleeping and feeding out at sea.
Can’t get enough of the wildlife encounters? Pay a visit to the Bunbury Wildlife Park and meet their native Australian animals, including kangaroos, dingos, quokkas, reptiles, and also an array of native and exotic birds!
Day on the water
Spend the rest of the day lounging by the beach - the serene Koombana Bay is one of only a few north-facing Australian beaches and with its new foreshore redevelopment its popularity, particularly amongst families is skyrocketing. Alternatively, get some sand between your toes at Jetty Baths or take the walk trail to Bunbury’s famous chequered Lighthouse and Wyalup-Rocky Point. On the other side of the CBD, Bunbury’s Back Beach is the place to go for body-boarding fun. If you’re up for an adventure, have a truly memorable undersea experience diving on Lena Ship Wreck with Octopus Garden Dive Charters.
Get your sugar-fix at Taffy’s, Bunbury’s authentic salt-water taffy store situated along the marina waterfront. Watch as this American seaside sweet sensation is pulled and wrapped the old-fashioned way and pick up a bag full of unique candies to satisfy your sweet-tooth. Just a stone’s throw away, stop for a coffee at local café Corners on the Bay and sit in their outdoor setting overlooking the water; watching the world go by.
Tonight, dine at Mojo’s Restaurant where you can sit in a quirky outdoor sea container-turned restaurant and feast on their menu full of tasty local produce. Afterwards, purchase a roadie from the boutique bottle shop inside, which features a small selection of craft beers and small batch wines; many from the nearby Geographe Wine region. Our pick: A drop from Oakway Estate Wines in Donnybrook goes down a treat.
End your night at the ultimate hipster hang-out, Lost Bills– a tiny cocktail bar with a banging craft beer list, eclectic spirits, and some damn good wine. Our tip: A pre-show cocktail is just as good as a nightcap, so plan your trip around one of the many bustling Bunbury events, such as Bunbury Fringe Festival in January 2021, or check out what’s on at the Bunbury Regional Entertainment Centre for a night full of entertainment.
Shop til’ you drop
This morning enjoy a café breakfast at one of the local spots on the main street – try The Townhouse or Benesse for great coffee and food. Then go forth and explore the boutiques hidden in old warehouses, down side streets, alleyways and arcades. You’ll find an array of high street shops, department stores and more. Our tip: Make Sabotage a must-stop. You’re destined to do some damage here, with the leading Australian labels – think Assembly Label, Stevie May, Neuw Denim, One Teaspoon, and more.
On your bike
The city is eminently manageable by foot, but Bunbury is a great place to explore by bike too. Bunburians love the outdoors so the city has a plethora of walking and bike trails. Grab a coffee from Bunbury’s café-cross-bike shop Melo Velo, then hire an impressive treadly for the day (bike hire is also available from the Bunbury Visitor Centre).
If cycling ain’t your thing, explore the many walking trails in and around the City. Try the short but steep walk up to the Marlston Hill Lookout, which gives you a 360 view of the City of Three Waters. Connected to Victoria Street by a timber stairway, it sits on the site of Bunbury’s first lighthouse. For a rigorous climb, Boulters Heights between Wittenoom Street and Haig Crescent also offers fabulous city views, or for something lower-key, walk beneath the mysterious Paperbarks at Big Swamp Wetlands. The newest vantage-point in Bunbury is the Koombana Park Lookout which overlooks Leschenault Inlet, the Mangrove BoardWalk and Koombana Bay.
Immerse yourself in Noongar culture
Taste black apples straight from the tree and wash your hands with foaming wattle leaves on a Ngalang Wongi Aboriginal Cultural Tour. Local Noongar Tour guide, Troy Bennell has made sure the tours are in-depth and honour his Indigenous heritage, making them a must-do when visiting Bunbury.
Don’t miss the majestic sculpture that watches over Koombana Bay – Wadandi Boodja. Discover the five-and-half-metre steel bust sculpture representing a Noongar face created by local artists Alex and Nicole Mickle of Safehaven Studios alongside design engineer Mike Kimble. More than a year in the making, the bust commissioned by the City of Bunbury was officially unveiled in February 2019.
Fill your picnic basket
As you head home, one of your last stops should be the Bunbury Farmers Market. This place is legendary; so much so that many Perth residents drive the 2hrs just to shop. The produce here – much of it sourced from surrounding farms – is mostly organic and explodes with flavour. Grab gourmet pies, homemade soups, the most amazing local and French cheeses, hand-pressed juices to go, and so much more. Alternatively, whet your appetite at a wonderful bi-weekly ode to all things fresh and artisanal at The Bunbury Markets Queens Gardens.