The Southern Forests and Valleys encompass some of the most beautiful natural landscapes and charming small towns in the entire South West region. The region feels open, fresh and the scent of clean forest is always on your nose, intermingled with fresh fruit, freshwater streams and the salty ocean air.
Forest and ocean
Skyscraping karri, jarrah, marri and tingle trees tower over the many towns that make up the Southern Forests and Valleys. The striking coastline of the region stretches across 140km, where beautiful karri forests sit atop rocky cliffs, and white sandy beaches are pounded by the wild Southern Ocean.
The Blackwood River
In contrast, the region has a number of tranquil inlets, streams and rivers that are brimming with life, perfect for recreational activities like swimming, canoeing, fishing and camping. Winding country roads crisscross through green hills, ancient jarrah forest and the beautiful Blackwood River – the ribbon that ties the region together. Measuring 300km in length, the Blackwood River is the longest continually flowing river in Western Australia.
A country setting
Each of the Southern Forests and Valleys’ small towns have their very own personalities, many featuring quaint main streets complete with tearooms serving scones, perfect planter boxes full of seasonal blooms, a classic country pub and antique stores aplenty.
South West food bowl
Often regarded as the food bowl of Western Australia, the Southern Forests and Valleys are home to some of the most productive soils in Australia. A wide variety of fresh produce is available year-round, and often straight from the farms from which they are grown. Niche epicurean treats including chestnuts, cherries and the black truffles can be purchased throughout the region, while waterways are densely populated with trout, perch and marron (freshwater crayfish).
In late winter to spring, the region comes alive with its iconic tulip and daffodil displays, adding vibrancy to the already rich colours of the region. Drive through the towns of Bridgetown, Greenbushes, Manjimup, Nannup, Northcliffe, Pemberton and Walpole during these seasons and discover wildflowers growing through the forest and between the trees.
Parks and gardens
The Southern Forests and Valleys have some of the most spectacular country gardens, open to visitors during garden festivals held in Autumn and Spring each year. Nature lovers should also explore the Golden Valley Tree Park, WA’s largest arboretum. It’s particularly pretty in autumn, when the leaves on the park’s trees change colour.
Regional produce and wine
Here, the tall trees are interspersed with rich agricultural lands. Many regard the Southern Forests and Valleys to be the food bowl of Western Australia, home to some of the most productive soils in Australia.
A wide variety of fresh produce is available year-round, and often straight from the farms from which it’s grown. Niche epicurean treats include chestnuts, finger limes, the Pink Lady apple, cherries, ginseng, green tea, dairy products, beef, lamb, marron, perch, trout, smoked products and, more recently, the rare black Perigord truffle. In addition to agricultural produce, aquaculture is popular in the area; waterways are densely populated with trout, perch and marron (freshwater crayfish).
The Pemberton and Manjimup Wine Regions combine southern latitude with high altitude and has a relatively cool climate, making it ideal for growing pinot noir and chardonnay grapes and suited to the production of refined Bordeaux-style wines.
Top 10 things to do in the Southern Forests and Valleys
- Test your fear of heights by scaling one of the region’s three karri climbing trees, the tallest of which is around 75m high.
- Spend a day four-wheel driving, fishing or mountain biking in the off-road wilderness of the region’s national parks. Our tip: The Yeagarup Sand Dunes is a large moving sand dune system, which offers plenty of off-road adventure.
- Canoe down the magnificent Blackwood River, Western Australia’s longest continually flowing river.
- Jump into the ‘fountain of youth’, also known as Fonty’s Pool – a natural pool consisting of nearly an acre of fresh spring water.
- Go on a black truffle hunt in Manjimup during winter, or feast on the prized fungi at one of the region’s restaurants.
- Purchase local chestnuts, hazelnuts, avocados, pears, cherries, nectarines and Bravo apples straight from the farm gate.
- Take the kids for a weekend break to one of the area’s farmstays, complete with baby animals and native wildlife.
- Visit the Manjimup Heritage Park and Northcliffe Pioneer Museum for an insight into the region’s timber, agricultural and mining history, then check out Nannup Clock Tower’s 6m-high wooden pendulum clock.
- Take a charming country drive through the rolling green farmlands of the Blackwood River Valley region, where you’ll find tearooms serving fresh scones and jam.
- Sample boutique ciders, beers, wines and other tasty drinks at the region’s cideries, wineries and breweries