Great Stops for Kids on a South West Road Trip: From Perth to Walpole
Walpole, on the far south coast is one of our favourite places for a nature based getaway. It is also 5 to 6 hours’ drive (on a good day) from the centre of Perth so you need to plan your breaks when on a road trip with small kids.
If you are travelling “down south” for the first time there are many places to visit and see and you may break the drive with an overnight stay in Bridgetown or Pemberton. Therefore this guide is intended for someone who is doing a big chunk of driving in one day and looking for good breaks for kids.
Based on our experience everyone is able to keep things together for the first two hours – so by 2 hours south of Perth we are looking for a break
- The Gingerbread House, Boyanup
This is a new and wonderful place to visit in the south west, The Gingerbread House has lots of yummy stuff for everyone, play equipment, and a beautiful outside area!!! Delicious!
2. Donnybrook Apple Fun Park (about 2.5 hours from Perth)
When we Mumma Traveller was a child (some 40 years ago) she loved arriving in Donnybrook, the centre of the local orchard industry, due to great big apples lining the street. Now, the big apples are literally and figuratively dwarfed by the Apple Fun Park which @ourglobetrotters says is the largest playground in the Southern Hemisphere.
‘Nuff said – this place is huge, a whole range of brightly coloured and challenging Playground equipment there is plenty to do for the whole family.=
Also in Donnybrook you should (theoretically!) get great fresh fruit deals in season. The Fruit Barn on the main road also has toilets and some fun apple folk signs which we always take pictures with!
3.Balingup (about 3 hours from Perth)
From Donnybrook, Balingup is another 30 minutes down the road and used to be ‘blink and you will miss it’ type place. Now, it’s a wonderful example of small town ingenuity – the road is lined with lots of awesome scarecrows, which we love taking pictures with… and there is an excellent café with the best BLTs ever.
Mumma traveller is partial to the Tinderbox organic products – highly recommended if you are interested in natural, organic skin-care products, herbal remedies, essential oils and herbal teas. (All made in WA)
We’ve recently discovered the Golden Valley Tree Park – a 60 hectare park. Heritage listed, it has a collection of trees that was begun over one hundred years ago, and is now the largest arboretum in WA. Best of all – it’s free!!!!
Also of note for Balingup is the Balingup Small Farm Field Day in March and the Medieval Festival in August, should you be looking to make a weekend of it!
4. Bridgetown (about 3.5 hours from Perth)
The home of the Bridgetown Blues Festival, we almost left this very cute little town out. But if you need to take a break there is a good little playground, with plenty of space to run and play. If mum or dad want to take a stroll along the street there are loads of vintage, antique and quirky shops in the first couple of blocks from the playground.
5. Manjimup (4 hours from Perth)
The Timber and Heritage Park in Manjimup rivals Donnybrook’s “biggest playground in the Southern hemisphere” in our kids hearts and wins our current vote (kids aged 5 and 2) for the Best Playground Ever!
Manjimup struggles with its image as a timber town, but this is a sensitively designed nature based park really defies the stereotype! The Playground games are quite different, interactive, challenging and creative. Water courses, flying foxes, hidey houses – and more – there is a lot to see and do and a shaded and separate little kids area. Located in the heart of a historical and tree park they just added a REALLY high slide for the adventurous in your family. (Or Big Kids.)
(Ed Note; since we first visited this playground in 2013 I’ve noticed other new playgrounds having a similar design).
On an adventurous note – just out of Manjimup is one of the Fire tree Lookouts, the Diamond Tree – but only for “big kids” and those with a head for heights! It’s well worth a stop and a gruelling 51 metre climb if you have a head for heights! Diamond Tree Lookout was one of several lookouts constructed in the 1930s and 1940s when the extreme height of the trees within the Karri forest made it too costly to build a fire lookout tower.
Value for Money
Awesome! All the above activities are FREE, with the exception of climbing the Diamond Tree. You require National Park Pass to enter the national parks in which the climbing trees are located. These can be purchased from DPaW, Manjimup or Pemberton Visitor Centre prior to arrival. A day pass for the National Parks is $12, or if you will be visiting a number of National Parks during your holiday we recommend the $44 pass which gives you access to National Parks … or the $88 pass which gives you a year access!!!
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