The daily activities described in this itinerary may change or be rotated and/or modified in order to accommodate alterations in opening hours, flight schedules and confirmation of private visits. Participants will receive a final itinerary together with their tour documents prior to departure. The tour includes breakfast daily, lunches & evening meals indicated in the detailed itinerary: B=breakfast, L=lunch and D=evening meals.
Margaret River - 2 nights
Day 1: Saturday 14 September, Arrive Perth – Dwellingup – Margaret River
- Meeting Point: Country Comfort Hotel, Perth at 8.45am
- Coach journey from Perth to Margaret River
- Orondo Farm, Dwellingup: Guided tour of the private gardens & morning tea
Our private coach collects us at the Country Comfort Hotel near Perth airport and drives to Dwellingup to visit Orondo Farm with its 25-plus acre private garden surrounded by woodlands and traversed with meandering watercourses. The fertile river valley, within which the garden sits, creates a perfect microclimate and provides the rich loam soils for growing rare deciduous and evergreen trees, flowering shrubs, such as rhododendrons, camellias and azaleas, and colourful perennials that have been planted over the years. The owners and creators of Orondo Farm, Bette and Bill Healy, will treat us to guided tour and a morning tea.
We drive to the Margaret River Hotel, home for the next two nights. (Overnight Margaret River)
Day 2: Sunday 15 September, Margaret River – Yallingup – Wilyabrup – Margaret River
- Award-winning Yallingup private garden
- The Secret Garden by Paul Bangay
- Cullen Wines: Spiral Garden Biodynamic Tour, followed by a wine tasting
- Cullen Wines: Welcome Lunch – 5-course Dégustation Menu
We journey to Yallingup to visit the award-wining private garden of the celebrated Gardening Australia Magazine’s 2016 ‘Gardener of the Year’, Bill Mitchell. Situated on the clifftop of Smiths Beach and surrounded by the Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park, the design and planting of this garden was the result of the need to create a fire-resistant garden due to being in an extreme bushfire risk area because of the surrounding heathland flora. ‘Fire and Beauty’ is a five-year-old garden mass-planted with fire-retardant plants, such as succulents and cacti. Drifts of bird attracting aloes, huge dragon trees, rare and unusual succulent varieties have been combined with local stone mastering the art of a lower maintenance garden without sacrificing colour and beauty. The achievement of this non-gardener’s concept and design is inspiring.
Next we visit a garden that was designed in 1997 by Melbourne master Paul Bangay early in his career for Pat Poynton, who, as a skilled gardener in her own right, has continued developing the garden to reflect her passions. Margaret River’s Secret Garden is situated in a valley beside the Wilyabrup Brook and covers 1.2ha of formal, semi-formal and natural landscapes set within a native West Australian peppermint forest producing a wonderful microclimate. The head gardener will take us on a romantic journey through the Spring displays of iris, clematis and crab apples that complement the formal plantings and defined structure for which Paul Bangay is renowned.
The rest of the day will be spent enjoying a gourmet experience for which Margaret River is internationally renowned. Cullen Wines was established in 1971 and their philosophy is ‘quality’, ‘integrity’ and ‘sustainability’ with a commitment to biodynamic viticulture that led them to produce a number of award-winning wines. Here, we will be given a tour of their Biodynamic Spiral Garden and historic vineyards, which enables us to become familiar with the biodynamic process employed throughout the winery and gardens. This will be followed by a tasting of the wines they produce. Lunch is a 5-course extravaganza of food, from the biodynamic garden together with local produce, matched with current and museum vintages. (Overnight Margaret River) BL
Walpole - 1 night
Day 3: Monday 16 September, Margaret River – Cape Leeuwin – Pemberton – Walpole
- Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse
- BBQ lunch
- 4WD Ecotour visiting Beedelup National Park, Yeagarup Dunes & coastal heath at Warren River
We leave Margaret River to travel south-westwards towards the Cape Leewin Lighthouse, the tallest lighthouse on mainland Australia. It also has the distinction of being at the most south-westerly point of Australia. The lighthouse was constructed in 1895 from local limestone and opened by WA Premier John Forrest. This functioning lighthouse is situated at the junction of the Indian and Southern oceans and still plays an important role in guiding vessels around the treacherous cape. The lighthouse precinct includes the cottages that housed the keepers and surrounding land on which they grew fresh vegetables.
Next, we travel through the coastal town of Augusta before arriving near Pemberton at the Greater Beedelup National Park, where we will have a BBQ lunch surrounded by karri trees, of which some specimens are believed to be in excess of 400 years old. The park takes its name from the Beedelup Brook running through it, possibly deriving from the Nyoongar word Beedja, which means ‘place of rest’ or ‘place of sleep’. After a short walk to the rocky granite cascades of Beedelup Falls, our 4WD Ecotour begins by driving to Lake Yeagurup and over the Yeagurup Dunes, the largest land-locked mobile dune system in the southern hemisphere. From the dunes, we will continue by 4WD to the beach at the mouth of the Warren River. Along the way, karri forests and coastal heath will be admired. We reconvene with the bus at the Dave Evans Bicentennial Tree, so named after being pegged in 1988 as part of Australia’s bicentennial celebrations. The pegging enables it to be one of three fire lookout trees open to the public in this area.
We continue south to the Tree Top Walk Motel in Walpole. Dinner will be served at the hotel. (Overnight Walpole) BLD
Albany - 3 nights
Day 4: Tuesday 17 September, Walpole – Valley of Giants – Albany
- Cruise with a local expert to explore the biodiversity of the Walpole Wilderness
- Valley of the Giants: Tree Top Walk & the Ancient Empire Walk
This morning we embark on a wilderness ecotour to explore the Walpole Nornalup National Park, home to tingle forests that occur nowhere else in the world. We will be travelling by boat along the waterways of the Walpole and Nornalup Inlets Marine Park, which is one of the most diverse ecosystems on earth and fed by the Franklin and Deep rivers. Its remote wilderness feel is due to the untouched nature of the park, its wildlife and scenic quality.
There will be time at leisure for lunch in Walpole before travelling to the Valley of the Giants. These ‘giants’ refer to the tingle trees that make up this spectacular forest, which only occur in this area and can grow to a height of 75m and have a circumference of up to 25m. To achieve the full experience of their majestic grandeur, we will walk amidst the canopy on a walkway positioned 40m above the ground. The Ancient Empire Walk allows us to see the red tingle trees (Eucalyptus jacksonii) from a boardwalk along the forest floor and is based on the theme of the lost era of Gondwana. The origins of some of these plants date back to this period in time, that is 65 million years ago.
We drive to the Best Western Albany Motel and Apartments, our home for three nights. (Overnight Albany) B
Day 5: Wednesday 18 September, Albany – Stirling Range – Albany
- Stirling Range National Park
For the next five days, Steve Wood will be joined by ASA garden leader Sabrina Hahn to explore the wildflowers and other plants of this region. She is best known for her gardening talk back show on ABC Perth radio and also for her weekly column in Western Australian newspaper. Today we visit the Stirling Range which was formed around 55 million years ago when sedimentary layers were pushed up as Australia drifted away from Antarctica. The peak of the range is Bluff Knoll where fossils of jellyfish-like creatures can be seen as evidence of its violent formation. Noongar people call it Koi Kyeunu-ruff ‘a place of ever moving fog and mist’ and it holds the totemic spirit of their people. The base of the Stirling Range holds many secrets and an astonishing diversity of plants.
Those who wish to test their legs will walk up Bluff Knoll to get a bird’s eye view of the landscape and hopefully see some of the rare plants that only grow on the peak of this mountain. On the walk, Sabrina will explain the plants that grow on different parts of the Stirling Range in relation to soil type and climate. Bluff Knoll is the only spot in all of Western Australia that experiences snow. (Overnight Albany) BL
Day 6: Thursday 19 September, Albany Area
- Two Peoples Bay Nature Reserve
- Historic Whaling Station
- Torndirrup National Park: The Gap, Natural Bridge & Stony Hill
We will walk through the Two Peoples Bay Nature Reserve heritage trail which tracks through peppermint woodlands and the remote and untouched beach. This is home to the critically endangered Gilberts potoroo and the noisy scrub bird and we may be lucky enough to hear them. It is a mecca for bird lovers and fishermen. This has been listed as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world with azure blue water, massive granite boulders and pure white sand. The coastal heathland plants have been carved by the wind and many species have adapted in unusual ways to compensate for salt laden winds and sandy soil.
The afternoon will be spent at the historic Whaling Station which was owned by Australia’s last whaling company, the Cheynes Beach Whaling Company that processed over 1000 humpback and sperm whales a year at its peak. A significant part of Australian history, the whaling station is now considered a heritage site and has been preserved exactly as it was on the last day of operation in 1978 when the workers ‘simply put down their tools and walked away’. During this unique experience, we will be informed on the station’s operations and history, share in the workers’ memories and stories and discover their place in the economic and social history of Albany.
We will also visit the Regional Wildflower Garden that displays over 100,000 of rare and endangered indigenous regional plants for propagation and preservation. Within this garden is a wetlands area which is the home to frogs, insects, reptiles and birds. If there is time, there is also the Australian Wildlife Park.
On returning to the motel, we will stop off at the Torndirrup National Park. It is known for its rugged coastlines which feature coastal heaths, granite outcrops, sheer cliffs and steep sandy slopes and dunes. Natural structures, such as the Natural Bridge and The Gap, were carved by the ferocity of the waves. The highest point in the Torndirrup National Park is Stony Hill from which an expansive view to the west can be enjoyed. The Stony Hill Heritage Trail gives a 360 degree view of the national park and of Albany. (Overnight Albany) B
Hopetoun - 2 nights
Day 7: Friday 20 September, Albany – Fitzgerald River National Park – Hopetoun
- Fitzgerald River National Park: a Biodiversity Hotspot
The Fitzgerald River National Park is the largest and most botanically significant national parks in Australia. It is the most diverse botanical regions in the world, featuring more than 1,800 species of plants, 75 of these are found nowhere else in the world. There are 184 bird species, 22 mammal species, 41 reptile species and 12 frog species living in the park. A number of species have only recently been rediscovered here, including the Dibbler and Heath rat.
During the winter months southern right whales shelter close to shore with their newborn calves. We will divide the trip into two main areas and walk from the car park at Mount Barren to Sepulcralis Hill, and then separately to No Tree Hill.
In the afternoon, we drive to the Hopetoun Motel and Chalet Village, our home for the next two nights. (Overnight Hopetoun) BLD
Day 8: Saturday 21 September, Hopetoun – Ravensthorpe – Hopetoun
- The Railway Heritage Trail, Ravensthorpe
- Wildflower Show, Ravensthorpe
This morning we drive to Ravensthorpe to walk the Ravensthorpe Railway Tour. The coach will take us to the drop off point at the Heritage trail which takes us through Eucalypt woodlands and wildflower country. Sabrina will have a list of plants people will see and bring reference books.
The afternoon will be spent at the Ravensthorpe Wildflower Show where Sabrina will take us around and explain different plant groups and how they evolved. There is over 1000 different species of plants collected from two national parks and over 3000 species in their world class herbarium. (Overnight Hopetoun) BLD
Fremantle - 4 nights
Day 9: Sunday 22 September, Hopetoun – Fremantle
- Long Table Lunch at Badgebup
On our way to Fremantle we break our trip with a visit to Badgebup which is small wheat-farming town located between the towns of Katanning and Nyabing in wildflower country. Our hosts will provide us with a long table lunch in the Budgebup Hall where we will taste the local produce. In the late afternoon we arrive at the Esplanade Hotel Fremantle by Rydges, our home for three nights. (Overnight Fremantle) BL
Day 10: Monday 23 September, Fremantle – Waroona – Jarrahdale – Fremantle
- Cypress Farm, Waroona (to be confirmed)
- Millbrook Winery, Jarrahdale: Tour of organic food garden with award-winning chef, Guy Jeffreys & 3-course lunch
This morning we hope to visit Cypress Farm, the property of Professor Kingsley Dixon and Lionel Johnston. This garden is a ‘work in progress’ at the early stage of its redevelopment, and comprises largely uncleared Jarrah/Marri forest and Swan River Blackbutt. However, being one of the wettest places in the south-west, Cypress Farm takes advantage of the abundant water supply, the area’s clay-based soils, and cooler climate in order for the most diverse range of European and Australian plant species to be grown and displayed at their very best. Lionel Johnston will be guiding us around Cypress Farm.
Next we transfer to Millbrook Winery where we will be treated to 3-course gourmet lunch utilising fresh produce from the Millbrook garden and showcasing the creative abilities of Head Chef, Guy Jeffreys. Guy was named ‘Chef of the Year 2017’ by the West Australian Good Food Guide. He is a passionate grower of organic food and believes in the philosophy of ‘root to shoot’ where as much of the plant as possible is used and little to none is wasted. Guy will give us a tour of the one-acre organic gardens that includes over 100 varieties of heirloom vegetables, along with an active orchard, an olive grove and one of the largest vineyards in the Perth Hills. A wine tasting tour will follow the garden tour. (Overnight Fremantle) BL
Day 11: Tuesday 24 September, Fremantle – Perth – Karrinyup – Fremantle
- Exclusive tour of Kings Park breeding program of Australian native plants hosted by Digby Growns, and Kings Park Botanical Garden tour showcasing native Spring wildflowers.
- Janine Mendel’s private garden in Karrinyup
- Farewell Dinner at La Sosta
Kings Park covers an area of 400 hectares and is situated only minutes from the centre of Perth. The Botanic Garden consists of 17 hectares of outstanding display gardens featuring over 3000 varieties of West Australian native flora. Our tour starts with Digby Growns, Senior Plant Breeder at Kings Park International Park Breeding Program, giving us a rare behind-the-scenes opportunity by guiding us through the science and ingenuity of one of the world’s most exclusive and diverse plant breeding programs. This will be followed by a visit to Kings Park Nursery, where we will be shown some of the rare grafting techniques used to reproduce the most difficult to grow native species and explore the secrets of making and using smoke water as discovered by Professor Kingsley Dixon that is vital in germinating seed of many Australian bushland plants.
After lunch, we will be visiting the private garden of Janine Mendel in Karrinyup. Janine has trained and worked as a cartographer before embarking on her career as an award-winning landscape designer 24 years ago. She has designed more than 1000 Australian gardens, many of them small urban spaces. She believes less is more and that, by its very nature, good design should tread lightly on the planet. In line with her philosophy that a house should look like ‘it’ has been planted in the garden, she thinks the most successful gardens are created when the entire site becomes the canvas for the design of both the house and the landscape.
Her present house and garden were designed simultaneously enabling her to place the house exactly where she wanted it as far back from the road as possible. This means every room has a view to the outside, and it allows the living areas at the front of the house to be bathed in winter sun but protected from the harsh summer sun and winter winds. Janine’s garden combines lush planting with many textural elements such as stone, timber and stainless steel to create interest and contrast. The front entry garden evokes a sub-tropical theme, while the central courtyard has a beach theme and contains succulents and white sand. The rear courtyard has fruit trees and some productive plants.
Tonight we enjoy a Farewell Dinner at Fremantle’s award-winning Italian Restaurant, La Sosta. (Overnight Fremantle) BD
Day 12: Wednesday 25 September, Fremantle Area – Perth Airport
The morning consists of visiting the two private gardens of Sabrina Hahn and Deryn Thorpe. Sabrina’s house is marked out from others in her suburban street by the boab on the verge and a raised planter box with herbs and vegies that she grows for her neighbours to pick. Inside the front fence is a garden combining drought tolerant Mediterranean and Australian plants, with a collection of potted begonias, her Nana’s favourite plant, on the front veranda. The back garden has inherited lemon scented gums, fruit trees and an ornamental vegetable patch, with a hedge of Viburnum tinus and a central glass water feature. There is also a firepit, and a collection of unusual plants from the Kimberley that were collected on Sabrina’s many trips working with Aboriginal groups in establishing food gardens in schools. Sabrina will accompany us to Deryn Thorpe’s garden.
Deryn Thorpe is a garden guide for ASA, who writes about gardening in magazines including Gardening Australia and co-hosts a weekly gardening podcast with Steve Wood called ‘All The Dirt’. Her garden was featured on the ABC TV’s Gardening Australia program in May 2018. She will explain the design, planting and the challenges of creating a traditional cottage garden on Perth’s non-wetting sandy soil which is recognised as one of the world’s least fertile soils. Her garden surrounds a 1913 Federation style home in the leafy inner Perth suburb of Mount Lawley. The garden layout has a formal structure but garden beds are informally planted. The front beds are filled with roses, vegetables and massed plantings of flowering perennials and annuals. Hanging baskets and pots add colour to the sweeping veranda. Established trees give dappled shade and a sense of scale to the high-set house. The back garden is more structured with hedges, pergolas, pots of succulents, a herb garden and swagged roses on chains suspended between obelisques. Deryn will be very kindly treating us with a sweet and savoury morning tea.
After these two gardens, we transfer to the airport. Our tour officially ends at approximately 12.15pm on arrival at Perth Airport. B