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 & dinners indicated in the detailed itinerary: B=breakfast, L=lunch and D=dinner. The program includes five moderate nature walks ranging in length.
Perth - 1 night
Day 1: Friday 10 September, Arrive Perth
- Welcome Meeting and Drinks at the Ingot Hotel, Perth
Our tour begins at the Ingot Hotel Perth, which is conveniently located just minutes from Perth Airport and the CBD. For participants arriving at Perth Airport, complimentary airport transfers can be arranged through the hotel. The official check-in time for the Ingot Hotel is 2.00pm.
Meeting Point: Tonight we meet for welcome drinks at the hotel at 6.00pm. (Overnight Perth)
Margaret River - 2 nights
Day 2: Saturday 11 September, Perth – Dwellingup – Margaret River
- Orondo Farm, Dwellingup: Guided tour of the private gardens & morning tea
Our private coach collects us at the Ingot 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 Higgins Lane Motel (formerly Margaret River Hotel), home for the next two nights. (Overnight Margaret River) B
Day 3: Sunday 12 September, Margaret River – Yallingup – Wilyabrup – Margaret River
- Bill Mitchell‘s award-winning garden, Yallingup
- The Secret Garden by Paul Bangay
- Voyager Estate, Margaret River: 3-Course Menu with matching wine-flight
We journey to Yallingup to visit the award-winning garden of Bill Mitchell, Gardening Australia Magazine’s 2016 ‘Gardener of the Year’. Situated on the clifftop of Smiths Beach and surrounded by the Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park, Bill was driven by the need of a fire-management plan due to being in an extreme bushfire risk area because of the surrounding heathland flora to create a fire-resistant garden. The result was ‘Fire and Beauty’, 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. Voyager Estate is a family-owned estate in the Stevens Valley, the locale chosen because of its ideal characteristics to provide spectacular wines and its uniqueness of being surrounded on three sides by the Indian Ocean creating a cool meso-climate. The oldest vines on the estate date back to 1978 and it has been undergoing a full organic conversion. Along with its wines and food, Voyager Estate is famous for its Cape Dutch-style architecture and stunning manicured gardens as well as its roses. They follow the Shaker Philosophy of “don’t make something unless it is both necessary and useful; but if it is both necessary and useful, don’t hesitate to make it beautiful”, which is reflected throughout the estate but especially in their Kitchen Garden. The Restaurant was named the best Regional Restaurant of the Year for 2018 by the WA Good Food Guide Awards and Head Chef Santiago Fernandez as Best Regional Chef. This is where we will experience a 3-course lunch showcasing the best local and South West produce with matching wine-flight. (Overnight Margaret River) BL
Walpole - 1 night
Day 4: Monday 13 September, Margaret River – Pemberton – Walpole
- BBQ lunch
- 4WD Ecotour visiting Beedelup National Park, Yeagarup Dunes & coastal heath at Warren River
We leave Margaret River to through the tingle forests to the Greater Beedelup National Park, near Pemberton, 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 5: Tuesday 14 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 6: Wednesday 15 September, Albany – Porongurup National Park – Albany
Today we explore the wildflowers and natural landscape of the Porongurup Range and National Park, known for its massive granite domes that rise 670 metres up from the plains. One of the world’s oldest mountain ranges, it was formed in the Precambrian about 1,184 million years ago likely due to a collision between the Australian and Antarctic landmasses. Around 55 million years ago during the Eocene period when the sea levels were higher, the Porongurup Range became an island. It lies within the traditional lands of the Minang group of the Nyungar people.
The National Park is characterised by its diverse and endemic plant species, including more than 700 native plant species, as well as its rich array of wildlife. There have been 80 species of birds identified since becoming a national park. The karri forests of the Porongurup Range are found on the upper slopes on the deep red loamy soils. As a result of being separated from the rest of WA’s karri forests about 5000 years ago, these karri trees have evolved to become slightly different genetically. If it is a clear day, we may have spectacular views of the Stirling Range and the Southern Ocean. (Overnight Albany) BL
Day 7: Thursday 16 September, Albany Area
- Two Peoples Bay Nature Reserve
- Lunch at Mt Romance Sandalwood Factory
- Regional Wildflower Garden
- Torndirrup National Park: The Gap, Natural Bridge & Blowholes
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.
After a light lunch at Mount Romance Sandalwood Factory, we will spend the afternoon at 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.
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. We may be lucky to witness the impressive display of spray and loud eerie sounds at the Blowholes, produced by water being forced up into a crackline in the granite depending on the swell, size and direction of approach to the sea cliffs. (Overnight Albany) BL
Hopetoun - 2 nights
Day 8: Friday 17 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 9: Saturday 18 September, Hopetoun – Ravensthorpe – Hopetoun
- Kundip Nature Reserve, Ravensthorpe: Guided walk with a specialised ecologist
- Wildflower Show, Ravensthorpe
- Dunns Swamp Road, Hopetoun: Guided walk
This morning we drive to Ravensthorpe to see the endemic and often spectacular species that make Ravensthorpe famous at Kundip Nature Reserve. The coach will take us to the drop off at particular point where we will have a guided walk with ecologist Nathan McQuoid 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.
As we travel south back to Hopetoun, we stop along Dunns Swamp Road that has a collection of unusual endangered eucalypts that will be in flower. (Overnight Hopetoun) BLD
Fremantle - 3 nights
Day 10: Sunday 19 September, Hopetoun – Badgebup – Fremantle
- Long Table Lunch at Badgebup
- Orientation walk in Fremantle
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.
On arrival in Fremantle, we take an orientation walk passing by the Fremantle Prison, built as a convict barracks in the 19th century and the Roundhouse which is the oldest public building in the State of Western Australia. Opened in January 1831, just 18 months after settlement, the Roundhouse was built to hold any person convicted of a crime in the settlement and was used until 1886. We also visit the Fremantle Art Centre. Built by convicts on a grant of six acres, this splendid example of Australian Gothic architecture first opened its doors in 1864, as the Convict Establishment Fremantle Lunatic Asylum and Invalid Depot. We end the tour on the ‘Cappucino Strip’ with its mix of cafes, restaurants and pubs for which Fremantle is now famous. (Overnight Fremantle) BL
Day 11: Monday 20 September, Fremantle – Waroona – Fremantle
- Cypress Farm, Waroona incl. buffet lunch
Today we 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. On our way back to Fremantle, we stop at a local winery for wine tasting. (Overnight Fremantle) BL
Day 12: Tuesday 21 September, Fremantle – Perth – Fremantle
- Exclusive tour of Kings Park breeding program of Australian native plants hosted by Digby Growns
- Kings Park Botanical Garden tour showcasing native Spring wildflowers
- Farewell Dinner: Bathers Beach House, Fremantle
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. Kings Park is also known for its wildflower plantings showcasing up to 40 species.
Tonight we enjoy our Farewell Dinner at Bathers Beach House Restaurant. (Overnight Fremantle) BD
Day 13: Wednesday 22 September, Fremantle Area – Perth Airport
- Private garden of John Banasiewicz, Jandakot
- Private garden of Deryn Thorpe incl. morning tea, Mt Lawley
- Transfer to Perth Airport arriving at 1230hrs
The morning consists of visiting the two private gardens of John Banasiewicz and Deryn Thorpe.
John Banasiewicz is the president of the Western Australian Fern Society and his garden is a magnificent demonstration of his passions for plant collecting. Paths weave around the garden, densely planted with the understory filled with a wide collection of ferns, palms, thousands of bromeliads, cycads, cordylines and heliconias, creating the effect of a tropical and lush haven. Pockets of bamboo, ponds containing water lilies, many cactus plants and a fascinating display of Bonsai trees add to the many facets of this beautiful garden. Overall the garden is designed in shades of green with splashes of colour from bromeliads and some unusual anthuriums. There are several shade houses containing his collection of tassel ferns and elk horns. There is also a productive vegie patch, and fruit and nut trees, all contained in acres of natural bush, with the drive way showing off many cultivated and tended native plants.
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 12.30pm on arrival at Perth Airport. B