Published in The Wanderer Magazine - March 2015
With tourism coming in as the third biggest industry in Australia, lots of interesting events have started to pop up across the minor interior to cater for visitors and locals alike. While you’ll discover the energy and the isolation of the outback, you’ll also experience the vibrancy of some of Australia’s hidden gems.
Many of the big RV and caravan shows have increased in size over the last several years, showing a marked increase in self-drive tours across the country. Recent tourism research in Western Australia has shown a nice spread of intra/interstate, and international tourists taking in the sights.
You would be forgiven for thinking that 4WD, caravanning, and RVing are fast becoming an Aussie tradition as more and more people discover the freedom of the open road, but we have long known the benefits of hitting the highway for a memorable holiday.
The Dryandra Country Art, Food and Wine Trail has been building in popularity over the last couple of years in a pretty and accessible region of southern Western Australia. It is definitely worth the visit if you are thinking of heading out west for some scenic touring in autumn.
Dryandra Country starts approximately 150km south east of Perth, and is the gateway to Western Australia’s Golden Outback.
The location makes lovely driving from the City of Light, being just a dog-leg easterly detour on your way from Perth to Margaret River or Esperance. Well mapped self-drive tours of this region are de rigueur.
Historically, this region is bountiful, being not only the birth place of A. B. Facey (author of the internationally acclaimed autobiography A Fortunate Life), but also as a place of rich biodiversity.
Dryandra Country’s furthest eastern border is the iconic Rabbit Proof Fence, which dissects Western Australia into four curiously shaped pieces.
It attracts visitors from all over the world for its stunning annual wild flowers and orchids, and is the location of over 400 species of plant which were meticulously collected by the British Museum in the early 1900’s.
Today this region of Western Australia is an agricultural mecca, with huge flays of wide open land interspersed with dramatic rocky granite breakaways. Where agricultural land ends, nature reserves, bursting at the seams with stunning flora and fauna, begin.
Large-scale cultural events in country Australia not only help keep smaller towns alive, they foster diversity and have robust economic benefits for local businesses.
The very well thought out self-drive trail links several towns in the region: Narrogin, Williams, Popanyinning, Cuballing, and Wickepin, and was born out of a desire to showcase the region’s vibrant artistic community.
Each location has an array of studios and galleries which are open for the weekend between 10am and 4pm, and entry into all of the venues is free. Take in the heritage architecture, or nibble your way through tasting plates, sweet treats, and Devonshire teas, which are on offer all day.
Southern WA wines are world class. Crisp southern cool-climate Rieslings, dynamic Shiraz, brisk Cab Savs, and other premium wine varieties will be available in several venues for tasting.
Expect to see the work of over 100 artisans with local ties (painting, photography, jewellery, textiles), some of whom are considerably talented, having enjoyed the venerable praise of the Black Swan Art Prize, and held solo exhibitions.
Extensive maps for the Dryandra Art, Food and Wine Trail are available and social media will provide you with updates in the weeks leading up to the event.
Dryandra Country also boasts some wonderful nature-based attractions.
Barna Mia is a nocturnal animal sanctuary which runs nightly tours year round. Book online or through the Dryandra Country Visitor Centre, as it consistently gets high rating on TripAdvisor, and tours are very well priced at around $14 for one adult.
There are several interesting walking trails should you stop and stay beyond the Mother’s Day weekend. Look out for Foxes Lair Nature Reserve for great walking and mountain biking.
If you prefer to wing it, the Dryandra Country Visitor Centre (08 9881 2964) is open seven days a week to direct you to your next port of call.