The region has a mild climate but is at its best in summer, although spring and autumn are also very pleasant. Winter (June-August) is often cold (15-18°C) and wet, although excellent for whale watching around Augusta. The southwest coast is an extremely popular holiday destination for the people of Perth so all weekends, public holidays and school holidays are busy but the whole region gets booked out well in advance over summer (Christmas to end January) and prices rise accordingly.
Some of the most beautiful and varied country in Western Australia is packed into the southwest, and particularly into the neat rectangular notch of the Capes region. Within 100 km or so lie flawless beaches, a classy wine region, sophisticated restaurants and galleries and acres of tall forests. From Cape Naturaliste to Cape Leeuwin you can go caving in limestone caves, reef and wreck diving, surf some of Australia’s best waves, walk some of its best coastal trails, watch whales in winter, and swim with dolphins further north in the region’s main town of Bunbury. What are few and far between are high-rise blocks, traffic jams and crowded beaches. It’s the kind of place that people come to for a day and stay for a week, with plenty to keep you occupied for double that time.
Naturally this abundance of natural beauty is no secret. It is Western Australia’s favourite corner for a holiday and this means it is still relatively the busiest and most developed area outside Perth. For all that, this region simply cannot be missed. If you want to escape there are still plenty of wild and quiet places to be found in the southwest, from cool remanants of woodland like that around Wellington Dam, to beaches, such as Cosy Corner and Indijup, that stay miraculously free of the main crowd.
The ideal way to explore this region is to drive yourself as there is so much to see and no great distances to endure. There are two main routes south from Perth to Bunbury: the coastal route via the Kwinana Freeway and Old Coast Road; or the inland route, the South Western Highway. From Bunbury, the inland route veers southeast, reaching the coast at Walpole. To reach the southwest coast, take the Bussell Highway southwest to Busselton. Once in the Capes region there are two main routes to Augusta. The Bussell Highway is the faster and most direct inland route, passing through Cowaramup and Margaret River. Caves Road runs parallel to the highway but is closer to the coast. This is a narrow and windy route but definitely the more scenic, providing access to the caves and beaches of the region.
For those relying on public transport, TransWA coaches leave the East Perth Terminal to Bunbury (three hours), Busselton (four hours), Dunsborough (4½ hours), Yallingup, Margaret River (5½ hours), and Augusta (six hours) from Sunday-Thursday at 0830 and 1220, and Friday at 0830 and 1700. South West Coachlines, T9324 2333, buses leave from the City Bus Port, Mounts Bay Road, daily at 0845, 1315 and 1745 for Bunbury and Busselton, with connections for Dunsborough. There are no train services except for the TransWA Australind line between Perth Railway Station and Bunbury. Two services daily (2¼ hours).