Bunbury is a city in Western Australia. It's a little town with a big town attitude. Aimed at tourists this place can seem to be 'closed down' in winter.
The cosmopolitan Port of Bunbury, just two hours' drive south of Perth, is located on a spectacular peninsular surrounded by blue waters of the Indian Ocean, Koombana Bay and the Leschenault Inlet.
A vibrant town with a strong maritime atmosphere, Bunbury is now renowned for the wild but friendly dolphins that interact with people in Koombana Bay.
The 90 dolphins that live permanently in the calm waters of the bay have been coming in to the beach for decades. Established as a place for people to interact with dolphins in their natural habitat, this unique experience is enhanced by the on-site "Dolphin Discovery Centre". The research and information centre provides visitors with a comprehensive insight into the lives and history of the dolphins. The dolphins do not have a regular appearance pattern at the beach, however they tend to visit more frequently during the summer months. While guidelines are suggested, human interaction is not supervised or regulated. All this results in a chance encounter being inspirational and memorable. Dolphin watching boat tours and cruises on the inlet are also available.
Bunbury's other features include Western Australia's southern-most mangroves, rare basaltic rock and nearby Tuart Forest. A colourful "cappuccino strip" of sidewalk cafes and a variety of eating-places has developed along the Central Business Districts Victoria Street. These cafes and the many award-winning restaurants and historic pubs ensure the atmosphere hums from dawn to dusk.
A perfect base for touring the surrounding countryside, a tapestry of sights and experiences are available within short distances from Bunbury. Fields of orchard trees in blossom, wildflowers, vineyards, forests, national parks, beautiful waterways, historic towns, a wealth of art and craft, are just part of the experience.
Other experiences available include fascinating walks, an assortment of art and craft studios, galleries and museums. A bird's-eye view of the compact city can be obtained from many lookout points or for the adventurous by an aerial tour in a micro flight. For golfers Bunbury offers three international courses and family activities include wildlife parks and a miniature train tour.
The entertainment and cultural capital of the South West, the Bunbury Entertainment Centre dazzles audiences with opera, drama and comedy from around the nation. Modern art by famous local artists Mary Knott and Russell Sheridan together with nautically themed street scaping add to the atmosphere of the streets. Of historical significance to the South West, French Explorer Captain De Freycinet sighted Bunbury from his ship 'Geographe' in 1803. In 1836, following establishment of Swan River colony, Governor, Captain James Stirling, dispatched an exploratory party to investigate the lands to the south of Fremantle. Lt Bunbury made the first successful overland trek to Port Leschenault and it was renamed 'Bunbury' in his honour. This history is now carried into today in the maritime theming of streets and old architecture of buildings.
Bunbury has accommodation ranging from four star resorts, award winning specialty accommodation, luxuriously appointed beachfront and city motels, enchanting B & Bs, self contained chalets and apartments in waterside and beach locations through to Caravan, Camping and Backpackers facilities.
Bunbury is around 90 to 120 minutes south of Perth by car - depending on the route you decide to take, coastal or inland. The "Old Coast Road" has a lot of two lane roadway in each direction now, with multiple 'overtaking lane sections' as well.
It can be a stopping point to or from the Margaret River, very popular with the surfing community and wine lovers alike. It is also a good base for exploring the beautiful south west region - the mining community of Collie, the spectacular wave rock, the giant trees of Pemberton (where you can still climb to the top of one of the highest tree based fire lookouts -the Gloucester tree.)
There is a bus service that runs around the city and surrounding suburbs, but do not expect regular (or even handy) transport. It's best to have a car or be prepared to shell out for a few taxis here and there if you have travelled down from Perth via the train service (which is very comfortable and reasonably priced!)
Koombana Beach is a modest beach on Koombana Bay. This has a view of the port. It is a protected beach with no surf. There are wild dolphins in Koombana Bay, which you may be lucky enough to see close to the beach. The best time to go is in the morning.
The Dolphin Discovery Centre is on Koombana Beach. There is not much to see inside the centre, only a few display boards with less dolphin information then you could find out in a minute on wikipedia. You may want to check if there are any dolphins around on the beach before you pay the admission, otherwise you get very little for your money. There are no captive dolphins at the centre. They also run trips out to where the dolphins are, but these need to be booked in advance.
There are lots of places to eat out on the Coffee Strip, and if you have a bit of spare cash the Silos have restaurants which are very nice but a bit of a splash out.
3 monkeys, Barbados, Exit & Fitzgerald's are the places to be on Friday and Saturday nights.
Accommodation is varied and can be a bit sparse in the peak times - especially around the horse racing carnival time. Plenty of the hotels and pubs offer basic accommodation - which is fine if you are only looking for a bed to sleep in and plan to explore the surrounds during the day.
The Lord Forrest Hotel is the largest commercial hotel and probably offers the higher end of the accommodation scale