Particularly when the weather starts to cool, we find ourselves wanting to venture further into our state’s majestic forests and charming towns.
And when it comes to country town charm, Nannup and Balingup both have them in spades! Here are our favourite places to eat, explore and stay while we’re in the region.
DO & SEE
Have A Serene Soak At A Swimming Hole
We make no secret of our love for a swimming hole – and the delightful marri and jarrah forests of Nannup and Balingup are a pretty magical setting for a soak. Barrabup Pool is a naturally forming pool found along the gently flowing St Johns Brook. Whether you’re having a swim or gently floating down the brook on a canoe, it’s an unparalleled way to take in the serene forest surrounds of St John Brook Conservation Park. Bring lunch to take advantage of the barbecues and shaded picnic areas, too. Just south of Barrabup, you’ll find Workmans Pool: so named because workers at the mill weren’t allowed to bathe at Barrabup Pool (rude).
If you feel like really sunning where the, ahem, sun doesn’t usually shine… Cambray Siding is just outside of Nannup, and nude bathing is a long-standing tradition of the area. Just watch out for leeches!
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Check Out The Historic Donnelly River Village
Our majestic forests have meant that the area has a long history of timber milling, and as well as the local swimming holes, Donnelly River Village is another remnant of this industry. The site was originally established by the Wheatley family, who were milling timber for fruit boxes – producing over 300 000 boxes a year for WA’s apple exports. This later expanded to karri and jarrah, and the mill was later developed by Bunnings Bros – yes, the same Bunnings – who also built the surrounding village for workers and their families. Now heritage-listed, you can stop in at the privately-owned Village and say g’day to the emus and kangaroos that hang out in front of the general store, and maybe try a slice of home made cake while you’re there. If you fancy staying for longer, grab a couple of mates and rent out one of the worker’s cottages.
Nannup Music Festival
While 2022’s Nannup Music Festival wasn’t able to go ahead, 2023’s event just went down and was an absolute pearler. The eclectic event has been running since 1990, taking on the legacy of the South West Folk Festival, another community organised event that ran until 1987. As well as a diverse range of live music, there are plenty of fun street performers, free kids activities and delicious food vendors to make it a fun weekend for the whole family.
Nannup Flower And Garden Festival
Celebrating a whopping 25 years this August, Nannup Flower and Garden Festival sees the town practically explode with colour. Taking place from the 13th to 28th of August, the festival’s program includes over 70 events – from open gardens and tours to workshops and panel discussions.
Golden Valley Tree Park
The largest arboretum (both in size and range) in Western Australia, Golden Valley Tree Park boasts a huge, diverse collection of trees from all over the world – first planted over 100 years ago, there are now over 3000 individual trees across 500 different species, and the collection continues to grow (pardon the pun) every year. Open daily and with free entry, the heritage-listed park is a spectacular spot for autumn picnics and walks.
Balingup Medieval Carnivale
Since its humble beginnings in 1996 as a half day event, Balingup Medieval Carnivale has grown to become a hugely popular event in the region and a whole weekend of medieval fun – from duelling knights to fair maidens and ceremonial burning dragons, it’s an event that just has to be experienced.
You won’t be able to miss Tinderbox‘s distinctive purple shopfront – in the heart of Balingup, the herbalist has become an iconic brand for wellness and aromatherapy enthusiasts across WA. However much stock you put in the healing power of essential oils, you’re sure to find a salve or potion to soothe you.
Cycle A Section Of The Munda Biddi
If you prefer to travel on two wheels, you’ll need no introduction to the Munda Biddi: the Bibbulmun’s 1050km mountain biking cousin. Beginning just outside Perth in Mundaring, it goes all the way down to Albany – including a section that winds its way through Nannup down to Donnelly River. To find out more about the Munda Biddi, you can check out our whole article all about it HERE.
See The Sights On A Scenic Drive
If you’re travelling between the such picturesque towns, you should at least take the scenic drive, right? The Balingup-Nannup Road will take you through the rolling hills, towering trees and along winding creeks and the Blackwood River.
EAT & DRINK
Whimwood Estate Winery
If you’re a fan of a nice glass of chardy, you need to visit Whimwood ASAP. The boutique winery specialises in chardonnay, fermented in French oak barrels sourced from a single forest. Drop by for a tasting at their cellar door, where you can take in the picturesque surrounds with a few of their tasty bites.
Hunt for the Nannup Tiger (And Drink Its Namesake Lager)
There’s nothing more suitable to accompany your hunt for the elusive Nannup Tiger than downing an ice cold Nannup Tiger Lager at the historic Nannup Hotel? Need we say more?
Cambray Cheese Farm Shop
If you’ve eaten any delicious cheese in Perth’s high-falutin’ fancy bars and restaurants, chances are it came by way of Cambray Cheese. Hand making artisanal farmhouse cheese since 2005, they’re a favourite amongst chefs for their award winning sheep and cow cheeses. Get the good stuff straight from source at their farmhouse shop.
Tiny Tea Shop
If you’re serious about tea, there’s nowhere more prudent to visit than Nannup’s oh-so-cute Tiny Tea Shop. Stocking over 100 varieties of premium loose leaf teas, as well as a selection of charming teaware, it’s tea-lover’s heaven.
For home-style burgers and award-winning pies, it’s got to be Mushroom Café. Situated in the heart of Balingup, their unpretentious offerings are made even more delicious by their warm and welcoming service.
The Packing Shed
Only across the road from the Mushroom Café, the Packing Shed combines tasty treats with a touch of history. As well as a café, the Shed is also home to Balingup Fruit Winery– unique small-batch fruit liqueurs used by venues like Naber + IIII, plus a heritage exhibition to give you an insight into the area’s past.
Cakes by Tasty Edibles
Just down the road from Balingup, you’ll find small mining town Greenbushes. A visit to a country town is the perfect opportunity to up your pie intake – and while Tasty Edibles like to put their cakes at the forefront, their pies are equally worth a visit with flaky and golden pastry paired with succulent fillings. Having said that, though… The cakes are delicious, made with local produce like apricots from a neighbour’s tree and mandarins from the owner’s own backyard.
The Shamrock Hotel
Another spot worth travelling down to Greenbushes for, the Shamrock Hotel‘s pub feeds can more than hold their own against any found in the big smoke. With everything from a chicken parmie to a traditional African goat curry – it all goes well with a frosty pint, though.
With all this medieval magic and forest frolicking, you’ll need to find somewhere just as cute to rest your weary head. Balingup Heights Hilltop Forest Cottages will put you right in the middle of it all, only a mushroom’s throw away from Nannup, Bridgetown, Donnybrook and more – as well as provide cosy cabin vibes overlooking the fog rolling over the valley. What could be more magical than that?
Header image: Nannup Flower And Garden Festival