Up From Albany
27 June 2012
The towns Amelup, Munglinup, Pallinup, Torndirrup, Nanarup, Ongerup, Kojonup are all tucked away in the south-west corner of WA and they all hold unique treats.
Heading around 97km west from Esperance you'll pass through the first little town of Munglinup. It was only when we crossed the Pallinup River and I consulted our map to confirm that we were heading for the Torndirrup National Park and Nanarup, which is close to Albany, that I realised the names were all similar.
We made inquiries about the names at the caravan park in Albany while we were booking in for our stay. The manager of the park satisfied our curiosity and provided answers and newspaper articles about the history of the names – we were obviously not the first to pose these questions. Their origins lie in the Aboriginal Noongar language and associate the areas with something significant – usually food or a good place to make camp.
Some of the meanings are Nannup – place of parrots; Gnowerangerup – place where the Mallee hen nests; Ongerup – place of the male kangaroo; Tambellup – place of thunder; and Narrikup – place of abundance. Once the history had been explained we began to look forward to exploring these places to uncover all their special secrets and learn why each was given its distinctive name.
While in Albany it might interest you to discover the many attractions in the area. You can take a trip to the coast and soak in the views of King George Sound from Stoney Hill. There are many natural attractions in this area including The Gap, the Natural Bridge, and the Blowholes. They all offer great opportunities for a few snapshots if you happen to catch them on a good day.
Just to the north of the Stirling Range National Park you will find the tiny town of Amelup. Once the centre of the Sandalwood industry, the area is now mainly a wheat growing region. We couldn't believe our eyes when we came across a full-sized windmill. The Dutch owner of the property has built this replica of a 16th Century Dutch Windmill and employs it to mill organic spelt fl our. 'The Lily', as it is called, is the only one of its kind in Australia and one of the largest ever built. While you are there, enjoy the delicious apple strudel made with their own milled fl our to an authentic Dutch recipe.
The centrally located town of Kojonup holds its own links with the past and promotes a number of interesting sites, such as the information centre, which houses a brilliant display of the town's history. Tours of the centre are conducted by a member of the local Noongar people. Our guide was not only knowledgeable, but very entertaining.
A short drive to the west will bring you to Boyup Brook and another well kept secret. Housed in a magnificent old stone building, the town's information centre, is one of the best collections of butterflies and beetles in the country. Known as the Carnaby Collection, it contains an astonishing number of the pretty jewel beetles. It never ceases to amaze us what treasures can be found in the most unexpected places.
Yet more treats awaited us when we travelled west from Albany. Nornalup is where the Valley of the Giants is located. This forest of gigantic tingle trees can only be seen in this part of the country. As you wander between these gnarled old trees you begin to get the feeling that dinosaurs would have been right at home here. And when you take a stroll on the suspended walkway, you will really get an appreciation of just how tall these giants are!
Any visit to the South-West of WA wouldn't be complete without calling in to Margaret River to sample some of the fine produce on offer. Not the least of which would be the sweet treats at Cowaramup, or 'Cow' as it is known to the locals.
Nearby is the settlement of Wonnerup, where timber from this forest was milled and used for building at the time of settlement in the 1800s. Historic Wonnerup House is located here, and well worth a visit. Run by the National Trust, it is a great example of the architecture of the time and an authentic recreation of the elegant lifestyle of the homestead owners of the period.
Once you pass Bunbury on your way north to Perth you can drive through Binningup and Myalup. These will be the final places you'll be able to visit in the 'Land of Up'. This part of our trip was been an absolute eye opener, full of history and natural wonders plus beautiful scenery, so when you come to WA make sure you catch up on all this area has to offer.