The five best places to see wildflowers in the South West
The South West may only comprise 15 per cent of Western Australia’s land surface area but it packs a powerful botanical punch, boasting more species of plant life than the rest of the state combined.
From July through November, the region pops with colour, with rare wildflowers taking over rugged plains and coastal cliffs. Here are the hotspots.
1. TORNDIRRUP NATIONAL PARK
On a peninsula below Albany lies Torndirrup National Park, famed for its wind- and wave-sculpted granite cliffs. Follow a coastal trail to check out magnificent natural sculptures such as ‘The Gap’ and ‘Natural Bridge’, admiring sapphire fan flowers and dainty sticky tailflowers along the way.
Stony Hill, a rocky outcrop with a 500m circular walk, offers a spectacular birds-eye view of the park below – and a chance to see rare granite banksias. You can also find the distinctive cut-leaf banksia around Salmon Holes, a secluded turquoise lagoon.
2. D’ENTRECASTEAUX NATIONAL PARK
For orchid lovers, D’Entrecasteaux National Park is a wonderland. This coastal heath, where pristine beaches meet towering Karri forests, is home to a stunning collection of rare orchids. The Dunsborough donkey, south coast spider and zebra varieties are particularly photogenic. Head up to Point D’Entrecasteaux for an easily accessible cliff-top walk with great views of coastal blooms, or explore one of the many walking trails to see them up close.
3. STIRLING RANGE NATIONAL PARK
The Stirling Range National Park is quite the sight in spring, when the rough and rugged alpine landscape erupts in mass bloom. The 65km expanse of untamed wilderness is home to more than 1000 species of wildflowers – many of which can’t be found anywhere else on the planet. Highlights include elegant mountain bells, magenta Queen of Sheba orchids, and the distinctive Stirling Range banksia. Like bird watching? Pack binoculars: nearly 150 species have been spotted flitting around the park.
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4. CAPE TO CAPE TRACK
If you’re an intrepid hiker, chances are this 135km coastal track is already on the bucket list. So why not stop and smell the flowers? Begin at Cape Leeuwin, where the Southern and Indian oceans lap, and weave through wildflower hotspots Injidup Beach, Contos Beach, and the Boranup Karri Forest. Among the rare blossoms that carpet the track are vibrant fairy orchids, pretty pink rice flowers and the fragrant vanilla lily.
5. PORONGURUP NATIONAL PARK
At Porongurup National Park, granite peaks and boulders loom even larger than the lofty marri, jarrah and karri tree forests. Climb to one of the park’s lookouts for sweeping views of the surging coastline, lush farmland and nearby Stirling Ranges.
Closer to the ground, walking trails are fringed with wildflowers, including vivid yellow acacias, delicate purple pea flowers and the rare mountain villarsia. The park also teems with wildlife, such as wallabies, bandicoots, kangaroos and the legendary wedge-tailed eagle.