The cosmopolitan city of Bunbury is renowned for its wild but friendly bottlenose dolphins which you can meet at the shoreline or out in the bay aboard a dolphin watching and swimming tour. It's also the setting of many maritime legends and the northern gateway to Australia's South West - one of the most biodiverse regions on Earth, where world-class wine, pristine beaches and forests of timber giants can all be enjoyed in a single day.
Hitting the Kwinana Freeway and Forrest Highway south of Perth, you'll be beside the blue waters of Koombana Bay in under two hours. Regular charter flights from Perth will get you to Bunbury in the blink of an eye. If the idea of arriving by sea appeals, Bunbury is also included in the summer itineraries of many Australian cruise packages.
To meet Bunbury's friendliest locals, make a beeline for the Dolphin Discovery Centre. Here, on the shores of Koombana Bay, a dedicated interpretive centre and interaction zone allows visitors to encounter some of the 100 plus bottlenose dolphins who frequent its calm waters. Stand knee-deep in the shallows and wait for them to come to you, or join a tour for a viewing or swimming experience.
At nearby Mangrove Cove in the Leschenault Estuary, nature lovers can get a glimpse of what the coast looked like 20,000 years ago with a walk through Western Australia's southern-most mangroves.
Golfers can swing by one of three internationally-renowned courses and young families will find more animal encounters in the region's wildlife parks.
In the nearby Ferguson Valley lies a veritable feast of award-winning wines, fresh produce, local crafts, dazzling spring wildflowers, beautiful tuart forests, meandering waterways and captivating historic country towns.
Those in search of dawn-to-dusk buzz should head for Bunbury's 'cappuccino strip', waterside restaurants and the bright lights of the Entertainment Centre. Earning its reputation as a cultural hub, Bunbury's event-filled calendar features opera, drama, comedy and the work of renowned Australian contemporary artists.
The accommodation options offer just as much choice, from well-appointed beachfront resorts to city motels and budget-friendly chalets, caravan parks and backpackers.