Places I Love – Bunbury

Words and pictures by Jean Hudson @jeansodyssey

Next time you are travelling ‘douth’ (down south), stop at Bunbury – it is too good to bypass!

Bunbury is bursting with things to do and see. Word has it that ‘it’s the new cool-cat in the tourism scene’. It’s also the gateway to the wider BunGeo – Bunbury Geographe -tourist region.

I began my day at the Dolphin Discovery Centre at Koombana Bay. I was hoping for a visit from the local dolphins. The bay is home and the breeding grounds for up to 150 bottlenose dolphins. We could see dolphins feeding in the distance – fishing and leaping out of the water, but they did not visit the beach while I was there.

You can swim with the dolphins or take a 1.5-hour Dolphin Eco Cruise from the Dolphin Discovery Centre. The $12 million interpretative centre is well worth a visit.

Nearby, on Koombana Bay foreshore you will see a majestic five and a half metre steel bust sculpture, Wardandi Boodja, representing a Noongar face. Local artists Alex and Nicole Mickle created the sculpture. It looks different from every angle and with the changing light. The bust was commissioned by the City of Bunbury and unveiled in 2019.

I visited the new Koombana Park Lookout, which overlooks Leschenault Inlet, the Mangrove Boardwalk and Koombana Bay. Take a stroll across Koombana Footbridge and learn about the 13 shipwrecks in the bay.

The port of Bunbury has a rich maritime history; you can read about it at the Marlston Waterfront Precinct. In 1803, the French explorer Captain Nicholas Baudin named the area, now known as Bunbury, ‘Port Leschenault’. The town was established in 1836. Bunbury is now the second largest city in Western Australia.

Street art, installations and sculptures are everywhere you look in Bunbury. Some jump out at you and others are hidden down laneways and places you’d least expect.

Bunbury has the largest collection of street and public art in regional Australia. I wandered along tree-lined Victoria Street, in Bunbury’s centre, and explored laneways and nooks and crannies to find street art. There are at least 40 large-scale murals of mind-blowing art. Every laneway, alley and car park is painted with colourful murals.

Scattered throughout the CBD are 20 electrical boxes, painted with whimsical characters by leading WA artists. You can pick up a copy of ReDiscover and Outside the Box Street Art Map by Six Two Three Zero or download one online.

ReDiscover Bunbury was founded by Andrew Frazer in 2014. He had a vision to engage the community with art and conversation by showcasing Australian and International artists through the painting of exterior murals in the streets of Bunbury.

Victoria Street is known for cute, independent shops, restaurants, and small bars. Victoria Street is connected to the Marlston Hill Lookout by a timber stairway. This is the site of Bunbury’s first lighthouse. From the lighthouse there are 360-degree views of the City of 3 Waters.

The Bunbury Regional Art Galleries (BRAG), the largest WA regional art gallery, is painted bright candy pink.

The streets of Bunbury are filled with impressive old buildings and history of pioneering families alongside the 1980s inspired Alan Bond architecture.

The famous black and white chequered lighthouse sits on top of volcanic lava formed millions of years ago at Wyalup-Rocky Point – a sacred Noongar site.

So, as well as visiting the Farmer’s Market on the outskirts of Bunbury to stock up with the best fresh local produce, increase your intake of arts and culture by visiting BunGeo and Bunbury!