We were in Busselton again over the weekend.
We have established a bit of a family tradition this time every year where the extended family would all pack up and get out of Perth for a weekend away to celebrate my mother’s birthday. It is always somewhere in Western Australia, and more often than not, in the South-West region.
But birthday or not, the South-West has grown on me and whenever I am seeking for a quick easy get away I would always head south. It is close enough to be convenient and far enough to get my mind off things. On the drive down, you get vast open areas of beautiful, rugged country side, dotted with livestock and the occasional farmhouse and cute cottage. Once you are there, depending on your destination, you either get long stretches of pristine white beaches and an ocean that spreads out like a shimmering golden and blue blanket; or you get nestled between rolling hills and tall, majestic trees and the odd clearing where kangaroos lay down to rest. There is also an abundance of local fresh produce around the region like fresh fruit, vegetables, meat and seafood, and everything else ranging from bread, olive oil, pate to jams and preserves – which you can choose to bring home and cook for yourself or sit down in one of the fancy winery- restaurants and get a well-qualified chef to cook for you. What is not to like about this region?
In more recent times, with the boom of the resources industries, the increased prominence of WA as a tourism destination and the attraction of more people (and money) into the state, the region has seen a bit of a shift from being just a holiday location into a more sophisticated, upper-class getaway location. This can be observed from the upscale of some of the long-term establishments (note the iconic Miami Bakehouse which now forms part of a bigger food-court establishment) and the increasing number high-end wining and dining locations and luxury accommodation for travellers (not to mention the number of imported cars and well-dressed people who frequent these establishments). From the balcony of the rental house where we were staying we could see a dock full of recreational boats. Although at times it can feel a little over-commercialised, I believe this has overall served to improve the quality of experiences available around the area.
However, on top of all of that, there is another reason why I have become even more enamoured with the South-West (which is the same reason why we have been frequenting the region for at least twice a year for the last few years), and that is because I find out just how easy it is to travel there with kids. If you have not discovered that for yourself, here are my top reasons why:
- It is ten times more convenient than flying – we can pack and chuck everything into the boot of our SUV and drive, unrestricted by check-in time and luggage space (for example, if I forget a pair of boots right before we leave our garage, I would grab them and throw them on top of everything else as opposed to having to repack). We also do not have to worry about the logistics of towing around two kids and big pieces of luggage for miles in an airport or waiting around for long periods in an airport lounge or being buckled up with young kids in an airplane for hours (i.e. think many opportunities for toddler melt-downs). And even if they do have melt-downs, they would be buckled up in the backseats of our car away from the wary eyes of other airline passengers.
- It is also much more affordable than taking a flight to like say, anywhere. The amount of money we save on flights will allow us to splurge on very nice accommodation down south.
- There are many things for both adults and kids to do down south. Wineries, pubs, Margaret River chocolate factory, gourmet food shops, animal farms, ice-cream factories, Busselton jetty with train ride and underwater observatory, tree top walks, forest hikes, walks by the beaches, and the list goes on.
- Most places are designed with families in mind – majority of accommodation will provide portacots, high chairs and children’s plates, cups and cutleries. Some of the hotels will have swimming pools and playrooms for children (we have even rented a house once that provided a game machine). Family-friendly accommodation can easily be found on websites like Airbnb and Stayz.com.au. Even when you dine out you will also notice that a lot of places will provide kids meals and have colouring pencils and play areas to keep your children happy.
- We are still within Western Australia, so we are familiar with the surroundings, the shops, the facilities and where we can go to pick up baby food or more nappies or Panadol / Neurofen if by tough luck one of your little ones come down with a bug (which has happened to us on more than one occasion).