Bunbury, WA

Bunbury is Western Australia’s 3rd largest city, situated between Perth and Margaret River. Arriving on a Thursday it was difficult to find a caravan park with vacancies over the weekend including the National Parks and forests. We were lucky to get into Bunbury Riverside Cabin, Caravan and Camping. The new section they opened last year is beautiful, more grass than any other park we’ve stayed at, new amenities and camp kitchen, very flat, easy turning circles, it’s great.

There are lots of great bike paths around Bunbury so we made of the most of the good weather and explored the area.

The Parade Hotel was having a “Sounds of Woodstock” dance night so we went along and had a fabulous night dancing and singing along to the Kniki & Mike Beale Band.  Kniki has an impressive Janis Joplin  voice and carries her songs off brilliantly. We met up with a lovely couple, both musicians, the guy used to be a roadie with several bands and travelled around Australia quite a bit in the 70s and 80s, so he knew all the songs. He was also a great dancer,  a bit of a worry since he only had heart surgery 5 weeks ago.

The Bunbury Farmers Market was a real surprise, such an amazing array of fresh produce a great place to stock up on supplies. The displays were like something out of a glossy magazine. Fruit, vegetables, flowers, meat, fish and lots of local seafood,  all locally grown or caught and lots of their own preserves, pies, etc. The peanut butter section was incredible, peanut butter, almond butter, cashew butter and more. The owners are Italian so lots of Italian food too like salami, cheese, and more varieties of olives than I’ve ever seen before. There is also a section out the front where you can get hot food and coffee.  Apparently people come down from Perth just to go there.

A visit to Ferguson Valley is a must do if you’re in the area. There are wonderful camping and picnic areas, quite a few wineries, breweries, art galleries, and the Wellington Dam. All the camp areas were booked out over the week end, probably because its so close to Perth for a weekend away. The Wellington Dam was built in 1933 during the Great Depression.

Honeymoon Pool camping and picnic area.

We seemed to arrive at Honeymoon Pool at bath time for the ducks. It was hilarious watching them all splashing around.

Even a Pied Currawong was having a bath, ducking under the water and splashing.

To visit the Ferguson Valley and not visit Gnomesville would just seem …. disrespectful to the Gnomes of Australia. And if your wondering what to do with Grandma’s collection of garden gnomes when she’s gone, then this is the perfect place.  Apparently it started with some gnomes on a round-about but the collection kept growing so the council moved them to the side of the road, now the area has seats, bridges over the creek, stairs to different levels and its about half a kilometre long. I should add that Tim had a quick glance around, decided that the car was in urgent need of a clean, and left me to it.

At first I thought it was just funny  and weird, but I actually spent a long time there and saw another side to it. There were lots of Granny’s and Gandpa’s collections and a number of RIPs: some for people and some for pets.

Also lots of happy occasions like birthdays, family reunions and friends’ group holidays and from so many different countries, Singapore, Scotland, Italy, Japan, and many more.

There was even a group of gnomes in a specially built cabinet commemorating the 2018 3TP Tunnel Rates Bunbury Reunion; the plaque read ‘Combat Engineer’s 3TP 1FLD SQD South Vietnam’. Each gnome had a person’s name, sometimes rank, sometimes other details.

I would love to have had my sociology lecturer there to chat to. It wasn’t quite like a cemetery because there were lots of happy memories acknowledged too and lots of funny sayings. But it felt like a very special place, a place with a lot of meaning for a lot of people. I just kept thinking that for every gnome there was a person who put it there, a connection to that place because of that gnome. So yes it’s an interesting place to visit, the council looks after the area now and there are seats, picnic tables and a car park.

I should add that Gnomesville also has its own Facebook and Instagram pages. In November 2018 Gnomesville was flooded and the local prison inmates were sent to clean it up. Prisoners Clean Up Gnomesville.

Til next time, Helen and Tim