Seaside smorgasbord

The last time I went to Bunbury Malcolm Fraser was prime minister...

It was Perth in the 80s. Mum and Dad would hit the road in our orange Datsun 180B, cassette tape playing, as we set off on the de rigueur summer holiday down south.

I’d sit squished between my siblings. A towel splayed across the back seat, protecting the backs of our legs from third-degree burns threatening to percolate from the vinyl seats on a scorcher.

While the 80s are remembered for its excesses — big hair, bright colours, a greed-is-good attitude — holidays were simple. There was none of this jetting off to Bali for four days, instead ticking off visits to the southern coastal towns of WA — Albany, Augusta, Bremer Bay, Margaret River, Busselton.

A stark reminder of this decade of decadence still dominates the Bunbury skyline, Alan Bond’s soaring office tower, affectionately dubbed the milk carton.

While locals perhaps aren’t overly thankful for this white monument, the tower and hotel have drawn more people to the area than otherwise would have been the case.

So after four decades of bypassing Bunbury I hit the highway. It was a hairy drive with a severe weather warning in place and gale force winds whipping my car to and fro on Forrest Highway.

A blessing then it is a quick two-hour drive from Perth that lands you in the port city, also known as the City of Three Waters with the rumbling Indian Ocean surf to the west, scenic Koombana Bay and the tranquil Leschenault Inlet.

The face of Bunbury has changed in an incredible way. No longer just an industrial port, it has received an injection of edgy boutiques, world-class tourist facilities and top-notch restaurants which have transformed it into a foodie paradise and holiday playground for young and old.

And with 2021 shaping up as the Year of the Long Weekend if you haven’t been there for a while, here is a guide to what’s on offer.

Read the full story here.

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