From a giant sheep to a Dead Sea salt pool and an imposing rock curved like a wave, there are plenty of surprises in the Southern Wheatbelt. We’re betting you didn’t know about these under-the-radar gems!
1. There are rural wineries to explore
Family-owned and run, Walkers Hill Vineyard is the most inland winery in Western Australia. The farmer who started it was nearly laughed out of town, but he proved the sceptics wrong when his wine repeatedly won awards. Found north of Lake Grace, you can roll up for free wine tastings, or spend the afternoon with tea and homemade cake. They also have half wine barrels where you can pretend to stomp grapes before wandering between the vines. Meanwhile, just outside Narrogin, Downderry Wines sits pretty on a hill with farmland views. Although set in an unlikely grape growing location, the winery has also managed to earn accolades.
2. You can float in a secret salt pool
Similar to the Dead Sea, bathers get buoyant in this 20m, round, constructed salt and gypsum pond. The 6m deep pool is said to have therapeutic properties, and because it’s so little-known, there’ll hardly be anyone else splashing around. Slide in and sense weightlessness only 800m from Wave Rock. If you’re considering a trip in September, time it for the annual Wave Rock Weekender music festival, and tune in as you float.
3. The boutique hotel of your dreams awaits
The Premier Mill Hotel opened in Katanning in mid-2018, filling the raw brick shell of the town’s historic flourmill with 22 rustic-chic rooms. Exposed ceiling beams and weathered swinging doors characterise the aesthetic, and guests can opt to stay in a grain silo – albeit one with Bang & Olufsen speakers and Aesop body products. Sneak down to the basement wine bar or watch the world go by from the ground-level café.
4. There are Big Things to see
Bart the Giant Ram is an enormous merino that’s been standing proudly at Wagin for more than 30 years. Carefully scaled to be an accurate, life-like representation, Bart has huge curly horns and round folds of white wool. Standing seven metres tall, Bart is nonetheless dwarfed by some of the grain silos in seven regional towns, which have been painted by local and international street artists. The Wheatbelt’s silo art trail saw 1,704 litres of paint sprayed onto the country canvases, collectively stretching across 8,714sqm. The highest mural stands 38m tall, found in Northam, and the 1000km trail is the largest in Australia. As well as the silos, keep an eye out for six other street murals in the towns.
5. There’s a rock formation that looks like a surfers dream.
Appropriately named Wave Rock stands 15m tall and curves like it’s about to break into a mass of frothing ocean. It seems as if it has been frozen in motion, a silent statue that’s as captivating as it is curious. The granite rock spectacle measures 110m long and is believed to have formed and been eroded over 2700 million years. Find it 3km from Hyden.