Bunbury Cruise Port

Port of Bunbury: An Overview

Long before the Margaret River region's meteoric rise to the top of many wine lists, Western Australia's third largest city, Bunbury, was a major centre. It remains an important port for this thriving agricultural region in the southwest of WA.

Just 175 kilometres south of Perth, its multi-water position -- bay, estuary, river and ocean -- makes Bunbury a popular destination. Aside from the cafes and bars, there is the opportunity to take a dip with wild dolphins, cruise the still waters of Koombana Bay, Leschenault Estuary and the Collie River, or learn more about the local flora and fauna at Bunbury Wildlife Park.

One of the most popular options is to head south for the coastal towns of Busselton, Dunsborough and beyond. With enough time in port you can spend the day at world-famous Margaret River wineries, where you'll definitely want to raise a glass to this stunning part of the country.

Hanging Around

Because of the security required at commercial cargo ports, passengers going ashore at Bunbury are taken by free shuttle bus into the town.

Don't Miss

Dolphin Discovery Centre: A very special experience is taking a dip with the dozens of wild bottlenose dolphins who live in the bay. Meet them in their own environment (December to April). It's a fifteen-minute walk from town to the Dolphin Discovery Centre in Koombana Drive where you may take a tour or snorkel with dolphins year round inside the centre. If there for lunch, check the menu for stunning local blue manna crabs. Mornings are the best time to plan a visit. Adults $10, children $5, families $25, tickets allow three visits.

(LOT 830 Koombana Drive; +61 897 913 088; Open daily, year-round: October to April 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., May 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., June to September 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.)

Dolphin and whale watching: Boat tours and cruises on the inlet are also available. Octopus Garden Marine Charters offer diving charters in the crystal-clear waters off Bunbury at various dive sites, including the FV Lena dive wreck -- Bunbury's sunken treasure! The charter boats depart and return from Casuarina Boat Harbour, which is adjacent to the main port. (Casuarina Boat Harbour; +61 438 925 011)

Bunbury Wildlife Park: This wildlife park is located in the Big Swamp Parkland at Prince Philip Drive, South Bunbury. An excellent family experience with walk-through aviaries of native birds, there's a chance to get up close and personal with a kangaroo or an emu, or peep at snoozing nocturnal animals in a shady corner. Admission: Adult: $9.50; Children (3 to 16 years): $5; children under 3 are free.

(Prince Philip Drive, South Bunbury; +61 897 218 380; Open daily, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.)

Big Swamp Parkland: This unique wetland reserve is home to more than 70 species of birds, mammals, reptiles and fish. Stroll the two-kilometre route around the swamp using boardwalks, lookouts and a bird hide to observe and enjoy wide diversity of native birdlife, flowers and animals.

Marlston Hill Lookout Tower: For a sunset view, or just to orientate yourself, a walk up to the tower will guarantee spectacular unrestricted panoramic views over Bunbury Harbour and the city, several popular beaches and the breakwater. If you are lucky, you can watch bottlenose dolphins frolicking in the water at Koombana Bay. The tower is the site of the original Bunbury Lighthouse. Nearby is a new (1988) 25-metre black-and-white chequered lighthouse. (10A Whale View, Bunbury)

Koombana Bay: Meander along the foreshore of Koombana Bay for some relaxing time out. Along the way, you will find a family friendly beach, parkland, a boardwalk (take some mosquito repellent). You can also watch the dolphins or have a snack at the beach cafe.

Bunbury Regional Art Galleries: These galleries are housed in a former convent now painted pale pink. The two floors allow for up to five exhibitions at one time, changing every six weeks, so there is always something new to see. The galleries are a great supporter of local artistic talent and you'll see all genres here. Free entry, donations accepted.

(64 Wittenoom Street, Bunbury; +61 897 927 323; Open daily, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.)

Leschenault Inlet: Located in East Bunbury, this body of water runs between Koombana Drive and Bunbury City. Walk the 5.3km circuit for a truly tranquil experience and enjoy the rich diversity of birds, including pelicans and penguins. Again, keep your eyes peeled to see if you can spot any of the dolphins that also enjoy these waters.

Lava Art Glass Gallery & Studio: If you like admiring the local art scene or are seeking a unique souvenir or two, Lava Art Glass Gallery & Studio is a gallery for high-end art glass and collectors. The studio showcases art glass by Western Australian glass artists., exclusively.

(Unit 3/15, Bonnefoi Boulevard, Marlston Waterfront, Bunbury; +61 897 217 213; open Monday to Friday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Saturday. to Sunday 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.)

Leschenault Peninsula Conservation Park: The narrow Leschenault Peninsula Conservation Park, 18 kilometres drive north of Bunbury, has three walking trails ranging from 1.5 km return to 9 km one-way. The park is also ideal for those who are fascinated by waterbirds and appreciate the diversity of wildflowers, heathland plants and grasses.

Watch out for unusual sculptures around the town. There are some at Back Beach, others in Victoria Street in the city centre, and one outside Bunbury City Council. A sculpture of the head of Sir John Forrest, WA's first premier, is in St Paul's Place if he is looking for it. Also watch out for Circus Train -- Slow Down at Leschenault Inlet.

Getting Around

By bus: The free regular shuttle bus service to and from the town centre of Bunbury takes only a few minutes. A local bus services the city and surrounding suburbs, but taxis are often better for out-of-town destinations.

By car: The Visitor Information Centre in the Old Railway Station has information on places to see and things to do, car hire and other transport, tours and dining.

Beaches

Back Beach: This beach on Ocean Drive is lengthy yet pristine and uncrowded -- a favourite with locals and visitors and a great place to view the sunset. It has golden sands, good surfing and is patrolled. There are showers and a cafe.

Leschenault Inlet: This is known as a good place for kite surfers, and there are classes available.

Dalyellup Beach: Farther from town, to the south, this beach is popular with those that know it. The carpark is at road level and has showers, and steps leading down to the beach. The surf conditions vary, but the water is clear and there is good fishing, locals say. Again, a lovely spot at sunset.

Lunching

Bunbury is WA's third largest city so it's no wonder there is a wide variety of food to suit everyone's tastes and budget. Being a coastal region, seafood is popular and, as a family-friendly tourist town, all the well-known fast food chains are represented.

For lunch, or simply a mid-morning or afternoon snack, stroll down Victoria Street's Coffee Strip, around the corner from the Visitor Information Centre, where you'll find plenty of good cafes, many award-winning restaurants and historic pubs to enjoy.

Mojo's Restaurant & Cafe: This cafe is located in the Grand Cinema complex in Victoria Street. Head Chef Dave Dunne's multi-award-winning cuisine makes this one of Bunbury's most popular restaurants while still remaining affordable. Given the proximity to a top wine region, the wine list is extensive. For lunch daily there are sharable 'Bar Bites' such as arancini, steamed buns, cheese churros, or glazed short ribs, while the menu serves up cafe-priced pulled pork rolls, house-smoked Cranbrook bacon and egg sandwich, goat's cheese tart with braised leeks and salad as well as a grass-fed beef sirloin.

(Victoria Street, Bunbury; +61 897 925 900; Open daily, Monday to Thursday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Friday to Sunday 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.)

Cafe 140: This cafe seems to tick most people's boxes. Whether you're in the mood for a sizeable steak sandwich, a juicy hamburger, fresh juice, or a good coffee with a just-baked orange and poppyseed muffin, there is bound to be something here you will fancy. Our spies tell us the naughty cheeseburger is a must.

(140 Victoria St, Bunbury; +61 897 212 254; Lunch daily until 3 p.m., kitchen closes at 2 p.m.)

Corners on King: Homemade, gluten-free, different -- that's the consensus on what endears this place to its diners. Serving lunch daily until 3 pm, you can expect to find sweet things galore such as a gluten-free lemon syrup cake, homemade pavlova, GF waffles with berries...you get the idea. On the savoury side, you will find huge burgers and sandwiches made on local Yallingup Wood Fired Bread. All served up just across the road from Leschenault Inlet.

(Shop 3, 2 Austral Parade, Bunbury; +61 897 214 030; open daily, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.)

Nicola's Ristorante: If a $20 menu sounds what you need for lunch, then you'll be delighted to see it includes choices such as garlic prawns, Nicola's club wrap, Reuben sandwiches, several salads and fish and chips.

(62-64 Victoria St, Bunbury; +61 897 913 926; open, Monday to Saturday 12 p.m. to 2 p.m.)

Where You're Docked

Like many regional ports in WA, the port of Bunbury handles bulk loading of grain and other materials and is a busy working port. Cruise ships are usually allocated docking at Berth 1.

Watch Out For

Have fun noticing local car number plates. Every council area in Western Australia has its own prefix for cars registered in that region. In Bunbury it is BY. Nearby Busselton is BSN, and Margaret River is AU as it is in the shire of Augusta.

Be careful collecting shells in shallow water or on the beach as they might contain live 'occupants'. The blue-ringed octopus is very dangerous. Not all beaches are patrolled or have flags so do watch out for 'rips' (strong currents) when there is a big swell.

Picking wildflowers is prohibited throughout the state. If bushwalking, be alert for snakes, and wear a hat and use sun-protection cream and mosquito repellent.

Currency & Best Way to Get Money

ATMs and currency exchanges may be found throughout the town at banks. ATMs are also found in some shopping centres as well as many hotels. Withdrawals will be in Australian currency, usually in $50 and $20 notes. For current currency conversion figures visit www.oanda.com or www.xe.com. US dollars are not acceptable when shopping, but major credit cards are generally welcome.

Language

English is spoken.

Best Souvenir

Expect to find truly delicious souvenirs in this port. The Bunbury Visitor Centre, at Old Railway Station, Carmody Place, has local produce for sale -- including olive oils -- and you will find regional wines, boutique beers and spirits in many bottle shops. If your shore trip takes you to the Margaret River region then you will be able to choose wines from many top cellar doors.

For More Information

On the Web: Visit Bunbury
Cruise Critic Message Boards: Australia & New Zealand
IndependentTraveler.com: Australia & New Zealand Travel Guide

--By Cruise Critic contributor, Sally Hammond

  • Bunbury: Astor
    BOETIE
    Free shuttle bus service to and from Bunbury was modern, very efficient, very regular and very clean. No complaints at all!! ... Read more
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