Top things to do in Bunbury as we showcase the city’s gems.
Just a 2-hour drive from Perth, Bunbury is Western Australia’s biggest regional city. It’s got all the major attractions of a city but still retains pockets of that small-town charm that tourists love to uncover. Dig a little deeper than the dolphin experience the port city is so well known for and you’ll find that the city offers a whole host of cosy little bars, busy coffee shops, boutiques selling far away wares, and more art than the eye can see.
The first (and, arguably, most important) foodie stop on any road trip from Perth to the south west is the Bunbury Farmers Market. Located on the main highway into Bunbury, this is no run-of-the-mill food market. Pick up a trolley and follow the winding path from the picture-perfect fresh fruit section, through to the on-site butcher, and on to what can only be described as ‘cheese heaven’. If you don’t leave with bags full of gourmet goodies, you’ve not done it right.
Once you’re in Bunbury, start your day with breakfast and a side serve of seaside views at Corners on the Bay. They’ve got the usual suspects like great coffee and a tasty saucy beans and chorizo baked egg dish, but they also break the breakfast food mould with some tofu scramble breakfast tacos and red velvet or black sesame lattes.
The Happy Wife offers slightly different, but equally as serene, water views. This sweet little cafe’s Palm-Springs-esque courtyard backs onto the inlet and looks out over the mangroves and parts of the port. Find a spot under one of the blue and white umbrellas and while the morning away with a generous serving of homemade crumpets (sweet or savoury) and a pot of tea.
Francophiles will j’adore Bunbury’s bustling Parisian cafe, La Pause Miam. Hidden down the Central Arcade that runs between Prinsep and Stephen Streets, this breakfast hotspot churns out all your breakfast favourites with a twist. A French cafe couldn’t call themselves a French cafe without a selection of crepes on the menu (the strawberry and Nutella comes highly recommended), and there are even more French goodies in the croissant eggs benedict, brioche french toast, and a lunchtime baked camembert.
Just down the arcade, you’ll find The Plant Organic, an organic cafe and market. Though their offering is heavy on organic and vegan treats, it’s no less indulgent than their neighbour’s crepe laden menu. Stop by to pick up a big bowl of colourful superfood salad and some beetroot hummus, or stick to the sweets and order some raw slice, an acai bowl overflowing with toppings, or some Cocowhip to go. Don’t leave without browsing their extensive range of eco-friendly homewares, and healthy and organic goodies (they’ve got a fabulous range of Pukka teas).
No trip to Bunbury is complete without stopping in for a decadent lunch or dinner at Mojos Restaurant. An institution, Mojos has staked its claim on the corner of the Grand Cinema building for the last 20 years. With new chef Augustin Ortega at the helm, the menu has had another evolution to now include dishes like Peruvian pork cotoletta with bitter salad, and rare kangaroo, beetroot, and daikon. Enlist the help of head sommelier and craft beer enthusiast, Jake Atkinson, to expertly pair your meal with one of the many local beers, wines, and spirits on the menu. He can also help you make an informed choice on which small batch bottle of wine or local craft beer to take home from the in-store bottleshop.
Tucked away at the bottom end of Marlston Hill is Market Eating House, a big-city worthy restaurant by ex-Andaluz head chef, Brenton Pyke, and his wife, Bec. Made for sharing, Pyke’s menu is centred around the kitchen’s custom-made charcoal grill and oven. Dishes like the wood-roasted cauliflower and charred Geographe octopus showcase the grills capabilities, while the Persian dhal, Lebanese fried chicken ribs, and aged basmati rice pilaf speak of the middle-eastern vibe Pyke is going for. Their peanut butter parfait dessert is a slight departure from that vibe, but it’s so good that it’s been a mainstay on the menu since the restaurant opened.
There are no sticky, musty carpets and grubby pool tables at The Rose Hotel; well, not anymore. After undergoing significant renovations in 2016, the pub is now one of the most welcoming places to grab a pint in all of Bunbury. Pull up a pew in the large dining hall at the back (and tuck into some pretty speccy pub grub), or head to the front bar to catch the game over a brew or two.
You don’t have to go all the way to Margaret River to sample great, local craft beer. Find a spot in the sunshine on the deck at The Parade Hotel, and you can sip your way through the entire range of the Old Coast Road Brewery’s beers. The Parade is the brewery’s sister venue, so you can expect all the great things you get out at the Myalup site in the city, served up with a water and mangrove view.
The Bayview Bar is made for weekend long lunching. Perched on top of Aristos and overlooking Koombana North, this breezy beachfront bar gives you a good look into the relaxed, beachside lifestyle in Bunbury. Grab some company, order a woodfired pizza and a bottle of wine, and settle in for the afternoon.
There’s always something happening at the Symmons St bar, Yours or Mine. If it’s not local live music, it’s one of the many weekly specials they have going on. Head in on Monday to catch the ‘bang for buck’ special, Tuesday for a taco deal, or between 5.00pm – 6.00pm daily for happy hour. Find yourself a spot in the courtyard, order some oysters and bubbles to start with, and soak up the relaxed atmosphere.
Keep the night going with a post-dinner stop at Lost Bills. It’s a big-city-style small bar serving up the finest cocktails in town. They’ll do you an espresso martini or classic negroni, but exploring their menu will lead you to try interesting things like the dirty martini using Four Pillars olive leaf gin, and the acai fike cocktail (acai berry syrup, gin, creme de cassis, lemon juice, and aquafaba). Stay as late as you like (well, until 12.00pm).
Cap off a stellar weekend in Bunbury with a swim, followed by a brew and a view at a Dolphin Discovery Centre (DDC) Sunday Session.
The DDC overlooks Koombana Bay, so there’s a good chance you’ll see some dolphins frolicking or a ship being guided into the nearby port while you’re enjoying your afternoon tipple at the balcony bar. The Sunday sessions run throughout summer, and rumour has it they will be extended to Friday, Saturday, and Sunday sessions come January. Before heading out, check the DDC social pages for any updates as sometimes the bar is booked for a function on a Sunday afternoon.
In town, independent retailers reign supreme. Conveniently, they’re all located within minutes’ walk of each other, forming an ‘unofficial’ shopping trail.
Long-standing boutique, Sabotage makes a great first stop on your shopping spree. The store boasts a new splash of colour on the outside and a renewed, post-COVID dedication to Australian brands inside. Now, 95% of the labels that owner Megan buys in are Australian owned. Pop in to frock up in some colourful Suboo, slip yourself into a pair of Alias May slides, and pick up a designer puzzle from the fabulous Journey of Something.
Just across the road, the focus shifts to the little ones. There are no plastic toys (unless we’re talking about the extensive range of anatomically correct dolls) or glittery fairy wings to be found at Kidd & Co. Instead, classic wooden toys, beautifully crafted linen rompers, and perfect little floral jersey wraps line the shelves. The store is like a Pinterest board come to life.
You’ll smell Imogino – Bunbury’s dedicated fragrance, candle, and gift store – long before you step through the front door. It’s a sensory treasure trove, stocked full of deliciously niche brands you won’t find in any department store. Spend some time with the dynamic mother and daughter duo, Ricci and Michelle, getting to know the brands that they’ve hand-picked for their shelves (think Juliette Has A Gun, Eight and Bob, and Carthusia Profumi di Capri) and leave with a new appreciation for luxe scents.
Step into a kaleidoscopic world of print and colour at the unmissable Afez of the Heart. Specialising in homewares, the store brings little (and some big) pieces of Morocco, Turkey, India, and even Japan to Bunbury. Marvel at the colourful glass lanterns hanging from the ceiling, or plan out your dream home reno with their range of Indian doors, painted tiles, and ornate ottomans. They’re even now stocking small lines of clothing and jewellery too.
Round the corner where Wellington Street intersects with Victoria Street, and you’ll find The Green Depot in its new home. Back bigger and better than ever, this houseplant store has grown to incorporate a florist and healthy cafe too. Pay them a visit to pick up a new swiss cheese baby, and you’ll no doubt leave with a few new pots, a bouquet of dried flowers, and a raw doughnut too.
Flanked by bush and beach, there’s a seemingly endless list of things to do in Bunbury including outdoor activities to keep you busy on a weekender in Bunbury.
Cycling enthusiasts can pop into Victoria Street’s cafe-slash-bike-store, Melo Velo, enjoy a pre-ride caffeine hit, and get to exploring the city on two wheels. Hire a bike for the day and follow the cycle path from town, down along the water’s edge to the Dolphin Discovery Centre, before cycling back up around the mangroves and past the Parade Hotel. If you’re feeling adventurous, test your mountain biking skills on one of the many trails in nearby Ferguson Valley.
Not all of Bunbury’s trails involve bush and bikes. Set out on the ReDiscover art trail to see over 30 murals around town, painted by some of the most talented local and international muralists. There’s an Anya Brock on the Graham Bricknell Sound Shell, a Fintan McGee on the side of the cinema, and a Ketones6000 behind the entertainment centre. While you’re making your way through the stops on the downloadable map, keep an eye out for the murals prettying up the power boxes along the streets (there’s a map for this trail too).
If two art trails aren’t enough to sate the aesthete in you, make your way to The Bunbury Regional Art Gallery (BRAG). Formerly, the eye-catching Victorian gothic building housed a convent and an all-girls school. Now, it’s been given a striking makeover with a lick of pink paint, and its former halls and classrooms have been transformed into six large galleries. Entry to the gallery is free.
What’s in a name? The Bunbury Seaview Apartments’ biggest drawcard, that’s what. Located directly across from the beach 5-minutes from town, these studio, 1, 2, and 3-bedroom self-contained apartments have uninterrupted views of the water. There’s also a pool for those who would prefer a sand-free swim.
A little closer to town, and between the waters of Koombana Bay and the inlet, you can find Quest Bunbury. Choose to stay in a studio, 1, 2, or 3-bedroom apartment, and enjoy the flexibility that comes with booking a fully self-contained stay. Not all of the modern apartments here have water views, but manage to nab one at the front of the property and you might just have a balcony overlooking Koombana Bay.
To ensure prime views of the bay, book a deluxe studio room at Bunbury Hotel Koombana Bay. The rooms have a comfy king bed and kitchenette, and they look out over the shimmering waters of Koombana North. A short stroll from the hotel and you’ll be at the waterfront precinct where you can find coffee, beer, and even a store selling saltwater taffy.
More things to do in Bunbury via visitbunburygeographe.com.au.
Feature image: Australia’s South West
This is a sponsored post for City of Bunbury in partnership with Australia’s South West – endorsed by So Perth. We value your feedback so please contact us with any thoughts in regards to our sponsored post.