Wineries and wildflowers are the drawcard of Mt Barker, nestled on the end of the Stirling Ranges and Porongurup National Park in the midst of fertile farmland and bountiful vineyards. Throughout the year it is host to spectacular culinary and cultural events.
Things to See & Do
At the heart of the largest wine growing regions in Australia, you can meander at your own pace and sample some Riesling, the region’s most famous and acclaimed variety. There are 26 cellar door outlets; each worthy of a visit! Take your time and try award-winning wines.
Art & Culture
Consider being in the region in March to see sculptural outdoor pieces exhibited in the ‘Art in the Park’ in the Porongorup National Park. In spring, visit again to see local artists open their studio doors and gallery exhibition spaces to visitors on ‘The Great Southern Art Trail’.
Well worth a visit is the Old Police Station. Surrounded by magnificent gardens, the Plantagenet Historical Society maintains the collection with artefacts donated by local residents. Included in the exhibition is a complete apple packing shed a reminder of industry of the past. St Werburgh’s Chapel is an icon of the town and contains exquisite woodwork made from local sheok and jarrah.
Much older than European settlement is that of the local noongar. Hear their stories. More ancient than that is the Precambrian mounds of the Porongup Ranges and the granites of the Stirling Ranges. Explore these National Parks at your leisure.
Wildflowers and wilderness
The Porongurup Ranges is within a picturesque 15min drive of Mt Barker. The mounds rise and are clearly visible in the surrounding farmland. The spectacular, abundant, rich and diverse flora is a paradise for birdwatchers and photographers. The Porongurups is also home to over 700 species of flowering plants, some of which are rare, endemic or endangered.
Many walk trails lead you into fascinating environments. Take in the spectacular view at the Devil’s Slide, Marmabup Rock, Nancy and Hayward Peaks. Cross the range along the Wansborough Walk, or marvel at Balancing Rock near the spectacular Granite Skywalk and Castle Rock.
Recognition of the distinct and unique wine growing region of Mt Barker was first identified as early as 1859, when the first vines were planted. Two years later the first vintage was bottled. It wasn’t until the 1930’s, however, that the commercial foundations were laid and knowledge of the region’s soil and climate was reinforced by science. A report in the 1950’s, created for the Western Australia Vine Fruits Research Trust, recommended that the Mt Barker and Frankland area of Western Australia ‘showed great promise for producing table wines.’ This was endorsed by the Western Australian Grape Industry Committee in 1964.
The Great Southern is one of Australia’s largest producing regions, producing around 37% of wine grapes grown in WA. The growing season has warm, sunny days and excellent fruit ripening conditions, while the cool nights enhance and retain acidity. In a region that experiences average rainfall of 600 to 700mm per annum, some established vineyards are proudly dry grown.
Plan a journey through the region’s wineries, or let Busy Blue Bus do the driving. Check out individual winery websites to find out opening times and availability of café and lunch options. Many wineries offer a local tasting plate. Importantly, book the dates in your diary to be in the Mt Barker region during the Taste Great Southern Festival that incorporates the Porongurup’s Wine Festival and is preceded by Grapes and Gallops. Check out the Busy Blue Bus website for details of event tours.
Places to Eat
Eat in or eat out, there are a variety of options in Mt Barker.
Cafes, cellar doors, restaurants and counter meals offer a myriad of choices to dine-in or gather for a picnic menu outdoors. Cellar door outlets offer delicious local produce to pair with your wine of choice or you may find everything you need for self-catering at the award-winning bakery.
Recommended places to eat include Gilbert’s Winery and Café, The Grocery Store for coffee and delicious cake, Ironwood Wines or Plantagenet Wines local produce platter.
Places to Stay
From luxury bed and breakfast accommodation with impressive views to caravan and camping sites, there is a spectrum of accommodation choices in Mt Barker.
Select your accommodation style from self-contained houses, farm stay or a cottage on the hill; perhaps even a yurt. Rest amongst banksias at a mountain retreat or a simple campsite in the National Park. There is a complete range to choose from.