Best time to visit Southern W.A.

Submitted: Sunday, Oct 19, 2014 at 07:33
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We are in the planning stage of a trip from NSW to Southern W.A. in the second half of 2015. The preliminary plan at this stage, travel to Perth via Norseman & Kalgoorlie then head south visiting areas such as Busselton, Augusta, Pemberton, Albany , Esperance, Cape Arid & return to the Nullarbor crossing at Balladonia. I had planned to spend two to three weeks in W.A. From my research so far it would appear early spring time can be rather damp & cool. The trip’s not all about wild flowers but would be keen to see them.
So the big question at this stage, what’s the best time of year? We would prefer to avoid School holidays so would like opinions as to the weeks leading up to, or immediately after the end of term three school holidays.
Cheers,
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Reply By: Member - John and Val - Sunday, Oct 19, 2014 at 08:55

Sunday, Oct 19, 2014 at 08:55
Hi Allan,

A lot will depend on how you are set up for travelling/living while on the road, and what you want to see. We have been in that area twice each time during September and early October. Both times we struck patches of cool, wet and windy weather making for a bit of less than comfortable camping at times in our minimal camping set-up. Momentarily we wished for a caravan! Coming home across the Nullarbor though there was a hot northerly blowing making the driving quite unpleasant, and ruling out stops at the Head of the Bight and other places that we would otherwise have had a look at.

The cool damp weather is good for the wildflowers, and if you come home too late in the season the whales may have left their calving grounds. So its all a bit of a trade-off.

I dont know when the WA school holidays are but in any case much will depend on the weather conditions at the time. If a front comes across it will be damp and windy - just have a look at todays weather in southern WA. We have written a number of blogs about our time over there in 2009 and 2012 so they might give you some ideas about good places to find the wildflowers.

Cheers,

Val
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Follow Up By: Member - Allan L2 - Sunday, Oct 19, 2014 at 09:21

Sunday, Oct 19, 2014 at 09:21
Thanks Val. I was reading part of your 2012 blog yesterday and noted that the weather was not the best for you. I believe WA school holidays are from 25th Sept – 12th Oct. We will be travelling in a Colorado 4x4 and prefer to stay in caravan park cabins or country pubs. May have to camp at Cape Arid.
Cheers,
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Follow Up By: pop2jocem - Sunday, Oct 19, 2014 at 11:19

Sunday, Oct 19, 2014 at 11:19
G'day Allan,

We just returned from our lap around the block, got home Friday arvo. Traveled clockwise.
Yep grandkids went back to school at the beginning of this week.
The winds across the Nullabor weren't too bad but we struck a bad blow between Norseman and Southern Cross. We were very glad to scuttle into the SC caravan park and shelter for a couple of days. Not a bad little park either by the way.
The weather in general can be a bit unpredictable as the seasons change. Absolutely beautiful spring day on Friday and yesterday, cold and light showers today as a front passes through.
The south coast can be very windy and cold if the wind is coming from the southern ocean and a bit on the warm side if coming from the north.

Other than that, a nice part of the state. Enjoy.

Cheers
Pop
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Follow Up By: Ron N - Sunday, Oct 19, 2014 at 13:03

Sunday, Oct 19, 2014 at 13:03
School holidays for 2014, 2015 and 2016 are listed below for all states;

School holiday dates
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Follow Up By: Member - John and Val - Sunday, Oct 19, 2014 at 13:24

Sunday, Oct 19, 2014 at 13:24
Hi Allan,

If you are staying in cabins then I doubt that the weather would trouble you much. Its a different matter when camping! As others have said, easier to keep warm than to keep cool. A lot will come down to how much you want to see the wildflowers - there will probably be some about for most of the year, but the spring display is wonderful and I personally would risk a bit of wind and damp to see those flowers, including the ground orchids. Bear in mind that the display will vary depending on the amount of rain that falls in autumn and winter. 2012 was quite a dry year and the display, even in the Fitzgerald River NP was not a patch on what it was in 2009.

Cape Arid is a wonderful spot, but I dont think there are any cabins there, so yes you would probably need to camp.

Cheers,

Val
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Follow Up By: Ron N - Sunday, Oct 19, 2014 at 13:50

Sunday, Oct 19, 2014 at 13:50
A really wet winter is needed to get the wildflowers really going in W.A.
In 1974, after a beautiful, cloudless, warm, rain-free Autumn, it started raining on the 19th June - and it virtually never stopped raining every day, until the middle of September.

The wheatbelt was awash for weeks - I can remember driving North up a road East of Kondinin, and the floodwater never went below halfway up the doors of my Holden ute for more than 10kms.

However, when it finally stopped raining, and the warmth returned in Spring, the wildflowers were absolutely amazing.
I could never remember a wildflower season like it, and I've never seen one like it since. The varieties, the size of the plants, and the colours were incredible.
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Follow Up By: Member - John and Val - Sunday, Oct 19, 2014 at 15:20

Sunday, Oct 19, 2014 at 15:20
Ron you may well be right, but if you come from the east and have never seen the WA spring wildflowers then even a moderately good display after some average rainfall is amazing. 5 years on and I am still identifying the vast number of wildflower photos that we took in 2009 - that locals said was an "average to good" year.

Cheers,

Val
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Reply By: rocco2010 - Sunday, Oct 19, 2014 at 10:28

Sunday, Oct 19, 2014 at 10:28
Giddy Allan

The problem with the WA weather at that time of year is that the patterns are still changing from winter to summer and the weather is, well, changeable.

last week for example in Perth there was a 35C day (the earliest in the season on record I believe) and several fine days with temperatures in the high 20s and this weekend we have had showers and thunderstorms over pretty much the entire south west land division. Obviously neither event is typical.

If you want to avoid school holidays you have the choice of mid to late September or mid to late October. My preference would be for the latter, but you would still need to be prepared for some cool and wet weather, particularly the further south you are. Wind is nearly always with us somewhere in WA.

Five years ago today I climbed Bluff Knoll in the Stirling Range on a fine and sunny day. I doubt I would be doing it today. But I probably still would rather be camped down south somewhere!

Cheers

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Follow Up By: MARIC - Sunday, Oct 19, 2014 at 11:05

Sunday, Oct 19, 2014 at 11:05
We live near the Porongurups and the temp today and yesterday max 14 however earlier in the week high 20's. Really depends on weather pattern, remember it is easier to stay warm with clothes on than strip off and sweat it out.
You are welcome to contact me for further info.
Regards Ric
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Reply By: MEMBER - Darian, SA - Sunday, Oct 19, 2014 at 12:05

Sunday, Oct 19, 2014 at 12:05
SW WA....what a region ! We left that general area about 5 weeks back - and it was quite cool, damp and blowy at times....not a problem....were were there later in the year, 5 years back and it was wonderful weather in general - the flowers were a total treat. Based on your stated preferences, starting early to mid October would seem the go to me (as suggested by others above). Like any region, the weather can be a lottery, but surrounded by all that water systems can blow up in a day or two. Have a great trip.
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Reply By: Ron N - Sunday, Oct 19, 2014 at 12:48

Sunday, Oct 19, 2014 at 12:48
A lot depends on your accommodation setup. With camping you're always at risk with inclement weather. A caravan gives better weather protection at higher cost.
The South Coast is just fine during Summer.
It is normally quite cool in the Southern areas of W.A. that you mentioned, for 9 mths of the year. Then in Summer, it warms up, but never gets really hot. The Nullarbor is the only hot area in Summer.

My choice would be late Summer from early March to late March (avoid Easter), or after Easter up until early May.
However, you speak of the "second half of 2015" so that limits you to mid-Spring or early Summer. In that case, early December would be quite a satisfactory time to visit those areas.

Cheers, Ron.
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Follow Up By: Ron N - Sunday, Oct 19, 2014 at 12:59

Sunday, Oct 19, 2014 at 12:59
I probably should have mentioned, watch the winds and follow the synoptic weather charts when travelling most of W.A.
A high pressure system setting up in the central Bight area is a classic Summer weather pattern.

When this happens, you'll get stinking hot Northerly winds from the interior right over W.A. and the place roasts.
Those hot Northerlies are best avoided by laying up for a day or two somewhere, preferably near the coast.
Travelling in hot northerlies means your vehicle runs extremely hot, you risk tyre damage, and your fuel consumption will rocket.

The worst Summer feature of W.A. is the coastal trough. This is a slow-moving long area of low pressure that stretches North to South over W.A.
A trough will commence to form near the West Coast under summery conditions, and it then moves slowly across the state from West to East.
In doing so, it produces sticky, windless humidity that you get little relief from.

A West coast trough can be very slow-moving and can take a week or more to reach the S.A. border.
When this happens, the only relief from the heat and humidity you'll get, is right on the coast.
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Follow Up By: Member - Allan L2 - Sunday, Oct 19, 2014 at 13:11

Sunday, Oct 19, 2014 at 13:11
Thanks Ron for your reply. Re accommodation, as mentioned in an earlier "Follow up" we stay in caravan park Cabins where possible.
Cheers.
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Follow Up By: Ron N - Sunday, Oct 19, 2014 at 13:20

Sunday, Oct 19, 2014 at 13:20
O.K. - Sorry, I missed that part initially. That's my style of touring, too - I've spent too much time when I was working full time, camping out and roughing it!
Nowadays I'm very happy to stay in cabins, pubs and hotels! SWMBO would stay in 5 star hotels every time, if she could! LOL

There's some nice cabins in the parks nowadays, and many old pubs have been renovated and seek out tourists.
Typical of that is the Muntadgin Hotel - relatively isolated and in a pretty featureless Eastern agricultural area - but a classic old pub, nonetheless!

W.A. Country pubs

Cheers, Ron.
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Follow Up By: pop2jocem - Sunday, Oct 19, 2014 at 17:21

Sunday, Oct 19, 2014 at 17:21
So Allan, after all that, and I don't mean just what Ron has laid out, which by the way I think is pretty much on the mark.

Are you still coming to the Wild West?? (;=))

Cheers
Pop
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Follow Up By: Member - Allan L2 - Sunday, Oct 19, 2014 at 19:00

Sunday, Oct 19, 2014 at 19:00
Yes Pop, we are still coming to the wild west. The above info is a lot of "food for thought" and may take a while to fully digest.

Cheers
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Follow Up By: Member Kerry W (WA) - Monday, Oct 20, 2014 at 00:15

Monday, Oct 20, 2014 at 00:15


Hi Allan

Any time you see this pattern, a High actually in, or slightly above, the bight is a great time to visit the south Coasts. (With the exception of summer - I doubt you will choose summer as a time to travel this area anyway).

You will not get cold rainy weather as the airflow is from over the continent and is dry and warm. You can get this pattern all through the year it even possible to get clear warm days in July if you know your patterns.

When it turns bad just head up into the Great Western Woodlands for a while.

Dont mistake my passion here. We are used to Queenslands Gems, Fraser, Straddie, Cooloola and the Whitsundays etc hence I only ever go to places like Esperance or Isralite Bay when we are sure we are not going to freeze. Often we camp in the dunes for a week at a time and welcome the odd morning shower of rain to replenish our fresh water supply, but there are far better places to be when it rains for longer.

The coastline is too magnificent to miss out on by not knowing a bit about the weather. Dont be put off by a few days of rain, just go somewhere else for a while - heading north will take you out of it fairly quickly, might cost a bit in fuel to head back down when it settles but what price can you put on the bliss of lazing around in the sun on the prettiest (least settled) coastline in Australia.

PS note the wind direction in my wifes hair in the nice sunny scene below - its blowing offshore....because...there is ....a high in the bight!

Hope this Helps

Kerry W (Qld)
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Reply By: Motherhen - Sunday, Oct 19, 2014 at 20:24

Sunday, Oct 19, 2014 at 20:24
Once the rains have come and the south west is green, it is all beautiful. You will get some wet or cold days in winter, but it better than the dry and parched summer scenery. September is the peak time for wildflowers, and the weather usually pleasant but expect some blustery days.

Three weeks is a very short time to spend in Western Australia after crossing the continent; do you have strict time constraints?

We spent two weeks in September touring the Kalgoorlie Goldfields a few years ago, leaving and returning to a damp and cool south west. We had to purchase hats and sunscreen, and we had a low supply of summer clothes to wear, wash and wear.

Touring the south coast Albany to Esperance one hot January it was pleasant on the south coast but hot not far inland. Of course at that time camping was near impossible with families on holidays, and retirees who go to a set campground for summer each year.

Overall, spring would be the option I would choose.

Now it is well into October, most of the wildflowers here have finished, but we have unusually cold and windy weather with some showers making it one of the coldest days this year. You never can tell.



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Follow Up By: Member - Allan L2 - Monday, Oct 20, 2014 at 09:46

Monday, Oct 20, 2014 at 09:46
Thanks Motherhen. Yes we are a bit limited on time, have allowed five weeks in total but expect to take about a week travelling each way. The only way to extend our stay would be to go into the school holidays (which I do have off). Had considered the thought that we may travel either to or from W.A. during the holidays. As a rule we prefer to avoided school holidays due to extra traffic & extra demand on accommodation.
I been watching your weather closely & noted it’s been cool. S.A. had it very hot yesterday & we maxed out at 28 here.
Cheers
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Reply By: MARIC - Monday, Oct 20, 2014 at 23:08

Monday, Oct 20, 2014 at 23:08
Re previous follow up last 24 hrs 77mm rain ;o))
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