Almost exactly halfway between Perth and Albany, the dusty outback town of Wagin toils away beneath a vast expanse of nothingness except for clouds swirling on a background of blue.
As the outback scrub gives away to hills of faded gold, the Southern Wheatbelt region is dotted with cattle languidly grazing in paddocks while lorikeets and galas nibble on roadside picnics of seeds. The quintessential outback town of Wagin is at the crossroads of the Great Southern region; with Albany to the south, Bunbury to the West, Esperance to the south-east and Perth 225 kilometres to the north.
After turning off Albany Highway onto Arthur Road visitors are welcomed into town by an outdoor gallery of corrugated-iron creations crafted into brightly-painted comical depictions. The countryside is sparsely littered with old homesteads on vast fields of wheat and sheep stations. Originally occupied by the Aboriginal tribe called Noongars until it was settled in the early 1800s, and located near a series of ancient lakes, Wagin is one of the most heritage rich rural towns in WA. Pronounced as “way-gin” it’s named after the Noongar word meaning “where the emus watered.”
Click here for the full article published in Morning Calm, Korean Airlines inflight magazine, January 2015
236 km south of Perth and approximately 3 hours via Albany Hwy. Extreme temperatures reach high 30’s Dec-Mar and overnight minimums of 2 degrees Jun-Sept. The sun is harsh so always apply sunscreen and wear a hat. Carry extra water when travelling and beware of kangaroos on the roads especially at dawn and dusk. Wildflower season runs Aug-Nov. On the last Saturday of October Wagin Burnouts is a drag racing festival open to spectators and has free camping sites.
Where to stay:
The Wagin Motel provides clean and comfortable motel rooms with breakfast. Also in town Buckinghams Bed & Breakfast offers charming rooms with breakfast. Ellerslie Lady by the Lake Spa and Retreat has cottages and a day spa. Check Airbnb for other options like Wadelocking Manor Country Getaway.
What to eat:
Palace Hotel is the most popular and Molly Brown’s in Mitchell Hall serves quaint fare. The Woodanilling Tavern about 25 km south is a local favourite especially for its roast dinners and live entertainment. The Highbury Tavern about 30 kms north-west is a typical outback pub with a steakhouse and beer garden.
Woolorama runs 6-7 March 2015 and includes sheep shearing, wool handling, sheep dog trials, dog high-jump, cattle judging as well as fashion parades, art exhibits, kids’ rides, a rodeo and live music.
The 10.5 kilometre Wait-Jen Walk Trail has the Noongar name for “emu’s foot print” and follows the ancient dreaming trails formed by the mythical Wagul. Signposted the trail meanders by four lakes, natural vegetation, kangaroos and nocturnal animals. The lakes evaporate in the dry season and the shimmering salt flats are best viewed and photographed at sunset.
31st December marks 50 years since the land speed record was broken at 429 miles per hour (690 km/h) by Donald Campbell on Dumbleyung Lake in his Bluebird K7 boat. Covering an area of 52 square kilometres it’s a natural habitat for waterbirds, water-sports and picnics.
Follow the plaques and take a self-guided walk especially to the Library which also houses a small art gallery including prolific Western Australian artist Robert Juniper’s Homeward Bound.