I'm a freelance writer living in Perth. Having 2 young kids with endless energy, we are always on the lookout for new outdoor activities.
Published June 7th 2012
Many of us who live in Perth are used to seeing Harvey dairy products, beef products, or fruit juices in the supermarket. Have you ever wondered who this Harvey is? Well, it turns out that it's not who but where.
One of the orange orchards in Harvey
Harvey Shire is located one and a half hour's drive south of Perth via the South Western Highway. It is a pleasant day trip from Perth but if you feel so inclined, you could also stay the night, for example at one of the farm stays in the area.
Getting up, close, and personal with the animals at a farmstay
If it's your first time visiting, I'd suggest stopping by the Visitor Centre to browse the information on the district. After picking up the brochures, make sure you head towards the magnificent garden at the back, with its 19th century style fountain and miniature orange grove. The public toilet here was built to resemble a stable, with cheeky signs above two split doors announcing "fillies" and "colts" for you to choose from.
Sharing a carpark with the Visitor Centre is a tearoom called Stirling Cottage. It's open 7 days a week and serves light lunch and afternoon tea. Weather permitting, you could opt to sit outside on the balcony overlooking the river and the garden. The garden's resident ducks were definitely not the shy types and reminded me of Jemima of Beatrix Potter's creation.
Friendly ducks visiting the tearoom's balcony
The brochures from the Visitor Centre would give you plenty of ideas of where to head off next. However if you're not the reading-on-the-spot type, here's a suggestion: Harvey Dam.
Harvey Dam is a relatively new dam (built towards the end of the 1990s to replace the old Harvey Weir), with a pleasant recreation area attached. The dam itself has a wall that could be approached from two directions: From the recreation area (via a walktrail and a flight of stairs) and from the road. Only authorised vehicles could drive onto the wall, but you could park your car and walk on it to enjoy the view.
Stairs to climb dam wall
The recreation area adjacent to the dam is a complete destination in itself. It has an amphitheatre, walktrails which include a footbridge and boardwalk, a fenced playground, and grassed picnic areas with gazebos and BBQs. Public toilets are available and there are plenty of carparks too.
The boardwalk is reflected on the calm water. Picnic area with BBQ in the background.
Although it is tempting to just stay the whole day there, day-trippers should spare some time to look at what Harvey is famous for--oranges--before heading back to Perth.
There are plenty of locals that sell oranges direct when in season (even the Visitor Centre), and one of the orchards installed an observation tower in the shape of a Big Orange. With a gold coin donation, you could enjoy the novelty of climbing the tower and having a bird's eye view of the orchard surrounding it.
Sounds like a lot to accomplish in a day trip? Well, there are plenty more yet to be mentioned. The Harvey Tourism website has the complete list of attractions and if you go there once and fall in love with the area like me, the long list serves as an excuse to keep coming back for more.