Freelance writer and father of two, living in Perth, Western Australia
Published January 30th 2013
Life is never better than when it's spent in the serenity between moments. The hassles and demands of the world recede and all that you're left with is a sense of contentment. Until the next moment arrives.
But tucked away in the south west corner of West Australia's Karri forests, an hour's drive from the famed Margaret River Wine Region, is the historic mill town of Donnelly River. A place caught between moments, where serenity is the norm. Where taking a seat on the front verandah is not done to get away from the moment, but to put yourself in it.
Originally constructed in the 1950's, the village itself was built to house mill workers and their families, with facilities including housing, a general store, butcher's shop, social club and a school. Those facilities were repurposed in the 1980's when the village began operating as a tourist destination, showing off its aesthetic connection to the Australian bush.
It's a connection that can still be felt today, some 35 years after the Donnelly River Mill was closed down. The Karri forest is more than a place setting here; it's a part of the village itself, bringing the wildlife directly to you. Emus and Kangaroos roam the village, happy to be hand fed, while parrots and blue wrens contribute a vivid splash of colour to the whole experience.
The old timber cottages have been upgraded where necessary – think microwaves, stoves and hot water systems – but the charm of the original residences is still strong. Wood stoves and log fires hearken back to yesteryear and the authenticity of the village's former purpose.
If you're after luxury, comfort, and guided tours, then Donnelly River may not be for you. But when it comes to kicking back and enjoying the long, misty mornings and the longer summer evenings, you'll not find a better example. If you're after peace and quiet, a place for your kids to revel in the Australian outback experience, or just a convenient place to relax while exploring the Southern Forests Region, then look no further. Donnelly River has all that.
Donnelly River is a great place to stay. We went in Jan 2011 with another family and heading back this Easter with them again. Great for families and the kids can get back to outdoor play. My son can't wait to see if his cubby is still there, or to just build another. The wildlife is great, especially a laugh if you need to delicately shoo them from your cottage! We found it great value especially if you can share your accommodation with family or friends.