My wife’s maiden name is Donnelly, so it seemed only right that we should visit the Donnelly River region during our motoring trip around South West Australia in January, 2007.
We stayed at Donnelly Lake, an isolated place, which was for sale and being run by a Kiwi couple, who were on a round Australia trip. They had spent a lot of time at Airlie Beach in Queensland.
From our base we did several bush walks, as well as visiting the Pemberton Wine Centre, where we were served by a girl from Tully, in North Queensland. A forest drive, a pie, and then a tram trip to Warren River, with a Zimbabwean as our guide, was next on the agenda. I swear our guide knew something about every tree on the way.
Marie climbed up quite a few rungs on the giant Gloucester Tree, whereas I decided just to watch. I’m not one for heights.
There also was a Donnelly River cruise, and our skipper, Shaun, was a fountain of knowledge. Lunch at Donnelly River Wines (a cheese platter) followed. (The Donnelly name here comes from a famous Admiral).
We had started our WA trip in Perth, and then stayed two nights in Bunbury, followed by three in Albany (see ‘little Gem’, this website) followed by four nights at a cabin at CoalMine Beach.
On the way from Albany, we drove to Frenchmen’s Bay, Natural Bridge and the Blow Holes, before our first swim of the trip, at Shelley Beach in the West Cape Howe National Park, where we were able to fill up our water bottle from a stream running into the ocean.
At CoalMine Beach we did the Horse Yard Hill Walk before driving to Conspicuous Cliffs and Peaceful Bay. At Bow Bridge I bought live Marron (crayfish). The Marron made for a lovely dinner, although they ‘came back to life’ when we put them in the pot on the stove, despite having placed them in the freezer first.
The following day we had a beautiful swim at Green Pools in the William Bay National Park. Just out of this world. Coffee at Rickety Gate Winery, where the land had been cleared by John Ricketts. (No relation). My dad was also JON Ricketts. (Former Rugby League Week editor, Tony Durkin would refer to me as Rickety Kate. I think it was a card game).
On Day four we did several walks in the hills, including part of the 1,000km Bibbulmun Track, as well as the Valley of the Giants Tree Top walk.
South West Australia really is a place of great natural beauty.
Photo 1: Marie Ricketts at the Mouth of the Donnelly River
Photo 2: Green Pools William Bay National Park.

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