FORGET Western Australia’s tyranny of distance and think south-west.
There are tantalising towns and sensational stop-overs within striking distance of the motorist traversing the south-west.
In the cooler months, motoring can be capitalised on when it’s too wet or chilly to spend a lot of time on the ground.
Hop back into the car and cruise elsewhere, a short sojourn through nature’s greatest offerings including tall timbers.
Put up the brolly and pull on a raincoat and wander under the trees.
Raindrops falling on your head will be a new experience for many.
You see familiar places in a new light.
Baby Boomer tradition has been, in winter go north, in summer head south.
But with an adjustment to your thought processes and being properly prepared – rugging-up and forewarning the kids – you are destined for a different, damper holiday.
How much more you will appreciate your hot coffee/hot chocolate stops. Select a town, perhaps Pemberton, and head in that general direction.
We take off without a fixed timetable, being diverted by a place or feature that catches the eye en-route.
Perhaps there’ll be a sudden weather change and we’ll make allowances and diversions.
In the cool months, accommodation and caravan bookings are unnecessary.
It doesn’t matter if you arrive behind schedule or even if you have to find another town.
You’re just cruising – stress-free.
Heading south between Mandurah and Bunbury, just before the Myalup turn-off, is the Crooked Carrot café and after our last two stops there, we’ll be regulars for a coffee break or lunch.
While on the main road, it has a lovely outlook, terrific tucker and drinks and room for kids to roam and stuff to play on.
The Bunbury Farmers Markets are certainly worth a stop for local groceries and a feed or drink – including their generous free tasting samples.
Heading towards timber towns and, in our case, Pemberton there will be myriad distractions in the regions of Donnybrook, Bridgetown and Manjimup.
Such as wineries and breweries and farms with fruit and vegetables, gourmet offerings and cattle.
Around Manjimup you might come across black truffles – the big, new export industry – plus, undoubtedly, apple farms and trout fishing.
The tall trees closer to Pemberton include some grand, 300-year-old specimens, bringing in new generations of international tourists.
Have you stood among those towering giants, listening to birdsong and perhaps the dripping rain?
The Gloucester Tree, popular with Baby Boomers still, has 153 thin pegs for you to be challenged on as you climb 53 metres.
The Diamond Tree, once a fire lookout from 1941, towers 51 metres and is another drawcard for the active traveller.
There’s also the Dave Evans Bicentennial Tree which, at 75 metres, is the tallest climbing tree in the world.
By way of contrast, there are the Yeagarup Dunes “the largest land-locked moving dune system in the Southern Hemisphere” and you can hop aboard a 4WD for a guided tour or self-drive.
The mobile dunes are in the wonderful Warren National Park, 20 kms from Pemberton.
At Pemberton, also suitable for inclement weather, is the tram for tourists where you can listen to a useful briefing on the region while having a break from the car.
Throughout the south-west there is a luscious mix of natural and human-shaped attractions.
In the winter months they take on a new light.
Yes, our south-west is cool.