Nestled amongst tall forests of karri and jarrah, Northcliffe is a tiny hamlet situated approximately 30 kilometres south of Pemberton in the far south of Western Australia. However, despite its small size there is plenty to see and do, both in town and the rugged national parks and nature reserves that surround it.
Unlike many travel destinations in Western Australia's far south, Northcliffe isn't over-commercialised with five-star resorts and trendy cafes. While travellers who crave such luxuries may be disappointed with what they discover, nature-lovers and those seeking a beautiful tranquil hideaway to recharge their batteries, will fall in love with the town's rustic charm and friendly locals. There are national parks to visit, walking trails to explore, a fascinating pioneer museum and the works of local artists to admire. In addition, the town's peaceful ambiance and its fresh crisp air are a treat for those of us visiting from the noisy polluted cities.
Like most towns in this part of the state, Northcliffe's history is intimately connected to the forests. For tens of thousands of years they were home to the local Murrum people, while after colonisation they provided a livelihood for the early European settlers who settled in the area. Due to the rugged nature of the terrain, the Northcliffe area was still quite untamed until well into the twentieth century, and it wasn't until the 1920s that the town itself was established.
For visitors with an interest in the area's local history, the Northcliffe Pioneer Museum on Wheatley Coast Road, opposite the Post Office, is an interesting place to visit and learn about the challenges faced by early settlers in the area, most notably those who participated in the Group Settlement scheme during the early twentieth century. It is housed in a few historic buildings and 'manned' by local volunteers who are more than happy to have a chat and share their knowledge.
A short walk from the museum, on Muirillup Road, the Northcliffe Visitors Centre is housed in a lovely new building and is a one-stop shop with all the information and resources that you'll need to explore the Southern Forests region. Open seven days a week from 9am until 4pm, its friendly staff can provide you with all sorts of useful information such as where to find the best camping sites and hiking trails for your family, and what native wildflowers are in bloom. It's also the starting-point for the highly acclaimed Understory (Art in Nature) trail, a walking track which winds 1.2 kilometres through the native forest, showcasing works by local artists that explore our relationship with nature. If you're looking for a special memento of your visit or a gift for a loved one, the Northcliffe Visitors Centre is also the best place in town to purchase beautiful locally-made handicrafts such as woodwork, pottery and hand-made jewellery.
Northcliffe is also the perfect base to explore the national parks and nature reserves of the surrounding region. To the south of town, the DÉntrecasteaux National Park is a remote and spectacular realm of tall forests, coastal heath, rugged cliffs and sandy beaches, while the Warren, Gloucester and Shannon National Parks are also just a short drive away, with their spectacular forests and wild rivers. Throughout these national parks there are many scenic walking trails which are suitable for a wide range of ages and levels of fitness, as well as picnic areas for less energetic visitors. For serious bushwalkers, the famous Bibbulmun Track meanders through Northcliffe as well as many of these remote wilderness areas.
While Northcliffe is a pleasant place a quick stop and picnic, it's also a wonderful spot to linger and relax for a few days. Various types of accommodation are available, both in town and the surrounding area, including caravan park facilities, hotel and motel rooms, bed-and-breakfasts, farm-stays and self-contained chalets. For more information about these, and any other information you may need about the town and area, check out the Northcliffe Visitor Centre website. For a truly relaxing holiday in one of Australia's most beautiful and pristine regions, you really can't beat a sojourn in Northcliffe.
Where: Approximately 366 kilometres south of Perth, Western Australia.
When: Any time of the year. However, late winter and spring are an especially nice time to visit as many beautiful wildflowers are in bloom at that time of the year.
Cost: It depends on where you stay and what you want to do.
Web:www.northcliffevisitorcentre.com.au Phone: 08 9776 7203