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The little seaside town of Bremer Bay, on Western Australia’s spectacular southwest coast, is surrounded by a string of beautiful sandy beaches. This stretch of the coastline is a place of great natural beauty, but the major attraction is out to sea. Around 65 kilometres off the coast of Bremer Bay there’s an unusually deep sea canyon. Bremer Canyon is so rich in marine life that it attracts around 200 orcas for a frenzied feeding season every January. The waters of the canyon draw many other species of whales, too, as well as great white sharks and seabirds such as albatrosses and petrels. In summer, take your pick of white-sand beaches, from the town’s main swimming strip, Bremer Beach, to nearby Little Boat Harbour, which has a terrific scuba-diving trail and is also a stellar spot for snorkelling and fishing.
There aren’t any public transport services in Bremer Bay, so you’ll need your own car to get there and get around the township. Pick up a rental at Perth Airport (PER), the closest international and domestic airport, for the 5.5-hour drive to the coast. Or take a 70-minute flight from Perth to regional Albany Airport (ALH), from where it’s around a two-hour drive to Bremer Bay. If you want to get around by bicycle, you’ll need to bring your own or rent one in Albany before you head to Bremer Bay. Once in town you’ll find local tour operators offering snorkelling and shore diving expeditions.
Summer is a great time to visit Bremer Bay. You may experience the occasional heatwave, but this part of the coast is much cooler than inland regions. Expect warm to hot days and cool nights from December through March. The school holiday period, from mid-December to late January, is always busy along the coast. Around New Year’s Eve, however, the town’s population can balloon from a few hundred residents to more than 7,000 as holidaymakers descend for festivities. Head out to Bremer Canyon from January to April for orca-spotting tours, while southern right whales come to the waters north of Bremer Bay to calve from late winter to early spring. The mild sea temperature doesn’t vary much throughout the year, so while you’ll need a wetsuit to dive or snorkel, the water will remain cool rather than chilly even in winter.
Aside from orca season at Bremer Canyon from January to April, you may also encounter resident bottlenose dolphins and humpback, blue, and minke whales close to shore from July to October. (Bremer Bay is on the path of the whales’ annual migration to warmer waters and then back to Antarctica.) Southern right whales and their calves hang out in the sheltered bays of Fitzgerald River National Park, directly north of town, from August to September.
The town of Bremer Bay sits on a river that’s usually blocked from emptying into the ocean by a sandbar. The water forms the Wellstead Estuary, which teems with birdlife all year round. The resident shorebirds are joined by migrating birds from September until April. The calm waters of the estuary are also great for fishing for black bream and King George whiting.
This coastal national park on the other side of the estuary from Bremer Bay is a botanical treasure trove that’s home to more than 2,500 plant species. Check out the wildflowers along scenic bushwalking tracks before exploring secluded beaches around Point Ann, one of the best whale-watching spots on the coast.