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The small town of Donnybrook is Western Australia’s apple capital, surrounded by fruit orchards and bushland in the state’s scenic southwest. It’s also deep within the Geographe wine region, with a handful of cellar doors within easy driving distance and more not far away. Settled by a group of Irishmen — and so given the name of a Dublin suburb — in 1894, Donnybrook enjoyed a brief gold rush before becoming the state’s apple-growing centre.
The town’s other claim to fame is being the source of fine Jurassic-era sandstone. Donnybrook sandstone is still quarried outside of town and has been used for many grand buildings in Perth, including Parliament House, the Supreme Court, and St Mary’s Cathedral. In a quiet back street in town you’ll find the Soldiers Memorial Hall, a striking example of a building in this beautiful stone. Most of the town’s shops, cafés, and restaurants line the South Western Highway, which splits Donnybrook in two. Grab an apple pie at one of the bakeries on the main street, or pick your own apples at local orchards in season.
Donnybrook is about a 2.5-hour drive from Perth Airport (PER), the closest airport handling international and domestic flights. Rent a car at the airport for the drive down the coast. If you want to go car-free, you can head into Perth city and take the daily train to the port city of Bunbury and then a bus the rest of the way to Donnybrook. You can also take a coach from Perth to Donnybrook; there’s one daily service on weekdays. There are no car rental agencies or bike rental services in town, however, so your options will be limited if you don’t have your own transport. If you’re a very keen cyclist, you could make your way to Donnybrook from the outskirts of Perth on the Munda Biddi mountain-biking trail, which continues to the coastal city of Albany.
Summer days in Donnybrook are dry and hot, but cool down markedly overnight, with the heat extending through the first half of autumn. The vineyards around Donnybrook usually harvest in mid-February, although in some seasons they’ll pick grapes from late January. Early autumn is a lovely time of year here, with the Donnybrook Apple Festival held on the Easter long weekend in April. The festival features a local artisans trail as well as an apple pie competition. Rainy days are much more likely from late autumn through winter. The fields outside of town come alive with apple and cherry blossoms during the first half of spring. And the Donnybrook Food and Wine Festival in late November marks the return of hot days and warm nights.
If you’re into gnomes, there are around 10,000 of the little bearded figures in Gnomesville in the Ferguson Valley, around a 20-minute drive from Donnybrook. The first residents of this informal village of gnomes lining a road and nearby creek were introduced by members of the local community, with the population continually growing as visitors bring their own to add to the collection.
This two-hour trek runs from Donnybrook town centre along the banks of the Preston River. The track features an Indigenous Walk Trail, which brings to life the Dreamtime creation story of the river through the artworks of the Waugyl Sculpture Park.
While they’re not the tallest falls you’ll ever encounter, the Ironstone Gully Falls, around a 15-minute drive from Donnybrook, are a lovely series of cascades and rapids through a jarrah hardwood forest. If you visit from August to October, you’ll also be treated to a colourful show of wildflowers.