Long before the Margaret River region's meteoric rise to the top of many wine lists, Western Australia's third largest city, Bunbury, was a major centre. It remains an important port for this thriving agricultural region in the southwest of WA.
Just 175 kilometres south of Perth, its multi-water position -- bay, estuary, river and ocean -- makes Bunbury a popular destination. Aside from the cafes and bars, there is the opportunity to take a dip with wild dolphins, cruise the still waters of Koombana Bay, Leschenault Estuary and the Collie River, or learn more about the local flora and fauna at Bunbury Wildlife Park.
One of the most popular options is to head south for the coastal towns of Busselton, Dunsborough and beyond. With enough time in port you can spend the day at world-famous Margaret River wineries, where you'll definitely want to raise a glass to this stunning part of the country.
Like many regional ports in WA, the port of Bunbury handles bulk loading of grain and other materials and is a busy working port. Cruise ships are usually allocated docking at Berth 1.
Have fun noticing local car number plates. Every council area in Western Australia has its own prefix for cars registered in that region. In Bunbury it is BY. Nearby Busselton is BSN, and Margaret River is AU as it is in the shire of Augusta.
Be careful collecting shells in shallow water or on the beach as they might contain live 'occupants'. The blue-ringed octopus is very dangerous. Not all beaches are patrolled or have flags so do watch out for 'rips' (strong currents) when there is a big swell.
Picking wildflowers is prohibited throughout the state. If bushwalking, be alert for snakes, and wear a hat and use sun-protection cream and mosquito repellent.
ATMs and currency exchanges may be found throughout the town at banks. ATMs are also found in some shopping centres as well as many hotels. Withdrawals will be in Australian currency, usually in $50 and $20 notes. For current currency conversion figures visit www.oanda.com or www.xe.com. US dollars are not acceptable when shopping, but major credit cards are generally welcome.
Expect to find truly delicious souvenirs in this port. The Bunbury Visitor Centre, at Old Railway Station, Carmody Place, has local produce for sale -- including olive oils -- and you will find regional wines, boutique beers and spirits in many bottle shops. If your shore trip takes you to the Margaret River region then you will be able to choose wines from many top cellar doors.