When planning a holiday in the southern parts of Western Australia, there are usually one of two places that people tend to visit most often. Either they come from the country to enjoy the shopping, nightlife and the hustle and bustle of Perth CBD and its surrounds, or they travel south to the picturesque South West countryside in Margaret River. Well I would like to add a stopover destination about half way between Perth and Margaret River, the small country town of Harvey. Alternatively, If you are living in either one of these areas or its surrounds, and you are looking for a nice place to head to for a day on the weekend, then Harvey is absolutely the spot for you.
Harvey is a Western Australian local producer and distributer of Harvey Beef, where they are famed for their Angus Beef, and of Harvey Fresh, a company specializing in dairy products such as milk and cheese, and various juices especially the amazingly delicious Harvey Fresh Orange Juice. You simply can’t go passed Harvey without purchasing at least one block of cheese a bag of fresh locally grown oranges for the road which can often be purchased at little stalls on the side of the road.
When travelling to Margaret River from Perth, the drive can get awfully tiring and scheduled stops are required. Harvey is the destination that I recommend. It is about 1 and a ½ hours south of Perth and about 1 hour and 40 minutes north of Margaret River.
You definitely know you are getting close to Harvey when you start seeing paddocks upon paddocks of black and white dairy cows grazing in the lush green pastures. If you’re coming in off the Forrest Highway or even from the South Western Highway, you can’t mistake that Harvey icon. If you are coming in from the Forrest Highway like I tend to do because the drive is much more scenic, I recommend first stopping off at Harvey Fresh and climbing up the Big Orange lookout to admire the fields of orange trees, and tasting some delicious local wines. Perhaps even purchase a bottle to enjoy with your lunch or save it for dinner.
From there, head in to central town and pick up some lunch at the humble Fish and Chip shop on Udoc Road (Don’t worry you wont have to look too far for it, Harvey is essentially one street). I know Fish and Chips sounds like a pretty average lunch stop, but these are some of the best tasting and
best-valued small-town burgers I have ever eaten. To eat your lunch I recommend either taking a short walk to the small park just a little further down the road, or heading off to the Harvey Dam. My all-time favourite place to go in Harvey is the Dam. It is beautifully landscaped with picnic tables and barbeques, a small stone amphitheatre and well maintained gardens and lawn areas. When you are finished eating and feel like you’re about to explode, take a nice walk over to the other side of the Dam, following the path, to reach the top of the Dam wall for some scenic panorama views.
Ha Ve Cheese
After lunch and a walk, a light siesta and some play time with the kids or the dog, take another short drive to the Ha Ve Cheese Factory. Make sure you have a taste of the wonderful selection of house made and award winning cheeses, and then sit and have a coffee and cake, or some icecream, while enjoying the selection of artisan crafts on display in the store, the beautiful rural scenery and the camels. Yes, they have camels. Ha Ve cheese is famed for its unique OMG cheese. To me it tastes like an incredible blend of Camembert crossed with Brie, or as I like to call it, a soft cheese lovers dream. My second favourite cheese is the Herb and Garlic Feta. No joke, I have eaten an entire block of this stuff in one sitting. They have a variety of different types and flavours of cheese ranging from all kinds of hard and soft, feta’s, blue’s and much more.
Information Centre and Stirling Cottage
By now you are probably full to the brim with delicious local food and drinks, and surely due for another walk in the sunshine. The next place I recommend going is the Information Centre. This place houses the lovely ‘Stirling Cottage Kitchen’ tearooms, which I recommend attending next time you are hungry, perhaps on the trip back from Margaret River, but more importantly, I go there for the gorgeous short walk around the heritage garden grounds. There is a quaint little pond full of ducks, flower beds that are absolutely littered with Monarch butterflies if you’re lucky to be there at the right time of the year, and a small orchard of orange trees at the back. Before leaving, take a look inside the information centre where you can pick yourself up a souvenir dairy cow and enjoy the dedicated display area of Gumnut Babies created by May Gibbs, who wrote the Snugglepot and Cuddlepie children’s stories, and who lived in the original Stirling Cottage. Just outside of the information centre a short few meters up the street, there is often a small stall on the edge of the road selling bags of fresh oranges and mandarins. Last time I bought a bag they were about $2 for kilo! One simply cannot go passed fresh locally grown seasonal fruit. Make sure you grab yourself a bag or two before you continue on your journey down south.
Harvey is a great place to visit for a day trip. I’ve come down to Harvey for the day many times before and will continue to do so. It is certainly my favourite weekend destination. In addition, if you would like to take your time walking around the various parks and gardens, and experiencing all that Harvey has to offer, which I completely recommend, I suggest staying a night or two in a beautiful nearby Farmstay or cottage, and enjoy the on site farm animals and scenic rural views.