The Great Southern region is located on the south coast of Western Australia and covers an area of approximately 39,000 kilometres, with a coastline that extends for approximately 250 kilometres.
It is bounded by the South West region on the west and the Wheatbelt region to the north and represents around 1.5% of the state’s total land mass.
The Great Southern is the largest and most diverse region within Australia’s South West, offering an unspoilt coastline complete with whales and dolphins, agricultural lands producing an array of fresh produce and quality wines, towering 100-year old forests and ancient mountain ranges, and an array of national parks harbouring some of the world’s rarest species of flora and fauna.
The region’s economy is largely based on agriculture, in particular, wheat, barley, canola, livestock and wool, and the Great Southern account for 13% of Western Australia’s overall agricultural output. In addition to agriculture, the local economy is well supported by retail, manufacturing, construction, tourism, viticulture, timber, mining and fishing industries.
The Great Southern population totals around 60,000 people with a median age of 44 years. The majority of the population resides in the City of Albany. (Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics).
The region has a rich cultural history and approximately 3.6% of the population comprises of those identifying as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent.
Cost of living
According to the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development’s Regional Price Index 2017, the cost of living in the Great Southern region is 0.2% more expensive than Perth. (Source: Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development).
The Great Southern region enjoys a milder climate than much of the rest of Western Australia. The coastal part of the region has a Mediterranean climate characterised by dry summers and wet winters, while the north and eastern parts of the region considered to be semi-arid with hot and dry conditions.
In the region’s main population centre of Albany, average temperatures range between 15oC and 23oC in summer (December to February) and between 8oC and 16oC in winter (June to August).
Annual rainfall throughout the region averages around 930mm per year, with almost all of the yearly rains falling between the months of May and September.
Sport and recreation
Sport and recreation play a vital role in the Great Southern and the region offers one of the most diverse range of sport and recreation pursuits in the state.
Popular outdoor recreational activities include bush and trail walking, bird and wildflower watching, camping, boating, sailing, swimming, surfing, kayaking, windsurfing, fishing, mountain bike riding, hiking, and scuba diving.
The region offers access to two world-class trails – the Bibbulmun Track and the Munda Biddi Train – which can easily be accessed by walkers and off-road cyclists for day visits or extended journeys stretching all the way to Perth.
Other recreational pursuits such as arts and crafts, dance, music, theatre and performing arts are also very well supported in the region. The Great Southern is well-equipped with sporting facilities, with most towns in the region having their own sports centres and swimming pools.
There are a number of clubs throughout the region, representing a range of recreational activities including hockey, football, cricket, netball, basketball, swimming, golf, athletics, lawn bowls, equestrian, horse racing, pony clubs, cycling, running, roller-derby, sport shooting, soccer, skateboarding, BMX, tennis, motorsports and martial arts.
Sport in the region is supported by the Great Southern Sportshouse, which provides support to sport and recreation organisations in the delivery of services to those living in the Great Southern.
For more information, visit:
Events and attractions
The Great Southern region hosts a number of events throughout the year, including farmer’s markets; agricultural shows; film, food, wine, literary, art, wildflower and cultural festivals; live music and theatre events; art and craft fairs and exhibitions; car rallies; horse races; and annual Anzac Day events and commemorations.
The region has a thriving art and entertainment community and regularly hosts international festivals and world-class exhibitions and it is the only non-metropolitan area included in the Perth International Arts Festival events schedule.
Albany is home to its own Entertainment Centre, opened in 2010 and Katanning houses a recently upgraded entertainment venue for hinterland audiences.
The region has also become a popular location for a number of film and television productions, including the 2017 film adaptation of Tim Winton’s ‘Breath’.
The Great Southern region has a rich biodiversity and houses 13 national parks and 143 nature reserves, including the Torndirrup National Park – home of The Gap and Natural Bridge, the Porongurup National Park, the Stirling Ranges National Park, Two Peoples Bay Nature Reserve and William Bay National Park. It is also home to the internationally recognised Fitzgerald River National Park and Biosphere, which contains over 20% of the state’s plant species as well as many threatened species of flora and fauna.
For more information on the region’s main events and attractions, visit:
Services and facilities
You will find a range of every day services and facilities throughout the Great Southern region, including banks, ATMs, libraries, business centres/telecentres, post offices, shopping (food, grocery and other), hardware stores, police stations, butchers, bakers, cafes, service stations, pubs/taverns, takeaways, newsagents, churches, pharmacies and restaurants.
For more information, visit the Tourist Information and Visitor Centre located in each town.
The Great Southern region provides a range of government and non-government schooling options for primary, secondary and tertiary education. There are 45 schools providing primary and secondary education in the region, including 30 primary schools and 15 high schools.
For a comprehensive list of schools in the Great Southern, visit:
The region also provides higher education options through apprenticeships, TAFE and university facilities, including a University of Western Australia (UWA) and Rural Clinical School of WA campus located in Albany.
For more information, visit:
The Great Southern offers a range of housing and rental options for those living in the region, with more than half of the population living in the City of Albany.
The median house price for the Great Southern region is $390,000 with the overall median weekly rental costing $340 per week (Source: REIWA Market Update; December 2017).
For more information, visit the REIWA website.
There is also a range of short-term accommodation options available throughout the Great Southern including caravan parks, camping grounds, backpackers, hotels, motels, self-contained accommodation, bed and breakfasts, resorts, beachside villas, cottages, chalets and farm stays.
For more information, visit:
General Practices: 43
Aboriginal Medical Services: 1
Health Services in the Great Southern region are based two health districts – Central Great Southern and Lower Great Southern – comprised of 7 hospitals that are supported by a range of public and private primary health care services, general practitioners and community-based health services.
The Albany Health Campus is the major medical centre for the region and is a Regional Resource Centre under the WA Health Clinical Services Framework. A range of regional services
The region is also home to the Great Southern Aboriginal Health Service, based in Albany, that provides visiting services to smaller communities across the region.
The Great Southern is also an important training ground for young doctors and nurses, with medical students from The Rural Clinical School of WA, receiving education and training through the UWA Campus in Albany as part of their studies.
(Courtesy of WA Country Health Services, Great Southern Health Profile, January 2018)
For a comprehensive overview of the health profile of the Great Southern region, download WA County Health’s Great Southern Health Profile 2018.