The South West region is located in the south-western corner of Western Australia and covers an area of more than 23,000 kilometres. It shares its eastern boundary with the Wheatbelt and Great Southern regions and is bordered by the Indian and Southern Oceans, accommodating around 1,000 kilometres of spectacular coastline.

The region is one of the world’s 36 biodiversity hotspots and boasts a rich and varied natural environment. It is home to 24 different national parks, tall timber forests, ancient caves and an abundance of wildflowers, birdlife and native wildlife. Its coastline features some of the best beaches in the country and is a popular surfing destination, bringing surfers from all around the globe.

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The South West is Western Australia’s most popular tourist destination outside of Perth and is renowned for its wineries, fresh produce, restaurants and thriving arts community, with numerous galleries showcasing the works of the region’s talented artists.

It boasts a diverse economy and is a major world producer of alumina and mineral sands. While mining is the main driver of the local economy, it is well supported by the region’s agricultural, tourism, retail and manufacturing industries.

The region’s rich and fertile soils sustain an active agricultural industry and the South West accounts for 11% of WA’s overall agricultural production, including 90% of its milk and avocado supplies. Fruits, vegetables and wine grapes are also significant contributors to the local agricultural industry.

Total Population

177,300

The South West population totals around 177,300 people with a median age of 41 years, and approximately 2.3% of the population comprises of those identifying as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent. (Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics).

Cost of living

According to the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development’s Regional Price Index 2017, the cost of living in the South West region is 1.6% more expensive than Perth. (Source: Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development).


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The South West has a Mediterranean climate characterised by dry summers and wet winters.

 In summer (December to February) average temperatures range between 25oC and 35oC, while in winter (June to August), temperatures cool to between 8oC and 16oC.

 Annual rainfall throughout the region generally averages around 900 millimetres per year, with almost all of the yearly rains falling between the months of May and September.

Couple going for a surf credit www.margaretriver.com

Sport and recreation

Sport and recreation plays a vital role in the South West and, with close to 600 sporting and recreational clubs, the region offers a range of options for aspiring athletes, sports and outdoor enthusiasts, and those interested in the arts and crafts.

 Popular outdoor recreational activities include bush and trail walking, bird and wildflower watching, camping, boating, swimming, surfing, fishing, mountain bike riding, rock climbing, abseiling, caving and adventure racing.


Other recreational pursuits such as arts and crafts, dance, music, theatre and performing arts are also very well supported in the region.

The South West is well-equipped with sporting facilities and offers a variety of sport and recreational clubs to choose from. Bunbury is the major centre for sport in the region and houses a range of facilities including an international standard athletics track, regional sports centre and a speedway track.

 There are a number of clubs throughout the region, representing a range of recreational activities including hockey, football, cricket, netball, basketball, volleyball swimming, golf, athletics, lawn bowls, equestrian, horse racing, pony clubs, cycling, running, sport shooting, soccer, skateboarding, squash, tennis, BMX, motorsports and martial arts. 

 The region is also home to the South West Academy of Sport (SWAS) – the only regional sports academy in Western Australia – which provides high-performance talent development pathways for promising teenaged athletes intending to pursue a career in sport.

 For more information, visit:

Events and attractions

The South West region hosts a number of events throughout the year, including farmer’s markets; agricultural shows; film, food, wine, literary, art, wildflower, comedy and cultural festivals; live music and theatre events; art and craft fairs and exhibitions; car rallies; horse races; a medieval carnival; and the well-known CinefestOz film festival, Blues of Bridgetown music festival, Margaret River Gourmet Escape, Manjimup’s Truffle Kerfuffle and the Leeuwin Estate Concert Series.

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The region hosts a number of sporting events throughout the year, including motor cross, mountain biking, ultra-marathon running, triathlon and mud run events. Most notably, the region is the location for the world-famous Busselton Iron Man and Drug Aware Margaret River Pro surfing events, each attracting a large number of participants from all over the world.

As well as being home to 24 national parks, towering forests, pristine surf beaches, beautiful coastlines and ancient underground cave systems, the South West boasts a range of popular natural attractions including the Bibbulman walking track, Munda Biddi cycling trail, Valley of the Giants Tree Top Walk, Gloucester Tree and Bunbury’s Dolphin Discovery Centre.

Services and facilities

You will find a range of every day services and facilities throughout the South West 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.

Schooling

The South West region provides a range of government and non-government schooling options for primary, secondary and tertiary education.

For a comprehensive list of schools in the South West, visit:

The region also provides higher education options through apprenticeships, TAFE and university facilities, including the Rural Clinical School of WA located in Bunbury and Busselton. 

For more information, visit:

RSR student

Accommodation

The South West offers a range of housing and rental options for those living in the region, with more than half of the population living in the Shires of Bunbury, Harvey and Busselton.

The median house price for the South West region is $420,000 with the overall median weekly rental costing $350 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 South West 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:

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Health Statistics

Population: 176,330
MMM*: 5
Hospitals: 14
General Practices: 98
Aboriginal Medical Services: 2

Health Services

Health Services in the South West region are based around 14 hospitals, a strong contingent of private medical specialists and general practitioners, and community-based health services.

The South West Health Campus in Bunbury 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 is co-ordinated from Bunbury to support a number of Integrated District Health Services, smaller hospitals, multi-purpose services and nursing posts throughout the region.

 There is a high focus on community health services, including maternity support, child health clinics, school-based immunisation and dental care, and intensive youth education programs throughout the South West, and the region is home to a number of specialist medical services, community-based health services, aged care facilities and retirement villages.

The region is also home to a number of Aboriginal Medical Services, based in Bunbury, Collie, Harvey and Manjimup, that provide visiting services to smaller communities across the region.

The South West is also an important training ground for young doctors and nurses, with medical students from The Rural Clinical School of WA, receiving training at the South West Health Campus as part of their studies. Edith Cowan University’s South West Campus also offers a Bachelor of Science (Nursing) degree and prepares students in the region for a career in nursing.

Health Profile

south west wachs

(Courtesy of WA Country Health Services, South West Health Profile, January 2018)

For a comprehensive overview of the health profile of the South West region, download WA County Health’s South West Health Profile 2018).

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"You live in a beautiful part of the world and whatever you want to do, you can do it straight away. The lifestyle reasons that lured me down here are the same that lure my colleagues - it is nice to strike a mix between work and play."

- Dr. Mike Frood, Bunbury.