As we drove into Donnelly River we were instantly reminded of why we like it so much here. This was our second visit, and the rows of old miller’s cottages speak of another time when the pace of life was much slower. As we arrived, our phone and internet connection to the outside world was cut off. The cottages have not changed much in 50 years, the wood fires and the creaky floors. Kids were playing along the road, sharing the space with kangaroos and emus. It is like we had driven back in time. After a busy week in Kalbarri, on another type of holiday surrounded by family, the few days we have planned in Donnelly River will be at a much slower pace, just our family time.
Stay in Rustic Accommodation
The Donnelly River Village is a former timber mill town, and the old cottages have hardly been updated since then. The size of the cottages and number of beds vary, so you can book one that suits your family size. Don’t have too high expectations, the facilities inside are basic, but that is fitting the style of the place and is very comfortable once you get the log fire going in wintertime. It is just like grandmas house in the country, with some of the houses having outside toilets too.
See Australian Wildlife
The Donnelly River Village is located deep in the bush, with a lovely drive through the tall trees forest on the journey in. You share the location with Australian wildlife, who are used to people being around and they happily share the space with you. The kangaroos have worked out that humans provide snacks, so they are happy to hang around, and love a pat. Hopefully you are there when there are joeys in pouches too.
The other common visitor (or are we their visitors?) are emus, who will wander around the place, acting as if they rule. You might find they are not as friendly as the kangaroos, and be wary of their bite, as they are looking for some food.
Birdwatchers will love to sit on the cottage balcony watching the birds play in the trees. It is great to wake to the sound of the bird chatter outside. You might even hear the distinctive kookaburra.
Lots of Activities
The first activity you will be keen to try is the flying fox. It stretches across the small patch of bush in the middle of the cottages. At busy times you may have to book ahead for your turn at this popular activity. Booking can be made at the cafe.
Every kids dream, playing with sticks at the dam! The dam is a short walk from the accommodation, although you may not find much water in it during the late summer months. Besides, we prefer to visit during the colder months for a winter getaway.
There is a lot of history around here. The village housed the men that worked in the wood mill. There are still remnants of that time, including an old mill building. There is also an old truck in the centre bush, which was part of the old operations
Who needs a playground. Kids are free to roam. It is safe to play in the bush, play with sticks, build something. You won’t see them for hours.
It’s fun to feed the animals. Don’t feed them your own scraps, it won’t be good for them. You can buy food packs from the cafe.
In the evening, have a campfire, roast marshmallows. Each house has a fire pit, and some wood is provided free.
There are several walking tracks around the village, that wind through the bush. The Bibbulmun Track, which is WA’s long-distance walking trail, passes by. There is accommodation available for hikers who need an overnight stop, and they can get supplies from the cafe.
You should bring your bikes. The Munda Biddi Trail, a long-distance mountain bike trail, runs for over 1,000 kilometres from Mundaring to Albany and passes this township. There is accommodation available for riders who need an overnight stop, but also the tracks can be used for visitors to explore the surrounding area. And it’s fun just for the kids to ride around the village.
Get More Information
Check out the Donnelly River Village website for more information and an easy booking system. There is a shop on site to buy basic supplies including a good coffee if needed. If you need more supplies, go into a nearby town, with Bridgetown or Manjimup each only about 30 minutes drive away. The village shop also has board games that you can borrow if the weather is too bad and you are stuck inside. Book the flying fox here. They can also tell you about other places to explore nearby, such as the tall climbing trees, The Four Aces and One Tree Bridge, Big Brook Arboretum, and other towns nearby such as Pemberton and Nannup.
But remember, you are in the Australian bush. Even though you are in a house, the bush may come to you.