Birds of the South West of WA

One of the great delights and advantages of living in the country is the natural fauna and in particular the bird life. The sight of little birds such as Blue Wrens, Willy Wag Tails, Red Robins, Honey Eaters, Finches even the Swallows that seem to like to nest anywhere that is inconvenient. Then there are also the medium to larger birds including the many and varied parrots, cockatoos both black and red tailed, hawks and the majestic Eagles that have BlueSky’s chooks running for cover. Our latest addition is the fantail cuckoo a rather noisy medium sized bird. You only see it occasionally but its distinct call, most probably for a mate, lets you know it is nearby.
Of all the birds we particularly love the charismatic small birds especially the willy wag tails, red robins and blue wrens.

One of our Garden Visitor.

Willy Wag Tails

Our favourite by far is the willy wag tails. Such interesting little birds that chatter away all day. They are often seen on the backs of the animals checking if there are any insects for them to eat or maybe just a free ride across the paddocks! They also follow anyone gardening as they may just see a worm or two or another tasty insect. They are very friendly but we don’t feed them as it is best to keep to their nature feeding habits. Recently we found a nest well camouflaged in the loquat tree at BlueSky Retreat Cottage. We have documented their journey from Mrs. Willy Wag Tail sitting on the nest, the eggs, the young hatchings, their growth and finally leaving the nest. I hope you enjoy the photos of the Willy Wag Tail Family journey.

Willy Way Tail Nest

Red Robins

Robin Red Breast one of the endearing small birds of the South West.

The Robin Red Breast are so vain they love to sit on the side mirrors of cars and look at themselves.
They also like my coffee tree that is just next to our front door. We used to only see the Red Robins at certain times of the year but now they can be seen most of the year.

Blue Wrens
There are many varieties of Blue Wrens. The males come in many shades of blue while the females are usually brown with blue tail feathers. They seem to skip around the property usually near small shrubs and they like the vegetable garden as well. A well-loved and popular small bird of the south west.

If you love birds and nature consider a trip to the south west of Western Australia. 

Eight Reasons to Visit a Farm Stay

Eight Reasons to Visit a Farm Stay

  1. What is a Farm Stay

    Farm Stays represents an opportunity to experience country farming lifestyle. It is an invitation by farming families to share farm experiences, enjoy country lifestyle, country walks and drives, learn about nature, and stay on the farm in guest accommodation.  The most popular farm stay activity for adults and children, is seeing, feeding, patting, and being with a variety of animals.It is such a joy to see children interacting with animals, especially if it is their first time with farm animals. It always brings a sparkle to the children’s eyes and a smile to everyone’s face; including mine!
TJ our friendly canine assistant ready to drive the tractor!

2. Eight Reasons to Visit a Farm Stay

  1. Farm Activities that adults and children can enjoy together or individually
  2. An opportunity for children and adults to learn about farming 
  3. Supervised feeding, patting and interaction with farm animals
  4. Learning about native species such as birds and frogs in their natural environment
  5. Country Walks exploring natural flora
  6. A complete alternative to suburban/city living
  7. An enjoyable learning experience for children and adults
  8. These are all options or you can choose to just relax in a stress free country setting.
Young guest feeding Alpaca.

3. Farm Animals

There are a variety of farm animals to interact with. For example, at our property we have alpacas, goats, sheep both black and white varieties, turkeys, chooks of a variety of colours and our faithful dog TJ. Some of the animals may eat food out of your hand, especially Houdini the goat, and children usually giggle as it tickles their hand. Adults also have a smile on their face. At BlueSky Retreat we always go with guests when they feed the animals to ensure everyone enjoys the experience. It also provides an amazing photo opportunity.

Alpacas and lambs. The Alpacas protect the lambs. They follow them around like doting mothers.

4. The Birds and Bees

All farm stays have some interaction with nature with wildlife roaming feely. Often seen are kangaroos and emus and their young. There are always a variety of flora and fauna to be seen on country strolls. Birds of all sizes and shapes, from eagles, owls to the small birds as honey eaters, blue wrens and willy wag tails with their young in spring.

Young Willy Wag Tails… A full house and the young are ready to fly…

All Farm Stays will offer something a little different so no matter where you go Farm Stays will offer a new experience, something a little different. Enjoy!

Autumn Festival of Country Gardens 2019

Explore the open gardens in Bridgetown, Greenbushes, Balingup, Manjimup, Nannup and Pemberton; in the South West of Western Australia.
Saturday May 4 & Sunday May 5, 2019
Gardens are open from 9am to 5pm Saturday and

An example of one of the Open Garden November 2018

Trees at their best
The southwest was nominated by the Qantas magazine as one of the top ten places to see autumn colour.The Festival of Country Gardens is a great opportunity to see a diversity of country gardens and parks in the autumn when the trees change colour from green to red, gold, orange and show their beauty for all to behold. The gardens are from small country town gardens such as the quant and colourful Viet Aussie Garden in Greenbushes, the Community Garden also in Greenbushes, to beautiful country style large gardens such as the Terraces in Bridgetown (in photo below) to The Golden Valley Tree Park in Balingup. A heritage listed 100 year old tree park with rare and unusual trees from all over the world. The tree park also has a guided walk on Sunday (details below).

Photo Artwork at The Greenbushes Community Garden.

There are diverse gardens within townships and larger gardens in country farming areas with a total of eleven gardens to choose from and only one weekend to see them! The following photos are from three gardens from the November 2018 Festival of Country Gardens. They are beautiful gardens that are loved by their owners and this passion is reflected in the care and beauty of the gardens.

Photos Festival of Country Gardens November 2018.

The Terraces Open Garden November 2018
Open Garden November 2018

Weekend Dinner and Workshops

Literally thousands of people visit the south west to see the open gardens and there is also a dinner and workshops on during the weekend. Events include:

Friday May 3: Autumn Dinner at Ford House but it must be booked and paid for by April 25th.         Bookings 08 97611816

Saturday May 4: Bridgetown Garden Fair 8.30-3pm Plants, garden sculptures, coffee& Food and much more. Ford House 08 97611816

Saturday May 4: Low Bowl Flower Arrangement 1-4pm The Rabbit Hole Art Space, Bridgetown. Bookings 0427933368

Sunday May 5 Golden Valley Tree Park Walk Balingup Commences 9.30am 0476172900

 Come and enjoy the weekend in the South West of Western Australia and see some inspiring gardens and enjoy the country air at the same time. Enjoy!

Welcome to the Blackwood Valley Towns of Balingup and Greenbushes

Balingup and Greenbushes are situated in the South West of Western Australia. They offer visitors something to do every month of the year.

Balingup a beautiful south west town offers a diversity of attractions with its well known  events all promoted with its colourful scarecrows that change their clothing depending on the event.
Their exciting and well attended events include The Small Farm Field Day in April, Festival of Gardens (throughout the Blackwood Valley) in May and November, Telling Tales an event for children in July, and the extremely popular Medieval Carnivale in August.

The Golden Valley Tree Park is also a main attraction of Balingup. It is a 60 hectare landscaped heritage listed park with the largest arboretum in Western Australia. A diversity of mainly deciduous trees including rare and unusual species that is highly recommended for drives and short walks. The park can also be accessed by a 2km walk from the Bibbulmun Track. A delight in the May Festival of Country Gardens. Blackwood Valley was stated in the Qantas magazine as one of the top 5 places to see autumn colour.

Greenbushes a high spot on the Darling Scarp offers a slice of history with the historic amble walk. Follow the walk to gain an insight to life in a booming mining and timber town in the 1800s. Many of the building remain and in use. In my opinion the old goal is worth a visit and a photo of friends in the old prison! There is also the award winning Discovery Centre, please check opening times, with its story of Greenbushes, a replica of a mine walk and mini explosion that is greatly enjoyed by children and adults.

The conservation wetlands and boardwalk is well worth a visit and only a short walk from the Greenbushes Pool that offers a sandy beach, barbecue area, rotunda, children’s play area and public facilities. A great spot in summer and winter. There are also nature walks from the town of Greenbushes including one that lead onto the Bibbulum Track.

There is so much more:
The Greenbushes Art Trail with sculptures and murals in the town, at the Community Garden, at the Conservation and Boardwalk area.

Winter weekend in Greenbushes, part of Winter in Bridgetown, that includes a guided wattle and native flora walk, art exhibitions, community garden open and much more.

The Festival of Country Gardens in May and November offers a glimpse of private gardens as well as the community garden with its frog pond, native bee house and much more.

Come and visit the Blackwood Valley with its quant country towns, walks, scenic drives and many events and don’t forget to visit BlueSky Retreat with its nature walk and frog pond.

Greenbushes part of the Biodiversity Hotspot of the South West

In the south west of Western Australia almost eighty percent of the natural plant species are found nowhere else on the earth! To be recognised as a hotspot the region must contain at least 1500 species of endemic vascular plants. ( There are many walks around Greenbushes including the conservation area where many of these plants can be found. In August there is the Winter Weekend in Greenbushes Wattle Walk that is a guided walk pointing out the flowering wattles as well as other plants of the area including Brown Boronia a beautifully scented plant. August to October are great times for viewing the wattles of the area. Most of the native wattles of the area are the smaller forms and there are many varieties. In September October purple Hardenbergia comptoniana and acacias (wattles) flower together and combine to form a lovely colourful sight that can be seen along most road sides in the area.

In November during the Festival of Gardens there are guided walks in and around Bridgetown looking at the local flora. These walks are well worth attending for those interested in native plants. We sometimes see Angus formally of Gardening Australia checking out our native flora, especially the kangaroo paw his passion. In the spring the orchids are wonderful and some of the smaller varieties can be difficult to find but well worth the time and effort. There are also the locally known snotty gobble that is an indigenous plant whose fruit can be eaten when ripe. We are lucky to have these plants at BlueSky Retreat in our wildflower walk as some are difficult to grow. We are also converting an old soak dam into a large frog pond and planting indigenous flora to attract frogs and small birds to the pond.


Come and visit us for a guided or self tour for a sample of the flora of the South West.

Greenbushes A Hidden Gem of The South West of Western Australia.

Greenbushes is a three hour drive from Perth, one hour from Bunbury and situated between the small and quaint country towns of Balingup and Bridgetown in the beautiful Blackwood Valley, South West of Western Australia. 

Greenbushes origins was as a mining and timber area with large
amounts of Jarrah, Marri and the main draw card was finding tin. The town grew to a population of more than 1000 residents with the majority prospecting or working in the tin mining and timber industries. These were profitable times and the town consisted of many pubs, a town hall, butcher, general store, bank, post office, nunnery, police station, court house and a very small tin goal that would have been boiling hot in the summer and freezing in the winter, a deterrent to most except the occasional drunk or minor offender!

 Tin was mined for many years and there are many large mining holes still around Greenbushes that have been converted to water areas such as the popular Greenbushes Pool with its barbecue area, play area for children and camping area. There is also Swanke Dam that received publicity and praise as a major conservation area with its board walk and walk tracks through the native vegetation including flowering wattles, orchids and boronia in the spring. 


The Discovery Centre is also well worth a visit with its examples of fauna and flora and a reproduced mine walk where you can set off an explosion, all in fun of course!

Mining is still a major industry in Greenbushes with Lithium now being mined but there are many other attractions in the area:

The Greenbushes Pool with swimming, barbecue facilities, play equipment and sandy beach.
The Conservation Area and Board Walk.
The Award Winning Discovery Centre and tin man sculpture.
Heritage and Thompson Park with barbecue facilities.
The Amble Walk; follow the brochure to find historic buildings and the layout of the old township.
Walks; there are many walks around the area from easy to challenging. See the walks brochure.
The Lookout onto the old mining hole with its example of an old mining ‘shack’.
Historic buildings such as the court house and goal.
Historic and country drives.

Also check for local events as the popular Bridgetown Blues, Medieval Fair Balingup, Small Farms Day Balingup, Winter in Bridgetown and Greenbushes, Festival of Country Gardens (Blackwood Valley), Tennis and much more…

Come and enjoy Greenbushes with the diversity of things to do and see.

Greenbushes pool and boardwalk. Great places to visit in the south west of Western Australia. 

Great places to visit in the south west of Western Australia


Greenbushes pool and boardwalk. Great in the summer for a swim and the winter for the walks including the boardwalk around the conservation area; swanke dam and board walk. Greenbushes Balingup Visitor Centre Beautiful Bridgetown WesternAustralia Bridgetown, Western Australia Australia’s South West Holidays Visit the Blackwood Valley