Wheatbelt is a region of Western Australia
The region covers almost 155,000 square kilometres and is bordered in the west by the Indian Ocean and Perth, in the Southwest by — unsurprisingly — the South West region, in the South by the Great Southern region, in the east by the Goldfields-Esperance region and in the north by the Mid West.
It is common in the Western Australian media, and online to find the wheatbelt divided into internal regions. Eastern, northern and southern wheatbelt are often heard or seen. The coastal part of the wheatbelt is often called other names.
The wheatbelt region is a vast tract of south western Western Australia where large spaces of land were converted to wheat and sheep agriculture in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. With the advance across the landscape, railway lines, and small communities on the side of the railway developed. With the rise of the technology, bulk wheat silos were built, and the railway system stayed more or less intact until the 1960s (in 1965 305 wheat silos or depots were in action). With the demise of steam locomotive power in 1971, and the railways new focus on bulk transport in the 1980s, a lot of the wheatbelt has changed.
By the 2010s the wheatbelt has a vast range of small one shop towns, and in some places there are museums to explain what had happened in the region. The remnants of the former prosperous region are a fascinating collection of towns along the old railway routes. There are many ways to venture into the wheatbelt and get glimpses of what is happening now.
There are scattered throughout the wheatbelt small nature reserves where remnant vegetation has been spared. And a large range of small lakes, and also granite rock outcrops.
Wildflowers are in full bloom during August to September
With a good network of sealed roads and gravel tracks, many drive routes are suitable for a conventional vehicle. For the more adventurous types there are several sand and dirt trails that are perfect for a self guided 4WD tour. Many self-drive tours include guide books to help you plan your itinerary and offer detailed information about the areas in Wheatbelt you are looking to visit.
Driving holidays are one of the best ways to experience the wide open spaces and unique landscapes. If you are looking for a car or 4WD hire to get you around Wheatbelt, there are several locations in the neighboring city of Perth.
While driving it is important to uphold and follow all laws, restriction and regulations including the illegal use of your mobile phone if you are driving, unless you are making or receiving calls hands free.
- Great Eastern Highway connects Perth and Northam.
Coast - North
- Brand Highway 1 takes you to the turn off for Coastal Highway 60, which leads north via Lancelin, Jurien Bay and Cervantes. Brand Highway continues inland and the two routes meet up some 30 km south of Dongara.
South - East
- Brookton Hwy will take you part of the way to Hyden but from Brookton you will have to navigate a series of country roads only found on a fairly detailed map.
TransWA coaches run on Monday and Friday between Perth and Mukinbudin, via Northam. Services between Perth and Esperance pass though York and Hyden.
TransWA Avonlink services run each weekday between Perth and Northam, via Toodyay. MerridinLink services run M, W and F between Perth and Merredin.
Amid the seemingly endless expanses of cultivated land that typifies the Wheatbelt, are natural features unique to this part of the state. Inland, the arid and otherwise prosaic landscape is distinguished by granite outcrops hewn into wondrous shapes by natural forces, expansive dazzling salt lakes and beautiful but fleeting carpets of wild flowers. The coastal region is sand, surf and the Pinnacles.
- Lake Campion, North east of Nungarin. A huge lake with an surface eternally crusted with salt. The outer fringe comes to life with a ring of pink everlastings during the wildflower season.
- New Norcia. Australias only monastic town. The Benedictine monks are famous not only for the Spanish architecture but also their bread and olive oil.
- The Pinnacles, Cervantes. Eerie limestone pillars in the dunes of Nambung National Park.
- Wave Rock, Hyden. Possibly the Wheatbelts most popular spot and definitely the best surf you will find inland. A 15m high smooth wave cut into the rock by erosion and striped by mineral run off is a monolithic sight to stand under.
New Norcia is the only Benedictine monastery in Australia. Spanish Benedictine monks founded the monastery in the nineteenth century on the Moore River. It has survived into the twenty first century as a neighbour of a ground station for the European Space Agency. It's located on the Great Northern Highway, 132 km from Perth, and 56 km south of the wheatbelt town of Moora.
North - coastal
Along the coast, on the Brand Highway and then the NW Coast Highway:
- Kalbarri National Park
- Denham , for Monkey Mia and Shark Bay
- Coral Bay and Exmouth for Ningaloo Reef
and ever on east towards Port Hedland, Broome and eventually Darwin.
North - inland
Beyond the wheatbelt, along the Great Northern Highway and into the interior:-
Along the Great Eastern Highway to:-