Life is enjoyable and exciting in the dynamic and growing Great Southern. Forests, national parks and beaches are accessible to all. Fish abound in the deep, blue Southern Ocean, and visitors can have a close encounter with the variety of migrating whales that visit the coast in winter and early spring.
Towns in the region, from Albany to the inland communities of Katanning, Kojonup and Mount Barker, are equipped to provide a full range of medical, educational, communications, commercial and administrative services. Visitors and residents have access to high standard health care. Albany has the principal medical facilities and the broader region is serviced by smaller hospitals and clinics.
Parents and their children can choose between government and non-government primary and secondary schools. South Regional TAFE and the University of Western Australia Albany Centre provide first class technical and tertiary education.
Most towns in the region have their own sports centres and swimming pools but recreation is generally an outdoor activity in the Great Southern. Sailing, kayaking, surfing, trail bike riding, off-road cycling, fishing, climbing and scuba diving are just a few of the activities enjoyed by tourists and residents.
Two world-class trails extend into Albany from their origins near Perth: the Bibbulmun Track walk trail and the Munda Biddi Trail for off-road touring cyclists. Each can be accessed for day visits and modest adventures, and each can be followed for an epic 1000km journey.
Arts and entertainment are thriving, and the region regularly hosts international festivals and world class exhibitions. The region hosts the only non-metropolitan program of Perth International Arts Festival events, a highly regarded art prize and an annual art trail. Albany opened the spectacular $70 million Albany Entertainment Centre in 2010 and Katanning has upgraded its entertainment venue for hinterland audiences.
Housing is affordable and available in a wide range of styles from urban units to family homes to rural retreats.
Albany is the retail hub of the Great Southern and hosts major retail chains along with boutique local businesses. Denmark, Katanning and other centres provide substantial buyer choice and are developing their own unique retail precincts.
Albany’s weekend markets are highly regarded for the choice and quality of produce, all presented by regional growers. Events, craft markets and outlets around the region regularly showcase local products.
The Great Southern is a recognised producer of quality cool-climate wines and there is a fine selection of restaurants and food outlets for all dining preferences.
Community participation and volunteering are strengths of the Great Southern. Residents and visitors have the opportunity to contribute in fields as diverse as theatre, sport, nature conservation, community services, charities and more.