Those familiar with the vibrant port city of Bunbury, 170 kilometres south of Perth, know it's a haven for nature lovers, thanks to the abundance of 400-year-old tuart trees, mangrove areas rich with birdlife and wild dolphins that visit the nearby waters. It's also the place that the Seven Network's Sunrise news presenter calls home. Here, the journalist gives us an insight into growing up in the small town-turned-lively city.
What are your fondest memories of Bunbury?
We didn’t have a care in the world. We considered ourselves country bumpkins; Perth was the big smoke to us and I used to stress about what I’d wear when we went up there.
Describe growing up in Bunbury.
It was free and easy. We moved into the family home when I was two years old and Mum still lives there. I have two brothers and all our friends were boys so I had a real tomboy existence. We used to pretend to be cowboys and I did a great death roll when I got shot. We rode our bikes, ran around in the sandhills and played footy and cricket, though my bowling wasn’t very good. We only came home if we were hungry.
What took you away?
After high school, I packed everything into my Holden Gemini and moved to Perth for university. I hated it and left after a year to take a cadetship with the Wanneroo Times newspaper in Perth’s northern suburbs. I never looked back.
How often do you go back to Bunbury?
My husband [Andrew Thompson] is also from there and we go back a couple of times a year. My family still has a beach house in nearby Dunsborough, which Mum and Dad built in 1972.
Has Bunbury changed much?
It’s unrecognisable. These days, it’s full of cool cafés, restaurants and beautiful homes. When I was a kid, Bunbury was a quiet, ordinary town. Now it’s a lively city.
What’s your favourite thing to do there?
I have to go for a walk along the Back Beach – it feels like home. My husband and I hang out at the beach with our sons [Lachlan, 16, and Hunter, 12] and we ride our bikes everywhere. We always have breakfast at Benesse Bunbury on Victoria Street and usually go to whatever winery has the best restaurant reviews that year – Mum keeps an eye on that for us.
What do you miss about Bunbury?
Western Australia has such a pristine coastline and in the South West, it’s particularly stunning. There’s nothing like it on the East Coast. It’s a greatly undervalued part of Australia and more eastern-staters should come and see this corner of the country.
Name something about the region that you think would surprise outsiders.
The cycling and walking tracks around Cape Naturaliste are just beautiful.
What are some things every visitor should do?
Walk along the Back Beach at sunrise. Try the tapas at Market Eating House in Bunbury, have an ice-cream at Simmos in Dunsborough then head to Yallingup Woodfired Bread, where they bake the best bread you’ll ever taste – it’s available straight from the oven in the afternoon. Eagle Bay Brewing Co. is a great spot for lunch with the kids and the winery and restaurant at Aravina Estate are amazing, plus it has a lovely homewares shop and a cool collection of old cars.