A coal mining town morphs into a popular visitor destination with a variety of attractions

Winter sunshine and blue skies saw us head inland from the South west coast of Western Australia for a day trip to Collie, an old coal mining town about a four hours return drive from our home.

With the coal industry on the wane, a heap of Government money is going into developing and promoting attractions to put Collie on the tourist map.

It’s not a hard sell. Collie – once known as Western Australia’s dirty coal town – is morphing into a very attractive place with a lot of attractions for visitors, including national parks, attractive waterways forests. And it has the Wellington Dam, now a canvas for one of Australia’s most famous new mega murals.

Beautiful waterways in national parks around Collie

Collie is located in a beautiful valley less than 60 kilometres from the coast, and there’s a good road route through it to other inland Western Australian towns. It’s a scenic uphill drive to reach Collie from the coast. Not a big hill, but in mainly flat Western Australia, any hill is a treasure!

The town was established in the late 1800’s. The State plans to shut down its two coal-fired power stations by the end of this decade, replacing them with renewable energy and storage projects. So for Collie, this has meant changing the fabric of its town. It is being reborn, and it’s already looking good with an attractive town Art Gallery an excellent tourist/visitor centre, museums and great walking and biking trails.

Did I mention the little bakery? Lets get down to tin tacs! It’s the steak pies at the Collie bakery that are a major attraction for me. Pies are part of Australian foodie culture, and we took ours down to a park bordering the Collie River to enjoy lunch. Of course, we had some good Aussie ice cream to finish with!

My zoom lens at the ready for birds along the Collie River

Lucky I had my camera as the birdlife was great! I managed to capture photographs of this gorgeous little pardalote, along with white breasted wrens and a host of water birds.

Swamp hen in Collie today
Australasian grebe on the Collie River today

The Collie River, meandering through the outskirts of the small town, is pretty gorgeous as well with parklands and excellent walking/biking path along its shores. I noted a pretty good looking golf course along the river as well!

The Wellington Dam mural today – completed

After lunch, we headed to the nearby Wellington Dam, built in the 1930’s, and one of three hydro power stations in Western Australia. I saw it early last year when work was finishing on a massive mural on its walls. Today, it was wonderful to see it complete.

The mural was painted by Australian Guido Van Helten. Apparently, because our WA borders were tightly controlled for Covid, he had to isolate in a local hotel for a fortnight after flying in from the United States to start the project. He sorted through local photographs, stories and memorabilia before choosing six images of real people to reflect the local community on the dam wall. They include migrant workers, kids playing sand, and an 1800’s aboriginal couple.

I took this photo in 2021when the mural was being completed

To complete the painting, floating platforms and abseiling ropes were included amongst the work day tools!

Scaffolding was still up when I saw the mural in progress last year

Collie also now has a delightful mural trail that you can follow scattered throughout the town and featuring about 40 works done by Western Australian artists.

Collie is a great day trip from the WA South West Coast, and Perth is only a two hour drive away. It’s packed with lovely old buildings, including a line up of old Aussie pubs along the main street. Accommodation in Collie can be found in the old hotels or at a new upmarket motel/resort. Another boutique hotel is on the planning board.


    • Yes..they had a big competition to find an artist. Everyone except one submitted their designs. But the one who won said he couldn’t submit a design until he saw the Collie community and spoke with the people there because he wanted the mural to reflect them. He was already pretty famous, so they knew his work was good. He got the gig! ________________________________

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  1. What a fascinating place. The mural is amazing. The natural beauty spoke to me (loved seeing that long lens on your camera!), especially the bird images. I really enjoy these posts of yours. Australia has been on my bucket list for ages, so it’s nice to be able to visit through your words and images. 🙂


  2. Woha, simply mind blowing scenes Therese!

    Looks like an ideal place to explore, looking at all of these stunning sceneries.

    This brings back memories on an expedition I took part in the beautiful island nation of Sri Lanka in South Asia.

    I set out on a journey to explore the longest river of Sri Lanka; River Mahaweli with a group of kayakers paddling for 3 long days.

    And trust me when I say this, it was ‘heaven on earth” from lush greeneries to all the flora and fauna simply captivated me. Read the full story here, https://sachsattic.wordpress.com/2022/07/24/exploring-the-river-mahaweli-on-a-kayak/

    Liked by 1 person

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