How to get to Donnelly River - the short version.From Perth:
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- Donnelly is 326 km from Perth central. It takes on average about 3 and half hours to get here depending on the time of day or night.
- Choose either the Kwinana Freeway which continues onto the Forrest Highway OR the South West Highway via Pinjarra. Both continue to Bunbury.
- From Bunbury, take the South-West Highway through Boyanup, Donnybrook and Balingup to Bridgetown.
- One kilometre from the Bridgetown Post Office, immediately after crossing the traffic bridge over the Blackwood River, take the road to Nannup on the right (The Brockman Highway).
- Three kilometres onwards Mockerdillup Road leads off to the left to Donnelly Village - 24 kilometres.
Total travel time from Perth is approximately three hours and 15 minutes.From Manjimup:
- Leave the town via Graphite Road
- Turn right about three kilometres from the town centre along Ralston Road.
- Watch for the signs to Donnelly Mill, as there are two more right hand turns and one to the left.
How to get to Donnelly River - the long version - care of 'Don'.
- Head towards Bridgetown on the Brockman Highway for 23 kms
- turn right at Sears Road and travel another 9 kms to the village.
There are a few ways to get to Donnelly, and just as many to come back. So every time you come, try a different road. If you come from the coast, you'll notice how every hill is hiding the taller timber to come, so it's a good way to introduce yourself.
Donnelly's smack bang between Bridgetown, Manjimup, Pemberton and Nannup. Those towns grew with forestry and farming, so most people know them. Donnelly doesn't have farms, never did. No fruit trees, service stations, Chinese restaurants, pubs, or handicraft shops either. So there's not a lot of neighbours. None in fact. If you want them, they're about 20 k's away, safe enough.
Bear in mind, these are roads that have signs at both ends, and at turn-offs, otherwise, just trust you're on the right road, until it becomes obvious you're wrong. And there's not much in the way of traffic either once you get down here, so ask before you get lost.
To get here from Perth, you get on the freeway South, through Bunbury, take a left at Busselton and then follow the signs once you've gone through Nannup. You'll go up this amazing hill where they run a rally every year, where the views are amazing out the rear vision mirror. This normally takes 3 to 4 hours, depending on how often you stop to gawp, fossick around in one of the galleries, antiques, curios and craft stories along the way, how often you let the kids out for a stretch, and whether you stop at 'The Cidery' in Bridgetown on the way in.
You can also come down the South West Highway from Bunbury (pick up some hot bread in Balingup on the way through, or Bridgetown for that matter), and then when you get to the end of Bridgetown, down by the Blackwood River, take a right and follow the signs. This way can be faster or slower, depending on the time of year, holiday congestion, or stops along the way.
Dawn and dusk are the best times to travel, it's when the sun and the shadows turn on the best colours. Trouble is, kangaroos and emus like to have a look too, and without watching where they're going. And, given you're in the middle of a huge bloody forest, the roadside assist fellas can be some time coming. Driving slower is not just an antidote for hitting a roo, it's an antidote for city life, so ease into it on the way down.
We recommend you get yourself a great map of the South West, as you can get to a whole lot of places most people won't find even when they're lost. Or you can use a GPS, as some people swear by them.
And if you are going to go back to your regular life afterwards, it never looks better than when you roll off the escarpment between Nannup and the Bussell Highway, heading for the blue of the coast. On a good day, you'd swear you'd forgotten what blue looks like given you've been immersed in the great big beautiful green of the karri forest.