The Region is a significant contributor to WA’s Gross Regional Product (GRP) accounting for 13% of overall agriculture output. The main agricultural industries include cropping and livestock and wool, with horticulture and viticulture also important contributors to this sector. There are major sheep and lamb export abattoirs at Katanning and Narrikup (near Albany) and a smaller abattoir at Beaufort River.
Diversification from traditional agricultural methods has seen developments of the following industries in the region: timber, light engineering, energy, horticulture, tourism (e.g. adventure and ecotourism), food and wine (marketing, farmers markets, regional branding), aquaculture, and bush products and exports.
The moderate coastal climate and clean image associated with the Great Southern has enabled the Region to be a prime centre for production of high value fruits, nuts and vegetables. Over a third of Western Australia’s strawberries (>750 tonnes), 68% of Western Australia’s seed potatoes (≈8 tonnes) and nearly 70% of Western Australia’s asparagus (≈53 tonnes) come from this region. Being free from major diseases and pests makes the region an ideal location for fruit and vegetable production.
The establishment of tree crops through managed investment schemes, primarily in the higher rainfall areas, has marked a significant change in land use during the past two decades. The dominant species planted includes Tasmanian blue gums and pines across the region. The woodchip plant and export facilities at the Albany Port are significant contributors to the region’s economy.
The Region is the State’s second largest wine grape producing region, producing 37% of the State’s annual crush, with wine product receiving international recognition. The fishing industry is home to one of Western Australia’s largest producers of oysters and includes two of Australia’s largest pilchard fisheries. Fish species are the dominant species caught; representing 90% of the region’s live catch and is valued at $4 million per annum. Other industrial activities include the retail, tourism, construction, and manufacturing sectors.
There is an increasing recognition of outstanding Great Southern produce which is in high demand from domestic and international markets, for example, our locally grown oysters and mussels.
For greater insight into technology and transport and energy in the Great Southern refer to our Regional Plan 2013-2018 – Part 6.
The Great Southern has a well established reputation as a spectacular and unique holiday destination in Western Australia. The region is located within the internationally recognised south west biodiversity hotspot and recognised by the Lonely Planet Travel Guide (2010) as one of the top ten destinations in the world. However locals have known this for decades and farming families in the region spend their summer holidays at beach shacks in Peaceful or Bremer Bays, Cheynes Beach and other spectacular locations since the early 1900’s.
Renowned for its unspoilt natural environment including white sand beaches, tall timber forests, wildflowers and spectacular coastline complete with whales, dolphins and other marine life, the region has a truly inspiring and diverse tourism offering. Its national parks and sub-regions inland provide opportunities for visitors to engage in the region’s lifestyle, including the rich blend of fine agricultural produce and award-winning wineries.
The State Government’s Regional Tourism Organisation, Australia’s South West (ASW) Tourism Development Priorities 2010-2015 (linked under Reports & Research menu) identifies the Great Southern sub-region as having several of the region’s most visited attractions including the Valley of the Giants Tree Top Walk near Walpole, Whale World Albany , and Greens Pool outside of Denmark.
The Great Southern has a strong history and heritage theme, with Albany being the first settlement and the main port for Western Australia up to the late 1890’s. Albany is an integral site to explore ANZAC history, particularly with the Centenary in 2014-15, and is also home to the last operating whaling station in Australia (closed 1978).
An estimated 408,500 tourists visit the Great Southern annually with around 22% coming from interstate or international locations. Recent research undertaken by the GSDC suggests that there is huge potential to add-value to tourism with people primarily visiting the region for holiday and leisure purposes.
Tourism in the Great Southern is an important industry and has strong linkages with our business, arts, culture, food, and social needs. There is significant potential for market specialisation in food and eco-tourism or adventure tourism in the region due to our natural endowments, diverse gourmet produce and quality wines.
For visitor information and guides please refer to Local Government links on our Home Page.