Hidden blooms of the Great Southern

Gemma NisbetCountryman

Di Holly's enthusiasm for the lesser-known gems of the Great Southern is infectious.

So much so that with her team of volunteers she has galvanised eight local shires and the members of 16 communities in the region to stage the third annual Bloom Festival, which kicks off in September and runs to October 19.

The festival brings together nearly 40 community events, ranging from bird walks and wildflower tours to open gardens and market days, all overseen by Hidden Treasures of the Great Southern, an organisation chaired and co-founded by Ms Holly, which highlights attractions in the region that are not necessarily on the tourist trail.

Bringing together the shires of Broomehill-Tambellup, Cranbrook, Gnowangerup, Jerramungup, Katanning, Kent, Kojonup and Woodanilling, Hidden Treasures aims to get people "looking further than outside the car window" when they travel through the area.

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Coinciding with the local wildflower season, the Bloom Festival highlights the region's natural attractions, bringing together three longstanding wildflower shows with a variety of community events, both established and new.

"Each of the 16 communities had their events, so we are pulling them together so someone can come and spend a whole weekend in the area, going to open gardens and bushwalking and so on," Ms Holly said.

Since the first festival in 2011, new events have joined the program, from a market day in Cranbrook to wildflower photography sessions in Broomehill.

Other events this year include a farmer's market in Katanning, a tulip open garden in Kulikup and wine tastings at Ferngrove winery in Frankland River, along with a variety of walks, art exhibitions, flower displays and more.

Many of the events are free.

The idea is that people will come and join in events, discover the local attractions, patronise local businesses and perhaps stay a few nights.

"It's about sharing these communities, " Ms Holly said.

And while the festival's main aim is to encourage visitors, Ms Holly said it had also reminded the predominantly farming-based communities, many of which are gradually diminishing in numbers, of what they have to offer.

"We are so proud of our communities, so proud, " she said.

For more information visit hiddentreasures.com.au or kojonupvisitors.com.au.

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