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Mount Barker sits at the heart of the Great Southern Wine region and one of the world's biodiversity hotspots. It's the ideal base for a leisurely tour of cellar doors, a spring wildflower drive, or a challenging wilderness hike through Western Australia's only mountain range - the Stirling Range. If you're heading out from Albany, it's only a 30 minute drive north on the Albany Highway, or you can get here in just over four hours driving south from Perth. Once known for its apples, the planting of the first grapevine in 1967 started Mount Barker's transformation into the major wine producing region it is today. Many wineries welcome you in for tastings and a long lazy lunch in some of the region's most stunning country settings. Local arts and crafts galleries also offer a great way to start or finish a day touring the wineries. A short drive to the east lie the Porongurup and Stirling Range national parks, havens to some of Australia's most unique flora and fauna, including more than 100 species of birds, 1,500 varieties of plants and many dazzling and delicate orchids. In the Stirlings, you can choose to take a short wildflower walk and scenic drive or tackle a full day trek to the mountain summits. While the Porongurups offer a choice of two to three hour rock and peak walks with pretty picnic spots. Head south for just 30 minutes and you'll find yourself beside the Southern Ocean in the historic town of Albany, and just a short hop from the coastal country towns of Denmark and Walpole. With a good range of shops, facilities and accommodation options, Mount Barker is an ideal base for a Great Southern holiday. Your options include motels, self-contained cottages and chalets, bed and breakfast, a caravan park or backpackers.