KATANNING is a town that lies halfway between here and there, and is not far from anywhere at all.
And now it is home to an exceptional luxury hotel following the impeccable restoration of the town’s crumbling 127-year-old flour mill.
The cornerstone building has been at the core of Katanning’s heart and soul since its foundation in 1891.
But as the 1980s approached the building had fallen into decline.
Flour manufacturing had long ceased as had a failed foray into the oats business. Facing dereliction the future of the iconic mill looked rather bleak.
Enter Dome chief executive Nigel Oakey who bought the neglected mill from the local shire for the bargain basement price of $1 and spent millions transforming it into the 22-bed Premier Mill Hotel, a marvellous blend of modern comforts with history in the centre of town.
“We’ve been on a journey restoring heritage places and exploring the regions for more than a decade,” he said.
“We looked at the map and thought there’s probably some interesting spots between Northam and Albany and so we started having a look.
“We realised that route is one of the state’s most historic travel routes and yet no one knew about it.”
Mr Oakey said the Great Southern was a hidden treasure chest of unspoilt coastline, idyllic seaside towns, and tucked away venues harbouring some of the world’s finest food and wine trails.
“What I love about the Premier Mill Hotel is that we have given people a spot less than three hours from Perth where they can go and explore a whole new region in luxurious comfort,” he said.
“Katanning presents as a logical base to explore the Great Southern, including Bremer Bay, which is a UNESCO World Biosphere reserve which plays host to the largest congregation of killer whales in the southern hemisphere.
“The whole region, other than the south coast, is a bit of a mystery to most people.
“The things to see and do is phenomenal from climbing mountains in the Stirling Ranges to checking out the silo art trail, visiting wineries or seeing and touching the Rabbit Proof Fence.”
Mr Oakey said they are helping city dwellers rediscover the art of the classic road trip by compiling the best of these routes into a map with options that are straight and fast to scenic and, well, not-so-fast.