Escape Perth for a few days and head down to the Margaret River region
Just a three-hour drive south of Perth, the Margaret River region has some of the most varied scenery in Australia. This region receives approximately fifteen hours of sunshine during the summer, and while this gives you plenty of opportunities to work on your tan, it also gives you more hours in the day to explore, shop, eat and drink. A trip to the Margaret River region promises gourmet food, unspoilt beaches, friendly locals and stunning scenery. You can stock up on cheese and wine, go fruit picking, truffle hunting and visit a farm and harvest some local ingredients. Alternatively, if you're the more adventurous type, you can ride shotgun in a helicopter, go horseback riding in the countryside or even take a selfie with a kangaroo.
For a truly local experience, hire a car and bring along your best road trip playlist. Take the Kwinana Freeway from Perth and make your way to Forrest Highway. Bunbury is the perfect pit-stop to stretch your legs and have a bite to eat. Once you’re ready, follow the signs and continue via Bussell Highway.
Take a leisurely detour through the Ludlow Tuart Forest road, just north of Busselton. It’s the last pure tuart forest in the world. Once you’ve passed through the trees, keep your eyes peeled for Busselton, as it marks the gateway to the Margaret River Region.
If you would prefer to be driven around, the South West Coach Lines depart daily from Elizabeth Quay Bus Port, and Perth Airport. Alternatively, you can take the train by purchasing a one-way or return ticket with Transwa. Find out more.
Mile End Glamping
Choose to stay in a two-story beach house, rent a caravan or try glamorous camping (glamping). Mile End Glamping in Yelverton offers beautiful domes for you to spend your mornings and nights in.
The elevated domes are lovingly furnished and are completed with a full kitchen, bed, washing machine, bathroom, spa, barbeque and even a dishwasher. Enjoy the sunset with a glass of wine or read a book in the spa.
Meelup Beach is known for its turquoise water and perfect swimming conditions. Natural bushland and sand dunes surround Meelup Beach, offering the best of both land and sea. You can walk along the coastal trail at Meelup Park or even rent a bicycle from Dunsborough Bike Shed to get around faster.
Geographe Bay, Peaceful Bay, Prevelly Beach, Gnarabup Beach, Smiths Beach and Bunker Beach are also ideal locations for swimming, snorkelling and long walks.The region has more than enough coastline so the beaches are never too crowded. You will always have uninterrupted views of the sea.
Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse
Panoramic views will welcome you at the top of the Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse in Augusta. The tallest mainland lighthouse in Australia has its perks, providing the best place to whale watch from May to September. Visit just before sundown to be rewarded with a spectacular sunset over the horizon, where the Indian Ocean meets the Southern Ocean.
Canal Rocks in Yallingup is an unusual geological feature, offering rock climbing of a slightly different fashion. Just don’t get distracted by the waves crashing against the unique granite rocks. Spend your time searching for hermit crabs around the rocks or brightly coloured starfish in the rock pools. A narrow timber bridge links one side to the other and is a great spot for photos.
Also located in the Yallingup area is a rock pool known to a select few as the Natural Spa. A series of rock formations separates the natural water reserve from the ocean, allowing the waves to flow into the pool in a way that resembles a waterfall. To get there, head to Wyadup Road and venture left at the car park. Continue left and climb over the rocks and you’ll find it on the right. Be aware that signage to the Natural Spa is limited as it is a truly local secret.
Eagle Bay Brewing Company
For a crisp craft beer or a refreshing cider, Eagle Bay Brewing Company has you covered. But that is not all that makes the Eagle Bay Brewing Company special. This charming family owned microbrewery, is also a restaurant and vineyard that often hosts beautiful wedding receptions. There is a laid-back vibe to this venue but the service is still fantastic.
All food is cooked fresh to order. The classic wood fired pizza works a treat. The steak sandwich is tasty and the unpretentious beer battered fish and chips make for a delicious choice. As for drinks? Well…as per the Eagle Bay Brewing Company motto: “Life is short, drink craft beer”.
Not far from the brewery are a few other alternatives for lunch. If you're after a meal with a beach view, then enjoy the quality produce at Bunkers Beach Café. Also, not too far away is, Morrie’s Anytime, which also offers a delicious and casual bite to eat. The best bread is found at the Yallingup Woodfired Bakery. Dedicated locals wake up at 4am to purchase freshly baked bread straight out of the oven, after all, it’s best enjoyed warm.
Want something more upscale? Wander through Aravina Estate’s grounds and delight yourself in a two or three-course menu. The estate’s team of chefs create seasonal menus using the finest ingredients sourced within the region. The Margaret River region is synonymous with good food for a reason.
You’re almost going to need a second stomach dedicated for the desserts. Try the apricot parfait with lemon curd and almond streusel, the glazed chocolate domes filled with liquid strawberry centres or the white peach sorbet with honey cremeux and a coconut financier. Add the option of matching the desserts with a delicious Rosé, Shiraz or Semillon.
Wandering through the grounds is an experience in itself. Its green gardens, vineyard, vegetable patches and children’s playground are enough to keep everyone occupied. There's even something for car fans too, a sports car gallery housing the likes of a 1984 Porsche 924 Carrera GT and 1957 Mercedes 190 SL, is just a stroll away.
A magnet for view chasers, Cape Naturaliste offers walking trails of various lengths and difficulty levels. Wear sneakers for this activity. Western Australia has a plethora of wildflowers and Cape Naturaliste is a prime location for photographing them.
Missed out on the whale watching season at Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse? Look out for some along The Whale Lookout Walk, which spans 1.3 kilometres (0.8 miles) and is by far the most popular walking trail at Cape Naturaliste. It’s easy on the legs and offers picturesque views of the dramatic coastline.
As you may have guessed, the Whale Lookout Walk is a prime spot for watching whales migrate through Geographe Bay. You should visit sometime from September through to December. You could even do one better and go on a Whale Watching and Deep Sea Fishing Charter with Legend Charters, for an up-close and personal experience.
The Margaret River Chocolate Company
The Margaret River Chocolate Company takes great pride in perfecting the balance of cocoa, milk and sugar. The company sells chocolate, truffles, chocolate sauce, gift hampers and even body products. There’s also a viewing window to watch the magic happen.
For your tasting pleasure, white, milk and dark chocolate drops are held in large glass bowls throughout the establishment. But here comes the best part, tastings are free and unlimited.
Make sure you save some stomach space as the Providore is located just behind the Chocolate Company. You can fill up on crackers just by sampling the multitude of chutneys, marmalades and vinaigrettes on offer. Take home a little jar of fig chutney, organic olive oil or unprocessed honey as they make for great gifts for friends and family.
Sunflowers Animal Farm and Farmstay
Sunflowers Animal Farm is located about six kilometres (3.7 miles) out of the Margaret River town center. If you’d like a taste of farm life, stay on the farm or pay a visit during admission hours (9am – 5pm). If you stay at the farm there are free tractor and pony rides for younger guests.
There are over two hundred animals of thirty different types roaming around the farm. The animals include cows, kangaroos, lambs, emus, ostriches, llamas and even guinea pigs. Try to resist sneaking a fluffy chick home in your pockets.
You can also visit Jester’s Flat Equestrian Farm, located about twenty minutes’ drive from Sunflowers Animal Farm and offers unique and adventurous horse trail rides and tours.
The Margaret River region plays a big part in putting Western Australia on the wine-making map. Famous for its wine, quality food and concerts, Leeuwin Estate is a must visit at any time of the year.
Behind the doors of the estate sits an award-winning restaurant, art gallery and cellar door. Open daily for lunch and Saturdays for dinner, the Estate has cemented itself as one of the five founding wineries of the region.
There are over a hundred different vineyards to be visited in the Margaret River Region. Rows of grapes stretch for miles, waiting to be harvested, crushed, barrelled and aged. A range of tour companies like Taste the South Tours and McLeod Tours can offer you these experiences. Fill your glass and wander from cellar door to cellar door at Voyager Estate, Xanadu, Vasse Felix, Cullen Wines and Aramia to name a few.
No matter which part of the region you decide to explore, you'll never go hungry or thirsty.