Margaret River

Margaret River has always been a place I’ve wanted to visit – I think ever since I’ve known Phil we’ve watched the annual Margaret River Pro (international surfing competition) and on the lay days or ad breaks they would show the most beautiful scenery, rugged, natural and untouched sweeping views with the tagline ‘Just another day in WA’.

Being in Singapore, a trip to Perth soon became a reality with Singapore in fact being closer to Perth than some of the major Australian cities like Sydney. With a flight time of just over 4 hours, we were lucky enough to spend a long weekend in Margaret River although after just 4 days this place had definitely made a lasting impression.

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Surfers Point, Prevelly

Perth is the closest airport to Margaret River and because of the flight arrival time, we stayed near the airport for our first night. Perth doesn’t have the usual run of airport hotels situated within easy walking distance so it can be difficult to pinpoint the best option as most options are within a 5-10 minute drive at best. We opted for the Ibis budget hotel which was perfect for our needs but do look for an option with transfers where possible as taxis aren’t always available particularly if arriving late at night.

We woke up early, jumped in our hired car and started the drive to Margaret River, 3 hours south of Perth. We decided to make a day of the journey stopping off at various beaches, the Eagle Bay Brewing Company for lunch and the Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse before arriving at our accommodation in Prevelly beach. Having your own transport in this region is a must – the roads are easily navigable allowing you to explore the hidden gems of WA at your own leisure and freedom.

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Eagle Bay Brewing Company

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We opted for a wonderful beach studio in Prevelly based on its location to surfers point – Prevelly was a perfect base within close proximity to Margaret River town itself (ten minute drive) but also close to the beach. Depending on what you are looking for, staying in Margaret River town itself has a lovely buzz with lots of restaurants and bars within walking distance compared to staying in one of the nearby towns which will give you more of a beach setting but is an undeniably quieter and more secluded choice (made obvious by the countless kangaroo we passed naturally grazing – a novel site for South Africans).

Margaret River is where the region’s renowned wines come from. Although the wine here only accounts for a small percentage of Australian wines, it produces some of the country’s finest – particularly its renowned Chardonnay. Its rustic appeal is heightened by vineyards and orchards bordering every roadside until you get to the rugged coastline where crisp blue waves crash rather roughly against the shore – this is natural beauty at its best. We visited in Autumn and I loved the crisp air and hues of red creeping into the vines that had just finished their harvest.

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Margaret River has also become a bit of a foodie destination playing host to the annual ‘gourmet escape‘ which attracts big names from Rick Stein and Heston Blumenthal to MasterChef favourites. Whether you dine amongst the vines at one of the many vineyard restaurants, discover the artisan food producers, frequent the Saturday farmers market or choose one of the trendy eateries in town – there is no shortage of good food.

There are also beautiful walking trails to follow along the coast particularly around Yallingup.

Also famous for its world class surf, this was a big reason behind our visit to Margies. Unfortunately, about two weeks prior to our visit, the Margaret River Pro had been cancelled due to two shark attacks in the area and sitings had been frequent ever since (see pic below). Usually a perfect combination of shiraz and surf, we made up for the lack of time in the brine for Phil by sampling more of the good stuff.

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eeek

Beaches to visit

  • Yallingup, stop at the Yallingup bakery for tasty sandwiches and cakes
  • Meelup beach
  • Bunker Bay beach – this was breathtaking and definitely worth a stop.
  • Eagle bay beach
  • Gnarabup beach
  • Redgate beach

Some things to do

  • Farmers market (Saturday mornings from 8am)
  • Cape Naturaliste and Leeuwen lighthouse (I’m a sucker for lighthouses)
  • Cape to Cape track for scenic hikes
  • Kayaking starting at Prevelly river mouth
  • Surf
  • Wine tasting (see more info below)

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Places to grab a bite

  • Drift Cafe, Margaret River (breakfast and lunch)
  • Pizzica, Margaret River (amazing wood-fired stone baked pizzas – booking recommended)
  • Brewhouse, Margaret River (craft beer and gourmet pub style food)
  • White elephant, Gnarabup (breakfast and lunch)
  • Eagle Bay Brewing Company, Eagle Bay (more craft beer and delicious, hearty lunches)
  • Rustica, Hay Shed Hill winery restaurant

Other places we saw that looked nice or came recommended

  • Tuckshop Cafe – always bustling
  • Watershed restaurant and winery
  • Mikis open kitchen – reservations recommended

Accommodation

Wineries

Margaret River is home to over 120 wineries, most of them boutique producers and you can taste the wine at the many cellar doors open most days or at the on-site restaurants. We did a wine tour with Bushtucker Tours where you experience 4 boutique wineries, a local Australian faired lunch, a brewery, chocolate tasting and olive oil tasting. This was a great way to explore the area and have a chaperone while we enjoyed the tastings and met fellow travellers. On the tour we visited; Xanadu, Fermoy, Woody Nook and Aventure – the first two I would recommend, but apart from that I think there are some better ones to visit. The brewery, Cheeky Monkey was a lovely spot to end the day. Another recommended wine tour is ‘Wine for Dudes’.

We also popped into Hay Shed Hill whilst driving around – this has beautiful grounds and Rustica, the on-site restaurant serves delicious looking Tapas in a romantic and stylish setting – I would definitely try to plan a lunch stop here. Other farms that we passed or were recommended include;

  • Leeuwin Estate
  • Stella Bella
  • Cape Naturalise
  • Knee deep
  • Vasse Felix
  • Robert Oatley
  • Cullen wines

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Apart from the many wine farms in the region there are also chocolate, nougat, wool, port, gin distilleries and other farms to visit as well as more and more craft breweries popping up including the Beer Farm and Eagle Bay Brewing company which I’ve mentioned. With hearty and delicious food served in a gorgeous setting, I could have spent a whole afternoon here lazing in the sun on the lawn.

Margaret River is really a special spot – the down to earth people, laidback lifestyle, surf-battered coastline and textured scenery leaves an impression far beyond your expectations. The more I travel the more I find that some places leave you inspired, some places leave you feeling a little homesick, some revived and others tired as you busily explore them, some become a page in the book and others leave a lasting impression – Margaret River is wholesome and humbling, natural beauty at its finest and left me with such a feeling of contentment, pure and utter contentment. With ‘Just another day in WA’ reverberating throughout our weekend, I know I’ll be back in Margies one day repeating that all too familiar saying enjoying more wine and waves.

“There is freedom waiting for you, on the breezes of the sky. And you ask “What if I fall?” Oh but my darling, what if you fly?” – Erin Hanson

For more inspiration and guides visit

  • The Margaret River Region website

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Flat white at the White Elephant

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