Margaret River has forever been a favourite place of mine in Western Australia. Usually referred to as ‘Down South’ by most locals, this area is absolutely beautiful in terms of people, sights and most importantly, beaches!
Begin with Breakfast
You should always start the day with a good breakfast, so head down to one of the best cafes loved by locals and tourists alike. THE BAKERY is a beautiful little gem along the main road in town. It has a range of panini’s, full breakfasts and lunch items all of which are delicious! Heaps of vegetarian items as well. My favourite part of this place though is its atmosphere. Random plates on the walls, flowers everywhere, odd chairs.. everything about this place is eclectic goodness. Make sure to try at least one of their desserts with your coffee, or if you’re looking for a real Aussie experience defiantly get one of their savory pasties like a sausage roll or meat pie!
Travel about 50 metres south and cross the road and you’ll find THE MARGARET RIVER TOURIST OFFICE. This is a great place to start to find out whats going on in town during your stay. They can provide you with a few maps and some great local knowledge of what to check out during your stay. Be sure to ask if any of the wineries are hosting any events while you are in town too! There are usually various gigs, concerts, markets and outdoor movie events throughout the year.
To keep costs low, I would highly recommend camping in the region. Hotels are extremely expensive and even basic rooms often cost upwards of $100 AUD a night. Ask at the tourist office for campsite recommendations. My favourite campsite is the HAMELIN BAY CARAVAN PARK because of its beautiful beach located 1 minute walk from the camp sites. They offer clean toilet and shower facilities and electricity for each site. The best part of this place though is the huge stingrays that swim up the the bay to see if any fishermen have some spare fish to give them. Don’t get too close to the long barb at the back of this aquatic animal, but don’t stress as they are gentle giants! Feel free to get up close to them as they swim to the shore and give them a little pat! It is rare to get so close and personal with these creatures so even if you do not camp at Hamelin Bay defiantly stop by for a visit. To reach it, turn right at the Karridale Tavern which is about 30 minutes south of Margaret River. If surfing is your thing, make your way further around the bay (there is a 4Wheel Drive track accessible by caves road) to catch some killer waves! Otherwise hang around the uncrowded beach by the park and enjoy the crystal clear water.
One of my favourite things about the Margaret River region is its incredible WINERIES. There are hundreds in the area where you can visit, learn about the different wine making techniques, and try some of the varieties at each wineries cellar door. I always recommend planning your own little wine tour, designate a driver (NEVER drink and drive), grab a map of the wineries from the Tourist Office and set out for a little adventure! Each winery is great in its own right, from the prestigious and fancy, to the down to earth and reasonably priced. If you do not have your own transport or all in your party would prefer to enjoy a few glasses, you can organise to go on a wine tour with a personal driver. I’ve never done one of these, so the best idea I think would be to ask at the Tourist Office about prices and times of wine tours.
If wine isn’t really your thing, don’t fear! Beer and cider lovers will not go without. BOOTLEG BREWERY is a good choice for those wanting to indulge in a few beers, they offer tasting plates you can order so you can try a little bit of everything. Another great choice is the best (and only) pub in town, the SETTLERS TAVERN. Head here to hangout with the locals and enjoy their huge bar selection. The staff here are super knowledgeable, so be sure to ask them about which pint to get if you’re unsure. Settlers Tavern also offers huge plates of food at reasonable prices if you’re in need of a feed.
After indulging in too much alcohol it might be a good idea to get some food in your stomach. There are plenty of great places to eat along the main strip in town, so my advice would be to take a stroll up one side and back down the other to find somewhere that suits your budget/ taste. Checking out a menu is perfectly normal in Australia, never feel obliged to stay somewhere to eat if nothing takes your fancy!
It is a great idea to take advantage of the many beautiful beaches and picnic areas in the region. So if a little DIY is your thing I would recommend packing up a little basket of cheese (make sure to bring some more wine) and other tasty treats and head to one of the beautiful beaches with a rug to watch the sunset. This is one of the best ways to spend an afternoon in my opinion!
No trip to Margaret River would be complete without a visit to THE MARGARET RIVER CHOCOLATE FACTORY! The best bit about this place is the 3 massive bowls full of 3 different types of chocolate. Use the spoons provided to grab a handful and wander around as you taste the deliciousness. There is a viewing platform so you can see how these guys work their magic and a little cafe attached as well. Sit out the back in the sunshine and enjoy the sweet life.
If you want to continue getting freebies, head to THE OLIVE OIL AND SOAP FACTORY. As you walk in you will be swept off your feet with various smells, so have a walk around and sniff your way to find your favourite scents. Try the different creams, soaps and scrubs! Once your hands are all pampered and your nose has had its fun, head to the back of the Factory to where your mouth can take over the experience. Here you will find a range of delicious olive oils, vinaigrettes and olives to try with bread and crackers. Work your way around and be sure to try the olive salt and the dukkah! Be warned though, you probably won’t walk out empty handed after tasting all these amazing pieces.
Margaret River is the best place to relax, chill out and get back to your roots. I would recommend coming down for at least a week so you have time to explore the region without being rushed.