Three days in the Margaret River Region
Driving through the Margaret River Region is almost like being back in the Garden of England.
Shady country lanes with green vistas, mighty cattle grazing in fields as far as the eye can see, isolated farm shops and galleries at the river’s edge... Except, Kent does not boast over one hundred wineries. Margaret River, however, has just that, over ten breweries and three distilleries. Now you see why we fell in love so quickly.
We spent three days in the Region and have some suggestions about how to spend your time...
If you’re driving from Perth, as we did, stop off in Bunbury for brunch or early lunch. We visited the Happy Wife and sat on their outdoor veranda at the water’s edge. The relaxed vibe and friendly staff made this a great spot, and the food was charming too. We chose the Pumpkin and Goats Cheese Tart with Roast Garlic and a Salad of Toasted Almonds, Apples, Parmesan and Rocket, & the Duck and Sweet Potato Parcel served with Spinach, Orange and Beetroot Salad and a plum chutney.
A thirty minutes’ drive will bring you to Tuart Forest National Park. Take a short walk between the tuart trees, some of which are more than 33 metres high. If you return at night, you are likely to spot possums and other species of nocturnal animals including the quenda and the southern brown bandicoot. We counted north of thirty kangaroos and a number of different birds.
As you can see, we caught two kangaroos in the act!
See the longest jetty in the southern hemisphere at Busselton if that floats your boat, before continuing on to Dunsborough. Near Eagle Bay sits the Eagle Bay Brewing Company. Treat yourself, as we did, to a tasting platter or shared tapas and enjoy the view.
Beer tasting tray consumed, we were keen to work off some of that sugar. We drove to the Cape Naturaliste National Park to view the lighthouse before walking the trails along the coast. If we were here a few months later, we may have been lucky enough to spot humpback whales on the migration down south. On the drive back to Dunsborough, pull into beautiful Bunker Bay to feel the sand between your toes!
Stay local, and visit Dunsborough town centre for dinner. Although we cooked our own meal on our first night in the region, restaurant Piari & Co comes highly recommended.
Potter around Dunsborough’s pretty homeware and clothes stores and visit the Christopher Fletcher gallery to see some stunning photographs of the local area and other parts of Western Australia. For fast Wifi (we used it to book our wine tour) and a wide variety of sweet treats, head to Meal Up.
Spend the first half of the afternoon exploring the country lanes on your drive down to the Margaret River township. Stop off at Gunyulgup Galleries, which showcases over 90 artists at a time and displays paintings, jewellery, sculptures and textiles.
Count the fiberglass cows in Cowaramup (there should be 32 in total!) and look out for the golden ‘rump on a stump’. You will find a more graceful golden statue of a naked woman named Free as a Bird (the ‘chick on a stick’) ascending from the lake of the Laurance Winery. The story behind the connection can be found here.
Once you reach Margaret River town, park up and walk to Margaret River Antiques. We spotted late-nineteenth century clocks, old Hornby train sets and delicate stirling silver brooches on sale. It’s only a short walk to Jah Roc Galleries, which showcases fine wood furniture made from timbers including Jarrah and Blackbutt. A visit to Jah Roc is like touring a show home made entirely by world-class designers and artists.
For lunch, head to a winery! We indulged in Vasse Felix (the first winery of the Region) and the food was stunning.
Jump back in the car and visit the Grove Experience. The distillery’s $65 Caribbean spiced rum won double gold at the San Francisco World Spirit’s Competition earlier this year. We tried it neat and with ginger ale – either way it was silky and very easy to drink! Take a tour of the distillery or taste some spirits at the bar for a unique experience amidst the wealth of wineries in the area.
Head back into town and have a few drinks at the Margaret River Hotel. There are happy hour deals and a pub quiz on Thursdays (which we won, and received a $50 bistro voucher and two bottles of wine!)
Walk up Bussell Highway to Arc of Iris for dinner. The lamb was mouthwatering and the duck rich with Asian flavours. Although Matt was disappointed by the chocolate fondant, Rachel was mighty pleased with the date pudding!
If you’re in the region on a Saturday, there are a number of morning markets, which sell local produce. Check with the Margaret River Visitor Centre to find out times and locations. Spend the rest of the morning finding new galleries and artisan food stores, or head to Ngilgi Cave to explore one of Geographe Bay’s most popular tourist attractions. You can buy a single cave pass or a multi-pass with discounts, allowing you to visit all four (which is what we did).
Take the scenic drive to Brookwood Estate for lunch in their excellent café. You can try a number of their wines during a relaxed tasting if you can’t decide which to order with your meal.
For those of you with a sweet tooth, Gabriel’s Chocolate is a must-visit. The company won a bag of medals at the Royal Melbourne Fine Foods Awards a few years ago, and they claim to be the first in Western Australia to import the raw cacao beans from places like Java, Magagascar and Ecuador to make the chocolate on site.
Pick up chutneys, relishes, vinegars, dukkah and much more at Providore, and for meat to go with your two veg, the Venison Farm.
Head south to Augusta to visit more caves, or to explore the lighthouse at Cape Leeuwin. Our favourite was Lake Cave, and the magnificent calcite structure of the suspended table.
If heading back to Margaret River, Settler’s Tavern has great value meals, so stop here in the north-end of the town before returning to Perth.