It can be confusing when people talk about Margaret River. Its name can refer to the town, the river, or the whole region on Australia’s west coast. But fret not, as we’ll just be talking about the region for this article. It’s located at just a 3-hour drive to the south of Perth and is the perfect destination for a weekend getaway.
And it’s not just the wineries that are worth visiting. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how impressive the scenery looks here. The rugged coastlines, limestone caves, and incredible beaches are just some of the things Margaret River has to offer. Here are 15 fun things anyone can experience in the region.
1. Bush walk in the Boranup Karri Forest
To say that the Boranup Karri Forest is stunning is simply an understatement. Once you step inside, the towering Karri trees (some over 60 m or 197 feet in height) make you feel like you’re Tarzan or Jane in a lush jungle. But it’s not only the Karri trees that make bush walking here a delight. The forest is also home to wildflowers, orchids and fungi, and if you’re lucky, you’ll get to spot Western Australia’s iconic birds such as the Kookaburra!
Tip: Grab your cameras and go to the Karri Lookout on the eastern side of Caves Road, the best spot to enjoy the forest as it surges down across the valley.
To get here is easy, too. Just take a short 25-minute drive south of Margaret River town, along Caves Road. The drive along the road winds through the forest and loops back to Caves Road, making it super easy and perfect for any visitor to navigate.
Boranup Karri Forest
Access: Drive away from town on Walcliffe Road and turn left onto Caves Road, which takes you through the forest.
Contact: (08) 9780 5911
For more info: Click here
2. Say hello to the stingrays at Hamelin Bay Holiday Park
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Whether you’re traveling as a couple, with family, or even a group of friends, you’ll no doubt have a blast at Hamelin Bay Holiday Park. It’s situated 30 km (19 miles) south of Margaret River on a section of the bay where ships once harbored in the timber milling days. Everyone of all ages will be spoiled for choice with the plethora of activities the park has to offer. Children can roam and explore, and adults can chill on the sand and read a book. There’s safe swimming, caves to explore, snorkeling, boating, surfing, and even beachcombing, all available in the area.
Plus, the scenic bay is also home to a group of stingrays which have gotten used to the local fishermen who throw out fish leftovers in the sea. You’ll most likely see one or two flapping around in the shallow waters near the boat, so get your cameras ready to snap some shots of these majestic creatures. Do take note that feeding or petting them are not encouraged though.
Hamelin Bay Holiday Park
Address: Hamelin Bay West road (Off Caves Road), Karridale, WA, 6288
Contact: (08) 9758 5540
3. Watch the crashing waves at Canal Rocks
The Canal Rocks is an incredible ancient rock formation that anyone visiting Margaret River shouldn’t miss. It’s a popular spot to climb the rocks for an amazing view and watch the waves crashing.
If you have small kids or don’t want to climb the rocks, there’s a nice wooden boardwalk from which you can admire the same view underneath it. Walk further down and you’ll find yourself on the rocks and spot some crabs and periwinkles.
Tip: The Canal Rocks offers the best views when the weather is wild and stormy, as the waves will be huge then. But during calmer weather, sunset is also a good time to go.
Access: South-west of Smiths Beach and Yallingup, in the north of the Margaret River Region. To get there by car, turn west off Caves Road onto Canal Rocks Road.
Contact: (08) 9780 5911
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4. Escape to Redgate Beach
Redgate Beach is one of those places that looks like it jumped straight out from the pages of a magazine. Not only is it one of the most beautiful spots along the Cape to Cape Coast, It’s also secluded enough, making it the ideal place to catch some fresh air and just kick back.
The waves here can be high and dangerous, so it’s advisable to be cautious when swimming here, especially if you aren’t a strong swimmer. The conditions are ideal for surfing though, and many beginners actually come here to learn how to surf.
Access: To get there by car, turn west off Caves Road onto Redgate Road. The quickest way to get there from Margaret River is to head out of town in a south-westerly direction on Boodjidup Road.
5. Horse riding at The Horse Resort
The Horse Resort provides a 2-hour tour your whole family will never forget. Not only do you get to do some good old-fashioned horse riding, you’ll get to experience the stunning nature of Margaret River while at it. The horses are all well-trained, and the friendly staff will be there to teach you all the necessary techniques, so even first-timers can feel at ease joining the tour. There are also different trails of varying difficulties to cater to visitors of all ability levels.
The Horse Resort
Address: Margaret River, WA 6285
Contact: +61 8 9757 4444
6. Explore Lake Cave
Margaret River’s Lake Cave is arguably the most stunning limestone caves in all of Western Australia. It’s named because of the permanent lake that’s situated within the cave. Join the guided tour, where you’ll learn about the stalactites, stalagmites, and the other natural calcium sculptures that have formed over thousands of years.
While you’ll have to take a pretty long flight of stairs (about 350 steps) down to enter the cave, it’s entirely worth the effort, especially when you reach the lake where there’s a display of light shows. It’s a perfect example of pure, unadulterated beauty, only amplified by the man-made lighting.
Address: Conto Rd & Caves Road, Margaret River WA 6285
Price: Cave Tour from 17 USD
Contact: +61 8 9757 7411
For more info: Click here
7. Stop by the Underwater Observatory at Busselton Jetty
Make your way up to the longest wooden jetty in Australia, just a 40-minute drive from Margaret River. If you are making your way from Perth to Margaret River, you’ll pass by it.
Busselton Jetty was built in 1853, spans 1.84 km (1.1 miles), and makes for a lovely stroll (though if you don’t want to walk, there’s a tram ride you can book for a small fee). Just come marvel at the white beaches and the clearest waters. At the end of the jetty sits an underwater observatory that’s 8 m (26 feet) below the surface, and is home to 300 marine species. There is also a drive-in cinema and a small theatre house in Busselton town if you’re staying longer and are looking for a night activity.
Address: Busselton Beachfront, Busselton WA 6280
Price: Admission to Underwater Observatory: 24 USD (Adults), 11 USD (Child)
Opening Hours: 24 hours
Contact: +61 8 9754 0900
8. Marvel at the Ngilgi Cave
The Ngilgi Cave was formed 500,000 years ago - that’s half a million years! It’s located between Dunsborough and Yallingup, and it’s interesting to find out about the history of this cave. It is associated with Wardandi spirituality, and is named after the good spirit Ngilgi who defeated the evil spirit Wolgine.
There is a guided tour and as the cave is pretty small, it only requires 20 minutes to go up and down. But if you’re adventurous enough, there are more exciting tours, if you don’t mind getting down on your hands, knees, and even bellies!
Address: Yallingup Caves Rd, Yallingup WA 6282
Price: Cave entry at 17 USD
Contact: +61 8 9755 2152
For more info: Click here
9. Do the Cape to Cape Track
The Margaret River region is known for housing some of the world’s most beautiful beaches along its wild and rugged coastline. The route from Cape Naturaliste in the North to Cape Leeuwin in the South runs over 120 km (75 miles), and has some of the most raw and untamed natural beauty of the area.
Believe me, the long stretches of pure white sand and clear water, together with craggy rocks and dunes, make for an irresistible sight to drive or just trek through. Remember to pack a swimsuit and surfboards, as there are a great number of uncrowded and stunning beaches along the way, such as Smiths Beach and Gnarabup Beach. There are lots of lookout areas with great photogenic panoramas too, so photographers better remember to take your cameras with you!
Cape to Cape Track
Access: There is no public transport right to the Track. Daily coach services operate between the nearby towns of Busselton, Dunsborough and Margaret River.
With the Indian Ocean just kilometres away, the Margaret River region is home to some of the best whale watching in Australia. The whale numbers are high, and it has the longest-running whale-watching season in the world - from May to early December!
So while you’re in the region, don’t miss booking a local whale-watching tour with Naturaliste Charters, who operate out of both Augusta (30 minutes to the south of Margaret River town) and Dunsborough (45 minutes to the north). You’ll be in good hands with their expertise and knowledge! Expect to see Humpback and Southern Right Whales, and if you’re lucky, the Minke Whales and the largest living creature - the Blue Whale!
Duration: 2 hours
11. Witness ice cream magic at Millers Ice Cream Farm Cafe
Craving for something sweet? Treat yourself to some of the creamiest ice cream you’ll ever taste! Millers Ice Cream Farm Cafe is located just outside Cowaramup (about a 10-minute drive from Margaret River), and is an excellent stop if you are with family. There is an adventure playground to let your kids run wild amongst the farm setting.
The milk comes straight from the establishment’s own cows, milked daily on the family farm, making the ice cream extra creamy and wholesome. They have over 50 flavours of ice cream, but only 16 are on display at any one time, including two dairy-free (fruit sorbets or the very popular dairy-free 70% chocolate) ones.
Tip: if you’re adventurous enough, try the coffee ginger flavour. They use Yahava coffee, so you know it’s good.
Millers Ice Cream Farm Cafe
Address: 314 Wirring Road, Cowaramup, Western Australia
Opening Hours: Daily, 10.00am – 4.30pm
Access: Short, scenic 3 km (1.9 miles) drive off the Bussell Highway
12. Get lost at Amaze'n Margaret River
Looking for some family fun or a cool place to spend your afternoon? Amaze’n Margaret River houses finely-kept and well-manicured conifer hedge mazes. The giant maze is the most confusing, and there are also built-in challenges and puzzles along the way, so you don’t just wander aimlessly for the exit.
You’ll easily spend a few hours here, but it will all pay off, as you’ll be rewarded with a picturesque view overlooking the hedges when you make your way out on the other side.
Amaze'n Margaret River
Address: 9978 Bussell Hwy, Margaret River WA 6285
Price: 13.50 USD (Adults), 10.50 USD (Children)
Opening Hours: Daily, 9am - 5pm
Contact: +61 8 9758 7439
13. Have a hearty breakfast at Margaret River Bakery
The Margaret River Bakery is a must-go if you love anything pastry and sweet. If you’re rushed for time, pick up the sweet-smelling coffee and almond croissants. But it’s worth it to stay and experience the bakery and dine in it.
It’s charming and playful, decorated with an eclectic collection of colorful yet mismatched chairs, tables, and vintage china. You’ll feel like you’ve stepped into the Mad Hatter’s tea party. While the doughnuts and pastries are all fantastic, don’t miss their burgers, pies and the fluffiest pancakes!
Margaret River Bakery
Address: 89 Bussell Hwy, Margaret River WA 6285
Opening Hours: Mon - Sat, 6.30am - 4pm
Contact: +61 8 9757 2755
One can’t go to Margaret River and miss out on the wineries, of course. And traveling with kids doesn’t mean you have to skip this activity, as many of the wineries here have child-friendly facilities and kid menus.
Voyager Estate boasts some of the best winery tours in the area. Its distinctive Cape Dutch gardens and architecture are inspired by the farmsteads of Cape Town in South Africa, a tribute to the first wine grape vines introduced to Western Australia in 1829 from South Africa. Just walking around the estate through the vineyards is a delight in itself.
Duration: 4 hours
15. Be Charlie for a day at the Margaret River Chocolate Company
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This one is for the sweet tooth. Margaret River Chocolate Company has been offering free tastings in-store, giving away milk, white-, and dark-chocolate buttons, since its establishment in 1999.
They have a wide array of chocolates and chocolate-related products, it’ll be impossible to step out of here without buying anything! You’ll also get a glimpse of the chocolate-making process at this outlet, and you’ll feel like Charlie at Willy Wonka’s.
Tip: Try the most unusual curry chocolate truffle. It may not sound appetizing to some, but you’ll be surprised at how delicious the combination is!
Margaret River Chocolate Company - Factory
Address: 415 Harman’s Mill Rd, Metricup WA 6280
Opening Hours: Daily, 9am - 5pm
Contact: (08) 9755 6555
More Than Just Wine
Even though Margaret River has built up a reputation for its rolling green vineyards and wineries, there are actually much more that this little town has to offer. From incredible beaches to surf at, to caves to explore, to amazing ice creameries, there are just too many things to keep you entertained for the perfect family vacation!
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