Heading to Margaret River to sample some of Australia’s best wine? Good choice. Looking for more things to see and do in this pristine corner of Western Australia? Even better.
Margaret River boasts almost 100 blue-ribbon cellar doors, but there’s more to WA’s wine country than just the vineyards. With caves, coastline and a chocolate factory that Willy Wonka would’ve been proud of, these are the 10 best attractions the Margaret River region has to offer.
From Busselton in the north to Augusta in the south, the Margaret River region is home to more than 200 kilometres of golden coastline and turquoise water. Meelup, Gnarabup, Smiths Beach and Yallingup are the most famous stretches of sand in the area. Point Piquet and Siesta Park are serene, secluded spots for a dip. And surfers will love the world-class swell at Surfers Point, The Box, Main Break and big-wave haven Cow Bombie.
Margaret River’s 95 cellar doors put this part of the world on the map. The first commercial grapevines were only planted in 1967 but the region’s array of microclimates meant that Margaret River quickly forged a reputation as one of Australia’s most diverse and valuable wine regions, accounting for 20% of the country’s production of premium wine. Founding wine estate Vasse Felix, the modern Howard Park and charming cellar door Hay Shed Hill are among the must-see wineries.
Margaret River’s alcohol offering doesn’t end with its dozens of wineries. Blooming between the vineyards is a growing craft beer scene. Beer lovers will adore the rustic former dairy that now contains the Beer Farm, chic modern brewers like Eagle Bay Brewing Co and Black Brewing Co, the tumbling green lawns of the Colonial Brewing Co, and the quaint cottages of the Brewhouse. But the highlight is the only microbrewery in town, the Margaret River Ale Company.
Booze tourists, rejoice — a small community of distilleries serve up artisanal spirits to go with your beer and wine. Sample the award-winning whiskies at the Margaret River Distilling Company, the gins distilled with native Australian botanicals at West Winds Gin and the Grove Distillery’s range of quirky liqueurs. Sweet tipples like maple whiskey, strawberry-infused gin and chocolate port are their specialty.
Margaret River’s gourmet delights not only partner beautifully with Margaret River’s smorgasbord of booze options, but they also showcase the abundance of mouth-watering produce that comes from this corner of the country. Chow down at high-end eateries like Xanadu and Mikis Open Kitchen, choose from a bevvy of world-class winery restaurants, feast on handmade dairy treats in aptly-named Cowaramup and visit the annual Gourmet Escape food festival each November.
You don’t need to find yourself a golden ticket to secure your entry to this chocolate factory. Ever since the original factory opened in 1999, the Margaret River Chocolate Co has been one of Western Australia’s most popular destinations, offering free entry and free tastings, a café dishing up a galaxy of desserts and a shop selling a Wonka-esque selection of chocolatey treats.
Balance out all that chocolate with something a little healthier at the Margaret River Farmers’ Market. Nowhere is the region’s bounty of fresh fruit and vegetables more apparent than the Margaret River Education Campus every Saturday morning, not to mention the seafood, grass-fed beef and lamb, organic dairy, bread, cheeses and sweets being sold directly from the source. The 50 stalls are strictly for producers hailing from the south-west of the state, making it one of WA’s few true farmers’ markets.
Stretching 140 kilometres from Cape Naturaliste in the north to Cape Leeuwin in the south, this epic walking track meanders through one of the most spectacular segments of coastline anywhere in Australia. Bushwalkers are blessed with jaw-dropping views of the Indian Ocean, dazzling fields of wildflowers during spring and wild, untouched beaches. Smaller chunks of the track can be tackled in a day if you don’t have time to finish the whole thing.
Margaret River’s beauty extends below the surface of the earth, with more than 150 awe-inspiring limestone caves sitting beneath the Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park. Plenty of these million-year-old caves are open to visitors, including the picturesque underground waterway in Lake Cave, the gigantic chambers of Mammoth Cave and the Indigenous legends surrounding Ngilgi Cave about the battle between a good and evil spirit.
If your kids are bored with all your food and wine tastings, then take them to one of Margaret River’s many wildlife parks. This pristine corner of Western Australia is peppered with a huge variety of native Australian animals. Visit the family-friendly Bunbury Wildlife Park, the birds of prey at the Eagles Heritage Raptor Wildlife Centre, the Discover Deadly reptile park and the Sunflowers Animal Farm.