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Aquarium Yallingup, Australia

Margaret River top ten things to do and see: wine, beach walks, and heritage, plus some underground caves to explore make for a great list of things to do in the Margaret River region.

How to get to the Margaret River region

Perth to Margaret River 280k. Driving time is approximately 3 hours. The Margaret River area is designated between Busselton (Dunsborough) in the north to Augusta in the south.

From Perth the easiest way to get there is driving. There are shuttle services to the Margaret River Region from the airport however if you are on a self-guided road trip you will need a vehicle to get around the region. You are in a sparsely populated region where public transport is virtually non-existent.

It is not recommended Perth visitors pop down to the Margaret River for a day trip. The day will be swallowed up with a very long road journey as well as not enough time to enjoy, relax and have fun.

The best time for a wine based trip depends on your preference

  • Autumn (March – April). Leaf colour, grapes are harvested, the weather is comfortable without the heat of summer. You will not see the full, lush spring leaves of spring in the vineyard.
  • Spring (October – November) is green, verdant leaves, similar to autumn comfortable temperatures
  • Summer it can be hot and towards the end of summer the leaves are dry and crisp.
  • Harvest season is February and excitement is in the air, along with a tenseness around the quality and quantity of the annual harvest.

And here is an introduction to the area. Very useful information about the depth of the region, the climate and topography zones which impact on the wine aroma. The region produces approximately 3% of Australia’s wine output yet over 20% of wine awards is identified as Margaret River origin. There are numerous small family-owned vineyards similar to NSW Mudgee district. Many of the larger vineyards have extensive gardens, associated with great wedding photography locations.

Whato to see & do in the Margaret River

Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse

Where two oceans meet, the Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse is a great instagram photo moment. Located near Augusta, at the furthermost point of south-western peninsula of Australia is a must see lighthouse and beacon of maritime history. The lighthouse is the tallest in Australia. This striking landmark is over 100 years old and continues to be an important working lighthouse and collection point for meteorological data. You can visit the lighthouse and tour inside. The building is a treasure trove of facts about the history, the shipwrecks and the construction process. Of course there are spectacular views from the top.

There is a gift house and cafe serving light refreshments. It is usually windy or very windy, even in the middle of summer there is a breeze. Remember to check the website for opening hours. If closed the promontory has sweeping views of turbulent ocean currents meeting in white surging waves.

Top five underground cave system adventures

Five caves within a short distance of each other could make for a caving day. Explore the underground on a hot day and escape into a cool natural cave. Margaret River is a cavers delight and a great way to introduce your family to the world of fossils still embedded in their original location. Caves give visitors a glimpse of the world below with its underground water systems, crystals and sheer age of the rocks beneath their feet. There is an admission fee for all five caves. Note Giant Cave is for experienced cavers only.

Mammoth Cave

Caves Rd, Forest Grove WA 6286

Calgardup Cave

Caves Rd, Boranup WA 6286

Lake Cave

Caves Rd &, Conto Rd, Forest Grove WA 6286

Ngilgi Cave

76 Yallingup Caves Rd, Yallingup WA 6282

Giants Cave

Caves Rd, Boranup WA 6286

Hamelin Bay

Marine life up close and personal. Needing some sunlight after all the caving adventures, Hamelin Bay with its resident stingrays is a local attraction. Choose a sunny day with calm water to assist with visibility. Do not touch the stingrays as they are wild and should not be hand fed. Observation and, of course, a photo moment is great. Another wildlife attraction is whale watching in the winter months Southern Right whales nursery and migration patterns mean your binoculars are compulsory together with a bit of patience waiting for the elusive spout of water to identify the whales offshore. Check our article on favourite Western Australian beaches for more details.

Sunset at Sugarloaf rock

Sunset at Sugarloaf rock is a well known instagram moment. A towering seascape is an ideal photo spot all year round. Weather worn, the rock emerges from the Indian Ocean as a craggy form positioned to reflect the changing light of the day. Winter provides dramatic moments with winter white sea foam and soft lighting or summer sunsets with a brilliant backdrop of orange and red-gold light. It is nippy even in summer as well as a popular spot. There is a viewing platform.

Injidup Beach

Natural beach spa anyone, and remember to pack your reef shoes as the sharp rocks can put you off the climb. Take the trail on the left side of the carpark and turn right when you reach the beach track fork. There is a climb over rocks, and visit at low tide. The large rock pool is sheltered from waves by the rocks, and the water there is always warmer. Best time for enjoying a swim in the Injidup Natural Spa is during the summer months from November to May.

The Aquarium, similar to Injidup, is a natural rock pool that is largely protected from waves and swell. The crystal-clear water is a turquoise colour and makes for a perfect swimming spot on a hot day. You’ll have to walk on an unpaved trail for about 15 minutes to get to this hidden gem.

Margaret River mouth

Margaret River mouth is a temptation to spend the day leisurely exploring local attractions. Visit the beautiful old Greek chapel on the hillside at Prevelly. For walking fans there is a nearby section of the Cape to Cape Track. Take the track from the Margaret River mouth at Prevelly towards Cape Mentelle or from Gnarabup (a great beach for snorkelling) towards Redgate Beach for magnificent coastal views. Pack your swimming gear in the backpack along with your water bottle and sunscreen. Paddle or kayak up the Margaret River. This is a popular local summer activity for out of town Perth residents on holiday. Ask at the Paddle up the Margaret River – ask at the visitor centre where and how to hire a canoe.

Canal Rocks

Canal Rocks is situated within Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park. Canal Rocks are a natural geographical feature. A natural channel was formed after eons of wave erosion and can be explored on a wooden boardwalk. The best viewing is the incoming tide with winter swells rolling in. The narrow path follows the coast around and across rock pools where marine life is visible. The lookout is 500m from the road and well signposted. Remember to check warning signs about rock climbing in dangerous areas where sudden sea surges can occur. There is a finger jetty and boat ramp.

Canal Rocks is on the Cape to Cape Track and is a key attraction for walkers with the freshwater spring located 100m below the track, north of the car park. Canal Rocks also offers a two kilometre scenic walk to Wyadup Cliffs.

Busselton Jetty

Busselton Jetty that takes 25 minutes to walk to the end. It’s seriously long, so long there is a small people mover that takes you up and down the stretch of the jetty as well as an underwater observatory where you can check out the marine life. It’s one of the more popular Margaret River attractions to check out if you’re traveling with young children. For jetty lovers a must do attraction.

Forest exploration

Leeuwin Naturaliste National Park and a walk through the majestic Boranup Forest is a must do park visit. A favourite part of my journey is always a forest exploration. You have a surround sound natural therapy session among the pale barks of a Karri Forest. Karri trees are one of the tallest species of tree in the world and can reach nearly 90 meters in height. There is no entry fee and there are small parking areas. A magical place especially between November to March. Watch out for kangaroos at dawn and dusk. It is a local favourite especially in the school holidays pre-book accommodation to avoid being disappointed.

Wineries, vineyards, travel

Wineries, vineyards, travel in the slow lane sipping, tasting at Margaret River eateries, cafes and restaurants coupled with local wine. A journey of the senses, sheer indulgence, a trip beyond the ordinary to places less travelled. Margaret River specialises in chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon production.

Similar to Nelson / Marlborough regions of New Zealand the Margaret River is more than viticulture. The region offers dramatic beaches, cool temperate forests and coastal walks and much more to compliment a food and feast extravaganza. Nothing like some gentle exercise strolling around a craft market to balance the sheer indulgence of Margaret River vineyard experience. Shopping, retail therapy and a vineyard tour are a perfect combo weekend.

That was my recipe for an indulgent relaxed weekend and I spoilt myself with a guided tour as drinking and driving is not a happy holiday. A day exploring the vineyards followed up with nature, walks, markets and pottering in our great outdoors. The tour company I used is  Margaret River Discovery Tours Margaret River Wine Tours. A local who is passionate about his backyard made me feel very welcome.

Length of time required in the Margaret River area

Several days is ideal with a weekend as a short trip option where some attractions are put on a bucket list for a return trip. For a leisurely in depth holiday a week would fly past.

Best time to visit depends on whether you are focused on a vineyard tour, beaches, caving or an exploration of the National Parks. It is chilly in winter.

For beaches check out the article on beach visits to plan where and when you plan to visit. This part of the world can get much busier around the Christmas holidays so you will need to book your accommodation far in advance.

Travel Pack Information
  • Weather in the Margaret River region.
  • Do not drink and drive, a safety message from Australian traffic police. In Australia, it is an offence to drive while your blood alcohol concentration is 0.05 or above but there are exceptions where a 0 blood alcohol concentration applies. For more details click here.  If no one wants to be left out of the winery fun, then you will need to organize a tour and driver. Going on a winery tour is one of the most popular activities in Margaret River.
  • Support Australian Automobile Association. The Australian Automobile Association (AAA) is the peak organisation representing Australia’s motoring clubs and their eight million members. The AAA advances the interests of all road users to ensure transport systems are safe, affordable and transparent.
  • Searching for Australia’s tallest trees: Karris, an excellent Australian Geographic article about Karri trees
  • With Beaches, Wine and Buzz, Is This Australia’s Next Hot Place? New York Times in January 2019 named Margaret River as Australia’s next hot spot.

The journey is worth it.

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