Margaret River is known for being a sleepy surfer town surrounded by some of the best wineries in Australia. It is also a popular destination for travellers and holiday-makers alike. The Margaret River region encompasses Margaret River (funnily enough) and the surrounding areas of south-west Western Australia.
We lived in Margs from April until July 2018 and definitely made the most of the opportunities to explore the region and make lasting memories in one of the most picturesque areas ever. We’ve used our experiences to create this list of ten things you have to do when visiting the Margaret River region, so you can enjoy your time there as much as we did.
Things you have to do when visiting the Margaret River region
We received a complimentary visit to Forest Adventures South West. All of these opinions are our own.
Being the outdoorsy-types that we are, it may come as a surprise that we had never done a climbing based activity before this one. Forest Adventures South West is a short drive north of Margaret River and offers you the chance to climb, zip line, and cycle (yes, really!) around the treetops on its high rope course.
The course increases in difficulty and adrenaline levels as you go, so it’s suitable for all abilities. We were such novices at the start (I think it took us something like 20 minutes just to get us both around the training course!) but we managed to work our way up and complete one of the advanced courses during our time there. The hardest thing was getting used to clipping and unclipping the carabiners! This was reassuring though as it meant that there was basically zero risk of us not being secure at all times.
If you want to enjoy the course at your own pace without feeling as though you are getting in the way of others, try to time your visit to miss school holidays and other busy periods. We went early one Saturday morning, outside of school holidays. We were one of just two couples on the course at the time. It was perfect for us, and meant that we could get some cool photos without needing to edit out lots of people in the background!
Cape Naturaliste & Cape Leeuwin Lighthouses
If you follow us on Instagram you may have noticed that we are BIG lighthouse fans. The Margaret River region boasts two gorgeous lighthouses. These mark the start and end of the Cape to Cape Walking Track and are well worth a visit. In total, the track itself is 135km from lighthouse to lighthouse and takes between 5-8 days to complete. Make sure to bring plenty of water as the track can be quite exposed in parts. There are usually taps to refill bottles near some of the beaches.
Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse is at the top, near Dunsborough and Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse is at the bottom, just beyond Augusta. You can climb them both, however we opted to just walk around them and enjoy the scenery from the ground. It costs more to climb them, obviously, but you can purchase a combined Lighthouses and Caves Visitor Pass. This works out pretty economically if you are planning to visit the famous caves in the Margaret River region as well.
We also have a soft spot for underground exploration. As soon as we knew we were headed to Margaret River we knew we were going to visit the caves. The Margaret River region has literally HUNDREDS of caves. Most of them are found on or around the aptly-named Caves Road. New caves are being discovered all the time; people still go out ‘cave hunting’ in the hopes that they will find a cave worthy of being named after them. You could tick off a fair few of them when trying to find things to do in the Margaret River region!
We visited the four main caves: Mammoth Cave, Lake Cave, Jewel Cave, and Ngilgi Cave. They are all so different from each other too! We loved how big Mammoth Cave was, and the self-guided element to it, but we also loved the explorer-feel we got from Jewel and Ngilgi Caves, and the epic sights and guided tour of Lake Cave. If you have the time, definitely try to do all four.
If you only have time to visit one, we’d recommend either Lake Cave (guided tour) or Mammoth Cave (self-guided). We aren’t huge fans of a guided tour, as we like to take our time to get good photos and take it all in by ourselves. Lake Cave’s tour wasn’t too long though, and we did get time to wander off by ourselves during it so we didn’t come away feeling like a herd of cattle.
Sunflowers Animal Farm
This was a highlight for Kez especially. An animal sanctuary with accommodation attached, Sunflowers Animal Farm is a short drive away from the main street of Margaret River. With kangaroos, joeys, goats, sheep, horses, cows, guinea pigs, chickens, and an emu (plus many more cuties to get to know), we spent basically half a day there feeding and patting the animals. You can even stay there in their onsite accommodation!
For an extra few dollars, you can purchase a bucket of food to hand out as you wander around the farm. They also have bottle feeding sessions at the start and end of each day. If you can, try to visit outside of school holidays and during the week. We turned up on a Tuesday morning and we were one of about three cars in the car park. This meant we could spend more time with the orphaned joeys, tiny lambs and army of guinea pigs!
Situated north of the sleepy town of Augusta, Hamelin Bay is an absolute must-see for those looking for a truly memorable experience. The Margaret River region boasts some of the most abundant sea life imaginable, and Hamelin Bay is the pinnacle of this. This beautiful stretch of white sand is famous for its giant stingrays, who swoop in on the shallows and around your feet.
As always though, nature never goes to plan. We drove to Hamelin Bay three times before we got the chance to experience these beauties up close! And they are SO much bigger than we thought they would be. We won’t lie to you, we were kind of intimidated. They were super gentle though and were more interested in the sand we were kicking up around us than they were in us as potential stinging victims.
The beaches in the Margaret River region can get battered in times of high wind and storms; the first time we went to Hamelin Bay the entire beach was covered in seaweed as a result of an early winter storm. The bay also made the news a few weeks before we arrived in Western Australia. Sadly a pod of 150 short-finned pilot whales beached themselves, and locals pulled together to try to save as many as they could. The dead whales attracted sharks to the area too, so be mindful of local safety advice and stay off of beaches if they are marked as closed. It’s always for good reason!
The main, and obvious, draw of ‘Busso’ is its huge 2km long jetty jutting out into the gorgeous waters of Geographe Bay. Visitors can opt to take the Jetty Train, or walk to the end. Being keen to take the time to soak in the sights, we walked it. And man, do you feel the 2km there and 2km back… We loved being able to stop and look back on the town though, as well as take some Insta-worthy photos along the train tracks.
At the end of the jetty sits one of the world’s only underwater observatories. A short guided tour leads you down into the depths to admire the sea life through huge windows. And, if you’re lucky, you may see a sea lion playing in the waves like we did!
Wineries & Breweries
Sam’s birthday fell during our time in the Margaret River region, so we went on a brewery tour to mark the occasion. Strangely enough, almost all the photos we took from that day are not ones we would like to share with the world. Kez especially felt very sorry for herself the next day.
With over 150 wineries and breweries, the Margaret River region has everything a foodie could wish for. And as the landscape is so beautiful, the vineyards are something else entirely. We worked for part of the pruning season at Ashbrook Estate and made the most of our time there by sampling their amazing wine selection. Most wineries in the region offer complimentary tastings, but not all, so check before you rock up and expect free wine! And always make sure you have a driver who will not be drinking; the wineries are spread out and there are limited taxis in Margs.
Western Australia’s beaches are up there with the most pristine beaches in the world. We will fight anyone who says otherwise. We never expected to have such vast expanses of white sand to ourselves, and on days when there were others there, it was still only a handful of people. No trip to the Margaret River region is complete without a day at the beach. We’ve curated and ranked our five favourite beaches of the Margaret River region below:
1. Injidup Beach
We stumbled upon what became our favourite WA beach by accident, looking for Injidup Natural Spa (see the next paragraph)! One morning we arrived here and watched dolphins playing in the waves with the surfers. It was the most incredible moment to witness of our travels so far. And we were always the only people on the beach, besides the surfers.
To find this paradise for yourself, head north out of Margaret River along Caves Road, then turn left down Wyadup Road. Instead of following this road along its entirety, take a left down Cape Clairault Road and pull up in the car park at the end. The steps down to the beach are near the top end of the car park.
2. Bunker Bay
Brought to our attention by the label on a bottle of wine, this beach blew us away entirely. Edged by some of the most desirable real estate in the region, Bunker Bay is the epitome of paradise. It even has a small cafe/bar open during the day. We spent a whole morning here just soaking up the rays, and again only saw a handful of people. It’s near to Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse, so why not make a day of it and tick two items off your Margaret River region bucket list?
Drive north from Margaret River, heading towards Yallingup. At the turning, go right and follow signs for the lighthouse. You’ll pass Sugarloaf Road on the left, but keep going a little bit further and you’ll find Bunker Bay Road on your right. The car park is well signposted from there.
Rivermouth was one of the first places we were taken to when we got to Margaret River, and it left us speechless. Huge waves crash upon the sand, and at high tide the sea meets the river. This is where kids from the Margaret River region learn to surf. You can also paddleboard and kayak up the river to explore further inland. At sunset, the locals congregate at neighbouring Surfer’s Point to watch the sun go down and eat from food trucks. You don’t want to miss that either.
Follow the locals, or any road out onto Caves Road from Margaret River and then signs to Prevally. It’s well signposted and there is plenty of parking, but fines are in place if you ignore the signs and camp overnight.
We didn’t actually spend much time here, which we regret. We walked across this beach as part of the Cape to Cape section we did. When we were there, it was actually closed to swimmers but there were a few people lounging on the sand. It’s a lovely and secluded beach which we’d go back to in a heartbeat.
Redgate beach is again off Caves Road but isn’t signposted as a beach. Find Redgate Road, and at the end of the road is the car park. There are toilet facilities there too.
Prevally is next to Surfer’s Point and Rivermouth. There is a nice walk along the dunes at the back of the beach, which takes you to an eatery called White Elephant Cafe. It’s a really chilled spot to watch the sun go down from. There is also a lookout up the steps nearby which you can sometimes see whales from.
Set back a bit from the beach is one of our favourite places to go for brunch in the Margaret River region, The SeaGarden Cafe. They do the best milkshakes and it is the ideal spot to kick back and enjoy the weekend from, especially if it’s a bit windy at the beach.
Injidup Natural Spa
We accidentally found our number one favourite beach in the Margaret River region by trying (unsuccessfully) to find the Injidup Natural Spa. We had read a number of blog posts on how to find it but they seemed to be a bit contradictory. The tide was also really far in, making it hard to spot.
Injidup Natural Spa is essentially a big rock pool. The tide channels in through fissures in the rock and pummels the pool with (cold!) seawater. It’s like a tidal jacuzzi. We watched the sunset there one evening, which was magical. Be warned: the waves crashing beyond the rock pool can be very strong, and the water can be quite forceful as it comes into the Spa. And, as with all rock pools, you won’t be alone in there! Crabs and other sea life reside in the protection of Injidup Natural Spa, but we’ve heard that on a hot summer’s day there is nothing better than cooling off in the pool.
To find the Spa, drive north along Caves Road, and turn left down Wyadup Road. Keep following the road all the way along. You will reach a small car park at the base of some rocks. Climb over the car park boundary markers (i.e. cut logs on the ground) to the left of the car park as you are facing the rocks. Follow the rocky path down towards the sea. You will have to clamber over some more rocks to reach the pool, so be mindful of them being slippery. The pool is in between two bigger sections of rock. As you pass the boulders that make up the rocks you saw at the end of the car park, Injidup Natural Spa will be on the right-hand side too.
Margaret River Farmers’ Market
Every Saturday, the main street in and out of Margaret River fills up with cars at the sides of the road as people from all over flock to the Farmers’ Market. Running roughly from 8am – 12pm (this does change with the seasons, so double check), wander amongst the stalls of local produce and smell all the amazing smells that go with it.
Held at the Margaret River Educational Campus on the Bussel Highway, it’s easy walking distance from the town centre. Many locals buy their fruit, vegetables, meat, dairy, and bread here for the week ahead, so arrive early to avoid missing out!
So, that sums up the top ten things you must do if you’re in the Margaret River region. For such a small corner of such a big state in such a huge country, Margaret River and the surrounding area has so much to do and see. If you’re ever in Perth, seriously consider driving the three hours south for a long weekend at the very least. We guarantee you will have the time of your life!
Have you visited Margs? What was a highlight for you?