The Margaret River region is in the south west corner of Western Australia, an easy three hour drive from Perth. You may think its 200 plus wineries and growing beer industry makes it the prefect adult destination but the truth is, it’s an awesome place for a family holiday too.
Here are seven reasons to make Australia’s Margaret River region your next family vacation.
Life’s a beach
You can’t visit Australia without spending at least one day at the beach. The Margaret River coastline runs from Augusta to Busselton with countless beautiful beaches along the way. The Busselton foreshore is its own playground from December to Easter when the weather is at its best in the south west. Play on the inflatable water park for as long as you want for one price or rent a peddle boat (complete with slide), SUP board or a clear double kayak to explore.
But don’t stop there. Take a drive to Yallingup Beach or Surfers Point to watch the surfers catching waves. If watching isn’t enough, take a lesson with Yallingup Surf School. Bunker Bay near Dunsborough is my favourite beach. Its white sand and clear turquoise waters make this the perfect beach for a quiet afternoon in the sun.
Walk the walk
You may not want to walk the entire Cape to Cape Track (140 kilometres) with kids but it’s worth a short stroll. Hope on the path at Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse near Dunsborough to explore Australia’s native bushland. To learn about the best of the bush and some Aboriginal culture and history, take a guided tour with Cape Cultural Tours. A walk along the oldest wooden-piled jetty in the Southern Hemisphere is a great way to start or end your day. The Busselton Jetty spans 1.841 kilometres into the Indian Ocean. If the walk is too much for some family members, take the train.
Go down under
At the end of the Busselton Jetty, there’s an underwater observatory that allows the whole family to gape at the local fish. If the timing is right, you may just see the mermaids who like to visit on Sundays in December and January. If you like it under the sea, you’ll love it underground too.
Exploring the caves of the south west is an interesting way to learn about the area’s history. Start at Ngilgi (pronounced Nye-lee) Cave in Yallingup where you’ll hear some Aboriginal legends. There are four limestone show caves in the region: Ngilgi, Mammoth, Lake and Jewel. Save money and buy a multi-cave pass.
Eat something good
The Margaret River region is a treasure trove of fresh, locally produced, delicious food. You’ll never go hungry, that’s for sure. When in Yallingup, grab a healthy lunch at Andy’s General Store (it’s a cafe and store) – the muffins are OMG good. If you’re in Margaret River town on a Saturday morning, pop into the Farmers’ Market for lots of examples of local food. Don’t miss the wood-fired bread stall. It may seem expensive ($6.50 and up per loaf) but it’s worth it. If you’re visiting during November, check out the Margaret River Gourmet Escape, an annual food and wine festival that attracts the world’s leading chefs and foodies. When in Busselton, The Goose and The Equinox on the foreshore are good family friendly restaurants with beautiful ocean views.
Save room for dessert
If you have a sweet tooth, you’ll love the Margaret River Chocolate Company. It’s a factory of wall-to-wall chocolate that will WOW you. You’ll love the giant bowls of samples to the left as you enter – one spoonful of chocolate chips is never enough. The cafe serves light lunches and an overwhelming amount of cakes and sweets.
Remember when you could buy individual candy pieces? At Hot Chocolatte in Dunsborough, it’s still a thing. Sure, candies aren’t a penny each anymore but it’s still fun to mix and match your favourites. Ice cream lovers don’t despair – there are several local ice creameries. The top two are Millers in Cowaramup and Simmo’s near Yallingup. You’ll find these brands throughout the region but if you’re looking to mix your dairy pleasure with activity, both favourites offer large grounds and activities like mini golf (at Simmo’s) to burn off the calories.
Adventure time for the whole family
Xscape at the Cape is a small adventure park near Dunsborough. You can easily spend the day here playing mini golf, laser tag, bouncing on the trampolines or cooling off at the water park. The water park includes a giant inflatable water slide that’s an absolute riot of fun. Or you could channel your inner monkey at Forest Adventures South West in Busselton. The eight-acre action park has six different courses of zip lines (flying fox), rope challenges, BMX bikes on wires and much more that will challenge your body and mind – all while having a blast of fun.
Do you want to see some native wildlife? You’ll see kangaroos grazing in fields at dusk, especially in the rural areas around Yallingup, Cowaramup and Margaret River townsite. For an authentic Aussie experience, hop on the Kangaroo Sunset Safari with McLeod Tours where you’ll see roos in the wild.
Something for Mom and Dad
No piece on Margaret River is complete without mentioning the much-loved wine and craft beer industry. In 1967 Dr Tom Cullity planted the first vines, which makes Vasse Felix the area’s oldest winery. It is wine country here but craft beer has made a steady climb to popularity since Bootleg Brewery opened in 1998. There are now at least 10 microbreweries in the Margaret River region. Worried about taking the kids? Don’t. There are many family friendly wineries and breweries. Aravina Estate, Bootleg and Bush Shack Brewery even have playgrounds. Cheers to that!
By Jennifer Morton
Jennifer Morton has worked as a freelance writer and photographer since 2011. The homesick Canadian has lived ‘Down Under’ since 2001 when she left on a 12-month working holiday and never returned. Jennifer lives in Busselton, Western Australia with her husband and son. You can find her on Facebook and Instagram @jennifermortonwriter
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