Western Australia is full of underrated gems that are far less crowded than cities like Melbourne and Sydney. The Margaret River region is one of the most popular destinations in Western Australia and is world-renowned for its outstanding wineries, but is an amazing place to check out even if you are not a oenophile: it also offers stunning beaches, natural wonders and unique landmarks. It was even named one of the top 10 best places to visit in Asia Pacific in 2019 by Lonely Planet!
The best time to visit the Margaret River region is during the Australian summer months (December through February), but the shoulder season is fantastic too (September to November and March to May). The winter months are extremely cold so if you’re looking to hit the beaches then avoid visiting from June to August. Read on for 10 reasons why you need to add the Margaret River region to your bucket list now!
How to get to Margaret River and how to get around
The Margaret Region is located 3 hours away from Perth in Western Australia. The entire region starts from Busselton and Dunsborough in the north down to Augusta in the south. From Perth your best option is to rent a car (we have used Keddy by Europcar, Budget and Thrifty in the past) to make the drive down south. Remember, you drive on the left in Australia (the steering wheel is on the right). Alternatively, there are a limited number of buses that you can take via South West Coast Lines. I’ve also heard good things about this shared airport shuttle service between Perth Airport and the Margaret River region, though it appears to only operate Monday to Friday, and not on the weekends.
Looking for the best prices for rental car companies around the world? Click here to book your rental car ahead of your trip. Bookings can be cancelled or amended if your plans change!
Once you are in the area, public transport is pretty much non-existent and private tours and drivers are pricey, so the best way to get around is to self-drive. Parking is plentiful and Google Maps is very accurate – just stick to the speed limits and be alert when driving (especially at night) as kangaroos are known to jump into the middle of the street out of nowhere. Kangaroo collisions are no joke.
The best places to stay in the Margaret River region
Accommodation prices tend to be higher in this area, with nightly rates reaching as much as AUD$3-500 during the peak season (December to February). To get bang for your buck, make sure you stay in a convenient and picturesque town so that you can explore more of the beaches and coast.
I would recommend staying in Dunsborough, Margaret River, Gracetown, Yallingup, Eagle Bay or Bunker Bay. Click here to find accommodation in the Margaret River region!
10 reasons why you need to add the Margaret River region to your bucket list now!
1. Beach after beach after beach
Beach hopping is one of the most popular activities in Margaret River. The Margaret River region has dozens and dozens of pristine beaches all along the 130 kilometer stretch of coastline. You are spoilt for choice and can enjoy the Australian summer on some of the most stunning beaches in the world.
In addition to the main beaches (Meelup, Bunker Bay, Eagle Bay, Yallingup and so on), there are plenty of smaller and quieter beaches to go to if you want to avoid the “crowds” (it never really gets that busy except for over Christmas). Point Piquet, Castle Rock and Injidup Beach are some of my favorites.
2. Whale watching tours
Photo credit: Anne Powell / Shutterstock
The Margaret River region has an extremely long whale watching season – 6 months, to be precise! An estimated 35,000 whales migrate from the Antarctic to the warmer waters in southwest Australia. Whale watching tours June to August depart from Augusta, and September to December they depart from Dunsborough and Busselton.
Tours are inexpensive, and some companies will offer another tour if you do not spot any whales on your first tour. More information here.
3. World-class wine
The Margaret River region produces some of the most sought after wines in the world – the region produces less than 3 per cent of Australia’s wine, but accounts for more than a fifth of its premium wine according to Tourism Australia. There are more than 120 wineries to explore and most of them will allow you to wander around to admire the beautiful grounds and taste their finest wine.
Many also serve lunch and dinner so make sure you brace yourself for a day of gluttony! Click here for 10 unmissable vineyards & wineries to visit.
4. Plenty of craft breweries
Photo credit: Peter Kraayvanger / Pixabay
Don’t like wine? Not to worry – there are several places to get your fix of craft beer. Eagle Bay Brewery is always a crowd favorite (and serves up delicious food – try their fish burger), or you can go on a half-day brewery tour to get a taste of what each place has to offer.
5. The perfect flat white
Coffee lovers rejoice! Australians love their cup of joe, and have perfected the flat white (like a cafe latte, only with more coffee and less foam). Some of my favorite places for a fix include Goana Gallery, Merchant & Maker, Grounded, Bunker Bay Cafe and Barnyard 1978.
You can also grab a cup to go from Silver Bullet Espresso, a modified silver caravan serving up a mean coffee. They are typically parked at the Old Dunsborough Foreshore, but aren’t always there so be sure to check their Facebook page for updates.
6. Food, glorious food
If it isn’t already blatantly obvious, I love good food, good wine and good company. I have had some of the most incredible meals of my life in the Margaret River region! Most wineries open for lunch (make sure you call ahead and book during the peak season) so you can overlook sprawling rows of grapevines. Unfortunately, not many high quality restaurants open for dinner, so make sure you ask via phone or email to avoid disappointment.
Some of my favorite breakfast joints include: Canteen Kitchen, Bunker Bay Cafe (fantastic smashed avocado on toast), Eagle Bay Brewery (get the fish burger or pizza) and Goanna Gallery (try their poached pear and homemade muesli).
Some of my favorite lunch/dinner restaurants include: Olio Bello (amazing pasta), Barnyard 1978 (even more amazing pasta), Blue Manna (fantastic seafood menu) and Piari & Co.
7. The Margaret River region is crowd-free!
I can not emphasize how underrated the Margaret River region is. Western Australia accounts for approximately a third of Australia’s land mass but receives a fraction of the number of international visitors that Sydney and Melbourne receive every year.
According to Tourism Research Australia, Sydney and Melbourne received a combined 6.9 million international visitors in the year ending September 2018. The entire state of Western Australia welcomed about 955,000 – which means that the Margaret River region received just a fraction of that!
If you want to discover somewhere off the beaten track in Australia, head on over to the Margaret River region. The peak season is from December to February, but you’ll want to avoid the week between Christmas and New Year’s as it does get busy from domestic tourists who have the week off from work. You should also aim to avoid Leaver’s Week, when Year 12 students celebrate the end of the academic year (i.e. get shitfaced) – this is typically in mid-November.
It’s still possible to visit in winter, but it does get very cold (no, not all of Australia is 40 degrees Celsius year-round!) so the beaches will be out of the question, but surfers can enjoy the winter swell!
Click here for a selection of accommodation options in the Margaret River region! Tip: need some flexibility? Double check the cancellation policy – most places offer free cancellation!
8. Surrounded by Mother Nature
There is so much natural beauty in this region – from forests and caves to rock pools and hiking trails – there’s no shortage of stunning places to see!
Make sure you check out Sugarloaf Rock, Boranup Karri Forest, The Aquarium and Injidup Natural Spa.
The region is also home to more than 100 natural caves, some as deep as a 12-storey building! There are 4 show caves in the Margaret River region that are currently open to the public, and you can join semi-guided tours to explore deep underground.
The Lake Cave near Boranup Forest is spectacular, or you might want to check out Ngilgi Cave – the region’s first-ever tourist attraction. Click here for even more gorgeous places to visit in the Margaret River region.
9. Breathtaking sunsets
The Margaret River region offers up some truly amazing sunset colours – pinks, purples, oranges and fiery reds. Some of the best sunset viewing spots include Sugarloaf Rock, Dunsborough foreshore and Canal Rocks.
10. Incredible surf
Surfing in Margaret River is one of the most popular activities, and the Margaret River region is quite possibly one of the best places to surf around the world. There are more than 70 surf breaks up and down the coast, offering fantastic surf for intermediate to advanced surfers.
Popular surf spots include Boneyards, Smiths, Yallingup Main Break, Shallows, Three Bears, Gallows and Windmills. Beginners can take surf lessons at one of the many surf schools in the region.
Surf lovers should also check out the WA Surf Gallery to learn about the surfing history throughout Western Australia.
So, what do you reckon? Are you sold on venturing over to the Margaret River region for outstanding food & wine, beautiful beaches and world-class surf? Leave a comment below and let me know if you’ve ever been to this part of the world!
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