Whether you are planning your Margaret River annual holiday pilgrimage or it’s your first time visiting, there is plenty here to keep you busy from dawn to dusk.
With world famous wines, it’s almost certain that you have already got a few cellar doors earmarked for a visit, and perhaps a sunset down on the beach. However, take the time to journey off the beaten path and be rewarded with trying something new. You never know; you might return home with a new hobby, a new sporting skill or an unexpected memory that will last a lifetime.
Sitting right in the region’s heartland, Margaret River is abundant with everything good: inspirational artisans, warm and friendly locals, delicious gourmet produce, and a laid-back persona all of its own.
1. Breakfast like a Pro
Australians have a deep love affair with the humble brekky. With good reason, when dinner was 12 hours ago, you want that first bite of the day to be damn tasty. Of course, the coffee alongside is of prime importance too. Holidaying is all about the starting the day well, with a hearty feed and a relaxed vibe so choose your café carefully.
The food curious can get breakfast behind the scenes with the Walk Talk Taste‘s brand new walking tour of Margaret River’s brunch scene. The only tour of its kind in Margaret River, veteran journalist Kellie Tannock will take you to six of her favourite in-town eateries, share her favourite stories and have you feeling like a local (and extremely full!) by farewell.
Otherwise, The White Elephant Beach Café is the top spot to take your eggs with a with a view – you can watch the seaside action and surf from the decking of this Prevelly café. The Margaret River Bakery is always popular, with dietary options catered for without sacrificing taste at Sidekick Café, Drift Café and The Urban Bean as well. A short drive south and Yardbyrd is your breakfast destination in Witchcliffe, or head 15 min north to Cowaramup and be sure to stop at The Black Sheep Deli.
2. See the scenery on two wheels
Jump on a guided bike tour or hire your own from one of the local operators such as The Hairy Marron, Life Cycle Bikes or The Golden Jersey. There is nothing to compare with feeling the wind whistling by you as you zoom around on two wheels. Peddle power is the name of the game, and there are so many wonderful trails in Margaret River.
From hard-core mountain bike enthusiasts, to those that prefer the slower pace of peddling, you can find your ideal path down here. Mountain bikers can park at the carpark on Carters Road and explore the numerous trails though the pines. Or take a tip from the local bikers – hop over the other side of the road to Compartment 10. It’s an exciting and challenging ride, that stays tucked under the radar to a lot of visitors to the region’s biking scene.
Keen for a bit more of a relaxed experience? Tick two boxes at once: jump on your bike and visit some cellar doors for a wine tasting at the same time. There are plenty within a 30 minute radius of the main street. Zip up to Cape Mentelle or head on down Boodjidup Road to Xanadu and onward to Voyager and Leeuwin Estate. Alternatively, take a route off-road. Start at The Hairy Marron, head along Darch Trail and you’ll pass near to the cellar door of Stella Bella, just before reaching Watershed Winery in time for lunch. Cross over Bussell Highway and you can head back up the other side on the Wadandi Trail to Margaret River’s town centre.
3. Get on the water
Did you know Margaret River gets its name from an actual river? The Margaret River flows through town, finally meeting the currents of the Indian Ocean at the River Mouth in Prevelly. There are plenty of trails that you can stroll on along the river’s tranquil banks. Start from the old settlement or Rotary Park and pick your route – there’s no real risk of getting lost as long as long as you keep the sound of the river cascading in one ear. Be sure to walk as far as the Barrett Street Weir: in the warmer months it is the prime spot for a cooling dip, on cooler days, simply take in the tranquillity of the majestic and ghostly trees rising from the water.
To really experience Margaret River like a local though, you need to get your feet wet and get on the water. Take a guided tour or take your time and simply hire out a kayak, SUP or canoe for the afternoon. Paddle upstream from the river mouth and you will find ancient caves and views of windswept hills sides you never would have known existed.
4. Take home a piece of Margaret River
One of the most rewarding parts of a holiday is finding a memento to take home and help keep those memories alive. Once the daily routine kicks back in, it’s time to put a spring in your step with a flashback of holiday bliss. Enjoy a coffee from a hand-crafted mug, or slip on a dress that you bought for those lazy beach days.
Margaret River is home to some fantastic shopping, no matter what your style. From bejewelled boho clothing and accessories, to beach chic home furnishings and kitchenware to foodie finds, organic cosmetics and handcrafted woodwork: it’s all here.
5. Enjoy a legendary lunch – without the drive home
Some of the states most awarded restaurants are situated just a hop, skip and a jump from the main street of Margaret River. Throw away the worries of a who is missing out on their second glass of Chardonnay and book a taxi or private transfer to get you there and back. Head south and you have a plethora of accoladed chefs to choose from with Leeuwin Estate, Xanadu and Voyager Estate within a 10 minute drive. Northbound, within 15 minutes by car you can sample the biodynamic produce and wine at Cullen Wines or Margaret River’s founding winery, Vasse Felix.
6. Stock up at the Margaret River Farmers’ Markets
One of Australia’s most outstanding farmers’ markets (seriously – they won the 2018 Delicious Award), take lead from the locals and get here early. Held every Saturday morning in the grounds of the Margaret River Educational Campus, pick up a coffee on your way in and get your basket at the ready.
There’s a smorgasbord of produce to choose from. Gather up fruit and veg, free range eggs, wood fired bread and organic meat to cook with. Don’t feel like cooking dinner on holiday? Simply take the easy option and pick out from the wide range of ready to go goodies. Gourmet dips, cheeses, olives, pastries, chocolates, granola, pies, dumplings, fresh pasta, gelato, handmade nougat…
It’s no surprise that tummies start rumbling whilst surrounded by so much food. Make sure you also enjoy some breakfast while you are browsing. Sugar fiends must stop by Claudio Biscotti for the best Italian biscuits outside of the homeland. Calvacade Desserts have decadent and gluten free sweet treats and Conscious Craves tick the healthy box.
If you have more of a savoury tooth, it’s a challenge to go past Mala Dumplings – bursting with flavour, don’t be ashamed of heading back for seconds (you aren’t the first). Jindong Pork supply many of the top restaurants in the region, so make a beeline to their van for a seriously good sausage. Some pastry lovers actually make a pilgrimage down from Perth when they hear the Jill is setting up her stall. In a league of her own, Jill James’s Tarts and Pies sell out before most people are even out of bed. Yes, they are that good.
7. Catch your favourite band LIVE
It may appear on the map as pretty far away from the centre of the action, but Margaret River is a hive of activity when it comes to the music scene. Of course, there are the big name acts that grace the Leeuwin Concert each year, but take a quick look at the calendar and you will find something to suit all tastes year round.
Enjoy an intimate performance at one of the many local wineries and breweries when visiting, or stay closer to home in the town centre. Settlers Tavern is an iconic venue on the touring circuit and has seen many an Aussie music legends grace its stage. Alternatively, work your way down the main street on any weekend and you will hear the melodic waves of live music regularly from Brewhouse, Swings Taphouse, Burger Baby, The Corner Bar, Morries, Arc of Iris and all the way up to The River.
8. Explore the world on a plate
Margaret River is a mecca for those that love the good things in life: delicious food, flavoursome wine and long summer days spent on the beach. Therefore, it is no surprise that the town is home to an eclectic collection of culturally diverse dining picks.
Fancy Italian? Try the authentic and cozy Pizzica, or for something a little more refined you can head upstairs to Le Scarpetta. Have a hankering for Indian? Kingfisher has an extensive menu and is BYO as an added bonus. Korean? Try Teddi’s Big Spoon – the dishes are as delightful as the service. Got a special occasion coming up, or just love Japanese cuisine? Miki’s Open Kitchen is your spot.
9. Sun, surf and sand.
The surf culture is an inescapable part of daily life in Margaret River. It’s little surprise why – alongside the stunning beaches are some of the best surf conditions in the world. No matter what you look for in your ideal beach, it’s here.
Paddlers will delight in the sheltered cove at Prevelly, perfect for families or those that don’t want the waves. This is also the spot you can safely bring furry friends, as the dog beach is the net beach along. Redgate’s soft white sand and flat, shallow waters are another option for an easy entry to the saltwater. If you are a surfer, it’s likely you are already discussing how the offshore looks with the local surf crew, but if you do need somewhere to start looking at the swell you can try Boodjidup, Gracetown, and the iconic Surfers Point.
10. Take in some art
With hundreds of artists calling the region home, it’s no surprise that Margaret River has some fabulous art galleries. Right in the heart of town lies JahRoc, Margaret River Gallery, and The Clay House – three galleries full to the brim with local artwork and pieces from further afield.
John Miller is a South West jewellery designer whose recognisable pieces are sure to put a smile on your face. Pop into his Margaret River store on the main street, before continuing up along Boodjidup road to Payet Gallery for a different style of craftsmanship. Feeling a bit creative yourself? Just five minutes from town lies Melting Pot Studio, where you can watch beautiful pieces of glassware form in front of you, or even try blowing your own glass tumblers.