Fashion, lifestyle and motherhood blogger and mum of three Rayne Embley shares her favourite places to hang out down south – and of course they’re family-friendly.
There’s an instant peaceful relaxation that takes over the moment I turn my engine on knowing that in just three short hours I will be out of the city and in our great south west. Is it the lure of world-class wine, the incredible wineries and their expansive grounds, the pristine beaches or perhaps just that familiar crackling sound of sitting by a fire in winter that I love so much? I’ll never be able to quite put my finger on it, but what I do know is that I am so blessed to live such a short drive to serenity.
From as far back as I can remember ‘down south’ was it. It was the holidays, the birthdays and the camping. It was high school leavers and quick little getaways with girlfriends. And now for me it’s more weddings, food festivals and my very own sacred memory-building family holidays.
Safe to say that over many years of adventure in the south west not only have I grown to appreciate different aspects of what is on offer but the place itself has changed immensely. The caravan park we stayed at every new year’s for 10 years running is now a group of town houses. The bakeries have been overtaken by beautiful raw food cafes and sensational coffee but, best of all, the revamp of the South West Highway has cut a good 20 to 30 minutes off of the drive making it more accessible and easier to saying ‘yes’ to a quick weekend getaway. With the many fabulous shops that have opened in recent times housing many a popular label, if you’re a shopper, they have you covered too.
Here are some of my favourite things to do while adventuring in our great south west.
We love to have a meal at Vasse Felix. It’s an iconic estate in Margaret River and you just have to get there to have a look at the pristinely managed grounds. The food and wine is delightful.
Swings and Roundabouts is one of my favourite places to go with the kids. It’s surrounded by gorgeous bushland and a vineyard view with an extensive grassed area and activities. Fantastic for the kids and the wood-fired pizza and incredible.
Amelia Park would have to be one of my favourite cellar doors. It’s brand new and the interiors alone are worth a visit. The gold hardware in the bathrooms is to die for! You walk through a room of wine barrels to get to their cellar door which looks out over their spectacular grounds.
Olio Bello is another of my favourites little spots. They offer fantastic tastings of local ingredients grown on their property. You can keep it casual with a takeaway picnic or sit and have a yummy café style meal. There is a grassed area for the kids and they have just introduced glamping options on their site. I can’t wait to try it!
Big browned eyed Alpaca at Wonky Windmill Farm & Eco Park.
If you’re after something a little bit different Fishbones Wines has a great Japanese restaurant in Margaret River. They offer takeaway which is perfect for when you just want to stay home and veg.
Yallingup Maze is one of those wonderful places which has nearly everything you could possibly want in a family friendly destination. There are activities for kids of all ages from the maze to bouncy castles as well as great indoor activities for through the winter. There’s a puzzle café and best of all . . . you can have a wine.
The Wonky Windmill Farm and Eco Park is a little animal farm where the kids can meet and feed the many animals. They do the most fabulous scones with jam and cream so make sure you don’t leave without trying one.
Margaret River is world-renowned for its incredible beaches and world class waves and although this may eventually be our jam, right now it’s more about the little waves, if any, and what we can do with them. Finding secret hideaway beaches down south doesn’t sound too hard but unless you know where you’re going you could end up driving around for hours looking for the perfect slice of paradise for you and your family.
Point Picquet is one of my favourite beaches. Its stunning turquoise water lends itself to swimming and snorkelling and the usually calm waters are great for paddle boarding.
Injidup Natural Spa is home to a beautiful rockpool. Through the cracks of the rocks the surf comes up and blasts through creating the most beautiful spa like experience.
Contos Beach is another of the region’s most stunning beaches, so stunning in fact that this was the setting for our beach photos on our wedding day.
When it comes to accommodation, for me nothing beats a nice big house by the beach. I have a large family and more often than not a few extra visitors will inevitably grace us with
their presence. Dunsborough is a great option for this. If you get the right spot you can walk to the beach and walk to the cafés in town. As much as I love heading out to all the amazing places the south west has to offer there’s something very alluring about having the option to ditch the car and have all you need within walking distance.
Wavehouse Retreat is a picturesque house high up on a cliff looking out over the famous surf at Injidup beach. The private cave under the house screams ‘host a party’ to me!
If you are looking to ‘treat yo’self ’ then Incognito Escape is the place for you. This stunning property boasts 180-degree ocean views of Gracetown, private en-suite baths, a designer
chef kitchen and a Jucuzzi room. This exclusive, luxurious stay lends itself to staying in blissful isolation of the world while still being a short distance to the wineries and activities that our incredible south west has to offer.
As many of you would know, the introduction of kids’ weekend sport has put a little dampener on the spontaneous family getaway, not to mention juggling my own hosting commitments on several TV shows. What I am blessed to have done is through my blog and social media, I have built a business that most of the time can go with myself and the kids anywhere.