Living the #VanLife in the Margaret River Region
#VanLifers Elise and Josh share their Margaret River region highlights and give a few pro tips to fellow travellers who have their whole lives in their van!
The Margaret River region is as spectacular as it is diverse. It’s a place where people come to relax, recharge and soak up one of Western Australia’s most remarkable coastlines. The region is a melting pot of boutique holiday getaways, touring backpackers, surf breaks and gastronomical delights. Whether you’re down for a weekend or fortunate enough to have a little longer, there is plenty to explore and discover: everything from visiting renowned cellar doors, surfing world-class waves, strolling through the Karri forests or simply marvelling at one of the picturesque sunsets.
In ten months of touring around Australia in our van, we had heard great praise of the Margaret River region and it wasn’t long until we too fell in love with this enchanting part of Australia. We have compiled a list of our top things to see and do (in no particular order!), including some handy tips for fellow #vanlifers.
Roll Your Van Up to a Community Event
The region holds many celebrated annual events including The Busselton Jetty swim, Nannup Music Festival and the Margaret River Region Open Studios. There are also a whole host of community events constantly popping up throughout the year, which offer a welcoming atmosphere, making you feel like part of the community. Head to one of the Visitor Centres to pick up an events brochure for more information or check out the events section on www.margaretriver.com.
Fill Up Your Van With Fresh Produce at a Local Farmers Market
Throughout the region there are a range of seasonal markets to be discovered at Busselton, Dunsborough, Augusta and Vasse. Our favourite is the Margaret River Farmers Market, seen by many as somewhat of a staple in the region. Held weekly on a Saturday morning, only producers from the local shires are eligible to set up a stall which enables the public to support local livelihoods. With a variety of inexpensive and delicious seasonal produce on offer, it’s best to get in early – the only problem you’ll have is finding room in the van to fit all the fresh goodies!
Surf One of the World’s Most Quality Surf Destinations
With over 120 kilometres of unspoiled coastline, the Margaret River region boasts an abundance of world-class waves. Whether you’re a beginner, intermediate or experienced surfer, you’ll find the right break for you. For those who are still learning, Redgate, Rivermouth or Smith’s Beach is your best bet. For the more prestigious waves, head to Surfer’s Point, Three Bears or North Point – they can get crowded, but there is a reason they are so popular. If you want to escape the crowds, head to Injidup, Contos or Moses Rock. These are just a small handful of the countless spots ready for you to find, so grab your board, cruise down the coast and enjoy the search for that perfect wave.
Swim in Some of the Most Pristine Waters Western Australia Has to Offer
If surfing isn’t your forte, the region has a wealth of sheltered coves and swimming beaches ready to be discovered. Our favourites include Injidup Bay, Castle Rock and Boodjidup Beach. Southwesterly winds are common in the afternoons over the summer months, so the best place to avoid the and make the most of the sunshine are in the bays situated between Dunsborough and Cape Naturaliste. The lagoon at Yallingup is another ideal place to plunge into or even snorkel; surrounded by reef, the lagoon offers protection from the vast Indian Ocean.
Tour the Endless Wineries, Artisan Hubs and Culinary Delights
Another must-do is obvious: taste your way around Margaret River. Collect one of the regional maps from a Visitor Centre, circle the places that sound most appealing and create your own self driven tour! There is a surplus of highlights but our favourites have been: Aravina Estate (also home to WA’s first official surfing museum), Simmos Ice Creamery (try the cinnamon and ginger ice cream!), Vasse Virgin, Firetail Wines, Jahava Koffee Works and Temper Temper Chocolate (free chocolate), Margaret River Chocolate Co & Providore (more free chocolate!) and Bettenay’s Nougat. Designate a skipper, eat, drink and be merry!
Take the Van Somewhere Different
On a day with small swell and plenty of sunshine, head to Injidup natural spa – a crystal-clear rock pool with waves cascading through its cavernous rock face producing, as the name suggests, a natural spa! You can find it at the end of Wyadup Road. South of Margaret River you’ll find the lush valleys of Boranup Forest, where you can take the enchanting Boranup Drive (suitable for 2wd vehicles) through the towering Karri trees. Last but not least is the Cape to Cape Track, which spans 135 kilometres between the Cape Naturaliste and Cape Leeuwin lighthouses. Completing the entire walk is a truly rewarding experience and will require roughly a week. If you only have a day or two, the walk can be divided up into single-day walks which still provide the spectacular coastal and forest backdrops of fascinating cliffs, caves and headlands along with a stunning variety of wildlife, flora and wildflowers.
Handy Tips for #VanLife in the Margaret River Region
- Petrol: generally cheaper outside of Dunsborough and Margaret River, try filling up at Witchcliffe, Gracetown or Cowaramup.
- Free Camping: not permitted in the Shire of Margaret River. Wherever you’re camping, don’t light campfires unless otherwise signed, take your rubbish with you and please be respectful of the environment and other people. The best options for cheap camping are booked through Department of Parks and Wildlife website, and include Contos and Boranup forest.
- Casual Work: visit the labour hire companies in Margaret River – Down to Earth, Labour Solutions and Vine Power. There are generally workers required throughout the year but peak times are pruning (June-September) and grape picking (February-April).
- Drinking Water: Margaret River seemed to be all non-potable water; the best drinking water we could find was in the Dunsborough BP (if you’re taking a significant amount of water, it may be courteous to say thanks by purchasing some petrol).
- Gas: If you use a butane gas cooker the cheapest place to stock up on cartridges is Bunnings in Margaret River.
- BBQs: There are lots of free BBQs in the Margaret River region. The cleanest we found are at Surfer’s Point, The Lagoon at Yallingup, Margaret River Rotary Park or Castle Rock beach in Dunsborough.
- Showering: There are cold showers at most of the main beaches; in summer this is fine but in winter your best bet for a hot shower is a caravan park or a day pass at the Margaret River Aquatic Centre.
- Free WiFi: Available at Busselton, Dunsborough and Margaret River libraries.