Aerial of the Margaret Rivermouth and rugged coastline, Margaret River.
06.06.2024

Choosing just eight natural wonders was a challenge – there’s beauty at every turn.

The Leeuwin Naturaliste ridge is a wonder in itself, and its combination of two-million-year-old limestone atop a base of hard, metamorphic rock of between 1500 and 600 million years forms the diversity of experiences and incredible natural attractions in the Margaret River Region.

Lizzy Pepper enlisted the help of conservationists, tour guides and locals to reveal the raw wonder of our natural attractions and how to best experience them.

Boranup Forest, Margaret River Region
Boranup Karri Forest. Photo: Ryan Murphy

Boranup Forest

Chosen by: Dr Boyd Wykes – Nature Conservation Margaret River

For many, the Boranup Forest is all about karri trees. The glowing trunks of young regrowth karri at the viewing platform on Caves Road are a must-see, must-snap.

However, a little way down Boranup Drive are equally photogenic ancient karris, their trunks full of hollows; full of life. Home to endemic, threatened and little seen ringtail possums, brush-tailed phascogales, black cockatoos, masked owls and rufous treecreepers.

Only a few thousand years ago this 3000-hectare forest was seeded from karris further inland. Listen for the waves breaking on the nearby beach, walk the tracks at night, be guided through a cave beneath a forest with much more to offer than a snapped selfie at Kodak Corner.

The Margaret River

Sean Blocksidge – Margaret River Discovery Co

One of the best experiences has to be canoeing a tranquil section of the Margaret River. It’s amazing how many people visit the region but don’t experience the real Margaret River itself. All they see is the small section of river flowing through town and miss the spectacular and peaceful river system further east and west.

Shaded by towering Jarrah and Marri trees, there’s abundant bird life including the endangered Baudin’s Black Cockatoo. Sometimes on tour, if we time it just right in summer we have guest appearances from local fishermen catching the local delicacy, marron (freshwater lobster).

Margaret River Mouth
Margaret River Mouth. Photo: Elements Margaret River

The Wilyabrup Cliffs

Sean Blocksidge – Margaret River Discovery Co

The Cape to Cape Track is one of the most rewarding long-distance walk trails in Australia with 135km of day-after-day epicness, filled with beaches, cliffs, and forests. A lot of the track is easily accessible but one of Sean’s most favourite sections is the Wilyabrup Cliffs.

You’ll need a bit of local knowledge to access this section or a guide with special government approvals to operate in the National Park. Sean includes it in the Discovery Tour experience in the late arvo and it’s usually one of the highlights of the day, with regular sightings of whales and dolphins.

Wilyabrup Cliffs
Wilyabrup Cliffs. Photo: Supplied

The Cape to Cape Track

Gene Hardy – Cape to Cape Explorer Tours

Created in 2001, the Cape to Cape Track links long sandy beaches, walking tracks, and old 4WD routes gouged out by farmers, fishermen, and surfers.

“Balance is the track’s defining quality,” says Gene Hardy of Cape to Cape Explorer Tours. “The symmetry is that between sea and land. Water, in turn, sparkling and benign, then moody and raging, defines its character. Beyond this is the balance between beach and forest, comfort and challenge, wilderness and civilisation.”

Cape to Cape Explorer Tours
The Cape to Cape Track. Photo: Tim Campbell

Ngilgi Cave Ancient Lands Experience

Chosen by: Coby and Lena Cockburn – Blue Manna Bistro

Only a short ten minutes’ drive from Dunsborough town awaits the wonderous Ngilgi Cave. Prepare to be awestruck as you descend into the heart of the cave: majestic stalactites, stalagmites, helicities, and beautifully decorated shawls surround you everywhere you turn.

Coby and Lena, chef and business owners of much-celebrated infused seafood restaurant Blue Manna Bistro in Dunsborough, agree visiting the cave is an unmissable experience.

“One of our favourite natural wonders of the area is definitely Ngilgi Cave. It’s so close to town but the second you enter it’s like stepping into another world,” says Lena. “The hustle and bustle seem to stop, and you just have to take a moment to breathe and appreciate the natural beauty.”

Ngilgi Cave
Ngilgi Cave. Image: Tourism Western Australia

Yallingup Lagoon

Chosen by: Crystal Simpson – Yallingup Surf School

Worth visiting for the breathtaking drive into Yallingup Bay alone, but a swim in the lagoon is a bonus. Circled by reef, the lagoon is protected from big waves, so it’s perfect for swimming, snorkelling and learning to surf. Beyond the reef is Yallingup main break, much loved by local pro surfer Taj Burrows.

“It’s like a natural wave pool,” says Crystal Simpson of Yallingup Surf School. “You might see fish, cave ledges, the odd seal, a sting ray or two, and me for a few months of the year.”

Crystal from Yallingup Surf School surfing with her dog at Smiths Beach. Credit Rachel Claire.
Yallingup Beach. Photo: Ryan Murphy

Meelup Regional Park

Chosen by: Ryan White – South West Eco Discoveries

Meelup hasn’t always been a regional park, but thanks to locals it was saved from development. Meelup was his backyard growing up, and now Ryan shows visitors from all over the world the area’s marine life, rare flora, birds and kangaroos.

Over the years, Ryan has seen whale numbers increase and the diversity in the park expand to make this area an exciting destination for any lover of wildlife and natural beauty.

Sailing Charters WA Meelup Beach
Meelup offers a plethora of marine life, rare flora and wildlife. Photo: Sailing Charters WA

Redgate Beach

Chosen by: Jarrad Davies – Margaret River Surf School

Jarrad Davies from Margaret River Surf School didn’t hesitate on the question. Redgate Beach is in a special-purpose surfing zone and is popular with both locals and visitors.

“As I’ve personally experienced and witnessed countless times, Redgate Beach offers a unique surfing experience that’s second to none. The fine white sand, crystal-clear waters, and a long sandbar, along with the atmosphere and sheer natural beauty, create an enchanting setting for anyone passionate about the ocean, looking to try out surfing, or simply wanting to feel the sand beneath their toes and soak in the beauty.”

Redgate Beach, Margaret River Surf School
Redgate Beach. Photo: Margaret River Surf School and Jasmine Ann Gardiner

Blackwood River

Chosen by: Graeme Challis – Augusta River Tours

Upon question where he always takes his visitors, Graeme of Augusta River Tours doesn’t hesitate. “Without a doubt to the Blackwood River; scenic beauty, wildlife, fishing and swimming – it’s all here.”

At 270km, Blackwood River is Western Australia’s longest continually flowing river ending in the Hardy Inlet, Augusta. This unique section of the river offers an abundance of unspoiled scenery, the greatest number and variety of birdlife in the South West, and calm, glassy waters.

Greame’s river tour features a leisurely cruise along the river to enjoy the fantastic scenery and his local stories. Dolphins are regularly seen and will often play in the wake of the boat.

Blackwood River, Augusta. Photo: Tim Campbell