Dan White Photo Credit Sofi Hoff
05.08.2021

Margaret River multi-instrumentalist and all-round music lover Dan White grew up with a guitar in his hand, and can often be found performing across the region – either solo, or as part of local acts Brightsider and Moon & Honey. With many strings to his bow (or guitar), Dan’s worked extensively both on-stage and behind the scenes, and in his role as Festival Director of the much-loved ‘Strings Attached’ West Australian Guitar Festival he seeks to connect people through music, bringing iconic players and makers to the Margaret River stage in October.

Luckily for us, Dan has shared some of his local favourites.

Dan White - Photo Credit Sunny Daze Creative
1

1. What’s your favourite beach?

Straight out the front at Gnarabup – it’s tucked away nicely from the southerly and if you walk along the beach past the jetty a little way it has a really nice clear sandy bottom with patches of reef and seagrass just a little further on. The reef protects it from most of the swell (apart from really big days where you can score a little mal wave off the jetty!) and so it kind of resembles a big lake or salty swimming pool. I always love that first glimpse you get of the bay and outer reef breaks when walking down through the dunes too; it’s a great spot to sit and watch what the surf’s doing while the morning regulars do their laps back and forth between the jetty and the buoy.

That said, Rivermouth would have to be a contender too – I always love wandering down to the far point where the Box is, where you can find some really nice swimming holes in the reef.

2

Where do you always take your visitors?

On the wave hunt if they’re keen! It’s always good fun having a surf buddy, though I don’t often venture too far from Gnarabup/Prevelly – there’s plenty of options and Caves Rd is usually better enjoyed once you’ve worked up an appetite. If a surf isn’t on the cards then Gnarabup beach for sure – the White Elephant Cafe is always a good spot to take mates for brekky/coffee and a swim if the weather’s nice or if they’re especially adventurous. Sometimes I’ll park us up at the point and walk down to Rivermouth to check out the river and the rock pools – you can catch an epic view of the coastline from the lookout just a short walk from the middle carpark. Then a drive down Caves Rd past Kodak Corner and the towering Karri trees on to the cliffs at Contos always goes a treat – the white sand and colour of the water there always gets me and it’s not a bad spot for a picnic, which is well and truly warranted after all of the above.

3

Top 3 local food experiences?

Miki’s for the win! It’s the full package: the kitchen is in the middle of the restaurant so you can watch the incredible chefs preparing each dish right in front of you; each course is presented with a detailed description of each ingredient, its purpose and special method of preparation and honestly I’m just a huge fan of Japanese food. Make sure to go for “Miki’s Trust”, which you can pair with local wines or sake if you’re brave. Honestly, it’s a unique menu each and every time which is just insane. For a Mediterranean flavour, Pizzica is my go-to. You’ll think you’ve just walked through a portal to Southern Italy – it’s cosy, beautiful and the Puccia is delicious. Rounding out my current three would be Morries – Petra and Dean put on some mean tapas and Billy behind the bar is a weapon on the cocktails – world class stuff, and a bit of live music too if you’re organised and book the right night.

4

Best fun in the region without spending a cent?

Surfing and bushwalking hands down. The Cape to Cape track is renowned for a reason, and I’ve walked plenty of sections of it more than I could count. One of the joys is being able to explore this beautiful coastline so extensively whilst treading lightly and having minimal impact on the environment. Most of it’s raw – no more than a dirt or sandy trail through untouched bush – which is how it should be. The ocean is my happy place and there’s always options on the cape if you’re on the hunt. What better way to get out amongst nature than enjoying a wander along the coast on your way to a remote break and catching some hang time with your dolphin buddies.

5

Favourite time of year?

Autumn for sure. Those really crisp mornings where the wind dies just after midnight and all the cold air sits in the valleys while mist slowly pours out of the rivermouths across perfectly groomed swells. Heaven. You always get numb feet by the time you’ve run from the carpark across the sand and made it to the water, which flips that first moment of contact from the usual shock (though as good as it is) to relief and a sense of warmth as you wade in. Days like those are usually followed by a big breakfast and clear blue skies which make for pretty much everything you could wish for. I always get excited firing up the pot belly for those first few times for the year around then too; it’s probably not quite warranted yet and some might call me a big softy, but a fire sure makes joy company in the evenings.

6

Best place to watch the sunset?

Most would say the point watching the last few stragglers out at Mainbreak or the cliffs at Conto’s, but to be honest I really like sitting up at the carpark above the White Elephant looking North-West straight into it with the hill behind Gnarabup & Prev to my right – you can even see the ridge past the river and on towards Killies and I kinda like shifting my focus from ridge to ridge as they fade into one. Not sure if it’s going to be there much longer too so enjoy it while you can.

7

Favourite spot for some live music? (either to play at or watch!)

We’re pretty spoilt in the South West – you can check out both touring artists along with tons of the region’s insanely talented musos in pretty much any setting you like, be it a winery with rolling hills and towering trees for a backdrop, one of the region’s many beer gardens, world class theatres like Margaret River HEART which we’re so lucky to have, little bar vibes, the farmers markets on Saturday mornings, in the park at community events, festivals with thousands of other music lovers or at the local watering holes… the list goes on – it’s more a case of what you’re in the mood for! I’ve always enjoyed playing the odd Sundowner over a glass or two of wine whilst the vines change colour; likewise, I really enjoy stages like The River or the Tav along with the many larger concerts the region hosts annually like Leeuwin or Good Day Sunshine. It’s definitely a good place to be for a bit of music, whether you’re playing it or there to enjoy what’s on offer.

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You can’t leave the Margaret River Region without…

A huge smile on your face! Also tough to go anywhere without a bottle or two of local wine – great to gift, even better to share and I just can’t justify buying it elsewhere when I can get the very best direct from where it’s made. Definitely make sure to stop off for supplies at the Margaret River Bakery on your way out of town too. With a chocolate croissant in one hand and a bottle of red in the other (for later, of course) plus loads of memories from all the adventures you’ve just had, I’d say it’s a pretty safe bet you can’t leave the South West without wanting to come back too!

Dan White - Credit Dylan Alcock Westbeach Studios

Live like a local and discover Dan White’s favourites:

  1. Gnarabup Beach
  2. The White Elephant Cafe
  3. Contos Beach
  4. Miki’s Kitchen
  5. Morries
  6. Cape to Cape Track
  7. The River
  8. Settlers Tavern

Photo Credits: Sunny Daze Creative, Peter Heathcote and Sofi Hoff.