My favourite gifts are experiences. My second favourite gifts are handmade by local artisans.

Every December, the Pepper family happily competes to find the most awe-inspiring experiences. I think I ‘won’ by taking the family sailing on a blistering hot afternoon and booking the girls a saddle club session. Local restaurant vouchers went down a treat, too.

Stressed-out shopping in crowded malls? It’s a thing of the past. Here are some thoughtful gifts – many of which are better for the planet – to bring a little more magic and joy to your Christmas…

Sailing Charters WA
Sail the turquoise waters of Geographe Bay with Sailing Charters WA.

Local Experiences

Surprise and delight with a cruise aboard Madeline, a 41-ft Beneteau yacht, on the sapphire waters of Meelup Bay. Set sail in the heat of the day and moor up for lunch and a swim or book a sunset slot to explore the coast from Dunsborough to Eagle Bay and back. Book individual places or a private charter for up to six people with Sailing Charters WA.

See the region from the skies with Scenic Helicopters or KAS Helicopters. There’s nothing quite so exhilarating as flying doors-off, feeling the rush of warm air as you circle glorious coastal spots like Canal Rocks or observe natural wonders such as Lake Cave from above.

Treat your loved one to a Vasse Virgin workshop, where they can blend an essential oil perfume, make honey and olive oil lip balm, or deep dive with a EVOO masterclass. Each workshop is hands-on, and you get to take home your creation. Can’t make it to the region? Shop their skincare and gourmet goodies online.

Book the coffee aficionado in your life a Yahava Koffee Safari, to sample the best coffees from around the world. My hubby and I are eager to book the kids into the Barista Course so they can make us coffee, but age 10 might be too young? Also fun: Koffee Subscriptions.

Gene Hardy from Cape To Cape Explorer Tours. Photo credit Tim Campbell.
Take a hike with the energetic and experienced guides from Cape To Cape Explorer Tours.

For Nature and Conservation Lovers

The glorious Cape to Cape Track is a spectacular walk, and even better with the interpretation and guidance of local hiking experts Cape to Cape Explorer Tours. They impart knowledge of the local flora, the geology (the Gondwanaland split is amazing!) and point out birds and wildlife. A full day hike from Redgate Beach to Boranup Forest or half day from Smiths Beach to Canal Rocks would make a fabulous gift.

Eagles Heritage has quietly operated Western Australia’s largest birds of prey rehabilitation program for 30 years, rescuing injured and orphaned birds across the state. Support their efforts and meet the resident eagles, kites and owls at their twice-daily flight show. Then stock up on bird-related gifts, mostly designed or made in WA, in their recently renovated retail space.

Josh ‘Koomal’ Whiteland shares so many fascinating facts on his Koomal Dreaming tours, that you’ll want to do it again. A Wadandi Cultural Custodian and gifted storyteller, Josh Whiteland shares stories and songs of his saltwater ancestors and his love for his spectacular home. A highlight is the gentle stroll through bushland, stopping to examine blossoming plants, draw maps in the sand and point out a sleeping possum.

Coasteering with Margaret River Adventure Company. Credit Tim Campbell.

Better for the Planet

Coasteering involves climbing ancient granite boulders and leaping into swimming holes, and it will leave you on an adrenalin high. The secret is knowing the safe spots, tides and swell, and you’ll feel 110% safe with Margaret River Adventure Company owner-operator Cam O’Beirne. Oh, and it was awarded Best Experience in Australia by Airbnb in 2021.

Cullen Wines are the first carbon negative winery in Australia, sequestering more carbon than they emit. Among other initiatives, using lightweight glass helps reduce the energy required to make the bottles, and the energy required to freight them. Gift their wine (or lunch or a tasting experience) knowing that it’s gentler on the planet.

A voucher for a cave tour is sure to win the hearts of young explorers, and Mammoth and Ngilgi Cave are particularly good for younger kids due to their respective self-guided and semi-guided formats. Their retail offering is great too; we’ve picked up all kinds of crystals and nature-based games over the years. Great for all ages – we recommend taking babies in a front baby carrier as there are stairs to tackle.

Corrynne’s Natural Skincare has just moved to where the Dunsborough Visitor Centre used to be. Their soaps are all made naturally right here in Dunsborough and scented with essential oils they smell as wonderful as they look (the soaps are stylishly embossed with an ingredient list). Shop online if you can’t visit before Christmas.

Walk Talk Taste Tour Margaret River
Enjoy a progressive brunch or dinner through Margaret River with Walk Talk Taste.

For Foodies and Wine Lovers

In one of the world’s truly great wine regions, superb food was always destined to follow. Join Kellie Tannock, ex journalist and excellent collector of stories, on her Walk Talk Taste brunch or evening tours. It’s a small-group culinary adventure where you’ll meet the people behind some of the region’s tastiest dishes and drinks and pick up a bit of Margaret River history along the way.

Just In Time Gourmet is a NKOTB (‘new kid on the block’) in the Margaret River scene, recently taking up residence on Metricup Road next door to Fermoy Estate. Their tasting room is packed with tasty treats, including plenty of local produce. Pop in and put together a picnic basket (there’s certainly plenty of scenic spots to enjoy it) or hop onto their website where you can send a custom or pre-designed hamper to someone special.

Pick a Thai Temptations or Taste of Tuscany cooking school with chef Sioban at Wildwood Valley Cottages & Cooking School. She trained as a chef under Neil Perry in Sydney and has a gift for teaching in a hands-on, fun style. Fun fact: Sioban keeps a record of your cooking school visits and makes sure never to repeat the same recipe!

Yallingup Maze Kids Fun

For Kids, Teenagers and Families

Yallingup Maze has a great collection of problem-solving puzzles, brainteaser games, jigsaws and educational toys, and it’s our go-to for kites that actually fly! Plus you can explore the wooden maze and challenge the family on the brand-new mini golf course. Great for all ages.

Surfing lessons are the ultimate summer treat, and a great gift once kids are confident swimming. Call Yallingup Surf School or Margaret River Surf School to organise a voucher.

Saddle Club at Jesters Flat was gladly received last Christmas when my daughter was fixated on horse-riding. It’s an all-round horsemanship experience with grooming, saddling, a lesson and a lovely ride through the bush. Includes morning tea and a certificate. Age 10+.

Fancy a physical challenge the whole family can tackle? Try climbing and zip lining with Next Level Monkey Business or Forest Adventures South West. It’s epic fun and sure to make great show & tell fodder.

Commonage Pottery, Dunsborough. Credit Rachel Claire
Meet the makers at Commonage Pottery and Happs Pottery.

Locally Made

I can’t resist handmade pottery, and shopping at Commonage Pottery or Happs Pottery is a delight. More often than not you’ll meet the talented artisan who made your chosen piece, and you can pick up a bottle of wine (at Commonage) or nude Icon Honey (at Happs Pottery) while you’re there.

Coast dwellers will love a print from Tim Campbell Photo – perhaps the iconic road into Yallingup, a swoon-worthy snap inside a barrel, a minimalist Injidup Beach scene or supermoon rising over Geographe Bay?

You can’t go wrong gifting a boutique bottle of gin over summer, and I love Wise Wine’s gin distilled from Chardonnay, Dune Distilling’s art labels and the Giniversity experience.

Origins Markets is another place to meet artisans and observe them handcrafting jewellery, weaving Finnish rugs or macrame or making delicious candy before your eyes. Shop for locally made produce too, including honey, olive oil and wine.

Mukau Giftware & Gallery on the main street of Cowaramup is fab for picking up local art and handmade goodies. There’s art and art prints, handmade jewellery, beautiful books and gorgeous kids and baby gifts. Best of all, the friendly Mukau team will gift wrap in exchange for a gold coin donation helping to support Cowaramup primary school.

Another great option for locally sourced, affordable books, gifts and travel inspiration is the Margaret River and Busselton Visitor Centres. With gifts to suit every budget, from wildflower and walking guidebooks to art prints, wooden bread boards and Australian-designed picnic blankets, you’re sure to find stunning Christmas presents.

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