Margaret River: 2 Days In Western Australia’s Wine Region

by | Nov 2, 2017 | Australia, Travel

If you’ve ever come to Perth you’ll have heard of Margaret River, Western Australia’s wine region – a popular place for locals and tourists to visit for a getaway when in need of a break from city life. With vineyards around every corner, quaint small towns and beautiful scenery of everything from rolling farmland to forests to the sea, Margaret River has a little something for everyone.

If you have a weekend to spare, I’d recommend staying one night in Margaret River and one night in Dunsborough. Margaret River itself is a great place if your main focus is on wine – there are a number of top wineries surrounding the town, including Voyager Estates and Leeuwin Estates, the two wineries we chose to visit.

Margaret River Farmer’s Market

We arrived in Margaret River without much of a plan on what we would be doing there, as always. Saturday morning at Margaret River begins at the local Farmers Market, so we started the day by wandering through the little market, listening to local buskers and sampling tasters at all of the stalls until we were ready to browse around the town.

Grab a coffee at Sidekicks cafe, take a look in all of the unique shops along the way, grab a new book in the local bookstore and listen to some live music at Settlers Tavern.

Margaret River Vineyards + Wine Tasting

Wandering around town is all well and good but what Margaret River is most known for is it’s wine tours. You can choose to book a full days wine tour through a company that will organize everything for you, transport you to and from, etc. which is a great option if you want to have the full experience and don’t want to worry about who will be the skipper to drive you home. Your other option is to do a self drive through various vineyards, hopping from one to another to go through a wine tasting at each one.

We opted for two wineries right along the same road: Voyager Estates and Leeuwin Estates. Walk up the stairs and through the vine-covered archway into the cellar door at Leeuwin, where a wood fire is crackling and people are mingling around the wine bar. For those of you on a budget, Leeuwin offers a complimentary wine tasting option with a tasting of 6 wines: 3 white, 1 rose and 1 red. Or, you can step it up a notch and pay for the Art Series wine tasting, a selection of more expensive (and potentially better tasting?) wines. You can probably guess which option we went for.

After you’ve tried all the wine you can guzzle back, you can grab a meal, take a look around the estate or just get racing on to the next stop. For us, it was off to Voyager Estates, a huge and stunning estate that you can easily spend a solid hour wandering around the grounds. There’s everything from fountains to floral archways, a vegetable garden to a rose garden (the highlight of the entire wine tasting experience for me). I had no idea I liked roses so much until I walked into that rose garden and felt like I was Alice in Wonderland.

Boranup Karri Forest

After tasting a few more wines at Voyager Estates, we decided to take a drive to the nearby Boranup Karri Forest – an incredible place to get lost in the woods for a while. Driving South along Caves Road, you’ll soon find yourself on a gently winding road with some of the tallest trees you’ve ever seen creating a wide forest on either side. There will be a lookout point on your left to snap a good photo and you can walk through some foot trails that will take you through the trees and into the forest.

The Karri Forest is filled with light-barked Karri trees that pierce into the sky up to 90 meters high, the third tallest tree in Australia. The trees are widely spaced out on a floor of shrubs, dirt and a smattering of wild orchids (the biggest orchids I have ever seen in my life!). You can take a wander across from the lookout point or you can walk or drive the tourist drive down Boranup Drive, a narrow dirt road with many potholes but a scenic drive through the forest, which will come out back onto Caves Road at the end.

After a day full of wine and exploring in Margaret River, we woke up early Sunday morning to hop on over to the coast, with a plan to start at Yallingup Beach and then go from there to Sugarloaf Rock, to Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse, Eagle Bay and then finally the town of Dunsborough.

Yallingup Beach in the Margaret River Region

Taking a staircase from the car park, our toes sunk into the sand and we took off for a stroll over the rocks and towards the northern end of the beach. The water at Yallingup beach is clear and calm at the southern end, protected by the reef and making the perfectly still water safe for swimming. As you walk further up, the water gets incredibly wavy with some of the most powerful waves I’ve ever seen. Yallingup has bathroom facilities and a great park for the littles.

Sugarloaf Rock

We really didn’t know anything about our next stop other than it was a pretty view and a big rock in the water. Turns out it was an incredible view, an enormous rock and hours of fun climbing around and looking through the thousands of seashells near the water. Word of warning: be careful if you decide to go out and climb on the rocks. The waves here are really powerful and can knock you off into the rocks below.

Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse + Whale Lookout Walk

From Sugarloaf, we drove a quick ten minutes up to Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse, a white lighthouse on the northern cape. But the best part about visiting the lighthouse is the nearby walking paths – between the months of September and November, you have a chance of spotting whales out in the Indian Ocean. We took the short, 2.4km Whale Lookout Walk which lead us out towards the coast and a lookout point where you could try your luck at spotting some whales – it was the happiest of days when we spotted not one or two but at least six whales playing out in the distance.

Eagle Bay + Dunsborough

After watching the whales, we ended the day relaxing on the white sand beach at Eagle Bay before filling up with petrol and chai lattes in Dunsborough before starting the three hour drive back up to Perth. PS, if you’re searching for a good chai latte, make sure you pop in to the Dunsborough Bakery. I have been on the hunt for a good one since I arrived in WA – their chai latte with almond milk was spot on and easily the best chai I’ve had in Australia so far.

Have more time in Margaret River?

There is lots more to do in Western Australia’s wine region!

  • If you’re eager to do some water activities, head to the coast where you can do some snorkeling, kayaking, surfing, etc.
  • More of a hiker? The Cape to Cape Trek is a 4 day hike that takes you from one cape to the other.
  • Not a fan of wine? Check out some of Margaret River’s breweries and have a beer tasting.
  • Into food? Margaret River is a foodie’s heaven – there are chocolate factories, cheese factories, seafood restaurants, candy factories and so many more that you could spend a day doing a food tour around the region.
  • Visit Hamelin Bay to get up close and personal with the stingrays that frequently come close to shore.

So, that is what I was up to over the last weekend. Being an au pair in Perth means that my weekdays are pretty much just like everyone’s typical work week so me and my little group of au pair friends have been making the most of our weekends! If you ever find yourself in Perth, make sure to head down south for a few days to enjoy all things Margaret River – you won’t regret it!

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