There is no place in the world that has stolen my heart quite like Dunsborough and the Margaret River region. I came down to Dunsborough 3 years ago with little purpose or plan, and the expectation of staying a night or two. Instead, I met some of the most incredible people (Luke included) and found my home away from home. Fast forward three years and we are back here again for our third extended visit. This region, with its beautiful coastlines and laid-back surf culture is the epitome of paradise.
Before arriving in Australia I had quickly searched google and read a few blogs, many of them highlighting Western Australia’s finest – Ningaloo Reef, Monkey Mia’s dolphins, Karinjini National Park, and, of course, Margaret River Region. I remember reading how the Margaret River Region was comparable to Byron Bay 25 years ago, in its early, genuine surfer, hippie stages – before it gained international popularity status. I am a sucker for cute beach towns and that sounded right up my alley. It had officially made its way on to my bucket list.
Margaret River Region is approximately 3 hours south of Perth and spans from Busselton in the North to Augusta in the South. It is the ultimate holiday destination, or in my case, secondary home. It is the perfect adult playground with its endless wineries, incredible restaurants and miles and miles of gorgeous blue coastline. Although I am slightly biased, the real gem is Dunsborough. This small affluent town is home to a proud group of locals who have mastered the perfect balance between work and play and have built their community to reflect those values. The bustling pubs, numerous cafes and relaxed demeanor all confirm this lifestyle.
But before I spoil the rest of the post, here are our top 10 reasons why you should visit the Margaret River Region in Australia’s Southwest.
10 Reasons to Visit the Margaret River Region
1. Beautiful beaches
This is an understatement. The Margaret River Region incorporates an expansive coastal area lined with rusty red rocks, pristine white sand and blue water. The selection of beaches within a 15-minute drive are plentiful.
Thankfully, due to its location, if one side of the cape is windy or the swell is to large, the other side will often offer protected beaches ideal for swimming. The numerous beaches also mean you will never be left fighting for your square of sand and can often have the entire place to yourself. Some of our favorites include Meelup, Castle Rock and Injidup beach.
Discover the best beaches in Western Australia:
2. Endless wineries
This has to be the biggest attraction for most people. With over 200 different wineries, there are so many wines to taste and beautiful vineyards to explore. As the majority of the wineries offer free tastings at their cellar door, a popular activity for locals and tourists alike is to participate in a wine tour. Numerous companies throughout the region provide wine tour services or with a designated driver, you can do a self-guided tour.
Read our perfect wine tour itinerary here.
If you are looking for the tour option, I would recommend Wine for Dudes for an unpretentious, fun tour that also incorporates a brewery stop and a food producer or two. If you are happy to explore on your own, be sure to check out Swings and Roundabouts, Robert Oatley and Hay Shed Hills for a good mixture of tasty wines and beautiful settings.
3. World-class surf
Every year the World Surf League (WSL) hosts one of its events down in Margaret River. Not only is the region good enough to be included in the surf tour, some of the world’s best surfers call the region home. Depending on the waves and season, the region offers numerous spots along the coast to catch a wave. Although not the easiest wave to learn on, there is an awesome beginner lesson you can take with Yallingup Surf School which will give you the confidence to surf in Australia’s rugged Southwest. And if you are in the region at the end of May/beginning of June, may sure you keep your eyes peeled for some surf pros and check out the WSL tour event!
4. Adventure activities
If wine tours, beautiful beaches and surfing aren’t enough, Margaret River is also jam-packed with fun activities. We recently went on a two-hour tour with Dunsborough Jet Ski Tours and it was incredible! They took six of us on three jetskis and we ripped up and down the coastline. We got to check out the local seal colony, see the shoreline from the beautiful blue water and play around doing doughnuts and speeding through the water! Other fun activities around Margaret River include skydiving in Busselton, paddleboard rentals at various beaches, a new zipline course, golfing and more.
5. Interesting wildlife
Margaret River Region is home to some beautiful wildlife. From September until early December whale watching attracts people from all over the world. Every year thousands of Humpbacks, Blue whales, Southern Right Whales and Minke Whales pass through these waters on their migration route. I have been whale watching before but I have never seen as many whales as I have living in Dunsborough during whale season.
There are also local pods of dolphins in the region, occasional shark sightings, loads of kangaroos and some very friendly sting rays at Hamelin Bay you can visit.
6. Delicious craft breweries
Beer, beer, beer! In a region known for its wine, beer has started to make its mark. Small micro-breweries keep popping up throughout the region all offering their own style and flavors. Not to mention, the breweries’ more laid-back, pub-style environments are a good contrast to the wineries’ posh venues. Patio beers in SW Australia’s perfect summer weather are an activity not to be missed! Some of the breweries worth visiting while in Margaret River are Eagle Bay Brewing Co, Beer Farm and Cheeky Monkey Brewery.
7. Local food
Good wine, good beer – good food is the next obvious answer and Margaret River does not disappoint. There are loads of local food artisans and producers in the region as a result of the fertile soil and the abundance of farm land. Like many other wine regions, Margaret River produces beautiful olives and olive oil. One of our favourites is Olio Bello which offers a huge variety of oils, dips, jams, and lotions, and also has a lovely restaurant on site. The Margaret River Dairy Company is a popular producer of incredible handcrafted cheese. And for something sweeter, there are two amazing chocolate factories in the region worth visiting – Gabriel Chocolate and Margaret River Chocolate Company.
8. Laid-back beach lifestyle
Throughout my years of traveling, there are certain communities and locations that have really resonated with me as a result of their community’s culture and environment. Dunsborough and the surrounding Margaret River Region is one of those places. Similar to Tofino, on the West Coast of Canada, the region has developed this laid-back, surfer lifestyle and atmosphere that is so peaceful and pleasant to be around. The residents are happy, relaxed, supportive and caring for each other. I have witnessed numerous random acts of kindness and support for those in need.
There also appears to be a well-rounded way of life where work isn’t the centre of the universe, but rather people enjoy the outdoors, family and good health. To top it all off, the feeling is contagious. How could you not be happy and stress-free when you’re spending your days in paradise?
9. Local artisans and boutique shops
Margaret River is home to some very impressive artists and designers and the locals couldn’t be more proud. As a result of this, numerous local boutique shops, wineries and galleries carry local talent and display the work of various producers. I love this environment of locals supporting locals and carrying each other’s products in their shops. It really highlights that previously mentioned supportive community that exists here. Some of the products are woodwork, locally made clothing, pottery, photography, jewelry and more.
10. Diverse landscapes
One of the best parts of Western Australia is the untouched, rugged and unpopulated outdoors. For example, a popular coastal walk, Cape to Cape Track takes you 135kms from Cape Naturaliste to Cape Leeuwin and offers views of the regions’ beautiful coastline and beaches not accessible by vehicles.
Boranup Forest is another incredible setting worth exploring. The forest is made up of thousands of tall Karri trees which make for a breathtaking drive between Margaret River and Augusta. Margaret River’s underground world is equally impressive with over a hundred caves dispersed throughout the region. No matter where you are within the region, the surrounding nature and views are not to be missed.
I told a friend that I was considering writing this blog post and he told me we should keep the hidden gem of Australia’s SW secret for a bit longer. As tempting as that was, it would be a pity for anyone to visit Western Australia and miss the Margaret River Region. It has undoubtedly won us over and I couldn’t picture a better location to call home.
Name a more beautiful region, we’ll wait.