Words: Erin Hardie | Pics: Ryan Platten, Erin Hardie | Margaret River (Margs to WA locals) is indubitably the jewel in Australia’s Southwestern crown. It has something for everyone: wineries, foodie culture, karri forest, hikes, camping, caving, abseiling/climbing, surfing and picture perfect beaches.
|$AUD12 per pint of Guinness
*$9AUD per pint of local beer (Swan Lager)
Mostly, if a friend of yours in WA says they’re going “douth” or “down south” this is automatically where you’ll assume they’re headed, and about 95% of the time you’d be correct. WA residents as a rule will centre their down south trips on Margaret River for exactly the list of reasons given above. Here’s five things to know if you’re planning a visit to Margs this year!
1. Latest Margaret River Wine Trends
Wine (well duh I hear you say!) Ok let me be more specific – the wine to look out for, the wine of now! If tasting wine on your next Margs trip look out for the varietal of the moment: Fumé Blanc – an oaked sauvignon blanc from being slightly aged in toasted oak barrels, bringing a new complexity to an old favourite. Find this tasty interpretation of this style at Glenarty Road/Kerfuffle Wines. Also be on the lookout for the amazing ports that have been sneaking into cellar door offerings more and more frequently in more and more guises. Glenarty Road for example do an awesome white port using the sauvignon blanc grape!
Augusta (wait isn’t this a list about Margs!?) Well yes, but Augusta is right next door to Margaret River, a half hour drive away to be more precise. If you’re planning a trip to Margs consider staying in Augusta for some or all of your trip. Augusta (according to some locals we spoke to) has the small town feel that Margs once had. Walk the main street in Augusta and notice how the locals seem to know not only each other but also everybody’s pets by name. They literally know every man and his dog there! It will also leave you in a handy position for some less often visited sights to see such as the incredibly picturesque Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse where the Indian Ocean meets the Southern Ocean. Not five minutes down the road from the lighthouse be sure to photograph the historic oceanside water wheel which used to pump water to the lighthouse cottages back in the late 1800s. There is also a nice one hour walking trail to Skippy Rock which starts from this point, although the weather is pretty bitter on a windy day!
Breweries. (That’s more like it I hear you say as you raise a glass in salute). Yes back to booze: did you know that Margaret River is home to the highest concentration of microbreweries in WA with no less than nine in the region? And as of January 2016 there is now one on the main drag in Margs – the Brewhouse Margaret River. On average these guys have nine different house made beers on tap, enough to keep you tasting for the whole afternoon. They also host an annual home brewers competition “The Backyard Brewing Competition”. The awards night for this event is on July each year – a nice event you can attend in the main town.
4. Karri Trees
Karri trees. I’ve lived in WA for over 28 years now, so you would think I would know better but perhaps like me you too try to google the “Karri Forest” when wanting to see this quintessential Margaret River natural attraction. To save you some future frustration and embarrassment it’s called the Boranup Forest. Our recommendation is to use Cafe Boranup as a good landmark to where to find the best drive/official viewpoint and walks through the majestic Boranup forest. They also serve delicious winter warming breakfasts, healthy (and less healthy!) lunches plus perfect coffees and there’s an art/furniture gallery right next door showcasing purchasable works using the raw materials from the region.
5. Margaret Airport
Margaret River Airport… Yes, there’s about to be an airport “in” Margaret River. Ok so not actually in Margaret River town centre, but in the region. In fact it’s the Busselton Regional Airport now being called/promoted as the “Busselton-Margaret River Regional Airport”. Ground was broken on this project in February this year with upgrades including lengthening the runway to welcome interstate flights by 2018. Locals we spoke to also rumoured that following on from that there will also soon be direct flight connections to Singapore too! Western Australia’s favourite “backyard holiday destination” is about to become a true international sensation on a whole new scale!
Bonus! Margs is so done to death, why not try seeing a little of Busselton or Bunbury on either side of your next “douth” – down south trip? There’s even more locavore foodie and wine options, beaches and historic sites to explore!
Anything we’ve missed? We would love to hear your ideas or questions in our comments section below!