Australia, Road Trips

Weekend road trip: Margaret River, Western Australia

July 23, 2015

Jodie, Road to Wander

In celebration of our birthdays (we are both July babies) we took our first road trip down to Margaret River.

If you ask anyone what to do on a trip to Perth they will all respond enthusiastically with … Margaret River. Having lived in Perth for a year it was about time we found out what all the fuss was about.

Day 1 | The drive from Perth to Margaret River

On Friday, we skipped out of work early, packed up the Subaru and hit the road south.  Margaret River is around a 3 hour drive south of Perth.  In Aussie terms it’s ‘just down the road’.  There isn’t much to note driving down the freeway until you pass Bunbury, the last ‘city’ before you hit Margaret River.  The wide straight open roads begin to taper and wind around the dense forest.  The Subaru was perfect for these kind of roads.  I think Shaun thought he was a rally driver.

Hilltop Studios

We arrived after dark and managed to find our accommodation.  We had opted for somewhere where we could really chill out, cosy up and relax.  Queue Hilltop Studios.  It was the perfect self-contained accommodation option providing more than just somewhere to rest our heads.  My one complaint … I now want to live there forever.

Hilltop Studios is perfectly located in the middle of the forest just 10 minutes from Margaret River town in one direction and 10 minutes to the beach in the other.   Looking for something to eat we headed into Margaret River town and opted for the town’s main pub, Settlers Tavern.  We had some good traditional pub grub and local beer.

Day 2 | Exploring the Margaret River region

In the morning we woke up to the most gorgeous view that we hadn’t been able to see in the darkness when we arrived.  The secluded location allows for uninterrupted panoramic views of the lush green forests of Margaret River.  We laid in bed and watched the 30 strong group of wild kangaroos grazing on the hillside opposite.  This, and the raucous calls of the resident kookaburras, remind you that you are in fact in Australia and not the Welsh countryside.  Margaret River is impossibly green, something you usually don’t associate with Western Australia.

Margaret River Chocolate Factory

We ventured out to see what Margaret had to offer.  First off we made like Willie Wonka and hit the chocolate factory.  The Margaret River Chocolate Company produces over 100 chocolate products.  Yeah it’s basically heaven. And the best part was the giant bowls of free chocolate samples.  Shaun may have been seen elbowing kids out of the line and lining his pockets!  We were expecting a tour of the factory guided by oompa loompas but, due to hygiene reasons, you are not allowed passed the sticky viewing window.

Vineyards

Next up was the winery next door, Providore.  The huge winery has an equally impressive array of products, from wine and chocolate liquor to jams and chutneys.  Again, we filled our boots with delicious samples and enjoyed the stormy view over the vineyard.

Chocolate, cheese and more vineyards

After chocolate and wine we fancied something savory and headed over to the Margaret River Dairy Company.  More free samples and we stocked up for a dinner date later in the evening.

Feeling quite sick from stuffing endless amounts of free samples we stopped for a rest and lunch at the Bootleg Brewery.  Thankfully the rain had stopped and we were able to snag a picnic table by the lake and listen to some good ol’ live Aussie country music.  The atmosphere was great; full of families and rowdy groups of party-goers.  And lucky for me I got in a few local ciders. Thanks Shaun for being designated driver.

On route back to the studio, we visited the next vineyard we passed called Knee Deep.  There really are hundreds of vineyards to choose from so we just picked the ones with the prettiest gate!  Knee Deep was a beautiful winery with a fine dining restaurant and terrace overlooking the vineyard.  We were invited in for a free wine tasting where we discovered we are actually quite partial to red.  Must be because we are both a year older.  After a quick photo shoot in the wine barrels and 2 bottles of divine wine for tonight we headed back to our home the studio.

Of course, we had to make the most of the huge spa bath.  We put some tunes on the sound system, lit some candles, opened up the dividing doors and took a relaxing bath as the sun set (of course, over a glass or two of wine).   It was then that we realised we were in fact old as we really appreciated the silence, the relaxation and the taste of a good wine.  Some contrast to any previous birthday celebrations.

Dinner consisted of the goodies we had collected during the day … cheese, chutneys and red wine, absolutely perfect.

Day 3 | Beach, caves and the drive home

Sunday morning we woke up to a horrendous storm.  We just about managed to tear ourselves away from the tranquil bliss of Hilltop Studios and headed out for a few hours of exploration before the 3 hour drive back home to Perth.

The coastal beaches

As always, first thing on the agenda … coffee.  We took a drive along to the rugged coastline.  Stopping in Prevelley for a take away coffee at The Sea Garden Cafe.  We took our take away cups and drove to Surfers Point and watched the knarly waves pound the coastline.  Due to the stormy weather there were no surfers but just as enjoyable to watch all of the white water.

The caves

The final stop of the trip was the ancient limestone caves.  We opted for the biggest of the caves, Mammoth Cave.  500 meters long and 30 meters deep the cave swallows you as you enter.  A designated walk way and lighting are installed along with a headset to guide you through the cave.  It was only when installing the lighting that they unearthed several peculiar fossils.  One being the 35,000 year old giant marsupial herbivore Zygomaturus.

And finally the drive home, but not before stopping for one last wine tasting at Capel Vale; a very posh establishment where we had the place to ourselves and the most in depth wine sampling.  And in all honestly, after my amazing 10 samples I was pretty tipsy and ready for a snooze on the drive home!

We want to do it all over again, you could spend a good few weeks exploring this region.  We will definitely be back again soon … next weekend?

Want to know more about Margaret River?  Read our guide to Margaret River here.

Have you been to the Margaret River region?  What other activities would you recommend?

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