If a quieter, laid-back getaway is what you’re craving, head south. Generations of families have idled their summers away beachcombing, exploring caves, climbing the lighthouse and fishing in the bay. In this breathtakingly beautiful corner of the Margaret River Region, the Blackwood River meets the sea and Cape Leeuwin marks the southern tip of Australia, it’s not rare to be the only person on one of the most beautiful beaches in the world.
While it’s undeniably peaceful, the area is fast becoming an adventure destination, too. Just off Cape Leeuwin, the Southern Ocean crashes into the Indian Ocean, which, thanks to its strong winds, draws hordes of adrenaline-fuelled kitesurfers and windsurfers. What’s more, each winter, the area is frequented by thousands of southern right and humpback whales, affording world-class whale-watching opportunities.
You will find the town of Augusta nestled between the mouth of the Blackwood River in the Hardy Inlet and Flinders Bay on the coast. Surrounded by spectacular ruggedness – a drawcard for adventure racing and hiking – the inlet offers shelter from the wind and spots for swimming or fishing.
On the coast north of Cape Leeuwin is the much-photographed Hamelin Bay, famed for its tranquil waters, long curved beach, historic timber jetty and friendly eagle rays. Inland, the majestic Boranup Forest is a must for scenic drives, picnics and walks, and the nearby townships of Karridale and Witchcliffe are full of historic charm and quirky shops.
The accommodation around town is varied, with a couple of caravan parks on the river and inlet, private chalets, luxurious modern apartment-style accommodation, motel rooms, rental cottages and even houseboats set on the Blackwood River.
Grab a bag of whitebait from the general store and visit the stingrays that circle the ruins of Hamelin Bay Jetty, and come right to shore to be hand-fed. The best times are morning or late afternoon, when the rays wait for fish scraps from the local anglers.
- Kayak across the Blackwood River to Molloy Island and discover the hidden inlets. A well-kept secret, this island is covered in natural bush and wild orchids. Be careful you don’t get caught in the afternoon wind!
- Hike a section of the Cape-to-Cape Track, and reward yourself with takeaway Augusta fish ’n’ chips, and a cleansing swim at Cosy Corner Beach.
- Start your day off underground. Jewel Cave tells its incredible story through beautiful cave decorations and huge formations. You can’t help but lose yourself to the serenity.
- A late afternoon fish along the banks of the mighty Blackwood will provide a bounty of whiting for dinner. Nothing beats a fish barbecue on the foreshore to wrap up a very laidback day in Augusta.