Set on the paperbark-lined banks of the river of the same name sits the once-sleepy town of Margaret River, known the world over as a bucket-list holiday destination, surfing mecca and food & wine destination par excellence. Just outside of town lies the ‘ah-hah’ point, where the blood pressure lowers, the pace slows, and you’re welcomed by a canopy of tall karris and jarrah, the remains of an ancient rainforest that once stretched to Queensland.
The town itself is a cosy tree-lined stretch that sweeps up the small hill from the river, packed on both sides with wine bars, pubs, gift shops, art galleries, gourmet delis, cafes and fantastic restaurants.
While some parts of the region have gone upmarket, the centre of Margs is down-to-earth. If you arrive during the day, the smell of good coffee permeates the main drag. After dark, restaurants and bars bustle with chatter and live music.
So what makes this little town such an epic destination? As the heart and soul of a diverse region, Margaret River has some very special features. For a start, it’s a coastal wonderland of world-famous surf breaks and ancient caves. Then there’s the chance to visit welcoming cellar doors, and no fewer than ten boutique breweries and four chocolate factories, three of them open for tastings.
You may be thinking this holiday sounds hard on the waistline… but it doesn’t have to be. If surfing is not your thing, Margs is a great place to be active, with mountain bike and walking trails in the forests outside town, and loads of activities like kayaking, canoeing and rock-climbing.
There are specialised meditation, yoga and wellness retreats, or casual classes you can join. Pamper yourself at a day spa with a massage, body scrub, facial or beauty therapy.
Hedonistic pursuits and rugged untouched natural beauty aside, the relaxed atmosphere is what makes Margaret River. Locals embody a coastal lifestyle and laid-back attitude, and while they are fiercely protective of their home, they are also welcoming, warm and open to sharing their surreal, enviable existence with visitors. Everywhere you go you’ll hear different languages and marvel that so many travellers journey to experience Margs. But then why wouldn’t they? The good vibes, fresh ocean air and magical sunsets (not to mention the wine!) will keep you coming back year after year.
Wheel Chair Access
Most wineries, cafes, restaurants and shops are accessible for wheelchairs and prams. It’s worth calling ahead and double checking, especially if you’re heading to an out-of-the-way location. For a coastal adventure, there is a great sealed track from River Mouth beach to Surfers Point, and down to Rifflebutts
Park near Gnarabup. Mammoth Cave’s first chamber also has wheelchair access.
Places to stay
Deciding where to stay is a choice you’ll be happy to take on. The scope and variety of places to lay one’s head in Margaret River is exceptional, with everything from extravagant resorts to self-contained apartments, villas, hosted accommodation, boutique luxury stays, backpackers, quirky farm stays and more.
There are hotels, townhouses and executive rentals right on the main strip. Central to everything, you can stroll to markets or to get your morning coffee. Take your pick of dinner spots and wine bars without having to get in the car. Most surprising, much of the town accommodation is in walking distance of a backdrop of forest and trails.
Wake up to the sound of the ocean, and head out for an early morning surf or walk on the coast, then head back to your beach house or chalet for a cuppa.
For the ultimate escape, awaken to the tranquil sounds of bushland birds and the scent of eucalypts. Immerse yourself in forest, bushland or vineyard settings with a blazing fi replace – choose from a cosy transformed barn, cottage or homestead, or the luxury of a winery estate.
Tip: Make sure to book well in advance for peak seasons (end of December, January, April school holidays and long weekends). Mid-week, winter and longer stays offer extra value. If you’re not attending the Gourmet Escape or Leeuwin Concert, try to avoid these weekends, because prices usually sky-rocket.