Morning is the best time to see the famous stingrays in Hamelin Bay. Photo / Tourism Western Australia
Unwind on the weekends with a coffee and a freshly baked snack at Egberts. There is plenty of outdoor seating lit by the Margaret River sun and lovely views of the open kitchen cooking up the morning cooking. Options to help you out before the next stop of the day include a Scandi-style morning roll topped with cinnamon or a plump raisin bread. You’ll have to ask for a “snail” to get one of Egberts’ French butter and raisin treats.
Create your own gourmet list by checking out the Margaret River Saturday Morning Farmer’s Market website (margaretriverfarmersmarket.com.au). Located just south of Margaret River Township, the sprawling business started 20 years ago and now attracts growers and growers from across the southwest. Fuel up with a bacon and egg roll, or pack your esky with local cheese and olives.
Make the short 4km drive southwest to Eagles Heritage in time for their encounter with the Birds of Prey at 11am. Ivy the barn owl and Booey the boobook – a species of owl named for its distinctive call – are the photogenic stars of interesting displays at this wildlife center focused on caring for injured, orphaned or displaced birds of prey. The shows end with a team of black kites in free flight. After the encounter, negotiate Eagle Heritage’s 1km shaded forest walk to check out other avian residents.
It’s a 15-minute drive west to the mouth of the Margaret River, close to the iconic surf breaks that launched surfing in the area in the 1960s. Nearby Prevelly offers excellent views of the Indian Ocean – watch for migrating humpback whales from June to September – while the double lure of Gnarabup Beach has a sheltered tide pool ideal for swimming and leisurely lunches at the White Elephant Cafe.
Western Australia’s underground exploration options are all located along Caves Road, the winding route of wineries, food stops and craft breweries framing the western side of the Margaret River region. The most exciting is the Giants’ Cave with steep ladders and rock climbs, while the Lake Cave features 300 steps leading to an underground lake and stalactites. See margaretriver.com to know the opening hours of the cave.
Ten different craft breweries nestle in the world famous Margaret River wine region. Located in an old milking shed on a rural side road, Beerfarm is certainly the most rustic brewery in the region, but the beers are not lacking in common sense. If you’re driving, their Calm Ya Farm lager is an Aussie session classic, while seasonal beers under their Native label might include beers made from quandong (a native bush peach). BYO dog or say hello to some of the always warmly welcomed canine guests.
Advance reservations are essential for one of two sessions at Miki’s Open Kitchen, either 6:00 p.m. or 8:15 p.m., to enjoy one of the best restaurants in Margaret River. Only 16 diners are served, seated around the open kitchen and enjoying a tempura-based menu harnessing the best of Western Australian seafood and organic produce from Margaret River.
The retro furnishings of your first student apartment combine with great coffee and crushing breakfasts in the trendy Margaret River Bakery location on the north end of town. Settle in with a truffle and salmon bagel or grab something to take away from the counter. Good steaks and mushroom pies too.
It’s about a 30-minute drive south of Hamelin Bay, and mornings are the best time to see the beach’s famous stingrays strolling through the shallows. Keep your distance to respect their space and expect to see stingrays with a wingspan of up to two meters.
It’s another 30 minutes south of Cape Leeuwin, the wild and windy spot where the Indian Ocean meets the Southern Ocean. Australia’s most south-westerly point is also marked by the Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse, which will reopen in late 2022 after a year-long restoration. Pre-book online for a guided tour of Australia’s tallest lighthouse.
Returning north from Margaret River, there are no shortage of winery restaurants for a quick tasting lunch. Voyager Estate, Leeuwin Estate and Wills Domain are all venerable fine dining restaurants, but the area’s best tasting is at Rustico in Hay Shed Hill. Five-course Spanish-influenced menus (AUD$75) pair well with Hay Shed Hill’s award-winning Cabernet Franc and Tempranillo wines.
Even if you are extremely full after lunch, it is worth stopping at Temper Temper Fine Chocolate in Cowaramup. Flavors include grapefruit and fennel and honeycomb and dukkah, and there’s an adjoining shop selling other local edibles that make ideal gifts for friends and family.
Aka “The Tav”, Margaret River’s Settlers Tavern is a favorite watering hole for local winemakers. They’re drawn to the area’s best wine list, ice-cold local ales, and classic pub fare like chicken parma and salt-and-pepper calamari. Check out the band’s posters for past gigs of Australia’s finest, also including a signed poster of New Zealand’s own Shihad when they performed as the Pacifier.
Getting there and getting around
Air New Zealand offers direct flights between Auckland and Perth. From Perth, the Margaret River region is a three to four hour drive south.
Where to stay
Framed by grassy lawns and eucalyptus trees, the quiet, value-for-money self-contained units at Peppermint Brook Cottages are located a short walk from the town of Margaret River. Look for Peppermint Brook Cottages on booking.com