Beautiful countryside, stunning coastline and exceptional food and wine come together just a few hours drive south of Perth. The Margaret River area attracts visitors from Australia and all over the world, thanks to the top quality wine produced here. As a result of the number of visitors, a huge variety of attractions have sprung up to appeal to everyone (including kids), not just wine-lovers. Here's how to do the Margaret River with kids.
Whether it’s for a rural getaway or a more dedicated tour of the famed hinterland, Margaret River is a glorious spot to head into the Australian bush and get back to nature without having to abandon the creature comforts. In the summer there are beaches to explore and long dusky evenings; in the winter snuggle up in front of warm fireplaces and enjoy the cosiness that only comes from the countryside.
Wineries are still the main drawcard to Margaret River with new ones opening regularly. Some simply have wine tasting and cellar door sales, while many others have restaurants or cafes. For good pizza and kid-friendly surrounds, Swings & Roundabouts on Caves Road is a good option.
Breweries are popping up all over the place and many are simply made for families. Bootleg Brewery and Cheeky Monkey Brewery are excellent options for adults with kids, both with casual, pub-style food.
[For more travel tips on gourmet experiences in Margaret River with kids, see the suitcases&strollers story Western Australia's Gourmet Trails with Kids.]
Driving around the wineries, the countryside is picturesque, rolling farmland, but travel a little further to the coast and the scenery is often spectacular. The cape-to-cape walk is an approximately 7-day walk along the coast and is well signposted and tended. Of course there is no need to walk the whole distance, but it means that most places you choose to go for a walk are easy walking for the whole family. A little of the walk near Cape Naturaliste is even pram friendly, so a visit to the lighthouse there is well worth it. Other outdoor activities include whale watching (June to September in Flinders Bay and September to December in Geographe Bay), surfing and exploring the incredible cave system.
There are a variety of attractions that are aimed squarely at amusing the kids as well as plenty to entertain parents too. Sunflowers Animal Farm & Farmstay, Amaze’n Margaret River and Yallingup Maze are sure to please the kids. Or a trip out to The Berry Farm means animals and a playground for the kids, while the adults indulge in a delicious Devonshire tea.
[For more travel tips on family-friendly farm stays in Margaret River for kids, see the suitcases&strollers story here.]
An article about Margaret River would not be complete without a mention of the ever-popular The Margaret River Chocolate Company. Yummy! While you’re in that neck of the woods, be sure to drop in the Margaret River Providore, just next door. The other foodie options are countless. There are attractions dedicated to olive oil, ice cream, cheese, nougat and even nuts and cereals.
The Margaret River area is located in the southwest of Western Australia, between Cape Naturaliste and Cape Leeuwin. The township of Margaret River is roughly the centre of the grape-growing area which stretches north to south with the Bussell Highway running down the centre. A car is a necessity since the region’s attractions are spread over a large area. There are plenty of single day bus tours available that will allow you to go from attraction to attraction or (more importantly) winery to winery, but these may not be suitable, especially if the kids are small. Instead, it might be easier to hire your own car so you can return home or stop for a nap when it best suits your family. (Although this will limit your wine tasting capabilities as drink driving laws are strictly enforced. Be warned, police patrol cars are everywhere, especially in the summer.)
If you are touring wineries and breweries you will spend a lot of time getting in and out of the car so make sure you plan your day in advance and have a good map handy. Alternatively make a less ambitious choice of only a couple of places to spend a bit more time and really partake in some beverage at a relaxing pace while you let the kids run round outdoors.
Margaret River has a truly excellent tourist website. There is information about what you can do in the area, where you can stay and it has a great map that can be downloaded free.
The climate is reasonably mild, but (depending where you’re coming from) can get pretty chilly on winter nights. Summer does not tend to get too hot, but it is Australia, so always come prepared with hats and sunscreen.
Margaret River township has plenty of accommodation available, but the area can be easily accessed from many other spots. The lovely coastal towns of Dunsborough, Yallingup and Prevelly are among the other options for your accommodation.
The variety of locations is matched by the variety of accommodation styles. There are backpacker hostels, camping sites and the good old Margaret River Hotel, right through to B&Bs, farmstays for the kids, as well as luxury resorts. There are plenty of self-contained houses and cabins, many nestled in the bush, all over the area. The Dunsborough Rail Carriages are a particularly neat place to come home to. Although they are quite basic, there is something fun about sleeping in a restored train.
Margaret River is easily accessed via Perth. For more travel tips on things to do in Perth with kids, see the suitcases&strollers story here.
For more travel tips on things to do in Western Australia with kids, see the suitcases&strollers story Whale Watching in Western Australia
By Alison Richmond; Images: Tourism Western Australia, Vasse Felix