The beauty of South West WA is the story of many travellers who make the effort to explore our wonderful region “down south”of Perth. The people are friendly, eager to ensure you enjoy your holiday and always go the extra mile to create a quality experience on your holiday.
There are local places to discover and explore with a mix of must-do local attractions, plenty of self-drive exploring options and foodie markets and providores to explore. The region is famous for beautiful beaches,wineries and local produce. Many locals have their own secret spots they like to eat, swim and chill out while listening to live music away from the tourist traps in school holidays. November is the start of the music/food/wine festival season which goes through to March which really show off how amazing our produce and sense of community. For the romantic aspect of your getaway, Margaret River and Yallingup have many secluded accomodation options that also contain day spa or massage facilities, nearby restaurants overlooking the beach (remember you are able to see the sunset over the beach in WA). South-West WA is an amazing holiday destination and caters to many budgets and itineraries. My plan is to share both the secret local haunts as well as the best of South West WA with you.
Day 1: Busselton
Welcome to WA Carla and James!
We start your romantic getaway by travelling 2-2.5 hours south from Perth in your hire car until you get to the beautiful coastal town of Busselton.
Aim to get to Busselton around lunchtime and head straight down the main street (Queen Street) until you reach the Busselton Jetty foreshore.
Make sure you grab yourselves THE map of Busselton as well as the Margaret River map (margaretriver.com) from the Busselton Tourist Centre which is situated in front of the jetty.
An iconic tourist attraction, the Busselton Jetty is approx 2km long and open to the public. You are welcome to walk along it, fish off the edge, visit the Underwater Observatory, or catch the purpose built train if walking is not your scene. If you feel a little peckish, a new cafe called Blue Peter, which specialises in French crepes & coffee has recently opened on the jetty and it is getting rave reviews.
Wander along the foreshore, both The Equinox Cafe and The Goose Cafe are open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Travel back to the Busselton main street and explore the speciality shops, art galleries and plenty of places to eat and drink especially in the summer months.
I would suggest staying one or two nights in Busselton using the town as a base for sightseeing, then moving onto Yallingup further along the coast.
Busselton has a number of options for accommodation. For something a little special to start your holiday Abbey Beach Resort is pure luxury. Many caravan parks have tented areas, cabins and spa suites available to suite travellers. Mandalay Caravan Park, Beachlands Caravan Park are popular, updated facilities and affordable.
Day 2: The Beach Retreat Day
Today is a relaxing chill out day. I recommend organizing a picnic and spend the day exploring the many beaches and coves around Yallingup and Dunsborough. (supermarkets are located at Busselton and Dunsborough.) Travel slowly along the coast, visiting Dunsborough and ending up in Yallingup (30-40 min drive from Busselton)
Must see beaches in the this area include Meelup Beach, Eagle Bay, Bunker Bay, Cape Naturaliste and Smiths’ Beach.
Book yourselves on a whale-watching or sunset cruise, or enjoy being pampered by one of the many day spa’s in the area. There are also many wineries you might like to visit for wine-tasting, sunset drinks or an evening meal.
Stay at Seashells Yallingup/Caves Hotel, which also has a restaurant or other accommodation suggestions include: Chandler’s Smith Beach Villas and Yallingup Forest Resort further along Caves Road.
Day 3: Exploring Caves Road.
One the highlights of the region and a ritual amongst the locals is to hire a car (assign a designated driver) and visit all the wineries, art galleries, artisians, jewelers, breweries and tourist attractions along this stretch of road. Make sure you have your Margaret River map handy (please forget Google Maps-you need to get lost to find all the hidden treasures within the area) and treat the day as a happy adventure.
Recommended Wineries such as: Vasse Felix, Sandalford Estate, Stella Bella Wines, Driftwood Estate
Breweries: The Duckstein, The Cheeky Monkey Brewery, Bootleg Brewery.
Visit: The Yallingup Maze, The Yallingup Shearing Shed, Wardan Aboriginal Cultural Centre, John Millar Design, Yallingup Galleries.
Many of the wineries and attractions open 10am to 5pm or 10-4pm depending on the season but the weekends are busy times in the south-west as Western Australian’s love a long weekend “down south” (meaning south from Perth).
A Local’s Secret: Hamelin Bay
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Moving further south of Caves Road, now to Hamelin Bay. This secret hideaway (ssh don’t tell anyone) is where the locals go on holiday.
Hamelin Bay is about 20-30minutes from Margaret River. A hideaway consisting of caravan park facilities and beach access to walks along the coast.
As Carla has her moon boot on her foot, I would suggest confirming with the caravan park whether the access to the beach would be adequate for your stay. If not, there are chalets further along Caves Road or I would suggest going to Prevelly or Margaret River today instead of Friday.
Caves that are worth exploring in this area are located near Prevelly and Hamelin Bay. Guided tours throughout the day can be found at Lake and Mammoth Caves near Prevelly as well as Moondyne Cave, Jewel Caves near Augusta.
Take the short drive to Augusta (pictured), see the Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse, Whale Watching or hire a houseboat to travel along the mighty Blackwood River.
Days 5 & 6: Getting to know Margaret River
You have arrived in Margs (Margaret River) one of Western Australia’s premier holiday destinations.
Take a break from driving and hire a kayak to paddle along Margaret River herself or join in a Bush Tucker & Winery Tour.
Settler’s Tavern usually has live music on the weekends, and Muster Bar & Grill is another option for an evening meal.
The Margaret River Markets are on Saturdays (8am to 12pm) and not to be missed. Fresh produce from local farmers, artists, bakers and growers. Keep your eyes peeled for my favourite stall holder: Fre-Jac Bakery, the chocolate pastries are amazing.
The Geographe Crush Food and Wine Festival is being held over 3 days this week, the main event being Saturday 8th November 12pm-7pm at Memorial Park, Boyanup. (40 mins drive from Busselton) Wine Tastings, gourmet foods to try and entertainment. Tickets vary between $16 pre-purchase or $20 per person at the gate.
Within the Bramley National Park, Margaret River is the Wharne Cliffe Mill, an eco-tourist camp with camping, cabins and glamping facilities, for a different perspective and bike/walking trails. A short walk into Margaret River itself, but feels like you are in the middle of the bush.
Catch on up on the wineries and tourist attractions you missed on the Caves Road Adventure. The Lavender Farm, The Margaret River Chocolate Factory, The Berry Farm, and Cowaramup (or Cow Town as it is affectionately known) are hard to beat.
Day 7: Last Day In Perth
Travel back to Perth in the morning before the heat sets in and try to be back in Perth by lunchtime so you can still see some of Perth’s sights, while relaxing.
Get yourself down to Cottesloe Beach for a relaxing afternoon swim in our beautiful blue waters.
If you have the energy after your drive back from Margaret River, catch the train to Fremantle, visit the markets and people watch at one of the cafes on the South Street coffee strip. Gino’s is a firm favourite with the locals. If you are hungry and interested in meal and a drink, why don’t you walk across the park to the marina and make yourself known at Little Creatures. (The famous brewery used to be a tourist crocodile park now a Sunday tradition with the locals.)
If you prefer to stay in the City on your last day, Sunday shopping is open in Forrest Chase, visit the famous King Street for all things Gucci and Prada.
For accommodation visit The Terrace Hotel Perth or City Stay Apartments.
Free Buses in Perth City Catch a CAT City (free) bus up to Kings Park, which overlooks the city and is a must stop for all visitors.
Keep the Mozzies Away Make sure to pack Mosquito and Insect Spray, this time of year, WA is on alert for Ross River Virus.
Keeping In Touch The further south you go, the worse the internet connection can be, sometimes only getting an SOS connection to use on your mobile telephone. Bring your phone charger and look for free wifi in Margaret River, Busselton and Dunsborough.
Post your Holiday Finds If you are an overseas or interstate guest, ask if a particular winery or art gallery will be happy to post/ship your purchases home interstate rather than you needing to take wine and food on the plane and have to declare it to authorities.
The race that stops a nation (including WA) Today (November 4th) is also Melbourne Cup Day (the nation’s most famous horse race and even in WA we like to pay our respects) so be warned that many restaurants & wineries will be booked ahead of time for functions, others will be open for drop-ins.
Discounted Accomodation When booking accommodation in the high season, ask if there is a discount for staying 2 or 3 nights rather than just the one night, or if caravan park association members/RAC/NRMA members receive a discount. You can usually join on the spot for a small fee and receive discounts on your travels.