We’ve just returned from a weekend of discovery down south that included a stay in a fairytale cottage in the forest, a Shakespeare production outside by the vines at Voyager Estate, and a very pleasant morning spent at Gnarabup beach, Prevelly.
What I love about life in this little corner of the world is the amount of things to do in a reasonably small area. Beaches, forest walks, wineries, caves, world class restaurants and great entertainment – most of which you could accomplish in a day.
So without further ado here are 10 things you really should do in Margaret River, plus a wonderful out-of-the-ordinary-eco-place to stay.
Top 10 Things to do in Margaret River
1. Visit the wine estates around Margaret River – there are around 150 cellar doors to choose from. Our favorites include Leeuwin, Aravina, Hay Shed Hill, Knotting Hill, Wills Domain, Knee Deep, Cullen, Laurance, Watershed, Xanadu and Voyager. Voyager hosts the annual Shakespeare in the Vines during January – scroll down to the end of the post for pics and details.
2. Visit the Lake Cave Tearooms for a coffee in a beautiful setting, then go down down down to the cave. Nearby, enjoy breakfast or a light lunch in the forest and visit the lovely Boranup Gallery on Caves Road and pick out a gift or two.
3. Laze around, walk or surf at Contos Beach (above) or Redgate Beach
4. Discover Hamelin Bay’s historic jetty, gorgeous beach, stingrays that come to feed off fishermen’s scraps, an island and 9 submerged wrecks in the bay.
5. Laze on beautiful Meelup Beach and picnic on the grassy area under the trees
6. Visit Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse or Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse.
7. Go to Prevelly and watch the surfer’s from Surfer’s Point – the famous main break can be seen from the high vantage of the car park and the new decked area. Afterwards enjoy a beer and pizza at Sea Gardens Café.
8. Enjoy a Devonshire Tea at the Margaret River Berry Farm on Davis Road, 1km before Witchcliffe
9. In season book a whale watching cruise with Naturaliste Charters
10.Take a tour with Margaret River Discovery Company – enjoy canoeing on the Margaret River
Where to stay in Margaret River
When Alexandra invited me to stay at Harmony Forest I looked it up on the internet and saw that the 8 villas were situated amongst trees and bushland. What I didn’t realize was how deep within the forest they were set.
Staying at Harmony Forest is truly a Hansel and Gretel experience, take the wrong turn at the cairn and you could end up spending the night with the kangaroos and bandicoots in a forest glade.
What struck me most was being so far from the madding crowd and yet only about 18kms or so out of Margaret River along the Bussel Highway.
From the highway you turn onto Sebbes Road which winds its way through dense Karri forest. The trees at night looked ghostly as our headlights picked out their steely grey barks while in the day they house thousands of eyes and a multitude of song – the sound of cicadas, crows, kookaburras and an assortment of other birds.
At night expect only the rush of the breeze in the trees, or the thump of a possum jumping onto the roof. At sundown we were enchanted by possums and a bandicoot who came looking for food but preferred to attempt to nibble our toes.
In the morning blue fairy wrens and rosellas came to slosh in the bird bath and a large skink made fruitful fodder for our camera. We spotted rabbits, emus and kangaroos when we walked the 1km track around the villas and the sun dappled 8.5 hectare vineyard that’s planted with Merlot.
The Harmony Forest Villas
The villas are set within mossy glades amongst the towering forest, with maintained firebreaks all around, and on stepping out of the car you’ll feel the stresses of life, or the city or work just melt away in the tranquility of this halcyon setting.
No road noise, no airplanes overhead, only the sounds of the forest; the rustle of a skink, the pitter patter of a possum, the wail of a crow and at midday the constant chirruping of cicadas which sound like static electricity overhead.
Inside the villas are cool and well equipped, with a/c or pot belly stove depending on the season. There’s no tv reception so take along books, games, and videos, or get out and about on one of the easy walk trails:
- Mosey Past the Merlot, 2.5km
- Harmony Forest Walk 1.5km
- The Serious Walker’s Coffee – 8km to Boranup Gallery
- Boranup Marathon – 12km
- Pine-panelled twin spa room
- Two modern bedrooms one with Queen size bed
- Deluxe towels, soaps and bathrobes
- Spacious living and dining area
- Wood-crafted furniture
- Large windows
- Separate, fully-equipped kitchen
- Gas BBQ, CD/Ipod dock, with speakers in spa room
- Flat-screen TV and inbuilt DVD player
- Gas pot-belly heater/fan cooling, Electric blankets
- Fresh rainwater tank, Unlimited hot water
- Generous lawn area with sun chairs
- Rates range from $190 – $300 per night per cottage, look out for special deals.
Shakespeare in the Vines
For weekend entertainment we went to see one of bard Bill’s plays on the lawn at Voyager Estate. At only $50 per person it’s an excellent night of culture and hedonism in a beautiful setting.
This year the Essential Theatre company presented A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and it was brilliantly entertaining.
If you thought Shakespeare was boring at school – think again. The mix of a perfect outdoor setting, the promise of a fine glass of wine or two, Mike’s Gourmet Hotdogs and a performance that had us gripping our sides with laughter didn’t equate in any way with the notion of boring.
We were amazed how well the cast coped with the challenges of performing outside, and the various exits, entries and run-throughs. It was an awesome performance, and a showcase of Aussie and New Zealand acting talent.
Voyager is a wonderful venue for this type of performance as the stage is in front of the Cape Dutch styled entrance to the cellar door and the audience nestles itself on the gently sloping grassy lawns on picnic blankets and low chairs … along with some tempting gourmet picnics I might add.
We decided not to bring a picnic because we wanted to try one of Mike’s Gourmet Hotdogs, and we enjoyed a venison hot dog with caramelised onions and chili relish – which certainly put the gourmet twist on a traditional sausage sizzle! We washed it down with Girt by Sea, a cabernet merlot – one of Voyager’s perennial quality wines.
With a picturesque Margaret River sunset, a wonderful performance, and picnics it’s a wonderful way to spend an evening.
Keep an eye out for next year’s Shakespeare in the Vines and why not give it a try? I doubt you’ll be disappointed.
Have you been to Margaret River? Of course, there are loads more things to do, so I’d welcome your favourite things too. If you haven’t visited what would you most like to do on a trip down south in Western Australia?
Disclaimer: My night at Harmony Forest and ticket to Shakespeare in the vines were complimentary