Getting away from it all is something we love to do, and although I do love being in the bush, you have to remember (ahem, Dave) that I’m a girl, so I’m also quite keen on the idea of not being too far away from civilization on holiday, from the point of view of nice boutique’y type shops or places to go out for dinner.

Empire-Retreat-Beaches-and-breweries-margaret-river-jo-castroEmpire Retreat near Dunsborough ticked both boxes. Discreetly signposted off Caves Road (so discreet you’re in danger of flying past) it’s situated at the end of a winding driveway that leads through manicured farmland past a lake and into a glorious wooded area where you’ll find the old farmhouse that’s now converted into a lodge. It’s not far from the lovely boutiques and shops of Dunsborough, it’s close to world class beaches and it’s only a hop skip and jump to several restaurants.

A Luxury Lodge with Indonesian touches

If you’ve been reading ZigaZag,  you’ll know that I love all things Balinese, especially gardens, so the palm filled secret places, the quiet spaces, and the nooks and crannies where you’ll find yet another Indonesian statue or  water feature or  quaint bench just waiting to be discovered really appealed to me.

Don’t you think that the vast double doors leading to the wooded gardens and the Day Spa are stunning?


Once upon a time, Empire Retreat was a family farmhouse

The main part of the retreat is a 35 year old timber and stone farmhouse. You enter via a classy and very stylish drawing room, a great spot to sit and read the weekend papers.  Walking on through the property you come to a quiet sitting room with a large TV that leads to a well equipped kitchen available for guests to use if they wish to cook.


On from this is an airy, atrium style dining room in which you feel completely at one with nature, in fact for me it must rate as one of the largest conservatory type rooms I’ve ever been in. The lovely thing is that you look out on the vineyard and forest, and although you feel as if you’re outside in the bush,  you’re completely protected from the elements by floor length windows.


From my journal: “Kookaburras woke us up with a loud cackle, which seemed to be followed by a raucous dawn chorus this morning. Then as we had breakfast, blue fairy wrens and honey eaters darted around the trees outside and we enjoyed feeling at one with nature.”


Outside there’s a cute courtyard with a table and chairs complete with a large barbecue for guests to use  while to the other side of the room is a second area overlooking the garden and the outside Jacuzzi, where you can sit and watch the world go by.

From my journal: “We get up early and wander around the lake, dodging a gaggle of geese and lots of guinea fowl, and we laugh at the antics of the ducks and their ducklings. It’s tranquil, and although you’re not actually far from anything at Empire Retreat, you feel a world away from everything. After lunch we relax in the outside Jacuzzi which completely eases our worries away.”

Empire-Retreat-Beaches-and-breweries-margaret-river-jo-castroEmpire Retreat Fast Facts

  • You get the full on country experience at Empire Retreat and yet you’re close to Yallingup and Dunsborough where there are lots of Things to do and see.
  • The grounds include open parkland surrounding a lake where geese, guinea fowl and ducks abide. Sit on the lakeside bench for some quiet contemplation.
  • The separate luxurious Day Spa is set apart in the forest, down a wooded lane. You can choose from a selection of treatments. There’s also an undercover jacuzzi and a sauna in the grounds for guests to use at leisure.
  • Empire Retreat is an adult destination. 10 Luxury suites or villas are completely private. Ours had a bush outlook on two sides, and we walked along timber boardwalks under tall trees, from the main farmhouse to reach it. Inside it’s take-your-breath-away luxurious, open plan with a step down to a modern lounge area and kitchen/dining space.


  • There’s an open fire for winter days and a wooden decked balcony with a huge Balinese style daybed for summer days, while in the bedroom area there’s a big spa bath looking out onto woodland bush.
  • Outside, and down some steps we were delighted to find an outside shower,  overlooked by trees and Indonesian statues.


  • There are several accommodation options to choose from at Empire Retreat including loft suites, a courtyard suite, deluxe suites and luxury villas.
  • Breakfast is included in the room rate and what a breakfast you can have! Choose from a huge continental and fruit section followed by eggs Benedict , eggs Florentine, or gourmet omelettes with Yallingup woodfired toast, just as an example.

Prior to dinner we headed to Canal Rocks where we came across a wedding party having photos taken, then to Smiths Beach for a walk, and then we dashed to Yallingup to take pictures of the sunset. That’s the beauty about Western Australia … so many places to explore, and as yet roads that aren’t crowded which means we can get from one to another without hold ups.


Where to eat around Yallingup and Dunsborough

For dinner we went to one of the Margaret River region’s most stylish restaurants, at Windmills Break, which is practically next door to Empire Retreat, and we celebrated our anniversary with a delightful meal and a bottle of Flying Fish Cove pinot chardonnay (you have to try it), it’s definitely becoming our sparkly of choice these days.


We could have chosen the Italian restaurant, La Casina, which is also only a couple of minutes drive away on Cave’s Road, or Clancy’s Fish Pub, or Cave’s House all of which are close by. If none of these appeal there are plenty of eateries in Dunsborough – Empire Retreat is situated about half way between Dunsborough and Yallingup.

Then it was home to Empire Retreat to bed, and what a bed, a four poster with enough room for us both to spread out like star fish. After 26 years of marriage you’re allowed to do this you know 😉

And dream we did, of beaches and breweries more of which we’d discover the very next day.


Disclaimer: My stay at Empire Retreat was complimentary, but all views are my own. Here’s a link to the Empire Retreat Facebook Page

If you’ve enjoyed this post you might enjoy Part 1 of this 3 part series : Duckstein Brewery, Margaret River and please don’t forget to pop back next week for Part 3: Eagle Bay Brewing Co and the Best Beaches around Dunsborough.

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  1. Oh my gosh I got home from work just a bit ago and just reading this and looking at the pictures had me feeling relaxed, Johanna! A day in a spa and jacuzzi and then dinner at the Italian restaurant would be the perfect ticket right now. That sunset picture is fantastic but my favorite is of the three candle. Great post 🙂

  2. Thanks Mike 🙂 I’m so glad you enjoyed it. I certainly enjoyed reliving the weekend and putting the photos together. Thanks for popping by and I hope you are having a relaxing evening as I write.

  3. Hi Joanna, such a beautiful retreat. I like that it so luxurious and make you feel one with nature at the same time. I love that floor to ceiling windows in the dining room and the outdoor shower! It’s great that they bring the nature so close to the guest as much as possible.

  4. This looks like our kind of place. How warm and welcoming it sound, from the minute you step through those wonderful gates!

  5. Ah, you have no idea how appealling an adults only retreat sounds to me!! I’ve just done 30 days solo parenting and my FIFO hubby comes home tomorrow… I am retreating in fact, to Melbourne for the weekend.

    This place looks absolutely delightful and it’s good to hear of the places around and about too… but I think I’d stay in the Spa for as long as possible. Lovely photos.

  6. Hi Seanna, Oh you really really do deserve a break – I remember back to my own days of solo parenting when Dave worked away, and what a relief it was to have him home to share the load 🙂 I wish you a lovely break away in Melbourne, and hope that one day you get over to WA to see our little pockets of adults-only-delights too! Thanks for popping by today.

  7. Yes, it’s the feeling of being at one with nature that makes the retreat so lovely, and yet you have the most luxurious comforts – it’s the bush with benefits! Thanks for taking the time to read today, Marisol.

  8. Neva Fels

    What a relaxing place to indulge your senses and the food looks amazing. I’m curious as to why there is an outdoor shower. What is it’s purpose, or this an Aussie thing to have in your backyard?

  9. Love Empire Retreat — it’s such a luxurious spot — I bet you didn’t want to leave! And those doors are absolutely beautiful.

  10. You’re so right..Part II is definitely more to my liking 🙂 A spa, beautiful gardens and that heavenly looking room really make this a place to relax. It’s so fitting for its name. Love that sunset photo of Yallingup. I wish I lived near this part of the world to check it out.

  11. Hi Marcia, you’re so right! Could have stayed on and on and on and …! I’d like the doors in my own garden – very much 😉

  12. Thanks for stopping by Mary. I thought you’d enjoy this post more than the beery one! Yes, I wish you could see it all too 🙂

  13. Beautiful surroundings! I could enjoy a bit of that luxury without thinking twice. I love the Indonesian style open air bathrooms.

  14. Catherine

    Wow! Reading this makes me want to phone up and book a weekend getaway right now. It sounds like a wonderful place to relax and unwind after a busy week. Thanks for sharing a glimpse of your special weekend with us.

  15. Thanks Catherine. It is a lovely place for a getaway, for sure 🙂

  16. I’m also a great fan of open Indonesian style bathrooms, Nancie, well anything with a Balinese theme especially.

  17. Thanks Annabel! Yep, a little luxury every now is just the ticket isn’t it!

  18. I so love the sound of this Empire Retreat. More specifically, it’s the lure of the jacuzzi and sauna that appeal. Coming from Canada, these restorative ‘luxuries’ do seem to be much harder to find than when hanging out along the 49th Parallel. We’ll have the Empire Retreat on our list for some après cycling perhaps.

  19. Great spot for apres cycling, Wanda. Soothe your muscles in the jacuzzi and sit on your own private balcony with nothing but the birds and a bottle of Margaret River’s finest!

  20. Smith’s Beach looks like a great place for a long walk on the sand.

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