Wining and dining in the Margaret River region
If you're a surfer, you can add reef breaks to that list. Only three hours' drive from Perth, Margaret River is widely recognised as the heart of Western Australian gourmet culture. As well as wineries in every direction, it presents an ever-growing crop of fantastic chefs who are directly linked to the high quality of the locally-grown ingredients. But it's not all sophistication and epicurean indulgence here; families can also have a very fine time in Margaret River.
In 2019, global travel authority Lonely Planet named Margaret River and Southern WA as the number-one Asian Pacific destination to visit in the year ahead.
Margaret River wineries
Margaret River vineyards have mild, wet winters and warm, dry summers. The stability of the climate produces consistently high quality fruit with intense flavour. Top ranking wines here are cabernet sauvignon and chardonnay, however Margaret River is also known for shiraz, semillon and sauvignon blanc. Within the wider region there are six sub-regions; together they produce more than 25% of Australia's premium wines.
A Margaret River wine trail map is as essential as sunscreen. Whether you want to join one of the local wine tours or embark on a self-guided exploration of the wineries, start at the visitor centre to gather maps and information. It's smart to target one sub-region at a time, so choose between Yallingup, Carbunup, Wilyabrup, Treeton, Wallcliffe and Karridale. Some cellar doors offer wine tasting only; others offer food as well. You can't go wrong with a visit to top wineries like Voyager Estate, Woody Nook, Cape Grace Wines, Vasse Felix, Leeuwin Estate or Stella Bella. Remember to throw a couple of craft beer and cider producers into the mix; you won't be disappointed.
Cycling around the wineries is one of the best things to do in Margaret River. A purpose-built cycle path leads you out of Margaret River township, and then you'll be on sealed country roads. Traffic is light and the hills are small.
Best food experiences in Margaret River
'Margs', as the Western Australians like to say, is foodie heaven. Deciding where and what to eat is an exquisitely difficult challenge you'll face every day. Locally-produced speciality ingredients include black truffles, farmed maron (yabbies) and trout, venison, cheese, lamb and chocolate. Fantastically fresh fruit and vegetables go without saying.
Use your phone to search on 'best restaurants in Margaret River' and you'll soon be lapping up delectable images of perfection on a plate. The best café name must go to The Hairy Marron, an unpretentious eatery that makes everything from scratch. For a romantic meal, head for Voyager Estate, Watershed or La Scarpetta Trattoria. And for a splurge meal, book yourself a table at The Cape Lodge Restaurant.
Signing up for cooking school is another way to get your head around Margaret River's cuisine styles. You'll arrive home with new culinary skills, as well as flavour memories that will never fade.
Every year this region celebrates its abundance with an array of foodie festivals, including the Western Australia Gourmet Escape, Taste Great Southern and the Truffle Kerfuffle.
Other things to do in Margaret River
In Margaret River the consequences of wining and dining can be easily burned off with hiking, mountain biking, surfing and swimming.
Stretch your legs on the Cape to Cape Walking Track which runs for 135 kilometres along the Leeuwin-Naturaliste Ridge, between the lighthouse of Cape Naturaliste and Cape Leeuwin in the far south west of Western Australia. The moderate walking trail features spectacular coastal and forest scenery, a fascinating geology of cliffs, caves, headlands and rock formations and an ever-changing display of vegetation and wildflowers.
If you want to stroll through thin air, get to the Valley of the Giants Treetop Walk near Walpole. It's a 600-metre walkway suspended 40 metres off the ground and the ancient forest it passes through is home to grey kangaroos, bandicoots and quokkas.
A huge network of off-road biking trails has made Margaret River a mecca for mountain bikers. You don't need to be hard core either, because there are plenty of easy routes for families and novice riders.