We are asked almost daily; “What are the best activities on the way home from Margaret River?”
It’s hard going home after a relaxing weekend away, so extending the joy with a swim at a magnificent beach, a delicious meal or a spot of retail therapy will definitely ease your pain.
Here’s a list of our favourite things to do on the way to Perth – enjoy!
Prevelly and the White Elephant Cafe
The tiny coastal town with the Greek Orthodox chapel is worth visiting for the ocean views alone – and a delicious breakfast or lunch at The White Elephant Cafe is a bonus. I’ll often pop to the White Elephant on a day off to remind myself how good life is – brekkie with a view (and without the crowds) followed by a walk on the beach and refreshing dip.
Hot Chocolate in Quinninup
Quinninup is a little spot about 15 minutes north of Prevelly, and 15 minutes south of Yallingup, on the coast side of Caves Road.
Firstly stop at Gabriel Chocolate – it’s a fantastic little boutique chocolate factory in the south west, as they make their chocolate from cacao beans. Taste their delicious wares and stay for a hot chocolate or one of their amazing warm cookies – they’re pretty special. Tell them Lincoln sent you – we often try to pop in with our Private Tour groups, depending on logistics on the day.
Next up, drive about 2km down Quinninup Road – it turns into a gravel track – until you reach Arimia Wines. Highly recommended for a relaxed lunch! Sitting on their balcony looking out to the tall forest of the National Park, it actually feels like you’re on a friends verandah.
Feeling up for an adventure and a walk? Quinninup Falls is nearby – a beautiful waterfall that flows after heavy winter rains. Check out this great article by SWLife with instructions how to get there. It’s a lovely spot worth visiting if you have time.
Yallingup, place of love
Yallingup means “place of love” in the local Aboriginal dialect, and you’ll fall head over heels as you drive into this tiny coastal town and take in that breathtaking view. It’s one of my favourite hang-outs, and here are my top tips.
Magnificent Yallingup Beaches
Yallingup is a famous surf spot, but it’s also great for a swim and has incredible sunsets over the water. Yallingup Beach has a lagoon so you can swim in a beautiful pool protected by reef, perfect if you have children or just want a safe beach with relatively small waves.
Walk on Yallingup Beach – allow 45 minutes to an hour to take in the whole, spectacular beach. Park at the first carpark (also called Main Break) – the beach here is suitable for kids, as it’s quite protected by the reef. Alternatively, drive further and park at the 2nd carpark – dogs are permitted on this northern part of the beach. There’s a lookout point at the 3rd carpark – an elevated spot to watch the sun set.
5 minutes drive south, Smiths Beach is a spectacular beach and a popular beginners surfing spot. Canal Rocks is a natural channel between great granite boulders, and thanks to a sturdy timber walkway you can walk right over the ocean channel for a birds’ eye view. Definitely worth visiting in winter when the weather is wild – you get an up close view of those waves as they hit the rocks.
Eat, Drink, Enjoy in Yallingup
Burgers at Andy’s – Yallingup General Store (aka “Andy’s”) serves up a mighty burger – their veggie options are pretty good too. Just the business after a surf!
Beers at Caves House Hotel – the hotel was built shortly after Ngilgi Cave was discovered in 1899 to accommodate the tourists who came to explore the cave by candle light! The gardens at Caves House are pretty special and worth exploring if you have kids and/or a dog with you. Alternatively enjoy a pint in the beer garden – how’s the serenity!
**Summer edit** – Caves House Hotel have Outdoor Cinema during January and February
There’s some really talented artists in this region! We love Yallingup Galleries – their main gallery on the corner of Caves Road and Gunyulgup Drive, and their Garden Art Studio exhibition gallery on Marrinup Drive next to Studio Gallery + Bistro. Check out and purchase some wonderful art or gift wares.
Ngilgi Cave was Western Australia’s first tourism attraction – people started making their way here by train and horse and cart when it was discovered in 1899. The first tours were conducted by candle light, with guests dressed in their finest suits and hoop skirts for the ladies. Nowadays it’s beautifully lit with LED lights, and a tour guide will show you into the cave then let you explore in your own time. Ngilgi is a short drive or 15 minute bush walk from Yallingup town and beach.
It’s a funny town – locals joke it’s all roundabouts and carparks, but we love its cafes, wineries and the excellent beaches on Dunsborough’s doorstep.
Eat + Drink in and around Dunsborough
Goanna Cafe – truly fantastic food in Aussie bushland just 10 minutes from Dunsborough. The chefs met at a Michelin-starred restaurant in London and made the seachange about 6 years ago. Try the Indo rice if you’re in for breakkie. Closed Monday/Tuesday.
Bunker Beach Cafe – worth visiting for the view alone, the delicious food is a bonus! The cafe overlooks the turquoise waters Bunker Beach, glimpsing through peppermint trees. Definitely bring your bathers. Open for breakfast and lunch 7 days a week.
Albert + Nikola – quirky cafe where the visitor centre used to be, serving excellent Pound coffee.
Maker Espresso – barista Isaac is a lovely guy, and they make one of Dunsborough’s finest brews. Located in Merchant + Maker, an upmarket general store selling gifts and groceries.
Simmo’s Ice cream – ice cream clears up any headaches after a day of wine tasting, and Simmo makes seriously delicious ice cream!
Marq Wines – a favourite ‘alternative varietal’ winery – they love to experiment with lesser-known grape varieties and just do things a bit differently, to keep it interesting. Located on Commonage Road near Wildwood Road, not far from Goanna Cafe. You can taste their range of wines with Mark the winemaker, and stay for a cheese or charcuterie plate.
They’re totally spoilt for pristine, sparkling turquoise beaches on Geographe Bay. I recommend a drive from Dunsborough north along to Cape Naturaliste, stopping in at beautiful bays such as Point Piquet, Meelup and Bunker Beach.
Check out Castle Rock beach especially if you have kids in tow – or Bunker Bay or Eagle Bay if you have a dog. These are all just north of Dunsborough on Geographe Bay, so the waters are more protected and calmer than on the ocean side. Great for a swim, SUP or a splash with children.
Old Dunsborough Boat Ramp is also pretty special – there’s a netted swim area, play ground and Silver Bullet Espresso is often there selling Toby’s Estate coffee. In fact, check out Dunsborough Food Vans website for a list of which food van will be there, and when.
There’s plenty of spectacular walks along the bay. There’s a bayside walk track along Geographe Bay Road from Old Dunsborough to Quindalup. It hugs the coast and gives you amazing views the whole way.
I also recommend the Meelup Reserve Trail through National Park and superb bush land to Meelup Beach. There are short walks around Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse – check out the whale lookout or walk to Sugarloaf Rock and back.
Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse is worth visiting too – any season. It’s spectacular – you get incredible views of the shimmering blue water, and between June and December you might be lucky enough to spot a whale!
Coffee at Mono Cafe – Tucked down a laneway off the main strip (Queen Street) is this marvellous little cafe. Great coffee, delicious snacks (check out their pastry chef @ryan_papasergio on Instagram) and lovely Australian-designed gift ware. Sister shop Leaf Love opened recently – it’s a plant-lover’s paradise!
Gelato Buonissimo – they currently have lamington and Tim Tam flavoured ice cream for Australia Day! You’ll find them on the main street, not far from the foreshore.
Fire Station Bar – nothing beats a ‘frose’ (frozen rose wine slushy) on a warm day, sitting outside at the Fire Station. There’s a beautiful courtyard overlooking a park in central Busselton. Good pizzas and a fantastic craft beer range.
Burger Bones – we’ve written about them before, and we can’t resist a ‘Filthy Dirty’ burger on the way to Perth. Based 10 minutes out of Busselton at The Shed Markets, they’re open Thursday to Sunday for lunch, plus dinner on Saturday. Yum!!
Walk the Busselton Jetty
Personally I love to stroll the famous Busselton Jetty at sunset or after dinner. There’s something special about walking along the 1.8km jetty, chatting to the fishers and watching the stars come out. But it’s a great visit any time of the day. Locals feel particularly proud of the jetty – it’s been saved by public donations on more than one occasion after storms and fires.
Underwater Observatory at Busselton Jetty
You’ll need to book in advance, but it’s a great adventure to hop on the train to the end of the jetty then descend into the underwater observatory. The warm Leeuwin current brings tropical and sub-tropical fish, and you’ll see a vivid “forest” of coral, sponges and fish. Be sure to book as capacity is limited and demand high, and watch out for school holiday activities for the kids. We’ve heard great things about the beautiful mermaid who visited in the January school holidays!
NEW: you can now take an Underwater Helmet Walk – experience the joy of diving without having to take a scuba course!
Lots of people bypass Bunbury, but it’s worth a look-in, especially for my personal favourites, Market Eating House and the now-famous Bunbury Farmers Market.
Market Eating House – so delicious, and such great service! They have a carefully curated wine list, full of quality lesser-known labels. Food is designed to share, but if you’re dining alone most dishes are available as half-portions, so you can still try a great range of flavours. I can’t wait to visit again!
Bunbury Farmers Market – I’ve been known to time my travel to coincide with their opening hours! They have an awesome array of really fresh fruit and veggies – most of it local. Plus inspirational ‘home made’ food ready for you to cook at home. Chunky beef pies, salads, vanilla slices, granola cups – it’s all delicious! Slightly IKEA-esque as you have to follow a path the whole way through, and there’s plenty of tasting stations along the way. Enjoy the ride!
Featured Wood Gallery – in Australind. It’s another highlight on our 3 Day Escape Tour, It’s quirky but wonderful, featuring John’s superbly crafted furniture, plus a collection of war time history. Sounds odd, but it’s fascinating and our guests love it!
Last but not least… Miami Bakehouse
This list of ‘best stuff between Margaret River and Perth’ would not be complete without a mention of Miami Bakehouse! Located on the corner of the Forrest Highway and Paull Road in West Pinjarra, they make fantastic pies and very good coffee too. I’ve been known to stop in for a pie a few (dozen) times and great news – our 2 Day Surf + Wine Safari Tour pops in on the way down from Perth.
Over to you – what are your favourites?
Have we missed any must-do stuff? Of course we have – so send us your favourites and let us know which on this list you rate. We look forward to hearing from you.
Lincoln, Neil, Jon and Coralie