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How to spend 3 days in Margaret River

How to spend 3 days in Margaret River

If you’ve never been to the Margaret River region, you’re in for a treat. It’s long been a much-loved weekend getaway for Perthites and is gaining popularity among east coasters thanks to direct flights from Sydney and Melbourne.

From world-class wineries and six-course degustation dinners to shimmering turquoise waters, ancient granite cliffs and winding roads lined with lush vineyards – we can almost guarantee you’ll be planning your second (and third) visit in no time.

Let us give you a rundown on why this little slice of heaven is the ultimate holiday destination, plus a three-day Margaret River itinerary.

Need-to-know

How to get to and around the region:

The Margaret River region is big, spanning 130km from Busselton in the north, all the way down to Augusta and Cape Leeuwin in the south. Packed with unforgettable attractions, delectable eateries and stunning scenery, the best way to travel is by car or by joining a tour with a local guide.

The region’s main airport, the Busselton-Margaret Airport is ten minutes from Busselton or a 45-minute drive from Margaret River town. Alternatively, there are multiple coaches that depart from Perth daily. We recommend driving, as a car is almost a necessity in Margaret River. The beauty of this is that you get to see seaside towns like Mandurah along the way.

How long to stay:

With dazzling beaches begging to be explored, hidden cellar doors, and mesmerising karri trees, there is a lot to see and explore in the region. You could easily spend a month here and still only just scratch the surface!

However, if you’re limited on time, we recommend staying at least two nights to give yourself the chance to tick off a few big bucket-list highlights.

When to visit:

There really is something for everyone to enjoy year around. Surrounded by ocean on three sides, the Margaret River region has a Mediterranean climate with warm, dry summers and mild, wet winters.

Whether you’re wanting to chase the endless postcard worthy beaches over summer, or perhaps you’d rather curl up next to a fire with a glass of Cabernet in winter. Expect blooming wildflowers and migrating whales in spring or catch some of the world’s best wave riders in autumn for the Margaret River Pro.

See, Explore and Play

Nature

The seaside town of Busselton forms the gateway to the region, and with it brings a number of spectacular sights to soak up. Known for the 1.8km-long, wooden piled jetty, visitors can stroll along the 148-year-old jetty or take the train to reach the Underwater Observatory at the end. The calm, protected waters of Geographe Bay make Busselton the perfect launchpad for water lovers too.

Further along, pass through the ever-popular towns of Dunsborough and Yallingup, as well as lesser-known gems including Wilyabrup and Gracetown, before arriving at the heart and soul of the region – Margaret River.

Home to towering karri trees, mobs of grey kangaroos, world-class surf and rolling vineyards, Margaret River is primed for travellers. Drive through the Boranup Forest and marvel at the awe-inspiring trees towering over 65-metres in height. Venture out to Gracetown, Contos or Surfers Point and spot the big surf breaks that attract professional surfers from around the world.

Closer to Cape Leeuwin, don’t forget to explore the nostalgic town of Augusta, which banks onto the tranquil Blackwood River and Southern Ocean. On the Indian Ocean, you’ll find Hamelin Bay – a tourism hotspot thanks to its beautiful beaches, and the friendly wild stingrays that swim right up to the shore line.

Wine & Dine

World-renowned as home to some of Australia’s best wine, it’s no surprise the region also packs a punch when it comes to gourmet food experiences too.

Although one of the world’s youngest wine regions, a journey through Margaret River’s 90+ cellar doors quickly showcases the breath of talent, particularly for the region’s heroes Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay.

Explore the founding cellar doors that made the region famous, including Vasse Felix and Cullen Wines, but don’t forget to immerse yourself in family-run, hidden talents too.

As for food – come with an appetite! The region has attracted and created world-class chefs that draw inspiration from the abundance of fresh local produce, and pristine environment. Indulge in a paired cheese and wine degustation, taste mouth-watering premium chocolate, enjoy a hearty pub feed or savour award-winning olive oil varieties.

Attractions

The Margaret River region is truly a never-ending playground, filled with a magnitude of different activities to suit all types of travellers and budgets.

Climb mainland Australia’s tallest lighthouse, Cape Leeuwin, and marvel at the collision of the Indian and Southern Oceans, catch a stunning south west sunset at Prevelly Beach and journey underneath the Leeuwin-Naturaliste Ridge and explore one of the four show caves open to the public. We recommend Mammoth Cave with its fewer stairs, and Megafauna remains!

Suggested 3-day Margaret River Itinerary

Day 1 – Perth to Busselton

  • Leave Perth early to avoid the traffic
  • Visit Mandurah for morning tea on the bay – look out for the resident dolphins
  • Lunch on the Busselton foreshore, then take a stroll on the famous Busselton Jetty
  • Drive through Dunsborough and stop in at Yallingup to admire the surf
  • Continue along Caves Road – named for the 100+ subterranean caves
  • Stop for a wine tasting at one of renowned Wilyabrup wineries; Cullen, Vasse Felix or Juniper Estate to name a few
  • Proceed with caution as kangaroos, owls and other crepuscular critters are active late in the day

Day 2 – Margaret River to Augusta

  • Drive through the marvellous Boranup Karri Forest
  • Visit Hamelin Bay and its famous rays
  • Climb Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse and visit the Interpretive Centre
  • Fish and chips for lunch at Colourpatch Café is a must
  • Pop in to a winery – Glenarty Road, Si Vintners or Arlewood are fantastic

Day 3 – Margaret River to Perth

  • Start the day with brekkie on the beach
  • Explore a cave – Mammoth or Lake are our favourites
  • Taste the region’s best produce – olive oil, chocolate and more wine
  • Lunch at a boutique brewery
  • Indulge in a little shopping for treasures to take home

With so many natural wonders, delectable wineries, and dazzling activities, planning your first trip to the Margaret River region can be a daunting task. Luckily, the team at McLeod Tours have curated the ultimate three-day itinerary.

The award-winning, family-owned business have been proudly showing off their backyard to visitors for decades, giving you the chance to experience the region’s finest attractions including wineries, galleries, breweries, local produce, forests, caves and lighthouses – all with the knowledge of local expert guides.

Arrive as a visitor, leave as a local with McLeod Tours.

Picture of Lincoln Mcleod
Lincoln Mcleod

Interested in learning more about the wineries in the region? Ask us about our range of wine tours available or contact us for more information about a fully customised private tour to suit your itinerary.

Contact Us

Learn more about the beauty of Western Australia and what is on offer. Read further on how wonderful of a journey it is and then come with us to experience something unforgettable.

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Neil and his wife Coralie and son Lincoln operate McLeod Tours from part of the old family farm that Neil grew up on, sharing the Margaret River experience with visitors from near and far.

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Margaret River Lighthouses: Two Iconic Maritime Wonders

Margaret River Lighthouses: Two Iconic Maritime Wonders

Two Iconic Maritime Wonders

Who doesn’t love a tale of the sea? Of shipwrecks, scurvy and maritime heartache. On visiting Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse last week, we learned that caretaker and guide Paul Sofilas just celebrated 25 years, so we asked him about life at the lighthouse to mark the special occasion. We also share some insights into what makes Margaret River’s lighthouses so important.

“I feel blessed to live and work in such a special place,” said Paul. “Every day I meet incredible people, and no two tours – or days – are the same.”

Lighthouses have long captured our collective imaginations, attracting curiosity regarding their structure and the rugged individuals who crewed them with the purpose of saving countless lives from harm.

“I’ve visited many other lighthouses, including Cape Wickham Lighthouse on King Island for its 150th anniversary in 2011. It’s Australia’s tallest lighthouse at 48 metres. They don’t usually offer public tours, but for four days and purely by chance I had the pleasure and the privilege of guiding tours!”

There are 350 lighthouses scattered on Australian beaches, islands and harbours, and we’re lucky to have two lighthouses – still operational – at either end of the Margaret River Region. Both are open for guided tours and are exceptional attractions for young and old alike. Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse near Dunsborough and Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse near Augusta stand as our guardians of the oceans, standing proud above submerged reef and hidden rocks.

With their lifesaving purpose from dusk to dawn, these lighthouses offer visitors a unique experience of going inside and up to the top of a working lighthouse.

 

Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse

Soaring high above the wild and windswept landscape near charming Augusta is mainland Australia’s tallest lighthouse, Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse. Towering at a mighty 39 metres, situated at the most south-westerly point of Australia, and surrounded by two powerful oceans, it has a commanding presence – and a story to tell.

Take a trip down maritime history and learn how this famous landmark was constructed from local limestone in 1895 and still functions as a vital working lighthouse for vessels navigating the treacherous cape. Guided tours will take you up the 176 stairs to the top of the tower, where a vast seascape of crashing waves and wild rocky shoreline unfolds. Learn about the 60,000-year history of the cape, the development of the cape in the 400 years since the Dutch landed, and the lives of the brave lighthouse keepers and their families.

Paul has seen plenty of changes in 25 years; “Back in 1999 we had a basic shop behind the lighthouse. There was no café, we couldn’t take credit cards and we didn’t even have a lease!”

A highlight has been his involvement in the new Lightkeeper’s Cottage Interpretive Centre, which won a state Heritage Award after its 2019 launch. “For 20 years I’d check the skip bins following site maintenance and find things I knew could tell a great story in a museum.”

As technology improved, old weather instruments and the like became redundant, but luckily for us, Paul would find and keep them, knowing that one day they would come in handy. Additionally, many artefacts and photographs were donated by the lighthouse keepers’ families, helping to tell the stories of life out on the cape.

So, if you don’t fancy climbing the stairs, get an even deeper understanding at the Lightkeeper’s Cottage Interpretive Centre, housed in one of the original limestone cottages. With interactive technology, artefacts and films, the centre gives you an insight into those who were once the custodians of the coastline. The experience was developed by the same group who created the digital experiences at Albany’s National Anzac Centre and WA Museum Boola Bardip – two excellent, modern museums.

Another career highlight was winning the 2009 Facet Golden Guide award, which Paul accepted in front of his industry peers at the Western Australian Tourism Awards.

“25 years on and there’s still something truly wonderful about climbing the lighthouse,” said Paul. “Whether it’s kids excited to peer over the balcony or visitors from England marvelling over the parts made in Birmingham, every day is a challenge and every day is different!”

 

Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse

Located only 13 kilometres from Dunsborough, and standing tall on a bluff overlooking Geographe Bay, the small but mighty Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse is one of the most popular attractions in the Margaret River region.

Discover the beautiful heritage precinct of Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse by climbing the 59 stairs for breathtaking views of the Indian Ocean, Geographe Bay and the Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park. Unearth the fascinating history by listening to stories of hardship for the lighthouse keepers and their families who lived on-site from 1903 to 1996.

The manicured heritage precinct also features a maritime-themed playground, an accessible viewing platform and a lovely café, serving up delicious coffee and light meals. For those wanting to explore further, wander along the Cape-to-Cape Track that runs between Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse and Sugarloaf Rock.

We can reveal that stories and artefacts are being gathered ahead of Cape Naturaliste having its own Interpretive Centre – watch this space!

Both Cape Naturaliste and Cape Leeuwin Lighthouses are open to visitors each day for guided tours. Here at McLeod Tours we take guests of our 3 Day Tour to Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse to see the mighty lighthouse and where two oceans meet. Learn more about Margaret River’s two shining beacons at https://www.margaretriverattractions.com/

Picture of Lincoln Mcleod
Lincoln Mcleod

Interested in learning more about the wineries in the region? Ask us about our range of wine tours available or contact us for more information about a fully customised private tour to suit your itinerary.

Contact Us

Learn more about the beauty of Western Australia and what is on offer. Read further on how wonderful of a journey it is and then come with us to experience something unforgettable.

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About Mcleod Tours

Neil and his wife Coralie and son Lincoln operate McLeod Tours from part of the old family farm that Neil grew up on, sharing the Margaret River experience with visitors from near and far.

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Margaret River Wineries Shine in James Halliday’s latest guide

Margaret River Wineries Shine in James Halliday’s latest guide

Halliday Wine Companion 2019

Halliday Wine Companion 2019

On 1st August 2018, James Halliday awarded the best Australian wines, wineries and winemakers at the annual Halliday Wine Companion Awards. The Margaret River region starred in many of the awards once again; the region produces around 3% of Australia’s total wine, but 20% of the premium wine.

You could easily spend a weekend – or a week – touring Margaret River on the back of a well-thumbed copy of the Wine Companion. We’ve done the hard yards for you and wrapped up some of Halliday’s picks with our local knowledge.

There’s around 100 cellar doors and the region is geographically huge – about 100 km north to south, so we’d recommend planning a day in the north – Yallingup and Wilyabrup, then a day in the south – Margaret River and Karridale.

Alternatively, pick your wineries based on your favourite varietals – this is how we usually arrange our private tours. We will ask what styles of wine you like and arrange the perfect day according to your taste, it depends on which style you love!

So belt up and enjoy the Chardonnay, Cabernet and the incredible winery restaurants!

 

Winemaker of the Year: Julian Langworthy of Deep Woods Estate and Goon Tycoons

Julian’s picked up many awards over the years including the Jimmy Watson medal and was a finalist in the Young Gun of Wine earlier in 2018. He’s known for his Cabernet and (our favourite) Rose.  Deep Woods is on Commonage Road, Yallingup, and you’re invited to take a picnic to enjoy on the picturesque grounds. Julian recently launched his own brand, Goon Tycoons, which shares a cellar door just around the corner, with his wife’s business, Yallingup Cheese Company.

 

The 99-point Cabernet Sauvignon: Cullen Wines’ Vanya Wilyabrup Cabernet Sauvignon

Only two Cabernet Sauvignons were awarded 99 points, and Cullen Wines’ Vanya received this top privilege. Cullen follow a biodynamic farming and viticulture practice, and they’ve made Wilyabrup synonymous with outstanding cabernet.

Stop in for lunch and tour the kitchen garden; it’s a wonderful place to relax and soak up the south west vibe!

 

The Dark Horse: Windance Wines

We’re really excited about what Tyke and Billie Wheatley are doing at Windance in Yallingup. Long respected for their big, fruity reds, Billie’s parents handed over the reins a few years ago and the winery is going from strength to strength. In a region with so many family owned and operated wineries, it’s great to see the next generation doing such a ripper job.

Best Chardonnay

Halliday names several local wineries as having the best chardonnays – Devil’s Lair (no cellar door), Evoi Wines and Watershed Premium Wines (middle and south)

There’s also the Top-Rated Chardonnays list which includes;

North – Clairault Streicker, Deep Woods, Domaine Naturaliste (their cellar door opens in October), Driftwood Estate, Evans and Tate, Flametree, Heydon Estate, House of Cards, Robert Oatley, Vasse Felix and Windows Estate

South – Cape Mentelle and Xanadu Wines

 

Best Sauvignon Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc blends

Larry Cherubino’s Sauvignon Blanc and Stella Bella’s Sauvignon Blanc Semillon took out top honours in their respective classes, and it’s worth a visit to Cherubino’s impressive new cellar door, located in the homestead of the former Laurance Wines estate.

North – Larry Cherubino, Cullen, Domaine Naturaliste, Fraser Gallop Estate, Juniper, Higher Plane (part of the Juniper stable), Clairault Streiker, Evans and Tate, Heydon Estate, House of Cards, Passel Estate and Windows Estate are all considered Top Rated.

South – Stella Bella, Leeuwin Estate, Xanadu, Flowstone, McHenry Hohnen and Preveli Wines

 

Other Whites and Rose

Southern wineries: Arlewood Estate’s La Bratta Bianco, Flowstone’s Gewurtztraminer, Cape Mentelle’s Semillon and Preveli’s Wild Thing Rose all rate a mention.

 

Cabernet

Wilyabrup, right in the heart/middle of the Margaret River region is where most of the best Cabernet comes from.

As previously mentioned, Cullen Wines is a must-visit; not only did their Vanya Wilyabrup Cabernet score an outstanding 99 points, their Diana Madeline has long been the go-to collectable Cabernet if you want to tuck something special away in the cellar.

Juniper Estate’s one-off The Tribute, Robert Oatley’s The Pennant and Vasse Felix’s Tom Cullity are all exceptional wines worth looking at.

We can’t go past Woodlands for red wines; they have an incredible selection at various price points – you can taste the $150 cabernet but the Margaret and Clementine are also great value at around $70 and $39 respectively. Their Reserve de la Cave Margaret River Cabernet Franc was named a Top Rated Cabernet.

               

Other Reds

Check out Evoi Wines’ Malbec and Cape Mentelle’s Shiraz

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Picture of Lincoln Mcleod
Lincoln Mcleod

Interested in learning more about the wineries in the region? Ask us about our range of wine tours available or contact us for more information about a fully customised private tour to suit your itinerary.

Contact Us

Learn more about the beauty of Western Australia and what is on offer. Read further on how wonderful of a journey it is and then come with us to experience something unforgettable.

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About Mcleod Tours

Neil and his wife Coralie and son Lincoln operate McLeod Tours from part of the old family farm that Neil grew up on, sharing the Margaret River experience with visitors from near and far.

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Seven best Margaret River breakfast spots

Seven best Margaret River breakfast spots

Breakfast with an ocean view, in the forest or the main street of Margaret River

Nothing beats a Saturday morning breakfast with a couple of coffees, delicious food and a quality newspaper. Except maybe the same again on Sunday morning. I’m often out collecting guests for our wine tours on a weekend morning, but when Monday rolls round I’m checking out the best Margaret River breakfast spots, and these are my absolute favourites, the ones I recommend.

So grab the table with the best ocean view or people watching potential, and enjoy!

Drift Cafe

Drift serves up the best Eggs Benedict you’ll eat. I can’t not order it – it’s ridiculously good, and I always get it with bacon and a side of mushrooms.

Margaret River famous for its amazing beaches, trees and walking trails, but it’s awesome too for fresh and locally grown produce. At Drift café you’ll sample this fantastic local produce in a super relaxed ambiance of a converted art deco building.

Coffee is excellent, made from Five Senses beans. I usually grab something sweet for the road – like their raw pecan slice.

1/72 Willmott Ave, Margaret River WA 6285
Open daily 7am-2:30pm
driftcafe.com.au

White Elephant Cafe

Bring your bathers – this casual café is perched over Gnarabup Beach, and on a sunny day a swim is totally irresistible. I’d go as far as to say that you should have bathers and a towel in your car always, just in case the sea calls.

The view is simply superb – 180 degree view of the Indian Ocean, the boat ramp and stand up paddle boarders exploring the bay.

The food is simple, yet creative, and totally mouth-watering. I usually get the Breakkie Burger – a generous serve of egg and bacon with homemade aioli inside a brioche bun. Melts in your mouth. Coffee is always spot-on, however you have it.

Not just a summer time option, they’ve got an enclosed room with smashing views, where you can keep cosy even during a downpour.

Gnarabup Rd, Margaret River WA 6285
Open daily 7:30am – 3pm
www.whiteelephantcafe.com.au

Sidekick Café

We love the warm welcome and quality coffee that’s consistently good.

Sidekick is a great place to enjoy healthy eats and sweet treats in the main street of Margs. Right across the road from our cousins shop, the Margaret River Book Shop.

Excellent people-watching potential here; the owners call it the ‘fish bowl’ due to the wrap-around glass on three sides.

With a wide range of nibbles, coffee and other drinks, such as turmeric lattes and local Bahen & Co hot chocolates, Sidekick Café will be your go-to for that Monday morning motivator or Sunday afternoon sit-down with friends.

5/110 Bussell Hwy, Margaret River WA 6285
Open daily 7am – 4pm
www.facebook.com/SidekickMargs

Margaret River Farmers Market

The Margaret River Farmers Market is your one-stop-shop for everything that Margaret River has to offer. From fresh food grown or produced within 100km and beverages, to chocolate and fresh flowers, the Margaret River Farmers Market is a great way for locals to showcase their produce.

Breakfast at the farmers market is the perfect way to experience the produce of the Margaret River region, whilst meeting the lovely locals.

Special mentions; Danishes and croissants from the Margaret River Bakery, homemade tarts by Jill James, coffee from Kombi Koffee and fresh Italian cakes and biscuits from Claudio Biscotti.

Lot 272 Bussell Hwy, Margaret River WA 6285
Open Saturday 8am – 12pm
www.margaretriverfarmersmarket.com.au

Yardbyrd

Technically ten minutes south of Margaret River in the quiet town of Witchcliffe, Yardbyrd is a little gem of a café recently opened by Robert Mayberry. He used to own Little Willies in Northbridge and The Dancing Goat in Cottesloe, and knows how to work his magic on the coffee beans!

Ingredients are locally sourced; Geoorganics milk, local free range eggs, nitrate free bacon. Everything is made in house except the bread from Margaret River Wood Fired Bakery.

I’m a big fan of the breakfast tortilla with plenty of scrambled eggs, bacon and relish – even the tortillas are made on-site.

10413 Bussell Highway, Witchcliffe, WA 6286
Open 7.30am – 4pm weekends, 6am – 4pm weekdays
www.facebook.com/Yardbyrd-1951392888436385/

The Hairy Marron

Calling all cycling enthusiasts! For a morning brekkie with friends, or coffee after a mountain bike ride, The Hairy Marron has got you covered. The Hairy Marron presents casual dining in the heart of the forest and only a short walk across the bridge from Rotary Park. This multi-purpose café has the best paninis, or chia puddings for a light brekkie.

69 Bussell Hwy, Margaret River WA 6285
Open daily 8am – 4:30pm
www.thehairymarron.com

Goanna Cafe

Okay, Goanna’s not strictly a ‘Margaret River’ café, but it’s totally worth the trip towards Dunsborough, hey, you can stop in at some incredible wineries on the way back!

The Scottish Chef who owns Goanna used to work at a Michelin-starred restaurant in London before making the sea change, and you can tell by the quality of his food.

Indo Rice, a spicy coconut rice served with pesto and avocado, is one of the most popular dishes and it’s also pretty addictive. There’s a Bush Brekkie, loaded up with vegetarian goodies, a Spanish Brekkie with friend potatoes and chorizo, and lighter options like the house made granola with poached fruit.

Set in a glorious bush surrounding, and with a lovely Australian-designs gift shop, be sure to put Goanna on your breakfast bucket list.

278 Hayes Road, Dunsborough WA 6281
Open Wednesday to Monday from 8.30am to 3.30pm (weekdays) and 4pm (weekends)
www.goannacafe.com.au

Picture of Lincoln Mcleod
Lincoln Mcleod

Would you like to include any of these delicious breakfast spots into your tour? Contact us to customise your ideal tour with a delicious start to your day.

CONTACT US

Learn more about the beauty of Western Australia and what is on offer. Read further on how wonderful of a journey it is and then come with us to experience something unforgettable.

Newsletter

Subscribe to our newsletter and stay updated to our offers and deals!

We are committed to protecting your privacy

Popular Post
About Mcleod Tours

Neil and his wife Coralie and son Lincoln operate McLeod Tours from part of the old family farm that Neil grew up on, sharing the Margaret River experience with visitors from near and far.

Subscribe to newsletter

Subscribe to the newsletter for exclusive news and discounts.