Being Perth locals, we visit Margaret River a few times a year. This travel guide not only provides the best things to do in Margaret River, but tips on the weather, location, and where to stay.
Margaret River is known for its surfing culture, world-class wineries, fresh, delicious produce, and craft breweries.
This town is one of the most popular holiday destinations for Western Australian’s and tourists. With so much to see and do, it’s no wonder. Margaret River makes a great base for your trip as there’s a variety of cafes, restaurants, and bars in town. The wineries close at 5pm, so if you are after nightlife or dinner, Margaret River is one of the few options in the area.
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Margaret River Location & How To Get There
Margaret River is in the South West region of Western Australia, Australia.
International and domestic visitors will fly into Perth Airport. Find details about visas, prohibited items, currency, and safety on our Australia page.
If you haven’t booked your flight yet, look at our travel resources to find out how to get the best flight deals.
Car Hire – There are several car hire companies available at the airport but I usually find that Europcar has the best deals for us.
The earlier car hire is booked, the more options there are, and the lowest prices.
Margaret River is a 3-hour drive along State Route 2, National Route 1, followed by State Route 10.
TransWA runs buses to Augusta that stop in Margaret River. However, it’s hard to get around this region without a car. SouthWest Coachlines also have a service from Elizabeth Quay in Perth to Margaret River via Busselton.
Margaret River Forecast & Weather
The hottest months are January & February, where the average highs are 26/27 degrees.
March, April, November, and December have warm 22-25 degree days with minimums of around 11.
The coldest months are from June to September. During this time, the temperature will be around 16/17, with a minimum of 8.
The most rain falls between June and August, with February being the driest month.
See the detailed 7-day forecast at the Bureau of Meteorology.
The Best Time to Visit Margaret River
If you want a beach holiday, you should visit Margaret River between December and March. However, it is extremely busy during the WA summer holidays so try to avoid Christmas and January if you can.
For Surfing, head to the region any time of the year or March to watch the Margaret River Pro.
Whales pass along the coast from June to September in Augusta and from September to December near Dunsborough.
To experience Margaret River’s Gourmet escape, you should visit in November. Avoid “schoolies week” though when hundreds of school leavers descend on the region.
A Brief History & Settlement of Margaret River
I want to respectfully acknowledge the Wadandi Noongar People, the Traditional Owners, and First People of these lands. I would like to pay my respect to the Elders past, present, and future, for they hold the memories, the traditions, the culture, and hopes of the Wadandi People.
Artifacts found in Devil’s Lair Cave, just south of Margaret River, indicate human life dating back 48,000 years.
This area is important to the local Wadandi People to continue their connection to the land and sea. There are various cultural tours available through Koomal Dreaming to experience Wadandi and Bibbulman country through their eyes.
The Margaret River area was first settled by Europeans in 1857 when Alfred and Ellen Bussell built their homestead “Ellensbrook.”
Lockville Timber Co was granted a 14-year lease to cut timber in the Augusta district in 1875. During the 1880s, the timber trade continued to grow. About 17 million railway sleepers were cut from the surrounding forests from 1900 to 1914.
Margaret River was gazetted in 1913 and reportedly named after Margaret Whicher, cousin of John Garrett Bussell. The timber trade started to decline around this time due to the forests being over logged.
The Margaret River region is now known for its world-class wines and surfing breaks.
According to the 2016 Australian Census, Margaret River had a population of 7654. However, I’m sure this figure is a lot higher now.
The Best Things To Do in Margaret River
Explore Margaret River Town
The town of Margaret River is relatively small but lovely to visit. The main street is lined with boutiques, art galleries, cafes, and tourist shops. I enjoy browsing the shops and galleries, looking for unique presents.
The Margaret River Tourist Information Centre is located right in town. It’s a brilliant resource for free maps of the area, guidebooks, gifts, and souvenirs. The staff are knowledgable and always happy to help out with any questions.
At the end of town are the river, a park, and a beautiful forest. It’s great for a gentle walk or hike amongst the stunning trees.
There are a few trails that start from Rotary Park – see “Hikes & Mountain Biking” for details.
At night, the town comes alive with wine bars, restaurants, and live music. Meet up with some friends and make a night of it.
Why not take a food tour, like this Evening Cocktail and Tapas Walking Tour. In 4 hours, experience the town’s world-class food and beverage scene.
In the Leeuwin National Park, there are several hundred caves. Six of these are open to the public.
Mammoth Cave (pictured opposite) is a multi-chambered cave and home to many ancient fossil remains. It is the most accessible out of the caves in the region. The self-guided audio tour ends with a walk through beautiful bushland. Book here.
Lake Cave is a stunning preserved chamber beneath the earth. A long staircase descends through a sinkhole to a sunken forest floor. Inside the cave, crystal formations reflect on the tranquil lake, and stalactites suspend from the ceiling. This is a 30-minute, fully guided tour. It’s not suitable for anyone with low mobility. Book here.
Jewel Cave is the largest and is home to one of the longest stalactites in any Australian tourist cave. Be amazed at the towering crystal formations that adorn the cave’s ceiling. During the one-hour guided tour, you will learn about the Tasmanian Tiger fossils found in the cave. Book here.
Ngilgi Cave is closer to Yallingup. The other two are Calgardup Cave and Giants Cave.
The caves are one of the best things to do in Margaret River on a rainy winter day. They are kid-friendly, too; our daughters were amazed by the formations and the pretty crystals!
Hikes and Mountain Biking
The most famous hiking track in the Margaret River region is the Cape to Cape. The 140 km trail follows the coast from Cape Naturaliste to Cape Leeuwin. The five to six-day walk takes in stunning views from near Dunsborough to Augusta. However, you don’t need to do it all at once. We pick parts of it to hike each time we visit, even when the kids were young. Some of it is paved, which allows access for all abilities.
The Ten Mile Brook Trail starts at Rotary Park in Margaret River. This 15 km trail can be cycled or walked and mainly follows the river to Ten Mile Brook Dam. It’s an easy grade walk and suitable for cyclists as well.
The Wadandi Track (previously called Rails to Trails) is a 23km trail suitable for walkers and cyclists (Mountain Bike recommended). The easy to walk trail goes through peppermint, jarrah, and young karri forests from Cowaramup to Witchcliffe. There are picnic stops along the way with an abundance of birdlife and wildflowers in Spring (September to December).
Carter’s Road Trail Head is the start of four trails through forests. Big Brook Walk is an easy grade 3.4 km loop that crosses Bramley Brook, and the 2.7 km Old Chimney Walk is a medium grade trail that passes the original Wharncliffe mill and old chimney. The Bridge Walk (3 km) and Pine Plantation Walk (1.7 km) are small steep grades but offer stunning views. We managed to get lost here, though, so pay attention to where you are going (not like us!).
The best Mountain Bike trails are located at Carter’s Road too. The Pines are suitable for riders of all abilities with easy fire road climbs, fast, flowing singletrack descents, berms, and fun table top jumps.
Prevelly Cycle & Walk Trail covers 10 km between Margaret River and Gnarabup Beach. This concrete path follows Walcliffe Road, through the forest to the Margaret River and ocean. At Prevelly, there’s a convenience store at the caravan park or the Sea Garden Café. The café is licensed, perfect for a glass of wine, or beer, overlooking the ocean.
The last part is from Prevelly to Gnarabup, a popular swimming beach.
The White Elephant Café is right on the beachfront, and there are toilets and shower facilities.
This Margaret River Walk Trails Map shows the trails in detail.
We are so lucky in Western Australia to be able to see these beautiful creatures along our coast. Margaret River is one of the best regions for whale watching due to its long season (from June to early December).
The season starts in Augusta when the best time to see whales is June to August. Here you may get to see Humpback, Southern Right, Minke, and Blue Whales. Humpback Whales are known for their agility, and you may witness them breach or tail slap. Southern Rights calve in the bay.
Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse is the best place to whale watch from land in Augusta. Another place to try is Boranup Lookout, near Hamelin Bay. You will need binoculars from here, though.
Humpbacks head up north to the warm waters around Broome to give birth. They return to Geographe Bay, near Dunsborough, to nurse their young from September to early December.
We have seen whales from the shore a few times but in Geographe Bay and Yallingup. Look for the water spout; that’s the giveaway!
My favourite way of whale watching is from the ocean on a tour. There are plenty in this area to choose from, like these:
Whale Watching Cruise from Busselton, Augusta or Dunsborough
2-Hour Luxury Whale Watching Cruise from Augusta
Beaches and Surfing
In WA, Margaret River is well known for its surfing breaks, but the beaches are still a popular free activity, even if you don’t surf.
While my favourite beaches in the region are up near Dunsborough, Margaret River still has some stunning ones. You can’t pick a lousy beach here.
Gnarabup Beach is the most popular swimming beach in the area. The white sandy bay stretches from the southern headland with its massive limestone cliff to Surfers Point, making it the longest beach in Prevelly. The reef protects the beach and offers calm conditions for swimming. It is patrolled during the summer by the local surf club and has free toilet and shower facilities. The lookout on the cliff provides spectacular views of the beach and river mouth.
Margaret Rivermouth Beach is where Margaret River meets the ocean. Most of the time, the river is blocked by sand so that you can cross. When you get to Prevelly, go far right, this is where the river mouth beach is. During summer, it’s an excellent spot for young kids to paddle. There are toilets, showers, and changing rooms here.
As with most beaches in Western Australia, it is best in the mornings before the south-westerly breeze comes in.
Try to swim only at patrolled beaches, pay attention to the signs, and look for rips. Remember, the Australian sun is hot, so be sun smart.
Margaret River has around 75 breaks along its 130 km of coast. The international Margaret River Pro is held at Surfers Point, which breaks around Prevelly at the mouth of Margaret River.
Despite my father in law being a surfer, I know nothing about the breaks, so I’m not going to pretend to. The Wannasurf website has lots of information on surf spots, direction, type, etc.
The Margaret River region produces award-winning wines and has more than 120 world-class wineries. Despite only being responsible for 2% of Australia’s crush, it holds over 20% of the Australian premium wine market. In 2019, the average price per tonne in Margaret River was significantly higher than the Australian average (Margaret River $1,465 vs. Australian ave. $664).
Over thirty-six varieties of grape are planted here, but Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Chardonnay, and Shiraz are the most crushed.
This area is classed as a boutique wine region having 286 vineyards and 175 wine producers. One hundred of those wine producers crush less than 50 tonnes (less than 4,000 cases). There are over 90 cellar doors, of which 62 have received a 5 Star Halliday rating.
It’s popular too, being the third most visited wine region in Australia by international visitors (after Yarra Valley and Hunter). It’s the most visited wine region for domestic travelers, though.
Margaret River exports to 45 countries and commands a significant premium at $12.74/L vs. the Australian average of $3.91/L.
So, basically, we have outstanding wine.
One of my favourite things is going to a vineyard for wine tasting and chatting with them about their vineyard. Most have such an interesting history, with families going back generations. Some wineries charge a small fee for the tastings, which is taken off any purchase. This is to stop the vans full of people stopping at each winery for tastings and not buying anything.
A lot have restaurants, many winning awards, with spectacular views over the vineyards. It makes the perfect combination.
In winter, find a cellar door with a warm, cosy wood fire.
You can pick up a free map that includes all the wineries and other attractions from the Margaret River Visitor Centre.
Some of my favourite cellar doors in this part of the Margaret River region are:
A special mention to Pierro who make my favourite chardonnay.
Consider taking a tour of the wineries so nobody has to drive. I like this Budget Conscious Full Day Wine Tour.
Breweries, Cideries and Distilleries
Don’t worry if you don’t like wine, Margaret River is a haven for craft breweries.
Each brewery has a different style, and some are quite different. Most have tasting paddles where you can try the beers they have on sale. We’ve had some quite weird ones over the years, but great to try out.
Breweries are a relaxing place to have a drink and lunch with a lively atmosphere. Look out for live music and sit back and enjoy the free entertainment.
The breweries are child friendly. You can read our guide on the best family-friendly breweries in the Margaret River region for more information.
Some are dog friendly too, but check before you go, as it may depend on the time of year.
It’s not just limited to beer, either. Margaret River also has a cidery and distillery, both of which are very popular.
If you plan to have lunch, I suggest booking in advance as it can be almost impossible to get a table at peak times.
Sunflowers Animal Farm
This attraction is one for the kids, well anyone who loves animals. Sunflowers Animal Farm is a fun thing to do with the family, between the vineyards and beach visits.
There are a variety of animals to feed, and some can be picked up too. It was a huge hit with our girls, who adored the farm animals.
You can read more about it and prices on Things To Do in Dunsborough with kids.
Hamelin Bay is a beautiful beach between Margaret River and Augusta. It’s a 25-minute drive from Margaret River and just over 10 minutes from Augusta.
This beach is well known in Western Australia for its beautiful white sand and the abundance of stingrays that visit here.
It’s also an excellent beach for fishing, diving, and snorkelling.
All information can be found on the Hamelin Bay page.
Augusta is a 30-minute drive from Margaret River and a wonderful place for a day trip.
This charming coastal town is the most south western town in Australia. It’s also the point where the Southern and Indian Oceans meet.
Here you will find perfect conditions for windsurfing, kitesurfing, paddling, snorkelling, and wildlife spotting.
While here, visit the Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse, the tallest lighthouse on mainland Australia. This working lighthouse has spectacular views of the rugged coast and the Southern and Indian oceans. Cape Leeuwin lighthouse marks the start (or end) of the Cape to Cape Track. Tickets can be purchased here.
Combine the day in Augusta with a visit to Hamelin Bay and Boranup Karri Forest. The towering trees of the karri forest are mesmerising and filled with wildflowers in spring.
The Boranup Lookout is the start of some lovely walking trails and offers stunning views of Hamelin Bay’s turquoise waters. The forest is a haven for birdlife, including Purple-crowned Lorikeet, Splendid Fairy-wren, White-breasted Robin, Crested Strike-tit, and Golden Whistler.
Margaret River Tours
Accommodation in Margaret River
Where To Stay or Camp
Big 4 Taunton Farm Holiday Park is where we camp near Margaret River. The campsite is 4 km north of Cowaramup and 15 km north of Margaret River. It’s great for families with daily animal feeding, kids’ playground, and bouncy pillow. We liked the large barn-style campers’ kitchen with a log fire and the free gas BBQ’s to cook our evening meal. If you’d prefer to stay in a cabin, you can book here.
Private House for 8 Guests
We stayed at Kings Landing one Christmas. It’s a luxurious property on the outskirts of Margaret River that sleeps up to eight guests. This holiday home is in a rural setting on 3.8 acres of land, where kangaroos came and visited us each night. Kings Landing has spacious open plan living areas and a large modern kitchen. It contained everything we needed for our weeks’ stay, even table tennis in the garage!
A luxury option would be Losari Retreat, set on 66 acres and bordered by National Park. You don’t even have to leave the property to go hiking! Apartments have a bathroom with a rain shower and some a private hot tub. Losari Retreat would be perfect for a couple’s romantic getaway.
My pick for mid-range accommodation, would be Bushy Lake Chalets. These self-catering chalets have a cosy fireplace, a relaxing spa bath, and are just a 7-minute drive from the heart of Margaret River.
For a budget option, I would book Surfpoint Resort in Gnarabup Beach. There are different room options including family, triple, double or twin rooms. You also have use of the large well-equipped communal kitchen, games room, and outdoor swimming pool.
I use different sites to try and get the best possible price for flights.
First I visit matrix.itasoftware.com to get an idea of the cheapest dates, but you can’t book through this site.
Next I compare the cost of flights with Trip.com and try different routes.
I mainly use Booking.com for accommodation as they consistently have the lowest rates with free cancellation on most properties.
To compare rental car company prices, I use Rentalcars.com. They are world’s biggest car rental site, comparing all main brands including Europcar, Budget, Ace, Hertz, Avis, and Alamo.
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Travel Information & Guides
This Australia Travel Guide, which includes all essential information and tips, will help with the planning of your holiday to this beautiful country.
If you are looking for more things to do in Western Australia, check out this Western Australia Travel Guide.
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