The town of Margaret River is located close to the very south-western corner of Australia, on the banks of the river of the same name. In addition to lending its name to a town and a river, Margaret River is also the name of a region extending from Dunsborough and Busselton in the north to Augusta in the south – it literally corners the market on that corner of Australia. Bodies of water frame the region, with Geographe Bay and the Indian Ocean to the north, with the Southern Ocean sweeping beyond Cape Leeuwin. The region has a maritime climate, with the temperature rarely rising above 32 degrees Celsius in summer. In winter the temperature range is generally between 11 and 18 degree Celsius.
The town is 286 km south of Perth, and is 8 km in from the coast. Formerly a sleepy service town for the dairy and timber industries, the success of the local wine industry, which really took off in the mid-1960s, has seen the town boom, though thankfully it has retained its small town charm.
There are more than 60 wineries in the region, and as with all premium wine areas it has a strong gourmet food industry, as well as many restaurants and cafes. Many of the region’s vineyards are clustered in the region’s north between Cowaramup and Yallingup, with another concentration situated between Margaret River and Witchcliffe. As a starting point for wine tasting you might like to try the Margaret River Regional Wine Centre, located on the Bussell Highway in Cowaramup. There are wine events all year round, with the highlight being the 10 day Margaret River Wine Region Festival, held in early November.
Another strong attraction of the area is the surfing. There are over 75 top-class breaks along the pristine 130 km coastline between Capes Naturaliste and Leeuwin, and rarely are there flat spells. The roaring forties push the swells from 1000 km to the south, and by the time they get to the beaches and reefs of the range the quality is high, with breaks to suit all standards of surfer. While on the subject of water, scuba divers and fishing folk will also find much to please them in the region, and there are opportunities for whale and dolphin watching.
Around 20 km or so south of the town of Margaret River you’ll find several limestone cave systems – Mammoth Cave and Lake Cave, with Jewel Cave and Moondyne Cave a little further south. At the Mammoth Cave you can take a self-guided CD-ROM tour, while a feature of Lake Cave is the high-tech Caveworks Interpretive Centre. The drive to the caves is an attraction in itself, along the aptly named Caves Road. This road follows the line of the coast, almost the entire length of the coast, beginning north of Augusta and winding all the way up to Dunsborough. The road takes you through karri forest and the Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park, by lookouts, coastal walking trails, picnic areas and arts and craft stores.
Whether it’s love of food and wine, relaxation or adventure, there’s something for everyone in this beautiful part of the world.