It’s time you experience a different side of Western Australia’s wine capital with this list of things to do in Margaret River.
You may think you already know your way around the Margaret River region, but chances are there are a few gems you have not encountered or experienced – yet. There is so much to explore in the region from coast to forest, farm to table and distillery to vineyard. There is simply too much, and that is why we are revealing its best-kept secrets.
If you prefer to shy away from the well-known sights and attractions, fill your Margaret River itinerary with these offbeat treasures instead.
1. Vasse Virgin’s Perfumery Workshop
Create your own Law of Attraction by curating your own scent. Vasse Virgin’s fun and informative DIY workshop teaches you the art of natural perfumery in an intimate setting, hosted by Perfumer Edwina. Edwina will be your Nose, training you how to guide your senses by smelling a variety of oils to create your perfectly balanced, personalised fragrance and your new favourite sweet smell of sensation. After all, there’s always the moment to sentez belle (smell beautiful).
Vasse Virgin’s other workshops include crafting natural lip balms and the ultimate tasting and education lesson with Extra Virgin Olive Oil 101.
Website: Vasse Virgin
2. Hamelin Bay
Think of Hamelin Bay as a free aquarium visit. This hidden spot is famous within the region for attracting an abundant stingray population. Stingrays are commonly spotted travelling closely up and down the shoreline as if turning the ocean into an Olympic pool with their continuous laps. Some stingrays are some hard-to-miss, spanning up to two metres across and making ‘stingray photobombing’ a real thing! Top tip: It is best to visit Hamelin Bay in the morning to see the stingrays when they are most active.
Hamelin Bay is also a great spot to snorkel with plenty of marine life and shipwrecks to explore.
3. Bettenays Wines & Margaret River’s Nougat and Wine Tastings
The indulgence factor may be turbocharged with this one, but you will soon realise that mixing desserts with wine is the sweetest idea when in Margaret River.
Bettenays Wines & Margaret River Nougat offers one of the more unusual but delicious pairings in Margaret River. Let owner Greg Bettenay guide you through a tantalising ‘sweet with sweet’ adventure, indulging in five nougat varieties, paired with the estate’s wines. Top tip: it’s hard to go past the lavish pairing of the ‘liquid dessert’ coffee nougaretto with chocolate, peanut and caramel nougat. One bite just won’t be enough…
Website: Bettenay’s Margaret River
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4. Arimia’s ‘Slow Food’ Four-Course Degustation
Oh my Arimia! The purveyors of the sustainable food movement and ‘celebration of place’ Arimia is worth finding that special spot in your stomach to slowly make way through its feelgood, do-good four-course degustation.
This off-grid restaurant between Dunsborough and Cowaramup is literally off-grid too, being self-sufficiently powered with its own sustainable supermarket on its doorstep. The estate relies on organic farming methods to produce its own ingredients in its modern Australian cuisine and sources speciality local produce when in season so expect the menu to change every so often.
Its contemporary farmhouse restaurant has been awarded one Chef Hat for its food excellence.
5. Untold Adventures
Margaret River might be famous for its world-class surfing, but there’s a long list of outdoor adventures that are also worth the trip.
Learn the ropes of the Margaret River coastline by trying your hand and good footwork at abseiling. Margaret River Climbing Co and Outdoor Discoveries offer half-day and full-day climbing tours in Wilyabrup to let you see the coastal cliffs from a different and thrilling angle.
If being closer to the ground is more your thing, take a detour deep into Boranup Karri Forest. Hop on a fat bike with Dirty Detours or Margaret River Adventure Co and take in a series of stunning vistas throughout the region traversing forests, ridgelines, beaches and coastal dunes. It’s one scenic and exhilarating affair and is suited to all ages who dare to be game.
Related reads: WA’s Best Wine Regions You May Not Have Heard Of
6. Hidden Cafes of the South
Everyone loves a good cuppa, but why not enjoy the warm brew where the locals go?
The South West is filled with independent cafes that have their own unique persona and flair. Why not turn your next coffee break into an experience in itself with visiting cosy social spot, Yardbyrd (Witchcliffe), or organic cafe Black Sheep Deli (Cowaramup), producing nutritious and delicious feeds. Or visit Wild & Woods Café (Dunsborough), doubling as a whole foods store.
The Sea Garden Café (Prevelly) oozes a great atmosphere by the beach and is the perfect spot to unwind near nature.
7. Giniversity Experience
Receive an education at Giniversity.
The South West’s award-winning distillery produces gin to reflect the flavours of the region. The distillery teaches you how to master the art of gin with its blending and distillation classes in what could be your new favourite tutorial.
Working with native botanicals, you can craft your very own unique gin recipe. Select from Giniversity’s range of distillates to blend a personalised gin.
Classes also include discovering the origins of gin and tasting the Giniversity range, a necessity for creating your perfect gin.
8. Cape Lodge’s Cooking Class
Margaret River is known for its mouth-watering, fine dining experiences, so why not learn to bring it to your table?
Discover how to woo your judges, err friends, by learning the secrets of making a superb meal with a Cape Lodge Cooking Class. Chef Tony Howell offers both cooking demonstrations and private cooking classes where you are taught kitchen tips and recipes using seasonal produce. It’s never been easier to become a master chef!
Website: Cape Lodge
9. Walk Talk Taste – Walking Tours
Set aside the car keys and explore Margaret River’s greatest flavours on foot. Eco-friendly tour company Walk Talk Taste is one for the foodies that like to be social when spoiling themselves with nibbles and sips!
There are two tours available with the brunch tour inviting you to graze from breakfast to brunch. The four-hour eating and drinking affair has been carefully curated to showcase the best of the region by only travelling on foot.
The culinary adventure thrives in the night too, with the evening tour exposing you to the best of the region’s artisanal flair through cocktails and bites. The tour is not just enriching with good food and intriguing stories but suits those who are up for a lively, fun evening in town.
Website: Walk Talk Taste
10. Busselton’s Possum Spotlighting Trail
Take a memorable walk under a starry sky to see Busselton’s nocturnal residents: possums. The self-guided 1.5km trail in Busselton’s Tuart Forest is a great spot to catch a glimpse of the forest’s creatures of the night – just remember to BYO torch! Sightings can include the brushtail possum, western ringtail possum, bandicoots, kangaroos and the rare woylies, a native Australian marsupial.
The walk commences at Layman Park picnic area and is guided with red reflectors and information plaques.
11. Margaret River’s Action-Packed Tours
With so much to see and do in Margaret River, it could sometimes be overwhelming to choose your itinerary when it all sounds so good! Luckily, local experts can guide you the way in discovering the best of the region, including those spots you didn’t know existed!
Self-described as a tour company ‘for people who don’t do tours’, Margaret River Discovery Co offers tours with a twist. It’s hugely popular ‘Discovery Tour’ allows people to explore the region’s best food and wine by canoe and luxury 4WD, all the while experiencing ancient waterholes, cliffs and scenery.
Other ways to be guided around the region is by foot, journeying along the Cape to Cape track. Cape to Cape Explorer Tours offer guided and self-guided tours along sections of the famous coastal track. See a lesser-known side to Margaret River, discovering its ancient granite boulders, cliffs and secluded swimming spots.
With your senses already heightened by good food and wine, elevate them in another colourful way. Margaret River Exposed’s ‘Nature and Wildflower Tour’ allows you to see some of the spectacular 8000 flora species and 200 orchids found nowhere else but the South West. Go off the beaten track, exploring the region’s natural hotspots and wildflower displays.
After discovering all these secrets, it’s hard not to view Margaret River as one Pandora box of pleasure-seeking possibilities.
Feature image: @lands.unseen
Article first published on So Perth – 11 Margaret River Secrets No One Wants To Tell You About
See more: Western Australia travel