It’s only a three-hour drive from Perth to Margaret River, but as we all know, life’s about experiencing the journey, so why rush it?
With so many things to do and places to explore on the 280km stretch between WA’s capital city and the world-famous wine, food and surfing mecca of Margaret River, you’ll probably find it hard narrowing down your choices on your drive ‘down south.’
Whether you’ve got kids or are just young at heart. Whether you want somewhere quiet or somewhere quite extraordinary. Whether you’re a food lover or want a romantic outing with your love. Whether you’re a wine fundi or a beer buddy, a culture vulture or a shopaholic – you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to things to do along the way to ‘Margs’.
Here are some of our favourite stopover spots for a Perth to Margaret River road trip.
Stop off in Mandurah where you’ll find Amaze Miniature Park. let the kids burn energy with the array of fun mazes, an intriguing miniature village and railways, challenging miniature golf, a playground and sprawling lawns plus a cafe that’s sure to entertain young and old.
You can’t miss Gnomesville, a growing community of over 5 000 different gnomes living in the bush just outside Bunbury in the picturesque Ferguson Valley. Not much is known about the history of this eclectic bunch of garden ornaments (which hail from all over the world by the way), but they’ve now got their own FaceBook page and a loyal following – and they’ve become quite the tourist attraction. See more on Gnomesville on this blog post here.
Actually, the Ferguson Valley itself is well worth a visit. With an array of wineries, craft breweries, galleries, restaurants and cafes, nature walks and beautiful rural scenery, there are plenty of things to do and see. The Ferguson Valley is a destination in its own right and a great place to stop over on a Margaret River road trip.
Busselton is another worthwhile stopover destination. Along with the historic jetty, there’s an upgraded waterfront area and underwater aquarium providing plenty of entertainment options for the whole family.
Another place worth stopping at on your drive to Margaret River is Cowaramup – a charming little town with a sense of humour. ‘Cowtown’ as the locals call it is full of – you guessed it – cow-themed attractions including quaint shops, galleries, restaurants and cafes plus you’ll find a whole herd of life-sized fibreglass Friesans dotted around the town.
Dunsborough itself is also well worth a visit along the way to Margaret River, and you’ll find plenty of things to do in and around this beautiful beachside town. Stroll along one of the sparkling turquoise beaches of Geographe Bay. Sample some delicious local produce. Meander along the beachfront walkway. Peruse the many art galleries. Go shopping, visit a nearby winery or craft brewery or break up your journey with a tour of one of the amazing limestone caves in the area.
Other family-friendly things to do in the area include a visit to the Mirravale Horse Riding School near Dunsborough and their well-behaved equine friends are perfect for the beginner or experienced riders.
Visit the Shearing Shed for live shearing demonstrations and an inside track on the workings of a sheep farm and horseriding on well-behaved horses through the Leeuwin/Naturaliste bushlands.
Another stop for animal-loving kids is the Country Life Farm. Here kids can get up close and personal with friendly farm animals and hand feed them, plus there are giant bouncy castles, an indoor adventure playground, dodgem cars and a merry-go-round.
Another great idea is to drop into the Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse just down the road from Dunsborough where an easy climb of 59 stairs will give you the most incredible reward of breathtaking panoramic views of the Indian Ocean and surrounding areas. For more walking trail options in the southwest click here.
No trip down south would be complete without frequent stops to sample some of the many culinary delights that this region has become famous for. Market gates offering tempting treats like woodfired bread, truffle products, preserves, organic cheeses and extra virgin olive oil products are found all around the area, plus there are other foodie destinations that are also worth a visit such as the Bunbury Farmers’ Market, the Margaret River Nougat Factory and the Margaret River Providore.
Take a stop at the Margaret River Chocolate Factory – one of the region’s top tourist attractions (even more so if you’re travelling with kids). Entry is free and you can taste some of their award-winning chocolate, plus you get to see the products being made through the viewing windows.
You also can’t go past Simmo’s Icecreamery, another firm favourite, where you’ll have a hard time choosing a flavour and an even harder time stopping at just one of their ‘udderly’ yummy offerings!
With so much to see and so much to do, it’s impossible to experience the best of the region on a single journey (so best you start making plans for a return trip!). But there is one place that you won’t want to miss out on as you make your way down south, and that’s Aristos in Bunbury.
This stylishly casual beachfront restaurant overlooks the spectacular Koombana Bay, just five minutes from the Forrest Highway and is a much-loved favourite for those looking to break their journey from Perth to the South West.
With exceptional service, views to die for, daily specials, the freshest seafood and meat dishes, a kids’ menu and a family-friendly atmosphere right on the waterfront, Aristos in Bunbury is a great option for a half-way stop. It’s one of the best restaurants in Bunbury and such is its reputation and its loyal following that it’s become one of the top things to do on the way from Perth to Margaret River.
To get in touch, please phone 08 9791 6477 or visit www.aristosbunbury.com.au for online bookings.
This post was written by Aaron Papandroulakis for Aristos in Bunbury. All views and opinions are our own.