Family holidays are even more fun when you are able to bring along your four-legged fur children, so a recent trip to Margaret River with our one year old shoodle, was made possible thanks to a number of dog-friendly places.
We stayed at a dog-friendly guesthouse in Cowaramup. Although the location is not your typical Margaret River glamour overlooking the bushland or ocean (it's actually in a small industrial area) it was centrally located two minutes north of Cowaramup and less than fifteen minutes to Margaret River. The main advantage of its unique location is that you have no immediate neighbours, so the kids and dog are free to play and sing and shout and bark as loudly as you like, as there is no one nearby to disturb.
The house consists of three bedrooms and sleeps six (two queen beds and a set of bunks), a large bathroom with laundry, a kitchen/dining/lounge, a small TV/games room for the kids and a large enclosed outdoor area which has a large (plastic) lawn area for the kids and dog, under cover dining and comfy couches, just perfect to sit and watch the sky change behind the overhanging gums.
It's an interesting house, obviously hand made with lots of recycled and repurposed items. You will find caravan windows made into glass topped tables in the back yard, and an old pool table repurposed into an outdoor dining area. The chairs don't match, there's no posh soaps and body creams – it's rustic, not a five star resort. But it has everything you need including the most important thing – welcoming and friendly hosts and a safe space where your pooch can stay while you explore the area.
Relax outside as the kids and dog play in the enclosed yard
Also in Cowaramup is Moon Haven, a truly pet friendly shop selling beautiful hand-made soaps and lotions. It is the essence of the south west, with friendly staff who welcomed us all in (including the kids and dog). Ask about the special dog shampoo bars. You will find Moon Haven on the main street in Cowaramup, which you need to drive through on your way to Margaret River.
Moon Haven is worth a stop on the way through Cowaramup
Directly across the road is the Cowtown Café, who were also very welcoming of our dog. They are open for breakfast and lunch and afternoon tea (7am to 5pm), but we visited for an early breakfast. The breakfast wrap with fried egg, bacon, hashbrown, lettuce and BBQ sauce was yummy and filling, exactly what you need if you have sampled too many Margaret River wines the day before and are facing a long drive home. Reasonably priced and with friendly staff, it's a great place to stop as your pass through. Click here if you need some wine tasting tips for the utterly clueless.
If you have a sweet tooth you are in luck, because both the Margaret River Chocolate Company (Cnr Harman's Mill Road and Tom Cullity Dr, Metricup) and Bettenay's Nougat Factory (248 Tom Cullity Drive, Cowaramup) are dog friendly. The chocolate factory has an enormous shady grassy area out the back, with plenty of room for kids and dogs, as well as an adventure playground in the bush. Look for the gap in the fence as you walk up the path, and you can then walk your dog around the back while everyone else goes through the main building. (Make sure you remind them to bring you a sample.)
Not far away, the Bettenay Nougat Factory is a stunning building overlooking a lake and vineyard. There is a large grassy area for kids to run around on, as well as wooden boxes of toys such as hula hoops and skittles. Leave the kids outside with the dog as you head inside to sample wines, liquors and nougat.
As you head back up to Perth, a stop at the perennially popular Bunbury Farmers Market is a must. Dogs are welcome to stretch their legs and have a drink, and as you break up your journey with a delicious cake or pie from the café. Make sure you bring an esky though, as the fruit, veg and prepared meals are works of art. You'll want to buy it all.
There are plenty more dog-friendly places in the Margaret River region. We had such a short stay we weren't able to experience them all, but there are a number of websites dedicated to listing the dog-friendly wineries, breweries and and cafes.