Freelance writer who enjoys staying active, social and making the most of what Perth has to offer.
Published October 24th 2012
For a family holiday to remember, that won't break the bank
If you are looking to get away with the kids for a few days, then here's a place that ticks all the right boxes. Set in WA's stunning South-West, Dunsborough offers a great selection of family friendly accommodation, activities and dining options to suit any budget. Plus, with the recent freeway extension, you can get there comfortably by car in just three hours. No airport check-ins required, just throw everything in the back of the car and away you go.
With a wide range of accommodation options available in the South-West, you can pretty much choose any style you like. There are some great farm stays in the area as well, which host some fun activities for the kids. We recently stayed at the Dunsborough Rail Carriages and Farm Cottages, just out of town.
Set on a peaceful 100 acre block, there is space for families to relax, take a stroll through bushland and say hi to the friendly resident kangaroos. Morning activities such as collecting eggs and feeding some of the farm animals also proved to be very popular with the kids.
The accommodation we stayed in was a classic jarrah train carriage, converted into a cottage style retreat. These charming carriages offer just enough space for a couple with a toddler, but I would recommend upgrading to a cottage or the large farmhouse if staying for more than a few days, just to give everyone some space. In the warmer months, the communal outdoor barbecue area is a handy addition to the surrounding accommodation. From $115 per night, this is a great option for budgeting families, though keep in mind, for a five star experience, you are better off looking at one of the local resorts.
Whilst the activities in the area range from season to season, there is always something to do with the kids in Dunsborough and the surrounding areas of the South-West.
Simmo's Icecreamery in Dunsborough offers 54 different flavours of award winning icecream and sorbet, so you are bound to find something to suit everyone's tastes. Apart from the traditional flavours, you can try some unique recipes including apple pie, mascarpone and fig, lemon cheesecake and even liquorice. The beautiful grounds offer an expansive playground, accommodating any age and some cheeky emus which seem to enjoy the attention and sweet snacks that come with living within an icecreamery.
The Maze in Dunsborough is another great place to take the family. There is the giant maze for the older kids and young at heart adults, or you can choose to stay in the free section of the property and enjoy a cup of coffee while the kids play on the playground outside. During peak periods, there is even a giant bouncy castle, which is free to use and a rock climbing wall for the older ones.
If pizza and wine is more your scene, then I recommend Swings and Roundabouts, another five minutes down Caves Road towards Margaret River. Bring a picnic rug and let the little ones run free while your wood fired pizza is prepared and brought over to you to enjoy. Bootleg Brewery is another recommendation, for a more substantial meal and wide selection of boutique beers. The outdoor dining area is sprawled out around the playground with a relaxed atmosphere and great view over surrounding properties.
Whilst during the day, you can pick and choose from the many restaurants and wineries surrounding the area, at night it is sometimes easier to just eat close by and get back early so the kids can retire to bed - and you can finally put your feet up. We found a couple of great restaurants within Dunsborough town, with fast service and reasonable prices.
Amigos is a fun and friendly Mexican Restaurant with delicious food and cheerful staff. The kitchen opens from 5:30pm for dinner so you can get in early and you can BYO wine for only $3 corkage. The combination meals are a great way to sample a few of the different items on the menu and they cost $24.
For breakfast, if you aren't cooking up the eggs you collected on the farm, The Goanna Cafe is a beautiful restaurant set in bushland 10 minutes from Dunsborough. The alfresco area features a playground and is littered with rustic tin sculptures, made from scrap metal (all available to purchase). The menu itself speaks in a fresh country style in its simplicity and is cooked perfectly with the addition of some fresh pesto or hollandaise to really finish off each dish.
It is hard not to go on about the range of options available to couples and families surrounding Dunsborough, which is testament to what a great holiday spot it really is. Whether you have a weekend or two weeks, the fresh air and relaxed atmosphere will have you return home recharged and thankful for the amazing holiday spots we have on our doorstep.