I'm a Victorian freelance writer & photographer living in the Macedon Ranges north of Melbourne.
Published August 13th 2013
Western Australian Wine Country
There really is something for everyone in WA's magnificent Margaret River region – wine, fabulous forests, great beaches, more wine, mind blowing caves, more wine...
Vines, vines & more vines. Some 5,500 Hectares are given over to growing grapes
Different people visit the region for different reasons but it is undoubtedly best known for its wines, conceived in near perfect growing conditions by around 150 producers drawing on some 5,500 hectares of vines.
The diversity of wine produced here since the first vines were planted just over 45 years ago is broad indeed but the region is perhaps best known for its cabernet sauvignon land various cabernet blends as well as some of the world's great chardonnay. Several companies provide guided winery tours transporting guests to a range of wineries and restaurants on full or half-day trips.
Some of the great names of Australian wine are visited by several tour operators in the region
With so many local producers competing for a market share it's not surprising that many cellar doors are co-located with restaurants specialising in local produce, each putting their own unique stamp on the region, its wines and food.
Just one of the many fine 'cellar doors' offering the complete wining & dining experience in the Margaret River Region
The area's coastline is spectacular and there is nothing quite like sitting on a craggy headland watching pods of migrating whales.
The Margaret River region is home to two historic and very interesting lighthouses. The Cape Leeuwin Light sits on the far south-western extremity of Australia, where the Indian and Southern Oceans meet. Standing 56 metres above sea level Cape Leeuwin's light is visible for 48 kilometres (26 nautical miles) to seaward.
Further north, on the southern end of Geographe Bay and 13 kilometres from Dunsborough the Cape Naturaliste lighthouse is one of the Margaret River region's most popular attractions.
Completed in 1903 using limestone blocks quarried from nearby Bunker Bay Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse is considered one of Australia's premier whale-watching locations with Southern Right, Humpback, Blue and Minke whales all passing close inshore during migration.
The Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse - one of WA's great whale watching sites
If riding the surf rather than watching it is your thing you've certainly come to the right place. The region boasts 75 top-class surfing breaks along the 130 kilometre stretch of coast between Cape Naturaliste and Cape Leeuwin.
One of my favourites, Yallingup, has a sheltered beach suitable for swimming and snorkeling as well as a host of great breaks including Smiths, Rabbits and Three Bears.
There are several hundred caves in the vicinity of Margaret River with six of them open to the public and providing guided tours. The caves are Karst systems, formed by the very fast drainage of large volumes of underground water. Best known is Mammoth Cave, located about 20 kilometres south of Margaret River and first found by Europeans in 1850.
Other local activities include bush-walking, canoeing, boating, snorkeling and SCUBA diving and the whole region is a photographer's heaven.
Margaret River - the Jewel of the Southwest
Margaret River township turned 100 in February 2013. At the centre of the region it was named the Jewel of the South West by Lonely Planet in 2010, one of the top 10 destinations in the world.
Bustling with arts & craft centres, galleries and a host of wining, dining, shopping and accommodation options it's the perfect base from which to enjoy the wider region.