What you need to see and do on a flying visit down south
“I’ve just got one day to check out Margaret River – what shall I do?”
It’s a question we get a lot – whether you’re here for a conference, wedding or a quick weekend getaway, you need to know how to spend 24 hours in Margaret River.
There’s over 95 winery cellar doors, 200km of spectacular coastline, countless restaurants and thousands of hectares of forest and national park. Never fear, we’ve distilled all these rich and exciting offerings into our ‘crème de la crème’ – the very best of the region.
Here’s how we recommend spending 24 hours in the glorious Margaret River region. Enjoy!
1. Beachside Breakfast
You’ve probably already sampled the delicious cuisine at our in-house restaurant, Willow Grill? It’s perfect if you want a hearty breakfast, and so convient when you’re staying inhouse at Stay Margaret River.
But today we urge you to sip your flat white with a marvellous view of the Indian Ocean. Head to the White Elephant Beach Café at Gnarabup, they’re open from 7.30am-3pm daily.
Choose a light and nutritious fruity muesli, poached eggs, smashed avocado or a breakfast burger – they’re all delicious.
More breakkie options? Check out our blog 10 Best Breakfasts in Margaret River.
2. Explore an Ancient Cave
There’s over 100 caves along the Leeuwin-Naturaliste ridge, with just a handful of the best that are open to the public. There’s three within easy reach of Margaret River; Jewel, Mammoth and Lake Cave. Ngilgi Cave is further north near the seaside town of Yallingup.
Lake Cave was recently crowned “Best Cave in Austalia” by Australian Geographic. You’ll drive through spectacular karri forest to get there, then descend 62 metres underground into a beautifully lit cavern with a natural lake. Marvel at the suspended table formation and thousands of delicate crystal stalactites.
There’s not many places in the world you can explore a natural cave that’s possibly millions of years old, so be sure to check one out while you’re here.
Lake Cave – 1-hour guided tours depart every 40 minutes from 9.20am to 4pm.
3. Admire the Boranup Karri Forest
After Lake Cave, drive just a little further south along Caves Road until you reach the famous ‘Fairy Forest’ part of Boranup Forest. It’s incredible. Park up, cross the road, take a short wander amongst the giant karris and marvel at the serenity and beauty of it all.
This is a quick stop, but unlike anything else, so don’t miss it.
4. Taste Coffee, Chocolate and Cheese
There’s so many amazing local food producers. If you’re here on a Saturday we recommend visiting the Margaret River Farmers Market as you can taste an array of farm-fresh local produce (fruit, cheese, olive oil, chocolate and more) in one place.
5. Visit a Winery
The Margaret River wine region just celebrated its 50th anniversary. Dr Cullity planted the first vines at Vasse Felix in 1967 and locals thought he was crazy – little did they know that it was the start of something wonderful.
Margaret River produces some of Australia’s finest chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon. It’s too difficult to narrow it down to just one winery, so we recommend visiting a winery first, then a winery restaurant for lunch (see the distinction?)
Fraser Gallop Estate is a picture-perfect winery in the ‘golden triangle’ of Wilyabrup, a Margaret River sub-region where some of our finest wines are made. It’s a 15-minute drive north of Margaret River. We recommend sampling their Parterre Chardonnay – it’s excellent value at $39 and compares to wines twice the price. The Parterre Cabernet Sauvignon is also an excellent wine. The inaugural 2007 vintage won Best Bordeaux Blend at the prestigious Decanter International Wine Awards.
Grab a photo in the vines before heading to your next stop – Vasse Felix – for lunch.
6. Visit a Winery Restaurant
Vasse Felix is where it all began, and not content to rest on their laurels, they completed a wonderful renovation in their 50th year. The restaurant is considered one of the best in the region, and this is where we’d stop for lunch. Browse their collection of significant Australian art, and take in some of the region’s wine history in their new cellar. The upstairs restaurant has lovely vineyard views and a warm atmosphere thanks to timber and thick carpet. Downstairs you can have a light lunch of charcuterie in the new wine lounge.
We recommend going all out with a delicious lunch and Heytesbury Chardonnay. If you’re only here for 24 hours, make the most of it.
7. Shop for something special
If you want to take home a souvenir, you want it to be something locally made, not available anywhere else.
A bottle of wine fits the bill – Settlers Liquor Store on the main street of Margaret River town has plenty of excellent bottles if you didn’t pick one up at Fraser Gallop or Vasse Felix.
Alternatively, check out one of the local galleries. The region is a hotspot for clever creatives, and you’ll find paintings, wood work, furniture, sculpture, textiles and more.
Jah Roc Gallery has a great selection of West Australian art, one-off furniture made from local timber and beautiful small treasures that’ll fit in your suitcase.
Margaret River Gallery also has plenty of local art, jewellery and glass.
8. Top it off with a night out
If you still have room for dinner, we suggest Miki’s Open Kitchen. It’s like nothing else in the region – fresh, inspired Japanese, they specialise in tempura – and we love sitting at the bar watching the chefs work. Bookings are essential – it’s a tiny restaurant and word is out how good it is.
Or let a local show you around…
You’re on holidays, why not relax on a tour and let someone else drive and make the decisions?
Here’s a few excellent half-day Margaret River tours we can recommend.
McLeod Tours – Great Tastes Half Day Wine Tour
Taste delicious wine, craft beer and chocolate on this half-day tour. The McLeods also offer full day tours, and their famous Kangaroo Sunset Safari has long been a hit with Stay Margaret River guests.
Meet the Woylies with South West Eco Discoveries
What’s a woylie? It’s a critically endangered nocturnal marsupial, and you can meet them on this awesome sunset tour. Brothers Mick and Ryan love our region – they’re passionate about sharing the beautiful beaches, forest and wildlife with visitors – and they’ll take you a fenced plot of protected bushland in Yelverton to meet the furry critters. You’ll also see quendas and hopefully a possum, too.
Margaret River Brewery Tour
I think we’re up to 12 local craft breweries now, in the cape to cape region. Sample delicious beer right where it was brewed on this fun-filled tour.
Margaret River Bubbles Tour
Dedicated to sipping sparkling wine around the region, this tour company started a couple of years ago inspired by Brookwood Estate’s delicious Bubbles.
Margaret River Accommodation
You’ll need somewhere comfy to call home after your big day out – book a Stay Margaret River summer accommodation package, and be sure to book direct for the best deal.
More foodie inspo
Keep reading our blog for some more holiday eating ideas including 10 Best Breakfasts in Margaret River, 16 awesome things to eat in Margaret River and Chocoholics rejoice – our Chocolate Brownie recipe.