Find Margaret River’s secret side
A Margaret River local for 13 years, five of which managing a winery, Sean Blocksidge saw an opportunity to offer small, high-end, gourmet tours. The difference was that his tours added a personal touch for visitors, based on the things that he as a local loves to do ‘Down South’. Since 2008, Sean’s Margaret River Discovery Co. Tours have consistently ranked number one on TripAdvisor
The big thing visitors don’t realise is that Margaret River offers much more than our world-class wine and food. The outdoor activities are now just as significant, not to mention the diverse arts and crafts scene. These are some of my favourite things to do that can be packed into a weekend escape to Margaret River.
Why I love Margaret River
I love living in Margaret River. There is such a sense of community, and everybody knows everybody. I live here because when I finish work I can go surfing, fishing or mountain biking.
There’s no shortage of outdoor and nature-based activities because we have the bush, forest, ocean and river on our doorstep, which is pretty unique. There’s also a thriving arts and crafts scene. That’s the big thing I find visitors don’t always know before they get here – that Margaret River is so much more than the wonderful wine and fantastic food.
On weekends I like to go to the Margaret River Farmers’ Market on Saturdays, then I might go for a paddle on the river or for a ride on my bike, perhaps hike the track, or have a long lunch with friends at a winery.
When friends come down I always take them out on the river. If you want to connect with nature and really get away from it all, then paddling a canoe along the lower parts of Margaret River is the best. You can spot eagles and mullets, and you get the best view of the beautiful limestone cliffs. You also can’t beat breakfast at the White Elephant at Gnarabup, a hike to Kilcarnup, and sunset at Surfers Point.
Hamelin Bay is one of the hidden gems of Western Australia. It has an awesome little campground under the Peppermint Trees with one of the most spectacular beaches in the region.
The stingrays have been visiting the beach for decades and offer a great opportunity to interact with marine life. Yes they are real stingrays. Yes you need to be careful not to stand on them. And yes it is an AWESOME experience to have them glide over the top of your feet! There is also some great fishing along this beach during Salmon season.
Adventure or relaxation?
For the more adventurous I would recommend going for a mountain-bike ride with Dirty Detours or Dirt Skills, cliff climbing with Mick Dempsey from Margaret River Climbing, or on a coasteering tour with Cam O’Beirne from Capes to Coast.
To relax I would urge you to get outside and connect with nature – it really is the best form of relaxation. Try going for a walk in the Boranup Forest or on a section of the Cape-to-Cape Track.
How to get around
Hire a bike. It’s the best way to get around, so head to the Hairy Marron bike cafe. This is the only place in Western Australia where you can hire your bike then get right onto the trails and tracks. Bike riding has extended our season down here and I reckon there are more bikes than surfboards here now!
Fantastic food and wine
It’s impossible to choose one favourite place to eat. I do think the Settlers Tavern is the best country pub in WA. They have great wine and craft beers, and great acts in a very intimate venue. I also like Miki’s Open Kitchen, Morries, Swings (& Roundabouts) Taphouse and Elkamo.
Don’t get me started on the wineries… Leeuwin, Vasse Felix and Voyager Estate (they have a very good degustation lunch option) are fantastic, not to mention breweries like The Beer Farm, which is great for beer, food trucks and festivals.
Margaret River’s best-kept secret
The greatest untold story about the Margaret River region is how good the wine really is. We have the most consistent wine-producing region on the planet. Our cabernets and chardonnays are second to none, and if you were in California you would be paying double or triple the price for the same wine. We are up there with the best. You can pay $40 for a bottle and know that it will be amazing.
Sean’s eight Margaret River discoveries that you can pack into a weekend
1- Get into a canoe and go for a paddle on the river.
2- Go for a walk on the Cape to Cape Track, and climb up to Conto’s cliffs for spectacular views.
3- Travel deep underground at Jewel Cave.
4- From May to August watch beautiful whales from the Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse as they migrate north.
5- Have a long, lazy lunch at the Leeuwin Estate winery.
6- Hire a bike from the Hairy Marron and go for a ride on one of the many tracks in the forest.
7- Enjoy an Ils Pilsner or two with a bowl of mussels at the Brewhouse microbrewery and craft beer pub.
8- Create a checklist of three things you’ve never done in Margaret River before you come down – then do them! (Discover three birds, three flowers, three places or three activities.)