The jewel-like blue hues of the Indian Ocean draw many to Western Australia’s southern coastline. But there are plenty of gems to be found in the nearby towns, too. Adopt an unhurried pace: between July and December, patience is rewarded with whale sightings while exploration at any time of year leads to the varied riches of the Margaret River region.
What to do day one
Two hours south of Perth Airport is Bunbury, a former industrial port with a burgeoning café, small-bar and street-art scene. Maps to lead you through the many murals can be found online; down one painted street you’ll find Market Eating House, where Middle Eastern-inspired flavours add punch to dishes of whole cauliflower and slow-cooked lamb shoulder (it’s baked for 12 hours).
Yallingup, a town that overlooks wind-whipped coast an hour south of Bunbury, is a popular stop on the trail to Margaret River. Smiths Beach Resort makes the most of the town’s stunning views with its sand-side position and floor-to-ceiling windows in every room. While the dining here is excellent, heading out for food is encouraged, especially when the rule-breaking Wills Domain is just five minutes away. Produce is harvested on site and spun into all manner of artistic arrangements; the cured Geraldton kingfish topped with coastal herbs is just one highlight.
What to do day two
Exceptional cabernet sauvignon and shiraz rightly lure oenophiles to the Margaret River region but the area’s options are far more varied than these two frontrunners. There’s the big-ticket vineyards to try – Moss Wood, Cape Mentelle and Vasse Felix – as well as the more intimate boutique cellar doors. Voyager Estate, which works with 100 per cent organically farmed fruit, and Arimia, which produces sustainable drops, are two of our picks. Make sure you have a designated driver and save time for a trip to Cape Leeuwin, mainland Australia’s most south-westerly point, to see the craggy coast dive into the sea, then backtrack one hour north to Cape Lodge. This award-winning property has a cosy yet sophisticated feel and is surrounded by pristine gardens. Take a seat at Wild Hop Brewing Company for a casual lakeside beer and a range of delicious grilled, flamed and smoked options for dinner.
Image credit: Gavin Crawcour.
What to do day three
Before starting your trip back, drop into Goanna Bush Café and Gallery, less than 15 minutes from Cape Lodge, for locally crafted artworks and jewellery. Busselton, an idyllic seaside town with gleaming sands and the longest wooden-piled jetty in the Southern Hemisphere, is a worthy pit stop. Pick up a coffee to go at hip café-gallery hybrid Mono and take a walk along the foreshore, before making the two-and-a-half-hour journey back to Perth.