Portfolio: Western Australia’s Margaret River in pictures
Margaret River, one of Australia’s best wine-producing regions, is also home to sandy beaches and great surfing. Words and photographs by Australasia expert Antonia Black
Although Western Australia might appear isolated from other major cities, its capital, Perth, carries a uniquely laid-back and cosmopolitan charm, and with Qantas’ new 17-hour direct flight from London, Western Australia is booming. Just a three-hour drive south of the city is Margaret River, one of the best wine-producing regions in Australia, which is also home to endless swathes of white, sandy beaches, top surf spots, age-old forests and a well-established artisanal community of craftsmen and connoisseurs. Perth is also the best jumping-off point for further explorations into Australia’s wild west, for instance at the Ningaloo Marine Park, where you can swim with whale sharks, and the dramatic Kimberleys.
While the ruggedly beautiful coastline can’t go amiss, there are also plenty of active experiences we can arrange for our clients, from abseiling and hiking to learning to surf and biking. We stopped by White Elephant Café on Gnarabup Beach for a bite to eat before heading to Gas Bay to take on its notorious surf. This is one of the best beaches for surfing in the region.
On my recent trip to Margaret River, being the only person on the beaches was a frequent pleasure, and with crystal clear waters, powdery soft sand and zero rubbish, it’s hard not to believe the coastline and beaches are the best Down Under.
Hamelin Bay has to be one of the most stunning stretches of beach in Australia, and rivals any beach in Southeast Asia and the Indian Ocean. The bay located at the southern end of Margaret River is home to a rare sanctuary zone where all species of rays are totally protected.
Measuring up to two metres across, the friendly giants are truly majestic, gliding around your ankles as they come to shore to feed off scraps left by fishermen. Although there is no guarantee they will be there, the best time to see these remarkable creatures is first thing in the morning – well worth the early rise.
The Margaret River experiences a mild, Mediterranean-like climate, which is perfect for the growing and producing of its internationally renowned wine. Summer days (December to March) are beautifully warm and dry, although blooming flowers carpet the fields in the spring, making this an equally rewarding time of year to visit.
Cape Lodge, nestled between Margaret River’s wineries and forests, is a gorgeous boutique country house hotel, and the perfect spot to unwind and rejuvenate. A highlight of any stay at the quaint lodge has to be the seasonal, locally and home-grown produce from the nearby ocean, local farms and the hotel’s own kitchen garden.
Not only is Hamelin Bay known for its stingrays but also its simply stunning beach. The nearby coastal town of Augusta is also well worth a visit – a booming mecca for adventure due to its wild location – and the drive en route takes you through the majestic Boranup Karri Forest, home to the third- tallest tree species in the world.
With more sunny days than any other capital city in the world, Perth has the perfect beach-going weather and is blessed with extraordinary beaches. Closest to the city centre, City Beach is framed by chic eateries, all of which enjoy panoramic coastal views. This is the perfect spot to unwind at the end of the day with a barbecue.