When we West Aussies say #downsouth, we often mean Margs or Margaret River. So we think of Margaret River as not just a town, but also a region roughly between Dunsborough in the north to Augusta in the south.
At the moment, travel is more about reminiscing rather than doing, thanks to COVID-19. With WA regional borders opening up again, it’s time to head back #downsouth for a few days. Instead of the usual hanging around the town of Margaret River, we suggest something a little different. Spend a night at the historic Caves House Hotel in Yallingup and continue the pub crawl, spending a second night at the Augusta Hotel Motel. And in-between, do some exploring.
Enjoy the journey
To break up the journey from Perth to Yallingup, we suggest stopping at Dunsborough and stretching our legs. The Meelup Reserve Trail heads off from the beach in Old Dunsborough. The well-maintained trail winds its way past beach shacks/mansions on one side and pristine Geographe Bay views on the other. The trail then enters coastal scrub, with colourful springtime wildflowers, to Meelup Beach. Protected from prevailing southwest winds and swells, Meelup Beach’s beautiful white sand and crystal clear water provide a safe swimming haven.
The Meelup to Eagle Bay section is a little hillier, but your efforts are rewarded with great views of impossibly blue water and colourful rocky outcrops. After a downhill wander, stunning Eagle Bay (and it’s café) looms in the distance. The trail length is just over 7km one-way.
Getting settled in
After returning to your car, head off along Caves Road to the surfing hub of Yallingup, a 10-minute drive. Then check into your accommodation at Caves House Hotel. With some time to spare, check out nearby scenic coastal spots such as spectacular Sugarloaf Rock or a couple wineries or breweries. Finish the day at the beautifully restored heritage-listed Caves House Hotel, built in 1903. Relax in the spacious and laidback beer garden.
An alternative idea is to follow a driving trail of your choosing.
If you like a theme to your beverage gourmet tasting, try one of the designated gourmet drive trails in the Margaret River region:
- Margaret River Certified Organic & Biodynamic Wine Trail
- Margaret River Cycle Food and Beverage Trail
- Margaret River Gourmet Food & Wine Trail
- Margaret River Small Family Winery Trail
- Craft Beer Trail Margaret River
- Margaret River Wine Cycle Trail
We begin our leisurely drive south along Caves Road. There are top-notch surfing spots, caves to explore and beautiful coastline views such as Canal Rocks and Redgate Beach. And if you have had enough of the natural stuff, you’ve got wineries and galleries. Plus, you can visit picturesque coastal hamlets, such as Gracetown and Prevelly. Injidup is a classic Instagram spot with its natural ocean spa.
A forest like no other
Heading further south, you come to Boranup Forest, an area of regrowth karri that was cleared in the 1930s. Although not the tallest karri around, the forest is still stunningly beautiful and a wonderful spot for a picnic lunch. The forest on the main road is amazing but to truly immerse yourself in karri trees, take the gravel Boranup scenic drive alternative.
Having natural experiences with wildlife is always a highlight. In Hamelin Bay and Augusta the local stingrays and are used to people but keep your distance, they are wild animals. They will most likely come in for fish scraps, but remember to refrain from feeding them. At Hamelin Bay, huge smooth stingrays, black stingrays and eagle rays move through the shallows looking for buried molluscs. They are more commonly seen in summer months.
Stingrays along with pelicans also hang around fish cleaning tables on Blackwood River near Turners Caravan Park in Augusta. Time it when anglers are cleaning their catch.
Check into the Augusta Pub and Motel
No doubt you have had a very fulfilling day and will be looking forward to a beer and an excellent pub meal. Built in 1912, the pub offers a variety of accommodation. Some rooms have excellent views of the Blackwood River. Before settling in, we suggest a late afternoon stroll along the riverfront where you might see pelicans, dolphins and stingrays. If time, you could hire a kayak and enjoy a paddle.
Explore Augusta then head back to Perth
Augusta is much quieter and more laidback than Margaret River, which adds to its charm. A must see before heading back to Perth is Cape Leeuwin, the most south-westerly point in Australia. Cape Leeuwin is located where the Indian Ocean meets the Southern Ocean.
Overlooking the stormy seas is the tallest mainland lighthouse in Australia. The still-operating lighthouse was built in 1895. Then it is time to go home, but with even more to explore Down South.
So here is your perfect #douth (Perth slang for down south) three day adventure. Have other favourites? Comment below and let us know and don’t forget to tag #yourwatourguide in your travel adventures for us to check out!