The long weekends are coming up, and for many of us that means an annual pilgrimage down south for the ultimate down south adventure – where cold beer, award-winning wine and crystal clear waters await. If it has been a while since your last trip to WA’s stunning south west you will be overwhelmed by the number of new openings, value-for-money dining experiences and group-friendly adventures to be had. Googling ‘things to do in Margaret River’ doesn’t help much because there are just so many options to choose from, and time is usually of the essence!
But don’t worry, we are here to help you plan the ultimate itinerary. From breweries to beaches, here is our pick of the must-dos while down south.
Margaret River breweries:
There is a reason Eagle Bay Brewery is constantly busy. The sibling trio behind the microbrewery, restaurant and vineyard overlooking the family farm with views out to the Indian Ocean know how to pump out handcrafted beer and wine and fresh, tasty fare – their pizzas are a must-try.
Closer to Margaret River, Colonial Brewing Co was one of the first breweries to open in the region and remains a local institution. The enormous brewery caters for every type of group, with a grassed area with large tables and undercover seating on a raised deck. Enjoy live music every Saturday while sipping on their wide range of brews. We love their delicious Bertie apple cider, and there’s no need for your designated driver to miss out – try the flavoursome Small Ale (always a conversation starter with its 360 degree lid) – one of the best mid strength beers going around!
If you fancy another beer stop off between Margaret River and Dunsborough, it is worth a trip to the Beer Farm in Metricup. An old dairy farm has been lovingly converted into a micro-brewery including a rustic bar in an old hay shed which spills out onto the grass and overlooks a large dam. You’ll find cheap tasty eats, specialty beers, live music and comfy leather couches. And for the kids there’s a slippery slide, basketball ring and plenty of space to run around. Everyone’s a winner!
Nestled amongst the vineyards along Caves Road is the impressive Black Brewing – which you may remember in its former incarnation, the Duckstein. The stunning venue is now a brewery, winery and restaurant and is one of the prime spots to enjoy a meal and a drink over summer. The glorious timber deck sits on top of the picturesque dam with views to the vineyard, and is the ideal spot to dine out on enormous servings of Asian-fusion share food and a refreshing beer. The Fresh Ale is a perfect summer drink or try Taj Burrow’s new Honest Ale, featuring the ‘secret ingredient’ of Yallingup sea water.
Wining and dining in Margaret River:
Why have just one dish when you can have six? There’s nothing like a lazy, looooong lunch of locally sourced fresh produce matched with mouthwatering wines, and the Margaret River region produces some of our favourite degustation menus.
For value-for-money, you can’t go past the degustation at Hay Shed Hill’s Rustico restaurant. The six course tapas-style menu is $65 per person, or from $89 for matching wines, and the mouthwatering dishes include beef carpaccio with buffalo milk burrata & mizuna, Tempura Augusta whiting with apple & celeriac remoulade, dill & capers and pork belly with burnt apple puree & pedro ximinez jus. The sixth course is an incredible dessert tasting plate or a European cheese board.
Our other favourite degustation can be found at the incredible Knee Deep winery. For a special occasion indulge in the eight course “trust the chef” menu, which when accompanied with wine matching, first class service and the floor to ceiling views out to the vineyard will give you one of the most memorable meals of your life.
While we love a long lunch – we are also celebrating the fact some of our favourite winery restaurants are now open for dinner, creating even more opportunity to wine and down down south!
The summer outdoor cinemas at Cape Mentelle winery offer up another chance to get out and about in the evenings. Enjoy Cape Mentelle wines, burgers from the Margaret River Burger Co and cuddle up on a beanbag under the stars.
Close to the Margaret River and Dunsborough townships:
For those days or nights when you don’t feel like venturing too far, (or don’t have anyone willing to be a designated driver), there are plenty of options close to the Margaret River and Dunsborough townships, including a couple of new kids on the block.
Funky new small bar Little Brother opened up in Dunsborough in late spring and is a welcome addition to the Naturaliste Terrace ‘hood which also boasts health food café Wild and Woods and the Dunsborough Bakery. Sit alongside murals of music legends including Jimi Hendrix, Prince and Biggie Smalls and feast on small tasting plates including braised lamb neck croquettes and the most addictive hot chips served with truffle mayo. Little Brother is owned by the team behind Black Brewing, and you can find all the brewery’s beers on tap, as well as wine and cocktails.
A few hundred metres away on Dunn Bay Road, hidden in an unassuming block of businesses, is fine dining gem Piari and Co. Step inside this tiny, cosy restaurant and be stunned by the diverse, mouthwatering menu featuring local produce such as rabbit, lamb octopus and scallops.
In Margaret River, foodies are also spoilt for choice. Along the main street you’ll find Swings Taphouse serving up Swings and Roundabouts wines alongside rustic, flavoursome food on its cosy verandah.
Wander further along the street for a cocktail and share food at perennial favourite, Morries, and at the bottom end of town sits the first walking-distance brewery in Margs, the relaxed, friendly Brewhouse Margaret River.
Best breakfast spots in Margaret River and Dunsborough
If you’re in the mood for a healthy breakfast, a bacon and egg fry up or a coffee with a view you will find no shortage of tasty options across the region.
The White Elephant Beach Café at Gnarabup Beach in Margaret River is one of the best breakfast spots in WA. Enjoy a post-swim breakfast of coconut bircher muesli or a brekkie burger while soaking in the breathtaking view. Bliss.
Our other favourite beachside breakfast spots are Bunkers Beach House, nestled in the dunes overlooking the crystal waters of Bunker Bay, and Lamont’s at Smiths Beach resort where you can dine in or grab a takeaway coffee and go for a walk along the stunning beach and check out the surfers in action.
If you’re dining in town, Morries in Margaret River does an amazing breakfast (the Brioche French toast with coconut panna cotta and the wild mushrooms on sourdough are our picks), or check out Merchant and Maker or Mealup in Dunsborough for awesome coffee and pastries.
Best beaches down south
Of course, a summer trip down south isn’t complete without spending lazy days floating in the clear blue sea and relaxing on squeaky white sand.
Picture perfect Meelup, just north-west of Dunsborough, is the ideal spot for a picnic, with shaded grassed areas and calm clear waters when the sea breeze is in – making it perfect for snorkeling or stand up paddle boarding. You may have seen stunning images of the Injidup natural spa and rock pools near Yallingup on Instagram – be sure to check out this breathtaking spot yourself, it’s worth the effort. Head there first thing in the morning to try and avoid the crowds.
Yallingup Beach has something for everyone – a surf break, a protected swimming lagoon and a playground. Summer days don’t get much better than splashing around in the icy Yallingup water followed by a pub lunch at nearby Caves House.
Be sure to pop back down to Yallingup one evening for sunset. Sit on the cool sand with a beer and marvel at the technicolour sky as the sun sinks into the ocean, and take a moment to reflect how lucky you are to live in such a beautiful part of the world.
Down South Map: Make sure to print off this map of Margaret River, Dunsborough and everywhere in-between. Google maps is good – but theres nothing like having a printed copy of the map in the car!
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