The Margaret River region is famous for its wineries and stunning blue shoreline. Winter is a great time to avoid the crowds if you’re lucky with the weather. We stayed in an eco campsite right in the centre surrounded by woods.
While Lindsay and I were based in Perth freelancing in June I borrowed my friend’s car and drove there for a week’s stay. It’s just under a four hour drive from Perth. There are some incredible scenic wooded roads from Perth to Margaret River and beyond.
Camping in the woods
We stayed at an awesome eco safari-style campsite called Wharncliff Mill. I love eco accommodation and being surrounded by trees, so it was perfect. Great location, quiet and chilled yet in the centre of the Margaret River region so we could use it as a base to explore.
The first night we got some great cheap red wine from a bottlo down the road and got trollied in the tent! (well, I did!) I took extra layers as I was worried we’d be cold as it was June (winter), but it wasn’t too cold at all. But beware; we left food uncovered in our tent and just as I was drifting off, a rodent of some sort scurried over my bed. Luckily rodents don’t worry me and I was drunk enough to be mildly amused by it and fell back to sleep.
Cycling around Margaret River wineries
Getting around the region by bike is so much fun! The countryside is beautiful and there are roads that are quiet and bike-friendly. Obviously it’s important not to overdo the wine tasting while cycling. But cycling round in the sun in stunning surroundings whilst slightly tipsy was so much fun!
There’s a bike path from the camp site called Rails to Trails, which winds through woods and stunning scenery. We cycled to three vineyards and tried some top Chardonnays. I always thought Chardonnay was the worst type of wine in England, but there are some amazing ones here. Especially the oaked varieties which have a buttery, woody taste. The wineries we visited were all great: Stella Bella Wines, Watershed Wines and Leeuwin Estate. We were pretty sozzled by the time we got to the Leeuwin. They have beautiful grounds with well-kept gardens. We tried the whole range of wines including some really special reserves, and had some great banter with the staff.
Walking into Yahava KoffeeWorks you’re greeted by amazing coffee smells from the big roasting machine. They have tables for coffee tastings where you can sit and try different types of coffee from around the world and Australia. We were suitably manic and hyped after tasting them and headed out into the sunshine loving life! I generally try to avoid overdosing on stimulants like coffee and sugar as they aren’t great for the immune system. But when ‘on holiday’ I make an exception and go crazy!
After the coffee place we stumbled upon a lovely rustic little chocolate shop next door. They make the chocolate in a little factory attached to the shop where you can look through a window to see it being made. They had some divine flavours and we made good use of the generous samples. Given I generally avoid eating stuff with sugar in, when I do it’s like having crack cocaine! So on top of the coffee I was pretty hyped up. I stocked up on some delicious sugar-free chocolate including a great mint flavoured one. It’s sweetened with maltitol which is some kind of barley derivative. The good thing about sugar free chocolate is, I dont feel like I need to brush my teeth right after it. Plus it’s less addictive.
We also tried some delicious locally made cheeses. There are such amazing local foods produced in the wine regions in Australia. Unfortunately, it’s all the stuff that makes you fat. And you leave laden with goodies and in need of detoxing!
The ocean is soooooo blue!
The beaches in Margaret river are stunning! The sea is super-blue with light sand. We even saw some sting rays at Hamelin Bay which swim in really shallow water so you can stand on the rocks and watch them.
At the time we were ‘being digital nomads’ and working remotely from wherever we happened to be staying. As part of the branding for Aldesko we took some shots of our laptops in random locations. We definitely weren’t working there, but they made for good shots!
The first shot was taken shortly before my ancient beast of a laptop toppled down the cliff! It sustained some cosmetic injuries but amazingly still worked fine. It’s been through the wars and round the world, and still going!!
Doing Margaret River region in winter was nice and quiet and I imagine waaaay less touristy than summer. We had a mix of sun and rain. I’d definitely stay at Wharncliffe camping again. The stars at night were incredible as you can see in the photo Lindsay took, below. And the smell of wood smoke from the camp fire with a bottle of wine is unbeatable.
I completely went overboard with wine, coffee, chocolate and cheese and felt stodgy and unhealthy by the end of our trip. It was amazing to see how healthy and energetic I felt after a couple of weeks of detoxing once I got back to Fremantle. I cut out booze, sugar and dairy and had every superfood I could get my mitts on. Add daily jogs along the beach to that and I felt the best I’ve ever felt!