Western Australia is the country’s largest state, and it is chock-full of incredibly beautiful places. But with so many great options, it can feel a bit overwhelming to decide where to visit. And while it could easily take months to explore WA in its entirety, most folks only have a few weeks or days. As such, I’ve put together this handy guide to help you decide where to explore in the South West of Western Australia.
Northern Cities of the South West
While visiting the South West, there are many shopping, dinning and accommodation options available in cities all around the area. However, some towns are more popular for exploring, resting your head and using as your home base.
Bunbury is the fourth largest city in Western Australia and the northern gateway to the South West. The city is about a two-hour drive from Perth. The short drive leads to a mix of cosmopolitan appeal and stunning nature in Bunbury. Sip a coffee on the cappuccino strip and then head to a pristine beach to swim with wild bottlenose dolphins.
Continue a bit further south to Busselton for beautiful coastline, boutique shops and art culture. The city is home to the southern hemisphere’s longest timber-piled jetty on which you can walk or take a train ride over the Indian Ocean. If you prefer to be in the ocean, you have several options: fish, water ski, kayak, sail, dive, snorkel or windsurf in Geographe Bay. Or stay dry in the city and visit Fig Tree Lane for shopping, dining and drinking establishments.
Really more a town than a city, Dunsborough is another popular destination in the South West. The town offers lovely coastal trails, beautiful swimming beaches and award-winning breweries and wineries. The underwater world just off the coast of Dunsborough is the resting place of the 113 meter long HMAS Swan, one of the largest wreck dives in the southern hemisphere. And for a diverse nature experience on land, check out the iconic 135 kilometer Cape to Cape Track along the Leeuwin-Naturaliste ridge.
Margaret River Region
The Margaret River Region is a renowned wine region set amid spectacular scenery: rolling vineyards, stunning coastlines and tranquil forests. The region boasts more than 100 wineries and produces over 20 percent of the nation’s premium wine. Margaret River is also well known for its craft breweries, fine restaurants and fresh produce. Goods from the region include ice cream, chocolate, truffles, olives, fruit and cheeses.
Perhaps the hardest part about visiting the Margaret River Region is deciding which wineries, breweries and eateries to visit. I spent a day exploring the region and managed to squeeze in four different locations. All of them were great and are worth a visit.
House of Cards Winery bottles all of its wine from its single vineyard. The winery produces Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Merlot, Malbec, Petit Verdot, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Viognier varietals.
The cellar door is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. It is located on the corner of Caves and Quininup Roads in Yallingup. Sample the full range of wine and enjoy local art and hand-made jewelry.
Cape Lavender Teahouse is a one stop shop for all of your lavender needs. The teahouse is located in a quaint early 1900s heritage-listed building complete with a gorgeous veranda. Indulge in a tea, coffee, ice cream or scone, all which can be infused with lavender. The shop also sales a variety of lavender items, including oils, lotions, chutneys, jams and honey. The teahouse is open from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.
Eagle Bay Brewing Co is a microbrewery, restaurant and vineyard all in one on a family farm. The microbrewery crafts a range of beers, including lagers, ales and a kolsch. Purchase a tasting tray for $16 to try the six craft beers available.
The restaurant serves up a variety of Australian eats crafted from fresh local ingredients. The menu changes each season to reflect local produce available, but basic items include cheese boards, pizza and mains.
The small Eagle Bay Vineyard produces Shiraz, Semillon and Cabernet Sauvignon varietals crafted by winemakers in the Margaret River Region. Eagle Bay Brewing Co is set in a bright spacious building that opens up to the beautiful grounds overlooking Cape Naturaliste and the Indian Ocean. It is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.
Gabriel Chocolate imports raw cacao beans from around the world and creates single-origin chocolate bars. The chocolate shop sources from places like Ghana, Indonesia, Venezuela and Ecuador.
The chocolaterie creates white, milk and dark chocolate from its single-origin cacao beans. Chocolate creations include rocky road, salted caramel chocolate bars and cacao nibs. The shop also has a small cafe that serves drinks, ice cream and cookies. Gabriel Chocolate is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.
What are you favorite urban spots in the South West of Western Australia?