Despite the 8-hour flight to Perth, the Margaret River wine region of Western Australia remains one of Hong Kong residents’ favourite family holiday destinations. But what exactly does it have to offer that continues to entice us back year after year? Perhaps it’s the fabulous white sandy beaches, or the large show caves you can explore? Or is it the family-friendly wineries that produce 20% of Australia’s premium wine? Sassy Mama reveals all the top tips on what to do, what to see and where to eat when visiting Margaret River with the kids!
What to Do
The Margaret River region boasts some of the world’s most stunning beaches along its wild, rugged coastline, which runs over 120km from Cape Naturaliste in the North to Cape Leeuwin in the South. Think long stretches of white sand, bright blue seas, and rugged dune backdrops. Some of our favourites include Smiths Beach, Bunker Bay, Eagle Bay and Gnarabup Beach. Further south you will find Hamelin Bay, famous for its friendly stingrays that come into shore – perfect for some unique holiday snaps.
You can’t come to the Margaret River and not partake in a little wine tasting – it’s practically the whole point of the place. The Margaret River produces less than 4% of Australia’s wine, but over 20% of their premium wine – meaning there is a lot of good plonk out there for your enjoyment. With well over 100 wineries in the region, you are spoilt for choice – so get hold of the latest James Halliday’s Australian Wine Companion, designate a driver and head for Caves Road, the major artery of the Margaret River, around which many of the wineries are scattered. You will be surprised just how family-friendly many of these wineries are too – providing toy boxes in the tasting rooms, garden games and even playgrounds. On our last Margaret River holiday, we visited 19 wineries in a week – with the kids in tow (and more importantly no complaining from them), so don’t let having the kids around stop you!
Laurance Winery Playground
If you are new to the Margaret River region, or to wine tasting in general, then taking a wine tour is an excellent way to get into the swing of things – and more importantly it means nobody has to drive! We can wholeheartedly recommend Wine for Dudes for their down-to-earth yet hugely knowledgeable tours. They provide private tours and are incredibly child-friendly. Cheers!
Yes most people come to the Margaret River to drink wine, but the region is also famous for its show caves, where you can descend into the depths of the Earth to marvel at the beautifully lit stalactites and stalagmites. Both Jewel Cave and Lake Cave can be visited via guided tour, or if you prefer to wander at your leisure, then you can stroll through the crystal chambers of Mammoth Cave guided by an MP3 audio tour.
If your kids are aged 10 or above, check out Moondyne Cave, where you can take the caving experience to the next level by kitting out in overalls, gloves and helmets, and exploring the tunnels and caverns via torchlight.
Mazes and Animals
For some purely kid-focused fun, check out A Maze’n Margaret River, which features a 3-metre-high giant hedge maze and a 18-hole mini golf course, in addition to five hectares of landscaped gardens with a selection of games, more mazes and playgrounds. For some animal fun, then make your way to the Wonky Windmill Farm to feed the sheep, goats, kangaroos, emus, llamas and alpacas, bottle-feed milk to the little lambs and calves, and cuddle a rabbit or guinea pig. The Yallingup Shearing Shed, with its fun and lively sheep shearing and sheepdog demonstrations is another hit with the kids!
Wonky Windmill Farm
Where to Eat (and Drink…)
We’ve already talked about the fabulous wine at the mercifully child-friendly wineries – but did we mention the incredible cuisine they serve up too? Many of the wineries boast fantastic cellar door restaurants, dishing up fresh local seafood and seasonal produce.
Will’s Domain Winery Playground
Will’s Domain has the perfect combination of a sensational menu, views over the valley, and children’s playground in full view of the dining tables. Laurance is another good choice for being able to keep an eye on the playground as you eat, with a more casual menu of burgers, salads and platters, while Swings & Roundabouts serves up a mean pizza, eaten as you lounge about on beanbags and watch the kids run around the vast lawns and play swingball. Other beautiful yet child-friendly wineries to check out for lunch include Xanadu, Hay Shed Hill, Knee Deep and Watershed.
If you find you’ve had your fill of fine wine (if that’s possible), then the breweries in Margaret River offer a fun and laid-back alternative. The Colonial Brewing Company, Duckstein Brewery and Cheeky Monkey Brewery all offer children’s playgrounds, ample outdoor seating and traditional pub fare, all to be enjoyed as you sample a selection of their home-brewed craft beers.
Cheeky Monkey Brewery
Note that the cellar door and brewery restaurants are only open for lunch (breweries tend to serve until 5pm) – this leaves you free to barbecue at home in the evenings and indulge in all that wine you’ve bought during the day. If you prefer to head out for dinner, then check out Lamont’s at Smith’s Beach Resort, the Pour House or Clancy’s Fish Pub in Dunsborough, or Swings Tap House & Kitchen in Margaret River town.
What’s a family holiday without ice cream? Margaret River’s ice creameries are sure to be a hit with the whole family. Simmo’s, just outside Dunsborough, is a favourite family stop-off point, with its 60 flavours of seriously good ice-cream, a large outdoor playground, mini golf, and an ice-cream eating Emu called Edward.
Playground at Simmos Ice Cream
If you’re further south and looking for sweet treats, then check out Millers Ice Cream, located on the family farm just outside Cowaramup. Millers scrumptious ice cream is made using milk from their own cows, and has an excellent adventure playground for the kids too.
Where to Stay
Bunker Bay Beach
Pullman Bunker Bay Resort
The Pullman Bunker Bay Resort is the most renowned hotel in the area, and is a great choice for families. The one and two bungalow-style villas include kitchens and laundry facilities, and accommodation is free for 2 children under 12 years sharing their parents’ room. It’s just a few steps from the fabulous Bunker Bay beach and also features a stunning outdoor heated infinity pool. A Kids Club is also available for children aged 5-11, and they offer a babysitting service. Perfect!
Smiths Beach Resort
Dream of waking up to stunning ocean views every morning? Smiths Beach Resort sits on one of the most spectacular beaches in the region. The self-catering accommodation at this stylish resort ranges from 1-bedroom apartments to 4-bedroom beach houses, with all rooms featuring private living areas with a full kitchen, outdoor barbecues and private parking spaces. There is also an excellent onsite restaurant, Lamont’s, as well as a gourmet deli and bottle shop. Add to that a swimming pool and tennis court and this is an excellent (if pricey) option for a relaxing holiday.
Sunflowers Animal Farm
If you’re raising city kids in Hong Kong, then you could evoke some major excitement by staying on a farm for your holiday. Sunflower Animals Farm provides farm-stay accommodation in four separate cottages. The accommodation itself is distinctly no-frills in design, but guests staying here get unlimited access to the farm, including free buckets of animal food, as well as the opportunity to get involved in the farm activities, such as pony rides, tractor rides and collecting eggs.
Private House Hire
If you are visiting with a group of friends, then hiring a private house is a great option. There are loads of large properties available for hire, which give you all the space you need for the kids to run around and entertain themselves. Most of these places also come with laundry, barbecue and kitchen facilities to help make your holiday smoother. Private Properties has a fabulous selection of high-end houses to choose from in the area – and they can work out to be fantastic value when split between families.
With plenty to eat, see and do what adults and little ones alike, Margaret River is the perfect place to plan your next holiday retreat! You deserve it, mama!