After arriving into Perth and spending a delightful day catching up with Tino and Sparksy it was time for me to fulfil a dream I’ve had for sometime, and that was to explore the Margaret River region of SW Western Australia.
This world renown wine growing area is also home to some of Australia’s most rugged, wind swept and spectacular coastlines.
After driving south from Fremantle the scenery quickly changed from the drier plains to lush farmland known for its dairy farming, Karri forests and deserted beaches.
I reached the town of Bunbury after a two hour drive, with my first port of call so to speak being the Dolphin Discovery Center. 🙂
This is one of two places in Western Australia (the other is Monkey Mia which is north of Perth at Shark Bay) where wild dolphins come into the beach to frolic in the shallows with people on a daily basis. A phenomenal experience to be in knee to waist deep water on the beach and have wild dolphins swimming around you.
My next stop was Busselton. This little town is named after one of the first families to settle this rugged and unforgiving part of Australia back in 1835.
It is also home to the Busselton Jetty which is one of the longest wood piled jetty’s in the world, measuring at just over 1.8 kilometres in length. First opened in 1865 to support the opening up of the south west, and in fact has a train line the runs the length of the jetty and was an early access point for shipping the best local hardwoods (Karri and Jarrah) all over the world.
Over the years it has survived devastating cyclones and fires, and in 1971 was finally decommissioned as an operating port facility, and has since been restored to its original glory. It’s a must see on your journey south but bring your walking boots!
Further west, along the coast is the Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse. Interestingly, this is where the Indian Ocean and the Southern Oceans meet, thus causing extreme winds, hidden reefs and rogue waves. The lighthouse was opening in 1903 after more than 14 shipwrecks had occurred in the preceding years along is rocky coast.
I took the lighthouse tour with Leon who is the local guide and caretaker, having lived on the property for the past 15 years, with one of the things he loves most is watching the whales migrate along the coast during the year. The views from the top of the lighthouse were amazing!
Given that I absolutely love the beach and ocean I had decided to book myself into the Margaret Beach Resort in Gnarabup. This little hamlet is situated a mere 12 kilometres from the town centre of Margaret River on the coast. 🙂
The accomodations were tired if you know what I mean, but I wasn’t too fussed given that the pristine sandy beach was less that 500 metres from my room. I made it just in time to watch a gorgeous fiery red sunset…
It was one of those moments that I thanked the universe for bringing me to this spot at this time. All I can say is that the photos are epic from my sunset shoot! 🙂
Day two saw me up and over to the White Elephant Cafe for breakfast. I was there to meet Kellie Tannock the owner and operator of Walk, Talk, Taste which is a local tour company specialising in just that. Over a morning coffee Kellie was able to provide some excellent tips on places to go and things to experience. If you’re in this part of the world and interested in an authentic Margaret River experience reach out to Kellie on her website (above link).
She spoke about two things in particular that really caught my attention. The first was Hamelin Bay whereby you could interact with wild stingrays in the shallow waters of the bay. The second was to explore one of the many limestone caves which dot this part of the world.
Hamelin’s Bay is 40 kilometres south of Gnarabup, but well worth the drive. The beautiful white sandy beach was indeed inundated with wild stingrays, and very few people. They felt like velvet as they brushed against my leg and fingers in the crystal clear water.
After enjoying my interactions with these majestic sea creatures it was time to find and experience one of the many caves and explore. Kellie had suggested I go see Jewel Cave, but there are over 100 caves of varying shapes and sizes, with only a handful open to the public.
I was not to be disappointed, as I descended deep into the cavern I realised that I was witnessing one of the wonders of the natural world, with the massive chambers festooned with stalactites (down) and stalagmites (up) forming massive limestone columns. In addition, tree roots and root systems of the eucalyptus forest above are visible on the roof of the caves.
Mother nature at her beautiful best!
This “wind” cave was discovered by accident back in the 1900’s by miners, when they noticed that air was rushing out of a hole in the middle of the bush. It was then rediscovered in 1957 after an intrepid local was lowered into the hole. Jewel cave runs to a depth of 42 meters below the ground surface with some 2 kilometres of caverns emanating from where they discovered the cave. Only a small portion is open to the public, but it truly is a “must see” when visiting.
As you know the Margaret River is best known internationally for its wines, and I was fortunate enough to stop in at the Leeuwin Estate Winery for an afternoon tasting. Quite delicious as you’d expect!
My final night in Margaret River was the pièce de résistance after Kellie suggested that I dine at Pizzcia. Delicious food including incredible wood fired pizza straight from Puglia in Southern Italy. The food was out of this world, and you can almost taste the sun in the tomatoes on the generously piled bruschetta.
It was difficult to leave this part of Australia, with so many natural wonders, friendly locals and tasty food and drink.
If you ever have the opportunity to travel to this region I would highly recommend visiting this diverse and beautiful part of Australia. You’ll be so glad you did!
Until next week