With Jetstar flights soon to take off from Melbourne to Busselton-Margaret River airport, it's the perfect time to plan your trip to Australia's South West. Flying direct into the heart of the Margaret River region means you're just that little bit closer to some of the best the region has to offer, some of which is only a day trip away from Margaret River. We've compiled a list to help you get started.
Don't miss these day trips from Margaret River on your trip from #MelbstoMargs.
Bunbury and Ferguson Valley
If you travel 1hr north toward Bunbury, not only will you find a bustling café strip, boutique cocktail bars and street art galore, you'll also find a premier wild dolphin experience at the Dolphin Discovery Centre for the whole family to enjoy. Friendly wild bottlenose dolphins frolic in the shallows of Koombana Bay from November to April and during this time you can book a Dolphin Swim for an even better up-close experience. Not your thing? Eco Cruises run year-round so you can see the dolphins as they frolic, play, eat and sleep out at sea.
Just a short 15-minute drive from the regional centre of Bunbury you will find the historic town of Dardanup and the start of the Ferguson Valley. Sample wines from intimate cellar doors (there’s about eight to choose from), or sit down to a beer from a craft brewery. Be sure to visit the quirky, growing number of gnomes who call the region home at Gnomesville, the magical home of over 3000 Gnomes who have migrated from all over Australia and overseas. Located by the roundabout at the junction of Wellington Mill and Ferguson Roads, Gnomesville offers magical experience as you wander through villages and glades full of playful, naughty and sentimental Gnomes climbing logs, hanging out in trees, playing cricket, even flying planes!
Once in the valley, head toward Collie and explore the world's largest dam wall mural at Wellington Dam. Painted by internationally renowned artist Guido Van Helten, the mural spans 8,000sqm and really is a sight to see. Follow the Collie Mural Trail to discover street art dotted around the town. While in Collie, don't miss seeing the eye-catching blue lakes Black Diamond and Stockton, both former open cut mine sites that are now filled with water that shines turquoise blue.
Villages in the Valley
Take a charming country drive east along what is known as the Villages in the Valley road trip, past rolling hills and undulating farmland and into the beginning of the Southern Forests and Valleys. Stop in Nannup (only 50minutes from Margaret River) and explore the main street, stock up on bespoke tea blends from the Tiny Tea Shop, wander the Heritage Trail that celebrates the history of the area and check out the Holberry Sculpture walk.
Just a half hour on from Nannup and you'll arrive in Bridgetown. Here, you can stop for a cider, canoe the Blackwood River, stroll the historic streets and discover quaint and quirky artisan wares, sweet treats and vintage finds. Bridgetown was gazetted in 1868 and many of the first buildings constructed in that era including the post office and two hotels, are still standing today, lending a rustic charm to the main street, and cementing the entire town as a Heritage Town in 2000 by the National Trust. Our tip: visit in winter for a misty-morning and a winter charm, as the town is the self-dubbed 'Winter capital of Western Australia'.
Next head on toward Balingup, where you'll find the magnificent 60 hectare Golden Valley Tree Park, WA’s largest arboretum. Voted one of the five top spots in Australia to see autumn colours, this place is a 'must-see'. Travel along Balingup-Nannup road back to Margaret River.
Manjimup & Pemberton
Drive 1.5hrs east to Manjimup during truffle season in winter, where you can join a truffle dog hunt to dig up the black Périgord truffle. Year-round, enjoy truffle on the menu at one of the local restaurants in this region, known as Australia's truffle heartland. Be sure to check out the Manjimup Heritage Park, where you and the family can discover the many stories of Manjimup and the Southern Forests at the museums, including the new Powerup Electricity Museum, as well as natural bushlands, heritage displays, walk trails and onsite playground.
Also 1.5hrs away (and 40minutes from Manjimup) is Pemberton, where you'll find impressive climbing trees that were once fire lookouts, as well as one of the world's largest moving sand dune systems at Yeagarup Dunes. Here you can take a four-wheel drive tour to experience impressive sweeping views. While here, stop by tranquil lakes in stunning inland forests, perfect for swimming and catching trout and marron (freshwater crayfish).
These towns all make for great day trips from Margaret River, but of course each have so much more to see. Extend your stay and consider spending a few nights further afield for a holiday of exploration you'll never forget.
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