We have just returned from yet another family holiday to the Margaret River wine region of Western Australia. One of our favourite holiday destinations, the Margaret River is a three-hour drive south of Perth and is just perfect for a family vacation. From child-friendly wineries, to incredible beaches, petting farms, caves to explore and seriously good ice creameries, here are five reasons why you should consider the Margaret River for your next family holiday:
Margaret River Wineries
You can’t go to Margaret River and ignore the wineries; it’s pretty much the point of the place. Luckily having kids in tow doesn’t mean you have to skip the joys of wine tasting, as so many of the Margaret River wineries have child-friendly facilities. From kids menus in the restaurants, to toy boxes in the tasting rooms, to large grassy lawns with garden games, and even playgrounds, the Margaret River wine region is paradise for oenophiles with children. I have to confess – we visited 19 wineries in a week, but far from complaining, our kids rushed into each one excited to find what ‘games’ they had. Some of our favourite wineries to visit with kids include Aravina, Laurance, Swings & Roundabouts and Will’s Domain. Read Child-Friendly Wine Tasting in the Margaret River for more recommendations.
Margaret River Beaches
Despite my confession above, it’s not all about wine tasting in the Margaret River – the region boasts some of the world’s most stunning beaches along its wild, rugged coastline too. Running over 120km from Cape Naturaliste in the North to Cape Leeuwin in the South, the Western border of the Margaret River region is where the raw natural beauty of the area is at its most evident. Long stretches of pure white sand run alongside rugged rocks and dunes, while the beautifully clear water is impossible to resist. Pack your boogie boards, snorkels and buckets and spades and head west to the coast, and you are bound to find an incredible beach to spend a few hours on. Some of our favourites include Smiths Beach, Eagle Bay and Gnarabup Beach.
Animal Attractions in the Margaret River
If you have city-kids like me, then they will love the opportunity to visit the petting farms and see all the animals up-close. At the Wonky Windmill Farm, kids get to feed sheep, goats, ponies, pigs, ducks, emus, kangaroos and even llamas and alpacas. Also on the agenda, is bottle-feeding milk to the little lambs and calves and cuddling a rabbit or guinea pig. Sunflowers Animal Farm offers more of the same, with the option of a farmstay where the kids can enjoy pony and tractor rides and help collect the eggs in the morning. Another highlight is the Yallingup Shearing Shed, with its fun and lively sheep shearing and sheepdog demonstrations.
Margaret River Caves
If your kids fancy themselves as adventurers, then head for the caves. While most people associate the Caves Road with the many wineries dotted along it, it is actually named after the complex of more than 150 underground caves that run the length of Leeuwin Naturaliste Ridge. Two of the most famous show caves – Jewel and Lake – can be visited via guided tour, where you descend into the depths of the Earth to marvel at the beautifully lit stalactites, stalagmites and other natural calcium sculptures. There are a lot of steps, but we managed Lake Cave with two 4-year olds with no (okay, maybe just a little) whinging. If you prefer to wander at your leisure, then visit Mammoth Cave to stroll the boardwalks of the crystal chambers guided by an MP3 audio tour. Families with older children (aged 10 and above) can take the caving experience to the next level with a visit to Moondyne Cave, where you don overalls, gloves and helmets to explore the tunnels and caverns via torchlight. Cool!
Margaret River Ice Cream
What’s a family holiday without ice cream? Luckily for the kids (and maybe Mum too), Margaret River also excels in this domain. Our favourite stop-off for afternoon treats is Simmo’s, just outside Dunsborough. This ice creamery dishes up 60 flavours of seriously amazing ice cream, and also has a playground, a large shady lawn, mini golf and an ice cream-eating emu named Edward to entertain the kids. If you find yourself with sweet cravings further south, then head to Millers Ice Cream, located on the family farm just outside Cowaramup. Millers fabulous ice cream is made using milk from their own cows, and the farm café has an excellent adventure playground for the kids too.
So there you have it – the fabulous Margaret River. If you have any other tips for entertaining the kids here, please let me know as I am sure I will be back again next year!