OUR TRAVELS ~ WESTERN AUSTRALIA
Western Australia’s Margaret River has put the South West on the world map for its wineries and gourmet food but a short drive from Margaret River town, the lesser-known beachside enclaves of Yallingup and Dunsborough provide the ultimate beach break for families.
Surrounded by the Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park, laidback surf town Yallingup – three hours south of Perth - has produced some champion surfers including retried pro, Taj Burrow.
With the Margaret River region boasting more than 75 surfing breaks along a 130km stretch of coastline, surfers can get a wave no matter what the conditions. There are plenty of good teachers around - like the team from Yallingup Surf School - to show you the ropes if you’re not the next Taj Burrow just yet.
However if you came for the food, wine and scenery rather than the waves, you’re still in the right place.
A chilled surfer’s paradise it may be but Yallingup and the charming nearby town of Dunsborough are home to several well-known spa retreats, natural caves, hiking trails, a thriving arts scene, wineries and breweries, fresh produce, snorkelling and fishing.
Yallingup is Aboriginal for ‘the place of love’ so it’s the perfect spot for a holiday with your loved ones and this area caters for kids so well.
Here are our tips for a killer family holiday in WA...
SEE + DO
The natural beauty of the region is simply staggering.
With granite and limestone boulders jutting out into the Indian Ocean, protected opal-coloured bays, white sand beaches and lush surrounds, there are a host of natural wonders to explore.
Rise early to begin your day with a spectacular Western Australian sunrise. Dunsborough sits on a north easterly facing beach so its well worth getting your tribe out of bed to see the sunrise over Geographe Bay.
After a coffee at Wild and Woods Cafe in Dunsborough, take a cultural tour through the caverns and chambers of the ancient Ngilgi Cave, and stroll the timber footbridges over the natural canal at Canal Rocks.
Don’t miss a dip at the Indijup Natural Spa, a once-hidden gem, which is not so secret anymore thanks to Instagram.
Just head out of Yallingup towards Margaret River, follow Wyadup Road to the end and you will come across a car park. After a short and rocky downhill walk, you’ll find the rock pool, which is so tranquil; you’ll want to jump in even if the weather is a little chilly.
When the waves blast through the narrow rock alley, it causes the water to foam as it enters the pool creating a natural spa - and hours of fun for young and old.
For the energetic, Dunsborough is famous for the self-guided Cape to Cape Track, which runs along the Leeuwin-Naturaliste Ridge, between the lighthouses of Cape Naturaliste and Cape Leeuwin.
The track runs for 135kms – yep, the kids won’t be up to this one - but you can do sections of it such as Dunsborough to Meelup Beach, a short but scenic 3.5km walk along the dramatic cliffs.
The region’s beaches are also a major drawcard and in the warmer months, it’s easy to spend an entire day just chilling on the white sand, swimming and stand-up paddling boarding.
Bunker Bay is a tourist favourite as is Smith’s Beach, which has luxury beachfront accommodation as well as a gourmet deli and café for a coffee hit.
The beautiful, tree-lined Meelup Beach at the northern end of town is a winner with families as its protected by Geographe Bay and has plenty of shade.
The Margaret River region is one of the few places where you can watch the sun rise and set over the ocean so don’t leave town without watching it disappear over Yallingup Beach or from Sugarloaf Rock; it’s nature at its best.
If you have time, spend a morning or afternoon at Bussleton.
It’s a little more touristy than most of the places we went to but a lot of fun to be had with kids.
We started our day with breakfast at Goose Bar and Kitchen followed by a ride on the famous jetty train – just $6 per a child above two and $13 for an adult – which takes you on a 1.7km ride along Bussleton Jetty across the aquamarine waters of Geographe Bay. It’s the longest timber-piled jetty in the Southern Hemisphere and a perfect spot to take in the beauty of the area.
Bussleton also has one of the best beachside skateparks that we’ve come across which suited toddlers through to adults.
A day at Bussleton is not complete without a scoop of the famous Simmo’s icecream from the waterfront kiosk and a chill in the park.
On a hot day, you can SUP in the bay, jump off a smaller pier into a netted swimming area or head out for a fish.
They do breakfast well in the South West and none better than Goanna Gallery and Bush Café. Located amongst the gum trees in bushland just five minutes drive from Dunsborough town, it’s of little wonder there’s often a queue for a table at this quirky spot.
A highlight was the Indonesian breakfast with spiced coconut rice, fried egg, spinach, avocado, pesto coriander and sweet soy sauce and a strong flat white.
After a day of exploring, lunch at Eagle Bay Brewing Co. won’t disappoint.
Set on a working farm, the microbrewery, restaurant and vineyard is nestled on the hills of Eagle Bay and has panoramic views, a locally sourced menu and a playground and sprawling lawn for the kids to run on while you eat and drink.
You can’t visit a world-famous wine region without a wine tasting and the Tuscan-style Palmers Winery is a little taste of Italy in Dunsborough.
In the late afternoons, follow the aromatic smell to Yallingup Woodfired Bread.
It is hard to find but make it your mission to get your hands on a loaf of their biodynamic sourdough and famous fruit bread when it comes out of the volcanic stone ovens at 4pm every afternoon.
After a long day at the beach, swing by Dunsborough’s Simmo’s Icecreamery, which was recently included in the list of the top 15 icecreamies in the world by USA Today – for good reason. This ice cream parlour has a huge outdoor playground, picnic tables, barbecues, mini golf and their own resident emu.
After watching the sunset at Yallingup Beach, enjoy a pub meal at the restored 114-year-old Caves House Hotel, which is family-friendly and has outdoor movies and twilight markets in summer, an outdoor pizza shack, live music and plenty of good vibes.
SHOP TIL YOU DROP
Aside from the obligatory surf stores, the lively township of Dunsborough, which has been compared to Byron Bay back in the 90s, is home to a plethora of cafes, restaurants, organic stores and quality boutique shopping.
Shop a slick edit of premium Australian and international labels such as Yoli & Otis, Lack of Color, F+H Jewellery, One Teaspoon and the celebrity shade of choice Valley Eyewear at Laneway Btq on Dunn Bay Road.
A little further down the street, pick up some bohemian goodness from Byron Bay brand-turned-international success story Spell as well as pieces from Aussie brands Zulu & Zephyr, Zimmermann and Bassike.
For timeless fashion basics and accessories, One Palm Studio is well worth a visit.
The region is home to several well-known spas and, if you can have a couple of hours child-free, there’s no better place to rest your weary legs than at Indijup Spa Retreat.
The petite day spa offers 180-degree views over the ruggedly beautiful Indijup Beach and a double room for couple’s treatments.
We opted to stay at a private home but there are a host of different accommodation options to suit every budget in Dunsborough and Yallingup.