By: Tatum Stafford
Margaret River is renowned for its wine, surf beaches and towering forests – but did you know it’s also home to a rock-hopping coastal tour, a raptor wildlife centre and a farm than runs sourdough workshops?
If you’re a frequent visitor to the South West, you may be looking to try something different on your next trip to this world-famous town. So we’ve put together a list of 10 unique Margaret River experiences you may never have considered.
Ultimate guide to Margaret River »
1. Join an adventure wine tour
Wine tours are a staple in the world-class Margaret River Wine Region, but if you've been to the region before, it’s likely you’ve already visited some of its more notable wineries. For a very different kind of wine tour, consider Sean Blocksidge’s Margaret River Discovery Tour.
It’s described as ‘the tour for people who don’t do tours’, and features a few bespoke winery experiences alongside activities like four-wheel driving, canoeing and gourmet produce tasting. Other tour highlights include a guided walk along a section of the Cape to Cape track, a trip to the Aboriginal dreamtime site Yalgardup Falls, and whale-watching (in season) over the Wilyabrup coastal cliffs.
2. Camp steps from the beach
In a town so renowned for its coastline, it’s not hard to understand why the beachfront campground at Conto’s is one of Margaret River’s busiest camping spots. Nestled amongst shady peppermint trees, there are 116 sites that cater for tents, caravans and camper trailers.
Contos Beach, a great spot for surfing, fishing and swimming, is a stone’s throw from the campground. The campground also has direct access to a leg of the 123km-long Cape to Cape Track that runs from Contos to Redgate Beach. This 6.3km trail is rated as moderate in difficulty, and showcases an array of wildflowers in springtime. Stop for a photo at the clifftops overlooking Contos Beach.
3. Take a sourdough workshop
Alongside its world-class wines, Margaret River is famous for its gourmet food, often lovingly prepared by local producers, bakers and growers. If you’d like to learn a thing or two from the experts, book your spot in a food workshop at One Table Farm. They offer a range of paddock to plate classes and experiences, but their One Day All About Sourdough class is one of their most popular workshops.
With sourdough recipes that range from crumpets, scrolls and doughnuts to pizza bases and crackers, the full day workshop teaches all the essential skills of sourdough, beginning with your very own 12-year-old sourdough starter provided by the farm. While your goods are in the oven, you’ll receive a guided tour of the farm’s organically managed garden. You’ll also leave the farm with your very own loaf of fresh sourdough bread.
4. Get hands-on with reptiles
The Discover Deadly Education Centre was founded to encourage a positive attitude towards ‘dangerous’ animals, and to bust common myths that surround Australia's infamous (and often, venomous) wildlife.
They host a range of interactive reptile activities, including crocodile feeding sessions, snake bite first aid workshops and the chance to hold pythons and lizards. If you'd rather admire these creatures from a distance, there are more than 30 different species of reptiles, amphibians and arachnids to view throughout the centre, making it the largest display of its kind in the South West.
5. Try your hand at glass making
As hundreds of artists call Margaret River home, there are plenty of exciting art experiences on offer. Hot glass artist Gerry Reilly creates handmade blown art glass in his Melting Pot Glass Studio, and luckily for art lovers, he also runs interactive workshops and classes where he teaches the entire glass making process.
The ‘Blow Your Own Bauble’ class is suitable for all ages. You’ll have free reign to choose your desired colour and texture, and will get to help Gerry with the final torchwork. The Create Your Own Wine Glass is another popular workshop where you’ll assist Gerry in creating a totally unique, stemless wine glass. For a more extensive experience, book a seat for the one hour, half day or full day glass making workshop.
6. Go ‘coasteering’ along the coastline
Defined as a blend of rock-hopping, shore-scrambling, swell-riding and rock jumping, the adrenaline-inducing activity of coasteering is one of the most unique ways to view Margaret River’s coastline. A tour with Margaret River Adventure Co. is your best bet if you’re eager to give coasteering a go.
Run by Dr Cam O’Beirne, these two-hour coasteering tours take place on a portion of rocky coastline, and require you to don a wetsuit, jump into the ocean and swim between rocks, and haul yourself out of the water. As everyone has different abilities, Cam will tailor each coasteering experience so your tour will be as fun and safe as possible. Keep an eye out for migrating whales if you’re visiting from late May to November.
7. Go adventure caving
The Margaret River region is dotted with hundreds of limestone caves, but there’s are only a few that offer self-guided, adventure caving experiences by torchlight. Giants Cave is the deepest cave within the Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park, descending a whopping 86m below sea level. Upon arrival, you’ll be given a helmet, a torch and a briefing from a member of the cave staff. Before you arrive it’s important to know children under the age of 6 aren’t permitted entry, and enclosed footwear is required.
Exploring the cave involves navigating vertical ladder climbs, tight spots and rock scrambles. Some of the cave’s most impressive features include the spacious Ballroom chamber and the ‘Chimney’ passage, named as it involves a few steep vertical ladder climbs wedged between narrow rocks.
8. Join a Wadandi Cultural Cape Experience
The Wadandi people have a deep connection to the region covered by the South West’s Cape to Cape trail. A great way to learn more about this connection is by joining one of Koomal Dreaming’s Cape Cultural Experiences. Beginning with a ‘Welcome to Country’, the experience involves an easy 2.5km walk around the tip of Cape Naturaliste, where your Wadandi guide will provide commentary about the seasonal flora and fauna in the region.
The tour concludes at a private meeting place for a didgeridoo music session and gourmet BBQ.
9. Tour a local organic farm
The 15-hectare Burnside Organic Farm houses a series of rammed earth bungalows, vineyards, gardens, an orchard and an animal farm. While guests staying onsite can feed the farm animals and pick fresh vegetables and herbs from the garden, day visitors can join the Burnside Organic Farm tour to understand how both the farm and winery operate.
The comprehensive tour is two hours long, and introduces visitors to the organic winemaking process, details how the farm’s animals are integrated into farming systems, and offers tastings of fresh honey, capers and biodynamic wines. Hosts Jamie and Lara McCall have more than 20 years of experience in small-scale organic farming, so you’ll be in great hands.
10. Visit Australia’s largest collection of raptors
Set amongst pristine natural bushland, the Eagles Heritage Raptor Wildlife Centre was founded to provide care for injured, orphaned and displaced raptors, including hawks, eagles, falcons and owls. Watch one of two 40-minute daily flight displays to see these beautiful birds up close, then pose for a photo with Ivy the Barn Owl.
Proceeds from entry help the centre continue to provide care for wildlife in the area, and fund training for budding volunteer wildlife rehabilitators.
11. Visit a shell museum
Home to Australia’s largest private collection of shells and coral, the Bellview Shell Collection displays more than 30,000 rare specimens collected from all over the world. It also features rare shark teeth and handcrafted shell jewellery that’s available for purchase.
The museum is open on weekends, public holidays and during school holidays.
Inspired to pay Margaret River a visit?
RAC members save up to 20%* on stays at RAC Margaret River Nature Park.
*Terms and conditions apply. Member rate varies according to season. See full website for details.
Image credit: Margaret River Adventure Co. Last updated: May 2022