7 Must-See Stops on a Perth to Margaret River Road Trip

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The Perth to Margaret River Road Trip is an institution for locals and visitors alike. A trip “down south,” as the locals say, is a popular activity no matter the time of the year thanks to the beautiful coastline, towering karri forests and stunning wineries that the Margaret River Region is best known for. 

In this guide, I’ll cover everything you need to know to make the most of your road trip, with suggested stops and sightseeing opportunities along the way. I’ll also cover what to do, see and eat when you get to Margaret River. 

Getting to Margaret River

Getting to Margaret River is a breeze from Perth if you’re driving. 

After hiring your car in Perth, simply jump on the Kwinana Freeway heading south which you’ll basically stay on for most of your journey. There’s a grand total of two (yep, just two!) turns the whole time until you reach Margaret River. 

The freeway is fully sealed bitumen and easy to drive on. It should take you around 3 hours to travel the 270 kilometres from Perth to Margaret River with no stops. If you’ve got the time, I recommend making a few stops at some of these fun attractions along the way.

There are frequent petrol stations on the side of the highway, as well as rest stops where you can pull over and stretch your legs as well as places to grab a coffee or snack.

I recommend driving to Margaret River so you have access to a car to get around, however, it is possible to get there on public transport. 

South West Coach Lines operates a daily service (twice daily on weekends) from the Elizabeth Quay Busport in Perth CBD and Perth Airport terminals to Margaret River.

Campervan Hire

You could also hire a campervan and camp in Margaret River (at a caravan park or one of the national park campgrounds). There is no free camping in Margaret River.

For campervan hire, here’s my top recommendations:

  • Budget: JUCY Campervans
  • Mid-RangeApollo
  • Luxury: StarRV (these campers look incredible! Definitely the way to go for full comfort on the road)
Exploring Margaret River by campervan

Recommended Stops on the Perth to Margaret River Drive

If time permits, I’d recommend stopping at one or two of the following places on the drive to Margaret River. They are all located close to the highway (except for Gnomesville), so it won’t be a lengthy detour. 

I’ve narrowed this down to what I think are the 7 best things to do and see outside of Perth. If you’ve been following my Perth itinerary, you may have already taken a day trip to one of these places. 

Perth to Margaret River Road Trip Map

Check out the map below to get an idea of their locations relative to the direct driving route (click to open an interactive version in Google Maps). 

Mandurah

Mandurah is a delightful coastal town that has boomed in popularity in recent years, thanks to its lovely foreshore and estuary pool, delicious dining options and unique Giants of Mandurah exhibit. 

It’s only an hour from Perth, so you could easily spend a few hours cruising the canals, spotting dolphins or simply wandering the boardwalk with its many cafes and restaurants. 

Check out my guide with 15 fun ideas for things to do in Mandurah for inspiration and more information. 

One of the Giants of Mandurah

Lake Clifton Thrombolites

Just 30 minutes south of Mandurah you’ll come across the Lake Clifton Thrombolites – some of the world’s oldest living organisms!

There’s a long boardwalk that stretches out over the wetlands and the lake where you can admire these unique rock-shaped organisms. 

The Crooked Carrot Cafe

Every time I drive past the Crooked Carrot Cafe on the highway in Myalup, it is packed!

This popular cafe is an easy turn-off on the highway and has a huge nature playground, tractors and even an old tram carriage. Their extensive menu makes the Crooked Carrot the perfect stop on your drive down south for lunch, a coffee or a sweet treat (or, all of the above!)

Bunbury

2 hours south of Perth you’ll find the small city of Bunbury situated on the coast.

Personally, I’d prefer to spend a few hours in Mandurah or keep driving further south to Busselton if you were exploring the town itself. However, Bunbury is home to one very unique attraction – the Dolphin Discovery Centre

This kid-friendly venue and research centre has interactive activities and exhibits. There are no dolphins inside the centre (they are outside in the ocean where they belong!) but there are aquariums with a range of marine life on display and feeding of rescued turtles in the Rehabilitation Centre. 

You can book a dolphin cruise or even swim with dolphins to get up close to the beautiful mammals.

When driving through Bunbury on the highway, consider stopping at the very popular Bunbury Farmers Market. This bustling centre has endless stalls of local fresh produce, cheese, meats and premade meals, fresh juices and a buzzing bakery cafe. 

Ferguson Valley & Gnomesville

The Ferguson Valley is one of my favourite day trips from Perth

This quaint region 2 hours south of Perth (just inland from Bunbury) is full of rolling green hills, boutique wineries and one of Western Australia’s quirkiest attractions – Gnomesville.

This little village of gnomes has sprung up over the years near a roundabout in the Ferguson Valley, and today is home to thousands of gnomes – some that have been brought to their new home by visitors from across the world! 

Check out my full guide here for more fun things to do in the Ferguson Valley. 

Busselton

As you reach the seaside city of Busselton, you know you’re getting close to your final destination! 

I love Busselton – this vibrant city is home to some fabulous restaurants, beautiful beaches and of course, the iconic Busselton Jetty! 

Make sure to spend some time exploring the jetty – you can walk down the 1.8-kilometre-long wooden jetty or catch the eco-friendly solar-powered cherry red Busselton Jetty Train. At the end of the jetty, you can head below the surface and explore the Underwater Observatory. 

For ticket information, check out the Busselton Jetty website here

After visiting the jetty, grab a bite and a drink from Shelter Brewery – the food here is fabulous and the views across the Busselton foreshore and ocean aren’t too shabby either! 

There are so many great things to do in Busselton and surrounds, that you could easily spend a night here before heading further south to Margaret River. 

The new Hilton Garden Inn, smack bang in the centre of the foreshore, would be my pick of hotels, but there’s a huge range of affordable hotels to suit all budgets along Caves Rd in between Busselton and Dunsborough. I also really enjoyed our stay at the Sebel, which was mere footsteps to the beach, plus two pools! 

Dunsborough

Drive 30 minutes along the coast from Busselton and you’ll reach the bustling town of Dunsborough. When travelling to the Margaret River Region, many choose to stay in Dunsborough as it has prime beach access and a large range of accommodation. 

Personally, I prefer staying near Margaret River town, but Dunsborough is worth stopping at on the drive down from Perth. 

Otherwise, it’s an hour’s drive from Margaret River, so it’s a bit of a detour to head back there during your time exploring Margaret River (but still very doable, if you don’t mind spending the extra time in the car!). 

Near Dunsborough, my favourite beach is the stunning Castle Rock with its crystal clear blue water. The nearby Meelup Beach is very popular with families and has watersports equipment for hire during the summer months. 

You could also squeeze in a visit to the nearby Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse which sits on the north cape and makes for a great spot for whale spotting from late August to November. 

You’ve Arrived! Welcome to Margaret River 

You know you’re in the right place when you venture slightly inland from the coast and the side of the road begins to feel like you’re entering a forest. Welcome to the beautiful town of Margaret River. Now, the real adventures begin. 

How Long to Spend in Margaret River

I’d recommend spending at least 2 – 3 nights in Margaret River. However, you could easily spend a week here too! There’s no shortage of things to do and see in the region. 

Where to Stay

Here are my top picks for accommodation for every budget. 

  • Budget – Higgins Lane Motel: this budget motel is located in the heart of town, perfect for walking around town and a centrally located base for exploring the region. 
  • Mid-Range – Margarets Inn Town Apartments: A great spot on the edge of town, still within walking distance to all the restaurants on the main street but in a peaceful location backing onto the forest. 
  • Luxury – Hidden Valley Forest Retreat: This incredible retreat is located closer to Dunsborough, about 30 minutes north of Margaret River Town but is my favourite luxury accommodation in the region. We spent the most incredible 2 nights here on my wedding anniversary and I can’t recommend it enough!

    If you’re looking for something closer to town, Burnside Organic Farm has stunning luxury chalets, located on their family-run biodynamic winery and would be my pick for a memorable luxury farm stay experience. 
Outdoor tub at Hidden Valley Forest Retreat

What to Do 

Here are some of my favourite things to do in the Margaret River region: 

  • Explore the stunning underground caves: the Margaret River region is riddled with unique limestone cave formations. There are six show caves open to the public in the area, all of which have their own unique features. Read more about what cave is right for you in my guide here
The stunning Jewel Cave near Augusta

  • Discover the famous wineries of the region: Is it a trip to Margaret River without going wine tasting? Leave the car at home and join a wine tour with a local guide.
    For a self-guided adventure, some of the most prestigious wineries are Voyager Estate, Vasse Felix and Cape Mentelle. For more boutique wineries, my favourites include Passel Estate, Redgate Wines and Fermoy Estate.
Wine tasting and picnic at Passel Estate
  • Spend your morning at a local Farmers Market: Every Saturday morning, locals and tourists alike flock to the vibrant Margaret Rivers Farmers Market to get fresh fruit and vegetables, coffee, and pastries and to shop for locally made goods including fresh jams, honey, tea and other goodies. There’s also a new Farmers Market in Cowaramup on a Sunday morning which is smaller but has more of a local vibe. 
  • Catch a sunset at Surfers Point: This is THE sunset spot, located an easy 10-minute drive away from Margaret River near the small seaside town of Prevelly. The elevated grassy area is perfect for a sunset picnic and wine while waiting for the sun to dip below the Indian Ocean. You can also check out where the Margaret River meets the ocean, and dip your toes in the refreshing waters of the river. 

For more ideas on what to do while you’re here, make sure to check out my full guide with over 30 ideas for things to do. 

Where to Eat

I can assure you, you won’t lack for tasty food options when visiting Margaret River. 

Here are some of my top spots in Margaret River town to add to your list:

  • Margaret River Brewhouse: this local brewery has incredible food! They are consistently great every time I visit and the pizzas are top-notch too
  • La Scarpetta Trattoria: the best Italian in town! Book ahead for dinner at this popular restaurant
  • Normal Van: The best burgers in the south-west – their fried chicken burger is unreal
  • Drift Cafe: a popular brunch spot just off the main street 

For an upscale winery restaurant lunch, popular options include Leeuwin Estate, Vasse Felix and Xanadu Winery. For a more casual option (charcuterie and cheese board style), my picks would be Mr Barval Fine Wines or Walsh & Sons.

Entrance of Voyager Estate
The grand Voyager Estate entrance

Final Thoughts

Western Australia has some unforgettable road trips – I should know, as I’ve done them all! But the Peth to Margaret River is one I recommend to all visitors to Perth. It’s close enough that it’s very easy to do as a weekend trip but allows you to experience some of the best nature, food and wine spots in Western Australia. If you’ve got time up your sleeve, continue extending your road trip to discover more of the South West.

Make sure to check out my other travel guides to help plan your adventures while in Western Australia, or feel free to leave a comment with any questions below. 

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