|Subject: Re: Oz - Perth & Margaret's River|
G'day Candice and Ziners,
I was in the Margaret River area (note, there is no 's) last year, so maybe I can give you some pointers about this part of the visit.
Firstly, West Australia is a vast area with a small population, which you may already know, and that means that outside the few larger cities there is not a lot of high class accommodation (which suits us fine, as we prefer unobtrusive accommodation). On the other hand, it means relatively light road traffic and not many restrictions on stopping to enjoy the view, etc.
Secondly, the entire South-West corner has boomed (relatively) only recently with the growth of viticulture. Margaret River was a small town serving the local dairy and timber industries, so it has not yet (imho) thrown off the bursting/overflowing character of such growth towns. One the other hand, it is in a very interesting area, with wild beaches, limestone caves, expansive forests, etc all around. And due to an idiosyncrasy of the local dialect, about 90% of the towns and districts have the ending "up" which takes some getting used to.
I don't know what other plans you have for this visit, but having traveled so far, it would be a pity not to experience a larger slice of WA's south than just the Margaret River Area. I recommend a 'round trip' something like the following -
1. Drive from Perth directly to Albany. About 4 hours easy driving - the coast around Albany is fabulous, as well as the wine areas, and the Stirling Ranges, though the latter is best around September for the wildflowers. One or two nights in Albany (an old whaling town, and the embarkation point of the first Aussies to go to WW1), and drive east to see some of the deserted bays and beaches. Albany has several choices of accommodation of international standard, though fairly modest.
2. Drive West to Denmark, then Pemberton. Interesting country, and of course the forests, which happily accept visitors. Accommodation a bit limited here, but acceptable, especially the classy Motel in Pemberton.
3. Drive to Augusta (not the same as Port Augusta in South Oz) for a short visit to the corner of Australia. The Indian and Southern oceans meet here, and its a good place for whales, but not likely in January. Its only about 1 1/2 hours from here to Margaret River, so probably no need to test the accommodation.
4. Stay either at Margaret River or Dunsborough or Busselton, taking day trips around the area. Lots of classy restaurants at the vineyards, and some have accommodation too which would be an alternative to staying in a town. Back to Perth from here is only a couple of hours - maybe 3 max. Don't miss the pier at Busselton - over a mile long, though only narrow. Just a few miles north at Bunbury one of the nicest things is the Dolphin Institute.
Each district in WA has a local guide (free) in a series prepared by the Tourist Authority, available at tourist offices, service stations, Motels etc. These are quite thorough with good maps and adverts for local attractions etc. The Margaret River district has prepared a big fold-out map and guide which will get you to anything worth seeing.
Only other comment I will make for now, is that I wish I were going there again - but we will one day soon.
Paul, in sunny Sydney