Margaret River and the surrounding area are a popular weekend trip and holiday destination from Perth. Being roughly 300kms from Western Australia’s capital, you should be able to get there in under three hours. While there are tons of things to do in the area, you’ll have to pay for many of them. If you don’t want to spend money on a wine tasting or a tour of the caves in the area, read about some of the free outdoor activities you can do around Margaret River:
- Walk to Quinninup Falls
- Relax at Injidup Natural Spa
- See wild rays at Hamelin Bay
- Hike around Cape Naturaliste and spot whales from shore
- Camp in the Karri forest
The small, beautiful Quinninup Falls are just a short stroll off the popular Cape to Cape Track. Park your car at the end of Moses Rock Road. There’s a big car park with toilets and access to the beach and the Cape to Cape Track. From the parking lot, head north along the Cape to Cape Track for about 2 kilometers. You’ll cross over a big sand dune and at the bottom with the ocean to your left, you should see some red dirt and a small path to your right, leading inland towards the falls. From here it’s only a few minutes walk to Quinninup Falls. The falls are roughly 5 meters high and have a very shallow pool at the bottom, so swimming isn’t possible. We visited in spring and the water flow was relatively low, so during the hot and dry summer months it might be even less. It’s probably best to visit Quinninup Falls in winter or after some rainfall.
Injidup Natural Spa
A hidden and semi popular natural rock pool can be found north of Margaret River near Yallingup. To get there, drive to the end of Wyadup Road and from the parking area walk down the trail to the left. The Natural Spa rock pool is to your right between some large rock outcroppings. When a big wave hits the rocks there is a small waterfall that fills the pool with water from the ocean. The pool is relatively shallow, better for wading than swimming, and is a good place to cool off on a warm summer day. The pool is not visible from the road and is away from other tourist attractions in the area, but Injudup Natural Spa is relatively popular nonetheless. If you want to avoid the crowds you should come early in the morning or during the week.
Hamelin Bay is about 35 kms south of Margaret River and famous for wild rays, like sting and eagle rays that come close to shore most days. Local fishermen returning from their morning fishing around 9am used to drop fish in the ocean near the beach which attracted the wild rays. When we visited Hamelin Bay, it wasn’t the fishermen that attracted the rays, but the visitors on the beach bringing small fish and bait to draw the rays into the shallow waters. There were at least twenty people at times standing in the water up to waist deep and trying to spot the rays. Sadly quite a few visitors tried to touch the rays and some even lifted them out of the water. We hope future visitors will refrain from doing so, as touching the rays might disrupt the oily, protective layer on their skin and expose them to unusual and potentially dangerous bacteria. If you’re planning on visiting Hamelin Bay, try to on a calm and sunny day to increase the likelihood of good visibility and expect to share the experience with a lot of other people. Hamelin Bay Beach itself is nice and stretches a long way with good facilities and a paid caravan park nearby. You can walk along a short cliff walk, which is part of the Cape to Cape Track to the left of the bay facing the ocean. The paths ends at a walkway overlooking the bay and from there you can go down to another more secluded beach to the left. There are some interesting looking cliff and rock formations, which are definitely worth the short walk.
Cape Naturaliste Coastal Walks
From the Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse north of Margaret River you can head out onto different trails along the coast. The popular Cape to Cape Track also starts from here. Options for short walks include the 3.6 km Bunker Bay Loop with nice views over the ocean and the steep cliffs. Another nice walk is 4 kms long the Cape Naturaliste Track, which provides you with beautiful views over the coast and leads past a great whale lookout spot. From the track you can access a small and secluded beach for a swim. If you’re looking for a shorter option, you could just head along the Whale Lookout Track (2.4 km). The best time to spot whales is between September and November, when Humpback and Blue Whales migrate south along Western Australia’s coast. We got lucky and spotted multiple groups of Humpback Whales from the lookout and the trails, some were even breaching over and over.
Camping – Where to stay
There are plenty of campsites around Margaret River, but all are paid sights. While there are more expensive Holiday Park options, there are a few cheaper and more basic campsites. If you have a 4×4 vehicle and enjoy a bit of off-roading – Point Road Campsite in Leeuwin National Park, might be the one for you. As all government campsites in Western Australia you’re asked to pay a small fee (currently $8.50 pp), at a self registration box. Point Road Campsite is secluded in the middle of the forest and has fire pits, a long drop toilet, and picnic tables. Even though the site is really hard to get to, we got one of the last spots arriving around 6pm on a weekend. If you want to be sure to get a spot, arrive as early as possible. To get there, it is easiest to turn off onto Conto Road from Caves Road and follow your GPS to Point Road from there. The other access from Boranup Drive is shorter in total distance but a lot more challenging and your 4×4 vehicle requires high clearance to make it.
If you don’t have a 4×4 or simply want an easily accessible but still secluded basic campsite, we’d recommend Boranup Campground. Just like Point Road, this small campsite is in the beautiful Karri forest and is accessible with any kind of car or camper. This campsite is even smaller than Point Road Campground, so it’s a good idea to arrive early to secure a spot, especially on weekends. The area around Margaret River has plenty to offer, especially if you like the outdoors. Although a lot of the activities in the area are expensive, there are still quite a few things to do for free. Especially if you enjoy beaches and walks in nature – Margaret River is a great place to visit and spend a few days.