We were quite sad to depart the Busselton and Vasse region on Friday. It is not often we can say this but we both agreed that if our circumstances were different, we could quite easily spend a few years in the area. Oh well – always look to the future not the past.
As we said in the last update, we had no real plan after Vasse. However we decided on departure day to follow Caves Road around the coast rather than drive inland on the Bussel Highway. We wondered why the road was named ‘Caves Road’? After asking the courageous question, we found out that it is so named because the Margaret River region is home to over 100 huge limestone caves nestled in the spine of the Leeuwin-Naturaliste Ridge. Apparently some Australians say they compete with our Waitomo Caves but we will let you know if we go through one.
Our first stop on Friday morning was at Dunsborough. Dunsborough is a little village sheltered by the waters of Geographic Bay and is an ideal family holiday spot because of its quiet coves, sandy beaches and the surrounding national park. We had a quick look around the town before making our way to Cape Naturaliste. Cape Naturaliste is 13kms from Dunnsborough and is home to the famous Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse. The lighthouse was constructed on 1903 and was automated in 1978. The last lighthouse keeper left in 1996 and this was a last manned lighthouse in Western Australia. For the seafarers amongst you, the light’s white beam is visible for 25 nautical miles (46 km) and identifies itself by flashing twice every 10 seconds with a 2.5 and 7.5 second interval. There are supposed to be whale watching opportunities on the bluff at this time of year but we saw nothing during our visit.
From the lighthouse we retraced our steps to Dunsborough, hooked a right and continued down the coast on Caves Road. The next village we popped into was Yallingup. This little village is a popular tourist destination because of its beaches, its limestone caves, in particular the Ngilgi Cave and its proximity to the Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park. Unfortunately we were not able to stop there as the village is perched on the side of a hill and it has very narrow roads. We could not find a space big enough to park the motorhome.
From Yallingup we continued south with the goal of making Gracetown our home for the night. The distance to travel was only about 30km however neither of us were giving the journey as much concentration as we should have been and we shot straight passed the turnoff. By the time we realised our faux pas we were several km’s passed the turn off and we could not find anywhere to turn around. Rather than retrace our steps we decided to carry on to Margaret River.
The township of Margaret River is situated on the banks of the Margaret River and is approximately 10km from the coast. We expected the river to be quite big but with the locals calling it ‘Maggie Creek’ you can have a guess how big it really is – about the size of a creek. The town sits in the heart of the State’s largest premium wine producing region. We had completely forgotten that this weekend is the Cape to Cape Cross Country Bike Race and this race is centred around the Margaret River Region. Consequently there was no accommodation or parking facilities to be had for love nor money. After a little bit of research by the Navigator, we found a place to rest on a working sheep station about 11km outside of town. Our campsite is in a valley hidden from the outside world by a State Forest. We have power, water and plenty of space. There are about a dozen other motorhomes and/or caravans here so it is quite social.
Saturday we were plagued by rain so we unhooked the jeep and drove into town to have a look around and to visit the local Saturday Farmers Market. Goodness those places are expensive!! $6 for a small pottle of tomato relish and $5 for a medium coffee. Not much money seemed to be changing hands and accordingly very little left our pockets. We are not sure why they would want to charge so much for produce at a Farmers Market. It seems to us to defeat the intent of a market i.e. local produce from the back of a truck and cheaper because there a few overheads.
This morning we took ourselves off on the one of the local wine trail tours. It seemed to us to be a good way to have a look around the region and partake in a few wines without the worry of driving. The transport picked us up at the sheep station at about 10am and delivered us back to the motorhome at 6pm. Did you know that the Margaret River region has 150 wineries and 9 boutique breweries. During our day we visited three wineries –Watershed Wines, Nottinghill Estate and Killerby Wines, one botique brewery – Cheeky Monkey, the Margaret River Venison Farm, the Margaret River Nougat Company, Margaret River Cheese Factory and the Margaret River Chocolate Factory. Little purchases were made at each stop as you would expect. The visits were spread all around the region so over the day we were given a great look around. The price of the tour included all meals and wine so with being fed and watered all day, no dinner is required tonight.
Tomorrow (Monday) we will make our way back onto Caves Road and continue south. All going well our base for the next few nights is going to be Hamelin Bay on the coast in the Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park. The navigator is a bit concerned that our size means we may not fit in but we will give it our best shot.