What to do if you only have 24 hours to spend in Yallingup and surrounds…
The Margaret River region is as close as WA comes to heaven on earth; at least I assume that it is what the supposed ‘heaven’ looks like.
Down in that part of the world, the roads are windy and lined with gums and eucalypts, the air is fresh and clear, and the beaches are on another level. Being right in that corner of the south west is like taking in a big breath of fresh air. It is calming, relaxing and smile inducing. Taking the 3.5 hour drive down south is a much loved past time of the city folk, as it is the combined tree and sea change we all so desperately need from time to time.
Last month, I got to spend a whirlwind 26 hours in the region. Normally I stay with my parents in Bunbury when I head south; so the opportunity to spend a night in Yallingup further down in the cape, was very well received. I escaped the hustle and bustle, attempted to clear my head and, well, got a teency bit of work done too. It can’t be all play!
You best believe me when I say that even though the lifestyle is slower and quieter down Yallingup way, there is actually so much to do down in the Margaret River region. If you want to do it properly, take a car down and stay for at least a week.
But, if like me, you only have a night or a weekend to spare, you can still squeeze in a heck of a lot of eating and sight seeing. If you’re calling through the area, you have to stop in and check out some of my favourite little spots…
WHERE TO STAY
As a kid, our trips to the Margaret River region almost always involved camping. More often than not, we would find ourselves camped up at the Yallingup Beach Holiday Park. It has views of Yallingup beach that could easily rival that of the Yallingup resort, and it takes all of about 2 minutes to walk down to the shore.
We were also lucky enough to stay just around the granite headland at Smiths Beach Resort (pre-renovation) on occasion too. Smiths Beach is another incredible surf beach characterised by blinding white sand and turquoise waters. It is an easy walk from Yallingup beach, or a 5 minute drive via Caves Road. With not much else around, the resort is the epitome of a luxurious escape.
This time around, I checked in to the much revered Empire Spa and Retreat. In the year since its revamp, Empire has been much talked about in the fashion and media circles in Perth. When you see the interiors and styling, you will understand why!
Empire retreat is a part of the Empire estate, set on bushland and vineyards half way between Dunsborough and Yallingup. A 7-minute drive each way, it really is smack bang in the middle. It is made up of only 10 rooms, so you really don’t see anyone else on your stay. The company of the kangaroos, birds and lizards is all you’ll have as you enjoy some bubbles from your deck.
WHAT TO SEE AND DO
I spent a lot of time in Dunsborough as a kid, especially through my final year of high school. Needless to say, I have a lot of fond memories of the area. As such, I always make it a priority to stop in there before heading anywhere else.
A drive along Quindalup beach and through to the coves in Old Dunsborough always sates my appetite for the ocean; and a matcha break at Merchant and Maker or Albert and Nikola my thirst. For the more discerning milk drinker amongst you, Merchant and Maker is fantastic. I had my first ever coconut milk latte there and it was unbelievable! They have every milk under the sun, and all the different lattes you could imagine (turmeric is just the start).
Obviously, if you are staying in Yallingup, a visit to Yallingup beach is an absolute must. Nothing can quite describe the feeling you get as you come around the corner and over the crest, and get the first glimpse of the blues of the bay. It looks like something out of a Tourism Australia ad. In fact, it probably is in a Tourism Australia ad. For even better views of the ocean, follow the roads up through the residential area on the hill.
Post-beach visit and on your way back out of Yallingup, stop in to buy some after-dinner treats from the cute little Yallingup Gugelhupf Bakery. The adorable pink, blue and white store is owned by the same people that own the famous Yallingup Wood Fired Bread bakery. They serve up a host of tasty treats, including loaves of their famous bread and the central European treat, gugelhupf. No visit to Yallingup would be complete without sitting down for a beverage or 3 at Caves House. Just across the road from the bakery, there really is no excuse to not stop in and visit the two!
If you have time, I would highly recommend driving to some of the other beaches in the area. The white sand and turquoise water of Eagle Bay is always a favourite (as is their super chill brewery) and Canal rocks is simply stunning in every direction. A little further south still is Indijup. Famous for its natural ‘spa’ and giant rock formations, it’s a great spot to paddle in some calm pools. And it would be remiss of me to not mention Bunker Bay and Sugar Loaf rock. Heck, it would be remiss of me to fail to mention any of the beaches down that way. I should be singing the praises of them all!
WHERE TO EAT AND DRINK
There are a million and one incredible venues to wine and dine yourself in the Margaret River Region. I have my favourites that I stop at almost every time, but there are still so many more to discover. Once you’re in Yallingup, you will quickly realise that most everything is a short drive away; so, planning your meals in advance is a strategic move.
If you are looking to eat separate from a winery or brewery, Piari and Co in the heart of Dunsborough is doing all sorts of amazing things. Their wine list showcases the best of the region, and their menu is up there with some of the best. Locals love the place, and after dining there for the first time a few years back, I too proudly preach the word of Piari and Co.
If being at the source of the incredible wine and beer is the name of the game, then there are any number of fantastic wineries and breweries that you could pay a visit. Being WA’s premier wine region, I would only assume that being at the source of the good stuff is definitely the name of the game.
For some old world charm and guaranteed double taps on Instagram photos, head to Voyager Estate; or call in to Amelia Park for some delicious local fare, including lamb and beef from their own estate. I also always make a point of stopping in at Vasse Felix. A big player and highly recognisable name in the game, Vasse Felix have the most beautiful grounds and cellar door. I always take away a bottle each of their award winning Shiraz and Chardonnay too.