• Sunday, September 27, 2020

Australia Family Vacation

The Best of Oz: Margaret River
May 28, 2014
By , Families Contributor

Your family is a social bunch; your children's combined activities alone require their own social scheduler. But if you’ve ever tried to navigate your family through an overly crowded beach on a mission for some quality time, you’ll probably agree that in certain cases, isolation is everything. Luckily, for a country famous for its world-class beaches, some of the very best in Australia are rarely visited by its millions of yearly vacationers. Which means: way more pristine beach (among other things) for you and you alone. Presenting: Margaret River.

Good for: Families who looking for more than just a beach vacation.

The highlights:

  • Visiting Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse where the Indian and Southern oceans meet
  • Enjoying a BBQ lunch at Woody Nook’s Nookery Cafe or one of dozens of premier vineyards
  • Exploring the crystal wonderland of the Lake Cave beneath the soaring karri forest
  • Watching the amazing surfers and an even more amazing sunset at Margaret River’s Surfers Point beach
  • Jumping aboard a fishing charter or whale-watching excursion for a chance to see Southern Right or Humpback whales

Suggested stay: 3–4 days

Why now: With the disappearance of Malaysia Flight 370 over the Indian Ocean, the world turned its attention to Perth, Australia, as the underwater search for the missing plane intensified. The tragic loss of the plane has now been confirmed, while there has also been a renewed interest in this part of the world, with a focus on its natural riches.

What to know: You don’t book a trip to Australia without an expectation for picturesque scenery. Margaret River has towering forests, prized vineyards, rugged coastlines and, obviously, white sandy beaches. In fact, the beaches attract surfers from around the world with top-level competitions. What’s more, there’s an extensive underground system of over 350 caves, which makes exploring below the earth's surface just as fun and interesting as exploring above it.

One Stop Shop
When it comes to creating a cohesive Australia itinerary, you’ve got Sydney, the Great Barrier Reef and perhaps Ayers Rock. But if you want to include a local insider favorite, try Margaret River. Only about a four-hour drive south of Perth, Margaret River is not so much off the beaten path – it’s just less publicized. And it’s pretty much got the best of Australia in one.

A Place to Rest Your Head
Cape Lodge, located on its own vineyard in nearby Yallingup, feels like a private country estate, but with all the trappings of a world-class private boutique hotel. There are 22 romantically secluded rooms, a quaint two-bedroom cottage and a magnificent five-bedroom private luxury residence, if you need to sprawl out. And because eating is a critical precursor to sleeping, the lodge’s restaurant has been described as one of the country's finest new-generation dining establishments.

Whine-Free Wineries
Many would argue that Margaret River produces some of Australia’s best wines, and with most of the 150 wineries of Western Australia concentrated in this area, there’s certainly a variety to choose from. You could actually spend days doing only this. But a cold hard truth of family travel? You can only drag your kids to so many wineries. Our solution: Hit one per day for lunch. After all, kids have to eat. To narrow it down, we suggest the oldest (Vasse Felix), the biggest (Voyager Estate) and the most family-friendly (Woody Nook).

The Underground Scene
The Margaret River has a great one – literally. Below the surface are caves that belong to a series of complex and fragile karst systems (landscapes formed by the rapid drainage of water underground). The Augusta Margaret River Tourism Association operates three spectacular show caves: Lake, Mammoth and Jewel, which are easily accessible and decorated with their own unique and incredible formations. In September 2012, the magnificent Moondyne Cave reopened to the public after ten years, offering visitors an intimate, exclusive caving experience. Just be prepared to wear overalls, gloves and helmets for a three-hour tour by torchlight.

Surf, Sand, Sunsets . . .  and Cricket
Much like the wineries, Margaret River has some of the “best in class” when it comes to beaches. It doesn’t take a whole lot to persuade a kid to play in the sand, so you can basically take a run at the lot. Renowned for its roaring waves, Surfers Point is blessed with crystal-clear but chilly Indian Ocean waters, and is obviously a great place to watch the sport. And a game of beach cricket is always a hit. As they say, “when in Australia”…