Travel // Western Australia Part One - Dunsborough/Margaret River Travelogue

March 06, 2020

Gah, Western Australia is just a total dream. We first visited for just five short days, a stop off before an East coast adventure, a couple of years back to visit Ben's uncle and didn't really know much about it. Of course, we fell in love with it and as much as we loved the East Coast, we really regretted not spending more time there. It's a completely different pace to the main touristy parts of Australia that you might think about visiting. We thought of that dream spot in Dunsborough - three hours south of Perth near the Margaret River area - where his uncle is based often, and knew we'd love to return someday. It just had everything you could want from a relaxing holiday spot, miles of the most beautiful beaches we've ever seen yet hardly any people to share them with, on the whole really stable sunny weather with bigggg blue cloudless skies, you don't get the humidity or tropical storms like you do around the rest of the country, incredible vineyards, enough to do without it being overwhelming, amazing brunch spots, quiet roads, free parking, long walks along the coast. Their summer also happens to be our winter so we plotted to return someday pretty much as soon as we boarded the plane from Perth to Sydney! This January we decided to spend three weeks on the West Coast this time and it was one of the best trips we've ever had, to the point where we talked almost daily about how we could get a visa and move there as it was the dreamiest lifestyle ever {not really Mum, well kind of...}. I've talked more about the fact we had Freya, who turned 7 months old with us whilst we were there, in this post and the logistics of travelling that far with a baby. But wanted to share some details about where we stayed/recommendations in a more classic travelogue in this post for those who aren't into the baby side!...

We flew into Perth via Singapore with Singapore Airlines. We booked the flights with Dial A Flight and couldn't decide whether to do the new direct route with Qantas or to have a stopover. In the end, the price made that decision for us, it was around £1500 cheaper total to go indirect and we stopped for an hour in Singapore which I think was the right decision to stretch our legs/break up the journey and ended up being pretty good in beating jetlag as we got ourselves onto Australian time when we landed in Singapore. The flight was so much better than we expected and although bleary eyed when we arrived in Perth and still had a three hour drive to go, we were just SO happy to be there and excited to get going. I'd definitely recommend Singapore Airlines, they were really great, had hefty luggage allowance for economy {30kg included each plus infant allowance! rare these days?!} and considering how far away it was - around 18 hours - it was relatively comfortable and we didn't really suffer from jet lag. It sounds so far away but in reality, all felt like such a smooth trip!

We booked a car through NoBirds - on our research they seemed to be the best priced and had good reviews for the West Coast and then took the drive down south, arriving just as the sunset. Car hire is relatively expensive in Australia compared to the US or Europe, I think it's because the distances to cover are so big? For three weeks it worked out around £400 but everything else {like supermarket food and eating out} felt comparable, or slightly cheaper than home. The roads were really easy, we were both named on the car so we could share the driving and as it's the same side as the UK, we found it easy.

We booked an Airbnb - THIS ONE {and you can get for over £30 off your first airbnb trip anywhere in the world if you sign up here - which means I'll then get £15 of credit} for two weeks in Dunsborough, our favourite town from our visit before and also where Ben's Uncle lives, just after the Australian school holidays - if you go over Christmas/the start of January you'll find higher prices and everywhere a lot busier, so we waited for the end of January. Going somewhere that you've been before I think makes choosing accommodation so much easier as you know exactly where you want to be? We lucked out on this dreamy white washed beach house with a wraparound verandah, the style really gorgeous but most importantly, it was right on the beach path so we knew we could walk up to the town, supermarket and have the beach right opposite the house which would be amazing for Freya if she was asleep in the buggy/we wouldn't have to always go out in the car. It was totally gorgeous, well equipped and had a beautiful garden for enjoying in the evenings/if she was asleep in the cot in the day. Would definitely recommend, we'd love to go back in a few years with my parents.

It was right on the beach path so we'd walk this every morning, going along to the Silver Bullet coffee van for our favourite bit of beach by the shark net. The morning light there is just so beautiful and I love seeing so many people out on their bikes/running/walking/having just a towel with them for a morning swim. It really did feel so incredible leaving bleak, cold winter and arriving to summer and seeing all the tropical flowers, palm trees and hearing all the different birds. Then, in the evenings, being able to walk across the road to the beach in between dinner time/Freya's bath & bedtime or go for a BBQ dinner and swim was just the total dream. Can you tell that I'm missing those days so much already?!

We had two weeks in Dunsborough which to some would have been too long, it's a fairly quiet town but to us it was the perfect break we'd been craving. We love this new style of travel where you can pretend you live somewhere in a way rather than trying to cram every sight in like some of our previous trips? Especially with having Freya, it just felt like such a treat to be parenting somewhere warm. We'd go for half days out, there are countless beaches within a fifteen minute drive and then the Margaret River vineyard area as you go further South, stopping for lunch somewhere on the way back and an ice cream. There are nice towns to visit, realllly really great food - as well as the wine production there's also cheese and chocolate factories, and of course Australians take brunch super seriously. We joked that Australia pretty much equals beaches and brunches?

It's almost hard to describe why we find this area so special, and I almost don't want to?! I mean, the photos do most of the talking. But it just has this feel about it, something that draws us in. I have SUCH happy memories from those two weeks that we spent there.

Here are some of our favourite spots that we'd really recommend if you're visiting....

// Dunsborough Town - has a Coles supermarket, a gorgeous beach path running all the way along the coast, dream shops {although £££, I spied a kaftan that worked out to be £400?!!!} so definitely just window browsing for us, art galleries - Christian Fletcher's photography work of the coast is amazing, and if you're looking for food - Merchant and Maker, Yallingup Coffee, Wild & Woods are our favourite. There's also a cool new Bao bun hotdog/softserve place which has just opened called Snatch and we liked Squid Lips for a take-out dinner.

// And just outside Dunsborough you can't miss Simmo's ice cream {millions of flavours, really really delicious, we'd go here most days!}, Yallingup Wood Fired Bread {a cool bakery run by surfers in the middle of nowhere serving up fresh sourdough and fruit loaf every afternoon}.

// Beach wise, our favourites are Eagle Bay, Meelup, Castle Rock, Bunker Bay {which has an excellent restaurant on the beach in the photo above} and Yallingup. It's a really unique spot in that you have the calm waters of Geographe Bay and the Indian Ocean on one side and then the other is more surfy. I honestly don't think we've ever seen more beautiful beaches?! With the rocks they reminded us of the Seychelles in parts. They all have free car parks and most have BBQ spots overlooking the beach. The only annoying thing is how windy it can be on this side, Ben's Uncle jokes that WA actually stands for Windy As. And the sun is really strong so take a good umbrella for shade as there are none for rent like you get in parts of Europe. We also downloaded the Shark App called Dorsal which is fascinating to keep track of the shark sightings, you'll see the helicopter going over twice a day looking for them eek!

// Meelup Farmhouse and Eagle Bay brewery are other really gorgeous, unmissable spots for food around Dunsborough. Meelup Farmhouse had just opened and reminded us of a cross between Daylesford and an Australian White Company? LOVE.

// Further South, Hamelin Bay is incredible and worth the drive {you drive down through the Boranup forest which is amazing in itself} and as well as the crystal clear water and best sand, there are huge sting rays which come right to the shore in the mornings especially, Margaret River town is nice for a wander - River Smith is the best coffee place and there's also nice shops which don't cost the earth for that gorgeous Aussie style of fashion and Miller's ice cream is worth a stop. There's also a farmers market on every Saturday which we loved.

// The vineyards are all spectacular and worth a visit for the food alone. They're almost like art galleries in that they're all so different design wise and have really beautiful vistas and lakes and gardens. Amelia Park is James Bond like in style, Swings and Roundabouts had delicious pizza and cool swing seats to eat outside on, Aravina has incredible hydrangeas and a cool surf gallery, Leeuwin is a classic if you're into wine and Voyager Estate has a South African feel and beautiful rose gardens. They're mostly on one long road so you can stop on and off, or book a wine tour bus if you don't want to drive and sample all the wine.

And then there's Gabriel's chocolate - their cookies are insane.

// Around half an hour north is Busselton, with a really long pier {the most westerly point of Australia, it's really impressive}, excellent beach, Hummingbird Cafe, nice bakeries, a water splash park for children and a really nice feel. This is probably the biggest town down this way so has all the amenities you'd want. We wished we'd spent more time around Busselton. Next time!

Just the happiest of times travelling as a family of three and living those days on repeat. I realllly hope we can return someday. Western Australia, we love you so much. 

Back with Part Two with Cottesloe/Rottnest Island/Perth next.

R <3 xx

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  1. Eeeeee this post makes me so excited! We go to WA on our honeymoon (well familymoon) in two weeks. We are staying at bunker bay when we’re
    in margs, and Perth CBD in Perth, plus a trip to Rottnest. Can’t wait for the next instalment!!! The photos are all so dreamy and Freya looks like such a little peach - I’m not surprised you want to go back! Amy x

  2. Ooh! I’ve just moved to the UK and found your blog! I love Dunsborough, my family love there and I grew up
    Camping there often, I’ve lived in Victoria for most of my adult life and just had to take my English fiancé down south!

    Love the wood fired bread! My aunt worked at the silver bullet coffee van and Merchant and Maker are our favourites l! Making me homesick!
    It’s not a big tourist spot yet, which means it’s not crazy busy all the time! We stayed overlooking bunker bay ❤️❤️❤️


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