Found in south-west Australia, Margaret River a small country town just a few hours drive from Perth that’s big on wine and big on food. This is prime vineyard territory, and the surrounding area is home to some of Western Australia’s best wineries, while in Margaret River you can find quirky restaurants and cafes and farmer’s markets offering some of the best, locally sourced produce.
The journey from Perth to Margaret River isn’t a difficult one either, making this a great first stop for anyone new to Western Australia or short on time, and looking to explore the countryside without straying too far from the capital.
It’s easily reachable by bus, but if you can, you’ll want to self-drive, as a road trip from Perth to Margaret is the only way to explore the best that the region has to offer. En route, you can stop off along the south-west coast, calling into Fremantle and Bunbury or Busselton and Dunsborough, for epic coastal scenery and spectacular beaches.
Here are the best ways to travel from Perth to Margaret River, including my road trip itinerary!
The Best Time of Year to Travel From Perth to Margaret River
Like the rest of the south-west region of Western Australia, including cities like historic Albany which lie to the south of Perth, Margaret River experiences a comparatively mild climate compared to much of the rest of Australia.
In this part of the state, there are four distinct seasons, not just a simple wet and dry season such as you find in the far northern destinations in WA such as Broome. In Margaret River, summer falls between November and February, and the weather is beautiful. Temperatures can rise well into the high 30s at the height of summer, and given the excellent weather, this is the most popular time of year to visit Margaret River.
Winter though can be a much colder and far more dreary time to travel from Perth to Margaret River. Between June and August, you can expect rain and cold weather, but you’ll also find that it’s much, much quieter. The off-season can be a good time to explore the town, but you won’t have as many sunny days if you’re looking to lounge on the beaches. Spring and autumn can be good choices too, as things won’t be as busy as summer, but there will be plenty more warm days than in winter.
The Bus From Perth to Margaret River
If you haven’t got your own car, then it’s still relatively easy to travel south from Perth to Margaret River by bus, but you’ll just need to bear in mind that once you are in town, it’s very difficult to actually explore the surrounding region, as there’s almost no public transport.
You can stop off in many of the towns along the way from Perth to Margaret River that you’ll find detailed in the road trip itinerary below, such as Bunbury or Busselton, as there are bus connections here, but getting to secluded beaches or into the nearby forests is virtually impossible without hitchhiking or organising an expensive tour, if you don’t have a personal vehicle.
From Perth to Margaret River there are several bus connections daily with South West Coastlines, who also run services to other cities and towns in the regions too. They have services via Busselton and Bunbury to Margaret River, which actually stop and pick up passengers directly from Perth Airport, both international and domestic. In Perth itself, the main stop is conveniently located at Elizabeth Quay.
TransWA also offers services from East Perth bus station to Margaret River, again with stops along the way. Some of these services carry on further south, to destinations such as Augusta and Pemberton.
Another option is to take the Australind Rail service from Perth to Bunbury, where you can then switch to a bus for the remaining journey to Margaret River.
Using public transport, it’s likely to take you 5 hours travelling from Margaret River to Perth, depending on the number of stops and the route of the service itself.
Perth to Margaret River Road Trip Itinerary
The best way to travel from Perth to Margaret River is an Aussie road trip because there are so many great spots to visit along the way and to stop at.
You can cruise along the coastal highway south to Bunbury and Busselton, and see beautiful white sand beaches and dramatic scenery. You can stop at wineries, perhaps spot dolphins or whales out on the ocean, and you can camp out en route under the stars.
If you’re in a hurry, the quickest route from Perth to Margaret takes just 3 hours, with a distance of 270 kilometres. If you’ve got time though, then you can spend a few days exploring the south-west region. One week gives you time to stop off along the way and to spend a few days in Margaret River at the end of the road trip, but this is a journey that can be tailored to your own personal needs very, very easily.
If this is your first-time road tripping in Western Australia, then Perth to Margaret River is an easy way to ease into the lifestyle. This the most built-up area in the state outside of Perth, so there are plenty of rest stops along the way and things to see. This isn’t the Outback, and you need little preparation. At the same time, this is still a sparsely populated part of the world, and if you want to, it’s easy to get off the beaten track and to find many a secluded beach or bay on the way south from Perth to Margaret River.
The Perth to Margaret River road trip itinerary below can be tailored to your own wishes. For example, rather than visiting Fremantle and Rockingham as part of the itinerary – which are both close to the capital, and can easily be visited as day trips from Perth – you can simply head straight out of Perth and south along the highway to Bunbury.
Distance From Perth to Margaret River – approx 270 Kilometres
Stop 1 – Fremantle and Rottnest Island
If you’re based in Perth or have spent a few days here already at the start of your Western Australia trip, then you may have already visited Fremantle and Rottnest Island, but if not, then it makes for a great first stop on your road trip south to Margaret River.
It’s just a half drive from Perth to Fremantle, but you can easily lose yourself here for days if you want to. You can tour through the Fremantle Prison, and learn about tales of escaped convicts and murderers, while you can also visit historic buildings such as the Roundhouse and spend hours eating and drinking at the excellent Fremantle Markets.
From Fremantle, you can also arrange a ferry ride on the Rottnest Express over to Rottnest Island. This is an entire day trip in itself, and you can even spend the night on the island too. Once you arrive, hire a bicycle and get cycling. You can snorkel all along the coast, and you can take selfies with the island’s most famous critters, the Quokkas. It might seem like all fun and cute furry animals, but Rottnest Island also has a darker side which you can discover at the museums, and by the Aboriginal burial ground too.
I’d recommend staying in the Fremantle Prison YHA when you’re in town. This YHA run hostel is found on the grounds of the former Fremantle Prison, and you can literally stay in the old cells turned dormitories and rooms. If you love a spot of dark tourism as I do, then there’s really nowhere else to stay!
Stop 2 – Rockingham
From Fremantle, carry on south along the coast following Highway 1 and you’ll be at Rockingham within half an hour. Rockingham is these days an extension of the Perth suburbs, but it’s still retained its beautiful coastline despite all the developments.
There are great beaches all along the shorefront, and several marine parks located offshore. There’s also an abundance of wildlife that calls the coast home, and Rockingham has become famed for being a great spot to see seals and penguins. For much of the year, except in winter, you can also spot dolphins swimming along the coast of Rockingham, and perhaps even a few whales too.
Stop 3 – Bunbury
Next on your Perth to Margaret River road trip itinerary – or indeed, first if you want to get straight out of Perth and head down south – is Bunbury.
Found just two hours from Perth, Bunbury – like Rockingham – is also known for its large dolphin populations that for much of the year live in the bays along the coast. Koombana Bay, and the Dolphin Discovery Centre is the best place to get close to these gentle marine mammals.
At Mangrove Cove, you can explore the unique, local mangrove ecosystem, while you can also hike through the Big Swamp Reserve.
Off the coast, the wreck of the Lena makes for excellent diving territory, while there are plenty of beaches and snorkelling spots close to Bunbury.
Stop 4 – Busselton
Your itinerary will continue along the south-west coast, as from Bunbury you drive to Busselton, a journey of just 40 minutes in total.
Busselton is one of the best stops on a road trip from Perth to Margaret River because the small city is famous for its exceptionally long, wooden pier. At almost 2 kilometres in length, the Busselton Jetty is the second-longest wooden pier in the world and the longest in the southern hemisphere.
The jetty opened in 1865, and today Busselton Jetty is complete with an underwater observatory and a train that runs the entire length of the wooden pier.
Stop 5 – Dunsborough
Continue along the coastal road as it heads west along Geographe Bay, and within half an hour you’ll reach the small town of Dunsborough, from Busselton.
While there’s little of interest in the town itself, Dunsborough is a location for outdoor lovers, because the surrounding scenery is spectacular. Visit the Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse for incredible views over the Indian Ocean, while on the same peninsula, you can also marvel at the astounding sight of Sugarloaf Rock.
Visit the Ngilgi Cave for an underground adventure through unusual limestone, karst scenery, and save some time to lounge around on the local beaches or to call into a few wineries.
Final Stop – Margaret River
The final stop on your road trip from Perth is just a 40-minute drive from Dunsborough, and you’ll head south, away from the coast, and into the south-west’s famed farming region. You’ll pass wineries and small communities on the way, before passing through forests on your way into the town.
Once you’ve finished the journey from Perth to Margaret River though, the adventure has only just begun, because there are plenty of things to do in Margaret River. You’ll want to spare a few days, and at the very least a weekend, to experience the best that the town has to offer, from the nearby beaches to the excellent culinary scene and wineries.
The Best Things to do in Margaret River
The Margaret River region is home to some of Western Australia’s best wineries. The climate and the land are perfect for growing a variety of different types of grapes, and within a half-hour drive of the town, in almost any direction, you can find a winery offering tastings and tours.
The best include the Voyager Estate and the Leeuwin Estate, where you can enjoy premium wine straight from the source.
Margaret River also has a burgeoning craft brewery scene too, and across the region, you’ll find many companies offering tours of their brewing facilities, as well as excellent food and beers.
Brewhouse Margaret River, in the town itself, is the easiest one to get to, particularly if you want to enjoy more than a few drinks and not have to worry about driving. Nearby, Cheeky Monkey Brewing Company has an excellent riverside location, while if you prefer whisky or gin over beer, then you can visit the Margaret River Distilling Company.
Margaret River Chocolate Company
If chocolate is your vice, rather than beer and wine, then you can’t miss out on a trip to the Margaret River Chocolate Company. This is one of Western Australia’s most well known local brands, and they even have a few outlets dotted around the big city up in Perth.
In Margaret River though, you can see where it all began, and at their factory, you’ll be able to learn about the production process and try plenty of free samples.
Margaret River Farmers Market
It’s worth travelling to Margaret River on a Saturday morning, as this is market day in town. The region is well known for producing a wonderful variety of food products, and at the local farmers market, you can find all the best local retailers and farmers offering homemade goods.
You’ll find fresh, seasonal vegetables and fruit for sale, alongside great coffee, homemade sausage rolls and pies, and plenty of jams, marmalades and much, much more at the Margaret River Farmers Market.
Despite being found inland, Margaret River is actually just as well known for its beaches and coastline as it is for its wineries and markets. You’re never more than a half-hour drive away from a beach if you are staying in the town itself, and one of the best places to visit is Hamelin Bay.
This white sandy beach is beautiful in every way, but it’s home to a surprisingly friendly group of stingrays, who are more often than not found swimming right up to the shore.
Augusta and Cape Leeuwin
They are around an hours drive south of Margaret River, but Augusta and Cape Leeuwin are well worth visiting for their excellent coastal scenery. Augusta is a small town, overlooking Flinders Bay, where you can find beaches and karri forests and a laid back destination where you can simply relax.
Cape Leeuwin is found close to Augusta and marks the most south-westerly point in Australia. Here you can find the dramatic sight of the Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse, while out to sea you can frequently spot dolphins and whales.
Mammoth Cave and Lake Cave
Close to Margaret River, in the Boranup Forest, you can find Mammoth Cave and Lake Cave, two cave systems that are great to explore.
Both are limestone, karst caves, and Mammoth Cave is so-called because the fossilized remains of a mammoth and other prehistoric creatures have been found here. Lake Cave is so-called for the simple reason that there’s a lake found under the surface here.
With so many beaches in close proximity, Margaret River is a hub for surfers too, and it’s one of the most popular surfing destinations in Western Australia.
The coast along the Indian Ocean hough can be rough and tumultuous even at the quietest of times, and many pro events are held here throughout the year. If you’re new to the sport though, you’ll want to check conditions before going out and make sure you’re in the calmer areas along the coastline!
Cape to Cape Track
If you’re looking to get really off the beaten track and explore the great outdoors of the Margaret River Region, then nothing beats the epic Cape to Cape Track. This is one of the longest, long-distance hiking trails in Western Australia, and it stretches for 123 kilometres all along the south-west coast.
Starting at the Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse, near Dunsborough, the multi-day walk takes you all the way south to the Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse.
Map of Things to do in Margaret River
Where to Next?
After exploring Margaret River, then you can either make the 3-hour car ride back to Perth or if you have plenty of time or are backpacking around Western Australia, then there are plenty more road trips from here.
From Margaret River, you can continue through the south-west region and visit the historic city of Albany. Along the way, you can call into the huge karri forests around Walpole, or visit explore the beaches and the best things to do in Denmark WA.
In Albany, you can hike Bluff Knoll and visit the Stirling Ranges, the only place in WA to experience snowfall in winter, or you can hike Bald Head where you can brave the tumultuous weather and perilous scenery of the southern coast.
But your journey doesn’t have to stop there either, and you can continue along the south coast from Albany to Esperance, where you can enjoy the pristine beaches of Cape Le Grand National Park.
But of course, if you do go straight back to the state capital, then you can continue north too, as one of the best road trips in Western Australia, is the long, long journey from Perth to Broome.