Travel guide to Margaret River, Australia: Twenty reasons to love Margaret River

1 Hike the Cape to Cape Track

Winding its way from Cape Naturaliste to Cape Leeuwin, the 140-kilometre-long Cape to Cape Track takes in some of the area's most beautiful scenery, from sheltered coves to limestone cliffs and soaring karri forests. Choose a stretch to do as a day trip, or ask Cape to Cape Tours to organise an itinerary ranging from three to eight days. The company also offers guided walks of the entire route throughout the year. See www.capetocapetours.com.au/explorer/ 

2 Take a crash course in wine

Some people spend years studying wine; at Voyage Estate, it only takes an hour or two to learn the the really important stuff – including why you like what you like. Voyager's accessible selection of discovery experiences ranges from relaxed tastings that teach you the fundamentals of wine to a full-day Wine Essentials experience that takes you behind the scenes in the winery. See www.voyagerestate.com.au 

3 Graze the Margaret River Farmers' Market

Forget about brunch at the cafe: Saturday mornings are the time to take your tastebuds for a stroll through the farmers market. There are plenty of eat-as-you-go options, including fresh-from-the-oven loaves that can be teamed with beautiful preserves or superb cheeses from Cambray Sheep Cheese. Alternatively, munch on organic fruit and berries or delicious dumplings. Don't forget to take something home for later: perhaps a bottle of local olive oil or some tasty tarts or cannoli. See www.margaretriverfarmersmarket.com.au

4 Delve into the area's Indigenous culture

Discover the ancient culture of the Wadandi and Bibbulman people on a tour with Koomal Dreaming. Wadandi custodian Josh Whiteland offers several different itineraries, including a fascinating Ngilgi Cave tour. This 2½-hour experience includes storytelling and traditional fire-making, as well as a walk through the bush during which you will learn how to identify medicinal and food plants. A didgeridoo performance in Ngilgi Cave is a highlight. See www.koomaldreaming.com.au 

5 Watch whales

Humpbacks, southern rights, minkes and blue whales: there are few better places to spot these giants of the deep than Margaret River, where the whale watching season lasts for a whole six months. Between June and August head to Augusta, where you can expect to see acrobatic courtship rituals including breaching and tail-slapping. Later in the year, mothers and their young calves gather near Busselton and Dunsborough, where they stay until December.

6 Sink a schooner of craft beer

Not content with making some of Australia's best wine, Margaret River is now setting itself up as a craft beer hub. The area's best breweries include the Beer Farm, housed in an old cow shed in Metricup, and the Brew House in Margaret River itself, which often hosts live music. If you want a takeaway, try Colonial Brewery, which offers a two-litre growler service. See www.beerfarm.com.au, www.brewhousemargaretriver.com.au, www.colonialbrewingco.com.au

7 Admire art at Leeuwin Estate

At Leeuwin Estate, it's not just wine that they take seriously. The company's Art Series wines feature labels by many of Australia's best-known artists, including names such as Fred Williams and Sidney Nolan. The originals are on display at the Leeuwin Estate Gallery, where more than 100 paintings and sculptures are exhibited. Many of the pieces were commissioned especially for Leeuwin Estate, and range from Indigenous art to abstract pieces to John Olsen's famous frogs. See www.leeuwinestate.com.au

8 Enjoy a gourmet escape

It is regional Australia's biggest food fest: the Margaret River Gourmet Escape, a four-day extravaganza held every November that attracts some of the biggest global gourmets in the world. This year's edition, taking place from November 16 to 19, will include half a dozen chefs from the World's 50 Best Restaurants, including Andre Chiang and David Thompson. You will need to book early to enjoy some of the one-of-a-kind experiences, including a helicopter lunch at a secret location. See www.gourmetescape.com.au

9 Laze away a day at the beach

Margaret River has its celebrated beaches, including Yallingup Main Break for surfers and Busselton Foreshore for families. However, with more than 135 kilometres of coastline to choose from, there are plenty of other stretches of sand to explore. Try the sheltered waters of Gnarabrup Beach near Prevelly, a patrolled beach which comes complete with its own cafe. Alternatively, Hamelin Bay at Karridale has fine white sand, crystal-clear aquamarine water and a population of friendly eagle rays.

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10 Pamper yourself at Empire Retreat and Spa

A memorable getaway should include some indulgent accommodation, and the adults-only Empire Retreat and Spa has all the bases covered. The 10 secluded suites feature luxurious bathrooms and natural stone and wood interiors; the main farmhouse is a lovely place to relax in front of a wood fire. The intimate spa, offering relaxing massages and soothing facials, is the icing on the cake. See www.empireretreat.com 

11 Treat your tastebuds at Miki's Open Kitchen

The location, tucked away at the back of a shopping plaza, doesn't look promising. However, Miki's may just serve the best food in Margaret River. Miki's Japanese-influenced dishes showcase the best local produce, from Rosa Brook persimmons and Busselton octopus to pink snapper from Gracetown. Do yourself a favour and order the six-course degustation, which takes in everything from sashimi and tempura to congee. See facebook.com/mikisopenkitchen

12 Discover some new drops

It's no surprise that many visitors head straight to the area's most famous wineries, high-profile places such as Howard Park and Vasse Felix. However, with close to 100 cellar doors scattered across the district, a visit to one of the lesser-known wineries can unearth some treasures. Try the award-winning Flametree Wines, with its eye-catching beach house-style cellar door, or Credaro Wines, a family-run company that has been making wine in the area for 90 years. See www.flametreewines.com, www.credarowines.com.au

13 Feel small amid the tall trees

The dappled glens of Boranup Forest are a great place to breathe deep, but be careful with your neck. It's easy to strain it gazing up at the massive karri trees, some of which stretch 60 metres into the sky. Follow Boranup Drive to the lookout, from where you can take bushwalks following old logging trails. Bird-spotters will want to keep their eyes open for purple- crowned lorikeet, splendid fairy-wrens and white-breasted robins.

14 Enjoy a long lunch at Cullen Wines

Before you sit down to lunch at Cullen Wines, whet your appetite with a walk through their verdant vegetable garden. The vegies are grown using the same biodynamic principles that Cullen applies to its wines, and the results are just as impressive. No wonder, then, that the restaurant menu – one of the best in the area – leans towards dishes that let quality produce shine: think raw kingfish with pickled cucumber, or Cone Bay barramundi served in a lapsang-souchong broth. See www.cullenwines.com.au/restaurant/ 

15 Canoe the Margaret River

It's amazing the number of people who visit Margaret River without experiencing the river that gives the region its name. A canoe trip on the river is a great way to fast-track your relaxation. As you glide over the tranquil waters, keep an eye on the banks: chances are you will see kangaroos hopping along. The Margaret River Discovery Company offers stand-alone canoe tours as well as canoeing as part of the full-day Margaret River Discovery Tour. See www.margaretriverdiscovery.com.au 

16 Blend your own gin

Not content with producing award-winning whisky out of the Limeburners distillery in Albany, the Great Southern Distillery has now opened the Margaret River Distilling Co to produce gin, vodka and brandy. There are currently three gins in the range, each peppy with native botanicals such as boronia and lemon myrtle, one of them aged in a pinot noir barrel. As well as tasting the house gins, you can also sign up for a day-long experience that lets you create your very own blend and take a bottle home with you. See www.distillery.com.au 

17 Savour the sunset

Now here's something you can't do at home. Watching the sun sink into the sea is something of a ritual in Western Australia, and Margaret River has plenty of scenic spots where you can enjoy a sundowner as the sky does its technicolour thing. Surfers Point is a popular option; during the warmer months, food vans set up shop on site, allowing you to enjoy an al fresco dinner as evening falls.

18 Meet your favourite author

Held each June, the Margaret River Readers and Writers Festival is celebrating its 10th anniversary next year, so you can expect them to pull out all the stops. Mind you, they will have to work pretty hard to top this year's line-up, which included Michael Palin, Robert Drewe, Joan London and Clementine Ford. Apart from talks, the festival features events such as poetry slams and workshops on topics such as self-publishing in a digital age. See www.mrrwfestival.com 

19 Go glamping at Olio Bello

Like the idea of falling asleep amid groves of olive trees? Then try the upmarket tents at Olio Bello olive farm, which come complete with comfortable beds, en suite bathrooms and air conditioning. There is even a deck from which to view the sunset. This laidback accommodation option is the latest offering from Olio Bello, a working farm which makes organic olive oil and cosmetics using the fruit of its 800 trees. See www.oliobello.com/pages/our-bungalows 

20 Be dazzled by wildflowers

From August to November, wildflower season springs into life. The region is home to more than 2500 species, including 150 species of orchid alone. You will spot wildflowers along most walking tracks, but to discover the locals' secret spots, join a bespoke tour with Capes to Coast. Riding on the company's so-called fat bikes, you will follow hidden tracks and fire trails to discover areas that most people never get to. See www.capestocoast.com.au 

Ute Junker was a guest of Tourism WA.

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