Last Updated on July 5, 2021 by Travels with Kids
Margaret River in winter is the best winter getaway from Perth! From rugged coastlines to unforgettable forests, the Margaret River region is famous worldwide for its unsurpassed beauty and wide array of activities on offer. However, back to rainy and stormy weather! In winter Margaret River comes into its own – it is also home to a vast range of wineries, breweries, gourmet food provedores, and five-star restaurants.
While Margaret River is one of the premier WA holiday destinations, it is as good in summer as it is in the other seasons. We love Margaret River in winter, the forests are misty and so green, the coast is thunderous and powerful – but oh so refreshing! Then there are the cozy fires that you can curl up beside, a fine glass of Margaret River wine in your hand.
As Margaret River is one of our favorite getaways from Perth, we have visited many times, and in many seasons. We know the pros and cons of Margaret River in winter – and are delighted to share our experiences and insider info here!
Travelling with a dog to the Margaret River Region? Check out our complete guide Dog & Pet Friendly Accommodation In Margaret River.
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Top Tips – Margaret River Things to do in Winter
So, I bet you are asking, “what to do in Margaret River when it’s raining”? Let me give you some great news! There are many things to do in Margaret River when it’s raining; you just need to plan carefully!
Check the Forecast
Yes, Margaret River in winter can be very wet. However, the weather pattern over the southwest land division tends to be a system of fronts of weather. Typically, you might have one awful day of squalls and heavy rain followed by several days of sunshine and light showers. If you watch the forecast you should plan to do outdoor activities while the sun is shining!
In 2020 we spent a stunning week in Margaret River during winter and there were several days of storms (I won’t lie to you)! However, on the less stormy days, there were plenty of breaks in the showers and we did a good range of outdoor activities including horse-riding, walking on the beach, visiting Canal Rocks in Yallingup, and even a hike to Quinninup Falls. Read about our hike here in What You Need To Know About Quinninup Falls & Other Short Margaret River Hikes.
In this day of age if you use an app like Willy Weather or the Bom App you can even take a look at the satellite imagery to see where the rain is going and what kind of weather is coming your way!
Have a Can-do Attitude
It’s raining – so what! Get out between the showers and enjoy the power of the beautiful landscape of Margaret River. You might get wet, but you will also be invigorated and refreshed. We love Margaret River in winter – and with a positive, can-do attitude you can too!
In short know that whatever the weather is, there is plenty for you to enjoy, especially with our handy guide.
Active Things to do – Margaret River in Winter
Being a natural wonderland there is a massive range of active things to do in Margaret River – some are obviously better than others in the wintertime.
Whale Watching Margaret River & Augusta
The best time of the year to go whale-watching Margaret River is winter. Actually, the heart of winter is the best time to see the whales in Augusta as the Humpback Whales are migrating from May to August and sightings are guaranteed from the Augusta harbor.
Why is winter a great time to see the whales in Augusta? From June until early December, whales from the Antarctic migrate around the South West corner of WA and arrive in Flinders Bay.
There are several highly recommended local whale watching companies that run these charters into Augusta harbour, and I will share soon who we went with, and what the experience was like! (Amazing for mum and one child; not so good for the others who got seasick!) That said, seeing the whales breach near the boat is not something we will forget for a long while.
Can I See Whales From Shore?
Yes, you can. A keen eye helps, as do binoculars. However, they can be seen if you gaze out at the ocean carefully – lookout for large splashes! Once you have seen a splash keep watching in that general vicinity and then you might see the actual tail of a whale. You can whale watch in Margaret River anywhere along the coast, but it can also make a good combination with a visit to Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse, Cape Naturaliste lighthouse (or for the walk from Cape Naturaliste to Sugarloaf Rock). We also love Canal Rocks for their powerful and out-of-this-world shapes.
Winter is also a Good Time for a Whale Watch Charter
During the heart of winter, one of the best places to see whales in Augusta. The whales often rest in sheltered Flinders Bay, and it is a place where you can see Southern Right and Humpback whales interact. We were lucky enough to see this last year during our Augusta whale watch.
Also, check with the local whale watching charter companies. They offer a range of interesting options like the chance for a free reschedule if the weather is too rough or come back for a second day if you don’t see a whale on the first.
Explore the Margaret River Caves
One of the very best things to do in Margaret River in winter is to visit one of the truly stunning Margaret River caves. Underground in one of the many Margaret River caves, you won’t know if it’s raining outside. Not only is it one of the great things to do in Margaret River with kids, but it is a perfect winter activity.
Given we have visited the Margaret River region year after year (because we love it so much) we have now visited the majority of the caves in Margaret River and wrote the most complete information you’ll find on the internet at A Complete Guide To The Margaret River Caves.
We loved the Lake Cave last winter and the Mammoth Cave several years before. Deep down in the caves, you have no idea what the weather is like outside.
Experience a Margaret River Lighthouse
I always have imagined the life of a lighthouse keeper in the middle of the storm as they gaze out to sea searching for ships coming too close to shore! While you won’t be able to re-enact such stories exactly, climbing the lighthouse and having a guided tour in winter will give you a wonderful insight into the history of the region. Plus, on a clear day, the views go on for miles.
One of my favorite fun facts about the Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse is that Australia’s tallest mainland lighthouse is situated at the most south-westerly tip of Australia. This is where the Indian and Southern Oceans meet.
Take a Hike and Explore
Quinninup Falls is one of the most Insta-famous spots around Margaret River – and guess what – your best chance of seeing it in full flow is during winter, especially after heavy rain! With this in mind, we braved the elements last winter and headed to Quinninup Falls along the Cape to Cape Track. At the time it was hard to find good information about the condition of the track –we didn’t want to do a muddy, sloshy hike with small kids. The good news is that we have covered trail conditions to Quinninup Falls in our post What You Need To Know About Quinninup Falls & Other Short Margaret River Hikes.
Enjoy the Coastline!
Ok, so you might not need to pack your swimmers for your winter Margaret River escape. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t head down to the coast. Whether a beautiful walk along the beach watching the surfers at Bunker Bay or admiring the powerful ocean at Canal Rocks or Sugarloaf Rock, there is nothing quite like the incredible beauty of the ocean in winter. We got some stunning pictures at Canal rocks as the sunlight moved over the rocks with a backdrop of a cloudy dark sky.
Take a Scenic Drive through Margaret River
I love driving down Caves Road in Margaret River! It is naturally beautiful and there are so many things to do and see along the way. One of the most beautiful – even in the misty rain of winter – is the Boranup Forest. This is about 30 minutes south of Margaret River town, heading south towards Hamelin Bay. The Karri Lookout on the eastern side of Caves Road is a wonderful spot to get beautiful photos of this picture-perfect forest.
Kid Friendly and Fun Things to do in Margaret River
While the above suggestions are all family-friendly options, there are two specifically kid-friendly places that we can highly recommend for when it’s raining.
Proudly Margaret River’s newest attraction, Wow Illusions Metricup is also perfect for winter. In keeping with other trick or illusions rooms around the world prepare to have your senses challenged with a gravity room, amazing mirror room, and going to the toilet in a see-through room (really)! Make sure you have plenty of space on your phone and allow the kids some time to play in the big grassed area and playground outside. We spent about 1 hour – and Wow illusions is 20kilometres north of Margaret River.
You don’t need to book in. There are no session times and you can come whenever you like, though be aware there may be waiting times on busy days.
Naturaliste Reptiles /Discover Deadly Park
A short drive up the road from Wow Illusions (like 10 minutes) is the Naturaliste Reptiles/Discover Deadly Reptile Park in Carbunup River
Though very small in comparison to some of the other family friendly attractions in Busselton or Margaret River, the Naturaliste Reptile Park is home to a large number of reptiles especially snakes. They include Tiger Snakes, Dugites, Adders, and several Pythons.
Make sure you find out what time the daily presentation or presentations are and attend the center for these highly informative talks. The day we were there was an awesome presentation about turtles and we learned a lot. At the end of the talk, the friendly staff offers the opportunity to hold a python – my son loved it.
We spent an hour at Naturaliste Reptiles, and combined with Wow Illusions it was a full morning of kids activities in Margaret River!
Animal Farm Margaret River
There are a number of different farms in Margaret River that allow visitors to come and meet their animals. We’ve visited the Wonky Windmill Farm, Country Life Farm, and the Sunflower Animal Farm. By far the best experience for us was the Sunflower Farm which was just awesome – and we did visit in the heart of winter!
TOP TIP! If you are going to head to a Margaret river animal farm in winter then pack gumboots!
Sunflower Animal Farm
We loved our time at Sunflower Animal Farm. There were over 300 animals and they were very friendly and well cared for. From horses to cows and sheep, there are also lots of kangaroos.
Of course, this is a farm and in winter with lots of rain, there can be mud. We had our boots so this was not a problem and the kids enjoyed feeding all the animals. There are a small number of sheds should you get caught in a rain shower.
Swim in a Heated Swimming Pool
I did say that these were things to do in Margaret River with kids in WINTER right? Yes, that is right. I think children the world over love nothing more than to play in a swimming pool. That’s why we frequently book accommodation in Margaret River in winter that has a heated swimming pool.
Last year we stayed in the amazing Pullman Bunker Bay and my theory was right – the pool had lots of kids in it, having a ball. With amazing views across Bunker Bay that outdoor pool is the pick of the bunch – but not necessarily the warmest. Further north in Busselton there a couple of hotels with pools. We have tried out the Abbey Beach Resort and the Broadwater Beach Resort. If you are looking for full reviews and inspiration we have covered them at Best Family Accommodation In South West WA.
Visit Cowaramup, the Cow Town, and the Candy Cow!
Every kid – and many adults – will love exploring the streets of The Cow Town, Cowaramup! Some ingenious locals decided to make the most of their town’s name and the streets are filled with some very fun black and white cows! These dairy cows also celebrate the dairying history of both Cowaramup and the Margaret River region.
Exploring Cowaramup in winter is easy to do. Should there be a shower of rain you can pop into one of the cute gift shops, or boutiques. Of course, the kids are likely to direct you towards the Candy Cow. Just like an old-fashioned candy show, the Candy Cow is full of every sweet you can imagine and you’re likely to leave with more than just a couple of bags of delicious sweets!
Gastronomic Ways to Enjoy Margaret River in Winter!
Enjoy a Long Lunch at a Margaret River Brewery or Winery
Have I mentioned that Margaret river family-friendly wineries are like the BEST? Get in out of the rain, enjoy the heat of a wood fire and eat the delicious food that Margaret River is so famous for.
In recent years, the Margaret River brewery scene has grown exponentially and they have really catered for year-round visits. In summer you can sprawl on expansive lawns, in winter there are plenty of large spaces where you can get in out of the weather.
We particularly enjoyed our visit to Cheeky Monkey Brewery when we were in Margaret River in winter, as well as some time at the Beer Farm Metricup. Look at these posts a full round-up of The Best Margaret River Breweries or the Busselton Wineries and Breweries.
Around Yallingup, give the Swings and Roundabouts Winery winter pizza a go, or step back in time at the historic Caves House. Both are reviewed in The BEST Things To Do In Yallingup WA. Oh, and how could we forget the purple ice cream from the Cape Lavender Teahouse!
Warm Yourself up with Liquors like Whiskey and Gin!
Now we are getting into some serious winter warmers! Why not visit the Margaret River Distilling Company, where you can taste award-winning whiskey and gin! Or better still, why not go back to Geodiversity where you can take a blending class and learn to mix and match botanicals just like a master distiller. In these highly popular classes that experiment with exotic and native botanicals to craft unique recipes reminiscent of Australia’s South West you even get to take your own bespoke blend with you. These Margaret River masterclasses are very popular, especially in the cold winter months so make sure you book in advance.
At least a few of the breweries also have a distilling section. Such as Black Brewing Co, which is home to Dune Distilling. They have released the luscious Yallingup Pink Gin, Hibiscus & Rhubarb Pink Gin, and even an Australian Xmas Gin.
At The Grove Distillery, you can sample a range of liquors that they mix into mini cocktails for you to try! The first distillery in the Margaret River Region, The Grove uses local ingredients where possible to make spirit-based liqueurs, vodka, whiskey, gin, bourbon, and more. If you are looking for something to eat, The Grove Cafe serves delicious Stone-fired Pizza, or traditional scones; jam & cream, and espresso coffee.
Unlike wine tastings, some distilleries do charge.
Gourmet Food and Wines
Margaret River is often described as a gourmet paradise. It is one of Australia’s premium eating and drinking destinations or just a haven for foodies… and with good reason.
If you haven’t got the idea yet, there are not just delicious drinks in Margaret River. It also abounds with gourmet food. Given the locals know that winter is long and wet, most of these places are cozy and warm, especially on a rainy day.
For example, at the Yallingup Cheese Co, they produce gorgeous distinctive cheeses from cows’ and goats’ milk using organic local dairy products. If there are covid restrictions they offer grazing boxes and takeaways – but no tasting at the shop.
The oldest chocolatier in the Margaret River Region is the Margaret River Chocolate Company with a very wide range of chocolate products. It is always extremely busy. Lately reviews have been lackluster and mentioned just how pricey it is. With new covid regulations, you can’t do tastings either. Still, the idea of some delicious creamy chocolate on a cold winter’s day is pretty enticing!
Gabriel Chocolate is a new alternative to the Margaret River Chocolate Company. They import cacao beans and turn them into chocolate bars. Gabriel Chocolate is immediately adjacent to Chow’s Table Restaurant, and House Of Cards Wine.
On a nice day, there are large lawn areas to sit and indulge in one of their steaming hot chocolates, salted chocolate chip cookies, or hand-made, chocolate-dipped ice-creams.
Cooking Class or Demonstration
If you want to do more than just eat, why not head to Cape Lodge where there is a wide range of options for those wanting to spend some extra time in the kitchen and learn from much respected local Chef Tony Howell. Very fun and informative, the Cape Lodge offers regular Saturday demos, special cooking classes, or even private lessons. Be warned – this is not an opportunity to sit back and watch! You will be expected to get in and cook alongside one of the region’s top chefs. A perfect way to spend a winter day!
If you have ever wanted to try your hand at winemaking, then this winter in Margaret River might be the perfect opportunity with a Wine Blending Experience at Clairault Streicker Wines. You will use legit lab equipment from their winery to blend Australia’s two most popular red grape varieties – Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz. The knowledgeable team will help you to measure, mix, and taste until you have created your very own personal blend. Then you can then take it home in your very own wine bottle!
Olives, Skincare and Beauty Masterclasses
The kids loved our visit to Olio Bello last year. They ran in the beautiful olive groves and then we sat down by warm fires to enjoy the Mediterranean ambiance of their café and delicious pasta.
We’ve been long-time fans of Olio Bello Organics Beauty & Wellness range that are hand-made on-site. They are one of the few products that my daughter’s eczema can tolerate. We all spent a delightful time testing more olive oil products before also taking home some of their gourmet deli range of dips and marinated olives.
Vasse Virgin is another olive oil producer. You can visit their soap factory at the end of an olive tree-lined drive. Here, you can see the soap makers at work. They hand blend a variety of lux body products using the finest extra virgin olive oil.
My daughter is keen to do the Vasse Virgin Lip Balm Workshop. You can make your own lip balms using Vasse Virgin’s olive oil and add in your own touch with essential oils like lavender, orange, or mint.
Enjoy a Roaring Wood Fire
There is something extremely decadent about curling up beside a roaring fire with a good book and wine in hand. If you’ve dreamed of a Margaret River winter getaway with a good old fashion fire, then book carefully, looking for a cozy place with a fireplace.
If you look carefully, there are many Margaret River accommodations with fireplaces. A few suggestions are the Constellation Apartments and Bushy Lake Chalets. We stayed at Eight Willows which had a beautifully hot electric fireplace.
Imagine the sounds of nature outside, the rain on the roof, or the stormy winds while you are inside, safe and warm… and being pampered!
There is a range of luxury accommodations around Margaret River that have a spa on-site. This means you can move between your room and your treatments easily (and without getting cold)!
There are things that aren’t so good in Winter
We pride ourselves on being honest in our reviews. Let’s face it, not everything is great all year around. Here are a few things we have attempted in winter, or a colder season and they have not worked so well for us. Our advice; do your research, check the forecast and see if they are a good option for you and your family.
- Stingrays at Hamelin Bay
- Underwater Observatory at Busselton Jetty
- Ropes courses at next Level Monkey Business Dunsborough or Trees Adventure Busselton. Closed in high winds, and are slippery.
The Verdict – Things to do in Margaret River when Raining
So here you have it, a comprehensive guide to things to do in Margaret River when raining – and in the heart of winter. In short, whether you are looking for a family weekend or a romantic escape without the kids, the Margaret River Region has a lot to offer in the colder months. Margaret River is awesome in the winter when there are fewer people. There are lots of places to curl up by the fire, do a wine or gin masterclass, or just indulge in a pampering massage. Margaret River really does put on the warmth of an awesome Australian winter getaway!
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