MARGARET RIVER ON THE MAP
The good food, great wine and breathtaking beaches are bringing more and more international travellers to Australia’s west coast, including C. James Dale.
If I could move to Margaret River, I would. Alright, so there are no hot clubs or urban rooftop bars, no grand national museums. But who needs all that when you’re sharing a squintit’s-so-long stretch of beach with seven other souls, searching for seashells as locals haul in herring for Saturday night feasts? Or watching dolphins dart by as surfers bob out in the waves, ever mindful of the sharks that prowl these coastal waters? It’s all about big sea, big sky and few concerns. Oh, and lest we forget, the wine.
Margaret River is an absolute delight, as more and more travellers are discovering. And with the BusseltonMargaret River Airport expanding to take direct flights from Australia’s east coast, domestic tourism in the South West is expected to leap to the next level.
Gateway to God’s country For now, though, the gateway to Margaret River remains Perth. Once written off as a backwater, the city has flourished thanks to the resources boom. The spoils include the ambitious Elizabeth Quay redevelopment project, a new stadium and museum in the pipeline, and the recently opened COMO The Treasury, Perth.
The 48-room hotel, located inside the painstakingly restored 19th-century former State Buildings, oozes history and charm. Post, a self-styled ‘neobistro’, offers enticing menus inspired by Australian and French cooking.
But there’s much more, including the Thai restaurant, Long Chim, and the low-key Petition, with comfort food, an 18-tap craft beer pub and a wine bar/ merchant. The complex also houses Halford, an under-the-radar basement cocktail bar, and the rooftop fine-dining restaurant, Wildflower.
Staying near the source Just a few hours after leaving Perth, acres of grapevines blurred by as we made our way to a cliffside hideaway, Injidup Spa Retreat. The cosy, firelit villas face the vast Indian Ocean.
“You just have to look at this view and see the beauty of the ocean and the Australian coast,” Buddhist monk and masseuse Joel Pauleau noted during our chat after my treatment in one of Injidup’s light-filled spa rooms. “There’s a sense of beauty and peace that is very inspiring to me, and I think it’s inspiring to many people.”
A stone’s throw up the coast lies Injidup’s sister property, Smiths Beach Resort, overlooking the savage beauty of its namesake beach. We stayed in an ocean-facing house and kept the sliding doors open to the elements.