Exploring Margaret River - A day in our backyard and our top picks
- Howard Park,
There is so much to see and do in Margaret River – between world class nature, surf breaks, authentic townships, gourmet food, farming and wine – that we have decided to narrow down an itinerary of highlights from our own backyard, proving you don’t need to venture far to get a truly memorable taste of this famous region.
The Howard Park winery is perfectly situated, lying within the Wilyabrup subregion of Margaret River, exactly a 5-minute drive between the Indian Ocean hillside hamlet of Gracetown and the historic farming town of Cowaramup. The stops on our itinerary, at their furthest points, are just 17 minutes’ drive (or 19 kilometres) apart.
The Cape to Cape Track is an absolute must, spanning 125 kilometres end-to-end along the dramatic and changeable coastline of Leeuwin Naturaliste National Park. As well as famous beaches and picnic spots, the sheer length of the track means it doesn’t take long to find a private lagoon or shore for a swim.
Punctuating this scenic path is the small settlement of Gracetown: once dotted with surf and fishing shacks, now interspersed with impressive architectural homes taking advantage of the sea view. It’s the ideal place from which to conquer a section of the aforementioned Cape to Cape, or to indulge in beach activities either at the family friendly Cowaramup Bay, or some of West Australia’s most famous surf breaks like North Point or Lefties. The Gracies General Store will offer you a coffee, pie, or healthy brekky bowl to get the day going.
Next stop is the quirky farming community of Cowaramup, with a main street littered with original historical buildings and the picturesque Pioneer Park. Celebrating its dairy heritage, the town has cow sculptures dotted around its eclectic range of boutiques.
One of our favourites here is the Gourmet Food Merchant, stocking more than 70 food brands from the South West of WA. It is a one-stop-shop for the foodies, with everything from cheeses, charcuterie to dips, coffee, flower bunches and sweet treats. The team at GFM put together an exclusive Howard Park Grazing Box, which you can book here (or pick and choose your own goodies in-store) to bring out to our Cellar Door grounds for a picnic.
The Howard Park headquarters on Miamup Road is one of the foremost examples of architecture in the region, once listed among Australia’s Top 12 Buildings by the Sydney Morning Herald. View the barrel hall and hive of winemaking activity just metres from the tasting room; conduct an in-depth tasting of Howard Park wines; or enjoy a glass on the terrace or lawn. The cellar door is the home of sparkling wine in Western Australia, as the only producer creating methode traditionelle bubbles in-house, and with the widest range of fizz to try.
In the afternoon, a visit to the Vasse Virgin olive oil, soap and skin care factory is a fascinating stop on the itinerary. Sample locally made olive oil and the complementary food range or watch soap makers in action as they craft their wares from natural ingredients.
Taking in a West Coast sunset is a bucket list experience, and we advise stocking up on picnic goodies and Howard Park Jeté sparkling to toast the day. The best vantage points include Gracetown (a right pull-in bay off Cowaramup Bay Road above North Point) and the look-out seat at the top of the Moses Rock staircase.
For dinner and a place to rest your head, there is no finer than Cape Lodge. Billed as a “private country house hotel, restaurant and culinary retreat,” the ‘Lodge’ – as locals affectionately call it – offers a packed calendar of cooking classes, dining events and more. Though if you are truly looking to hide away from it all, the lakeside rooms surrounded by weeping peppermint trees, birdsong and manicured lawns get the job done just nicely. The dinner menu, laden with French cuisine and signature seafood, is put on daily in one of the finest dining rooms of the region.