Margaret River is a town located 9 km from the Indian Ocean.
The town is named after the river, which is presumed to be named after Margaret Whicher, cousin of John Garrett Bussell (founder of Busselton) in 1831. The name is first shown on a map of the region published in 1839. European migrants lived in the area as early as 1850, with timber logging commencing in around 1870. By 1910, the town had a hotel which also operated as a post office.
Margaret River is probably most well known for its wineries. The Mediterranean climate of the Margaret River region produces some of the best wines in Australia. Leeuwin Estate, one of the larger wineries, has an incredible range of wines. Vasse Felix, the first winery in the region, is another good place to sample some of the region’s famous wines. You might like to stop for lunch at the environmentally sustainably managed Cullen Winery.
Most common way to approach Margaret River is by car. There is no scheduled commercial air service, although there is an airport. It takes around 3 hours to drive from Perth. Take the Kwinana Freeway/Highway 1 route out of Perth, and ignore any mapping service which suggests an alternative route that may be shorter but slower.
Unless you are taking a tour, being in Margaret river town without a car is limiting. However, South West Coaches run a daily bus leaving Margaret River for Perth in the morning, and then leaving in the evening.
There is a TransWA coach that connects to the Bunbury train service.
Margaret River is a great place to walk or bike around. A car is helpful for seeing sites in the surrounding area, including the wineries.
A day in the Margaret River with a family, might start with a morning trip to the coffee roastery at Yahava, sip your morning cappuccino, followed by a trip to one of the three mazes, picking up some cheese and crackers from the Margaret River Dairy for morning tea on the way. Lunch at the Colonial Brewery, with a sampler of a beer and the kids on the playground, followed by a tour of one of the two lighthouses or four caves that run tours in the area. Drop into a couple of wineries for tasting, before heading to the beach to watch the sunset over the water (and a swim if visiting in summer).
Margaret River is gradually emerging as a mountain biking destination (like you need more reasons to go to Margaret River). With a variety of new single-track areas, there’s more than enough to keep you occupied for a week or longer. Riding in the area can be described as generally flowy, single-track, cross-country trails located in gently sloping, forested areas. Most trails are beginner friendly, but with enough stunts, log rolls, jumps, downhills, and skinnies, that anyone, regardless of skill level, can have a blast. The beauty of virtually all trails is that stunts are almost always optional, meaning beginners can ride around. Fun for the whole family!
There’s tons of riding close to town (i.e., can ride from town), but having a vehicle opens up a few more epic areas, that are definitely worth the commute. The perfect rig for most trails in the area is a light cross-country hardtail mountain bike with good front suspension. Although a light, full squishy in the right hands would be nothing but fun.
OK, before you even think of leaving home, download onto yer phone the “Find the Fun” Margaret River guide app: https://www.margaretriverfindthefun.com.au/ This indispensable app pretty much lays it all out for anyone wanting to mountain bike in Margaret River and area. Download it, open it, then click on “mountain biking”. Everything is there, by area, including real-time maps showing your location on the trail, and descriptions including start and end locations. Can’t go wrong.
Ground zero for the local biking scene is the Happy Marron coffee shop (down by the river). If yer old school, and looking for paper maps, guidebooks, or want to rent a bike, fix yer bike, buy some parts, or hey, grab a coffee and a snack before shredding the trails, this is the place. From there you can ride to the trails.
Here are a few of the favs we encountered on our trip:
Near town (i.e., you can ride from town)
The following 3 areas are all accessed from one carpark on Carter’s road, just outside town, about 1.5 kms from the Happy Marron Café, or 2 kms from town center (Google Maps knows it as “The Pines Mtb Trail Head”). Close enough to ride out, or hey, drive and park if you’re mobile. All three areas are a series of inter-linked, built, and maintained trails that can be done individually or consecutively, or repeated, meaning you can do a quick lap on your lunch hour, or you pack a lunch, head out for the day, and hit them all.
* Compartment 10
This is a well-signed, well-maintained, very organized set of inter-linked trails. Most trails are designated as “blue” (intermediate), but access is via “green” (beginner) trails, with some “black” (advanced) dispersed here and there. Trails are generally smooth and flowy, with optional stunts. Trails are generally short (< 1 km), but by stringing multiple trails together, it can keep you busy for hours.
At the time of writing (October 2017), the area had just recently been logged. As a result, a large chunk of the trails are currently gone (i.e., gone, meaning cannot even see them, much less ride them). However, there are still large portions of the trail system remaining intact, and therefore ridable. The trails are not as well signed here, but have the same style of flowy, single-track trails. And, true to the name, the riding is primarily through a beautiful, open pine forest. The area is directly adjacent to Compartment 10, so it can be ridden in conjunction with Compartment 10, to extend your ride.
* The Creeks
Here again, the trails are nice and flowy, single-track, with lots of stunts to keep things interesting. Consistent with this group of trails, the riding is on well-maintained, inter-linked trails. Most, if not all, of the trails are blue (intermediate) and above, so a great place for intermediate and advanced riders. If you are a beginner, you might want to warm up somewhere else, then come back and hit The Creeks when you’re at your peak.
The general MR area is very bicycle friendly with many bike lanes and trails. As with everything described here, the app lays it out for you. The local “rails to trails” trail, in particular, offers a long-distance, flat, gravel surface travelling between Cowaramup and Whitchcliffe (20 kms +/-), passing through Margaret River (i.e., you can catch it in MR). Being a converted rail line, the trail is straight and flat for the most part, making for a perfect leisurely ride through a beautiful area.
Outside town (i.e., need vehicle)
The following are two fantastic areas within easy reach of town if you have a vehicle (30 mins +/- drive). Both are easily accessed from main roads with 2-wheel drive cars. If yer mobile, they are a must.
* Middle Earth
This a fantastic 25-kms worth of trails, that is best done as a continuous loop. Once on the trail, you can safely put your phone/GPS away, because the entire loop is well signed by white metallic arrows strategically placed at eye level. The trails are fast and flowy, well maintained, and splattered with fun stunts here and there, making for a really fun ride whether you’re just starting out, or you would rather spend your time in the air. Definitely the best bang for your mountain biking buck if you are looking for a continuous morning or afternoon ride.
* Boranup Trail
“Find the Fun” calls this the “prettiest trail” in the area. Rightly so. This trail, more of a scenic tour than a bump and jump mountain biking mission, is a very scenic double-loop ride through beautifully majestic eucalyptus forest. The ride is a series of gravel roads, old trails, and some single track. Best done as a 3-hr ride by following the directions in the app, it’s a wonderful way to spend a morning or afternoon. Bring a lunch and enjoy!
Prevelly Caravan Park