The entire southern part of Western Australia is stunning and diverse. The coastline is home to turquoise coloured water with pristine sandy beaches separated by rocky cliffs with hundreds of small islands dotted across the ocean. Inland is covered by dense dry forests with an abundance of flora and wildlife living in thick bush between the many rivers, creeks and lakes.
Our original plans were to stay around here for quite a while, spending most of our time at bush campgrounds, free camps and state parks with the occasional trip into town to restock on supplies and take a shower, but our plans had to change. While we were visiting Esperance, many conversations by the camp fire were based around people telling us to hurry up, get in and back out of the northern part of Australia before the wet season, heat and cyclones hit, so with a few adjustments to the itinerary, we decided to speed things up.
We packed up the caravan and headed in the direction of Margaret River from Esperance. Our first stop was about a six hour drive at the Tonebridge.
Tonebridge Campground was just a quick, free stop over for us, although it could have been a destination of its own. We camped by ourselves right beside the river that wraps around the campground that’s packed with native foliage, including plenty of huge grass trees and a eucalyptus forest.
Surrounding the camp ground is a bunch of different nature reserves, state and national parks. We could have stayed here for a week, but got up early drove a short distance to take a look at the Karri forest in Pemberton.
I didn’t know a lot about Pemberton or why we were heading there, all that I had been told by Eva was to keep quiet and that she had a surprise for me!
As we got into the national park, the first thing that stood out was a huge tree with a whole heap of metal rods sticking out of it that formed a ladder to an observation deck at the top. I didn’t expect that we were going to climb the damn thing, especially without a harness, but before I could even take a photo, Eva was already half way to the top!
Trembling, I slowly followed and made the ascent up the Gloucester tree, a 53 metre tall Karri tree.
We didn’t stick around for long. With a quick look over forest from above the canopy, back down we went, one slow step at a time!
To shake off the nerves and take advantage of our dog still having a bit of time left at daycare, we went and grabbed some fish & chips with a G & T in town, then v lined it straight to Margaret River.
Bypassing the town, we drove straight to Chapman Pool and camped beside the Blackwood River, about 25 minutes to the south of Margaret River.
Here, we didn’t do much, & that’s exactly how we wanted it!
Most of our time was spent by eating marsh mellows roasted on the camp fire and the occasional stroll along the river. It was pretty cold just about the entire time that we stayed in the forest, although we enjoyed being rugged up as we knew that soon we’ll be heading north and cold days will be nothing more than a memory.
After about 5 days of roughing by the river, Eva developed a thirst for some red wine and I needed a shower. We said goodbye to Chapman Pool, then went and set up the van in town at the Riverview Tourist Park, treating ourselves to campsite with an ensuite just a short walk from the river. Better yet, we happened to camp right next to a guy that was able to tell us everything that we were doing wrong – what more could you want?!
We took a bush walk along the river, then scrubbed-up, freshened-up and went knocking on a few cellar doors.
Time was going fast and we felt like we had only uncovered such a small part of the incredible area around Margaret River, keeping in mind that we’ve gotta keep moving and get up north, we spent another couple of days walking around the town, strolling along the river and squeezing in a look at as many of nearby beaches that time would allow.
Hamelin Bay was at the top of the list due to Eva wanting to see the “flat fishes” (String Rays).
Without a flat fish insight, we settled for heading to Surfers Point next to the Margaret River mouth, then snuck a look some other parts of the coast before retreating to Riverview.
Although we only spent a week in Margaret River, this place has already become a favourite of ours and we will be returning. It’s hard to explain what we loved most, whether it’s the word-class surf beaches just a short drive away, the wineries that made us feel like we were looking at a postcard, the dense forest beside the rivers or the incredible town itself, we loved it & look forward to holiday down the track, where this will be the only destination.
If you’ve been to Margaret River and loved it as much as we did, let us know what you recommend we check out on our next visit by commenting below.