Margaret River in Australia is an easy flight away with heaps of activities for babies and kids; perfect for a long weekend or family holiday!
Every time a long weekend rolls around, I have to ask myself: Are you booked and all set for a family vacation?
Chances are if you weren’t kiasu enough to snap up a great deal to a popular nearby destination months in advance, you are now staring at the laptop in despair, digesting the skyrocketing prices all over Asia. I was in exactly the same situation last year and just a week before Chinese New Year, when my research led me to Margaret River – an absolutely beautiful region near Perth in Western Australia.
On a whim I snapped up a promotional deal for the five of us (my hubby, then-2-year-old toddler, myself and my parents who were visiting us) on Singapore Airlines to Perth. After a few days in this lovely city we made the 3-hour drive down to Margaret River. Hot tip: it’s quite essential to drive in the region, so book a car in advance, preferably right from the beginning of your trip in Perth.
We hired an SUV from Bayswater Car Rental; I would definitely recommend them for quality, well-maintained cars at extremely competitive prices. A map of the Margaret River region is also a necessity, as the GPS sometimes acts up, especially whilst providing directions to the smaller vineyards.
Margaret River is located in the southwest region of Western Australia and is an easy, scenic drive from Perth. En route we stopped for lunch at The Goose in Busselton on the recommendation of a friend in Perth. Close to the Busselton Jetty, the restaurant had the perfect combination of delicious food and a beautiful location.
The Margaret River region has a range of accommodation right from cottages to seaside resorts so there’s definitely something to suit every budget. Visitors can choose to stay in the heart of Margaret River or further out in Dunsborough, Cowaramup or Prevally. We booked a 2-bedroom deluxe apartment at Darby Park Serviced Residences and were not disappointed. The apartment was very comfortable and well appointed, the staff were efficient and helpful, and the location was perfect – just minutes away from several restaurants and shops. Darby Park also has BBQ facilities, a pool, a library and a wide selection of DVDs in case guests want to enjoy a quiet night indoors.
As a foodie, and since I was travelling with my family of foodies, I did a lot of research on the cafes and restaurants in the area, and we made advanced reservations at some great places. Mamas, I’m going to make life really easy for you. Just follow my recommendations below and get set for a gourmet treat!
As Margaret River is a fantastic wine region, wine flights and tastings are an essential part of the experience. We enjoyed wine flights at several estates before our meals. One can also choose to take a tour of the vineyards to get an insight into the history of the place, the process of winemaking etc. At least one such tour is a must-do, and of course don’t forget to carry back your favourite wines – most estates offer shipments to your doorstep in Singapore too.
The estates below rank amongst my favourites and I would definitely recommend a visit:
Vasse Felix (the first vineyard in the Margaret River area)
Most estates have vast grounds. My little one had a great time running around and even played his first game of croquet at the Leeuwin Estate!
Here are a few other places that are all close to each other and worth a quick visit:
The Margaret River Chocolate Factory
Betteney’s Wine and Nougat factory
Margaret River Dairy Company
Millers Ice Cream Factory (NB: there’s also a second location in the town centre in case you can’t make it to the factory).
Duckstein Brewery – If you’ve had way too much wine and need some beer for a change of pace!
Mamas with babies and toddlers should make a point to stop by one of the farms. We visited two – Sunflowers Farm and Wonky Windmill Farm. My little one had an absolutely marvelous time bottle feeding the infant animals and feeding the older animals. Farmstays are also available for those who feel a few hours at the farm are just not enough!
So there you go, mama! Don’t despair if you haven’t booked anything for CNY just yet. A perfect getaway to Margaret River is just a few clicks away. Happy planning and Gong Xi Fa Cai!