19 Jun 2020

In October you'll find us in Margaret River, WA. The Cape to Cape MTB is a week we always look forward to, while it's still work - as event photographers - the enjoyment we get out of waving our cameras in the faces of happy mountain bikers is a real hoot. Though it is the place that draws us back each year. We adore the trees, leaves, waves, wine, food, beers, beaches, sunsets, vines, and funky locals. In this feature, we compile our tips of things to do, on either side of the event, or during if you're not partaking. Enjoy!

Stunning beaches, world-renowned wineries, a thriving gourmet food scene, and an abundance of natural attractions are just some of what makes Margaret River special. Whether you’re staying a few extra days before or after the race or bringing your partner and family along, there’s plenty to see and do in this beautiful part of Western Australia. Here are some of our top picks.

Swim and surf at Gnarabup Beach

A short 10-minute drive out of town you’ll find the pristine white sands and deep blue waters of Gnarabup Beach. Enjoy a walk, swim, paddleboard, canoe, surf or snorkel at this beautiful beach. You can also take a boat out or go fishing on the jetty. Grab a coffee from popular beachfront cafe White Elephant and wander to Surfers Point to watch surfers take on huge waves at this reputed surf spot, which hosts the Margaret River Pro Surf Championships each year.

Margaret River locals are absolute chargers, we’ve seen huge surf and massive waves ridden during our visits to Gnarabup Beach and Surfers Point.

Start a ride at The Hairy Marron

Want to hire a bike, find out the best local trails, grab a pre-ride coffee or get your bike serviced? The good folk at bike-cafe The Hairy Marron have you covered. Park your bike out front, grab a seat and a light feed on the front deck and plan your day. It’s an easy ride through the forest to the Ten Mile Brook Trail, The Creek Trails and a network of others from The Hairy Marron’s location on the banks of the Margaret River.

Breaky, brew and a mud map to the trails at their doorstep. The Hairy Marron is a beaut place to start or finish a walk or ride.

Cup ‘o muddy heart starter to get the legs turning, and fresh gingerbread to keep them pumping.


Can’t beat a map with greasy fingerprints fresh out of the workshop, this is local advice as good as it gets.


69 Bussell Highway, Margaret River
www.thehairymarron.com

Taste world-class wine

A trip to Margaret River wouldn’t be complete without a visit to some of its world-class wineries. The region, which is home to more than 95 cellar doors, produces a whopping 25 per cent of Australia’s premium wines. If you’re short on time, it’s hard to go past Leeuwin Estate, whose sprawling grounds riders pass through as part of the Cape to Cape circuit. One of Margaret River’s founding wineries, Leeuwin Estate’s history dates back to 1972. Today, the family-owned business is known for its premium wines and award-winning restaurant, cellar door and art gallery.

Leeuwin Estate is one of the oldest in the region, and the grounds are beautiful. The wine, also very good. 😉 Oh, there’s art, too! Aren’t we fancy mountain bikers.


Stevens Road, Margaret River
https://leeuwinestate.com.au

Visit Sugarloaf Rock

Take a drive north of Margaret River along this spectacular part of the wild west coast to Sugarloaf Rock. This dramatic granite rock formation has been shaped by the sea and sits just off the coast near Cape Naturaliste in the Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park. Visit Sugarloaf Rock for an out-of-this-world sunrise or sunset and the most Instagram-worthy of shots.

The west has a wild coastline, catching the sight of places like this is stunning.


Sugarloaf Road, Dunsborough
https://parks.dpaw.wa.gov.au/site/sugarloaf-rock

Ride, wine and dine

What better way to take in the wine and gourmet produce that Margaret River is famous for than by bike? Margaret River Mountain Bike Tours offers visitors just that. Their Ultimate Ride to Wine and Dine tour is one of their most popular and is a leisurely way to spend a day. These small group, six-hour tours takes visitors through the scenic Boranup Forest before arriving at local winery Leeuwin Estate, where you’ll be taken on a behind-the-scenes tour and enjoy wine tasting and delicious lunch.

Margaret River MTB Tours put on a fabulous experience, ride from the winery around the forest and back again. Hire an e-bike too, yehoo!

Wine to dine, bike style.


Leeuwin Estate at its best, fine local produce and delicious wines to match.


www.margaretrivermountainbiketours.com.au

Go on an Aboriginal cultural tour

Learn about the rich Aboriginal history of the Margaret River region with a cultural tour or experience led by Wadandi man Josh Whiteland of Koomal Dreaming.
www.koomaldreaming.com.au 

Brunch beachside at White Elephant Cafe

Perched on the shores of beautiful Gnarabup Beach, White Elephant is one of our favourite cafes to fuel up pre-or-post race during Cape to Cape. The vibe here is casual and friendly with wholesome food, great coffee and smoothies with a view. Dogs are welcome here too.

Brew with a view!


Gnarabup Road, Gnarabup
www.whiteelephantcafe.com.au 

Explore ancient limestone caves

Looking for something a little different to do? Margaret River is home to amazing limestone caves thought to date back a million years. Four of the caves are open to the public to visit. Explore the crystal-encrusted Jewel Cave, the state’s largest show cave. See ancient animal fossils at Mammoth Cave. Learn the Aboriginal stories and history of Ngilgi Cave and head deep underground to see the sunken forest and lake of the stunning Lake Cave.

We had a fantastic time underground at the Ngilgi Caves, truly marvellous to look at and fascinating to hear the explanations behind the formations.


No wonder the region is famous for its caves, we were blown away with the size and beauty of them once we headed down the stairs.

Jewel Cave,  Jewel Caves Road, Deepdene
Mammoth Cave, Caves Road, Forest Grove
Ngilgi Cave, 76 Yallingup Caves Road, Yallingup 
Lake Cave, Caves Road and Conto Road, Forest Grove

Sink beers at Colonial Brewing Co.

Colonial Brewing Co. was one of the first breweries to open in the Margaret River region back in 2004. Enjoy a few craft brews in the sun at the brewery’s outdoor beer garden, catch up with fellow riders, and grab some tasty beers to go from their bottle shop.

Great beers, top atmosphere, brilliant.


29 Osmington Road, Bramley
www.colonialbrewingco.com.au

Get lost at Amaze’n

Amaze’n is the place to head for some family fun. Just south of town, it features a giant hedge maze, an 18-hole mini-golf course, giant puzzles and games, a playground and five hectares of botanical gardens. Grab some lunch from the cafe on-site or pack a picnic to share in the gardens.

Get lost, and found again. Or lost forever…

9978 Bussell Highway, Margaret River
www.amazenmargaretriver.com.au

Learn how to paddleboard

Love the water and want a fun way to explore the region? Suitable for all skill levels, try your hand at stand-up paddleboarding on a guided tour. Margaret River Stand Up Paddle offer two-hour tours that include a lesson in the picturesque surrounds of the Blackwood River National Park. Already a seasoned paddleboarder? You can also hire paddleboards for a DIY adventure.

The sheltered waters of Gnarabup Beach are popular with the SUP crowds, and the local company can provide you with all the gear and guidance you’ll need to stand on water like a pro.

Idyllic!


www.margaretriversup.com.au

Sip spirits at Margaret River Distilling Co.

Taste some locally crafted spirits at the Margaret River Distilling Co., the makers of Ginversity Gin and Limeburners, Dugite and Tiger Snake Whiskies. Grab a table out on the distillery deck among the trees and enjoy a few drinks and a feed. If you’re a gin lover, book into one of their distilling or blending classes to make your very own gin.

A refreshing break from beer and wine (do we talk about beer and wine too much?), a locally distilled gin and tonic is right in town.


Maxwell Street and Carters Road, Margaret River
www.distillery.com.au/margaret-river

Take in the view from Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse

Built in 1895, the historic Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse is set on the most south-westerly tip of Australia where the Southern and Indian Oceans meet. Do a tour or grab a coffee from the lighthouse cafe and take in the stunning view.

Dramatic, tall and full of stories, the lighthouse is hard to ignore and worth learning more about.


Leeuwin Rd, Augusta


Produced in partnership with Cape to Cape and Western Australia #ExperienceExtraOrdinary
www.capetocapemtb.com
Cape to Cape, Australia’s largest, longest-running and most popular four-day MTB stage race held from 22nd – 25th October 2020. Based in Margaret River Western Australia, this iconic riding experience includes access to stunning private trails, vineyard visits, brewery finishes and some of the warmest hospitality the region has to offer.
Starting at Cape Leeuwin lighthouse and finishing four days later at the fabulous Margaret River Distillery, the course makes its way through a network of trails along the coast, through National Parks, forest, farmlands, mountain bike parks, and bush before finishing back at Margaret River.
Roughly 205km and 2,500m of climbing in total, each day’s riding is between 37km and 72km and has its own special terrain and environment to keep things interesting with a mix of fast flowing single trail, farm tracks, groomed downhill trails and fire trails – many through private land that can only be ridden while racing the Cape to Cape.
There’s nothing too technical and it’s ridable for anyone with a reasonable level of fitness and MTB skills. Check out the course overview.