Tuesday, September 3, 2013


I had to choose between many towns for my M contribution, the main two being....Mandurah where I spent so many wonderful holidays in my youth) and Margaret River (it bears my name so it was a natural choice).  More recently I have family that live in Margaret River and I also spent some very pleasant times there many years ago.  Even camped there for a couple of nights with a girlfriend some years back.  I found the following information on Wikipedia:

MARGARET RIVER is a town in the South West of Western Australia, located in the valley of the eponymous Margaret River, 277 kilometres (172 miles) south of Perth, the state capital.  The coast to the west of the town is a renowned surfing location with world wide notoriety for its surf breaks. Colloquially, the area is referred to as Margs.

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 1931.  The name is first shown on the 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 an hotel which also operated as a post office.
The main street of  Margaret River:

After World War 1, an attempt by the government of Western Australia to attract migrants to W.A. (known as the Group Settlement Scheme) and establish farms in the region attracted new settlers to the town and in 1922 over 100 settlers had moved into the district. (I worked for a man whose family were part of this scheme.  He wrote a book about his adventures as a boy "Barefoot in the Creek" which gives a great insight into what life was like for those families.  Mr Burton died earlier this year at the ripe old age of 93.  He was a good boss and I was fortunate to meet up with him again in 2001 at a friend's place).

Group settlers in 1923 visited by Prime Minister Bruce and Lady Bruce and James Mitchell:

A group settlement house with immaculate vegetable garden (date unknown):

The above two photographs courtesy of Margaret River and Districts Historical Society.

Margaret River is situated 9 kilometres (6 miles) inland from the Indian Ocean at a point about halfway between Cape Naturaliste and Cape Leeuwin in the southwest region of W.A.  The climate is humid Mediterranean, with an average annual rainfall of about 1,130 mm (44 inches) most of which falls between May and August.  During the summer the weather is very warm though there are usually sea breezes.  The hot dry summers, coupled with strong winds, creates an environment where there is always a high risk of *bush fires.

Margaret River is the foremost Geographical Indication wine region in the South West Australia Zone, with nearly 55 square kilometres (21 sq miles) under vine and over 138 wineries as at 2008.  (I wish I could find more recent figures).  The region is made up predominantly of boutique-size wine producers, although winery operations range from the smallest, crushing 3.5 tonnes per year, to the largest at around 7,000 tonnes.  The region produces just 3% of total Australian grape production but commands over 20% of the Australian premium wine market.

Humidity levels are ideal during the growing period and the combination of climate, soil and viticulture practices leads to consistently high quality fruit of intense flavour.  Consequently, annual vintage results continue to exceed expectations and reinforce Margaret River's reputation as one of the premium wine-producing regions of the world.  The principal grape varieties are fairly evenly split between rd and white; cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, shiraz, merlot, chenin blanc and verdelho.
Vasse-Felix vineyard:

Several hundred caves are located near Margaret River, all of them within the Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park.  Six of these are open to the public.  The most famous is the multi-chambered Mammoth Cave, which lies 21 kilometres (13 miles) south of the town and contains fossils dating back over 35,000 years.  It was first discovered by European settlers back in 1850 and has been open to the public since 1904.  It is one of the few caves in Australia offering partial disabled access.  There are other caves that are also open to the public.

Mammoth Cave:

Suspended table in Lake Cave which is the only cave in the area to have a permanent lake.  The Suspended Table weighs several tonnes and is one of the only formations of its kind in the world.  It defies gravity:

You would never be lost for something to do or things to see if you visited Margaret River.  My daughter and her hubby love to go there for quiet holidays when they can get away.

*Bush fires:  Many homes were destroyed and many more damaged in wild fires that swept the area in November, 2011:

I always feel so terribly sad for people who lose their homes to fire as my folks lost their home before I was born.  Not in a bushfire but nevertheless the loss was just as devastating for them as there was nothing left of any of the items they had brought with them from England,


  1. Hari Om
    Wow to that last photo - I recall the fires getting a tad too close to suburban Sydney - my Suburb and others North were on 'packed case alert'... what got me was how beautiful the smoke made the sky and this one demonstrates that. Even in devastation.

    My folks were stationed in Mandurah for nearly 5 years! I visited a couple of times and the second time found it much changed from all the satellite building plots. Furthest South I managed to get though was to Bunbury and up into the hill country behind. Beautiful!! YAM xx

    1. Fire can be devastating but, as you remarked, there is beauty in both the flames and smoke.
      I used to love Mandurah but is has grown far too big for its own good. My folks and I spent every Christmas and Easter down there from when I was 8 to 20. It was a lovely little seaside town then and I loved it. Bunbury has also grown but then it is a port etc.

  2. The underground world of the caves is fascinating.

    1. I always think of the first people that explored caves and the risks they took. There are some beautiful caves over in New South Wales as well tho' I've not seen them.

  3. Margaret River reds are blissful. And there is so much more to see and do. Someday...
    And bushfires are terrifying. So fast, powerful and destructive. And beautiful too.

    1. Folk are strange aren't they? We don't drink M.River wine (too expensive) tho' I've been told it's good. I once had a M.River white that was delicious but forget which one.
      Fires terrify me. There were some horrific fires in our south-eastern suburbs a few years ago when numerous homes were lost. Really frightening when the suburbs themselves burn as you would know from those fires in Canberra.

  4. A very interesting post Mimsie, always lovely to see around another country, and one I hope to visit one day. Those fires are scary, so destructive, so fast. I noticed driving around the park today that the threat was on high. To answer your question, the smell of rotten eggs was very strong in parts of Yellowstone.

    1. Ah! That smell. I thought that would be the case. They say the residents of Rotorua don't even notice the smell any more.
      We have very high fire dangers in the north of our state right now and also in northern Queensland too I believe. Hundred of kilometres north of us so right now we are safe but they say the southern parts of Australia will all be at risk this coming summer.

  5. Whenever I hear Margaret River, I think Kangaroo Island. I've no idea why. I'm always surprised to hear it is in WA. Those caves look fabulous, I'd love to take a tour through those one day.

    1. It's strange how we sometimes have an association of ideas isn't it?
      Many years ago I ventured into some of the caves and they were delightful. I couldn't do it now so just have happy memories of those times.
      I know you would enjoy our south-west so perhaps a bus tour for your one day? I'm still hoping that perhaps one more holiday for us but not sure how or when.

  6. I loved visiting the raptor center at Mgt. River. I especially loved that it was designed for the BIRDS and not for the human visitors.

  7. I've not visited the raptors but then I've not been to Marg. River for some years now. There was a bird place in Albany (since closed I believe) and it was for the birds and allowed visitors to enter their world. Pity it closed. I always feel sorry for people that are afraid of birds. I love them.