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Tips For Planning A Perth/Margaret River Roadtrip

My previous visit to Australia was four years ago when I was unknowingly pregnant with my second child (in hindsight they may have explained just how sick I was that weekend in Melbourne!).  With the falling Aussie dollar making things a bit cheaper for travel and the glowing tales people had of their Margaret River adventures, we recently chose to return to Australia for a week’s holiday.
  
Australia is a fantastic roadtrip destination.  There are lots of routes you can take but having done much of the East Coast, we were keen to discover Western Australia.  Plus there’s no time difference between Perth & Hong Kong (what a result!)
 
The Perth/Margaret River region has become an increasingly popular place for Asia based families to visit. So when it came to planning our trip, I had lots of useful advice from friends and also fellow travel bloggers.  I also visited my local library and picked up a copy of the trusted Lonely Planet Guide to Western Australia..
We visited during the Chinese New Year holiday break in mid February and the weather was hot hot hot.
WA Roadtrip
This was our route:
 
Ferguson Valley – Ferguson Farmstay (1 night)
Yallingup – Stazy Rental ‘Wildwood Brook Cottage’ (2 nights)
Bunker Bay – Pullman Bunker Bay Resort (2 nights)
Airport Hotel – Ellard B&B (1 night)
 
Lots of people head straight for the Margaret River but as a first time visitor I wanted to see some of Perth. I decided to base ourselves in Fremantle (Perth’s more funky neighbour) for the first few nights. I highly recommend kicking back and exploring the city from here. The Perth CBD is only a 25 minute drive away.  Fremantle itself is a lively & eclectic neighbourhood with boutiques, coffee shops and restaurants a-plenty.
 
As Madames Jetlag & Mayhem are city slickers, I wanted them to experience a night on a farm.  I was choosing between a farm stay in Harvey and Ferguson. Thankfully we chose the latter as unfortunately during our time in Australia, Harvey experienced some serious bush fires.  Our girls loved the Ferguson Farmstay and we could have easily spent more than one night.
Ferguson Farmstay - view
From Ferguson we headed to Yallingup, a beach town in the Margaret River region.  Through Stayz.com I found a cute little cottage in the bush, five minutes from the local beach.  This was the perfect base for us to explore all that Margaret River has to offer from its fabulous wineries to its natural beauty.
Smiths Beach
A friend had told me that the surf can be quite rough for kids down the west coast. Plus the odd shark/jellyfish.  For the last few nights, I wanted somewhere with a pool in case we didn’t have the chance to swim much in the ocean. The Pullman Bunker Bay is pretty pricey but booking far in advance, I managed to get a decent rate.  The hotel is stunning and was the great luxury end to our trip.
 
We are used to road tripping and moving every few nights so for us, the itinerary was perfect. However, if you prefer to stay put, there are plenty of rentals in the Margaret River region that could allow you to do so. We had some friends in Eagle Bay who raved about the luxurious properties there.
 
We booked our car through Avis.  As we were arriving very late at night, rather than collect the car at the airport, I chose to pick up from Fremantle the next day. However that plan was thwarted when we rocked up at 11am only to find the Avis office closed. Luckily we were in walking distance of all the Fremantle attractions and Avis refunded us our money for that day.  I was impressed by the standard and cleanliness of both the car and the child car seats.
Do yourself a favour and purchase Excess Reduction which reduces the excess in most cases rather significantly!
 
Western Australia Travel Tips
  • Unless you are an Australian or New Zealand citizen, you will need a visa to enter Australia.  For UK visitors it was easy to do online.
  • Check opening hours of attractions. I found that a lot of attractions had closed by 3.30/4pm
  • Be guided by the weather – certain areas of Australia can get unbearably hot during summer. Australia also has a think ozone layer meaning you must slip on on a shirt, slop on sunscreen and slap on a hat!
  • For the Margaret River wineries, it’s worth reserving restaurants in advance, particularly if you’re traveling in peak season.  Many of the wineries have an easy online booking system.
    Laurance Wines - Eating
  • Pack bubble wrap and sellotape if you think you’ll be buying wines!  We had a frantic dash to Coles on the way to the airport in order to safely pack our bottles!
  • Pack a cooler bag (or purchase one at a local supermarket).  Nothing like an impromptu picnic at the beach.
  • Choose self catering options, especially if you are traveling with kids.  Stayz is a fantastic holiday rental site.
  • The food in Australia is amazing, especially fresh produce (bear in mind I am based in Hong Kong where we have little access to decent organic food).Check out listings to find the farmers markets and buy local.
    Fremantle Markets
  • Internet can be patchy – bear this in mind if you are reliant on it for work
  • Be safe in the water.  There’s a reason the beaches of Australia are so popular with surfers, the waves are very powerful! Try to find a beach with a lifeguard and always obey the safety flags and signs.

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