Monday, November 28, 2005

Margaret River

The shire of Augusta-Margaret River is a short drive from Perth through Bunbury and Busselton, offering some of the most picturesque scenery in Western Australia. Margaret River town is situated on the banks of the Margaret River approximately 10kms from the ocean, and lies amidst lush green pastures and forests.

The development of Margaret River can be attributed to the Group Settlement Scheme of the 1920's, when some 100 settlers found themselves setting up industries with the assistance of the Government Scheme.

Today the town rests in the heart of the state's largest premium wine producing region. This, combined with the stunning natural surroundings, supports a thriving tourism industry attracting visitors from all over the world.

As a result of its popularity, there has also been an influx of added attractions and facilities created in the area to meet the guests every whim.

When we got there we went to the visitors center and Tracie asked one of the girls what the best thing to do if you only had half a day and didn't drink wine was. For some reason this rattled the girl and she became visibly nervous. Maybe it's because the only thing there is to do here that isn't anywhere else are the wineries.

We settled on seeing one of the caves. The Leeuwin-Naturaliste Ridge is scattered with over 350 limestone caves. Six of these have been developed into major public attractions, all of which are on the Caves Road.

Visitors are encouraged to start their discovery of the regional caves with a tour of the Cave Works Interpretive Center at the Lake Cave site. There they have interactive displays, a crawl-through cave model, and an amazing outside viewing platform which looks down into the cave.

Lake cave, which recently celebrated its 100th year as a tourist cave, has been entirely relit to fully show off its delicate formations and famous reflective lake.

The next morning we went to the mouth of the Margaret River to see the beach and to do a little body boarding. The Margaret River area has some of the best surfing in WA. The waves were pretty small while we were there, only a meter and a half at maximum, but they were really fun. The beach had a very shallow incline and so the rides were a lot longer than they would have been at a beach in Perth. I can see what a big difference good waves make on how much fun you can have.

We stopped at a chocolate factory on our way home but it was pretty disappointing. There were no Ommpa Loompas, and it was more of a chocolate store than anything else. I didn't feel like spending an arm and a leg to buy a few tiny pieces of chocolate. I would probably skip the chocolate factory if I had it to do over again.

We made it back to Perth but were an hour late taking the van back to the rental place. They were good about it and didn't charge us a late fee.

This trip has put both Tracie and I into a vacationing mood. We feel like we are having a trip instead of just working and living in a new place.

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