Perth and Margaret River in June
May 9, 2022 12:48 AM   Subscribe

After 2 years, my family is finally getting a chance to travel, and we'll be in Perth and the surrounding area for 10 days in early June. We have 2 youngish kids (4 and 7), and currently don't have anything specific we want to do besides wander around and just enjoy travelling again. Any suggestions for things we should do and places we should go to? COVID-regulations-specific advice would be great too!

I've read through a bunch of guidebooks and searched the net, but one thing I'm not certain of is whether pre-pandemic information is accurate or not. Would appreciate some advice on that as well!

Places currently on our shortlist: Perth Kings Park, Fremantle, Margaret River, Rottnest Island.
posted by destrius to Travel & Transportation around Perth, Australia (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
We visited Perth & Margaret River this time two years ago! It's lovely! Not the warmest at that time of year, and the weather at Rottnest can be particularly cold, wet, and bleak.

Best advice from locals for Rottnest was - don't bother booking ahead, cos weather is likely to ruin your plans. There's plenty of capacity on the ferry, so just play it by ear.

If you're driving to Margaret River (which I suspect is likely) thoroughly recommend pausing in Busselton. It's a lovely, flat, seaside town, that we passed through and would gladly have stayed a few days.

If you're adventurey, there's a great ropes course in that direction too that we enjoyed. Won't be appropriate for the midgets though.
posted by coriolisdave at 1:41 AM on May 9, 2022 [1 favorite]

You should be able to find a list of Margaret River wineries which are more child-friendly than snooty - many of them have playgrounds and so on. There's also the Margaret River Chocolate Factory which is fun. And a lot of the cafes and restaurants are snug in winter with fireplaces and throw rugs, so it's a good place to be when the weather is rainy. There's also little bus tours if you don't want to drive, some of them are targeted at families rather than connoisseurs or young boozers out for as many free wine samples as they can get.

There's also a really great kids playground in Kings Park. A lot of local families take a quick look at the botanical garden bits with the walkway and a nice view of the city, then head over to the big playground for lunch and some running around.

If the weather is nice enough, Perth Zoo is excellent for all ages, as good as any others I've been to on my travels. Bring a packed lunch because the meal options are expensive and boring. But you can picnic on the lawns or under the big shelters if it's drizzling, and there's a train thingy so little legs don't have to walk so far. My sister would take the train to the back of the zoo then walk back towards the entrance with her kids.

The WA Museum (Boorla Bardip) in the Northbridge Cultural Centre is really good for all ages, and the state art gallery sometimes has fun stuff for kids as well, especially around school holidays.

Fremantle's main cafe strip was hard hit by Covid, so it's not as bustling as it should be right now. Lots of arty and hipster things to look at though, excellent fish and chips, and the ghost tour at the old jail is great.

June isn't what I think of as beach weather, but if you get lucky then Rockingham beach is great for families. Cottesloe is iconic and closer to the city though.

As far as Covid restrictions go, there aren't any right now and we're not expecting any unless a new variant shows up. From what I've seen, about a third of the people out and about are still wearing masks, and there are occasional reminders that we should socially distance in larger indoor venues. If there's a snap lockdown most people will mask up and obey the rules, in the hopes that makes it as short as the previous ones we've had. The snap lockdowns are usually only regional, so if one happens while you're in Margaret River it might not even affect you. The museum did have a booking system even though it's free, just to make sure they didn't cram too many people in all at once - I'm not sure if that's still in use now though.
posted by harriet vane at 6:28 AM on May 9, 2022

Oh and the city centre is also much less busy than pre-Covid due to the big shift to working from home, but it's not that exciting in itself so I'm not sure you'd have much reason to be there anyway. Elizabeth Quay is shiny and new, but it feels to me like it was intended to be a tourist trap but they forgot there's no actual tourist attraction there. Your mileage may vary though, they might have something fun for the kids that I'm not aware of.
posted by harriet vane at 6:36 AM on May 9, 2022

I spend part of my life in Cowaramup just north of Margaret River. It is going to be (Australian) cold when you are there so make sure you have beanies, good socks and coats especially for evening.

Cowaramup has ( too) many coffee shops for the population but notably Red Feather Roasters have just opened up at the north end of town and The Gourmet Merchant are both great. There are model cows throughout town which are loved by my toddler and popular with 4 year olds too ;-) Good breakfasts at Smithereens ,but be warned, The Candy Cow sweetshop is also on that street.

There are caves! Mammoth Cave is excellent and has beautiful bushland around (and inside).

It is not (most people's) swimming season when you are there, but the Rivermouth beach will be worth visiting. Gracetown is also lovely with nice walks along the coast and good rocks to clamber over.

Witchcliffe to the south of Margs is also cute. Best meat pies in the area at Witchy Pies, so that might be a good place to have "aussie food"

MR town centre is lovely to wander through. IGA is my local supermarket of choice. Margaret River Brewhouse is centrally located and good for kids, though I think The River tavern at the other end of town is better for food and also family friendly (no playground). Brewhouse for lunch and The River for dinner?

Cullens Wines do beautiful food and wine - splurge worthy for sure. Post Covid-19 most wineries require bookings now rather than drop in tastings.

The drive between Perth and Margs is over 3 hours, there is an excellent playground in Binningup that can break up a long drive and stretch small legs, but there aren't really refreshments nearby, so good for a picnic.

In Perth, Kings Park is a great place to get an overview of the local flora. Seconding the playgrounds there. Zamia and stickybeaks have coffee but the mining sponsored adventure playground is excellent and much more embedded in the native bushland.

I realise I mention coffee a lot, I have a 2 year old and this may explain that bias. if you are interested at all in thrift op shopping I can also give info ;-).
posted by pipstar at 7:28 AM on May 9, 2022 [1 favorite]

We left Perth about nine months ago, but I think most of this will still be correct. We were in Perth from May through July and we were in Margaret River in June.

In addition to Mammoth Cave, which was fabulous, there is Jewel Cave, which has guided tours. We did both, and they were so very different that we did not regret doing both.

Elizabeth Quay has the Belltower, which has a lot of cool interactive elements.

We took the Little Ferry Company cruise from Elizabeth Quay to Claisbrook Cove, which was lovely, but it now looks like due to COVID you have to book the whole boat.

The Perth Mint had a lot of cool things that kids would enjoy. At least the kids on our tour went wild for it!

Boorla Bardip - the WA Museum - cannot be recommended highly enough. It was phenomenal. And Kings Park was fantastic. Don't miss the skybridge - it was lovely.

If you have a car (which would be a very good idea), Castledare Miniature Railway is a lot of fun for kids. It's right at Canning Park, which is also a lovely experience full of nature.

If you want to go further afield, Whiteman Park in Swan Valley has a small-gauge railway, Kangaroo Flats (which lives up to the name) and a pretty great playground. There are also some good wineries nearby, but I don't know what the situation is now with them.

Our experience of Freo was not great. It may be worth going elsewhere.
posted by rednikki at 7:18 PM on May 9, 2022

Response by poster: Thanks for all the info! Yup we know the weather isn't going to be the best in June, but in any case we've been stuck in a tropical island for 2 years, so cold weather sounds good to me right now. We will rent a car, so places that are slightly more far-flung are fine as well, especially if they make sense in the winter; a lot of suggestions I see for the Margaret River region seem to be beach-related.
posted by destrius at 9:27 PM on May 9, 2022

Hiya, south west local here :)

I’d make a point of going to Busselton on your way down to Margs. Kids love the little train that goes out to the end of the longest jetty in the Southern Hemisphere (allegedly). You can walk out there but at 1.8km length it might be a bit much for the littlest one. I loved the walk out as a kid because there’s fishing happening and kids running about, but the train is fun. At the end of the jetty is an underwater conservatory where you can see a bunch of tropical fish and an amazing reef system clinging to the jetty piers. It’s a tour, so you have to buy tickets. You hear some history but it’s child friendly with lots to see through huge underwater panes of glass.

Near the jetty is Shelter brewery and that’s kid friendly, good for people watching, and the park in front of it has a terrific playground, usually full of kids.

It’s yes, gonna be winter, but winter in the south west is awesome! Even in the cooler weather, the beach is lovely to walk along, not too much wave action and kids are seemingly immune to cooler weather and they jump in the water anyway. Busselton foreshore has relatively calm waters.

If you’re meandering around the Geographe/ Naturaliste area and looking for perfect eating, play etc, I love Meelup Farmhouse. There was a devastating fire there in January but I think they’re back to normal business. Book online just so you can have a nice deck spot if the weather is clear. There’s a big lawn for kids to run around near the forest. I recommend breakfast because the pancakes are the bomb. There’s llamas, chickens, cows, and it’s very stylish vibes for adults. It’s right near the amazing drive along Meelup, and Meelup is absolutely beautiful. Every kid in the south west has scrambled those red rocks, run in the park and definitely swam in the crystal clear waters. Guaranteed. There’s bbqs you can use for free. My favourite thing to do with visitors is take down some fresh fish and do a fry up.

You’re getting close to whale watching time and it’s as easy as pie to nip down to Augusta (my former home town) and get onto a small tour. The whales just love it, and usually put on a flipper tussle in Flinders Bay. I go every year and never get tired of it. The kids will love it as it’s not a big sea journey, just a mosey around in the bay and the whales do the rest.

Driving through Boranup forest south of Margs is a bit of a must. Towering Karri forests and just stunning nature. You can go to Jewel Cave, imo, the best cave and it’s relatively child friendly (might have to carry the four year old for some of it) it’s just past the prettiest of the Karri forest. Boranup Cafe has yummy food and wandering emus often. Hamelin Bay, also near there, is great. There’s a pod of affectionate sting rays near the jetty remnants and they slide all over your feet. Plus it’s got an incredible history.

If you’re in Augusta (near-ish Jewel Cave) you could go out to the light house. It was the last lighthouse in australia to cease gas power delivered by a lighthouse family. There’s a cafe, beauuuuutiful views and if you’re up to it, climbing up the lighthouse is awesome. You can see two oceans meet. The unassuming pub in town has great views and a playground. Knowing Augusta it’ll be pissing down.

I am of an age that Margs has little appeal to me. It’s surf shops and a bit boring. But there are amazing things to do near it. The chocolate factory, Cowaramup shoppes, wineries and lovely drives. I love Redgate beach. If the tide is out you might catch a glimpse of the remnants of the Georgette, a ship central to a famous local story of heroic Wardandi fella Sam Isaacs who rescued the passengers from a stormy sinking. Leeuwin Estate is great. Big lawn for kids, art gallery in the cellar of some of Australia’s most renowned artists. Don’t eat there, it’s posh and expensive.

I’m a fan of Jester’s Flat horse riding team. Your youngest is too young to go but there’s a nice waiting area if one of you wants to do the easiest ride with the seven year old. They do an easy ride on bombproof horses through Rosa Brook Jarrah and Marri forest and the farm dog comes along and roos bound around next to you. A beautiful way to get on country.

This has kinda gotten long.

I always say about the south west that it’s a place you could see so many essences of the beautiful thing that is Australia. It’s like, I dunno, choosing to see France but only getting to Bordeaux and the Pyrenees. Or California but only north of San Francisco into wine land, or the UK and only the Lake District etc. it’s magical and I really hope you have a great time.

Hit me up if you’d like more ideas :) I’ve probably missed about five hundred other cool things.
posted by honey-barbara at 5:13 AM on May 11, 2022 [1 favorite]

I forgot to say that drivin through the forests of the southwest is just terrific in winter. So many lovely river spots like Sue’s Bridge, Kevil’s walk near Margaret River. A little trip out to Nannup or Bridgetown would be breathtaking in winter and they’re less pretentious towns than MR. Driving through Kudardup is gorgeous. (Go to my friend’s award winning vineyard Glenarty Road, he has friendly sheep, a working farm, dogs to pat, lots to explore.) Kids also love Rosa Brook’s finest unsung heroic feature : Darnell’s General Store. Kids can still do the pick-the-lollies thing with sweets bags and the Darnell women usually have some home made treat next to the till. It’s like walking back in time.
posted by honey-barbara at 5:22 AM on May 11, 2022

Response by poster: Thanks for that very detailed list of things to do! It'll take me a while to digest all of that, I'll let you know if I have any other questions!
posted by destrius at 7:46 AM on May 12, 2022

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