Risky’s Tips – Northern Loop
Turn left out of the Station House carpark down to the roundabout and turn left again onto Wallcliffe Rd.
You will see Cape Mentelle winery about 2km along on the left. This is the closest winery to town and a good choice when time is of the essence. On the other side of the road from Cape Mentelle (park on the verge and walk over to the fence) in the paddocks next to the public open space (verge) there is always a mob of kangaroos. Look for them as they move around from paddock to paddock and aren’t always obvious. Late afternoon is the best time, maybe when you’re on the way to Surfer’s Point for the sunset.
Keeping going along Wallcliffe Rd brings you to Caves Rd, you will see Wallcliffe Rd continues with a dog leg turn left then right immediately and keep on Wallclife Rd to Prevelly, Gnarabup, Surfer’s Point and the mouth of the Margaret River.
As you come over the hill and first spot the ocean turn right to Surfer’s Point. This is best early in the morning when the wind is light and blowing off the land (offshore). An offshore wind is best for surfing as this makes the face of the wave smooth and steep and easier to negotiate. Very important when the swell is large. The waves can be up to 10m high on the face and this is a spectacle you won’t see from as good a vantage point anywhere else outside of Hawaii. Also good for kitesurfing and windsurfing in the afternoon when the wind blows in, and a magic spot to take in Western Australia’s famous sunsets.
Just 100m around the corner is the mouth of the Margaret River, a seasonal river that only flows in the winter months. A place for the kids to get wet when the river is not flowing. Beware! Do not cross when the river is in flow.
If safe to cross the river, walk to the far end of the beach and pick up the Cape to Cape track. This will take you up the hill and around to the next bay, then further to Kilcarnup. Spectacular clifftops and isolated reefs make this walk a must for the more energetic. Not too taxing, only 30min to Kilcarnup beach, where a sheltered and safe snorkelling spot is a great place to see what’s under the water.
Gnarabup (said na-rah bup )boatramp and the White Elephant Cafe (1km south of Surfer’s Point) is also a great place to swim for the kids and enjoy breakfast, lunch or just a cup of coffee.
Walk over the headland at boatramp to the next beach or drive to the end of the road (about 1-2km) and walk to Boodjidup Beach, a long beach with surf suitable for moderate-level surfers.
Leaving Prevelly on Wallcliffe Rd, turn left at Caves Rd and drive north about 3km to Sunflowers Animal Farm (see our Fun for the Kids section).
Heading north again on Caves Rd, next is Ellensbrook Homestead about 2-3km along. Site of the first (still standing) permanent dwelling in the region . A pretty and modest walk to Meekadarabee Falls 10min from the homestead is recommended.
Further north about 4km turn left for Gracetown. A sheltered beach for swimming, boating, surfing for beginners and surfing for the most advanced are just a few of the reasons Gracetown boasts some of Western Australia’s most expensive real estate. Spectacular views from the top carpark at North Point (one of Australia’s most dangerous fast-breaking and barrelling waves) or the short walk to South Point for a close-up view of a more moderate but still challenging wave are two more reasons to spend an hour or two at Gracetown.
Leaving Gracetown, just to the north on Caves Rd is the Wilyabrup wine district. Many of Margaret River’s well-known wineries are located along Caves Rd and you could spend more than a few hours sampling the best wines in the world. Make sure you have a skipper!
A wine tour is recommended for those wishing to broaden their catalogue beyond just a few.
Cheeky Monkey Brewery is an alternative for those who prefer beer. Located in the middle of the main group of wineries after Vasse Felix and before Gralyn, this is only one of several breweries.
For those needing a break from wine and beer, turn right into Metricup Rd just past Evans and Tate. This will take you about 1-2km to Harmans Mill Rd turn right and drive 2km to the Chocolate Factory. This route is also home to Silk Road, where you can learn about silk and silkworms. Another 2-3km along Harmans Mill Rd brings you to Bussell Hwy. Turn right to head towards Margaret River Dairy Co - just past the turn on the left.
Staying on Bussell Hwy going south brings you to Cowaramup (Cowtown to the locals – see our Fun for the Kids section).