With intrastate travel restrictions easing up, it’s no wonder that plenty of Perth peeps are heading southbound for a mini-break.
However, like the rest of the world, the South West of Australia has changed. If you are expecting the same cellar door hopping and long lunching trip to Margs, then you’ll be in for a surprise.
Here are our top tips to make the most of the new normal in Australia’s South West under the restrictions of Phase Two.
While one of the joys of a road trip down south is the free-spirited vibes and minimal planning, now is the time to open up the diary ahead of time. Just like life at home in Perth, life in regional WA is still far from normal. Until we move on from Phase Two; cellar doors, breweries, bars and cafes are not open as usual.
If you long for days spent meandering between cellar doors before dropping in for a bite at a brewery; you’ll have to keep dreaming for now. Wine tasting is only possible alongside a substantial meal, so plenty of wineries are still closed for tastings, though you can pick up wine for takeaway.
It’s also worth noting that with fewer venues open for dining, plenty more holidaymakers will be self-catering. To minimise shopping lines at regional supermarkets for essentials, stock up on basics before heading to your holiday home. You’ll save time in the checkout aisle and ensure that you’ve got your favourite brand of toothpaste.
Yes, just like restaurants and cafes in Perth, right now there are only 20 diners allowed at any one time. Which means—you guessed it—book ahead! While it was often possible to get a seat at a brewery with just a short wait time, even casual dining requires a booking if you want to eat in. Check ahead and if your favourite spot for a bite is back open, then pick up the phone and book.
After a 3.5 hour drive, you don’t want to find that your final destination for lunch is fully booked or, worse yet, still not open for dining.
It’s worth thinking about phoning ahead even for take away, as the queues can get pretty long when every other person also realises that they can’t get a seat at their first, second, and third pick for chowing down.
Explore The Unexplored
Ok, so casual wine tastings are out. Long brewery lunches are out. What else IS there to do on holiday down south in winter? Lucky for you, WA is one of the best places to explore in the cooler months, and now is the perfect time to get out of your comfort zone and try something new.
Have you been underground to the caves along Caves road? How about a half-day hike along the Cape to Cape track? Boranup forest is filled with walking and mountain bike trails, or closer to town you can bike around the epic trails off Carters Road and lace-up and stroll along Rails to Trails or the Darch Trail. There are also over 30,000 humpback whales about to head up the coast who love to put on for us landlubbers.
There is so much natural beauty and adventure to take part in, but do be sure to respect the environment: leave nothing but footprints and ALWAYS check on the fire restrictions before striking a match.
Get A Guide For A Bargain
While international and interstate guests are on hold, there are many world-class tourism operators that are itching to take guests out and out in their backyard. Even locals that live in Margaret River love a day of adventures off the beaten track. Some tour guides are only offering private tours to keep to social distancing guidelines, which means a whole experience just to yourself for the same price as a group tour.
Wine tasting tours might be off the cards for now, but who wants to simply flit about cellar doors when there is SO much else to do. There are some great options to choose from; however if you really want a fun day out with a bucket load of personality to boot, you can’t go past local legend Sean Blocksidge and The Margaret River Discovery Company for hiking, canoeing and lunch in a barrel room. For a day in the saddle, head out with Michael ‘Brookesy’ of Margaret River Mountain Bike Tours; you might even come away with a new passion for pedal power.
Your favourite holiday destinations have been in struggle town. Just think about it: how would you survive if you lived in a tourism destination and all the tourists stopped? Please, if you are heading to a wine region, buy wine from the wineries you are surrounded by. If you fancy a beer, grab a brew from one of the little guys that you can’t find back home. Be prepared and bring your essentials with you, but stock up on your cheese platters, preserves, chocolates, sweets and other goodies from the local food stores and suppliers.
If you’ve got a birthday coming up or simply in the mood to treat yourself, then consider buying a pressie from one of the local artisans or gift stores. Not sure what to get for that person who has everything? A voucher is always welcome—for a holiday, a meal out, an experience or for a favourite shop.
Want to avoid the crowds? Here are the best places to visit in WA.
Image credit: Danny Lau