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You’ve lunched at Voyager, had tastings at all the wineries and think you’ve seen all there is to Margaret River… think again.
Few people know it, but hidden amidst the tall timbers of the South West are a myriad of waterfalls and natural treasures, guaranteed to delight tourists from all walks of life.
Margaret River region has always had a natural beauty and recently, more and more tourists are wanting to step away from the crowds for a better understanding of what the region has to offer as the locals see it.
Have you ever seen the Margaret River rapids in full flow, watched the whales play from atop the ancient Wilyabrup cliffs, heard of the dreamtime stories of the Meekadarabee falls or stumbled upon Ellen Bussell’s colonial-aged vegie patch?
The figures paint the picture of the changing face of the region’s tourism. A recent study by the Sustainable Tourism Co-operative Research Centre found 44 per cent of visitors to Australia’s wine regions come to see the natural beauty and scenery while only 30 per cent visit for the wine itself.
Savvy tourism operators are already tapping into the changing market, offering itineraries to sites day-trippers and international guests are unlikely to find on their own. To cater for the demand, we are seeing an increase in the number of operators offering high end private touring in the region.
The Margaret River Discovery Company is leading the way, combining an off-roading, back-to-nature experience in a wine tour with a difference. The private touring experience has thrilled international and domestic guests, evidenced by its #1 ranking on TripAdvisor, thanks to its highly personalised approach and the enthusiasm of proprietor Sean Blocksidge.
Formerly the operations manager at Voyager Estate, Sean now delights in sharing his passion for the region with visitors who seek local knowledge and privileged access, rather than filling their days ‘ticking the boxes’ of the big name sites.
“We get behind the tourist façade and discover people and places you can’t find on your own,” Sean explained. “It is a day of highlights. A snapshot of the best places, best people and special access I’ve discovered after years of living here”
“The highlights of a Margaret River Discovery Company tour include a unique lunch experience among barrels of ageing wine, the opportunity to meet former Australian Winemaker of the Year, Clive Otto, and privileged access to the waterfalls and significant – but rarely visited – sites of the Leeuwin Naturaliste Ridge.”
A demographic snapshot of the experiential traveller shows a well-travelled person at the high end of the tourism market, who is looking for a tourism experience that will set apart their latest journey from previous travels. As Sean’s clientele has proven however, their country of origin is less important, with domestic travellers equally keen to expand their horizons as international guests.
“It has been remarkable how many locals I’ve taken on tour and shown them highlights they didn’t even know exist, like the Wilyabrup Cliffs. The cliffs are possibly the most spectacular scenery along the Cape. Many locals are thrilled to canoe the Margaret River for the first time.”
“The other day my guests ate morning tea from a vantage point 20 metres above the rugged coastline, watching the waves crash against the rocks below, while a humpback whale burst through the swell. The two Brits, aged in their 60s, had entertained me with tales of their extensive travels, but admitted their visit to Margaret River would have standout memories.”
“Ultimately, everyone says the same thing… they didn’t expect Margaret River to be this good, for there to be so much to do or for it to be so peaceful.”
For more information about the Margaret River Discovery Co contact Sean Blocksidge on 0439 910 064 or visit www.margaretriverdiscovery.com.au
Words : Erin Davey
source: Cravings Magazine Margaret River Volume 2