The South West corner of Australia, including the area around Margaret River, and stretching as far South as Albany, offers a diverse range of places to visit and is hugely popular with Perth families seeking a short break 'Down South'. We enjoyed a lovely long weekend at the Bayshore Beachside Resort, Dunsborough with little Miss Sunshine (aged 20 months) and Master B (4.5 years.) We expected it to be chillier than Perth, and as predicted the weather wasn’t great! While our holiday villa was lovely and had a very welcome gas log fire, we were still determined to get out and about and enjoy the sights of the area so here’s my five top things to do Down South in the rain.
1. The Caves
This area of WA is well known for its caves and there are a number of different sites to explore including Lake Cave and Jewel Cave. We opted for Ngilgi Cave, which is a short drive from Dunsborough. Of course it is underground, so after a short chat from our tour guide at the entrance we ventured quickly into the shelter of the dry cave. This cave offers a largely self guided tour experience which was ideal for our little ones. Master B especially enjoyed the tunnel/slide which we were encouraged to crawl through between different chambers of the cave.
Ngilgi Cave is great fun to explore with little ones
The steps were in very good condition, well lit and even, which made it relatively easy to navigate for little legs. There’s the obligatory gift shop which you are funnelled through on exit but no cafe at this cave.
The caves are great for exploring with the kids
2. The Dunsborough
What a find! The Dunsborough is a vast pub with a family friendly atmosphere and a huge indoor playground. We were so relieved to find it open at 10.30am on a Monday morning, though the kitchen doesn’t open until midday so don’t arrive hungry. We enjoyed coffees and babycinos while the kids climbed and played happily for a couple of hours.
3. Simmos Ice Creamery
Simmos was top of our to do list Down South because its playground has a great reputation. We managed to dodge the showers to enjoy a few minutes swinging and playing outside. There’s also a small covered arcade area with coin-operated rides protected from the worst of the weather. There’s some seating indoors and on the covered veranda to tuck into one of their vast array of delish ice creams, which taste great, whatever the weather!
The playground at Simmos Ice creamery
4. Busselton Jetty
The wind was whistling through our ears when we arrived in 'Busso' so we decided against the 1.7km walk out to sea! The Busselton Jetty Museum, located within the Interpretative Centre at the shore end of the jetty, underwent a makeover in early 2017 and features multimedia displays detailing the colourful 150 year history of jetty. The Busselton Visitor Centre, located just behind the jetty offered a welcome sanctuary from the worst of the weather and a wide range of visitor information for the area.
The Margaret River region is renowned for its food and drink, with wineries around every corner. Many of them are family friendly venues with cafes, kids playgrounds and cellar doors. We loved the scenic drive out to The Berry Farm in Rosa Glen which has a large adventure playground, garden chess and a range of animals and wildlife. We had a superb lunch at their cottage cafe while dozens of different native birds swooped through the veranda, delighting the kids. There’s also a small indoor area for the kids inside the cellar door where they can play while mum and dad enjoy the wine and liqueur tastings!
Meeting the animals at The Berry Farm
The Berry Farm has outdoor chess, as well as an indoor play space
On a seriously stormy day we also stopped off at Swings and Roundabouts in Yallingup to make the most of the special offer voucher included with our accommodation. The pizzas and boards were tasty and plentiful, and the setting is really cosy with wood fires. There’s a range of board games to amuse the kids plus a large grassy garden with ball games and a swing if you get a decent break between the showers.
The expansive garden at Swings and Roundabouts is great for a run about in fine weather