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  • Writer's pictureNick Elsey

South to Margaret River

Updated: Nov 14, 2018

2 Apr 2009

We’re taking a break from Perth for a couple of day to head south down the coast to the Margaret River area. We enjoyed the area last time we were here – pretty, relaxed, loads of great wineries and not too built up. We hear that progress has come to the area in the intervening dozen years, but we’re going to go found out for ourselves.

We’re taking the coast route down, slower but presumably more picturesque than the freeway. It doesn’t get off to a good start. You can’t see the ocean for most of the run, and the urban and industrial sprawl from Perth seems to go on for ever. It’s quite amazing really – an hour and half south of the city, in the middle of nowhere, these tightly packed housing developments spring up with surprising regularity. 10 or 20 acres subdivided into tiny little lots with mini-MacMansions crammed in side-by-side. But, there are no significant towns for an hour more in any direction. What on earth do all these people do out here? Presumably some are retirement homes, but if so there are an awful lot of retirees heading out this way.

Margaret River Coastline

Further south the road and coastline converge and we pass through some more agreeable towns and landscapes. The religious communities clearly think the same; we come across a stretch of beachfront that’s lined by an alarming number of religious ‘camps’. Name your faith, there’s one here for you. From the mainstream Presbyterians and Catholics to the more out there Seventh Day Adventists and Scientologists. Bizarre that they’re all squished in elbow-to-elbow along this one stretch of beach. Either this is the best coastline in the world, or the local planning council sensibly lumped them all in one place so that everyone else could conveniently avoid the lot in one go.

Closer to our stop for the night, we pull into Dunsborough to stock on essential BBQ supplies. Given that we’re out in the sticks, we decide to rent a video for the evening and sign up with the local rental outlet. Sometimes, it never ceases to amaze me why folks seem to make up rules just for the perverse delight of doing so. The nice lady behind the counter spends precious time explaining how the returns work and how we’re supposed to go some other store in the mall if the rental place is closed, but that store is still open, but only on alternate Tuesdays… It’ll all too exhausting to relate here in detail, but everyone’s lives would be considerably simpler all round if they’re just pull a bloody mail-slot in their front door.

Jemelup Chalet

Our humble abode for the next two nights will be the Jemelup Chalets, which doesn’t sound too promising but it was the best we could find on short notice. The chalets are buried in the middle of a tangled web of back roads that run for dozens of miles into the countryside. Thankfully, we still have a mobile signal and are therefore guided faultlessly to the mark by Google maps. It turns out that area is the supersize version of the housing estates we saw earlier. Like any good development it sports well built and sign posted roads; a liberal sprinkling of roundabouts; plots cleared, numbered and ready for construction. It’s just that here the lots are measured in acres, rather than square meters. It’s better than it sounds, and besides they have roos up the wazoo around here.

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