So you’ve decided to go on vacation in Margaret River, Western Australia’s premier wine region.
First of all, congratulations! You’ll be glad you decided to visit this unique place that is rapidly making a name for itself as one of the last great “undiscovered” tourist destinations of the Western world.
But you might be wondering: “How do I get to Margaret River? What are the best flights to take? What sort of travel arrangements should I expect?”
While much will depend on your home airport, the time of year that you’re travelling, and other variable factors, there is some good general advice to be aware of before you start looking for airplane tickets.
First: Fly to Perth
Direct flights now come into Perth International Airport from most countries. There was a time when international air travelers had to book their flights via Sydney or Melbourne (on the far East and South coasts of Australia) but thankfully that is no longer necessary as Western Australia has grown.
Perth is around 4 hours by plane from Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane; an 11-hour flight from Dubai, 5 hours from Singapore, and 7 hours from Auckland. Total flight time from Los Angeles to Perth is approximately 18 hours – 14 hours from L.A. to Sydney, with a connecting flight of 4 hours from Sydney to Perth. London to Perth is also about 18 hours, with a 13-hour flight from London to Singapore followed by the 5-hour connection from Singapore to Perth.
Best airlines to get to Margaret River
Emirates offer the most direct and most often the best prices flying to Australia from the U.K.
Long haul flights are all now of a very high standard and a lot comes down to personal preference, but you should definitely watch for special deals, as almost every year there is a big sale on airfares to Australia. During the past 2 years, Emirates have offered amazing deals for April and May travel to Australia from the U.K. I am not sure if this is the same elsewhere, but generally look for the change of seasons and outside of school holidays to get the best prices.
Get acquainted with the Australian school holiday schedule to time your fare searches appropriately – and keep in mind that winter in the Southern Hemisphere is summer in the Northern Hemisphere, and vice versa.
Qantas, the national airline of Australia, offers an outstanding service within Australia and are kept very competitive by Virgin Blue, Jet Star and Tiger Airways which all operate domestically within Australia, too.
Sign up for an airfare e-mail alert service, like TravelZoo – you never know when a once-in-a-lifetime airfare deal will come into your inbox. Use online airfare sites like Kayak.com to aggregate various airfare search engines together. There are almost always discounts to be found, with a bit of effort and flexible travel dates.
Another tip is to make good use of stopovers. Airlines will often allow travelers to stay an extra night or two for free in the city of their connecting flights – talk to the airline before booking a ticket and see what the possibilities might be. This can be an affordable way to extend your vacation, see some new sights, or even end up with a cheaper fare to Perth and Margaret River.
Getting from Perth to Margaret River:
Once you’ve arrived at Perth International Airport, you can fly by private jet to Busselton or Margaret River which takes around 1 hour or charter a helicopter to your exact location.
If private air transport is not in your budget, take a car (3.5 hours) or bus (4.5 hours). You can also take the train to Bunbury but that is where the line stops. Trains and buses have a limited schedule, so for maximum flexibility and the freedom to travel at your own pace, I recommend renting a car in Perth.
Car rental tips: Watch out for windshield stones!
When renting a car, be sure to pay the extra charge to cover damage from stone chips on your car windshield. In Western Australia, this is a very common thing that happens to drivers’ windshields, so it’s a good idea to protect yourself from incurring further costs.
Also, when renting the car, make sure that you’re covered to go on gravel roads, as there are still quite a few unpaved roads in the Margaret River region. Even though the gravel roads are easy to drive on and well constructed, some car rental companies might be reluctant to have you drive on gravel, so be sure to ask.
Car rentals are available in most towns – either Perth or Margaret River, or anywhere along the way. Quite often tourists and backpackers take the bus to Margaret River, relax for a few days, possibly take a guided tour and get used to their surroundings. Then they will rent a car locally and go off on their own exploration of the region. Car rental rates range from $70 AUD per day upwards depending on the type of car, and naturally there are often better rates for longer term rentals.
No matter how you get here, you’ll be glad you made the trip. Margaret River’s stunning natural scenery, flavorful wines and down-to-earth hospitality are waiting for you.