Margaret River is a town in the South West of Western Australia, located in the valley of the eponymous Margaret River, 277 kilometres (172 mi) south of Perth, the state capital. Its Local Government Area is the Shire of Augusta-Margaret River.
Margaret River's coast to the west of the town is a renowned surfing location, with worldwide fame for its surf breaks including, but not limited to, Main Break, The Box, and Rivadog. Colloquially, the area is referred to as Margs.
The surrounding area is the Margaret River Wine Region and is known for its wine production and tourism, attracting an estimated 500,000 visitors annually. In earlier days the area was better known for hardwood timber and agricultural production.
The town is named after the river, which is presumed to be named after Margaret Whicher, cousin of John Garrett Bussell (founder of Busselton) in 1831. The name is first shown on a map of the region published in 1839. Before British settlement the area was inhabited by the Noongar people. The first British settlers arrived as early as 1850, with timber logging commencing in around 1870. By 1910, the town had a hotel which also operated as a post office. That year the Margaret River Progress Association requested that a townsite be declared at "the Upper Margaret Bridge", because "the district is likely to be dotted with public buildings several miles apart in the near future if a townsite is not made available shortly". The inspecting district surveyor had a preference for an area near the lower bridge on Caves Road, but his preferred site was unavailable. Lots were surveyed in 1912 and the townsite was gazetted in 1913. From 1918 to 1927 the name of the townsite was officially "Margaret" but it was changed back to "Margaret River" due to local usage.
After World War I, an attempt by the Government of Western Australia to attract migrants to Western Australia (known as the Group Settlement Scheme) and establish farms in the region attracted new settlers to the town. In 1922 over 100 settlers moved into the district.
In the early 1920s the Busselton to Margaret River Railway was built and in 1925 the Margaret River to Flinders Bay line opened.
The Perimeter Road, a bypass to take traffic, including heavy vehicles, from Bussell Highway, to the east of the town, and also connect to a new access road to the nearby airport, was opened in December 2018 and completed in February 2019.
Geography and climate
The climate is warm-summer Mediterranean (Csb in the Köppen climate classification), with an average annual rainfall of around 1,130 millimetres (44 in). Most rain falls between May and August, when around two days in three record measurable rainfall and around one in ten over 10 millimetres (0.39 in). On occasions, as in August 1955, the town has had measurable rain on every day of a month in this period. During the summer, the weather is warm, though there are usually sea breezes, and frequently sunny. The dry summers, coupled with strong winds, creates an environment where there is always a high risk of bush fires.
Margaret River is the foremost Geographical Indication wine region in the South West Australia Zone, with nearly 55 square kilometres (21 sq mi) under vine and over 138 wineries as at 2008. The region is made up predominantly of boutique-size wine producers, although winery operations range from the smallest, crushing 3.5 tonnes (3.4 long tons; 3.9 short tons) per year, to the largest at around 7,000 tonnes (6,900 long tons; 7,700 short tons). The region produces just three percent of total Australian grape production, but commands over 20 percent of the Australian premium wine market.
Stretching some 100 kilometres (60 mi) from north to south and about 27 kilometres (17 mi) wide in parts, the region is bounded to the east by the Leeuwin-Naturaliste Ridge, between Cape Naturaliste and Cape Leeuwin, and to the west by the Indian Ocean. A Mediterranean-style climate, lacking extreme summer and winter temperatures, provides ideal growing conditions. The climate is described as similar to that of Bordeaux in a dry vintage.
Humidity levels are ideal during the growing period and the combination of climate, soil and viticulture practices leads to consistently high quality fruit of intense flavour. Consequently, annual vintage results continue to exceed expectations and reinforce Margaret River's reputation as one of the premium wine-producing regions of the world.
One of which being the multi-chambered Mammoth Cave, which lies 21 kilometres (13 mi) south of the town and contains fossils dating back over 35,000 years. The cave was first discovered by European settlers in 1850 and has been open to the public since 1904. The cave can be explored by a self-guided audio tour, and is one of the few caves in Australia offering partial disabled access.
The other five caves open to the public in the area are Jewel Cave, Lake Cave, Ngilgi Cave, Calgardup Cave and Giants Cave. Many other caves can be accessed with a permit by experienced cavers.
The Margaret River area has acquired a range of synonyms for the collection of surf breaks nearby, with some 75 breaks along 130 kilometres (81 mi) of coastline. Usually significant surfing competitions concentrate their locale to Margarets Main Break (aka Surfers Point) which breaks in the vicinity of Prevelly at the mouth of Margaret River.
The actual range of surf breaks range from the eastern side of Cape Naturaliste down to just south of Cape Hamelin, and despite web sites and online sources calling the whole Cape Naturaliste to Cape Leeuwin region the Margaret River surfing area, conditions and break types vary along the coast.
The town contains four primary schools, Margaret River Primary School, Rapids Landing Primary School, Margaret River Montessori School, and St Thomas More Catholic Primary School, and one high school, Margaret River Senior High School.
In the media
Arte-TV produced an episode of Nouveaux paradis about Margaret River. The 2008 documentary shows interviews with (amongst others) tourist officials, surfers, and dolphin watchers. Margaret River was also visited in the 1966 documentary film The Endless Summer. On 25 April 2009, on Sky television's Soccer AM, Hugh Jackman called Margaret River the best place he's ever been to, citing the surf, the beaches, the food, the wine, the people and the air as his reasons for thinking so. In 2013, many locals featured in the film Drift, starring Sam Worthington, as well as many surfing scenes being shot on location at local surf breaks. Surfing locations included popular breaks such as Grunters and Main Break.
- Australian Bureau of Statistics (27 June 2017). "Margaret River (Urban Centre/Locality)". 2016 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 17 September 2019.
- "Elevation of Margaret River WA, Australia". Elevation.maplogs. Retrieved 27 March 2021.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 12 April 2013. Retrieved 16 March 2013.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- Augusta Margaret River Tourism Association (2005). "Augusta Margaret River Region - Fact Sheet" (PDF). Retrieved 1 May 2007.
- "Margaret River | Kaartdijin Noongar". noongarculture.org.au.
- Western Australian Land Information Authority. "History of country town names – M". Retrieved 6 November 2021.
- Main Roads Western Australia (November 2013). "Project Overview: Margaret River Perimeter Road" (PDF). Government of Western Australia. Archived (PDF) from the original on 5 December 2014. Retrieved 7 December 2014.
- Main Roads Western Australia (3 December 2014). "Margaret River Perimeter Road". Government of Western Australia. Archived from the original on 5 December 2014. Retrieved 7 December 2014.
- "Margaret River Perimeter Road open in time for Christmas". Government of Western Australia. 24 December 2018. Retrieved 25 August 2019.
- "Margaret River Perimeter Road reaches practical completion". Government of Western Australia. 28 February 2019. Retrieved 25 August 2019.
- James Halliday (2009). The Australian Wine Encyclopedia. Hardie Grant Books. pp. 166–167. ISBN 978-1-74066-774-6.
- Campbell Mattinson, "Why the French hate us", Hardie Grant Books 2007
- "Margaret River wine region". Margaret River wine region. Archived from the original on 14 September 2009. Retrieved 7 September 2009.
- The Australian and New Zealand wine industry directory, 27th Annual edition, 2009, Winetitles.
- Oz Clarke, 'Oz Clarke's Pocket Wine Guides', Harcourt 1 November 2002
- M. Bright, 1001 Natural Wonders You Must See Before You Die, Quintet Publishing, London 2005
- "Bus Tour Margaret River. Eagles Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse Tour from Perth". Margaret River Bus Tour. Retrieved 8 February 2009.
- "Margaret River WA 6285". Margaret River. Retrieved 10 December 2017.
- "Surfing Margaret River | Surfing Busselton, Dunsborough, Yallingup, Augusta".
- Blair, Larry and Horan, Cheyne Wave Finder Australia (3rd edition) ISBN 0-9581726-6-8 give the name Margarets Area to the Cape Naturaliste to Boranup Sandpatch area and identify over 30 named breaks
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 8 January 2016. Retrieved 16 January 2016.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- "Storm Surfers - Near-Death Wipeout at Cow Bombie". Archived from the original on 11 December 2021 – via YouTube.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2 March 2016. Retrieved 2 March 2016.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
-  Les Nouveaux paradis, L'Australie, de la mer à la vigne on IMDB.
- Trevor Paddenburg (2 May 2013). "Drift fans to ride tourism wave in Margaret River". Perth Now. Archived from the original on 4 May 2013. Retrieved 7 December 2014.
- "Drift Locations". Archived from the original on 4 May 2013. Retrieved 17 September 2014.
- Burton, L.C. (1996). Barefoot in the Creek: A Group Settlement Childhood in Margaret River. Nedlands, W.A.: University of Western Australia Press. ISBN 1875560831.
- Cresswell, Gail J. (2003). The Light of Leeuwin: The Augusta-Margaret River Shire History (new ed.). Margaret River, W.A.: Augusta-Margaret River Shire History Group. ISBN 0731694449.
- Cullen, Shelley; Rigby, Peter (1999). Margaret River style. Fremantle, WA: Fremantle Arts Centre Press. ISBN 1863682856.
- Wiltshire, Trea (2000). Margaret River. Australian Wine Regions series. Singapore: R. Ian Lloyd Productions. ISBN 9810426747.
- Zekulich, Michael (2000). Wine Western Australia (all new ed.). Perth: St George Books. ISBN 0867780614.
- Western Australia government tourist information (including map)
- The Rotary Club of Margaret River
- Popular guidebook App for the Margaret River Region (works offline)
- Media related to Margaret River, Western Australia at Wikimedia Commons
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