Nature and Environment

The Margaret River Region is world famous for its tall karri forests, pristine beaches, wonderful wildlife, ancient limestone caves, peaceful walk trails and epic surf breaks… so get amongst it all and get back to nature.

Caves

The Margaret River Region offers visitors some of the most unique and stunning cave experiences in Australia. Along the spine of the Leeuwin Naturaliste Ridge and beneath soaring karri forest lie more than 150 caves. These caves belong to a series of complex and fragile karst systems which are landscapes formed by the rapid drainage of water underground. Karst systems are characterised most often by caves, dolines (large craters), blind valleys, sinking streams and springs. The main road that travels along the Leeuwin Naturaliste Ridge is aptly named Caves Road. The Margaret River Busselton Tourism Association operates four spectacular show caves: Lake, Mammoth, Jewel and Ngilgi Caves.

Cape to Cape Track

For a more hands on approach when visiting the area the intrepid traveler can journey along the 135km Cape to Cape Track, stretching from Cape Naturaliste to Cape Leeuwin. The total journey takes between 5-9 days (depending on how far you walk each day!) with plenty of delightful stops and welcome camping rests along the walk. For those a little less adventurous, many sections of the trail make for a most enjoyable short stroll. Section maps are available from your local Visitor Centres.

Whale watching

The Margaret River Region boasts a six month whale watching season – one of the longest in the world. Each year, over 35,000 Humpback and Southern Right whales make the long journey from Antarctica to the warm pristine waters of the Margaret River Region. Flinders Bay in Augusta is the “first port of call” for many whales that come to feed, breed and play from June to September. Whale watching here is a unique experience because it’s one of the few places in the world where you can observe Southern Right and Humpback whales interacting. From September to December you can watch whales in the north of the Margaret River Region in the sheltered Geographe Bay. Endangered Blue Whales have also been spotted here. Spot these incredible creatures from many scenic vantage points (Cape Leeuwin and Cape Naturaliste Lighthouses are great viewing points) or get up close on a whale watching tour.

Wildflowers

The Margaret River region forms part of one of only 34 internationally recognised biodiversity hotspots in the world. Biodiversity hotspots are rich in many different species of flora but, unfortunately, are under threat. Our particular south west hotspot boasts over 150 orchid species and some 2,500 wildflower species alone.  September to November is wildflower season in the Margaret River Region, October being the best month to see them in full bloom. Extreme climate shifts and poor soils have promoted a unique specialisation of the south west’s plant species including banksia plants and kangaroo paws while our majestic jarrah, marri and karri forests are three eucalyptus trees specific to this corner of Australia. Renowned for rare orchids and stunning wildflowers which attract botanical enthusiasts from around the world, you will be bewildered by the explosion of mesmerising colour and delicate designs nature has bestowed on this wildflower hotspot.

Native flora

The south west of Western Australia is recognised by Conservation International as one of 34 global biodiversity hotspots and the only international biodiversity hotspot in Australia. Biodiversity hotspots are designated to acknowledge the exceptional concentration and diversity of species in these areas as well as the high degree of endemism (species that occur nowhere else). Just as importantly, they highlight threats to this biodiversity as a result of the significant loss of habitat in these areas. The Margaret River Region lies within the South West’s botanical province which supports an estimated 8,000 taxa of vascular plants, representing two thirds of the estimated plant taxa in Western Australia. Over 80% of the plant taxa in the South West are endemic to the province.  The region contains threatened and priority ecological communities, threatened vegetation types and habitat for a broad range of significant species including 69 declared rare or priority flora species.  The two major National Parks are the Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park and Bramley National Park.  The Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park includes the Boranup Karri Forest, which lies between Caves Road and the coast, where karri trees reach 60 metres in height and dominate the landscape.   Karri, Jarrah and Marri and Peppermint trees are predominant throughout the region, as well as Tingle trees further to the south, and Tuart trees further to the north.

Native fauna

The Margaret River Region is home to 43 threatened fauna species, a number of which are endemic to the region, such as the Margaret River Hairy Marron and Burrowing Crayfish, White-bellied Frog, and Leeuwin Snail.  The region’s waters are teeming with marine life including schools of dolphins, fish and the occasional seal, and on land kangaroos, possums, reptiles and bird life aplenty. Large stingrays grace the waters of Hamelin Bay. The Blackwood and Margaret Rivers’ meandering waterways are visited by pelicans, hundreds of black swans, red necked stints, egrets while onshore blue wrens, silvereyes, magpies and a number of species of cockatoos. Out at Cape Leeuwin and along the spectacular beaches view a variety of seabirds including the Yellow nosed Albatross, Great winged Petrel, the Australasian Gannet, and the Flesh-footed Shearwater to name just a few.

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