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Touring Western Australia's South West on a budget (Part 2)

 

Conto campground

 

Conto is one of the most popular campsites in the south west. It is easy to access and it is very large by National Park standards. There are SOME sites that are large enough for caravans but big rigs and 5th wheelers are really not catered for. The campsite is west off Caves Road and the turn off is just south of Forest Glen Road.

 

Fees here were higher than the other National Park sites we went to at $10 per adult $6.60, concession and $2.20 per child per night. One compensation is the availability of drinking water. The campsite is divided into a series of loops and usually only 2 or three are open unless it is peak season.

 

Lake cave is located very close to Conto and there is a (corrugated) unsealed road leading down to the coast where you can visit places like Conto Spring, Round Rock, Slopies and South Beach.

 

The area from Busselton to Augusta offers a very wide range of places to stay and things to do. So many in fact that we just don't have room to include everything here but it is one of the premier tourist destinations in W.A. and you can happily spend a couple of weeks there and still not manage to see and do everything.

 

After setting up camp, the first place we wanted to visit was the nearby coast. The road was a bit more corrugated than usual but there are several nice spots here and it is really worth while checking out each one.

 

The first area is called Conto Spring and if you follow the main track from the north end of the car park you will get to a nice grassed picnic area overlooking the bay where there are seats, tables and a toilet.

 

Bay at Conto Spring

 

Further south you will find other spots like Round Rock, Freycinet Point, Slopies and South Beach. We found that the access walk track to South Beach had been overgrown and the alternate track led to a very steep sand dune that would make access difficult for older people. Hopefully the original access track will be properly cleared or some people may not be able to get down to this beach.

 

 

South Beach pools

 

There is a track leading east just north of South Beach. This is 4x4 only and is quite rough with rocky outcrops but it is a great drive and will lead you to Point Road campsite. It may be possible for camper-trailers to get in here but nothing larger.

 

The track will lead you from Point Road through the karri forest and will come out on Boranup Drive.

 

Point Road is a more secluded campsite than Conto and can only be reached by vehicle if you have a 4 wheel drive.

 

Point Road campsite

 

It is hard to visit this area without checking out some of the more commercial tourist sites like the wineries. The Margaret River area is very well known for the number of vineyards that are scattered through out the south west corner but now there are many more choices than just wine. Boutique breweries are popping up with at least five that we could find. Places like the Bootleg Brewery are interesting and a good place to stop and sample the different brews. (Tasting currently costs $15 here).

 

Many places (like Bootleg) offer lunches as well as beverages and the setting next to a small lake is very pleasant.

 

Bootleg Brewery

 

Prices in this area are fairly high but we find it difficult to come down here and not spend up on a few things like wines, jams, aroma therapy and beauty products. We know we are paying more than we would in Perth but it is all part of the 'tourist experience' and it can be a lot of fun.

 

Some places offer free tasting and this doesn't only refer to the wineries. Providore is one of the most interesting stops as there are all sorts of jams, pickles, olives and sauces to try. We usually pick up two or three items here including their delicious passionfruit curd.

 

Just around the corner from Providore is the Chocolate factory which has free tastings of white, milk and dark chocolate. To be honest we find the prices here a bit steep and have not yet convinced ourselves to buy anything. Still, tasting is free so it is worth a visit. You can even watch confectionary being made at the far end of the retail area through the 'chocolate window'.

 

Chocolate factory

 

One of the places we had not visited before was Vasse Virgin. This rather unusually named place is producing products made with olive oil. There are soaps, body scrubs, essential oils, all sorts of beauty products and even some food products and free tastings.

 

You can watch products being made here and even though prices are higher than we would usually pay, we did end up buying something and we think it is worth a visit.

 

Vasse Virgin

 

Most of the commercial enterprises around Margaret River centre around what we call 'indulgence products'. From time to time we visit a place where we get a bit carried away and end up buying more than we originally intended. This time it turned out to be the Berry Farm that relieved us of more money than any other business. There are certainly plenty of jams and pickles to try out and when we got to the wine and port tasting we did get a bit too carried away.

 

We managed to justify this to ourselves by saying that it only happens once in a while and the products we bought will last quite a long time. Yes we did blow our budget a bit when we were in this area but well it was a holiday trip after all....

 

The Berry Farm is a little out of the way but it is interesting and the free tastings make it worth seeking out. You can stop here for lunch as there is a cafe but despite the tantalising smells wafting out of there we had already packed our lunch and headed off to Ten Mile Brook Dam for a picnic - any anyway we had already spent enough money.

 

Berry farm

 

Along Caves Road is the Deer Farm. While the idea of eating 'Bambi' may not appeal to everyone, it certainly doesn't bother most who visit. There are some smallgoods as well as fresh venison and a few other touristy products for sale here. We have bought venison here several times now and prices are not unreasonable. I can't say that I find venison much different to beef but that hasn't stopped us from buying some each time we are in the area.

 

As we were in the Margaret River area for only 4 days this time we didn't have a chance to visit any other attractions but if you have more time then there are cheese factories, a lavender farm, nougat factory and all sorts of other hedonistic places for pleasure seekers to find.

 

For those who want a bit more of a natural experience, then that is available too. There are a number of caravan parks (our favourite is Westbay at Augusta) to choose from as well as National Park campsites such as those listed earlier in this blog and also Chapman Pool, Canebrake Pool, Boranup Road and the community run campsite at Alexandra Bridge.

 

The coastline varies in character from long sandy beaches to small bays and plunging cliffs. Behind the coast lie forests, farms, rivers, caves, historic buildings and small lakes. There really is something for everyone in this area and that it what draws us back time after time.

 

To find all the different attractions in the area it is a good idea to pick up a map from one of the visitor information centres.

 

Redgate

 

Updated December 21st 2013

Go to the next blog installment Go to the next blog installment

 

 

MORE INFORMATION

 

Busselton

 

Augusta

 

Margaret River

 

Alexandra Bridge

 

Westbay Caravan Park

 

Conto Campsite

 

Sue's Bridge Campsite

 

Cowaramup

 

Gracetown

 

Vasse Felix

 

 

 

 

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