A world of peace and tranquility awaits you the moment you check into Hidden Valley Forest Retreat. Located just 20 minutes drive from Margaret River town centre, this secluded luxury retreat, set deep within an untouched pocket of pristine southwest bushland, is the perfect base for exploring the stunning Margaret River region.
The southwest region is one of my favourite places in Australia. So naturally, I was really excited about a little road trip to Margaret River from the moment we set off on the three hour drive from Perth.
Technically Hidden Valley Forest Retreat is in Carbunup River, a small town between Margaret River and Dunsborough. The retreat itself is set in approximately 110 acres of beautiful natural bushland and forest, accessed via a 1.6km unsealed road. There are five cabins on the estate, but they are at enough distance from one another, that you barely notice you’re sharing the space with anyone else, apart from the wildlife.
Guests can choose between two Eco Lodges, Stone Stable Cottage, Wilderness Cabin or Deepwater Retreat. The accommodation offers varying degrees of luxury to suit different budgets. Converted from an old stable, Stone Stable is a mix of old and new, with a recently renovated modern kitchen and bathroom, and its own outdoor spa and courtyard.
The Wilderness Cabin boasts a contemporary design and a private outdoor spa, while Deepwater Retreat enjoys views of the lake and its own private jetty. According to their website, the accommodation reflects a contemporary statement about innovation and design, which combines to capture the spirit of the surrounding environment to create tranquility and inner calm for guests.
After checking in at the farm house/reception, we were directed to our accommodation. The beautiful Eco Lodge we stayed in was just perfect for our needs. We entered via a long timber boardwalk and walked into a tastefully furnished and spacious lodge. The cabins are superbly designed and feature bamboo floors and large windows with stunning views of the surrounding bushland. Our lodge was well equipped with a kitchen, spa bath, air conditioning, gas barbecue, TV, DVD/CD player and a log burning stove to keep us warm on a chilly autumn night. We especially enjoyed relaxing on the private decking, cup of tea in hand, listening to the sound of silence, which was only broken by bird song. If you’re really lucky, you might even enjoy a visit from one of the locals – possums and roos have been known to pop by and say hello.
Margaret River is a popular destination for locals and tourists, and the region has plenty of luxury accommodation providers to choose from. But there’s something special about Hidden Valley Forest Retreat. With luxurious little touches – like the in-lodge spa treatments and the personal chef on hand to cook up a gourmet meal – to the high standard of accommodation and warm welcome from the owners (although we only met Lily, who was lovely), a getaway to Hidden Valley is a delightful experience. Despite our short stay (one night is definitely not enough!) we left relaxed and rejuvenated, and with a far greater appreciation for the natural environment. And yes, disappointed that we had to leave. But eager and excited to come back again to experience more of this hidden gem.
Things to see and do in the Margaret River Region
Explore the caves – There are approximately three hundred and fifty caves in the Margaret River region, but not all of them are open to the public. Lake Cave, Jewel Cave, Mammoth Cave, Ngilgis Cave or the lesser known Calgardup Cave, are all must-see natural attractions. Whether you opt for a guided or self-guided tour, you’ll be amazed at the spectacular limestone and crystal formations, which date back over 350,000 years. You’ll find the caves located off Caves Road, which just so happens to be one of the most scenic drives in Western Australia. If you have a 4WD, take a drive through Boranup Forest and marvel at the towering Karri trees.
Wine tasting – Margaret River is home to over one hundred and fifty wineries producing world-class wines, making the region a holiday haven for wine lovers. Here you can explore the vineyards, tour the facilities and sample some of finest wines produced in the whole of Australia. Voyager Estate, Vasse Felix, Cullen Wines, Xanadu and Leeuwin Estate are amongst the best in the region, which has built up a fine reputation for its cabernet sauvignon and chardonnay.
Whale watching – Head to Dunsborough and experience a whale watching tour with Naturalist Charters. During late September to early December, migrating Humpbacks and Blue Whales can be spotted in the area. Seeing these incredible ocean giants up close and in the wild is a once in a lifetime kind of experience.
A maze’n – Located in Margaret River, A maze’n is a popular attraction, providing hours of fun for the whole family. Explore the giant maze (plus 5 others), play a round of mini golf and take a leisurely stroll around five hectares of beautiful botanical gardens.
See the friendly stingrays at Hamelin Bay – Less than a 30 minute drive from Margaret River, a visit to Hamelin Bay is highly recommended. One of the area’s most pristine beaches, stingrays come within touching distance of the shore. It’s an incredible experience.
Cape Naturalist Lighthouse – You’ll find this working lighthouse approximately 13km from Dunsborough. The lighthouse is open to the public and offers spectacular views of Cape Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park, the Indian Ocean and Geographe Bay coastline. If you’re visiting between September and December, you might even catch a glimpse of migrating whales.
With its spectacular scenery, pristine beaches, world-class wineries, excellent dining options and unique attractions, there’s so much to see and do in the Margaret River region. If you need more inspiration, check out the official Margaret River website.