Lake Ballard: on sculpture and stars

Lake Ballard glimmers pinkly at the sky. For most of the year, the surface of the lake is not water, but salt. It’s just one of a series of relict water features dating back to the Cretaceous, when Australia was part of Gondwana. The drainage ran south-east through Lake Marmion and Lake Rebecca, and then towards the Eucla Basin, once an inland sea. Now, after millions of years of declining rainfall, the water evaporates before it runs away, leaving behind the salts from aeons upon aeons of rain. The lake is Wongatha… Read More

Tales From the Earth: the Palaeoclimates of Boranup

There’s no denying that climate change will have a massive impact on Margaret River. Over the past 50 000 years, locals have witnessed dramatic changes to landscape and ecology, and there are likely many more to come. Within the caves of the Leeuwin-Naturaliste Ridge, Margaret River holds a record of climate change spanning over a million years. There is a fossil record that includes the arrival of the first Australians, the onset of the last ice-age, and the current warm period known as the Holocene. Scientists have studied the extinctions of megafauna;… Read More

Melangata Station: reviving the great Outback

Farming one of the most ancient landscapes in the world has never been easy. Over the years, many of the sheep and cattle stations in the West Australian outback have been abandoned due to land degradation and drought. These stations are a major part of the States’ heritage, and rather than see them disappear back into the desert, innovative landholders are reinventing land management, and opening up country to visitors. Melangata is a sheep station in the upper Murchison, nestled between the old goldrush towns of Yalgoo and Cue. The station is… Read More

The Darnell Oak, Margaret River

In the heart of a small town in Western Australia there grows an oak. Not a very big oak, just a young tree with a short history, but potentially a very long future. When Elizabeth was crowned Queen of England in 1953, Margaret River chose to plant a tree at Memorial Park in her honour. The task of planting the tree fell to Bill Darnell, then Chairman of the Road Board (the Shire). When the time came he realised that no-one had thought to supply the tree, so he raced home and… Read More

Wallcliffe – People and Place

A selection of profiles of historical characters born or resident at Wallcliffe House.  Wallcliffe Estate overlooks the Margaret River, at the final meander before it opens to the sea. Across the black waters lie a stand of brilliant white paperbarks, and the property is sheltered from the ocean winds by ancient dunes and a towering cliff of soft tamala limestone. The cliff is shrouded in vegetation and pitted with caves. The cliff faces north over a small, but high quality and undegraded esturine system. The natural landscape features of river and cliff,… Read More


Wainilyinup, the final bend of the Margaret River before it snakes around to the sea. The cliffs are made from fragile sand dune limestone, and are far younger than the river itself. Blown here by wind in a process that began around one million years ago, the carbonate sand has been cemented and weathered into fantastic shapes by the action of the rain. In Noongar, the name means “the dying place.” There are many dreaming stories here, for those prepared to listen. Stories of death, crying, and burial, but also of the… Read More

Wooditch – or the Margaret River

margaret river

The Margaret River was first encountered by European immigrants not as a defined channel, but as a confusing network of streams and tributaries. In 1832 John Bussell published his account of an exploration from Augusta to Vasse. Four men and a few dogs spent a week walking through dense forest and scrubland, surveying as they went. Hunting, drinking from the streams, sleeping wet in shelters made from sticks. There and back again. Bussells’ account is deeply observant; rocks, soil, herbaceous plants and trees, tracks of animals and people, but most particularly the… Read More

Caves Road: a Short History of a Winding Way.

Caves Road deserves special protection as a heritage and tourism icon. Caves Road traverses the limestone ridge between Cape Naturaliste and Cape Leeuwin. It runs south from Yallingup, through tree lined hills and valleys, past vineyards and breweries. Across the Margaret River and down into the Karri country, past Hamelin Bay and onwards to Augusta. It is heralded as one of the iconic experiences to have in Western Australia. It began as a network of sand and gravel tracks taking visitors to the spectacular caves so numerous along the Ridge. Now the… Read More

Makuru: on Mermaids and the Winter Solstice.

Mermaids are the river-dreamings of northern Europe. Here in the south-west of Australia, the winter solstice falls with the first rains. The streams and rivers begin to flow, breaking the drought and releasing the dry and dusty old year back into the sea. The cultures of the European colonisers, still dominant in Australia, look back to the German and Celtic lands, where the sun played a major part in the ebb and flow cycles of the year. At Midwinter the sun is at its weakest and all the land is cold and… Read More