After we found out we were having another baby, I started a little bit of a mental baby bucket list. Just some fun things I wanted to do before baby number 2 arrived; things I knew would not necessarily be impossible to do with a newborn in our midst again, just trickier. I was so naïve about newborns when we had Little Nerd and was definitely unaware of how much time they took up – the main thing I was surprised about was how much time I would have to spend sitting down feeding, expressing, for months on end – the mostly limited capacity to get out and about with a newborn, despite the best intentions.
My ‘pregnancy bucket list’ wasn’t anything too formal or intimidating – just casual things that kept me propelling forward, got me out of the house and gave me little things to look forward to each week when I had my head in the toilet (which has been every day of this pregnancy since the fifth week, minus about four or five days) and knew I probably still had months more throwing up ahead of me. They were things like finally go for ramen at Hakata Gensuke. Some work collaborations with brands I was really excited about. Taking Little Nerd to South Beach for a swim and breakfast at South Beach Café. Digging new plants into the garden so I could watch them grow while I was sitting on the couch with a newborn, etc.
Anyway, one of the things I was really keen to do was a little ‘babymoon’ holiday, sans-Little Nerd. No offence to the little guy, he is my sidekick and I love him to the end of the earth, but he was definitely old enough to have a couple of nights away from me and at around five months pregnant who knew when I would get that chance again once we had Baby Number 2!
Mr Nerd volunteered to stay home with Little Nerd so I could go on a little girls holiday down south to Margaret River. And it was SO good.
I went with one of my best friends from high school Catherine. She has two little girls – one is Little Nerd’s age and we were both in agreement that we’d leave the toddlers home this trip! Cat brought her second little baby, who at six months old is THE cruisiest, happiest, most smiley little bubba ever and was a dream to take on a girls’ trip. A baby on a babymoon? you say. It worked. It was like having a third girlfriend along.
We stayed at a really lovely Air BnB called Townhouse Margaret River whose owners had asked me if I would be interested in doing an honest review for them on Instagram. Well, I can say honestly, it was a REALLY nice place to stay and I loved it so much I wanted to do a blog post and share my fave Margaret River things to do. We really loved our stay – I could not have asked for more pleasant accommodation to spend a babymoon – this place got my five stars for sure. The previous time I had stayed in Margaret River we stayed at a big house in the bush about five-ten minutes out of town with a group of friends. It was a great house, but you had to drive everywhere you wanted to go and there was no reception (which can definitely be refreshing, but sometimes makes things trickier).
In comparison I LOVED the location of Townhouse Margaret River – it is literally one street back from the main street and you can pop right across the back alley to take a shortcut that takes you right into the middle of town, but it was quiet. Well – we thought it quiet! Being severely hearing impaired, I take out my hearing aids and I could sleep through a cyclone – and coincidentally Catherine is also hearing impaired! But honestly it was a quiet yet very convenient spot. I loved being able to just pop out the door and be at a café in minutes.
With a lovely back garden and alfresco entertaining area, the townhouse is clean, contemporary, and had a really lovely feel to it – gorgeous simple interiors with minimalist Scandinavian styling while still keeping that Aussie feel.
It was a really nice layout too (I am all about good layouts!) with the main suite tucked away on the ground floor (with a private courtyard with a divine outdoor shower) while upstairs were two more bedrooms, a bathroom and even a private second living area. Perfect for a group (it sleeps six). We were actually initially meant to go as a small group – more girls from our school group had been keen to come but couldn’t because of work/family commitments and it almost felt a pity with so much space!
But we had THE BEST time – as soon as we got there I felt like I hadn’t been that relaxed in a long time. Catherine and I both agreed that usually on a holiday it takes about two days until you feel really feel relaxed and ‘on holiday’ (well for us it does! Maybe it is because we are both freelancers and it’s hard to mentally ‘turn off’ work?) But here we both felt truly, deeply relaxed the first night. We walked down the road to Morries Anytime and had a lovely tapas dinner and mocktails – they were so good I didn’t even miss the absence of alcohol.
The next day we drove to Indijup Beach and had a blissfully refreshing morning swim – apart from two other people, we were the only ones on that whole stretch of beach! We are so lucky in Australia for that kind of thing to not be out of reach.
We popped back ‘home’, showered and then headed off to lunch at Wills Domain. I’d never heard of this winery before, but Catherine, whose in-laws used to manage a boutique retreat in Margs, knew of all these less-touristy spots and places just off the beaten track, and the food at this place was divine. And the views!
That night we cooked a quiet homemade dinner at the townhouse with fresh local goods followed up with little cakes from Riversmith, and the day after that we just spent time in town, having a relaxed breakfast and browsing shops.
It was a perfect girls trip/babymoon. I love quiet time and always have – there is a reason I have been a freelancer for ten years and been quite happy with that arrangement! And if you know a toddler you know what hanging with a toddler is like – the constant chatter, the unending questions, the continual negotiations, the ‘whys’, the constantly trying to stay one step ahead of them mentally to make things go as smooth as possible… the quiet was so nice!
I think you can love your kid to pieces but it’s still nice to have time without them – absence makes the heart grow fonder and all that – and when you are a parent and so much of what you do has to revolve around your kid, I think it’s healthy to have interests and time apart from them. (And each night I had a hot bubble bath – by myself! With no Thomas Minis up my butt! It was amazing).
The next night Catherine had to head back home and Mr Nerd and Little Nerd came up to spend the last night at the townhouse with me.
After two nights apart from me, Little Nerd was SO excited to see me… then he decided to show me he was mad that I went on holiday without him and studiously ignored me for half an hour. I was expecting that and had a bit of a giggle inside. My old cat used to do the same thing when we went on holiday. So does Nala. They’re so happy to see you at first, then they’re like, “Hang on, she must be punished for leaving me,” so they sulk for a bit!
With just one night together in Margaret River, Mr Nerd and I decided to take the opportunity to go to the best nearby dinner place we could. We had heard really good things about Miki’s Open Kitchen, a fine dining Japanese restaurant that is literally right behind Townhouse Margaret River across the back alleyway, and even though we knew they were often heavily booked out we thought we’d try our luck at getting a table.
In hindsight, taking a two-year-old who’d just spent three hours in the car to a long seven course degustation was PROBABLY not our greatest parenting decision. (And of course, me being me, I’d forgotten to bring his stable of Thomases, entertainment etc… probably should have just given him my phone and YouTube but sometimes I find if he’s already had a busy day it just makes him more belligerent rather than easier). So the meal was definitely not as relaxing as it would have been if it were just me and Mr Nerd (and did I look at Mr Nerd’s wine glass wistfully a few times) but aside from a few moments that nearly got hairy and required our best, smoothest-talking terrorist negotiation skills, Little Nerd was relatively well-behaved. And the food was lovely. As we were leaving one of the chefs came over to us and said he couldn’t believe how good Little Nerd was the whole time… he said his own three-year-old daughter would never have stood for it. The staff said goodbye very cheerfully to us… secretly I think they were relieved we were leaving without anything having been broken/any tantrums!
Before we left, we had breakfast at Margaret River Bakery where we always go each time we’re in the area – it’s such a snug, cosy kind of place and the food and coffee is always good. I came home feeling really content.
SOME OF MY MUST-DO THINGS IN AND AROUND MARGARET RIVER
This is where Catherine and I went for a lovely dinner and drinks our first night. Just a one-minute walk from Townhouse Margaret River, it has delicious tapas plates and mocktails so good you didn’t feel like you were missing out even if pregnant! I could have happily gone back here again the next night too. We sat outside by the street as it was a beautiful warm night but the industrial-styled interiors are nice. This place is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
The biggest ‘show cave’ in Western Australia, the underground Jewel Cave is incredible to see, with stalactites and straws formed over thousands of years. Mr Nerd took Little Nerd and I here about a year ago – I had never been before! It was amazing. I highly recommend. It was a funny experience taking a young toddler – think he was just under two at the time – and initially the tour guide and other tourists gave us the “oh no, people bringing a baby” look when we began the tour but he was so good and really enjoyed it – even the bit when they turn off ALL the lights in the cave and plunge the group into the deepest, darkest, spookiest blackness. “Oh-oh… Mama?” (Some people started giggling). Jewel Cave is meant to be the most beautiful and biggest of all the caves in the region, and the story of the people who stumbled across the caves is a fascinating one. You can get cave passes and see numerous caves including Ngilgi, Mammoth and Lake Caves but if you only have time to see one I would recommend Jewel Cave.
Margaret River Bakery
They’re kid friendly, the food and coffee is so good, the décor and furniture is eclectic and worn and comfortable, like a crazy old nanna’s house. Mr Nerd and I can’t go past their almond croissants or their eggs benedict wrap.
White sand and cool clear waters as far as the eye can see – is there any better way to start the day? On our first morning Catherine and I drove down here to start the day with a refreshing ocean swim. We almost had the entire beach to ourselves – we could see only two other people.
A little while ago a random clip popped up on my Facebook feed of people in Europe fighting over spots on a beach. Why the commotion? Some of the holidaymakers were waking up at 3am and going to the beach to put their towels on a beach chair and claim it, then going back to the hotel to sleep in before heading to the beach later, and other people were MAD. Hustling to get a spot on a beach is incomprehensible here – there is no fighting on an Australian beach. So if you’ve ever wanted to have a whole beach to yourself, you have to come to Australia.
Drive through Boranup Forest
There is something about driving along Caves Road through Boranup Forest – it has a magical feel to it, especially in the late afternoons with the sun streaming through the trees, turning them golden. It is beautiful.
Catherine’s in-laws used to manage a boutique retreat in Margaret River and they have shown her all the good wineries and restaurants off the beaten track – including Will’s Domain, a beautiful winery overlooking the Gunyulgup Valley in Yallingup (at the northern end of the Margaret River wine region).
You probably won’t find it unless you are looking for it – and it’s worth finding! DIVINE food and beautiful place that feels like you’re on top of the world.
Ever wanted to get up close to a stingray in the wild? At Hamelin Bay you can – their famous friendly stingrays come right up to the people on the shore. They are gentle, curious and have very little fear and getting up close to them is an amazing experience! Mr Nerd took Little Nerd and I here and I was blown away. The sting rays make regular visits to the beach around the boat ramp and old jetty – usually around three or four of them but sometimes in groups of ten or more, hoping people will feed them some fishing scraps.
Tucked away in the new The Village at Margs and just a short amble from Townhouse Margaret River is a lovely little boutique clothing store called Mohican Store. Friendly people and a very nice edit of casual clothes and gorgeous dresses (and some homewares – I had to try so hard not to buy those pillows).
One of the more well-known wineries and well-known for a reason.
With its hipster good looks, nice coffee and location smack-bang in the middle of the main street, it is not surprising this place gets really busy on weekends, but it’s a great place to pop in for a mid-week breakfast or coffee (we timed our trip to avoid school holidays!) There are lovely homewares and books in the shop part out the back and the cakes are delicious (love their caramel slice).
Miki’s Open Kitchen
You’d never guess there was a fine dining Japanese restaurant tucked away in this little spot off the main street! One to try if you love Japanese food. On the pricier end but lovely food – wish I could have had the paired wines! Can be hard to get a booking at peak holiday times but easier during the week. Best to get there early (around 6) for their 6.30 opening.
Spectacular to look at – not for swimming. There are rips, rocky outcrops and dangerous currents – but it’s visually beautiful and in whale season they can sometimes be seen off the coast.
Mr Nerd and I had a lovely kid-free dinner here at this winery one night with friends – wonderful wine.
Sidekick Café Margaret River
A cosy, funky little café with really delicious food and coffee and lots of vegan and vegetarian options (I am not one but lots of my friends are!)
Thanks to Townhouse Margaret River for having me – I would 100% stay again! I was kindly put up by them, but all opinions and words in this post are my own. I highly recommend and found them incredibly helpful – we had a perfect stay (and the place is designed to be kid-friendly). You can check them out on Air BnB here or follow them on Instagram at @townhousemargaretriver. Maya x