Down in the heart of Western Australia’s southwest, the pretty coastal town of Denmark might be a quieter alternative to the nearby Margaret River but don’t be fooled: it’s an area that is no less stunning.
White sands and emerald, limpid waters make for Instagram-worthy beaches which attract sun-seekers and families alike, while the world-famous Bibbulmun Track winds its way along the Great Southern Ocean, with spectacular views of the Rainbow Coast.
Inland, karri trees – found nowhere else in the world – abound in the southern forests, alongside towering giant tingles. Passionate food producers dish up gourmet platters of local fare, and vintners are more than eager for you to try the cool-climate wine of the region at their charming, boutique cellar doors.
Denmark is a five-hour drive from Perth, 412 kilometres southeast down the Albany Highway and Denmark Mt Barker Road. If you’re travelling from Margaret River, the trip is around 325 kilometres or three-and-a-half hours with no stops.
Don’t have the time to drive? Rex Airlines flies Perth to Albany. From there, it’s just a 40-minute drive of around 55 kilometres to get to Denmark. Alternatively, the Daily TransWA service from Perth City station takes eight hours to reach Denmark.
In summer, temperatures of around 25 degrees Celsius make splashing away at Denmark’s crystalline beaches the perfect high-season activity.
In autumn, vineyards and food festivals are on the menu as the thermostat lingers at 22 degrees Celsius. Come winter, this drops. The crowds have disappeared, and migrating whales are spotted off the coast. Wildflowers bloom in spring as the temperature rests around 17 degrees Celsius.
In William Bay National Park, Greens Pool’s calm, sparkling waters, dotted with granite boulders make it one of Denmark’s prettiest and most celebrated beaches. It is ideal for families, with Elephant Rocks and Cove a 10-minute walk away.
Lights Beach is a surf and dog-friendly beach southwest of town and is home to the Princess Pool, as well as portions of the Bibbulmun Track and the Munda Biddi Trail.
The four-hour Mt Lindsey Trail offers up the best opportunity to see wildflowers.
Reach new heights as you stroll among 400-year-old tingle trees at the Valley of the Giants Tree Tops Walk, or on the 30-minute walk up to Monkey Rock to watch the sunrise on the land below.
The Denmark Animal Farm & Petland Alpaca Stud is the top spot to cuddle animals like alpacas and baby joeys, while Jurassic Park fans can see Australia’s only T-Rex skeleton at Denmark Dinosaur World.
Scope out the flora and fauna along the Denmark River on the Wilson Inlet Heritage Trail by cycling or walking.
The first stop for fishers is Wilson Inlet. Here, you can head out on a fishing charter like Madfish Charters or your own boat. Other popular areas include the Denmark and Hay rivers – which feed into Wilson Inlet – Ocean Beach, Light Beach, William Bay and Waterfall Beach.
Other than Parry Beach in William Bay National Park (a free camping site that runs on a ‘who turns up first’ basis) free and low-cost camping is limited in Denmark.
There are options closer to Albany, with sites like Cosy Corner Beach (free), Torbay Inlet Rd Campground (free), and Shelley Beach. Note that these get particularly busy in summer.
Denmark Rivermouth Caravan Park has waterfront powered camping sites and chalets overlooking the Wilson Inlet. Over Ocean Beach way, BIG4 Denmark Ocean Beach Holiday Park also has chalets and cabins, as well as spots for caravans and tents. The family-run Riverbend Chalets & Caravan Park up on the Denmark River is pet-friendly.
Walking distance from town, the Denmark YHA provides budget dormitories and private rooms, and Blue Wren Travellers’ Rest YHA offers family, dormitory and double rooms.
The closest five-star hotel is the intimate and luxurious Beach House at Bayside in Albany, but there’s plenty of gorgeous stays out Denmark-way.
Spa treatments at Aiyana Retreat and the adults-only Chimes Spa Retreat will keep you in your bathrobe 24/7. A romantic sleep in a yurt awaits at The Ark of Denmark. Nearby, the Skyhouse Retreat holiday home is a serene getaway, with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the bush. The four-star William Bay Cottages is nestled in coastal bushland on a real working farm, close to Greens Beach.
Denmark may be small, but it is mighty in the foodie category. Snag a sausage roll at Denmark Bakery for lunch on the road, bring your keep-cup to eco-friendly Green Pantry for a flat white, and visit Mrs Jones Cafe for a laid-back breakfast in a hip location.
For casual fare, don’t go past Denmark Tavern with its family-friendly atmosphere and pub grub. The atmospheric Boston Brewing Co dishes up modern Australian cuisine and woodfired pizzas.
On the winery trail? Forest Hill is one of the area’s oldest vineyards and creates wine from their old, dry-grown vineyard in Mt Barker. Its seasonal, Fijian-Indian infused flavours of winery restaurant Pepper & Salt is a must for a long winery lunch. The Lake House Winery has lakeside gourmet vineyard platters sourced from its kitchen gardens, and takeaway picnic hampers are available.
Rockcliffe Winery & Gelataria makes its own ice cream, as well as pinot and chardonnay. Ducketts Mill Wines & Denmark Farmhouse Cheese pairs cheese handmade with milk from neighbouring cows with glasses of wine. Sip on Singlefile Wines’ signature chardonnay as the kids play on the rolling lawns.
Chocoholics: stop by the picturesque licensed chocolate lounge at Denmark Chocolate Company to try wine, beer and sweet morsels in a delightful lavender-fringed cottage.
Kick back with a glass of the region’s famous riesling when you head out on one of the local winery tours. Blue Bus Tours departs Albany for its Mt Barker Grape Escape tour, while Denmark Wine Lovers chauffeurs you in its 21-seat bus for a bespoke or package tour.
You can also tackle the Bibbulmun Track between Denmark and Albany with Australian Walking Holidays or World Expeditions, walking the coast by day and sleeping in chalets by night.
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