Denmark, the Australian version, not the country in Europe, was once a sleepy town in the southern coast of WA. Based on a recent trip, the town of about 6,000 residents is now anything but. So if you’re looking for off-the-beaten track, I’d say you’re about a year too late. But in saying that, it’s busy, but busy for this part of the country. With tourism hot-spot Margaret River a three to three and a half hour drive from Perth, it’s very do-able for a weekend getaway. At about five to six hours driving time from Perth, Denmark requires a bit more time to make the journey worth it. For that reason alone, Denmark is still very much a place to go to get away from it all.
While no longer a secret, this tiny town still evokes a relaxing, slow down kind of vibe. One of my tests for small, country town is its requirement for a traffic light. Which Denmark has not quite met yet. So while it may have sped up a bit in the past couple of years, Denmark is still all about taking it slow.
So how many days do you need in Denmark?
At a relatively quick pace, but with time for a few wineries or quality beach time, I’d recommend a minimum of three nights, and two full days. Like most places where the vibe is cruisey and the scenery is amazing, more time is better.
Extending your trip by a couple of days allows for day trips to neighbouring Walpole and Albany. Both towns deserve a few days on their own but also make for a decent day trip from Denmark.
Away from the hustle and bustle of the big smoke (i.e. Perth), Denmark deserves to be savoured at a slow pace. As does the Great Southern’s high quality food, award winning wines and craft beer from its long-established brewery.
What are the wines like in this part of the country?
The Denmark region is part of the Great Southern Wine Region. The area is known for its cool climate wines such as Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir and Shiraz. As a wine lover, a few of the suggestions recommend visiting wineries. If you’re not that keen on wine, all of wineries suggested will either have an on-site restaurant or be worth a look for the scenery alone. Fear not, non-wine lovers, you will also be catered for in Denmark!
And of course, being set on the southern coast of Western Australia, Denmark has plenty of beautiful ocean vistas and beaches for swimming, fishing and just lazing around on. Then just a few kilometres inland you’re surrounded by the Karri, Tingle, Jarrah, Sheoak and forests.
Top things to do when visiting Denmark
Alright, so now you’re excited for an adventure, here are my top recommendations for things to do when visiting Denmark:
- Get your bearings by taking a quick stroll through Denmark’s town centre
- Relax near the epically turquoise and calm waters of Greens Pool and the adjacent Elephant Rocks in William Bay National Park
- Enjoy a wine tasting at one of my favourite WA winery experiences at Single File Wines
- Enjoy a drink in the beer garden at Boston Brewing Company
- Dine at one of Denmark’s top restaurants: Pepper and Salt, Ajar or Castelli
- Relax with a caffeinated beverage and a slice of cake or an entire breakfast at Mrs Jones Cafe or one of the other cafes in town
- Enjoy a long lunch over a bottle or two of wine at the Lake House Denmark
Depending on how much time you have, Walpole and Albany both deserve a visit. Walpole is tiny and is known for its tall trees and forest walks. One of the top activities in the area is the Valley of the Giants Tree Top Walk. This highly recommended walk in the tree tops is located about 45 minutes west of Denmark.
Albany, on the other hand, is a large town (population ~40,000).
Start with a (quick) stroll through Denmark’s town centre
To get acquainted with Denmark’s amentities, it’s worth having a quick stroll through the two streets that count as the town centre. I say quick because the town itself is rather small, being made up of a handful of streets.
Strickland street is the town’s main street where you’ll find a collection of cafes, bakeries and shops I would describe as catering to the ‘alternative’ crowd. Think incense, crystals and clothing made of hemp. Like any regional town, you can’t not visit the local bakery for a pie, lamington or whatever the local specialty is on the day.
On the other side of the main road (South Coast Highway), there’s a large IGA store (for all your grocery needs), a butcher and an IGA Xpress. There’s also a bottle shop (BWS) and more cafes.
On South Coast Highway towards the river, is an excellent spot for takeaway meals and other goodies called Wholly Local. If you’re visiting Single File Wines, I recommend contacting Wholly Local in advance and putting in an order for a picnic hamper. Also for those wanting coffee on the fancier side of the coffee spectrum, you’ll find Raven Coffee on the corner.
William Bay National Park
If you look at pretty much any photo of Denmark and surrounds, you’ll likely see a photo of Greens Pool. The sheltered bay makes for pool like, albeit of the non-heated variety, conditions. Keep in mind, you’re in the south (read: cold) part of the country and the next lad mass south of the beach is Antarctica. So yes, the water is very fresh! (Aussie for freezing)
Fortunately though, the chilly water is a welcome retreat when its hot and when it’s not, it’s so picturesque, you probably won’t care all that much. Since the area is rather well-protected, the beach area is very popular with families.
Next to Greens Pool are the Elephant Rocks, named for their appearance as a herd of elephants when looked down on from the top of the hill.
Besides the giant rocks, there’s also a protected cove, suitable for swimming and sun bathing.
Within William Bay National Park where you’ll find parking for both Greens Pool and Elephant Rocks, recently had major and well-welcomed upgrades to their facilities and parking area. The two sights share the same parking areas with paths heading down to both. You can also walk from Greens Pool via the large rock over to the path to the Elephant Rocks to complete a small loop. Walking distance between the two is about five minutes.
Also note that there are no services at beach level, so make sure to pack everything you need for your visit.
Single File Wines
This winery was an unexpected surprise and has become one of my favourite winery experiences in WA. Despite its lack of on-site restaurant (which I generally tend to favour), Single File doesn’t serve food. Instead, they recommend you pack your own lunch to enjoy while you’re enjoying their wines. See above for my recommendation for a picnic hamper or other takeaway food at Wholly Local. You could easily spend the afternoon drinking and eating at this fine establishment located at on Walter Road.
What else sets Single File apart is their approach to wine tastings. While most wineries require you to stand at their cellar door area for tastings, Single File brings the wine tasting to your table. You can taste their range of wines at no cost. While I never thought of myself as a chardonnay drinker, or any other whites for that matter, I was a changed lady when I left here. Their Reserve Chardonnay was a real revelation and I’m not ashamed to admit, I now appreciate a nice glass of chardonnay. Come to think of it, I only seem to like expensive chardonnay, but I digress.
Single File also offers a chocolate and wine matching option for $15, called Coco d’Vino. This was a lovely addition to the wine tasting and includes the winery’s reserve Chardonney. Magnifique!
For more information on the winery, here’s a Link to Single File Wines‘s website.
Boston Brewing Company
Boston Brewing is the quintessential stop when visiting Denmark and surrounds. Established in 2011, the beer garden is dog friendly, has a play area for the kids and welcomes all sorts. On an evening we visited, it was absolutely packed by 7pm. Book ahead if visiting in summer!
Besides their own range of beers, they also offer wine, which is on tap! One word of caution about their beer selection. They offer a couple of different tasting flights and they seem to be getting rather creative with their brewing. Their Raspberry Gose (I’d never heard of it either) was one of the worst beers I’d ever tasted. I thought it was going to be a cider but it was just plain wrong. If you want to try something out there, it might be worth asking for a small taste before ordering a pint! Or just still to the usual suspects!
Besides their varieties of beer, they offer all the classic meals you’d expect at a pub, so something for everyone.
A long lunch or dinner at one of Denmark’s top restaurants
For a small area, Denmark has variety of options for all budgets. My favourite cafe, Mrs Jones, is mentioned below if you’re after a cafe-style breakfast or lunch. If you’re looking for a more upscale (fancy) meal or are celebrating a special occasion, check out the current menus of Pepper and Salt, Ajar or Castelli. Despite Denmark’s beautiful ocean vistas, none of the restaurants are set on the water. Instead, they are mostly inland along the wine trail, with forest settings.
Pepper and Salt is located at Forest Hill Winery, set up on a hill, with forest and ocean glimpses. When making a reservation, request a table on the periphery of the restaurant for the best views. The menu reflects the head chef’s Fijian-Indian heritage so expect a bit of spice throughout the dishes.
We had a lovely dinner at Pepper and Salt complete with a bottle of Forest Hill Winery’s chardonnay. I said I was becoming a convert!
For more inspiration check out their website here.
Ajar on Shadforth has amazing ocean views from its inland, forest setting. Ajar serves Australian contemporary dishes. For more inspiration check out their website here.
Castelli is an Italian restaurant, also set in a picturesque setting and their wines are excellent. Here’s a link to their website.
Ideally make your bookings a couple of weeks in advance, especially in high season. All three websites listed above have booking options on their websites. If the online system shows there are no availability, it’s worth also calling directly as they may leave some tables available for those who call a few days before.
Breakfast, brunch and/ or lunch at one of the town’s cafes
More details to come, but make sure to check out Mrs Jones Cafe in the town centre. It has excellent coffee, a great menu and outdoor seating (perfect if travelling with a dog).