The little town of Witchcliffe has enjoyed a resurgence in popularity thanks to an influx of new businesses and a plan ahead to welcome a flood of new residents to the area.
We took a walk down the main street of the town, south of Margaret River, to chat with some of the locals – from the long time stalwarts to the new kids on the block.
The bustling Yardbyrd Cafe is first on the list, where owner Rob Mayberry is hard at work alongside partner Nichole Dielesen, pouring coffees for customer after customer heading into the busy streetside spot.
“Yardbyrd has some of the best coffee in the region, and Rob has done a fantastic job taking his time to establish the business and really listens to his customers,” said one early morning visitor heading for a caffeine fix at the quaint cottage-esque eatery.
Laurence and Bev Thompson have worked hard to establish Witchy Pies & Cakery over the last 3 and a half years, and Laurence said the key to their ongoing success has been local support and a keen ear for what the customer wants.
“The community is very supportive of businesses, and locals in general,” he said.
“We have launched and developed our range of gluten free products, and compared to what we were making when we first started, we have definitely moved with what the consumer has asked for.
“It’s a fantastic place to live and do business, and we are proud to be here.”
Heading up the co-working space that is Witchcliffe’s Hardware Creative, Lauren Trickett is passionate about her town and the people in it.
“I established my photography businesses,Lauren Trickett Photography and Redgate Weddings, in 2007, and have been in Witchcliffe the last two years. It is so nice to walk to be able to walk to the studio in the morning...past Yardbyrd for coffee of course!”
“It’s quieter than Margs, but still only five minutes to town, and its five minutes to my favourite beachie.”
“We’re predominantly offer photography and design services, pop up workspace and hotdesk areas, a gallery, photography studio, and large format photo printing.
“We also host workshops and small events and exhibitions, and offer space for members of the community to hold workshops across a range of disciplines.
“We promote collaboration and connection between the many creative professionals of our community, offering a beautiful and functional space to meet and work.”
Claire Sieber of Anna Rose Designs said her business centred around interior design services, upholstery, homewares and textile supplies.
“We offer a service of restoring bespoke pieces of furniture, co-ordinating and sourcing fabrics from national and international fabric houses.
“We also build new chairs and footstools here in Margaret River that can be customized to clients’ needs.”
Ms Sieber said Witchcliffe was the perfect base and not far from home in Karridale.
“After trying workshops from Augusta to Cowaramup, as well as working from home for a period I have now landed in Witchcliffe.
“I find it to be quite a creative little hub. With other small businesses starting up in town and loads of other artists around I find it an inspiring place to do my work.”
Debbie O’Connor and ‘chief Witch’ Kim Hill operate the town’s Witchy Liquor outlet with team members Lyndall and Kye.
”I have owned the lease and held the liquor licence for nearly 11 years,” said Debbie.
“We have become a drop in also for Margaret River people that want the ease of parking, great customer service and a fantastic range of wines.
“We pride ourselves on stocking wines from some of the smaller wineries that don’t have cellar doors. People love to come in and have a chat with the Chief Witch and her team because of their wine knowledge.”
Jilly Crossley and Mike Riley launched The Craftanoon Caravan art studio in Witchcliffe in January this year, and say the community had embraced them.
“Witchy works for us as we can cruise up the road for any number of household supplies, snacks, to replenish the cupboards or catch up on the local news,” said Jilly.
“And if we really need to head in to Margaret River, we just jump on our bikes and ride the Wadandi Track into town! It’s all we need and more!”
The Witchcliffe Eco Village project will aim to provide an essential residential community for the growing town, which project director Mike Hulme said was a labour of love that was beginning to see fruition.
“We have had an extremely high level of interest, and in fact we’ve attracted a bit of attention from around the world,” he explained.
“Apparently there are very few developments attempting this sustainable model and none that we are aware of that offer all three in renewable energy, water self sufficiency and waste management as well as powerful, NBN fibre to the home for every residence.”
A variety of lots will be available with some offering the opportunity to purchase adjacent market garden style lots for small farming and production ventures.
Mr Hulme said the development, which would begin marketing later in 2018, was indicative of the lifestyle sought by locals. “The people here are caring, community minded, and environmentally conscious. We are very excited for the future surrounded by a fantastic collection of people and services.”
Community South West Acupuncture’s Bec Rickey said the simplicity of Witchcliffe allowed she and business partner Sandee Lipton to operate at an affordable rate.
“We love Witchy, not only is it a wonderful place to live and raise kids, but the affordability and availability of commercial space lets us provide acupuncture at a lower rate, which means we see our clients regularly and they receive the benefits without all the cost.”
Witchcliffe retailers say the town’s ease of parking, walkability and friendly faces make it an ideal trip down the road or stop on a journey north.
Anna and Dan Dooley are the self-confessed ‘new kids on the block’ having moved in just three months ago to establish their organic lifestyle and grocery outlet. The Wholeliving Store.
“Witchy is up and coming, it’s the new mini Leederville,” said Anna.
“With the population on the rise it seemed perfect to open up the store with the growing amount of health and environmentally conscious people moving into the area.
“Sometimes can take you longer to find a car park in Margaret River than to drive down the road to us. It’s a rare find, this town.”
Few would consider it a ‘proper’ trip south without a stop at one of the region's most loved secondhand stores, The Flying Wardrobe.
Mother and daughter Linda and Zoe Kent took over the business from Linda’s sister Les and brother in law Guy Pathe (who now operates Margaret River Life Cycle Bikes next door) in 2011.
“Prime positions and affordable rent have allowed a diverse range of small businesses and creative types to thrive,” said Ms Kent.
“There are some cute old buildings like the Druid’s Hall and Darnell’s Store, not to mention the Wadandi Bike Trail and the exciting Eco Village”.
Mr Pathe said the pace of lifestyle in Witchcliffe teamed with the accessibility to Margaret River made it ideal for business and living.
“It’s just nice and cruisy here, I’m at a point in my life where I don’t want the intense long days and being on the main street here I see everyone who goes past,” he said as another group of locals stopped to chat to the cheerful business owner.
Kirsten and Michael Jackson are a double act – Kirsten creates the stunning candles and runs the gift shop at The Margaret River Candle Company while Mike repurposes wine barrels.
“We have had the business for two years but it has been in town for about ten,” said Kirsten.
“We feel very at home in Witchy, it has a comfortable community feel. It’s definitely worth a visit - coffee, cafes and a selection of unique shops to check out, you can easily spend the day and we have lots of repeat visitors.”
A eclectic collection of vintage, reloved furniture, jewellery and local arts and crafts adorn the walls and shelves of the corner store location of Lime Beach Reloved, where local label Wildfire Vintage also stocks their wares.
“I will be celebrating 3 years later this month Its been really nice watching this little sweet town start to blossom,” said Lime Beach owner Francine Chappell.
“I was looking for something different something a little old school you know, not so shiny, its really starting to grow in the nicest of ways.”
Wildfire’s Freya Brice said the town was full of “hidey holes of awesome things” and applauded the community for embracing new businesses.
“I moved to Witchcliffe for its quirkiness and have watched it evolve over the last year. Lime Beach Reloved is the perfect outlet for my vintage collection.”