The river arises from a catchment of just 40 square kilometres in the Whicher Range
The middle reaches passes through land cleared for agriculture, especially viticulture.
There is a weir across the river just above the town. The mouth of the river is a small estuary, closed to the ocean by a sandbar that opens only seasonally.
Margaret River is presumed to be named after Margaret Wyche, cousin of John Garrett Bussell in 1831.