I’m sure most people know about our renowned wine region, down south as we call it. Famed not only for its wines but food offerings and great surf. For those who don’t, it’s a good 3.5 hours drive south of Perth where you pass other beautiful holiday, eating and drinking towns such as Busselton, Dunsborough and Yallingup in our southwest.
I’m sure that if you Google Margaret River or WA’s southwest region, it will give you a wealth of information on what you can do, places of interest, wineries, breweries, eateries and must do tips. Not to mention, there are a host of cheese, chocolates, olive oil and arts and craft delights to fill your days too.
People of Perth will attest that it is one of their favourite holiday destinations which offer a wide range of experiences no matter your taste or age group.
We have ventured to the southwest on numerous occasions enjoying the region’s food, wine and spectacular scenery. We have even managed to enjoy short breaks for a lunch or dinner event staying in cottage accommodation amongst vast peaceful vineyard surroundings, relaxing in the tranquillity this region offers. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of options to stay amongst the township’s hustle and bustle as it is a convenient base within walking distance to a host of entertainment and hospitality.
On this trip, besides a lunch break in Yallingup, we based ourselves in Margaret River. We left home mid morning on a Thursday and headed to our first pit stop, Aravina Estate for a spot of lunch. When you arrive onto its property, you too will agree that the sprawling vineyards, gorgeous cellar door and Hamptons-esque alfresco area is the perfect spot to settle in for a couple hours of food and wine appreciation.
The service is friendly and lovely, the atmosphere immediately puts your mind into holiday mode and you do begin to feel like you have entered into a world of peaceful mindset for the rest of your weekend. The gardens from the car park to the building are the greenest, thickest foliage you have ever scene. Giant glossy leaved vegetation almost beckons you to want to sink yourself into its sanctuary of magical green arms, to immerse yourself in hiding away from the world for a few minutes or so….no, I did not have too much to drink and yes, I most definitely had too much to eat.
Next stop, our accommodation in town. We stayed at Margaret’s In Town Apartments. Depending on where you entered town, it is just off the main road, Bussell Highway, almost at the entrance of town. This place is filled with self-contained apartments of various sizes and a terrific, if not convenient base to the entertainment and all the eateries along the main drag (street). We found this to be highly convenient in the mornings for breakfast and evenings for dinner as you can just walk to procure your first meal of the day and to stumble home from your last meal of the day. And yes, refreshing beverages and entertainment in between too.
On our first night, we ventured to the top of the strip to Morries for dinner. Please be warned, this is at the other end of the main drag, slightly up hill so it can take you a good ten minutes or so to get there. It is well worth the trip, by the time you get there, you are greeted with a warm atmosphere of a cosy eatery that fills your nostrils with all kinds of delicious. Their beverage offerings are as delicious as their food and they really know how to do great things to vegetables. We enjoyed a joyous evening of food and drinks, and left there feeling well loved, inside and out. Good news is, it’s a down hill walk back to your bed.
Breakfast options are vast along this strip, so are shopping opportunities from IGA for food supplies for your room or local offerings of gifts, arts & crafts to specialty foods and there is even a Country Target.
We had planned some serious wine sampling (and buying) and food experiences so after a light breakfast we would venture off to a few wineries followed by lunch. First up, Windance Estate. By the way, if you are wine tasting and lunching with wine, I would highly recommend sourcing a driver or some form of transport to and from your base so you are not driving whilst you are enjoying the local delights. Again, Google will provide you with a wealth of options so you don’t have to worry about picking a designated driver nor dampening the experience by driving yourself. On this occasion, we engaged the services of the Flying Corkscrew to show us around and get us where we needed to go and back.
Back to Windance. They are a family owned and operated winery focused on producing boutique wine of exceptional quality, whilst incorporating sustainable land management. They boast winning several accolades as well as being one of the most successful small produces of the region. After an informative tasting session, we ordered a good few cases of wine. I do love olive oil from this region so cannot resist walking away with a bottle. I almost always walk away with a bottle or so from most places that I visit.
Next up, Cape Grace Wines. This property was a vast contrast to Windance. Almost hidden in the bush, accessible via a track road, you arrive to a tin shack. A big-ish tin shack mind you but a tin shack jammed with their barrels of wine and stock. They are part of Margaret River’s great little wineries. Again, family owned and operated and proud as punch of their award winning wines, produced in small quantities, fully grown, processed and bottled on site. Passion oozes from the owners, this is undeniable when they take you through the tasting experience.
Now off to lunch at Amelia Park Restaurant in the heart of Wilyabrup. If you Google their website, they will tell you their claims to fame. And brag away they should. The property and restaurant are spectacular. We first encountered them at their newly built cellar door before the restaurant was incepted. And if the cellar door did not bedazzle you, their wines will impress you. Their story is as a good read as any success story in the region, achieving accolades such as being in the top 5% of wineries in Australia. Now that’s not too shabby to say the least.
After telling you that they have claims to fame and the rights to brag away, we were not disappointed at all to say the least. The property was incredulous, on this pleasant, sunny day, we thoroughly immersed ourselves to the service and hospitality fitting of its pedigree and to say we had a fantastic experience would be slightly under selling it in my view. You give it a bash and see what you think… P.S if you have enough people, I would highly recommend hiring their private dining room.
That evening, we ventured to a bar/eatery for a few bites over drinks before enjoying a few more bevies at one of the local pubs.
On the next day, again due to plans for a lovely four course lunch at Voyager Estate we started our day with a light breakfast, then a nice drive out to Prevelly to see why Margaret River is famed for its surf. Since we are at a beachside town, it would be a shame not to spend some quality time by the sea. Picturesque is an understatement. We did take a moment to smell the salt air and enjoy some vitamin D before venturing to Yahava Koffee Works for a mid morning pick me up. Come on, Margaret River can’t be just all wine, food and surf, right?
This place was quirky and although I’m a non regular coffee drinker, I even enjoyed the tastings hosted by the knowledgeable staff. The coffee was most appreciated by the coffee connoisseurs amongst us. If you are a chocolate connoisseur, you would also love the gorgeous little chocolate shop at the front. On a hot day, they will package your chocolate purchases in a cooler bag with ice bricks! How cool is that!?
Now, to Voyager Estate for lunch. If you know this place, you will agree that it is another one of the most beautiful properties in the region. Their wines are organically farmed, 100% estate grown, and in our personal opinion, they have always served the most amazing food in their delightful dining room amongst their decadent Cape Dutch architectural property and gardens. Entering this property truly transforms you to another era; you would not leave this winery feeling less than inspired. Over the years, we have also enjoyed their vertical chardonnay tasting and their sumptuous five and seven course dining experiences. When you are in this region, you need to do yourself a favour and sample what they are truly good at. Tip: make sure you arrive with an empty stomach!
To finish our Margaret River experience, that evening we enjoyed a six course degustation dinner at Miki’s Open Kitchen. I have been told this place is Margaret River’s best restaurant. Another walk up the hill on the main drag, not as far a Morries, kind of hidden in an arcade, you will find an unassuming diner. Again, when you enter, you will be smacked in the face with the deliciousness of the open kitchen.
It is a small place, so I do encourage you to book. You have the option of sitting in front of the open kitchen, witness the talented food craftsmen’s work or at a table. The talent in their food craftsmanship is evident in every bite, in every morsel you are presented with.
This place was never going to be a disappointment; they will surpass expectation even for the most critical diner of Japanese cuisine. Yes, please, do try and taste for yourself….for six (plus) courses at $85, you would be hard pressed to find a more delightful tasting sensation to immerse your palate to. And I guarantee you will not walk away hungry.
That concludes our long weekend of Margaret River experience. Not without a quick pit stop to Pierro’s for the “Doctor’s” finest drops. Yes, you guessed it, a few bottles were purchased to close out our Margaret River wine experience. We drove home on the Sunday, however, if you have the time, I would strongly suggest staying another night to lounge by the pool of your accommodation and just chill, perhaps crack open one of your purchases in order to avoid the weekend traffic back to Perth. You’ve got to agree that’s a pretty gourmet escape from the city, right?