Margaret River Escape – A Truly Diverse Food and Drink Experience in Western Australia
Margaret River has evolved from a chilled out surfer’s town into the hub of a world renowned wine region. Stretching from from Busselton to Augusta, it produces 3% of Australia’s total wine, which clearly shows how good the wine here really is. There are also restaurants, chocolate factory, and some of the most extraordinary attractions like caves and lighthouse
We had a delicious breakfast at Goanna Gallery Cafe, a bush cafe in Dunsborough. Duncan and Tim met while working in London in a Michelin star winning restaurant. Despite their experience, Tim and Duncan really love to create simple, honest food made from the best local ingredients they can find.
Goanna is quirky, unpretentious and relaxed. Their menu changes seasonally and showcases fantastic Yallingup and Margaret River produce. They are closed every Mondays & Tuesdays, but on our day of visit (which was a Monday), they specially open just for us. Thank you very much guys!
We had a range of hearty breakfast like Eggs Benny, Pancakes and interestingly Indonesian spied coconut rice with a fried egg and avocado. They use only Yallingup Woodfired bread and Margaret River free range eggs. You can try them when you order their Eggs Benny, with poached free range eggs, wood fired toast and the flowing golden yolk. Their pesto coriander is excellent!
The cafe also has a gallery and gift shop, with a renewed focus on quality local and Australian design and monthly art exhibitions on the café walls. I simply love the rustic feel here.
Goanna Gallery Cafe
Address: 278 Hayes Road, Dunsborough WA 6281
Contact: 08 9759 1477
After a heavy brunch, it’s time for a walk at The Canal Rocks. They are an ancient and unusual rock formation, extending from a peninsula south of Smiths Beach on the coastline between the towns of Yallingup and Margaret River.
In wild and stormy weather, massive waves smash against the rocks and churn through the canals. It’s a spectacular sight to see! You can even walk across a wooden bridge over the turbulent white water to an island of more orange granite on the other side of the first canal. The area is popular for fishing with salmon catches a big attraction around Easter time. There are also some great bush walks in the area.
Vasse Virgin is nestled in the heart of the Margaret River Region. The creation of Vasse Virgin emerged when Louis and Edwina Scherini’s three children, who suffered from eczema and dermatitis, were advised by Doctors not to use commercial body products. The Scherini’s were inspired to create a chemical free alternative, incorporating extra virgin olive oil and essential oils, excellent for those with allergies or sensitive skin. The complete range of skin, body and hair care products caters for customers of all skin types, or those simply looking for a natural alternative.
Here, you’ll find our Soap Factory – a converted machinery shed emitting the most wonderful aroma. A visit to the Factory allows you to witness the soap makers at work, as they hand blend a variety of luxurious natural body products using the finest extra virgin olive oil. Not only can you buy soap, you can also get preservative-free gourmet food. Must try their infamous Macadamia Pesto along with the scrumptious array of gourmet condiments ranging from hand-made tapenades, mustards, jams, pasta sauces, fruit vinaigrettes and balsamic vinegars, all made by their local Italian chef.
Address: 135 Puzey Road, Wilyabrup WA 6280, Australia
Contact: 08 9755 6111
Opening hours: 10am – 5pm daily (closed Christmas and Boxing Day)
Gabriel chocolate is one of the new players on the block, but these guys make some seriously good chocolate. The retail area is very neat, and you get a clear view of the different chocolate offerings available. There are free tasting available, so go on and try before buying your favourites home!
Gabriel have a heap of plain chocolate products ranging from white to 85% dark – each coloured coded to match the country where the cacao bean used is sourced from. The factory also has a good range of chocolate ice creams, cakes and treats available at the on site cafe. We were led into a room to understand their chocoalate making process. We happened to see a lady cutting up the dark chocolate rocky road, so each of us had some to try and… I fell in love with it immediately. Deliciously gooey marshmallow swirled through rich chocolate with salted nuts. I am keeping it for myself, ok that’s all. :p
Address: Lot 14, 3220 Caves Rd, Yallingup 6282, Australia
Contact: 089756 6689
Windows Estate is a boutique wine producer located on the border of Yallingup and Wilyabrup regions of the Margaret River. Establised in 1996, it is a small, family-owned winery who makes beautiful wines. They like to have complete control over the production of wines, and the only way to do that is to do it all by themselves, from grape through to bottle. The hero for them is always the fruit. They have 9 varieties planted in their little vineyard, feed with different dirt at each block to achieve the desired flavours.
They utilise traditional winemaking methods with a focus on balance and minimal intervention. One of the most popular items is their little basket press – a device used to extract juice from crushed grapes during wine making. Five of their wines were awarded 95 points or higher in the latest Wine Companion by James Halliday. Their top scoring wine was our Limited Release Chardonnay which scored 97/100.
Address: 4 Quininup Road, Corner of Caves Road, Yallingup WA 628
Opening hours: 10am – 5pm daily
Contact: 08 9756 6655
After half a day of eating and shopping, we took an helicopter ride to head to Aravina Estate. Thanks to Wild Blue Helicopters, we are able to take a scenic tour around South West. Brett, the owner of Wild Blue, is friendly, fun and knowledgeable pilot. We get to see the highlights of the area and get a birds eye view of the local marine life, heritage and landscape. They conduct a series of scenic tours, winery and brewery lunch packages, wedding, VIP charters etc 7 days a week.
Wild Blue Helicopters
Address: 8655 Bussell HWY, Cowaramup Western Australia
Contact: 1300 73 55 63
If you ask me which is the my favourite estate in Margaret River, it has definitely got to be Aravina Estate. Rstablished in 2010 by Perth businessman Steve Tobin is located on Thornton Road, Yallingup, it is up in the northern corner of the premium wine-growing region of Margaret River in Western Australia – close to the town of Dunsborough and the famed surf at Yallingup. The property was established in 1986 under the original name – Amberley Estate.
Aravina Estate consists of 180 acres (73 hectares) of which 64 acres (26 hectares) are under vine with plantings of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Shiraz, Tempranillo, Malbec, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Chenin Blanc and Chardonnay.
Such a huge place, they have cellar door, restaurant, children’s playground, homewares, food store and even sports car gallery! Yes, you heard me right. The owner loves collecting sports car, the gallery has is a mix of classic and muscle cars from Europe and Australia, such as 1965 Aston Martin DB5, 1969 Lamborghini Miura S “Twiggy’s Miura”, and 1970 Citroen DS.
With an emphasis on sourcing local organically sustainable produce, Aravina’s team of chefs (led by Executive Chef, Tony Howell) aspire to create a range of healthy and wholesome, memorable dishes which are reflective of the changing seasons.
Tony has appeared on numerous television cooking shows, was featured in the 2011 series of MasterChef, Australia and has been invited by Tourism Australia to become a part of the ‘Friends of Australia’ program, promoting Australia as a vibrant culinary destination inspiring gourmet travellers to our shores.
We started our late lunch with tuna and dhu fish sushi with Japanese omelette and ginger jelly. West Australian dhufish is prized for sashimi. They have delicate and moist flesh, so it is better to pair it with light citrus flavours. Another dish that uses this fish species is the dhufish tortellini on corn puree with Fremantle garfish, rainbow chard and burnt truffle butter.
The South Australian Short Beef Rib is cooked perfectly – tender without losing its shape and marbled with fat that gives it great flavour. And I had a plate of raspberry and coconut cake with raspberry sorbet and coconut sorbet to end the meal.
With his approach to food one of absolute freshness and uncompromisingly flavoursome ingredients, Tony has created an organic vegetable market garden and orchard with chickens and ducks roaming throughout. As much as he can, he tries to use much of the produce that is grown in the onsite kitchen garden.
If the weather is not too hot, sit at the covered terrace which gives you an opportunity to enjoy the picturesque setting of expansive vineyards across rolling hills, natural bushland and manicured gardens. This is by far the best dining experience I had in Margaret River.
Address: 61 Thornton Rd, Yallingup WA 6282, Australia
Contact: 08 9750 1111
Opening hours: 10am to 5pm daily
Eagle Bay Brewing Co is owned by third generation local farming siblings Nick, Astrid and Adrian s’Espeissis. Their beer is handcrafted, brewed and bottled on site in Eagle Bay by co-owner Nick, who has more than 10 years of brewing experience. Their beers are made with fresh rainwater, malted barley, hopes and yeast only. No preservatives were added.
We had a beer tasting where we tried Kolsoh, Summer Ale, Vienna Lager, Mild Ale, Pale Ale and Extra Special Bitter. I love Pale Ale the best, it’s aromatic and lively. For something lighter, the Summer Ale is also worth trying. It is a limited release, and only brewed once a year to pay tribute to the long hot summer days. It’s clean and crisp, with refreshing bitterness on the finish – best served in the sunshine with great friends, good times and delicious food!
Eagle Bay Brewing Co
Address: 236 Eagle Bay Road, Naturaliste WA 6281, Australia
Contact: +61 8 9755 3554
Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse stands on a 100 metre bluff overlooking Geographe Bay. It was built over a 10-month period during 1903. Before the lighthouse was built, most mariners depended on “The Tub” as a landmark. It is a barrel on top of a 30 foot pole erected in Busselton to mark the landing place for passengers.
Three keepers and their families originally lived at the Cape and the lightkeepers’ quarters are still standing. They have to take turns to do night watches and during each watch, the keeper had to wind the clockwork and carry whale oil or pump kerosene to the burner. Life was hard and the lightkeepers had to remained at their isolated stations for many years. Thankfully, it was converted to automatic operation in July.
When I climb to the top balcony of the lighthouse, I was awarded with a breathtaking panoramic views of the Indian Ocean, Cape Naturaliste, Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park and the beautiful Geographe Bay coastline. It’s easier to climb as compared to most lighthouses, that’s why it’s is one of the most popular attractions in the Geographe Bay and Margaret River Wine region.
Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse
Address: Dunsborough WA 6281, Australia
Contact: +61 8 9755 3955
Opening hours: 9.00am-4.30pm daily
After all the eating and drinking, it’s time for some exericse as we visit Ngilgi Cave, which is just off Caves Road, a short distance north of Yallingup. The fascinating association with a rich Aboriginal legend describing the battle between a good spirit (Ngilgi) and an evil spirit (Wolgine) gives Ngilgi Cave its name.
Discovered in 1899, Ngilgi Cave (formerly known as Yallingup Cave) is one of Geographe Bay’s most renowned tourist attractions. Here, you can see stunning stalactite, stalagmite, helicitite and shawl formations. You can choose to explore at your own pace on the popular Semi-Guided Show Cave Tour or choose your own Ngilgi adventure!
Address: 76 Ngilgi Cave Yallingup Caves Road, Yallingup, Western Australia, 6282,
Opening hours: 9am to 5pm (Tours depart every 30 minutes)
I am really thankful to be travelling on this cool looking coach by ADAMS Pinnacle Tours. Our driver Diane is very knowledge and expert driver, plus the vehicle comes with WIFI, and that’s why we can update our itinerary on the go during this trip. Thank you ADAMS Tours! Visit their website: http://www.australianpinnacletours.com.au