What I thought I knew about Margaret River was completely turned upside-down once I got here!
Yes, there are vast and amazing vineyards and wineries producing fantastic, though smaller-batch-than-Barossa products, but the region itself is vast, and also showcases unbelievably beautiful beaches, world-class surf points and a culinary scene that is not to be overlooked.
Prior to arriving in the Margaret River region, we stopped in Augusta/Hamelin Bay to visit the stingrays, and enjoy the beach on our way into wine country.
Hamelin Bay is a long, protected beachfront which houses different species of stingrays in it’s warm(ish) waters. We saw a few, and truly some of these guys can get big! I was not one of the crazy tourists walking over to pet them, but they were seemingly tame enough to do so. Enter at your own risk, but respect the wildlife, may Steve Irwin be a lesson to us all.
From here we cruised the incredibly lush route via Caves Road to our stationed point in Yallingup for a few days. Parts of the drive were seriously like moving through an enchanted forest, so the views were just breathtaking.
Yallingup is North of wine country, but boasted it’s own set of wonderful surf, beaches and a lovely pace to relax into for a few days. Nothing was more than a short drive away, including Dunsborough where I followed the directive of a chef-friend who recommended I try Yarri for lunch. Grilled Octopus and a tomato salad for me – just yum. If I wasn’t such a budget traveller who also still needed to squeeze into a swim-suit (only half-kidding, haha) I would love to dine out at more of these places because the menus are fantastic, simple, fresh and locally sourced. Can’t beat it.
The breweries and wineries here are clearly not to be over-looked as well, so here is a list of my favourites along the way:
Cheeky Monkey Brewery + Cidery | ‘fun, fresh, local’ is their slogan, and they definitely hold true. I tried the session ale – super light/easy-drinking – and happily enjoyed on their sunny patio adjacent (of course) to rows and rows of vines of the vineyards nearby.
Cullen Winery | using classic methods to create new and interesting products, Cullen is a staple in this area. I really enjoyed their MOSH sauvignon blanc which is done in a chard-style using oak (off the cuff, but it works!). The final product blends into a super unique flavour profile, so I bought a bottle of this one to enjoy at a later date.
Windance Winery | family-owned, small-batch and wanting to keep it that way, Windance was a true gem. They’ve actually had to cap their subscription list vs. expanding their production because their passion and love for what they do trumps all. This, I respect, and it’s obvious when you taste them why they’re so sought after.
Amelia Park | go for the rosé, stay for the Cab-Merlot. I bought a bottle of each, at least one is already gone…maybe both! #lush
Wine for Dudes | in order to make sure we didn’t need a DD, we opted into a guided tour with Wine for Dudes who took us to many amazing places, including some of the above, with a great group of people and fantastic wine + wood-fired pizza lunch.
That being said, it was actually at Amelia Park Cellar Door where I discovered one of my favourite stops in the region: Canal Rocks. There was a stunning photo hanging on the wall so I went over to see where it was from, googled the proximity to us, and it was seriously no more than 15 minutes away. So we hopped in the car and drove out to yet another amazing sight to see. I’d had a few tastings at this point so climbing over boulders to get the best view was perhaps a bit precarious at times, but, those are the risks that get the reward, haha. It was beautiful:
The beaches continued to impress with the likes of Eagle Bay, Meelup Beach and Bunker Bay, while Surfers Point in Prevelley showed what a true surfer’s paradise should be. We stayed and watched some of Australia’s best ride these wonderful waves with such impressive ease it makes you think you can too (I can’t).
And from there – off we went for a quick stop-over with friends in Bussleton (backyard BBQs and beach walks were the main attraction here), and now, the final destination (for this leg of the journey anyhow), Perth.
Currently stationed in Swan Valley (clearly I can’t get enough of wine country), I’ll be settling down for a few months to be able to fund the next leg of the adventure.
I like Australia, but I’m excited for what is still to come – think New Zealand, Japan, Nepal, South America…I’ll stay in the moment for now, so a city-goat I’ll be for the next little while, but also accepting all recommendations for the above.
In the meantime, tips for Perth, anyone?