There’s no denying that the finer things in life are something we all aspire to enjoy. And with good reason: who doesn’t want to spend their days eating delicious food, sipping world class wines and waking up to spectacular views?
A long lingering lunch accompanied by a bottle of superb Margaret River wine is the perfect way to while away an afternoon in the Margaret River region and we have plenty of suggestions for you, served with a side of the great outdoors, degustations for days or VIP access to discover behind the scenes secrets of some of the world’s best wineries; it’s all possible in the paradise of South Western Australia.
It’s definitely time to stretch your legs and top up the caffeine supplies after the drive down to Margaret River. Take a stroll down the main drag and if you’ve got time you might even be able to squeeze in a browse of the town’s tempting boutiques. Pop into one of the many cafes that craft great coffee. Sidekick Café, Riversmith, Badger & Frankie, Drift Café…whichever you visit, you’ll be assured of a well-made coffee and a morning snack to kick off the day’s culinary journey with.
Situated amongst vines and gardens deep within the Xanadu Estate is the restaurant with a big open stone fireplace that screams long winter lunch. It’s a stunning setting. The menu is Modern Australian with Mediterranean slants, a tribute to head chef Melissa Kokoti’s Cypriot heritage and her travels through Europe. Dishes are inspired by the ingredients available from local producers, neighbouring farms, the sea as well as what is seasonally grown in their vegetable garden. Awarded one chefs hat in the 2018 Australian Good Food Guide, the restaurant was also listed in WA’s Top 50 Best Restaurants by the West Australian Good Food Guide in 2017 and 2018. The wines are award-winning and the restaurant wine list features current and museum vintages, as well as special release wines that cannot be found anywhere else.
Roll back into the car and it’s time to head up to Cape Lodge, your home for the next two nights. Caves Road is one of the most scenic drives in the region, and as you twist and turn northwards, take a short detour down Wallcliffe Road and stop by Surfers Point for a stroll to help digest lunch and gaze out at this iconic surf spot. 20 minutes in the driver’s seat and an arrival at Cape Lodge is one to remember. The 40 acre property is filled with rolling vineyards, manicured parkland and romantic secluded rooms with views to die for from the Cape-Dutch style buildings. You’ll feel like you have stepped in to a private country estate; yet with all the bells and whistles of a five star hotel. Luxury epitomised. Run a spa bath and relax before dinner at the fine dining restaurant. Headed by Chef Tony Howell, you’ll be in hands of one of Australia’s leading food ambassadors and an all-round culinary superstar. Dishes are expertly crafted with classic French technique and inspired by seasonal and local produce.
Wake up to birdsong and lakeside views from one of the most comfortable beds you’ll find in the region. Alas, don’t lie in for too long; there’s breakfast to be had. A stroll across the lawn, past the pool and down the rose lined path and you’ll have a hard time keeping your eyes on the food when the tranquil lakeside view is across the table.
Today, you’ll experience the paddock to plate philosophy that the Margaret River region prides itself on. There is nothing at all figurative about Arimia’s paddock to plate ethos: in a restaurant directed by Chef Evan Hayter and set completely off the grid, if they haven’t grown it, then you won’t eat it. “I asked Evan recently what his local ‘hero’ ingredient was,” re-tells Ann Spencer, owner of the Wilyabrup estate. “He went away and thought about it and came back with a beautiful spiel on rain water.” Such thoughtful, unique perspective is representative of Arimia’s approach across the board. Energy is solar. Pigs are used as weed control, allowing natives to regrow before being slaughtered for food. Trout and marron fill Arimia’s waterways and are harvested for the restaurant table. Viticulturist Dan Stocker takes the little that isn’t used of the animals killed on site to turn back into soil fertilisers used to feed the gardens and vines. The circle of life is in full evidence. For chef Evan, working with what he has feeds the creative fire. Take a braised pork leg ragout. Made from estate raised pigs braised in stock created from the pigs bones, its paired with cured pork belly and cheek hung for six weeks in-house before being rendered and combined through the braised pork. Handmade tagliatelle accompanies the pig, made from organic stone milled flour and eggs from the property. One dish. Multiple components. Sourced on site and transformed through time and commitment and artisan skill. This is dedication to the sustainable food cause at an acutely sensitive level.
If you’re feeling the need to work of all the indulgence, the afternoon is perfect for an E-Bike ride though the natural beauty of the bush. You’ll enjoy the ride without the hard work thanks to local providers such as Margaret River Mountain Bike Tours, Due South, and Dirty Detours.
If you are still hungry, you can check out one of the many night time dining options.
Today is all about the Tom Cullity Food and Wine Trail. A slow and winding exploration of this gum tree-lined route holds a starburst of interpersonal potential. A family-run winery around every bend, where long driveways through bushland are an opportunity to slow the car and the pulse in anticipation of conversation, a great chardonnay and a seeking glance for a resident kangaroo or a passing flock of the rare Baudin’s black cockatoo.
Be sure to stop for lunch at Vasse Felix’s restaurant. Gorgeous with its suspended fireplace, natural stone walls and wooden beams. The restaurant places great importance on sourcing the best local produce and the food is sensational. The menu changes daily and there’s the option of a five-course tasting menu that can be matched with Icon, Premier or Filius wines. Head chef Brendan Pratt makes everything is made from scratch and you’ll also spot the odd native Australian ingredient such as muntries and salt bush. The restaurant was awarded two chefs hats in the 2018 Australian Good Food Guide. It’s not just the restaurant winning awards, the wines are beautiful too so don’t skip a tasting at the cellar door. The elevated view from the upstairs restaurant over the vineyard will make it an unforgettable lunch. Downstairs you’ll find lounge area with a fireplace, an art gallery, cellar room and there’s tours available for exclusive access to the wine vault.
Head to your next restful abode, Forest Rise Eco Chalets and Lodge. This place is all about rest, revival and reconnection and it’s easy to do in their luxury chalets set amongst the magnificently unspoilt rural forest.
Be sure to put your comfy shoes on because you will be heading on Margaret River’s only walking food tour – Walk Talk Taste. Veteran journalist Kellie Tannock has created the tour to share with you over brunch the secrets, stories and sensational food of Margaret River.
You’ll be very full after the Walk Talk Taste Tour but this is a foodies itinerary and there is always room for more while on holiday right? While away the afternoon at Voyager Estate. Voyager is visually stunning. Outside, the white stucco Dutch inspired building stands proud on the beautifully manicured grounds with the prettiest rose garden in the region and the biggest Australian flag in the country (after the one at Parliament House in Canberra!). Voyager’s Spanish head chef Santiago (Santi) Fernandez delivers Voyager’s signature seven-course Discovery Menu, each course inspired by one of their wines. There’s also a four-course menu for those with less time. Their wines are sublime and the restaurant service absolutely first class. The restaurant setting is reminiscent of a French luxury Chateau with the rich drapes, chesterfield sofas, and ornate light fittings, you could almost forget you were at a winery. There’s also a high tea on weekends that starts at 10.30am.
Then, take in the incredible sights of the Boranup Forest and Surfers Point. Two of the region’s most famous landmarks, 60-metre tall trees and 6 foot waves are sights you can’t leave the place without having seen.
It’s time to check out, and head home.
Journey towards to Busselton Jetty precinct and have a wander; there is plenty to take in. The jetty itself stretches out over 1.8km and is the longest wooden piled jetty in the Southern Hemisphere. The beaches are filled with soft white sand for paddling, and there is an abundance of public artwork to gaze at. Check out the piece that looks like a long white pillar next to the jetty: it’s a visual representation of the soundscape under the jetty’s pylons. After a wander along the foreshore and through the heritage precinct, tummies will be rumbling, so grab a bite from one of the many restaurants on the main street or head back to The Goose Beach Bar and Restaurant for some waterfront dining before the drive home. It’s the perfect farewell to a week of decadence.