In the words of the Greek philosopher Heraclitus: ‘the only thing that is constant is change’.
Whilst it’s never pleasant to say goodbye to a beloved local haunt, the flipside is that there are always plenty of new openings and opportunities to find a new favourite.
The Margaret River Region is a buzz with new openings over the past few months, from new restaurants and bars, through to shops, cellar doors, breweries and holiday houses. The first stage of the region’s cultural centre has just been opened and there is even an eye-opening (and lip-smacking) new tour operator in town.
There is nothing like visiting somewhere new and getting to know the locals, so don’t be shy. Shop, eat, and drink local, have a chat to the smiling face behind the counter and you never know what adventure you will end up having on holiday!
Wild Hop Brewing Co
The newest kid on the brewery block, Wild Hop Brewing Co is a family run brewery that has already proved to be a hit with visitors to their Wildwood Road property in Yallingup. With a beautiful sunny deck alongside a playground for the kids, a restaurant pumping out fresh and filling bites and (of course) some cracking brews, it is little wonder that locals are making a day trip to visit.
As each keg runs dry, it is replaced with another craft creation. Each beer is a one-off, thanks to the wizardry of brewers Matt Scott-Malcom and Andrew Caldwell. With two and a half generations at the helm of the brewery, there has been plenty of heart and hard work behind the opening of the doors since the family first called the region home in 2012.
The vibe is laid back and cruisy, the sort of place where you could pop in for a cheeky mid-week burger and pint, or bring the whole gang for a table of shared dishes to kick the weekend off on a Friday afternoon. The kitchen has been built around a wood burning rotisserie, so think along the lines of wood fired BBQ chicken and steaks alongside Wood fire baked ricotta gnocchi, Charred broccoli and pine nuts and Coal charred lettuce with pistachio, capers, mayo and white anchovy. It’s a winner.
Walk Talk Taste Margaret River
Take a different kind of journey with the most recent addition to the regions guided tour options. Whilst there are plenty of chances to jump in a tour bus and explore the region’s famed wineries, with Walk Talk Taste Margaret River you can now get up close and personal with the local legends that make the town one of Australia’s top destinations for foodies.
Start at the river and the Old Settlement for history lesson before making your way on foot up to the heart of town. Local guide and passionate foodie, Kellie Tannock is your host for the half day tour, she is a fountain of knowledge and alongside delicious morsels, you’ll come away with all sorts of interesting Margaret River facts to digest. This is the only walking tour in town, and with a maximum of 10 guests per tour there is plenty of time to ask questions and experience things like a true local.
Make sure not to fill up on a brekky buffet, as there are at least six venues to stop at for samples of coffee, local produce, wine and even a tasting of Margaret River marron. Get insider knowledge from Kellie as she takes you behind the scenes and into the kitchen to learn chef secrets, baristas’ top tips and how to taste wine like a pro. The best bit? With all that walking there is no need to worry about counting the calories.
5 Rooms Retreat From Beachhouse Holidays
The new offering from Beachhouse Holidays sprung from a desire to do good. Designed for those who share such altruism, the tucked away, eco-friendly 5 Rooms Retreat is donating 100% of their profits direct to breast cancer research. You heard right – all those dollars you put towards enjoying a restful, bush-bound stay will go on to benefit others.
Think eco-friendly sounds ideal, but you don’t want to miss out on all the mod cons? This is a case study in how to do things right. Almost fully off-grid, the house runs primarily on solar power, uses rain water and is fitted out with cork flooring. With 5 ensuite bedrooms, there is plenty of space for a family getaway, yoga weekend or the ultimate corporate retreat. It’s a mere 10 minutes from the beaches and walking paths of Gracetown and Prevelly, the towns of Margaret River and Cowaramup, and completely surrounded by natural bushland and local wineries. What’s not to love?
Arc of Iris
Arc of Iris may not be entirely new – in fact, it’s been around for over 30 years. But recently this local favourite has undergone a facelift and an expansion so there are plenty of new reasons to pop in and treat the tastebuds.
Previously a cozy spot for a wholesome meal, the venue has now doubled in size so you can take your pick from a vino at the bar, a bistro style feed or a full restaurant experience. With a rustic teal and dark brown colour palette, its quirky style strikes a balance between rustic elegance and colourful kitsch . The bar’s luxe finish is complete with velvet lounge chairs to sink into, and an extensive cocktail list. Not sure what to order? Ask barman Max, he’s master of the drinks menu.
The food offering is not one to shy away from either with plenty to choose from, whether you fancy a few small bites or a full, three course dinner. The owners are proud supporters of local producers, and aim to source as much of the menu from as nearby as possible. The all-day offering includes small plates such as Roasted bone marrow and Fried polenta with sage butter. Larger plates range from Garlic prawns through to Pork baby back ribs and Smoked monster beef rib – you might have noticed they have a smoker in the kitchen. The fine dining options come out for night time dining with Scallops, Beef carpaccio and their famous Twice cooked duck all gracing the menu before you hit the Sticky date pudding for dessert.
Victory Point Cellar Door
2018 saw Victory Point celebrate its 20th anniversary, and to celebrate, the family run estate have recently opened their first ever cellar door. Tucked down a gravel road, just south of Cowaramup, it’s a hidden jewel of a spot, awaiting wine lovers at the end of the winding path. In fact, it’s so good, that a hot minute after opening Gourmet Traveller awarded them Best Small Cellar Door in Margaret River for 2019.
Wine aficionados are sure to be familiar with Victory Point’s wines; they have been receiving outstanding reviews for years from those in the know such as James Halliday’s Wine Companion. However, for many it has been proving to be a pleasant surprise to explore the portfolio of wines, in situ, on the estate. Guided through a tasting from owner, Judith, there isn’t one weak link in the collection. From an elegant rose, through to a refined Chardonnay, the reds also shine, with each given several years of development in bottle prior to release.
Sit back, savour the view of the rolling vineyards and delight in the knowledge that you have found a favourite new cellar door to frequent on the other side of Bussell Highway.
Old General Store Collective
So fresh you can almost smell the paint on the walls, the Old General Store Collective is a fabulous space on the main street of Cowaramup. Filled to the brim with local artisans and small businesses, be sure to put aside plenty of time to browse the eclectic collection of wares under the one roof.
Taking over the spot that was Sahara Daze, when the previous owner announced her move to Fremantle the local collective quickly formed from passionate and talented local artists and business people. Open 7 days from 9 – 5pm, step inside and you will find all manner of wonderful locally made goodies to take home. Wild Earth Mumma offers a range of natural and eco-friendly products to detox your home with. Take a break from cleaning and fill up the cuppa with a brew from the Seven Seas Tea and Spice Shop. Their Chai blend is bound to whisk you off on an oriental day dream. In keeping with the eco theme, you can bring in your own containers to keep landfill to a minimum.
Fashionistas will love StyleLaundry, specialising in casual yet luxe additions to your wardrobe. Add some jewellery to the mix with Something Silver: a mixture of globally sourced silver and handmade local pieces. Prefer something for the house? Wine Barrel Art speaks for itself- a range of cheeseboards and homewares crafted from used wine barrels. Keeping with the wood theme, Woody’s Hot Poker Art is art burnt into wood – otherwise known as pyrography. Cushion Collective will lighten up things with their soft furnishings and linen cushion covers, while Zayo Art is the unique artwork of local artist Zayo Hassan.
Margaret River HEART (Stage 1)
Margaret River’s cultural centre has been tucked away under scaffolding for the better part of a year and the first stage of the development was launched with a bang on the 22nd March.
With entry from the Gloucester Park parking lot, it gives an inkling to what lies in store for the rest of the development. In its previous incarnation (up until 2018), the 31 year old Margaret River Cultural Centre was home to the region’s major performance space. The new HEART (Hub of Entertainment, Arts and Regional Tourism), will provide state of the art performance and event facilities for the most visited region in the state outside of Perth.
With the opening of Stage 1, the much-anticipated Margaret River cinema program is back in action. With the closest cinema previously a 45 minute drive to Busselton, it was a long wait, but the comfy new seats and bright cinema screen are well worth it!