It was a seemingly chance remark that turned me into an Ocean House fan.
I’d just entered the wonderful retail therapy precinct at Hayshed Hill Wines for the very first time and my eyes were going everywhere at once. Our tour guide, who later turned out to be the owner of Wine for Dudes Tours, placed his hand briefly and reverently on one of the large soy candles and said ‘A friend of mine makes these.’
With one look, I took in the gorgeous branding and wondered who on earth had thought of that totally irresistible name; Ocean House. That candle was sold and in the tour bus, baby, along with – well, must I divulge the rest of my purchases?!
The experience got me thinking about all the lovely hand made and hand picked things that I’d been experiencing in Your Margaret River Region. And who, exactly, was responsible for creating this inspired range of candles?
I met the delightful candlemaker, Maria Firmin, at her abode. It is filled with photo boards of her and her partner pictured beachside… oceanside… seaside, both here and all over the globe. And, it overlooks the Indian Ocean, which Maria promptly and fully credits as her creative muse. “Ocean House is both our home and our philosophy. That ocean changes from dawn until dusk and is a continual source of inspiration,” she explains.
A beauty therapist by trade, Maria says aromas and scents obsessed her so four years ago she turned to candle making as a creative outlet. Her Ocean House Collection is sold throughout the Margaret River region at selected retail outlets including Hillzeez Down South Surf Shops and she is launching her newest scent, mango, soon. Inspiration abounds in Your Margaret River Region. I bid Maria bye-bye, put my creative radar into gear and pressed onwards in search of more artisans – and more reasons to shop.
Happs Pottery, Dunsborough
Slow down or you’ll miss out on a magical experience – handling the exquisitely glazed ceramics created by contemporary potter, Myles Happ. I’m sure he must be a happy person too, because there are smiles lurking behind the curved lines of his intriguing art deco-inspired signature piece, The Laughing Jug. Each perfectly handcrafted piece is an utter work of art. The dishwasher, oven and microwaveable pottery has different and distinctive non-toxic glazes: ‘Bunker Bay’ is the green one on the Laughing Jug, and ‘Desert Day’ is the striking red one. As the Happs say, these items make everyday life beautiful. I just want more!
Happs Pottery, where I first encountered Myles’ irresistible ceramics, is at 749 Caves Road (hence the warning above to slow down or miss out!). The Happs family talents also run to wine making and Happs Wines & Pottery Gallery is located on pretty Commonage Road.
John Streater Fine Furniture, Yallingup Siding
Like the Happs’ creative output, John Streater’s furniture can be found around the state, throughout Australia and even overseas. I found John and his wife Pam at their workshop and gallery in Blythe Road, Yallingup, where he’s been since building it in 1988. As well as his exquisitely tactile timber pieces, there is fine art, jewellery, clothing and….well, plenty of scope for those in retail therapy mode! But it’s the beautiful, bespoke furniture that I’m drawn back to. The gallery’s 5-star review status on TripAdvisor indicates I’m not alone. John’s dubbed a timber artiste; a master craftsman. I couldn’t have added any more apt descriptors myself. The Streaters have added to John’s output in their attractive gallery by introducing quality jewellery and exquisite pieces by the likes of famous glass blower Alan Fox and fine artworks from painters such as Julia Carter and Tracey Keller. Oh, and whatever you fancy/wherever you live, John and Pam will ship to you!
Mukau Giftware and Gallery, Cowaramup
If you’re stuck for a present for anyone at all, then drop in. The husband, the kids, the neighbours – the in-laws! – it’s all here. Whatever the challenge, there’s an answer sitting on the floor or shelves, hanging on the walls or even dangling from the ceiling of this creative space. Owners Wendy and Kerry (who paints the wickedly wonderful cow portraits displayed upstairs under an alias!) share a New Zealand heritage which birthed the quirky name, MuKau, that also alludes to the cow-themed town they fell in love with back in 2011.
- JahRoc Galleries, Margaret River
- Busselton Pottery Group, Busselton
- The Pop-Up Collaborative, Cowaramup
- A Taste of Nannup, Nannup
- The Blue Budha, Busselton (this is jewellery gemstones and crystals)
- The River Trader, Margaret River
- Avenue 77, Augusta
- Nina’s Jewellery, Dunsborough
- Payet Gallery, Margaret River
- The Studio Gallery, Yallingup
- Margaret River Gallery, Margaret River
- Sugarman, Margaret River
- Margaret River Picture Framing & Print Gallery, Margaret River
- Phil Hollett Photo Gallery, Busselton
- Jenny Taylor Designs – Abbey Beach Resort, Busselton
- Amusing Puzzles & Games – Yallingup Maze, Yallingup
Anniebrook Wine & Flower Emporium, Carbunup
There’s no better name to describe this utterly unique attraction than emporium. I believe I was unaware of the term ‘permanent botanicals’ before visting Anniebrook. Now, I know that means the high quality artificial flowers I’ve used for ages! Anniebook has superb silk flower bouquets for weddings, as well as natives, tropicals, trees and greenery. There’s also a Christmas department filled with fabulous Yuletide accessories for trees, tables, and anything decorative you could possibly need for the festive season. Even the Anniebrook range of hand-crafted Margaret River wines is presented with pretty flower labels. To complete the sensory overload, this emporium offers an array of giftware from scarves to essential oils, novelties and even garden ornaments. I highly recommend completing the experience with a cuppa in the sweet garden café.
Margaret River Silk Road, Metricup
Australian’s first commercial silk farm, like so many other creative enterprises, is located in Your Margaret River Region. What I love is that you get two of my all time favourite products from the one enterprise: mulberries and silk! You can try and buy mulberry jams, chutneys, syrup, wine, liqueur and teas (have the scones with mulberry jam in the pretty courtyard café!) Guests can take a formal or a self guided tour of the silk production process, which is well documented in picture storyboards. And then, of course, there’s the silk. From tiny pretty silk finger rings to duvet covers and dresses, this is place to indulge your fine thread fantasy! The kiddies are well catered for here too – I was pleased to note the wee table with chairs and colouring-in paraphernalia that is obviously much used.
Vasse Virgin, Wilyabrup
To arrive here, you drive along the country lane I think is the prettiest in the district: Puzey Road. The overarching trees touch each other and the farmlets on either side are like postcards. However, it’s what’s inside at Vasse Virgin that’s really worth writing home about. Twenty years ago, owners Louis and Edwina couldn’t find a chemical free soap so they created their own using extra virgin olive oil as the base. Their sensitive skin soap was a smashing success, which led to a skin care range that took off nationally, then internationally. Inspired, they looked at the humble, healing olives again – and added a gourmet food range. You can sample this and the skin care range at their beautifully appointed retail outlets at Puzey Road and Rosa Brook Road and, once you’re hooked like me, you can buy online through their website. Vasse Virgin also offers classes and workshops, including the Olive Oil Masterclass. Oh, and they have a range of accessories you can’t even begin to imagine you want and need – like the cloth covered clothes pegs that whispered ‘buy me because I’m cute!’ to me as I reluctantly left.
- Olio Bello Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Cowaramup
- The Good Olive, Margaret River
- Eagle Bay Olives, Eagle Bay
- Margaret River Venison, Margaret River
- Margaret Riviera Gourmet Delights, Cowaramup
- Margaret River Fudge Factory, Margaret River
- Margaret River Nougat Company, Cowaramup
- Margaret River Providore, Wilyabrup
- Pukara Estate, Wilyabrup
- Coward & Black/Providore, Wilyabrup
- Margaret River Regional Producers Association, Margaret River
Hillzeez Down South Surf Shop
We are talking cult surf retail territory here! Surfing culture and Your Margaret River Region go together like boards and wax. Surfers make wine. Winemakers surf. And they need stuff to do it. Enter Hillzeez, which is the emporium beloved of surfers and skaters. They sell surfboards, wetsuits, bodyboards, skateboards, and all the stuff to wear while you are doing – or watching – these activities. All the current and classic favourite brand names are represented at the four Hillzeez outlets at Bunbury, Albany, Busselton and Margaret River. Venture inside – I guarantee you’ll feel like a teenager again in an instant, and that there will be something you simply can’t resist buying!
Fig Tree Lane, Busselton
My family say if shopping was an Olympic sport, I’d be a medalist. Retail therapy experts in South West Australia know this lovely arcade in Busselton well and I discovered it in no time at all. From end to end (yes, there is a lovely spreading Fig Tree at the entrance which it is named for), this lane is chock full of 25 boutique and specialty shops, cafes and beauty services. Locals call it iconic, and visitors call in for the quality and variety it offers: books, giftware, kitchenware, toys, hair, fine jewellery, beauty, fashion and delicious food outlets. Sit in the café under the fig tree and get Your Margaret River Region vibes on!
Stock up on all measure of provisions at this central retail precinct in Dunsborough. It’s easy to find (on the main street) and has heaps of parking for cars and caravans. There’s a Coles supermarket, Liquorland and 18 specialty stores catering from computers to homewares. Grab a bite to go from Subway, settle in for a snack at the Dome Café or Chapter 6 Café Restaurant, get your Lotto ticket or even stock up on treats for your dog at Chinos Pet Store!
Although we’ve never met before, owner Dave recognises the kindred second-hand hunter in me when we shake hands. Oh, it feels good to be browsing here, I think as I very carefully negotiate through the maze of laden lanes inside and outside this store. Antique, Vintage, Classic, Retro, Funky …he could have called it anything as all these are represented, but Dave chose Preloved. I love that. And his stated philosophy of reusing and recycling helps our environment so much too, that you can just, well…shop more!
Margaret River Tours
A full day tour taking in Margaret River’s premium wineries is probably not what you think of as retail therapy, but as I discovered: if you are pressed for time, this tour is like going on a shopping tour but better as you get to taste amazing wines and eat terrific food! What was impressive was the dazzling array of locally made produce, the high quality merchandise and the thoughtfully chosen retail gifts at the major brands we visited on this tour which included Voyager Estate where we enjoyed a delightful lunch, Leeuwin Estate, Watershed, Vasse Felix and Cape Mentelle. We were also spoiled for choice at McHenry Hohnen with their range of delicious small goods, and at the Margaret River Chocolate Co. and the Margaret River Dairy Co and best of all Margaret River Tours has an eski on board you can put perishable purchases into!
A final word: some of the best and finest retail items made in Your Margaret River Region are to be bought at the visitor centres at Dunsborough, Busselton, Augusta and Margaret River. Their policy is to chose quality, locally produced gifts and souvenirs and their secret is this: they know what you really really want because they make it their business to stock accordingly. So venture in and you won’t be disappointed in the retail range at the visitor centres – like these beautiful bears from the Balingup Lavender Farm for example!