Summer is coming, and that means sunset picnics at Yallingup, camping trips with friends, and lazy dinners on the deck.

When the weather warms up, we often find ourselves swimming, snorkelling or stand up paddle boarding in those twilight hours, that in winter would have been spent cooking. Dinner is lighter, fresher and an altogether simpler affair, compared to the winter roasts and slow-cooked suppers.

When we go camping we eat like kings – fresh seafood on the barbie, creamy camembert cooked in the coals and an extravagant chardonnay to wash it all down. There’s no better way to get that summer holiday feeling than dining al fresco with a delicious platter of cheese, olives and a loaf of fresh bread.

Enthusiastic foodie Lucy Neal from Margaret River Dairy Co shares her tips for packing a truly delicious picnic esky – perfect for sunset drinks or a camping adventure.

Picnic and wine at sunset at Three Bears. Credit Tim Campbell.

Tips for packing the perfect picnic or summer esky

  1. Keep an ‘emergency picnic pack’ on standby, for quick deployment in those spontaneous picnic situations. Keep wine glasses, a cheese board and knife, tea towel, tablecloth and wet wipes in a box in your car boot or garage, and foldup chairs and table nearby. Just add wine, cheese and crackers and head to the beach.
  2. Curate delicious things from your travels. The Margaret River Region is packed with amazing artisan food and wine producers – and you’ve probably picked up some tasty treats in your travels. Bring it all together for dinner – local ham and salami, cheese, bread, fruit and chocolate – and that bottle of awesome chardonnay.
  3. Be generous with the food. As Nigella says, “never knowingly under cater”. Nothing worse than going home hungry, so be sure to pack a diverse range of food to graze on, plus something sweet for dessert. When camping, we love to take a Le Creuset pot of slow-cooked beef cheeks or a tasty curry.
  4. Location, location, location. In the south west, we love Yallingup main break, Surfers Point and Prevelly for sunset drinks. Meelup and Castle Rock are lovely bayside locales too. Check out our list of camping spots
  5. Crank up the BBQ. Some of these picturesque seaside spots have free BBQs, too. So why not throw a shrimp on the barbie – or melt a Camembert – for the ultimate indulgence.
  6. Be the friend that brings people together. You know that friend, the organised one who always initiates catch ups? Simply text a few pals with a time and place, and take it from there. Create those memorable moments!
Margaret River Cheese Platter Picnic

The ultimate summer cheese board or camping esky

Lucy loves food – she beams as she talks about what constitutes an excellent camembert, and all the amazing food on offer at the Margaret River Farmers Market. Her ‘ultimate picnic esky’ reads like a who’s who of local artisan food producers.

  • Soft cheese – Brie or Camembert from Margaret River Dairy Co
  • Cheddar or a Farmhouse cheese – a semi-soft, flavoured cheese that melts beautifully
  • Prosciutto, ham or salami from The Farm House Margaret River
  • Fresh figs in summer
  • Honeycomb to place atop the camembert
  • Olives – we love Olio Bello’s olives and EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)
  • Plain crackers – let the flavour of the cheese sing
  • Freshly baked bread from Margaret River Woodfired Bread (it comes out of the oven at 3pm!)
  • Grapes or raspberries – you’ll find locally grown at the Farmers Market in summer
  • Onion Jam or Battlers Relish – available exclusively at Margaret River Dairy Co
  • Sundried tomatoes
  • Vegetable chips – especially sweet potato or parsnip
  • Dark chocolate from Margaret River Chocolate Company (their truffles are heavenly)

For a one stop shop of all everything you need for a perfect picnic, Just In Time Gourmet Margaret River is the ultimate destination. Not sure what pair with a sharp cheddar, local chorizo, or a bottle of cab sauv? The foodie team will be more than happy to guide you through the perfect pairings, and provide tasters to make sure the suggestions suit your tastes.

Or in Cowaramup The Gourmet Food Merchant has a beautiful array of picnic fare and gifts. They can even prepare a picnic box or grazing board for you in advance, so all you need to do is head to your favourite spot and relax.

Conveniently next door to the Margaret River Chocolate Factory is Providore, who create tasty treats from their olive groves, organic vegetable gardens and stock gourmet foods from around the region. As a bonus they also do tastings, including their award-winning Coward & Black wines.

In Busselton the Orgins Market is a roving feast, packed full of local growers and producers that will elevate your picnic game.

Want to take your love of cheese to a new level (and impress your friends with your skills)? Book in for a cheese making workshop with Jardin Estate, where you will learn the art of making delicious cheese before enjoying a two course lunch.

Storing and serving your cheese

Lucy says it’s important to bring your cheese to room temperature to really enjoy the flavours. Bring it out of the esky an hour before you’re ready to serve, but leave it wrapped till you’re ready to eat.

Start with a beautiful wooden board. Place the cheeses first, add meats, crackers, relish pots and olives, placing the crackers last. Try topping the camembert with honeycomb, fresh figs or raspberries – it looks (and tastes) sensational.

Margaret River Cheese Platter

Margaret River Dairy Company

You’ll find Margaret River Dairy Company on Bussell Highway just north of Cowaramup. Pop in, taste countless cheeses and yoghurts, treat yourself to an ice-cream or pick-me-up coffee and fill a cooler bag with cheese for your sunset picnic.

It’s a truly local product; they use 100% local milk from the Margaret River Region.

The Brie and Camembert is hand crafted right here in Margaret River in a classic French style. The milk is pasteurised, culture is stirred in and hand poured into moulds. They’re brined and matured over 10 days to build the white mould bloom. Each cheese is lovingly hand wrapped, ready for sale.

Strawberry Balsamic Baked Brie

This decadent recipe can easily be adjusted to the BBQ or camp fire. Look out for the lidded ceramic dishes for sale at the Margaret River retail space – specially made for this recipe.

  • 200g wheel of Margaret River Dairy Company Brie
  • 1 punnet strawberries, roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp balsamic glaze
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 180C. Combine the strawberries and balsamic glaze and set aside. Place the cheese on a baking tray and into the oven for about 10 minutes. Remove and very gently lift it on to a plate. Top with the strawberry mix and serve immediately with crackers or fresh pita bread.

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