Glamping Olio Bello

Your Guide: 48 Hours in Cowaramup & Gracetown

There are two little spots just north of the townsite of Margaret River chock full of hidden gems.

There are two little spots just north of the townsite of Margaret River chock full of hidden gems.

Next time you whizz down Bussell Highway, slow down and explore the magic of Cowaramup. There is much to be discovered both in the town itself and surrounds: from gourmet stores and artisan cellar doors, to craft breweries and restaurants.

Head out west to the coast and the laid-back shores of Gracetown await. Anyone who has ever jumped on a surfboard likely know the place, but for the uninitiated: Gracetown is quite simply the stuff of nostalgic childhood holiday dreams. Beach shacks now sit alongside some pretty stunning holiday homes, but it’s still the perfect shoreline spot to get back to basics.

This is your guide to spending 48 hours unearthing the secrets of Cowaramup and Gracetown.

Mile End Glamping

Getting back to nature doesn’t have to mean going back to basics. Mile End Glamping is the ultimate in barefoot luxury. There are no drop toilets here, instead two 65m2 geodesic dome tents are fully equipped with a private outdoor spa bath and BBQ deck. Inside, the bathroom comes complete with a rainfall shower that you can jump straight into your king-sized canopy bed from. There’s also a kitchenette if you fancy whipping up a feast with the help of some gadgets and a kitchen sink. And don’t forget that night sky: a stargazer’s dream.

Olio Bello Lakeside Glamping

It’s not every day that you’ll be waking up with lakeside views in the middle of a 320-acre certified organic olive farm, surrounded by 8000 olive trees. Olio Bello Lakeside Glamping in Cowaramup however is one spot where you’ll be able to do exactly that, all from your own luxurious safari-style bungalow. With just six bungalows to choose from, you’ll be assured a restful stay far away from the crowds.

Bettenay’s Lakeside Spa Apartment & Vineyard Villas

Bettenay’s Lakeside Spa Apartment & Vineyard Villas are right in the heart of the Margaret River wine region, on a 132-acre farm and vineyard. You’ll be invited in by the Bettenay family for a relaxing and peaceful stay at one of their chalets or their romantic spa apartment. Plus, you’ll have direct access to their cellar door where tastings of wine, liquor and – of course – nougat are on offer.

Private Properties: Bluebell

This gorgeous renovated 1970’s beach cottage provides a relaxing holiday vibe the moment you step up to the front door. Perched high on the Gracetown hill with 180-degree views of the bay and neighbouring National Park, Bluebelle epitomises nostalgic beach holiday living – sun, sand, sea and surf.

North Point - Gracetown

Day One

Morning

Kick your morning off with an ocean dip at Gracetown Beach. The sheltered waters of the beach are ideal for a gentle swim, or if you prefer an adrenalin kick you can jump on a surfboard and hit up one of the famous breaks. North Point, South Point, Huzzas, Gallows and Guillotines should all ring a bell if you’ve asked any locals for their fav surf spots – they range in difficulty and accessibility, so educate yourself before you go.

Follow up with a caffeine hit and a bite for breakfast at local haunt Gracies General. They serve super meat pies here too, and it’s never too early for a pie (in fact, here, the only risk is in being too late – these pies fly out the door like hot, well, pies).

Olio Bello

Lunchtime

Olio Bello

Olio Bello is smack bang between the two towns and a trip isn’t complete without stopping by. The lunch menu is fresh and flavoursome, whether you’re after a hearty pasta dish or a refreshing salad. Be sure to set aside a couple of hours minimum, as this is not the spot to rush from. The olive groves will have you feeling like you’ve zipped off to Italy for the afternoon (a glass of wine helps), and there are plenty of olive and olive oil based goodies in their store – both to eat, and to lather on your skin.

Fishbone

Fishbone has been a welcome addition to the south west’s restaurant scene since it opened a few years back. On a hot day, there is nothing better those zingy Asian inspired flavours that grace the menu. If you have a hankering for sushi or sashimi and fancy washing it down with a cleansing glass of rosé, then this is your pit stop. The Karaage deep fried chicken is a winner too, as are the Takoyaki octopus balls. Order double, your fellow diners will thank you.

Temper Temper - Cowaramup

Afternoon

Shop up a storm on the main street in Cowaramup, stocking up on local goods to graze on for the rest of your stay. Wander down the road from top to bottom (or vice versa) and be sure to duck into the side streets too. You’ll find locally made chocolate at Temper Temper and hand blended teas from Seven Seas Tea. There are nick knacks galore, and locally made arts and crafts at the gift stores in town, plus a second hand clothing store with a fab range of pre-loved fashion. Also, be sure to duck into The Gourmet Food Merchant, ground zero for dinner supplies. It’s full of delicious local goodies that require little to no preparation before they are gobbled up.

Beyond town, foodies are spoilt for choice with some of the yummiest food producers in the region to pick from nearby. Cheese and yoghurt goodness can be found on Bussell Highway at The Margaret River Dairy Company, just out of town. Down a little further on Harmans Mill Road you’ll hit  The Margaret River Chocolate Factory which is every chocolate lovers dream come true with wall to floor covered in ganache, buttons, bars, blocks and truffles. Next door the Margaret River Providore has almost everything you could wish to for – dips, chutneys, cooking packs, wine, and plenty more gourmet goodies. Sweet teeth won’t want to miss a visit to the Margaret River Nougat Company where they have over 34 varieties of French style soft nougat.

Dinner

One word. Sunset.

Instead of worrying about getting taxis home from dinner and choosing a spot for a meal, now is the time to slow things down and chill out with a glass of wine and a grazing board of the day’s haul. There aren’t a huge number of options in the immediate vicinity to dine out at night and that’s a blessing, not a curse.

Coffee - Unsplash

Day Two

Morning

There are several spots to spend your second morning exploring. First, head for breakfast at Black Sheep Deli, located right in Cowaramup town. This is one of those rare places where you can be assured of a tasty and healthy feed every single visit. Take your pick from the menu or the mouth-watering cabinet display. Coffees are made with locally sourced organic milk, and you can pick up some fruit and veg for snacking on later while you’re at it. Or a piece of cake; it is holiday time, after all.

One of the area’s latest additions and the perfect mid-morning activity is The Colony Concept; a hive of entertainment for kids big and small. Let little ones loose in the ‘Bee Brainy’ room where they can learn all about how honey is made, and even see the bees in action. Adults will get a kick out of sampling mead and a selection of honey products on offer.

Rustico at Hay Shed Hill - Cowaramup

Lunchtime

Cowaramup Brewing Co.

Cowaramup Brewing Co. is just a short drive inland from the township of Cowaramup and you’ll be greeted with a pretty drive through rolling pastures before arriving for lunch. A family run brewery, their beers are well worth sampling and you can even take home a growler for later on. Food is simple, filing and family friendly, and there is plenty of space to stretch your legs.

Rustico at Hay Shed Hill

Tapas style dining is perfect for a relaxed day of adventuring though wine (and cow) country. Rustico has a fixed price tasting menu which will serve you up their favourite picks, or go à la carte and choose for yourself. The view is beautiful too, and you’ve got the award winning wines from Hay Shed Hill to accompany your plates. Open for orders all the way through until 5pm, they hold true to the Spanish relaxed way of life…who wants to rush a meal anyway?

Afternoon

After lunch, head down Tom Cullity Drive and you’ve got a line-up of family run and boutique wineries – Ashbrook, HeydonThompson, Bettenay’s, and Juniper are rounded off with Vasse Felix, the founding winery of the region.

Finish things off at the illustrious and globally-renowned Howard Park, one of the region’s only architecturally designed cellar doors offering beautiful wines to boot. Their specialty? Sparkling. They are the only winery in the region producing Methode Traditionnelle sparkling wines, so an “Art of Sparkling” tasting in their exclusive, purpose-built, private Wine Chapel is, therefore, an absolute must for sparkling-lovers – or anyone looking to celebrate a week well-spent. The Art of Sparkling allows guests to sample a wide-range of the winery’s drops from their Margaret River, Great Southern and French vineyards, paired with a selection of the region’s charcuterie delicacies hand-picked by the local team.

If sparkling’s not your thing (unlikely) but you like the sound of the private tastings, Howard Park also offer a Marron and Native Foods tasting experience as well as a seafood special, both also inside the Wine Chapel. Remember to book in advance, and don’t forget to take some wines home for toasting into the night.