The pioneers who endured the heartbreak of a sometimes cruel and remote land should look fondly on what is the Margaret River Region, today. Known internationally for wine and breathtaking landscapes, this little piece of southwest Australia has been shaped by a few trailblazers who champion the region at every opportunity.
Locals say it doesn’t matter how often you drive down Smiths Beach Road, your heart always skips a beat as ‘that’ vista comes into view.
Indeed in a region full of gob-smacking views it is one of the best.
Perfectly positioned, Smiths Beach Resort nestles into this landscape of red rocks and pristine, while sand. A Small Luxury Hotels of the World member, it offers a real beach holiday. Completely self-contained these apartments and beach houses make for a romantic weekend getaway or a longer break to check out the best of Margaret River.
Here at ThisMagnificentLife we often speak of the little things making the difference between a good or fabulous night at hotels. Here all the details are expertly taken care of from real milk in the fridge, indulgent Molton and Brown toiletries in the spa-like bathrooms, even quality mags to get lost in for an afternoon.
The relaxed contemporary beach style apartments are spacious with kitchens perhaps a whole lot more luxurious than home. Bedrooms are sleek yet ‘stay in bed all day’ comfortable. But, here you want to be up at dawn spending quality time with Mother Nature at the stunning Canal Rocks close by or exploring the spectacular Lake Cave.
You stay put because Lamont’s can take care of your 3 squares as well as coffee or maybe just a glass of wine and tapas. http://www.smithsbeachresort.com.au/
Canal Rocks is unlike most scenic lookouts on the East Coast of Australia. There are no cyclone fences separating you from the view, no signs warning you to don’t do this or don’t do that. Instead simple timber walkways wind their way through this remarkable spot where the usually ferocious ocean beats up the rocky outcrops.
Kate Lamont is a force of nature; a dynamic entrepreneur, winemaker, restaurateur and perhaps Western Australia’s most ardent advocate. With so many strings to her bow, including deputy chair of Tourism Australia, Kate has been at the forefront of culinary tourism in Western Australia.
Lamont’s Smiths Beach is the latest addition to the restaurant group. But it’s also a Deli, Tapas Bar and café offering casual eating and drinking throughout the day and full a la carte restaurant dining from noon till late.
Lamont’s negotiates with precision that high wire balancing act of fine dining that is relaxed not formal. Service is attentive, friendly and knowledgeable. The lighter than air tempura Shark Bay whiting was simply served with shaved fennel and grilled lemon. The caramelised pumpkin and goats cheese tart with pear chutney and vincotto was substantial enough to make the mains list.
The picture perfect grilled Pemberton marron with preserved lemon butter, Greek salad and saffron yoghurt was delectable. A lick-your-plate-clean duck leg confit with Parmesan catalan, field mushrooms and broad beans with a merlot jus, a perfect choice for a cool Autumn night. Desserts are nothing short of amazing – don’t miss the Lamont’s Pavlova.
Once upon a time, Chocolatier Gabriel Myburgh was a corporate lawyer who said no on a regular basis. Now his days are filled with smiles as he plies visitors with delicious chocolate. You open the door and the sweet, enticing scent of chocolate envelopes you.
Gabriel is a chocolate making pioneer. He was the first Western Australian to import and roast, winnow, conche and temper his own cacoa beans from Madagascar, Venezuela, Ecuador and other exotic destinations to make single origin chocolate. He and his team are constantly experimenting with roasting temperatures and times to create the real stuff. His products have won countless gold medals at shows across Australia.
Chocolate comes in all textures, shapes, sizes and consistencies at Gabriel Chocolate: 72% Madagascar hot chocolate, cakes and tarts in the café and melt sticks, bars and much more out in the storefront. And yes, oh yes, you can taste before you buy. http://www.gabrielchocolate.com.au/
More than 40 years ago, Kevin and Diana Cullen grew some of Margaret River’s first wine grapes. From the outset they were committed to caring for the environment with minimal chemical intervention. Their philosophy can be summed up with three simple words: Quality, Integrity and Sustainability.
Diana supervised the winery and in 1977 won the region’s first trophy. In 1982 she went on to become the first woman to win at the Perth Royal Show. Their daughter Vanya succeeded her in 1989 as Chief Winemaker.
In 1998 Cullen Wines changed to total organic viticulture and in 2004 the vineyard was certified A Grade Biodynamic. The Diana Madeline Cabernet blend was classified as ‘Exceptional’ by Langton’s in 2005 – an honour bestowed on only 11 Australian wines. In 2010, the 2007 Kevin John was awarded the World’s Best Chardonnay at the Decanter World Wine Awards.
You can taste some phenomenal wine at the cellar door, take a vineyard-winery tour or explore the biodynamic kitchen garden. You should take the time to share a few plates under the trees overlooking the vines.
Ceviche of the Day is delicate and fragrant with chilli, lime and wakame salad. Crisp yet succulent marinated coconut prawns are served with zucchini ‘linguine’ avocado puree and dotted with chilli oil. The free-range smoked duck breast is paired with roasted pear and fig chutney. Keep room for a simple end – the Cullen Biodynamic Honey ice cream with Cullen honeycomb and almond crumble is sublime. http://www.cullenwines.com.au/
The Margaret River Region is more than just glamorous resorts, award-winning wines, world-standard restaurants and enterprising producers; it’s home to some of Australia’s most dramatic and unforgettable natural wonders.
Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse is where you get to witness the awesomeness of two oceans meeting or perhaps more appropriately head-butting. This most south-western tip of Australia is home to both the Indian and Southern Oceans. It is also a treacherous shipping lane for mariners.
The historic lighthouse is Australia’s tallest lighthouse and still features the original lens with an intensity of 1 million candles.
Your tour guide regales you with tales of shipwrecks as you climb the stairs. Once you reach the top of the tower, you will be flabbergasted by the glorious views. http://www.margaretriver.com/
Adventurers, wine aficionados, foodies, bird-watchers, nature lovers, sailors, art lovers and snorkelers will all flirt with moving here. Margaret River really does have something for everyone.
Look for part two of our adventure through the Margaret River Region in the upcoming weeks: tasting great wine, marvelling at nature’s majesty and eating at some of the West’s best restaurants.
Disclaimer: ThisMagnificentLife was a guest of Smiths Beach Resort, Lamont’s Smiths Beach, Gabriel Chocolates, Cullen Wines and Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse, Margaret River Region and Tourism Western Australia.