There are so many ways to ‘do’ Margaret River. Eco Adventure Margaret River have started the world’s first electric quad bike tours; the Young Henry’s Brewing Company are opening an outpost in the region and there are photography tours like Margaret River Exposed offering another way of enjoying this amazing part of the world. This is the second part of our journey: eating, drinking and dreaming Margaret River.
Margaret River is a world-renowned wine destination. But where to start? Margaret River Tours can take you on a full day VIP wine-tasting tour that means no need for an appointed driver as you sit back, relax and enjoy some of the world’s best.
The Full Day Gourmet Wine and Dine Tour showcases not only the more famous vineyards, but some of the lesser known gems. Taste world-beating wine and enjoy the art at Leeuwin Estate and Vasse Felix and enjoy a delicious lunch at the opulent Voyager Estate. Voyager’s opulent and extravagant gardens and buildings are a labour of love.
The full day tour means you can taste one of Australia’s finest Moscatos at the picturesque Stella Bella and enjoy a wide selection of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc Semiilion, Cabernet Sauvignon at Watershed Premium Wines. If you’re lucky enough to have Andy Wyatt as your guide, you will be treated to the stories of the pioneers of Margaret River. TML’s favourite was McHenry Hohnen – not just for it’s outstanding biodynamically produced wine but the delicious free range smallgoods they produce including chorizo and merguez. The man behind the label? David Hohnen – a legendary winemaker at both Cloudy Bay and Cape Mentelle.
The Full Day Gourmet Wine and Dine Tour also includes a chance to sample an award-winning cheddar at the Margaret River Dairy Co, chocolate of all shapes and sizes at the Margaret River Chocolate Co and a vineyard platter to round off the day. www.margaretrivertours.com
Little sister to Perth’s Muster Bar and Grill, the local version is no backwater outpost of a hot big city restaurant. Like it’s sibling it has a reputation for sophisticated food in a relaxed setting with a flexible menu that incorporates charcuterie boards or oysters with a glass of something deliciously French and bubbly, bar snacks as well as substantial mains, desserts and more.
To start you might like to try oysters one of four ways or as we did with the perfectly smoky, seared Shark Bay tiger prawns with local Berry Farm avocado, corn chips and heirloom tomato salsa completed with a generous swish of red capsicum coulis.
Service deserves a mention up front. The knowledgeable and indefatigable Rhiannon is one of the most gracious waitpersons you will ever meet. Nothing was too much trouble for her and she is a great ambassador for both Muster MR and the region; her understanding of the local producers, wine and the menu was outstanding.
The printed wine, beer and cocktail list at first seems compact but this isn’t called Muster Bar and Grill for nothing. The wine list highlights the best of the region from an exceptional McHenry Hohnen Zinfandel to Malbecs from Argentina, Soave, and of course Champagne. There is local and Australian craft beer either draught or bottled and an impressive list of imported beers from around the world. If cocktails are your thing, this is the place. It’s hard to beat a well made gin cock tail and Muster’s The Earl and Tea Cup or Gin Laden are out of this world.
They take their steak seriously at Muster Bar & Grill, sourcing from Great Southern’s Butterfield Beef who have been raising fine beef since 1906. Today, Paul and Jill O’Meehan feed Butterfield’s cattle a special ‘muesli’ of grains and lupins to produce steak with exceptional flavour. The ‘1 hour’ Pork Belly is all crackle on top and luscious underneath with witlof, parsnip, apple and a generous dusting of pickled mustard seeds.
After far too much delectable food, the thought of dessert was a little overwhelming, but sharing a dark chocolate tart made from the other local chocolate maker Bahen & Co with a refreshing mint sorbet was a perfect end. www.mustermr.com.au
For accommodation unlike any other in the area, The Traill has to be the best in the southern Margaret River Region.
In a French provincial-styled building, the elegant Deco and Marine penthouses are an exceedingly comfortable spot to rest your head after a busy day of enjoying the hospitality of the many Margaret River winemakers.
The two-bedroom penthouses (each with deluxe spa-bath ensuite), make The Traill a great getaway for two couples. Privacy with a chance to share down time either in the large, fully appointed, open plan kitchen and lounge room or on the terrace with a cocktail. The bedrooms are palatial and the ensuites more than a little decadent with the fluffiest of towels and Molton and Brown toiletries.
A little piece of Europe right in the middle of Margaret River township, both of the adult-only penthouses feature Foxtel as well as free Wi-Fi to plan the next day’s adventures. The Deco Penthouse is filled with authentic antique deco furnishings and accessories, adding a little extra style and glamour.
Stay in and cook up a feast from the local farmers market’s best (there is a dishwasher in each apartment) or just walk out the door to some of the state’s finest restaurants. The Traill is a great jumping off-point to tour the region’s highlights: exploring the spectacular caves, enjoying the many art galleries, whale watching, bush-walking, fishing … so many ways – so little time. www.thetraill.com.au
Wine-tasting might be one of the main attractions in the region but Mother Nature has worked overtime to create a natural wonderland over the millennia. The never-ending beaches, towering forests and astonishing cave networks are breathtaking. Lake Cave is the deepest show cave in the region with a lake that provides reflections of some of the most delicate formations. Guides lead small groups down into an ancient doline amongst the monolithic Karri trees.
Lake Cave’s most impressive formation, the ‘Suspended Table’ somehow magically hovers just above the icy black waters. This is a Kodak moment.
Lake Cave is just one of a vast system of over 100 caves. If you have time you should see Mammoth and Jewel Caves as well as Lake. Each network highlights how ancient Australia is and the diversity of limestone stalactites, stalagmites and shawl formations. www.margaretriver.com
Margaret River township’s Swings Taphouse and Kitchen is all about having a good time while enjoying the best the region has to offer. The cheery bistro is part of the Swings & Roundabouts wine family. Swings & Roundabouts’ vineyard is located at Yallingup at the northern end of the Margaret River wine region. Here the emphasis is on locally sourced, quality food in a relaxed atmosphere.
How your wine is served is as important as the food – the wine is served off tap in a world-first system that delivers ‘ready to drink now’ wines in not only an environmentally friendly but cost efficient way too. As the bottling process is extremely resource intensive and includes bottles, corks, foils, labels, boxes and pallets, using kegs eliminates tonnes of packaging and delivers a food-friendly product.
The décor is appropriately relaxed and designed for you to kickback and stay a while. There is an almighty pizza oven at the back working overtime on making deliciously charred pizzas for hungry diners and take-away.
The drinks menu is divided into 7 wines on tap as a glass, ½ carafes and carafes as well bottled wines, ‘from our backyard’, wines from other wineries as well as craft beers and cocktails.
Sharing is the way to best way to enjoy this menu; start with the grilled chorizo with lemon and sourdough or the delightfully messy grilled asparagus with duck egg and parmesan. We really enjoyed the wood-fired half chook with Romesco and don’t miss the mac and cheese with Taleggio or wood-fired corn on the cob with curry butter.
Dessert? The yoghurt and pistachio cheesecake with pistachio praline and poached nectarines was nothing short of heavenly. www.swings.com.au
To anyone from the Eastern states, Margaret River is a surprise. A region of sophistication and wonderment. If you want rugged landscapes, breath-taking views, and man-made comforts – they’re all here. If you eat, drink, dream Margaret River – you’ll also love it.
This MagnificentLife were guests of The Traill, Margaret River Tours, Lake Cave, Swings Taphouse and Kitchen, Muster Bar and Grill Margaret River, Margaret River Region Tourism and Tourism Western Australia. www.margaretriver.com