This is a premium wine district and gastronomic heaven, complete with fabulous countryside, empty beaches, ocean views and boutique produce companies.
It is a shame that many people who visit Perth fail to make the journey down to the Margaret River, which is actually both a river and town of the same name – and a stunningly beautiful area.
The drive southwards is along a lightly used highway and through the boom town of Mandurah which is abuzz with property development activity. We also stopped off at the Busselton Jetty that stretches almost two kilometres out to sea and has an underwater observatory at the end to view the vibrant sea life of this manmade reef.
By the evening we were safely at the Quay West Resort in Bunker Bay. This elaborate, three year old resort complex was built and is still operated by the Australian giant Mirvac, which has some 50 properties across the country and has big plans to expand in the Middle East.
This is sumptuous modern five-star accommodation with an Australian twist. What you have is an individual, spacious chalet complete with an open plan kitchen, separate utility room with washing machine and dryer, and two bedrooms with en-suites.
The resort has its own excellent gourmet restaurant drawing on local produce. A local entrepreneur has remarkably succeeded in cultivating truffles, and is now just about up to commercial volume. Venison was introduced to the Margaret River many years ago and is first-class.
Lunch and snacks
Then of course do not forget that this region may only produce three per cent of Australia’s wine but more than 20 per cent of its premium wines. We visited Lamont’s Winery for lunch which is actually a fine dining restaurant and wine shop rather than a wine production facility but nobody seemed to worry.
Local cheeses are also superb, and the Margaret River Chocolate Factory is well worth a visit. In between snacking stops, try out some of the oceanic views to work up an appetite such as the Sugarloaf Rock or Meelup Beach.
On our second night we checked into the Cape Lodge in Yallingup, and saw the exquisite house on the 10 hectare estate where the British pop star Sting spent 10 days after a recent concert. Cape Lodge is highly respected for its first-rate restaurant and even managed to sneak a bit of truffle into breakfast.
AME Info can also highly recommend the nearby Vasse Felix Winery, owned by the Holmes a Court family for the past 20 years, both for its selection of fine wines and an outstanding restaurant with a mouthwatering degustation menu. But just do not try the Margaret River tour if you are on a diet – save that for later!
AME Info would like to thank Tourism Western Australia for preparing a drive program with Budget Rent a Car in the region