Hidden gems of WA
In Part 2 of our exploration of The Great Southern, the vineyards of the region beckon.
This remote wilderness is unspoiled, with its dramatic coastline, pristine beaches and ancient forests begging to be explored. Its oceans are teeming with an abundance of marine life that will cause any pescatarian to salivate. The surf is wild, the earth is fertile, and the lush vineyards are laden with ripening fruit this time of year.
14 May, 2019
Mother Nature has certainly outdone herself in this southern corner of Western Australia
Mother Nature has certainly outdone herself in this southern corner of Western Australia, which is becoming an increasingly popular self-drive destination. If this isn’t enough to get you packing your bags, the Great Southern is also renowned for its oysters, freshwater crayfish and crisp Rieslings.
I leave the Stirling Range and venture farther south towards the port city of Albany and a shimmering exhibition that never dims. The coastline is so close, I can almost smell the sea breeze as I drive along Chester Pass Road.
Dusk is falling when I arrive. The breeze is mild as I stand atop Mount Clarence and gaze across King George Sound, a special place where the ANZACS departed for the First World War just over 100 years ago. For many, this was their last glimpse of Australia.
Feeling pleasantly sated after a hearty breakfast at the Beach House on Bayside B&B, I drive the scenic route to Denmark along South Coast Highway. Soon, I am enveloped by towering karri trees on this winding stretch of road.
Around 70 wineries are dotted throughout this cool climate wine region. Grape varieties such as Riesling, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir thrive in this environment, with the surrounding forest and maritime influence from the Southern Ocean imparting distinctive regional characteristics to the wines.
Perched amongst majestic forest and lush grapevines is Forest Hill winery, an estate that produces exceptional Rieslings and Chardonnays, among others in its vast collection. The view from the deck at the upstairs restaurant, Pepper and Salt, with its sweeping vistas to the ocean is breathtaking. Fresh, seasonal produce is the dish of the day, paired with Forest Hill wines. The aroma of freshly toasted spices will captivate the senses as you laze over lunch and bask in the peaceful ambience. If you’re lucky, you may even unearth a sneaky bottle of aged Riesling here.
Sadly, I must decline the delicious dessert offering as something sweet awaits – and it’s just around the corner.
Around 70 wineries are dotted throughout this cool climate wine region
The alchemy of wine and chocolate pairing has long been an interest of mine
Singlefile winery is renowned for its magnificent Chardonnays and its resident geese that roam the property in single file. But my visit is all about satisfying a craving. My sweet tooth, to be precise. The alchemy of wine and chocolate pairing has long been an interest of mine, so it is with much delight that I embark on a Coco d’Vino tasting flight which includes four wines matched with artisan Cuvée chocolates.
The chocolates, which have been created specifically to match with wine, enhance the sensory experience with the Chardonnay and dark chocolate pairing being my standout favourite. A short stroll up the hill afterwards for a caffeine hit at Stash coffee roasters and the experience is blissfully complete.
I stop for a quick dip in the refreshingly cool, crystal-clear waters of Greens Pool, followed by a short detour to stock up on freshly picked asparagus and raspberries from Torbay farm. My car feels noticeably heavier on the return trip to Albany, which is not surprising when I glance across at the cartons of wine, chocolate and fresh produce piled high on the back seat.
Invigorated after the brisk ocean swim and happily buzzing on caffeine, soon I will be dining at one of Western Australia’s most acclaimed restaurants, and I can hardly wait.
Inside Albany’s historic London Hotel, you will find the highly awarded Parisian-Vietnamese restaurant, Liberté. Sink into a plush antique chair in the dining room and savour the meticulously prepared fusion dishes by French-trained chef Amy Hamilton. The stylish, belle époque surrounds extend to the front bar, where cocktail making is an art and the wine list, eclectic.
I have only spent four days in this magnificent region, where food and wine are a way of life and the countryside’s tapestry of stunning destinations are endless. This is the ultimate road trip destination with its endless profusion of fresh flavours to indulge and ignite the senses. It is a place to savour, yet there is still so much to see. Whale watching during winter, breathtaking hikes and crisp Rieslings in the Porongurups, or a walk through the Valley of the Giants.
Once sampled, the intoxicating sights, tastes and experiences of this stunning part of Australia region will linger with any traveller and despite its remoteness, compel you to return.
This is a magnificent region, where food and wine are a way of life and the countryside’s tapestry of stunning destinations are endless
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