Feeding the soul
A feast for all the senses – exploring WA’s unique Margaret River region.
Remote, wild and stunningly beautiful, Western Australia’s Margaret River region has earned an international reputation as a gastronomic paradise – but it is so much more.
29 December, 2020
Just 280 kilometres south of Perth, this region has won international acclaim for its jaw-dropping natural beauty and some of the finest wines in the world
For international visitors to Australia, the very concept of how far Perth and its immediate surrounds are from the country’s other major cities is hard to comprehend. For that matter, many Australian’s have yet to sample the countless delights of the ‘wild west’ given the tyranny of distance, but this is a part of the country that truly rewards the travellers who make the journey.
For visitors and locals alike, the charms and attractions of the famed Margaret River region are an irresistible drawcard. Just 280 kilometres south of Perth, this region has won international acclaim for its jaw-dropping natural beauty as well as its rich abundance of natural produce – and some of the finest wines in the world.
An enriching trip in every sense of the word, it’s a drive the Audi e-tron takes in stride, allowing for numerous stops along the way and easy charging for the return trip.
Unlike so many Australian cities where the urban sprawl seems to blur the edge of the city, almost as soon as the Perth cityscape fades in the distance, you are met with verdant pastures, rolling hills, olive groves, and a spectacular coastline renowned for its surf breaks. Here, in this remote corner of Western Australia, you will discover award-winning wineries, art galleries, fine restaurants and cafés where each delicious morsel of food is a sensory revelation.
In less than two-hours you arrive in Dunsborough, the entrance to the Margaret River wine region. The road weaves past sheltered bays and rock pools on the Cape Naturaliste coastline, until finally reaching Bunkers Beach House, a sustainable seafood café nestled on the shores of the magnificent Bunker Bay, with its crystal-clear waters and endless white sands.
Sheltered from the prevailing winds and serving seasonal Western Australian seafood, this laid-back café is the ideal spot to bask in the balmy summer weather and indulge in a variety of share-food plates.Tables on the deck boast commanding views of this spectacular stretch of coastline, and there is nothing quite like a chilled glass of Margaret River Chardonnay, while waiting in anticipation for the food to arrive.
Head Chef, Jason Van Druten, presents a fish finger sandwich with tartare sauce, grape leaf-wrapped king prawns with a caper salsa, and a succulent dry-aged fish carpaccio with fennel and pickled cucumber. Paired with a roasted and pickled beetroot black barley salad, this is relaxed beachside dining at its very best.
This is just a small selection of the vast menu, which showcases locally sourced seafood – some from the very beach here at Bunker Bay. Dishes change daily but can include Wedge Island octopus with burnt capsicum and glazed potatoes, Albany scallops with a shallot sauce and Nannygai with creamed corn and chilli salsa.
But this is just an entree to what this extraordinary region has to offer. This remote wine region is forging an enviable reputation for its premium cool climate wines. Stretching 100 kilometres from north to south, Margaret River accounts for over 20 percent of Australia’s premium wine production. Surrounded by the Southern and Indian Oceans, Margaret River wines are known for their consistency and pronounced varietal flavours and aromas. The cooling maritime breezes in this Mediterranean climate provide optimal conditions for a slow fruit ripening process and its gravelly loam soils are among the oldest in the world.
With close to 100 cellar doors, there is always a place to stop, sip and quench your thirst as you taste this intoxicating region’s powerfully fruit-driven and elegant wines. Its Chardonnays and Cabernet Sauvignons have garnered worldwide acclaim, yet it also produces a signature style of wine with a blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon.
Stretching 100 kilometres from north to south, Margaret River accounts for over 20 percent of Australia’s premium wine production
This is a wonderful time of year to visit. Follow the road south to Yallingup, through valleys blanketed in rows of gloriously laden grapevines
This is a wonderful time of year to visit. Follow the road south to Yallingup, through valleys blanketed in rows of gloriously laden grapevines. Vintage is approaching. The fruit is ripening and there is a sense of anticipation in the air.
Stop at the nearby Wise Winery cellar door for a wine tasting overlooking the Indian Ocean. This boutique winery is within Meelup Regional Park and old-growth forests and the wines are made in the traditional Margaret River style – fruit-driven and well-balanced with a natural acidity.
Continue southwards until you arrive at a slice of adult seclusion in the forest. Built around an old farmhouse and nestled amidst 265-acres of tranquil bushland is the luxurious Empire Retreat.
There are 11 guest rooms in this haven, each differing in size and all offering complete privacy. Enter through ancient monastery doors and immerse yourself in this picturesque hideaway which has a distinctive Eastern influence with its large teak beds and courtyard water gardens. Finish your day with a soak in the large spa that is ensconced in the bush and has an adjoining sauna.
Spoil yourself at the day spa, with a vast selection of Sodashi face and body spa treatments. Whether it’s a hot rock massage, body wrap, sensual flower bath, or a thermal facial, this is a sanctuary where you can step indulge yourself and be at one with nature.
The lure of this untouched patch of paradise is its stunning coastline. Yallingup Beach is only a few kilometres from your decadent cocoon, and when you do finally emerge, the world-class surf breaks and secluded rock pools beckon.
Back on the road, continue your journey southwards until you reach the irresistible waters of Injidup Natural Spa. This natural rock pool is located north of Injidup Beach and is one of nature’s true wonders. Sit in its waters and replenish your soul as this breathtaking rock formation forms a natural waterfall and ‘spa’ as waves crash endlessly over its rocks.
Food and wine are central to the culture of this region, which celebrates its melting pot of flavours, with fresh produce being dish of the day.
Whether it’s fresh crayfish and Green Lip abalone plucked from its pristine waters, black Perigord truffles, organically grown olives and avocados, succulent wagyu steaks, or freshwater marron that’s endemic to these waters, there is always something here to tantalise your tastebuds on this gastronomic adventure.
As one of Australia’s finest culinary wine regions, the restaurants in Margaret River have been evolving over the past decade with their internationally celebrated wine brands.
One such restaurant that has garnered worldwide attention for its seven-course Discovery menu is Voyager Estate. This striking Cape Dutch building is surrounded by manicured rose gardens and sprawling lawns that offer spectacular views over endless rows of lush grapevines.
The sophisticated menu has been created to reflect its vineyards and wines through locally sourced seasonal cuisine. The kitchen is led by Michelin chef, Santiago Fernandez, who combines the finest sustainable produce from the pristine ocean, the organic kitchen garden, and the paddocks.
Here knowledgeable staff present delicacy after delicacy of a degustation menu expertly paired with the Estate's wines. A selection of snacks is served, matched with a sparkling Chenin Blanc. There is a buckwheat blini with crab cream, sourdough tartine with cured venison, horseradish cream, pickled onion and chive flowers, served alongside baby radishes dipped in miso butter with pickled cucumber, avocado cream and avruga caviar.
This striking Cape Dutch building is surrounded by manicured rose gardens and sprawling lawns that offer spectacular views over endless rows of lush grapevines
Each dish is meticulously curated, and plating is an artwork
This is not even the first course and already you will be impressed. Each dish is meticulously curated, and plating is an artwork. The service is impeccable and the attention to detail with its fine linen and exquisite crockery is unparalleled.
Each course is presented in this manner as the degustation is unveiled. Fremantle octopus with a hibiscus glaze, pickled plum puree and Emu plum umeboshi with sliced radish and allium flowers served with a sparkling Rosé that is made from Shiraz grapes. The natural acidity of this wine is a delightful match with the salty and savoury elements of the octopus. A terrine of Wagyu eye fillet with duck liver parfait, blueberry and cabernet gel and a potato nest served with a Cabernet Sauvignon. For main, a citrus butter poached snapper with a Geraldton Wax emulsion, finger lime beads, sliced zucchini and Thai infused aromatic oil. This pairs to perfection with the 2018 Chardonnay that just won White Wine of the Year.
But be sure to save yourself for the baked peach and chardonnay dessert with a vanilla and lime foam with elderflower. And this is followed by a honey and chamomile panna cotta, honeycomb and chamomile crumble, milk and honey ice cream with a chamomile snow. This is utter decadence on a plate.
To have such incredible dining experiences in this remote south western corner of Western Australia demonstrates just why this region is a paradise for epicureans – and why it stands among the very best. The roads are endless, the food and wine bountiful, and the scenery is breathtaking. This is a place to savour. A place that nourishes the soul every bit as much as it does the appetite.
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