Margaret River - wine Capital of the West
However you arrive in the west, Margaret River is easily accessible being only 3 hours by car south of Perth. The road south is very good and takes you through pretty Mandurah, a nice time from Perth for a morning coffee overlooking the estuary. Do not forget to stop at Marshalls emu pie shop at Myalup, a famous initiation to WA. Strutting emus out the back - pies in the front! The pie is tasty and with emu meat being very lean the only fat is the pastry.
Being alongside the Indian ocean the climate generally has a balmy, sub tropical quality. Very pleasant with locals wearing shorts year round. During our short stay in July, temperatures are down to 12C at night and 19-22C daytime. On the way to or from Perth, stop at Busselton and stroll down the pier, or jetty as locals call it, which extends 1.8 kilometres into Geographe Bay. There is an underwater viewing station at the pier end where, 8 metres below the surface you can meet local marine characters (species). This is closed the day we visit due to a howling gale, so strong we are almost blown backwards as we force our way out to the jetty end. A benefit being the return walk is on the double, assisted by a 50km tail wind! Excellent coffee at The Goose overlooking the bay, revives us.
Margaret River township is quite intimate - one main street and a couple on the sides, one of which, Charles West Ave, is the home of our apartment in the Central Ave apartment group. This comprises 5 modern apartments on the second level with some retail on the ground floor. There are only the two levels which means no noise from above. The Central Ave apartments are the best appointed and most liveable we have ever stayed in. Everything is easily to hand and the space works in a flowing, convenient way.
The main street of Margaret River has a few cafes, some useful shops such as a good chemist and a Coles slightly tucked in behind. The Margaret River hotel is a lovely original building from the 1930s and evokes an era when guests could expect to have their shoes polished at night.
Breakfast at Morries - top end of main street on the left - is a must. Happy, bright people, great menu and excellent coffee. Usually very busy.
As we are not interested in tripping from one vineyard to another winetasting, we are looking for a vineyard lunch venue where we can experience, in a relaxed way, some local wine and produce. Cullens is on our list of possibilities so we head in that direction - you can check the route map here. What an excellent find. Their actual restaurant is fully booked but this is no problem for them and we are seated in a semi private area alongside the wine tasting bar and near the fire. It is a bit chilly and the nice feeling of warm privacy suits us perfectly. Our lunch is also perfect and I must mention the vegetables plate, which holds some old fashioned leafy green favourites I haven't come across in a long time, all grown on site organically. A very pleasant couple of hours. Reluctantly taking our leave along with a couple of bottles of Cullen Pinot Noir we drive north to the coast enjoying the turquoise beauty of the Indian Ocean. Through Yallingup and towards Dunsborough we come to Eagle Bay. A short walk through scrubby gum bush and we are on a wide sweep of white sandy beach with sharp rocky headlands. Being used to the deep blue south Pacific ocean, the Indian is definitely different, the turquoise blue/green is inviting and looks warmer. Just nearby is the Wise vineyard on Eagle Bay Road which occupies a commanding elevated position with wide Indian ocean views. It's late in the day but no trouble to produce a couple of excellent long blacks.
The entire Margaret River area has lots to offer - relaxing vineyard lunch venues, cafes with great coffee, beach and bush walks, boutique villages with interesting shops and all only 3 hours easy drive south from Perth.