Triple Treat in Margaret River
There’s an art to the perfect driving holiday. Distances should be short. Scenery should be spectacular. There should be lots of opportunities to get out and stretch your legs and, of course, plenty of fine food and wine to enjoy.
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Margaret River. With its lovely beaches and soaring karri forests, its underground caves and thriving food scene, Margaret River has plenty to keep you occupied, before we even touch on the world-class wineries. Best of all, this surprisingly-compact area can be explored in just three days. Here’s our guide to how to do it right.
Day one – Easy does it.
Given Margaret River’s global reputation, it’s surprising to learn that the first vines were planted here less than 50 years ago. There are now over 100 different producers in the area, most famous for their chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon, but also producing plenty of other varietals, including semillon and sauvignon blanc.
Start your exploration with one of the smaller wineries, such as Windance, a family company run by Drew and Rosemary Brent-White. The range includes a sauvignon blanc semillon with tropical flavours, and a rich shiraz with berry flavours, vanilla, mocha and spice.
Day Two – Caves and Cravings.
This morning, it’s time to head underground. Thanks to a subterranean ridge of limestone, Margaret River has some magnificent caves to explore. One of the most visited is the wheelchair-accessible Mammoth Cave, where you finish your visit on a winding trail lined with tall marri trees.
An alternative is the spectacular Lake Cave, where pretty limestone formations are reflected in an underground stream. You need to be steady on your feet for this one: you will need to walk down 300 stairs just to reach the cave.
If it is a nice day, head for the coast for lunch. The White Elephant Café has a gorgeous setting directly on the beach, and a tempting menu of treats such as slow braised lamb salad.
From here, it is a short drive to Cape Mentelle, one of the area’s pioneer wineries. Its cabernet, shiraz, sauvignon blanc semillon and zinfandel are all highly regarded. Visitors can also opt for a one hour behind-the-scenes tour, to learn more about the winemaking progress. If you are visiting in summer, keep an eye out for the outdoor cinema program.
Dinner tonight is at Miki’s Open Kitchen, known for its Japanese-influenced cuisine. The chef’s menu is recommended: the dishes will probably include some sashimi and some of Miki’s superb tempura, such as a panko-crumbed Esperance scallop.
Day three – Grazing and Galleries.
Today it is time to explore Margaret River’s burgeoning food scene. If it’s a Saturday, start with a visit to the farmer’s market at Margaret River, where you can buy local produce including nougat, berries, marmalade, olive oil, and wood-fired bread. Even if the market is not on, there is no need to go hungry.
Start with a coffee at Yahava Koffeeworks, where they roast a mean brew. Your next stop depends on your favourite temptation. Cheese fans will want to head for the Margaret Valley Dairy Company, which offers free tastings of cheese and yoghurt. Specialities include silky camemberts and tangy cheddars, and they make a mean milkshake, too.
A different type of dairy treat is on offer at Millers Ice Cream, set in a 90-year-old cottage and offering tantalising flavours such as mascarpone and wild fig, ginger and coffee and strawberry and custard.
It’s time to start heading for home, but that doesn’t mean the fun is over. On the way, you will pass Cullen Wines, one of the area’s most respected wineries. Cullen is known not just for its award-winning wine (the Diana Madeline Cabernet Merlot is outstanding) but for its commitment to biodynamic practices. The biodynamic approach extends to the restaurant, which sources 80 per cent of its fresh produce from the winery’s own garden.
Three days of superb sightseeing, superb wine and extraordinary food. www.exclusivetravelgroup.com