Western Australia – Margaret River – sun, sand and great wine
Heed the call of the surf...
By Mark Smith
Wine and waves. Waves and wine. Some things are just meant to be. That’s what visitors to Western Australia’s renowned Margaret River say after a long day of sun, sand and semillon sauvignon blanc. And it’s easy to see why.
The region’s astonishing natural beauty and world class food and wine make it the ideal getaway for sun lovers looking for a fuss-free break from the humdrum of the city.
Getting there is easy. Margaret River is readily accessible by road, rail, sea and air. Take the Kwinana Freeway out of Perth and the journey by road via the scenic Coast Road will take less than four hours. There are regular bus services from the Perth CBD. Fashionistas will want to arrive in style. An 80-minute chopper flight from Perth into Margaret River will take you by some of the country’s most breath-taking surf breaks and coastal landscapes.
Whether you stay a week or stay a while, the list of accommodation options ranges from hip hotels, luxury retreats and beaut B&Bs to farmstay rentals and camping grounds. On the fourth Saturday of every month from September to May, locals and visitors alike gather together to replenish their larders at the Margaret River Farmers’ Markets. Local specialties include farm fresh marron and trout; handmade cheeses and lavish chocolates; boutique beers and crisp cold ciders. In winter, you can prospect for a few grams of the region’s revered black gold – truffles.
Into wine? There’s a whole lot more to enjoy than simply semillon sauvignon blanc. Western Australians have been heading to Margaret River since the early 1970s. Today, there are more than 60 cellar doors to explore. Many offer stunning regional cuisine, from simple vineyard platters to cutting edge degustation.
The region’s first claim to fame was its cabernet sauvignon – deep, brooding, tannic wines that needed a decade in the cellar to really show its best. Cape Mentelle won Jimmy Watson trophies for its one-year-olds in 1983 and 1984. Whatever were the judges thinking back then?
These days, the best Margaret River reds are often Bordeaux-like blends made from cabernet with generous splashes of merlot and perhaps cabernet franc and petite verdot. The shiraz here is rich spicy/peppery with rippling dark cherry notes. Even the chardonnay in these parts can be muscular and powerful – barrel fermented wines that somehow combine the toughness of the region’s gravelly soils with the generosity of its brilliant summer sunshine.
Visitors to the region continue to be amazed by the quality of wine on show here. Although Margaret River contributes only three per cent of the country’s wine grapes, it accounts for more than 20 per cent of the premium wine market in Australia.
Beach bum or forest gump? There’s plenty to discover here beyond the wine trail. You can have a swell time pitching your board into Margaret River’s legendary surf breaks. Adrenalin junkies will head to the southern end of the beach to pit their skills against the might and the majesty of nature’s monster waves. Visitors yet to find their feet on a board can enrol in any number of beginner classes, including windsurfing and parasailing.
Be sure to:
Visit the Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park. Its vast stands of karri and jarrah have left generations of travellers spellbound. The park’s Cape to Cape Walk Track meanders across 135 km of coastal scenery and forest byways. A variety of access points along the way allows visitors to investigate the Track as a series of short walks over time.
Plumb the depths of any number of Margaret River’s 200 underground caves and grottos. Jewel Cave is Western Australia’s largest show cave, and is home to one of the longest straw stalactites found in any tourist cave on the planet.
Hire a boat and immerse your senses among the awe-inspiring movements ofhumpback and southern right whales as they ply their way through the waves on annual voyages of migration.
Drop by the Margaret River Visitor Centre in the heart of town and wander through the wine tourism showroom. Its interpretive displays and exhibition of winemaking technology make it the ideal starting point for a day out on the wine trail.
Visit Margaret River - the best of the west!
- Margaret River (WA)
- South West Coast (WA)
- South West WA (WA)
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