Heading to Margaret River
All packed and fuelled up early and in to rush hour Perth traffic whose drivers would find it funny having a caravan in this nose to tail line. Interesting that the train is running in the centre of the freeway. Once we get to the southern end of the city our lanes become much quieter and we cover the 282 kms in about three and a half hours.
In Margaret River we will be staying at Olive Hill Farm which is a short drive in to the town and a fantastic base for visiting the many vineyards this area is famous for. Check it out at olive hill farm.com.au
There are only ten sites here and each one is huge, the only stipulation is that you have to be self powered and have your own water and toilet which is perfect for us and it’s a bargain only $7.50 per person per night. If we were staying in the farm b&b this starts at $150.00 per night. The farm is owned by a couple Benji and Helen who moved from the borders of Scotland ten years ago and bought the place without even having a visa to live in Australia. This would not have been a problem though as Benji is a Farmer and Helen is a Vet.
Once we get set up we head off to visit a few celery doors and do some wine tasting.
First up is the Howard Park vineyard which has beautiful manicured grounds and is home to a wine that we have been drinking on this trip called Madfish it’s an easy to drink fruity red and we get in and sample some of their heavier aged reds which are not so nice and pretty expensive. I say we but today I am the driver and Kaz is the taster, We will swap roles tomorrow. We buy five bottles of our favourite which is not the one we have been drinking and is probably a nicer wine.
Next we drive a short distance and arrive at the Peace Tree estate which is a much smaller family owned winery and host Ben has a more welcoming style than the larger estates.
He fills us in on the history of the place and the fact that they have a more organic style of growing, using much less chemicals. As is normal he starts with the whites but we would rather get straight to the reds as when Kaz drinks white she ends up with a blocked sinuous. Ben lets us try a white which was developed for his mother who has the same issue and swears it has cured her of the problem. This might be good sales patter but we buy a bottle to give it a try and also another red.
Winery three next and this one also sells nougat in every flavour you could imagine which we do not go near as we don’t want to risk thee fillings in our teeth being pulled out. Although this is also quite a small place the vibe is not that welcoming although it is getting to the end of the day and they no doubt are clock watching. Kaz tries a couple but is not impressed by them and we leave without spending much time here.
Now about four thirty we squeeze in one more with a visit to Hayden estate again in really nice grounds and are met by Mary of Irish decent who we reckon is like the last place and getting ready to close at five.
Kaz has a couple but we don’t buy any and decide to get back to base.
The owners of the farm sell a range of organic produce and actually come round to each site to show the products and offer the chance to buy some. We grab some fillet steak, bacon, eggs and some fantastic smoked cheese, one of which is has chilli through it. And both are magnificent. We ask if he has any haggis as a joke but he replies that he is developing some which we can try for free as long as we provide honest feedback. This is only because we are Scottish and so know what great haggis should taste like. One of the two we get has a bit more oats in it and should be the best we reckon but we might get a surprise and we shall see tomorrow when we cook it up.
As darkness falls the place is pitch black and silent except for the wildlife doing their thing and is bliss. There are only three other groups here one of which is long term and works with the owners in return for free accomodation and the other two are couples with very quiet dogs. Tonight we have Sons of Anarchy series three to watch and a wee glass of red of course.
After a great sleep helped by the absolute peace and quiet overnight we rise reasonably late and have a great breakfast with bacon, square sausage and eggs on the Webber. Within the farm there is a fantastic walk through some amazing grounds with huge tall trees where lots of cows watch as you go through to Margaret River itself which the property sits on. The walk is a delight and all we have to do is follow the ribbons tied to the trees to ensure we don’t get lost. We will definitely come back in summertime for a swim.
Today Kaz is the Skipper (driver) and I have the tough job of wine tasting at a few cellar doors. Not planned but stop at the Margaret River Chocolate Factory which we had been to on a previous trip and nothing has changed, there are still buckets of free chocolate which we get in to before trying some truffle.
We then get back on the road and arrive at the Yallingup Cheese Company which is really amazing with lots of tasters including crackers with the cheeses and we stock up on a few before we finally arrive at a winery.
This one being the Aravina Estate which had beautiful gardens and a collection of classic cars in a hall at the rear of the property and after trying everything we were allowed, in what must be said, was the smallest drop of wine I have ever seen, we ended up with a couple of nice ones purchased.
We then moved on a short distance to the Rivendell Vineyard which had the largest collection of Golliwogs we have seen in a long time. We get in to some tasting and the measure here is considerably larger than the previous one.
We are given a fantastic summer white which is really good then it’s the reds and the measures continue in size which probably helps with the purchases we make and we get quite a few here. As we plan to do some more, we look at the time and it is now 3.40 pm what the hell and so scale back our plan as they all close at 5 pm. We head in to one on a whim but the place looks deserted and we just drive back out and eventually get to the Island Brooke Estate which is a bit less grand.
We are given a strange welcome by a huge Turkey dancing around us strutting it’s stuff with all of its feathers rustling like a bush in the wind.
There are also heaps of ducks around and a dog which wanders in and gives us a dog fix. This place is more of a boutique winery with a smaller range but the measures are very nice and each wine is really good and we add some more to our luggage and with no more time left head back to base. As we arrive back we can see that everyone is around the communal fire pit having drinks and since we missed the invite get straight in there and get chatting. We also get the chance to meet Helen who owns the place with hubby Benji. We have a great chat as usual about Scottish stuff and the fact we have haggis to try tonight and give some feedback. We spend a while here and then get back and cook up the haggis made by Benji and have to say both of the ones given to us were bloody great. Kaz preferred the one with more oats and I liked them both, although if I was pushed I would like a mixture of them both together. As we tucked in and scoffed the haggis we could here bagpipes in the distance as Benji played several tunes on his pipes giving the haggis a nice wee Scottish vibe. Amazingly now darkness has fallen and another day is nearly done. We have no idea how that occurred so fast and as usual we are knackered. We will stay here one more night before we head back north to Perth to meet some friends.
Beautiful morning here nice and sunny with no wind just the noises of the animals and bird life. As a treat we head in to Margaret River and have breakfast in a cafe for a change then have a walk up and down the street at all the various shops which are a bit old school and different to most of the high streets around now.
Last night Helen, one of the owners of the farm suggested a winery for us if we like red wine.
Today we waste no time heading to Brown Hill vineyard where we meet the owner Gwen who is a real character and also pours a cracking taster of all the reds on offer which is a change from the teaspoon I copped the other day. There is another couple of people from Sydney and a group of three and it turns in to a real good laugh and for some reason everyone reckons they have Scottish ancestry. One of the three married an Australian whose father was a Scot and her daughter had just returned from being in Scotland on a tour. All the wines on offer are superb and we end up buying an assorted case which will be shipped home which saves us carrying it around and also stops us drinking it before we get back.
Next stop on the tour is the Berry Hill Farm which has fantastic gardens and also a fab restaurant which serves high tea type amongst all the other lunch offerings. We scoff on scones with jam and cream of course then we make our way back to the farm and get ready for leaving tomorrow. With that job completed we decide to visit the pub/brewery round the corner.
The Colonial Brewing Company brews several beers and also has an outlet in Port Melbourne, Victoria. We grab a couple of their Colonial Draught beers and order up some short ribs and a bowl of fries to go with it. The short ribs were just amazing, cooked perfectly and with a Jus which was both sticky, so sweet and we would have eaten a second lot. We then sit watching a group of lambs play chase me which goes on for quite a while then it’s back to the van for a few episodes of Sons Of Anarchy then lights out. Tomorrow we will head to Fremantle for one night then move over to Perth for one more night.