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Discover Margaret River Region’s Gourmet Delights

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Imagine – a destination with a Mediterranean climate, stunning beaches, majestic forests, ancient caves and glorious sunsets as well as world class food and wine? With a dramatic coastline and breath-taking scenery all the way from Busselton to Albany, the South West of Western Australia offers all this and much, much more.

Located an easy three and a half hours south of the state capital, Perth, this pocket of WA has rapidly grown a global reputation for its wines, especially Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay though many other varieties are also grown. It now attracts visitors from many countries who are keen to see firsthand what makes the area so special. Accessible by coach and charter plane too, there is something for everyone from campers to more deluxe travellers. Geographically the Margaret River wine region is one of the biggest in Australia, stretching 120km from north to south and 30km west to east. There are also boutique beers and ciders and it is easy to devise your own gourmet road trip.

There is a reason the world’s best chefs and winemakers, along with keen foodies and locals, flock to the Margaret River Gourmet Escape each November – the region is biologically diverse, grows over 20% of Australia’s premium wines and sought after fresh produce such as marron and native flora. The festival has grown out of the gastronomic wealth which thrives year round in the whole Margaret River region.  It’s also a serious destination for lovers of fine food and wine year round, allowing visitors to relax and connect with nature in a truly unique way.

Margaret River Region’s Gourmet Escape

First stop, try the The Margaret River Farmers’ market held every Saturday from 8-12am (or 7.30am – 11.30am December to March). As well as the usual seasonal fresh produce, fruit, vegetables, pastries, organic eggs, grass-fed beef, organic pork, goat meat, nougat, olive oil, whole foods, condiments and preserves you can see the most outstanding display of WA wildflowers.  The range of food at the markets is a self-caterers delight. To try, buy and then eat at leisure. Yallingup Woodfired Bread is a must to eat on its own or to accompany cheese or smallgoods.

It’s also a great place to meet the producers to find out if you can visit their farms and cellar doors or which restaurants champion their products. Sip on some mead, a glass of wine or cup of coffee as you chat.  People like David Hohnen, who made his name as a winemaker, founding Cloudy Bay in NZ and then running Cape Mentelle, one of the early Margaret river wineries. He will explain to you the glories of free-range farming of Big Red pigs and sheep at The Farm House and why he sells only to the local community. Or Josh Bahen of Bahen & Co Chocolate, a winemaker for 10 years, but now chocolatier par excellence. He honourably sources cocoa beans direct from farmers in poor communities, teaching them along the way and then working them in small batches in rare vintage machines. Compare Koonac  goats milk cheese  with Cambray  sheeps milk cheese  or drive farther afield, 12km out of Nannup  to visit the Cambray farm shop to watch the milking and cheese being made. You can even stay there!

Margaret River Region’s Gourmet Escape

While there are so many wineries to visit, be sure your road trip takes you to Cullen Wines – one of Australia’s very best. Dr. Kevin and Diana Cullen first planted grapes here back in the swinging sixties and were significant for the region’s success which ensued. The business is now run by their daughter, Vanya Cullen who has directed the winery towards being biodynamic, building on an already outstanding reputation to win even more accolades.  She has a biodynamic garden on site and you can also eat this glorious produce in the on-site restaurant.

Margaret River Region’s Gourmet Escape

It is rare to find vineyards so close to the ocean – but this also means wonderful water-based fun. Yet there’s not only wild-fishing for swordfish, dhufish, snapper, tuna, whiting, bream and blue manna crabs, you can be guaranteed of catching your own marron (fresh water crayfish) or trout at an aquaculture farm. Or stop by one of the orchards where you can pick your own fruit.

Margaret River Region’s Gourmet Escape

The Margaret River is an area rich with opportunity to go foraging for native foods. Local indigenous guide Josh “Koomal” Whiteland is charming and engaging, a storehouse of information. His guided tour will open your eyes to the abundance of native ingredients found in the area.

Margaret River Region’s Gourmet Escape
Koomal Dreaming’

It’s always possible to discover something new with such a diverse range of experiences for any traveller. The region is also dotted with caves, stunning crystal wonderlands  and unusual places to  a soak in some of the natural beauty. Ngilgi Cave, beneath the limestone ridge which forms Cape Naturaliste, at Yallingup, offers a range of different tours, including a Koomal Dreaming Cultural tour. Cape Naturaliste is also famous for its surfing and long white beaches on the exposed western coastline.  Or try dolphin or whale watching from Dunsborough from September to December.

Margaret River Region’s Gourmet Escape

Margaret River Region’s Gourmet Escape

At Prevelly Beach where the Margaret River meets the Indian Ocean you can view a glorious sunset  or paddle along the river itself. The Margaret River Discovery company organises tours “for those who don’t do tours” and you can enjoy a lunch with regional wines at the prestigious Fraser Gallop Winery, go on a 4WD adventure, taste some of the finest Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay in the region and canoe on the river all in one day.

Margaret River Region’s Gourmet Escape

Whatever your age, whatever your mode of transport, a road trip in the Margaret River region will reward like no other!

For more information visit here or visit this website

Nigella Lawson returns to the Margaret River Food Festival
Nigella Lawson returns to the Margaret River Food Festival

Written by Lyndey Milan

Lyndey Milan, OAM, Australian home cook hero, combines a thirst for life and a sense of fun with a love of good food and sparkling shiraz.

A familiar face on television and in print, she has been instrumental in changing the way Australians think and feel about food and wine for thirty years.

Hospitality of the table is her catchphrase, as evidenced by her numerous television appearances, nine best-selling books and countless culinary appearances over the years as she maintains her position at the forefront of Australian cuisine. Since 2011 Lyndey has hosted seven television series including Lyndey Milan’s Taste of Australia currently on 7TWO on Sundays at 1.30pm. The accompanying book won BEST TV Chef Cookbook in the World in English & Best Culinary Travel book in Australia in The Gourmand World Cookbook Awards 2015. In the Best of the Best judged at the Frankfurt Book Fair she came 3rd overall in the last 20 years!

Fresh with Lyndey Milan can be heard on 2UE 954’s Lunchtime Lowdown from 2 – 3pm every Thursday.

In 2014 Lyndey was awarded an OAM in the Australia Day Honours List for services to hospitality, the food and wine industry and the community and in 2012 was made Vittoria Legend in the Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide Awards.

She is also the Food editor of TheCarousel.com

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