A Culinary Road Trip from Perth to Margaret River

Western Australia is vast and diverse, it is perfect for a road trip. Before I visited I imagined horizons filled orange soil and hot searing temperatures. What greeted me instead as I journeyed south from Perth at the end of winter was moderate temperatures, lush greens, flowers and lots of vegetation, all hugging the ocean as we journeyed by, stopping to soak it up occasionally as we did.  There are many options, the obvious choice for me was to drive to Margaret River, a wine region just over 3 hours drive from Perth, with some lovely pitstops along the way. There are wonderful beaches, great places to eat, limestone underground caves and you can go whale watching. The main reason you should go is the food and wine, and just to indulge in how gorgeous it all is. Margaret River has 187 wineries and 215 vineyards (as counted in 2015). It is surrounded by the ocean on three sides without extreme seasons providing ideal conditions for producing wine. Wineries mainly produce Bordeaux style wines (semillon and sauvignon blanc blends are common as are cabernet sauvignon and shiraz), Margaret River has been compared to Bordeaux in a dry vintage. The reds are gentle. There are established producers like Leeuwin Estate (who produced their first commercial vintage in 1979) and newer ones like Fraser Gallop (whose first vintage was 2008). Lots to explore and most tastings are free, if you fancy driving yourself winery to winery.  If you have any further recommendations, I would love for you to share them. Please leave them in the comments — thank you! Perth to Margaret River Food and Wine Road Trip Itinerary DAY 1 Perth -> Busselton (222 km, 2 hours 30 minutes) Stop for lunch at Goose bar & Kitchen overlooking the Busselton Jetty and the gorgeous white sandy beach along side. Food here is solid with lots of local produce. I visited in winter and enjoyed a big bowl of hot soup and a glass of Margaret River wine (I wasn’t driving!). Portions are large and the room is gorgeous.   You may also want to do Busselton Jetty tour and Underwater Observatory tour which was sadly closed due to the storm the day before I visited.  Busselton -> Meelup Beach (35 km, 35 mins) Post lunch walk on a beautiful beach? Yes, I thought so too. Stop here just to sit and soak it all in, or go for a swim.  Meelup Beach -> Ngilgi Cave (14km, 20 minutes) If available on the day, go on an Aboriginal Food, Cave and Didge Tour with Josh. Josh will bring you on a forage for seasonal foods and medicines and also provide samples before bringing you into the cave and playing digeridoo. Sadly the food tour wasn’t on the day I visited but Josh did show me some native foods and I also loved the cave experience in the vast limestone cave. Josh playing the didgeridoo amidst it all was very moving. Ngilgi Cave -> Bunker Bay (20 km, 20 mins) Spend the night at Pullman Bunker Bay Resort. We stayed in a 2 bedroom villa just a few minutes walk from the main hotel. The villas are contemporary in decor and very comfortable. The villas have kitchens and so you can cook here (and I love to cook when I travel also, as much as I enjoy eating out). There are several dining options here also, including a buffet breakfast.  DAY 2 Bunker Bay -> Dunsborough (11 km, 11 minutes) Western Australia has one of the longest whale watching seasons during the annual whale migration of humpback and southern right whales from May to December. It is possible to see whales occasionally from the shore, but I recommend you go on a tour which I did with Naturaliste Charters. It is wonderful to go out on the water, and the people leading the tour were extremely knowledgeable and entertaining. It had been 84 days of constant sightings with whales enthusiastically breaching the water. We saw 5, but sadly none breached, which is very unusual (and if we wanted we could have gone back out the next day to try again). However, I still loved the experience and would highly recommend it.  Dunsborough -> Leeuwin Estate, Margaret River (60 km, 1 hour) On then to Margaret River properly, our first stop was Leeuwin Estate, a family owned winery and one of the founding 5 wineries of Margaret River, with its first commercial vintage in 1979. Leeuwin produce premium wines, best enjoyed on site in their restaurant with their wine matching menus. There are tasting and a la carte menus, and the wine and food flight is exceptional value for money at $39 with 5 wines and food matches, including some of their premium wines. From the a la carte, the panko oysters with jalapeƱo are a must also. For mains I had the 45 day dry aged Black Angus sirloin with mushrooms, ginger, green onion and crustacean mayonnaise. Cooked rare as I requested and just lovely. On the side to share, roast squash with labneh and pitachio dukkah. Beautiful.  The menu is seasonal and produce driven so it will have changed by time you get there, but the standard of cooking is high, the food is interesting and the room is gorgeous. Highly recommended. After, head to the art gallery downstairs where original art commissioned primarily from Australian artists for the Art Series wine labels is on display.  Dinner at Morries After a day indulging in wines, we headed to Morries in downtown Margaret River for dinner, noted for their small plates and cocktails. Their are also local wines and craft beers from the state on a well tended list. There is a tapas menu with an Asian inflection as well as a la carte. Highlights of my meal were a master stock pork belly with Thai caramel and micro coriander, tender, sticky and sweet; the tempura whiting with apple, pine nut remoulade and lemon and the mini burgers with Japanese chicken and with beef. The cocktails were very enjoyable. … Continue reading A Culinary Road Trip from Perth to Margaret River