With miles and miles of stunning, unspoiled beaches, a remarkable biodiversity of flora and fauna, and of course, some of the world's finest wineries, Margaret River in Western Australia is a dream destination for a leisurely getaway. The tranquil surf town is home to a vibrant dining scene with incredible local produce, rich Aboriginal culture and a thriving arts community. Its warm Mediterranean climate with a strong maritime influence, one of the reasons the region is ideally suited to winegrowing, means that it's a pleasure to visit all year round. Here are just a few gems to discover.
The charming, laidback coastal town of Busselton is the gateway to the Margaret River Region and home to the heritage-listed Busselton Jetty. At 1.8km, it's the longest timber-piled jetty in the Southern Hemisphere, but the Underwater Observatory (one of only six in the world) is worth the traverse. There are over 300 species of marine life to spot in the natural aquarium, and you might even catch a glimpse of frolicking dolphins or majestic migratory whales.
Busselton Jetty: the Southern Hemisphere's longest timber-piled jetty
Lunch at Alberta’s
Gourmands will be thrilled to find Alberta's, a cosy, low-key kitchen opened on Queen Street just last year by Ben Ing and Kirsty Marchant, formerly head chef and head gardener of Noma (yes, Noma), respectively. The couple works intimately with local farmers, so the casual restaurant's blackboard menu is explicitly designed to highlight the region's produce.
Alberta's on Queen Street
Dishes are served on vintage crockery and have loads of rustic charm – even the decidedly simple grilled multigrain with maple syrup butter is a treat and a half. It’s just easy, down-to-earth food made by people who really know what they're doing. So good.
Explore the region’s cellar doors
Thinking of adding a few cellar doors to the itinerary? Start with Vasse Felix, Margaret River's founding winery. Established in 1967, the highly awarded estate offers visitors the opportunity to visit the original vineyards or experience a wine flight in the lounge. For the full experience, opt for the Cape To Vine Tour that takes you on a scenic walk along the breathtaking Margaret River coastline and a private tour of the estate, followed by a five-course dinner paired with Icon wines at the restaurant.
Vasse Felix, Margaret River's founding winery
Also worth visiting is the famed Cape Mentelle, another region stalwart. It's home to one of the most exclusive and sought-after events of the year – the International Cabernet Tasting, where guests have been blind-tasting their way through 20 of the world's best vintage cabernets every October since 1982. In summer, the beautiful winery garden becomes an outdoor cinema after sunset.
Visit Arimia winery and Cabin Fever
On our last trip here, we fell in love with Arimia, a unique winery with its own farm, and sustainable, off-grid restaurant. Not only does it raise rainbow trout in a creek at the bottom of the property, but its vegetable garden also supplies most of the produce the kitchen needs. The Duroc X Saddleback pigs, reared for pork, also help keep the land free of invasive arum lilies.
Cabin Fever festival (L) | Arimia winery's sustainable farm (R)
Chef Evan Hayter, Arimia's head chef and co-owner, will bring his nose-to-tail ethos to the upcoming Cabin Fever, Western Australia's premier winter food festival. Together with Lallah Roohk's Calum McKechnie, Luke Folye of Juanita's, and Rishi Naleendra of Singapore's Cloudstreet, they'll prepare an exceptional eight-hands Winter Feast lunch for 100 guests. The celebratory event will be held in a pop-up restaurant between the iconic Busselton Jetty and Shelter Brewing Co on Friday 14th July.
Head Chef and co-owner of Arimia's, Evan Hayter
Naleendra, who began his culinary career in Australia, enthused, 'our restaurant Cloudstreet is named after a book written by one of Western Australia's most iconic writers, and our signature dish is WA marron, so to head to Margaret River for this event makes so much sense to me.'
The spectacular lunch is just one of over 50 events held from 14th to 23rd July. Now in its 7th edition, Cabin Fever welcomes back cult favourites like Blazing Brews at Beerfarm, where revellers will enjoy bonfires, craft beers and live music deep into the night. Another highlight is the red wine blending session with new-wave winery Snake & Herring, which includes a long table lunch prepared by partner restaurant Yarri. Not only are the wines immensely quaffable (the 'Tough Love' Chardonnay is tops), but it’s also an excellent way to experience Chef Aaron Carr's culinary genius without the hour's drive out to Dunsborough.
Relax at Smiths Beach Resort
A vigorous day of wine-tasting, gourmet food and coastal walks can do one in, so why not spend a few luxurious nights at the chic Smiths Beach Resort? Ideally perched on the picturesque coastline, it features a heated infinity pool, a tennis court, yoga sessions and even in-room massages. There are private living areas, a full kitchen and laundry facilities in all rooms, but the beach houses and villas afford expansive views of the golden dunes and sparkling turquoise ocean.
Smiths Beach Resort
Delicious breakfast is served daily at Lamont's Restaurant, led by one of Western Australia's culinary stars, Kate Lamont. To really push the boat out, take up one of the resort's luxury experiences, such as the Taste of the Bays Cruise where you enjoy a seven-course gourmet menu paired with Howard Park wines whilst sailing through the idyllic Geographe Bay. Bliss.
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