Denmark is not only a country in Europe, it is also a forested village in Western Australia, loved for its beaches, wineries and tree-lined drives.
By Fleur Bainger
Surrounded by gorgeous beaches, thick forests and huge rock formations, Denmark has a surprisingly low profile given the calibre of its cool-climate wineries and restaurants.
HOW TO GET THERE
Denmark is a 4½ hour drive from Perth, or you can fly to nearby Albany with Regional Express and hire a car for the 40 minute westward trip.
- Driving through the sort of countryside that makes you want to live on a farm
- Sipping a cool climate wine and chatting to its creator
- Being massaged to a symphony of native birds, frogs and rustling leaves
TOP THINGS TO DO IN DENMARK
Cruise beneath tall trees on an epic scenic drive
Mount Shadforth Scenic Drive is one you might consider doing over and over. Taking your time, you could spend one hour rolling between the white trunks of towering native trees, glancing from left to right at undulating hills, bucolic farms, romantic vineyards and country homes, all with the purple-blue backdrop of the Porongurup granite domes and Stirling Ranges. In spring, when the region is lush from winter rains, the scene is even more beguiling. There are also photo-friendly views of the ocean and inlet – make sure you stop at the Mt Shadforth Lookout. See a helpful itinerary, here.
Stop in at endless cellar doors
Another beautiful route, 34 kilometre (21 mile) Scotsdale Scenic Drive, helpfully links up more wineries than you could visit in one session. Howard Park is a standout, producing cold climate wines for 30 years, while Rockcliffe’s drops are all named after local surf breaks. Branching off on to Walter Road, Singlefile Wines has gained a strong following for its Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The winery is so-called for the resident geese that march, in single file, around the tree-lined property. The other must-visit is Rickety Gate Wines – consider staying for dinner.
Eat yourself silly with wines matched to local produce
There are a number of excellent restaurants in the Denmark wine region and at the culinary front line are slick young chefs creating seasonal dishes with local delicacies, such as the butterflied marron and asparagus gnocchi at Ajar Restaurant at Estate 807. Pepper & Salt Restaurant at Forest Hill Winery serves some of the finest fancy fare in the region, best devoured at a sunset sitting. The Lake House is a more rustic, evergreen favourite, with a condiments range you can take home. Further afield, Boston Brewery restaurant at Willoughby Park Wines does hearty dishes that are often beer infused, such as stout braised brisket sliders. The region’s culinary attributes are celebrated each March during the Taste Great Southern food festival.
Be arrested by the beauty of Greens Pool
Massive, rounded granite boulders bulge from the ocean’s surface at Greens Pool in William Bay National Park. The smooth granite fixtures are surrounded by still water the colour of pale sapphires, creating a transfixing scene that is both meditative and enriching. Scramble up and over the rock face to find a walking trail that leads you to the aptly named Elephant Rocks beach. Once down the stairway, walk through the gap in two multi-storey spheres of granite and emerge to a secluded paradise.
Trek along the famed Bibbulmun Track
The Bibbulmun Track traces the Southern Ocean coastline. At nearly 1000 kilometres (600 miles) from end to end, it takes around eight weeks to complete, but in Denmark you can do a small section over an hour or two, or even take a backpack and go for a couple days staying in basic campsites (a track transfer service can be arranged to return to town or you can join an all-inclusive tour). Along the way, from August to November, look out for some 8000 wildflower species dotting the landscape like confetti. The southwestern chunk of Western Australia is the only internationally recognised biodiversity hotspot in Australia, one of a mere 34 on the planet.
Lay back and luxe it up at beautiful spa accommodations
Denmark is known as somewhat of a spa mecca in Western Australia, with plenty of view-blessed retreats equipped with pampering facilities. Perched on Mount Shadforth, the chalets at Celestine Retreat gaze at both the inlet and the Southern Ocean, and have huge bathrooms fitted with triangle spas. Karri Mia’s bungalows have an earthier feel and share similar views. At Karma Chalets, five minutes drive from Denmark town, there’s a dedicated spa and massage rooms. At night, frogs will sing you to sleep.
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