The Margaret River region, 2 1/2 hours drive south of Perth, may be best known for its wine, but its flourishing food scene is equally impressive. Hire a car and visit the area's forest-lined back roads to discover some foodie secrets.
By Fleur Bainger
If you like knowing exactly where your food comes from, and meeting the people who grow, bake and blend it, you'll love this list of gourmet secrets in the Margaret River wine region. Hire a car (from Perth Airport, in Perth's city centre or in the Margaret River region itself) and simply follow your taste buds. These 10 stops are within 40 minutes drive of each other. For ease of reference, they're listed in order from north to south.
10 delicious spots in Margaret River
Discover why Yallingup Woodfired Bread has a cult following
The most sought-after bread in the Margaret River region is produced at the biodynamic bakery, Yallingup Woodfired Bread. Fans drive out to the bush block where the huge, volcanic-rock ovens are housed, pluck freshly baked loaves from outdoor racks, and throw coins into a bowl. The honesty system means the German-born bakers don't need to stop kneading their ciabatta, rye and fruit loaves, unless they feel like saying g’day.
Experience the biodynamic winery and restaurant, Cullen Wines
Ask international wine critics and chefs about their favourite winery in Margaret River and the answer is often Cullen. Not only are the Kevin John Chardonnay and the Diana Madeline Cabernet regarded as among the region's best wines, but the winery's biodynamic principles and enviable terroir also shine in the much-loved restaurant's clean, flavourful dishes. The chefs have an organic herb and vegetable garden, which you can visit while you wait for your meal. Wander through the perfume of thyme, marigolds and cherry tomatoes, then savour lunch beneath the estate's shady peppermint trees while gazing at the vineyard. Nearby, a spiral-form garden is signposted with explanations of the biodynamic methods that Cullen uses to deliver the minerality that its wines are admired for.
Meet a family of multi-taskers at Bettenay's Wine and Nougat
Through a large glass window, young Bryce Bettenay can be seen wearing chef whites, and folding nuts, fruits, petals and honey into chewy, French-style nougat. Bryce invents a new flavour every six months, bypassing tradition with creative flair. You might detect blueberry, white chocolate and macadamia combined in a long, textured stick, or perhaps salted caramel or even limoncello. His proud parents manage the cellar door, pouring wine samples made from grapes grown in the surrounding fields.
Breate in grassy fresh olive oil at organic haven Olio Bello
When olives are grown and pressed on the same property where you can sample the resulting extra virgin olive oil, you know it’s farm-fresh. Olio Bello is a bucolic, certified organic property home to 10,000 trees, a welcoming open-air café and an always-busy tasting room. Sample multi-award-winning pure and flavoured oils then grab a seat under the market umbrellas in the dappled shade of olive trees. As you'd expect, the fare reflects the farm's devotion to all things olive and organic. There are even olive leaf teas.
Be inspired by permaculture farm Fair Harvest
Self-sufficiency is taken to another level at Fair Harvest, an inspiring permaculture farm where a "food forest" of edible plants and productive trees combine with crops of edible flowers, leafy greens, heirloom vegetables and more, fertilised by industrious chickens and geese. Thursday-only lunches are created almost entirely from the garden produce. Bookings are a must. You can book a guided tour of the gardens on any day for AUD$50 per person, but tours are free to all visitors on Thursdays. Don't miss the remarkable compost shower, a huge pile of organic matter filled with energy-producing microbes that heats to about 45 degrees Celsius (113 degrees Fahrenheit), supplying hot water for showers for the WWOOFers (Willing Workers on Organic Farms).
Watch the sun set over the sea at the Sea Garden Café
Sunsets in the Margaret River region are breathtaking, and one of the most enjoyable places to view them is The Sea Garden Café, ideally with a glass of local wine in hand. The eclectic café, edged with a row of surfboards, is in a beach hamlet, Prevelly, near some of the best waves in the region. But it's the deep reds, burnt oranges and violet rays of merging light you'll be gazing at. The food suits the casual, unpretentious feel of the venue and ranges from stone baked pizza, tacos, nachos and burgers to that seaside favourite, locally caught fish and chips.
Enjoy a caffeine fix at Brew Shack
Tracking down a good coffee to kick-start your day isn't hard in Margaret River. The baristas know what they’re doing. Lots of locals head to the Brew Shack, as much for the friendliness of the staff as their expertise with the bean. It's tiny and easy to miss, despite being in the heart of town, but worth searching for. As well as using a range of coffee beans roasted and blended in Western Australia, Brew Shack serves raw food treats, pretty pastries and savoury snacks in a cosy wooden interior.
Nourish your soul at Blue Ginger Food and Café
Ask any of the locals where to go for lunch, and the answer is likely to be Blue Ginger. Combining a café serving locally sourced goodies and a delicatessen overflowing with organic produce under the one roof, it epitomises the Margaret River ethos of worshipping the earth. The team is big on clean eating, selling items such as kombucha tea, unhomogenised organic milk and raw, organic, handmade chocolates, but you can also find French cheese and Asian sauces. There's also a fantastic greengrocer next door.
Appreciate food artisty in Convivial Morries
Perched at the top of Margaret River township's main street, Morries is a polished little bistro that many argue is the best in town. Its executive chef, who is also a keen surfer, is passionate about supporting local farmers, so the menu is squarely focused on regional produce that changes as the seasons turn. The kitchen excels at flavour-packed tapas and share plates. Try delicacies such as locally farmed venison carpaccio and Southern Ocean scallops dotted with handpicked capers and microherbs.
Feel wholesome at the Margaret River Farmers Markets
Organic potatoes dusted with dirt spill from stall tables, unctuous black garlic bulbs cluster in cane baskets, and grass-fed, free-range meats beam through glass cabinets. Friendly farmers and foodies come together every Saturday morning for the bustling Margaret River Farmers Markets, which are so popular that you'll need to arrive before 10am or risk missing out on the A-grade produce. There are about 50 stalls of 100 per cent locally grown produce. The sweet-scented Italian pastries and gooey goats cheeses are particularly good for picnics.
More articles like this