Margaret River: How to eat, drink, sleep your way through WA's wine region

From tastings to whale-watching - four fabulous forays into WA's top wine region.
From tastings to whale-watching - four fabulous forays into WA's top wine region.

Eat

The Margaret River may be more famous for its wine but for foodies, it's a great exploration into modern Australian cuisine. Josh Whiteland, or Koomal, if you're using his traditional Wadandi name, hosts a range of tours, including a foray into Indigenous ingredients. On a Koomal Dreaming cultural experience, Josh cooks up a beach barbecue for visitors to feast on unusual ingredients such as kangaroo, emu, quandong and saltbush.

The "it" restaurant of the region, Yarri, opened its doors in 2018 and has attracted a lot of attention from food critics around the world. The season dictates the menu so during summer, fat prawns are cooked on the barbecue and served with XO sauce and saltbush.

Miki's Open Kitchen, run by Mikihito Nagai who has lived in Margaret River for 15 years, serves his own take on the Japanese cuisine. You'll find dishes such as soy-braised pork croquette with daikon tsukemono.

Degustation: At Miki's Open Kitchen with paired sake costs $120

Drink

The Margaret River is one of Australia's premier vino destinations, and dozens of its brands are recognised internationally. Taking a wine tour is a great option to get a taste of all the region has to offer. Because of its mild Mediterranean climate, the wineries produce some powerful but smooth cabernet sauvignon and crisp chardonnay. Vasse Felix is Margaret River's first vineyard and was established in 1967. The winery is famous for its shiraz and semillon-sauv blanc blends.

The Leeuwin Estate Art Series is a collection of top-end drops; the labels for the bottles were created in collaboration with painters such as Sir Sidney Nolan and John Olsen. The cabernet sauvignon has won a number of awards.

The modern Knee Deep winery has succeeded in putting its cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay and shiraz on the maps of wine aficionados. Its restaurant's menu pairs local contemporary Australian ingredients with an Asian flair.

Wine tour of the Margaret River: Costs about $110 per person

Sleep

Set in the heart of Margaret River's wine country, Cape Lodge was recognised as Western Australia's first Small Luxury Hotels of the World member. The tranquil estate is set over 16 hectares and also has a three-hectare private vineyard. A highlight is to enjoy the gardens with a glass of wine in hand.

The lovely Dutch colonial-style building has just 22 rooms and one four-bedroom private residence which is perfect for couples looking for a decadent holiday in the region. The décor of Cape Lodge is sophisticated and country-style. The soft and neutral tones of the upholstery and linen make the suites look large.

Guest services will help visitors to book an array of activities and the property offers horse riding and cooking classes, with tours to the coast for whale watching and surfing. There is a spa suite at Cape Lodge, or you could opt for a massage in your room, and there is an open-air pool which is ideal for summer days.

Accommodation: Garden View Rooms at Cape Lodge cost from $470 per night

Explore

From June to early December, the Margaret River hosts about 35,000 whales migrating from Antarctica. Visitors will see humpback, southern right, minke and blue whales make their epic journey to feeding grounds in the north. This area is one of the few places in the world where you can see southern right whales interact with humpback whales.

You will be able to tell the difference between the two species - the male humpback whales gather in groups and perform wonderful acrobatics during the season where they are looking for a mate. Southern right whales calve in nearby Geographe Bay.

If you're hiking along the Cape to Cape Track during the season, you might see them breaching from viewpoints on the shore or from the top of the lighthouse. Or if you want to get up close and personal with the whales, you can take a whale watching cruise. Tour companies offer departures from Augusta, Dunsborough and Busselton.

Tours: Cost from $50 per person, leeuwincharters.com.au

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