Oz road trip #2 - Southwest WA loop: Walpole to Margaret River
14.01.2014 - 16.01.2014 22 °C
The drive from Walpole to Margaret River was really pretty and in complete contrast to the poker straight roads we'd had in the outback. The road meandered through heavily forested areas and took us to the cute logging town of Pemberton. This was where we stopped off for lunch having found a bakery which I'm guessing hadn't changed since the 1950's.
There's a lot to do around Pemberton but as we had little time, we just took a couple of short trails to see some falls and one of the giant trees. The falls were spectactularly disappointing but then again it is summer here. The tree was impressive with alarming spiral steps leading to the top. The rungs were so thin with the gaps between them easily big enough to fall through. Errrr, think we'll give that one a wide berth.
We took a diversion to see Cape Leeuwin which is the most south westernly point in Australia. It's also where two oceans - the Indian and Southern - meet. It was very calm but I'm sure it gets pretty wild here at certain times of the year. There was a lighthouse on the cape but as there was an entrance fee we just wandered around the free bit... being the cheapskate backpackers that we are...
Our Margaret River base was another airbnb choice. We stayed with Jimmy and Amanda, a Kiwi and Canadian over here on a working visa. Our room was beautiful and a step up in comfort from the last few nights. They had a Canadian friend staying and invited us to join the three of them for a bbq on their deck. We chatted about travels and our home countries as they'd not been to Europe, nor us to theirs... nice people and a lovely evening.
So, Margaret River was all about the wineries. It's a new wine region relative to others in Australia, with the first winery established here in 1967. Today, there are around 200, some as new as the noughties (I hate that term, but hey).
It feels like a very 'well to do' place, the tourist attractions are all centred around wineries, breweries, cheese, chocolate, olive oil... you get the picture.
We booked ourselves on an afternoon tour so we didn't have the worry of driving. We thought wineries might be a bit stuffy and pretentious, but it was brilliant... so much fun, so many tasters... got very tipsy... loved it! We were on the tour with an older couple from Queensland who were a giggle. She was a bit like a female Barry Humphries but not in his Dame Edna guise.
The four wineries were so different which was a surprise to us. The first, Voyager, was the most established and formal - very friendly but definitely upmarket. Good job that was the first one up! It had perfectly manicured grounds influenced by the South African/Dutch style in SA, complete with rose gardens.
The second, Watershed, was very informal and the woman serving us had a twinkle in her eye and was good fun. Several tastings later we went to Vasse Felix, probably our favourite of the day, a beautiful place and felt a bit like a trendy bar.
The last one, Moss Brothers, was the most spit and sawdust and the guy who hosted the tastings was quite a character, his humour about as dry as one of their Chardonnays. He was a winemaker himself and gave us a lot of information, but by then I was pretty smashed so I can't tell you about the wines or anything he taught us.
A really great way to spend an afternoon. Needless to say we didn't do a whole lot after the tour...