A weekend trip to Margaret River, Lonely Planet’s top 10 regions in the WORLD.

Can you be on a diet and enjoy Margaret River? Sure you can. All weekend long, I drank wine, ate cheese, gorged on chocolate, stuffed my face with gourmet meals and came back 1 kilogram lighter! In fact, if I were to formulate a dieting program, mine would involve a week’s stay in this food and wine lover’s paradise.

Listed as one of Lonely Planet’s top 10 regions in the world to visit for 2010, Margaret River is still as charming today as when Lonely Planet decided to alert the world to its many splendours. There are so many picturesque vineyards, gourmet producers of food, art galleries, heavily-forrested bush-walking trails, bejewelled caves and soft-sandy beaches to chose from that a weekend is simply inadequate to discover everything Margaret River has to offer.

Be that as it may, HRH and I, tagging Amanda along as usual, made up our minds to see as much as we can in the space of 36 hours, allowing for time on the road and a good night’s rest. Our first stop in Margaret River was at the ever-helpful I-site centre, where we were suggested, nay ordered, to sample Clancy’s Fish Pub.

“It’s definitely worth a visit,” said the lovely attendant at the I-site centre. “It’s got some of the best fish around.”

And boy, was she right! The fish was so fresh you could smell the ocean on it even after cooking. The prawns tasted the way real prawns should, instead of like those rubber bullets coming from China.

What a place to sit and eat your fish and chips!

What a place to sit and eat your fish and chips!

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Bright and cheerful furnishings at the Clancy’s Fish Pub in Dunsborough.

In front of us, prawn and crab bisque, closer to the camera is pan-fried line-caught snapper.

In front of us, prawn and crab bisque, closer to the camera is pan-fried line-caught snapper.

Only 3 prawns and 3 TBS of crab but packed full of flavour.

Only 3 prawns and 3 TBS of crab but packed full of flavour.

Heaven in every bite.

Heaven in every bite.

Here's a joke for the Christians.

Here’s a joke for the Christians.

After lunch, which I might add was utterly delicious but not very filling for $80, we stopped by Simmo’s Ice Creamery. There, befuddled at the endless “delicious dilemmas” as Simmo’s puts it, I had a small cone of cherry ice cream, whilst HRH had an adult-sized single scoop cone of pistachio ice cream and Amanda a kid’s size cone of her regular strawberry ice cream. The total for all 3 ice creams? A very affordable $11.80.

How does one choose from so many flavours? Delicious dilemmas alright!

How does one choose from so many flavours? Delicious dilemmas alright!

"All children left unattended will be sold to the circus."

Amanda oblivious to the sign “Children left unattended will be sold to the circus.”

How about a few rounds of golf after all that ice cream?

How about a few rounds of golf after all that ice cream? At Simmo’s you can !

From Simmo’s Ice Creamery we ventured to Yallingup beach where we saw surfer dudes and dudettes suiting up to catch gigantic waves.

Miles and miles of pristine shoreline - a sight that is infinitely better in the flesh.

Miles and miles of pristine shoreline – a sight that is infinitely better in the flesh.

Bad hair due to the strong winds at Yallingup beach. Can't complain other than that.

Bad hair due to strong winds at Yallingup beach. Can’t complain other than that.

After Yallingup beach, our stomachs were growling so loudly we had to swing by Gabriel Chocolate to refuel. Ignoring the House of Cards Winery next door, we made a mad dash to the Cheese Factory to sample some of the finest cheeses and shiraz jelly made in this region before they closed their doors for the day.

A picture of Gabriel's chocolates in Margaret River, Western Australia.

A picture of Gabriel Chocolate in Margaret River, Western Australia.

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Maybe next time. A picture of the House of Cards Winery in Margaret River, Western Australia.

It's worth the $6 I paid. B far the best hot chocolate I've ever had.

It’s worth the $6 I paid. B far the best hot chocolate I’ve ever had.

It's a good thing she's can burn the calories. There probably 2000 calories in that one drink. It cost me another $6.

It’s a good thing she can burn the calories. There are probably 2000 calories in that one drink. It cost me another $6.

Since Margaret River is very popular on the weekends, with some B & B’s booked for weeks in advance and charging up to $340 per night, not knowing any better until we got there, we booked a quaint two-bedroom cottage in Karridale, a half hour’s drive from Margaret River proper. Our accommodation, Karridale Cottages, costing $165 per night, offered plenty of “country-living” activities for visitors but because we spent the whole day checking out the gourmet food producers in Margaret River’s north and middle, only arrived shortly before bedtime.

See all those trees around us? We could have gone bush-walking!

See all those trees around us? We could have gone bush-walking!

It's an eco-friendly hut made of rammed earth. The water coming out through taps is collected rain-water and the whole place runs on solar energy.

It’s a 2 bedroom, eco-friendly hut made out of rammed earth. The water coming out through taps is collected rain-water and the whole place runs on solar energy.

The next morning we broke our overnight fast with the $33 worth of cheese we bought from the Cheese Factory. It was such a heavy, if satisfactory meal, it lasted us our trip to Cape Leeuwin further south, where the Southern Ocean meets the Indian Ocean, through the magnificent Booranup Karri Forests and a 45 minute minute down into the bowels of Calgardup Cave and back. By which time we were glad we hadn’t signed up for the $50, 3-cave-deal, at Jewel Cave near Karridale.

Shrouded in mist.

Shrouded in mist. Approaching Cape Leeuwin lighthouse.

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I once saw this in a friend’s travel album on facebook. Seeing it in person brings the rugged beauty of the place to a whole other level.

We're with Mr Cow, enjoying the vistas of the magnificent Cape.

We’re with Mr Cow, enjoying the vistas of the magnificent Cape.

Last few metres. A picture of HRH and Amanda walking towards the Cape Leeuwin lighthouse

Last few metres. A picture of HRH and Amanda walking towards the Cape Leeuwin lighthouse. It costs $5 per person to tour the grounds and $17 per person to ascend the lighthouse.

It feels like standing at the edge of the world. A picture of where the Southern Ocean meets the Indian Ocean at Cape Leeuwin in Western Australia.

It feels like standing at the edge of the world. A picture of where the Southern Ocean meets the Indian Ocean at Cape Leeuwin in Western Australia.

Karri trees are some of the tallest, if not the tallest trees in Western Australia. The Booranup Karri Forests at said to be at par with the Amazonian jungle in terms of biodiversity of plant species.

Karri trees are some of the tallest, if not the tallest trees, in Western Australia. The Booranup Karri Forests is said to be at par with the Amazonian jungle in terms of biodiversity of plant species.

It cost us $30 to go visit the Calgardup Cave. At one point, in total darkness and with the ceiling the height of my waist, I was convinced I couldn’t go on without hitting something.

This is one of the more "family friendly" self-guided caves. I recommend it for families with children over the age of 6.

This is one of the more “family friendly” self-guided caves. I recommend it for families with children over the age of 6.

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A the default camera person, I had no photo.

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We’re not supposed to touch even an inch of the cave as the grime on our fingers inhibits future crystal growth.

See what I mean about the ceiling being my waist height?

See what I mean about the ceiling being my waist height?

After all that physical activity, we felt deserving of another Margaret River gourmet experience, so we headed over to Leeuwin estate for a wine-flight and some lunch.

Beaming from all the wine sampled before lunch.

Beaming from all the wine sampled before lunch. Here with more wine as part of my “wine flight.”

 

This deck overlooks perfectly manicured lawns and Karri forests.

This deck overlooks perfectly manicured lawns and Karri forests.

Line caught pink snapper on crushed chorizo sauce.

Line caught pink snapper on crushed chorizo sauce.

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Claypot yabbies with fennel in a bisque.

With our eyes bigger than our stomachs, we went in search of desert after lunch. We found our way to the Berry Farm off Rosa Glen Road where I had a generous serving of plums poached in Merlot, served with Margaret River ice cream, and HRH had berry cheesecake. For once, Amanda preferred riding the flying fox in the playground to food. Well, who came blame her? We ate to within an inch of bursting! But rest assured, we’ll be back to visit Margaret River again. Did I mention I lost 1 kg with all this eating?

Planted in hour of the founder of the Berry Farm.

Planted in honour of the founder of the Berry Farm.

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A picture of the gardens at the Berry Farm in Margaret River, Western Australia.

There was no more alcohol there but I felt drunk all the same.

There was no more alcohol there but I felt drunk all the same.

The cheese was light and fluffy, yet the biscuit base so buttery. I'm sure there were 1 million calories in there but it was worth every bite.

The cheese was light and fluffy, yet the biscuit base so buttery. I’m sure there were 1 million calories in there but it was worth every bite.