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