Summer holidays in Western Australia’s epicurean playground is a time to celebrate the finer things in life. Here what’s chic, just-opened or down-right must-do in the ‘River’.
Spa & shopping time
You know you’ve earned it: a pampering session at Vie Spa (formerly Mii Spa) at Pullman Resort Bunker Bay. What about hot stone healing, ‘foot renewals’ and, our favourite, the aptly named ‘heavenly therapy’ (basically a top-to-toe, two-hour full-body overhaul).
The new ‘retro-eco’ Sugarman boutique revels in its broad remit, appealing to the funky shopper in all of us, purveying art, gifts, coffee, furniture and even men’s clothing.
The home of wine
‘Meet the distiller’ at vineyard cum port and spirit-based liqueur producer The Grove Experience, with lunch, tastings and, thankfully, matched canapés included in the tour.
Park your bum and cellar door staff will bring the tastings to you at relative newcomer Stormflower Vineyard in the Wilyabrup pocket of region. If you prefer amber, newcomer Cheeky Monkey Brewery, Cheeky’s as the locals know it, is on the outskirts of Wilyabrup.
Of course, there are plenty of ‘designated driver’ options so you can spend the day winery hopping without limiting your intake. Margaret River Vintage Wine Tours‘ ‘Leeuwin Margaret River Experience’ is a ‘special’ guided daytrip of Leeuwin Estate, with a two-course lunch to boot.
On the boutique scale, Margaret River In Style caters for romantics (or two couples) in a luxury car while Harvest Tours now includes lunch at Vasse Felix as part of its tour with choice of lunch and a glass of award-winning cabernet sauvignon or chardonnay included in the price.
For groups, Margies Big Day Out now has a ‘Big Night Out’ Tour, from mid-afternoon, which includes three wineries, a brewery and dinner.
River runs wild
Get some perspective over the wine region and take to the air with Wild Blue Helicopters, or indulge in one of its winery and brewery lunch packages.
To burn off the extra holiday excess, why not try river tour with Margaret River Stand Up Paddle – 90 minutes from Chapman Pool through the scenic Blackwood National Forest. Suitable for “all abilities”.
For the truly energetic, or the adrenalin junky with time on their hands, learn to surf, skydive and go for a trot.
Time to graze
Worth a Day Trip: Head south-east of Margaret River to WA’s hottest ‘foraging’ restaurant at Pemberton. Farm-based Foragers is part cooking school, part forest retreat and part weekend restaurant.
Back in town, and barely a year old, Sails Too is relaxed and al fresco, a divine spot for breakfast or lunch – and it’s dog friendly too. You might not recognise Sails Too’s next-door neighbour because Pentimento has transformed into El Rio, featuring a more modern Mexican menu, with some of the best local vintages and imported wines too.
A newish option if you are hankering for Italian, La Scarpetta Trattoria, in the heritage-listed Bridgefield Guesthouse, replete with stunning colonial verandas, is handily placed on the main drag.
For more information, see www.margaretriver.com
See other summer holiday destinations: Same old Christmas beach holiday? Not any more…