Western Australian wine has a globally celebrated reputation, laying claim to some of the best Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon, among other varietals. While the South West region, a biodiverse area with a spread of landscapes from sandy coasts to wildlife-abundant wetlands, attracts particular attention for its plonk, there’s more to sample in the vicinity than just wine. Knots of nature trails and a range of accommodation options will interest the spa enthusiast as much as the keen hiker. Here are a few ways you can explore the best of Western Australia's South West region.
Wines to try
Can’t choose between the area’s best vineyards? Don’t. Instead, dedicate some time to trawling through the region’s best by weaving through the prominent localities of Margaret River, Ferguson Valley, Southern Forest and Great Southern. Here are a few places to stop.
The feather in the cap of the South West region, Margaret River is a veritable labyrinth of splendours that oenophiles are certain to love getting lost in. Vasse Felix, the founding winery of the region, is one of the area’s most well-known and is a noted collector of awards for both the wine and food that emerges from its sprawling cellar door. Smaller outfits promise just as much reward; Victory Point Wines has plenty of options that come highly recommended by the James Halliday Companion, while Evoi Wines is frequently named as one of the top boutique wineries in the country. Other notable mentions are Flowstone, a micro-winery with bottles tipping over 96 points and House of Cards, where the utmost care is taken during production, including everything from organic fruit sprays to manual basket pressing.
North east from Margaret River, the fertile Ferguson Valley has more of a cosy, country feel. Green Door Wines does fascinating things Spanish and Italian varietals, fermenting some of their premium fruit harvests in Amphora clay pots before aging them in old oak barrels.
In the centre of the state’s corner is Southern Forests, an area gaining ground with their excellent local produce. Truffles, marron and a plethora of fresh fruit and vegetables can be picked up from roadside stalls and farmlets in the area. Swing into Manjimup to sample a glass from Peos Estate Winery, a popular spot known for its skin contact wines.
No, you’re not imagining it; you’re hearing strengthening whispers about the wine coming from the Great Southern. Cool climate wines are thriving here – take a sip of some of the best at Singlefile Wines (pictured above), which produces crowd-pleasing Chardonnays and at Plantagenet Wines, the oldest winery in the region, established in 1968.
Best of the rest
For non-wine drinkers, don’t assume your glass will stay empty. Denmark Heritage Cider Company, a 40-minute drive east of Albany, harnesses the true cider apple and creates a range of sparkling and scrumpy ciders, sprucing them from their charmingly rustic ‘cider shed’ in Scotsdale.
What to do
Though wonderful in a wine glass, the spoils of the area can certainly be enjoyed in other ways. Walking trails in the South West region are varied and plentiful, consistently delivering wonderful views. The Cape to Cape track (pictured above), which covers over 135 kilometres of Margaret River’s coastal shoulder, is a highlight, best tackled with the 14-kilometre Cape Naturaliste to Yallingup section, which takes in ocean and national park views. Further inland, the Valley of the Giants Treetop Walk near Denmark, is a family favourite, with an elevated walkway snaking atop the canopies of ancient tingle trees, some 40 metres in the air.
Where to stay
Margaret River’s beauty is anchored in the region’s position at the edge of the state, marrying plentiful plaits of lush vines with stark, sparkling seas. For this reason, choose a spot that makes the most of this location; Smiths Beach Resort is a great family friendly choice at the very edge of Yallingup, with some villas (all of which are self-contained) offering expansive views across the shores of the Indian Ocean.
If squeezing in a little spa time between sips is your idea of time well spent, nearby Injidup Spa Retreat (pictured above), is an excellent choice. Villas nestled among native bush land are incredibly plush and generous, with each inclusive of a plunge pool peeping over the ocean, a gourmet breakfast hamper and, helpfully, a bottle of wine on arrival. The on-site spa is sublime.
Further inland, the homey Dingup House, is a wonderful base from which to explore the Southern Forests region. Built in 1870, there’s a warm, historic feel to Dingup, heightened by thoughtful touches such as breakfasts brimming with homemade preserves and jams and a roaring fire in the guest lounge, perfect for a winter escape.
Start planning your escape to Western Australia’s South West, with insider tips for itinerary inspiration, epic road trips, Instaworthy locations and vibrant events.